How to make successful India entry

How foreign companies can make a successful India entry

Are you planning to establish your thriving business into the fastest growing emerging market in the world? However, you are apprehensive about the risks of entering into a country with a diverse consumer base, complex policy guidelines and fierce competitive environment?

Definitely, a new market comes with additional threats and risks, but with a disciplined approach and accurate market analysis, it is not difficult to successfully make inroads into the Indian market, winning over the masses and niches alike. Here’s how:

#1 Commit to an 'Indian' way of doing business

Change in perception about doing business in India is the foremost aspect that foreign companies should focus on. Superimposing a global business model in the Indian context may not yield the same results and may even prove to be disastrous, as India offers a very diverse consumer base with unique requirements. The key, therefore, is to formulate a business plan as per the local market, retaining the value proposition of the global business model. Also, for translating the brand value and long-term success in the Indian market, foreign companies need to be committed to the changing Indian consumer landscape and ‘Indianise’ their offerings accordingly.

#2 Give the baton to the Indian entity

Empowering the Indian management team and involving them in decision-making process is core to establishing a successful business in the country. Often multinational companies get entrapped into the tug-of-war for control between the foreign management and their Indian counterparts. What is important to understand is that for doing business in an ‘Indian way’, one needs to empower the local management to formulate long-term strategies and take key operational decisions.

#3 Research and Tweak

To de-risk the decision to enter into India, it is mandatory as a business practice to create a planned approach by undertaking a through market research and tweaking the business plan as per the research results. While, traditional means of research from secondary sources are good for getting a basic idea, it is pertinent to follow a rigorous market understanding and testing through surveys, running pilot projects and incubating businesses. This will help in de-risking the proposition before rolling the business in a large scale. It might be a good idea to hire a market entry specialist in India, who triangulate data from different sources, provide customised research methodologies by interviewing key stake holders from channel partners, competitors, regulatory bodies, end-customers to collect real time data and benchmark the performance of successful competing companies and complimentary partners to understand the complexities of various businesses.

# 4 To JV or not to JV

Once the complexities of the Indian market are understood and a business plan is formulated, what is essential to find out is to create a roadmap for the actual entry into the market and identify an appropriate channel. A foreign business needs to carefully consider the following questions – What is the ownership structure that it desires to follow? Will it go solo in the country or enter into a joint venture (JV), which is a popular means of entering into a new market? As per market experience, companies tend to succeed better if they enter into India on a stand-along basis, rather than entering into a JV. Again, hiring a market entry specialist may help in identifying the best route, who will provide thorough understanding of the pros and cons of each channel, go and a no-go strategy and recommend the best suitable entry channel.

#5 Up the game - enter to impress

Contrary to the popular belief of playing on the pricing of a product, foreign companies also need to focus on value-oriented products and services to cater to different consumer and industrial groups. With the economy posing to grow by 7.5 per cent by next year[1], this emerging nation needs to be catered with innovative products and solutions at competitive price point. Further, understanding the key success factors and failures of various competing companies would help in risk mitigation and adopting best possible go-to market strategies.    


To succeed in the India market, foreign companies need to have a committed approach towards localising and empowering their India operations, while tweaking their business model to fit into the ‘Indian’ way. Though it may sound daunting, hiring an India entry specialist with expertise in research and strategising entry routes could make the process seamless.

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  [i] http://www.ibef.org/economy/indian-economy-overview