Go Indian to sell in India: Management guru Arindam Chaudhuri

Madhusree Chatterjee

New Delhi, Aug 28 (IANS) Domino's asked 'Hungry Kya' and McDonald's appealed to the Indian palate by abandoning beef and introducing aloo tikki burgers - examples to prove that the Indian market has a distinct identity and even global brands must modify their selling strategy, says management educator and writer Arindam Chaudhuri.

Companies must understand the cultural sensitivities of a market and identity needs of a consumer in emerging economies like India, China and rest of the developing world to sell their products and stay ahead of competition, Chaudhuri said.

'Western markets models don't always work here. Organisations are more aggressive in the west; they can use comparative marketing (comparing one product with another). But to create an understanding about a product and market it in India, a multinational firm often has to modify its strategy, campaign and, if necessary, innovate the product

to suit the Indian market and culture,' Chaudhuri told IANS.

Chaudhuri and his wife Rajita have explored competition in the Indian market with examples and ways to trounce rivals with an effective mix of advertising, campaigning and aggression in a new book, 'Thorns to Competition'. The book will arrive in bookstores by the end of this month.

The management honcho cited campaigns for brands like Surf, Domino's and McDonald's to explain 'Indianisation of global marketing strategies'.

'The global campaign of the detergent brand was very nicely modified to bring the family scene in India while the Italian pizza brand introduced Hinglish (with its slogan 'Hungry Kya') to appeal to Indians. McDonald's has introduced veg burgers for India and do not sell beef burgers here. In McDonald's case, it is not the campaign that the company runs, but the products they serve determine its success,' Chaudhuri said.

Several global companies have been forced to come to India and look at the country differently,' he said.

'The Indian market has a distinct identity,' Chaudhuri said.

Chaudhuri, who manages the Planman Group and the IIPM, a popular management school with branches across the country and abroad, is the author of two books, 'The Great Indian Dream' and 'Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch'.

'In India, family values are very strong - with closer leaning towards the family. It is an ethos. Showing happy families have always worked. We appreciate human emotions more than animated emotions- the western stereotype,' Chaudhuri said.

'If you turn on any television channel in New York, you will find most campaigns using animations featuring animals. In Germany, campaigners selling pensions claim that the money is enough to take care of pets too. It is their way of life,' he said.

'But in India, we appreciate louder feelings and melodrama (involving humans),' he said.

For Chaudhuri, the biggest challenge that marketing strategists like him in their late 30s and early 40s face now is 'making optimal use of changing technology'.

'The tools of marketing have changed. Today's marketing strategists, who are in their forties, did not grow up with the Internet. For them, to adjust to something that was not a part of their curriculum is difficult,' he said.

Compounding it is the way this generation is looking at things, he said.

'The way you are marketing today will not work two years later. The kind of technology the youth appreciates today is changing too fast. I am not sure if the suggestions that we offered in the new book will remain the same five years later when even the Facebook will become obsolete,' Chaudhuri said.

Chaudhuri, whose institute was one of the early pioneers in privatising management education, predicts grim changes in the balance of power between the top B-schools (generally aided by the government) and the new private institutes in the future.

'The problem in management education in my opinion is that we have been conditioned not to question the supremacy of a few institutes that the government of India has supported,' he said.

These institutes are drawing 'high quality students' because of their high cut-offs and image, he said.

'They are, however, decaying inside. The older generation of teachers are good and sincere but the new generation of teachers cannot communicate. Their research background is negligible,' he said.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at madhu.c@ians.in)