HOW TO BUILD GLOBAL BRANDS FROM INDIA
Incorporated in 1945 in Punjab as a steel company, the Mahindra Group is today a US $20.7 billion global brand, operating in 20 key industries. In January 2011, the Mahindra Group launched a new corporate brand, Mahindra Rise, to unify Mahindra’s image across industries and geographies as aspirational, supporting customers’ ambitions to ‘rise.’ Two years prior to that, Mahindra was ranked among the top 200 most reputable companies in the world by Forbes.
According to Vivek Nayer, Chief Marketing Officer, Group Corporate Brand, Mahindra Group, two winning attributes of the brand are innovation and its philosophy of ‘doing good’. “Our ability to create value by doing more with less, doing it together and doing it for all, have helped us stand out from our peers. We create jump shift innovations with our neural network of innovation that spans across the globe. Our endeavour is to use the latest developments in AI, digitisation, blockchain, IOT, cloud computing and analytics to create unique products and customer propositions.” Some of Mahindra’s recent innovations include the driverless tractor and the electric hyper car that is to launch in Europe in 2020.
Moreover, Mahindra’s focus on ‘doing good’, which ties in with its Rise philosophy means that the company operates in businesses with the aim to do good for society and the world. For example, Mahindra Rural Housing Finance empowers people who would not previously have access to financing, as does its micro-irrigation projects and electric mass mobility partnership with Ola and the government of Maharashtra.
It is this distinct value proposition, trust and credibility, which has not only helped Mahindra, but several other homegrown brands, make it big globally. Another aspect that several Indian companies have in common is the advantage of scale and intrinsic value consciousness, both in their product portfolio, as well as in their communication. This is the result of a large domestic market and the ability to create smart solutions for customers with economies of scale.
These facets are key to Indian companies’ global success stories, especially when built on top of the persona of Brand India which stems from factors such as the numerous NRI professionals settled across the globe who personify the Indian reputation of being intelligent, hard-working, resourceful, serviceoriented and entrepreneurial; Indian cuisine which is appreciated around the world; and Bollywood movies which reinforce the warmth, hospitality and culture of India to global audiences.
This perception of India and Indian brands is also aided by the country’s formidable presence in the IT sector globally, with the likes of TCS, Infosys, Wipro and Tech Mahindra serving Fortune 500 companies for decades.
The recent ‘Made in India’ brand proposition has also been useful in aiding the Indian manufacturing sector, with global brands like Ford, Nissan, GM and Renault going big on manufacturing in India and then selling to international markets,” observes Nayer. India is the world’s fourth largest automobile manufacturer today, with one million vehicles exported, creating a positive perception in export markets that ‘Made in India’ is a good and reliable brand proposition for engineering goods as well.
Therefore, for any new brand wanting to foray into international markets, it is imperative to establish trust and credibility. “The way to do this is to understand the market, using local insights. They should invest in the market for the long term and create jobs, leveraging local expertise with an aim to benefit that country. For instance, Mahindra in the USA has created more than 3000 jobs, invested over US $1.5 billion and created the first automotive manufacturing facility in Detroit in 25 years,” Nayer explains. He concludes, “Only by integrating fully into the life blood of the US market, could we expect the country to accept Brand Mahindra and its offerings as their own.”
Q] What are some of the strategies employed by Mahindra that have made it successful globally?
As a products and services company, we have a razor-sharp focus on not just pushing sales, but building a strong ecosystem of customers, partners, and employees who reflect our Rise values. This approach is reflected in the way our businesses are growing and benefiting from global presence. Moreover, our global partnerships, acquisitions and R&D facilities worldwide have helped strengthen our capabilities further, providing us with the best of talent.
Q] What is Mahindra’s growth strategy going forward?
For the Mahindra Group, about 49% of our revenues are from global markets, given our presence in over 100 countries across the world. Going forward, in terms of marketing, we firstly want to create salience globally which will have an impact on our future products. Secondly, we aim to invest in finding the right partners globally to strengthen our product mix. Thirdly, we want to emphasize the fact that we are a purpose driven brand, with a deeply personal connection to consumers and potential employees. It is this philosophy that drives the group and differentiates it from other brands.
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