Building a Global Food Brand
India has traditionally exported commodities and imported global food brands. We have such a strong food heritage, that it is time for the world to get a taste of India!
India's homegrown startups and SMEs are turning globetrotters by successfully foraying into new markets. Some of them have hacked just the right strategy and bagged opportunities to create enough consumer demand in different markets. And they aren't going to stop! Not yet.
There is a huge potential for the Indian food manufacturing sector to compete on a global scale. Here is how brands are getting aspirational and building their global credentials:
Cross-Country Experience REALLY Matters But you Should Pick the Right Market:
While it's all clear that the global footprint counts the most if you are seen in certain "top markets', having said which when it comes to picking the right market(s), always prioritize. 'Big' isn't always "best'!
It doesn't have to be the biggest market, really. What it has to be is the most relevant market for your brand. Study the culture of your next consumer. For a food brand which is catering to kids, our target group is parents. So, we did our homework well. What are other countries consuming and why is a question any food brand must ask before drawing an itinerary of their travel abroad.
Just to cite an example, in South Korea, new mothers stay at home for the first 3 months post-delivery. In China, the grandparents move in with new parents for at least the first 3 years after they have children. These important cultural facts can really help the brand decide when and where to enter first. Types of cultural norms could make or break certain product launches if brands don't know about them.
How to Introduce Your Brand Globally?
It should always happen in phases. Take for instance our own brand. The first leg of going global means launching across retailers in a market where there is large Indian diaspora interested in millet-based products. So, UAE has been a thought-through decision. UK is up next with smaller artisanal and boutique stores showing interest in "what's cool" from India.
Whether it is here in India or anywhere else, our approach will be consistent across. Our own brand has been engaging with kids and families by communicating with them through our unique and distinctive brand identity, which we have worked SO very hard on. When a customer holds our product in their hand – we want them to feel tremendous pride. We have often heard people ask us- "Oh! So when did you come to India?"
The Perception is a Game-Changer. Therefore, Find a USP to woo Your Customers:
"That's a "Made in India' product in your hands"- we often hear ourselves say to our first-time customers. Any food brand (especially the one operating in kids' food segment needs to be built on the nutritional value). Take for instance our own brand which is trying to revive ancient Indian Supergrains (Finger millet (Ragi); Foxtail millet and Sorghum (Jowar)). In fact, our USP is the core ingredient- millet (ragi) which is a perfect weaning food, loaded with Calcium which is beneficial for any growing child, whether being raised here or across the globe.
We are trying to create awareness around millets and share its goodness with the world. Just as the world is making turmeric and quinoa hip; millets are being rediscovered as the "great' grain!
We don't need to import food for our children from elsewhere. Our goal was to be the best we could be in every sense. To incorporate Indian food traditions into the recipes, use the best possible ingredients, create a global identity, and still be priced at an Indian price point. It's been hard work but we feel we have achieved a small measure of it.
Adapt by Understanding the Local Nuances:
Once you have had successful entry in a market adapt yourself. As mentioned earlier, the original idea and product should be consistent, but adapt by innovating. In our case, we are building a range of new products to address a wider cross segment of consumers which are responding to similar tastes/concepts.
Whatever decisions you make for your brand this year in terms of how to expand the footprint, be sure you make them with an awareness of both the global and local implications top of mind.
In terms of global expansion - diaspora markets are a natural first fit, but we are not restricted by this. Just as nobody thought the world, or for that matter Indians would be eating quinoa - in the same vein - we have taken a bet that the world will be eating millets in the coming years.
As for us, we are building the largest global brand from traditional Indian ingredients…Healthy, Tasty and Fun!