Tuesday, September 02, 2008

India China and the stuff they make

Chinese imports were supposed to wipe out Indian products according to many a doomsday scenario. They were supposed to wipe out the Indian market like a dirty table at a restaurant, but they havent. Indeed, brand India is now stronger with shopkeepers suggesting, "This is made in India". "Not Chinese"

Even I thought that the Chinese takeover of India was complete - when I saw a Ganesha idol made in China (its Ganesh Chathurthi today). But it has not happened.

A lot of products are made in China, high end phones, cameras but they are sold by the brand where the branding is more important than where it is made (and this is a very big thing in India - more on it). But the real Chinese stuff - sold for its cheapness at the lower end - toys, cheap electronics - killed the Chinese goose for the middle class, the brand conscious class atleast. Most of these were cheap, not durable and people realized very soon that "what you pay is what you get." Indian items, though slightly more expensive than the Chinese was better in the long run. Cheap Chinese toys are still available, but overall what cheap Chinese stuff did was, it helped the Indian manufacturers gain some respect in the eyes of their countrymen.

Titan was first off the block - with cheap durable watches and Sonata has made a good name for itself - nearly replacing old guard HMT. With Titan, cheap phoren watches got relegated to the pavements.

Nokia has never been bothered with cheap Chinese imports - even after it started a plant in India to manufacture phones. Nokia is still Nokia - people dont buy it because it is imported or because it is made somewhere, they buy it because of the value proposition of the brand. Ditto for many slightly different products - Chinese bikes for instance or a Chinese car. People will not go for something that is untested from a reliability perspective.

Indeed many manufacturers are now using this as an idea, as I had noted some time back. They are using China as a sourcing base and giving it Indian/American names to come with a "product" of their own. What is the point of one more DVD player, unless there is a clear differentiator?

Indeed many of these brands dont sell, because, in India, the defining proposition is not just cheap, but cheap, durable and beautiful. (Sundar, Sasta, Tikau to use an oft repeated cliche.) Ask the Koreans...

1 comment:

Savitha Rao said...

Good point . What you pay is what you get is true .

Indian companies and brands must focus on quality and service to create a niche for themselves . And for India .

In my earlier assignment at MBL I had studied the Chinese premium clothing retail for men's shirts . And successfully worked with a Chinese brand . They bought premium cotton fabrics from MBL to differenciate their shirt collection.

In my visits to China I saw the emphasis on "imported" products in retail . It appears that Chinese consumers also share the concern re product quality