Narendra Modi's trip to the UK marked the first visit of an Indian Prime Minister to our shores in over a decade. Much to the excitement of British Indians, Prime Minister Modi beat the drum for "Brand India" with nothing less than a sell-out event at Wembley Stadium to bring the message home.
The partnership between India and Britain can be traced back to the 17th century with the formation of the East India Company. With David Cameron signing deals worth £9 billion with India, all eyes are on the sea of opportunities which are likely to open between the two countries. While UK companies in India, in particular, are waiting to explore untapped sectors in healthcare, technology and financial services, it is perhaps also a good time to see how Indian brands in the UK can become a success here.
"[I]t will be the ability of Indian brands to be more adaptive to different international markets that will decide whether they become a Bengal tiger or a just a Malabar mouse."
According to Brand Finance, the value of Brand India is up 32% on last year, ranking India as the world's seventh most valuable nation brand. From the times of the colonial Raj to modern India, Britain has always shown a strong appetite for Indian goods, with huge conglomerates such as Tata group and Reliance all making large indents across the British market. This relationship is reciprocal, as we have also seen major British brands forge a path into the India market -- Aston Martin, Topshop, Hamleys and United Biscuits Group are just a few iconic British brands to launch in recent years. It is estimated that British firms have invested in India around $85 billion, more than any other country, and, as of 2013, accounted for about 30% of all FDI into India.
However, there still remains a stop gap in the connectivity of home-grown Indian brands in the British mass-market. Take Tata, for example. Although it is recognised as the successful international conglomerate behind famous brands such as Jaguar Land Rover and Tetley Tea, it still hasn't fully met its potential to deepen its emotional connect with the British consumer.
Having managed a number of cross-over communication strategies for UK brands looking to launch in India and Indian brands establishing a foothold here in the UK, our 20 years of experience have shown us that Indian brands -- or for that matter any international brand looking to launch in global shores -- must take a holistic approach in penetrating the British mass market; placing the consumer and market is key to their local-launch strategy. Indian brands have an incredible opportunity to realise that the passage to Britain comes with immense growth opportunities and economic connotations for both the world powers.
It is clear that Brand India has gone from strength to strength over the last few years, and since the election of PM Modi, a concerted effort has been made by the Indian government to put Indian brands on the centre-stage. "Make in India", a campaign to promote the manufacture of products in India, and "Digital India", an initiative to roll out increased internet connectivity, are just some examples of how Brand India is reaching out to the international audience. But, in my opinion, it will be the ability of Indian brands to be more adaptive to different international markets that will decide whether they become a Bengal tiger or a just a Malabar mouse.
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