Navrati festival now and Diwali to follow – “don’t be scared, be blessed”

On my second visit to India, staying in a hotel in New Delhi, I was alarmed at two or three in the morning by a series of explosions – in this post 9/11 era we are all a little on edge. I spent a nervous night and next morning anxiously asked the concierge had he heard the massive explosions?

With a beaming smile on his face, he said “This is Diwali and people always fire off crackers – don’t be scared, be blessed”.

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Pictured are dancers during Navrati Festival

This year, Navratri (Durga Puja) is being observed from September 29 to October 7 and Diwali on 27 October – which is my birthday, so it will be very special for me this year.

Navratri in Sanskrit means nine nights in which nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped in a particular order. Alongside observing fast and performing various rituals, preparing a special offering for each day holds symbolic significance.

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Aarti was also performed and people were seen offering prayers at Mumba Devi temple in Mumbai (pictured above) on the first day of Navratri. Mumba Devi is an amazing temple and I recommend it be on your “must visit” list if in Mumbai.

Kalkaji temple and Jhandewalan temple in New Delhi were all decked up with flowers as people stood in long queues to attend the first aarti of the nine-day-long festival.

In India festivals are generally about great optimism – in one way or another, about the triumph of good over evil.

So, from me – “all best wishes of Navrati to you!”

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Horticulture & Hydroponics research mission from Australia to India

From 3 November to 13 November Tony Bundock of Genesis Horticulture Solutions will be leading a research project in India on “POTENTIAL AUSTRALIA-INDIA COLLABORATION ON HYDROPONIC & PROTECTED CROP PRODUCTION AND TRAINING”.

Tony is clear that the mission is not taking a “one size fits all” solution but will genuinely  research potential Australia-India Horticulture Collaboration – understanding the state of play in this sector in India – identifying business and education/skills training opportunities and partnerships. He aims to identify levels of support in both countries for showcasing best practices in controlled cropping/hydroponics and for provision of skills training and train-the-trainer through Australian education/TAFE partners.

PROJECT FIRST STAGE RESEARCH FUNDING

Funding support has been provided for the first research stage by the Australia India Council, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Government of Australia.

I am really pleased to be joining Tony on this mission.

Steve’s 7 tips for exporting to India’s middle class

  1. Find the affluent millennials

India is home to the world’s largest population of millennials—typically defined as those aged 18-35. At 450 million, these millennials are influencing the way Indians eat, shop, commute and buy, much like their global counterparts. They are the first upwardly mobile group in recent history of India – and will have an impact very like the way western baby boomers changed most things.

According to Santosh Desai, managing director of Indian Brand Advisory Group Futurebrands, Indians used to be “born something” but now can “become something”.

2. Drill down to the real middle-class market

We know India has 1.3 billion people, but if you think too much about this you will get nowhere. Drill down to find your market.

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For example, some estimate the “middle class” as high as 300 million. For me, this is way too high. Austrade takes a dimmer view – it estimates that there are approximately 30 – 80 million people in our target demographic, many of whom live outside Tier 1 cities. That’s a big range from 30 to 80, which shows that we just do not know. But for me Austrade’s numbers are too low.

Austrade looks for consumers that:

  1. can afford international travel to destinations like Australia;
  2. can afford to send their children for study abroad; and
  3. can afford to eat at high-end restaurants and hotels or eat significant amounts of imported food and wine at home

3. Think of India as many markets

Thinking of India as “one market” will slow down your impact and waste your marketing efforts. First, there is the divide between north, south, east and west. Then there are big metropolises (8-10) and hundreds of tier one cities (around one million plus). Then there are over 26 different languages, multiple food cultures, differing beliefs and interests. It is complex, so build that into your “many markets” strategy.

4. Consumerism is changing in India

India had just 9 Shopping Malls in 2007. There are over 350 Shopping Malls in 2019. Plus 85 new Shopping Malls will be built in the next 5 years = 435 Shopping Malls in 2025.

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Add to this that online retail is taking off, with Amazon and the local Flipkart leading the way.

Dr Mark Morley Trade Commissioner India Government of Australia makes a key point about opportunities for us: “Australia is well positioned with the Indian consumer. Across India, we have a great reputation for clean, safe and reliable supply. We are well known as a premium supplier of produce, and we have a global reputation for our quality brands.”

5. Thinking local is a good way to start

Especially for those in food, beverages, education and fashion, your beginnings for India can start right here in Australia.

About 650,000 Australians claim Indian ancestry, and we have over 65,000 Indian students here, which means a significant local market spending money. Add to that the growth in Indian tourists – up to over 300,000 per year and growing at around 15%. This gives you a good market testing opportunity.

6. Collaboration is the new relationship

If you just want to “sell” to India, sharpen your pencil and think short term – sooner rather than later, India will find an alternative to you.

To be in India for the long term, seek genuine opportunities to collaborate with Indians – once you and Indian collaborators are working together, your future is more secure. This is how Indians prefer to operate, so drop “transactional” thinking and focus on “collaboration” – it is the new relationship.

7. Give India the time it needs

Cultures based on relationship (collaboration) are slower to move, so give India at least three years. You might “sell” sooner, but for most this is a very short-term market entry approach.

Blackstone keen on India investments and sees slowdown as short term

Blackstone has been investing in India for some time – and it sees the current “slow down” as only short term and also “an opportunity”.

The reality is that Blackstone – having been a serious investor in India – has reaped great rewards from being part of the India growth story.

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Indian Government plan to allow foreign universities in India is a game changer

The Narendra Modi Government of India has taken steps to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India – this will be a major game changer.

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The Bill aims to set up a single higher education regulator that will replace the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE).

The Bill carries a clause stating that the new Higher Education Commission can permit “highly-reputed foreign universities” to set up campuses in India.

Skills and education are part of the focus of my mission to India in November – we will report back on this game changer.

My “shopping mall index” shows you must revisit India for consumers

India had just 9 Shopping Malls in 2007.

There are over 350 Shopping Malls in 2019.

Plus 85 new Shopping Malls will be built in the next 5 years = 435 Shopping Malls in 2025.

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That’s my “shopping mall index” That’s why you should revisit India.

India today is a heady mix of three powerful elements – an appetite and reality of rapid change, a young population and the Governments now have funds to spend.

Add to this that online retail is taking off, with Amazon and the local Flipkart leading the way.

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Dr Mark Morley Trade Commissioner India Government of Australia makes a key point about opportunities for us: “Australia is well positioned with the Indian consumer. Across India, we have a great reputation for clean, safe and reliable supply. We are well known as a premium supplier of produce, and we have a global reputation for our quality brands.”

One challenge for Australian businesses is to fully understand the market – and the answer is that hardly anyone knows what size the market is.

We know there are 1.3 billion people.

Within that, some estimate the “middle class” as high as 300 million.

Austrade takes a dimmer view – it estimates that there are approximately 30 – 80 million people in our target demographic, many of whom live outside Tier 1 cities. Thats a big range from 30 to 80, which shows that we just do not know. Austrade looks for consumers that:

  1. can afford international travel to destinations like Australia;
  2. can afford to send their children for study abroad; and
  3. can afford to eat at high-end restaurants and hotels, or eat significant amounts of imported food and wine at home.

The point is, we need more and better data.

But my “shopping mall index” should give you a reason to revisit.

And if you act soon but take a long term view, now is the time to start.

Uniqlo to open first Indian store in Delhi

Further evidence of rapid change in retail in India – On 4th October 2019, Japanese apparel retailer “Uniqlo” will open its first store in Delhi and as a part of its strategic roll-out plan, it will open three stores in the Delhi-NCR region by end of 2019.

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Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj

The government has further improved sourcing patterns for the international companies that enter India through its single brand retail route.

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Mr. Tomohiko Sei, Chief Executive Officer, Uniqlo India, said, “We are very excited to announce the opening date today. We look forward to formally opening our doors to the Indian customers and offering Uniqlo’s high quality, highly functional apparel that we call LifeWear starting from Delhi at Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj.”

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