The 4 paradoxes of doing business with India

Slow and Fast

We think you need to commit three years to building business in India – but when you first go be ready for anything because demand can be instant. Or not. A careful understanding of the market and assessment of whether it is right for you is essential.

Price and Relationship

We know Indians chase a bargain. But price alone is not enough for longevity in India – you need to build relationships. I would build the relationship first, because anyone can undercut your price.

Status and Money

Status in a hierarchical society such as India is paramount. But now so is money. Making it. Showing it. If your product combines status and money it is a good fit. When there, be careful to fully respect the status of whoever you are dealing with.

“India” and “Many Indias”

India is not one market – it combines many languages and cultures, with people in one part of the country not even being able to understand people in another part. We begin by understanding the regional differences between north, south, east and west – but this is only the beginning of drilling deep to know who you are dealing with and who you are targeting. Beware someone who promises to take you “across India” in one major campaign.

Step one is to get some good market research – the only safe and sound beginning. Add to that some cross-cultural training.

Time, knowledge and patience are the keys.


Stephen Manallack speaking at Australia India Business Council function

Author: Stephen Manallack

Former President, Australia India Business Council, Victoria and Author, You Can Communicate; Riding the Elephant; Soft Skills for a Flat World (published by Tata McGraw-Hill INDIA); Communicating Your Personal Brand. Director, EastWest Academy Pty Ltd and Trainer/Speaker/Mentor in Leadership, Communication and Cross Cultural Communication. Passionate campaigner for closer western relations with India. Stephen Manallack is a specialist on “Doing Business with India” and advisor/trainer on “Cross-Cultural Understanding”. He is a Director of EastWest Academy Pty Ltd which provides strategic advice and counsel regarding business relations with India. A regular speaker in India on leadership and global communication, his most recent speaking tour included a speech to students of the elite Indian university, Amity University, in Noida. He also spoke at a major Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) global summit, the PR Consultants Association of India in Delhi, the Symbiosis University in Pune and Cross-Cultural Training for Sundaram Business Services in Chennai. He has visited India on business missions on 10 occasions and led three major trade missions there. He provides cross-cultural training – Asia and the west.

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