Klaus Friedrich Meier | Senior Project Manager | Maier+Vidorno

First published in the M+V India Insight in May 2009

To succeed in India, you need a clear market entry strategy India. The key factors of this strategy are good analysis and planning – with a lot of patience and commitment!

But what is the right strategy to enter a market like India? Start with market analysis!
First and most vital you need rigorous and up-to-date market analysis. This determines how attractive the market is for your individual product and pinpoints evolving opportunities and threats. Topics should include: market size (current and future), market growth rate, market profitability, industry cost structure, distribution channels, market trends, key success factors and a thorough review of local competitors. When you have the market analysis you need to use it to develop a strong business plan – including budget planning at least 5 years. What’s in a good business plan? The answers to a lot of questions!

Distribution questions
How are you going to distribute your products – India has 28 States & another 7 “territories”, and is almost the size of the European Union! This means that you probably need regional wholesalers who distribute to the large number of small, neighborhood retailers or dealers. Is your product made for the difficult logistics that you find in India? Do you use external help or your own agents? Do you need a distributor, who sells to retailers or do you need to sell directly to retailers? Who sells to end customers? What kind of support do these distributors or retailers need?

Personnel questions
How will you motivate distributors? Motivating owners and employees of independent distributors requires great effort. When calculating your market price for India keep in mind that duties, taxes etc. vary across the regions of India.

Location questions
Where are the market leaders and trendsetters in India? And where to start? Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai are entry points for many products, but do you start everywhere at once, or in one or two of them?

Sales strategy questions
Planning sales activities (strategy): methods of reaching clients, competitive differences and resources available; long-term sales-goals, quantity of sales personnel per identified location? Also articulate day-to-day selling tactics: prospecting, sales process, and follow-up. To gain a competitive advantage, look at both sides of the equation: tactics and strategy

Product modification questions
A market like India will ask for product modifications to sell to the Indian needs . While doing this always keep an eye on your final price. It might be worthwhile developing your own manufacturing in India, so prices can adapt. When it comes to market entry India, the questions might be largely the same as in other markets, but the answers demand a creative approach and profound knowledge of the market!

As with all markets, there are many potential adaptations: size, packaging preferences, quality, appearance, where and how purchased, end-user utility, cultural habits, translation of slogans, taste, ingredients subject to import controls, regulations governing recycling of packaging materials, prohibited ingredients, colours and shapes.