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A new brand’s entry into India: The initial questions

Remember high school? Were you ever in a situation where you had to shift schools mid-term? Or your first day of college? Or for a few lucky ones reading this, who did not have to go through it, remember the first day of any job..

Remember the ‘First day’ feeling? I am betting the bytes this article has taken to load, that nine out of ten are getting what I am talking about. Now allow me to add a little bit of spice (we are talking about India here after all) to your feeling. Dialling up the uncomfortable memories associated with ‘First day’ and taking it to the level of a fidgety feeling it mostly evokes, imagine a week in the place.

Think about the first day in the second week. By now, you have probably been quieter than you have ever been, observing more than you have ever observed, humoured, by now, by some over enthusiastic types who bent over double to make you feel part of their group. Snubbed by some, ignored by many as you navigate your way towards finding ‘your space’.

Well, that is exactly how your brand will feel when you launch in India.

The over enthusiastic creative agency, the snotty digital consultants, the sneaky government types are just the tip of a very large mountain.

And your brand? It will make puppy dog eyes at you the moment you send for consumer tests. Your brand will walk into the room with confidence of winning over the same SEC’s, just like back home, expecting the same love and acceptance from the people drawn out on specific socio-economic metrics as it does back home, but will be heartbroken as every second person in that room will display such vagaries of behaviour that love and hate will be a very blurry line.

That is the real India. It changes every 50 meters, in ways that can make your head spin.

But that’s not all is it? What about your brand on the digital platforms? social media?
The ominousity of this particular dance is darker than a Game Of Thrones wedding. As a marketer, entering a country where local language user base is growing by 47 per cent per annum, you will need to unlearn even the basic of what you do on the digital platform. Consider this, only 90 million users on digital are in English. The rest are in regional languages. So for brands to capture the next 500 million the need is to recognise the importance of language. Thus devices, software, etc., need to adhere to the largest consumer’s language, which will invariably be local.

So how do you adapt in this market? What is the key to unlocking each of these boxes? And most importantly, do you even need to open all of them?

So this series of articles, either based on questions from readers or which box I think should be opened first will attempt to make your brand, a bit comfortable in the country. Namaste!