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How to crack the market in India

How to crack the market in India

Allan Biggar is chairman of brands and marketing services group, All About Brands plc. He is a former Global CEO of Burson-Marsteller Corporate and Financial, the world's biggest PR agency.

The world's biggest and most successful brands are knocking on the wrong door if they believe China is their long-term golden goose.

That's the view of Allan Biggar, previously Chief Executive of the world's biggest PR agency, now head of All About Brands plc, one of
Europe's leading brand and business development consultancies, as PM
Gordon Brown leads a trade delegation to China.

China will have absolutely no qualms about quickly buying in everything it needs to build an infrastructure, society, design and manufacturing knowledge and capability base focussed on a handful of its key business sectors and cities. Its plan is to enable it to sell even more to the West - and as soon as it has everything it needs, the door will slam and the current river of money will dry up," said Allan Biggar.

China will be a short-term source of cash, India is a long-term investment. Every brand and business with international growth plans should be looking at India rather than China for one simple differentiating reason: China looks inwards, but India looks outwards.

That China is an enormous economic powerhouse is a myth. It simply has
a very big shopping trolley at the moment, and it is maxing its credit short-term. There is no tradition or culture of foreign trade, or looking outside its own borders. It is buying at the moment, and it will buy to put itself in a strong position to sell.

My contacts in the big banks are beginning to say that beyond Beijing there is nothing, and there is little ambition in the Chinese government to develop infrastructure outside Beijing and a handful of other major cities.

India, on the other hand, has massive potential for the big brands and businesses of the West - way beyond that of China.

China thinks 'growth', India thinks 'trade'. While there has been massive criticism of such innovations as Indian-based call centres, you don't have to dig down too far to recognise the significance of the principle.

Indians learn languages, they adopt Western ways, they appreciate Western standards and requirements - and while they don't always get it right they are actually still a child in the grand scheme of trading Western-style.

They also have well-established connections with Europe and more recently with the Middle East and North America - and the desire is deeply-seated across the country.

A seven-year-old Indian boy in a backwater village still believes it is possible for him to achieve absolutely anything, anywhere in the world - massive social mobility supports that. What chance does a seven-year-old
Chinese boy have?

There are no call centres, little desire to learn other languages and virtually no historic international connections between China and anywhere else. My message to business and brands is to use China short-term, but don't put it on your long-term business plan.

India is the world's golden egg.

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