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A 'Good Enough' Product Works Great For Indian Markets

The customer is not a fixed target, but a moving one with constantly evolving tastes

Published: Nov 15, 2013 06:51:37 AM IST
Updated: Nov 12, 2013 04:53:49 PM IST

The purpose of business is to create a customer and keep him, said Peter Drucker. In India, finding customers has been less of a problem than keeping them. One reason is the sheer size of the total market and its varied demographics, which makes it easier for eagle-eyed entrepreneurs to spot untenanted niches or even a motherlode of mass unmet demand.

A 'Good Enough' Product Works Great For Indian Markets
From Karsanbhai Patel’s Nirma to Asian Paints’ mini-cans of paint for rural India to the Re 1 Velvette shampoo sachet, Indian entrepreneurs have found mass markets that were eminently addressable with a little bit of price cunning and distributive chutzpah. These and many other success stories were not the result of great product or technological innovation, but an acute insight into what loads of customers wanted: A good enough product at a great or accessible price. The operative phrase is “good enough”.  

This, in short, may be the story so far of Micromax, which has emerged from nowhere to become No. 2 in the Indian smartphones market. Its competitors dispute this, but their silence on Micromax also suggests that they have begun taking this upstart seriously. Seriously enough to not dignify it as an equal.

This is not to suggest Micromax is the cat’s whiskers in smartphones. It is one thing to pump up volumes based on smart pricing, and cheaper and commoditised components, quite another to become a real contender for the top slot based on service quality and innovative technology. It is easy to find a customer, but tougher to keep her if you are not improving your game all the time. The customer is not a fixed target, but a moving one with constantly evolving tastes and rising sophistication. This is the chasm between early success and long-term reality that Micromax has to bridge. Read Rohin Dharmakumar’s fascinating story on Micromax to find out how it is coping with this challenge.

Facing a different kind of perceptional challenge is politician-businessman Naveen Jindal. An ambitious Congressman, Jindal’s JSPL is embroiled in controversy and scandal, especially in the wake of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s scathing report on coal block allocations, of which Jindal was a major beneficiary. But Jindal is a fighter, and he believes that this too shall pass. He is sure he will play a bigger role in politics, even while running a big business. In a nation where the nexus between politics and business is only now beginning to be exposed, Jindal faces twice the risk, as he is both businessman and politician. Prince Mathews Thomas takes a close look at how Jindal is going to let his two passions coexist without conflict. Read on.

R Jagannathan
Editor-in-Chief, Forbes India
Email: r.jagannathan@network18online.com
Twitter id: @TheJaggi

(This story appears in the 29 November, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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