Building Global Brands From India

It is a great time for mico and mid-level brands to pave their way to the international stage, given that the trade barriers have shrunk and internet is penetrating at deeper levels

Nearly four decade ago, there was only a sprinkling of brands that were a part of the international ecosystem. Only some of the biggest corporations, like Coca Cola, IBM, Pepsi, Shell, etc. succeeding in making their mark in the global market. Then came a time of upstarts, such as Apple, Microsoft, Honda, etc. that began eating the pie of these global giants and pushed forward their own footprint and sales number.

Today, with international trade barriers shrinking and internet penetrating at deeper levels, it has only made way for small and other mid-sized companies to pave their path and compete on the global stage. 

Experts believe that this is a great time for smaller Indian brands to build their global presence. Talking of the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector in specific, that accounts to 1/3 of our GDP, its scope has only widened in the past years, primarily because of the government initiatives supporting it. Also, e-commerce and other technology tools are a key catalyst in driving the growth further and enabling experiences in the global markets.

Highlighting how the MSME sector has evolved in the past years, Alka Nangia Arora, Joint Secretary Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India shares, “The sector has majorly evolved in past 10 years. This is also the sector that generates the maximum employment after agriculture. 

Over the years, it has been observed that the micro sector has grown at a phenomenal speed, while small and medium have always had their own space. The Ministry is primarily working on the micro sector and the Aatmanirbhan announcements by the government have helped us tremendously. 

We encourage these companies to take part in various fares, that now happen virtually. Though there is stress in market, yet they are aware to take advantages that can be drawn. From being digitally-challenged to now being digitally-literate, the micro sector has come a long way. Alongside, with consumers exploring the online space, young entrepreneurs are enjoying this new space even more.”

Digital technology has certainly played a crucial role in evolving these businesses further. In last 30 years, we have seen the road from no internet to having 4 billion people on it. Rajan Anandan, Managing Director, Surge & Sequoia Capital India elaborates, “In the past, the big revolution we witnessed was when the technological companies were built, that helped launch the software companies. Now, in the past five years, that same phenomenon has translated to consumer products companies. All you need today is a good consumer insight and a product that meets consumer needs and you can sell anywhere in the word. 

Technology is at a stage where the world is your market. It is a fundamental reframing of how you think of your business. The big reality is, building and promoting your brand globally is very easy today.”

Business is all about seeing changes and challenges that come at it. Disruption is common to all businesses and technology has been a key factor enabling this. The trick for brands is to find opportunities during these time. Talking of how the MSME sector is looking at technology and reaping its maximum benefits, Vinod Kumar, President India SME Forum & Managing Partner and Country Manager India & Middle East, SDRC International explains, “In MSME, everyone is a businessman. Issues of supply chain inefficacy, global and domestic competition, fund problems, turbulent & uncertain market scenario, etc. are common here.

With the onset of Covid, everything changed. It is now imperative for MSME’s to go and grow online. They are now completely digitally influenced. Digital-first strategy is here to stay and gradually, the other traditional methods will be outcasted. Tech will democratize all MSMEs and tech-startups will come in here, who will aim at solving these problems at low prices.”

While building a global brand from India, there are certain limitations and challenges that emerge due to the changing consumer behaviors & business realities. Having built an ecommerce-first brand, Disha Katharani, Co-founder, Imagimake agrees that the process passes through a lot of changes. However, the advantages are plenty. “Beginning from learning about digital marketing, e-commerce and building an in-house team was the route we took, since we thought it will be essential for us at every stage. We invested in an in-house photo studio earlier on and are adding to it ever since, to quote an example. 

Most recently, we are working on snackable video content. In terms of traditional retail, sitting in India makes it difficult to find out the consumer experiences abroad. With e-commerce in play now, conversations have became easy. We exchange stories now. It is a great way to find consumer insights. 

In my opinion, building an e-commerce team is a hollistic exercise. For us, we achieved this with a combination of upskilling our team and hiring new talent. With in-house team, it becomes easy to carry experiments,” she adds.

This session was held at the Amazon Smbhav Summit 2021 and was moderated by Abhijit Kamra, Director Global Trade, Amazon India.