Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

How to woo the local customer with global features

Panelists at the Retail Leadership Summit opine that while the product should be global, the retail strategy should be local

Shruti Venkatesh
Published: Feb 16, 2017 05:14:19 PM IST
Updated: Feb 16, 2017 05:25:12 PM IST

How to woo the local customer with global features
Image: Shutterstock

The product should be global, but the retail strategy should be local. This was the general view of the panelists during the session ‘Going Glocal: Wooing the local customer’ at the Retail Leadership Summit organised by RAI in Mumbai.

For Kavindra Mishra, managing director and CEO, Pepe Jeans India Limited, the basic strategy was simple: Use the global brand image of being ‘cool’ as well as the specific silhouettes and cuts that the brand is known for internationally, and just adopt the fits for the Indian consumer. Mishra points out that the company also started retailing stretch-jeans in India four years back, although it wasn’t a popular concept for the brand globally. Similarly, Pepe runs six exclusive kids stores in India, while it doesn’t have any globally.

Co-panelist and CEO of Baskin Robins, Mohit Khattar, offers a similar example. “When we came to India 20 years ago, the decision was to make all our ice creams 100 percent vegetarian,” he says.
While these were MNCs coming to India, Dilip Kapur, president, HiDesign, offers a more neutral view. “We first started abroad, then moved to India with 75 percent of revenues coming from India and now, we are again available in key markets abroad. When we are successful in South Africa or Russia, it teaches us what we could offer in India,” he says, adding, “Today the consumer is very global in their approach. If we don’t globalise, it will kill us.”

When it comes to brand positioning and pricing, Vineet Gautam, country head, BESTSELLER India, says that while it will vary from market to market, brands should stay away from hyping up their positioning too much. “A lot of retailers do that because cost of retailing in India is high. That is a challenge. But consumers know your pricing globally. Today, a consumer first searches for a brand on Google before making the purchase. So retailers need to choose between growth and profit,” he says.

The panel concluded that brands need to first have their feet strongly on the ground in their own market before they go abroad. A balance of personalisation, localisation and globalisation will be the key to the success of a brand.