5 essential tips for doing business with India in 2022

Generation change is seen in shopping malls across India

Growing at around 9 per cent this year, India is well on track to be number 3 or 4 economy in the world. It is also one of the youngest countries on earth – with around 50% of the population aged under 25. Demand outstrips supply – for everything.

Here are some tips that might help your experience, but keep in mind you will find many variations and contradictions of these points in the very diverse and exciting India market:

India is many countries in one

Differences are not just seen in the North, South, East and West, India is truly many countries in one and you need to be ready for cultural diversity. While Mumbai is the fast and flashy financial capital, it is also a tough place because everything is done on grand scale and at great speed. New Delhi is more formal, also more liveable, and is more than a political capital – it is a powerful business city. Chennai is one of my favourites, embracing that slower southern pace and the values that shine in southern businesses. Pune is sophisticated and a major player across many sectors. Bengaluru is technology but much more as well. Regions have varying strengths, so research is the key.

Market entry strategies should think longer term

India is looking for more than a quick sale – it looks to build relationships and create trust that can last a lifetime. India is what we call a “collective” culture – everything is done within the group and if you make it into the group, you will make it there. This means your first venture should probably not be to send the sales and business development team over there is search of deals. Rather, lead from the top to create relationships – deals will follow.

Find your local Indian team and culture

Companies that have tried to impose their Head office teams and cultures on India operations rarely succeed. A priority should be to identify Indians who can lead locally – with your support. Accepting that the corporate culture might not be an exact mirror of your HQ culture is also vital – with care and guidance over time, your Indian operations will reflect key elements of central culture but will bring added value too.

“Yes” can mean “maybe” or “no”

Indians are among the most courteous and generous hosts on the planet. On top of this, their culture demands that they never provide an outright rejection or “no” statement, even when this is clearly the only answer. The dumbest question for a business to ask in India is “can you help me with market entry for my products?” The answer will always be “yes” and you will sit idle for a long time back home until you realise this is not the right question. Within Indian culture built so solidly on relationship above all else, the word “no” is a real relationship breaker and is rarely or never used. “Yes” can in fact mean “maybe” or even “no” and you need to look for the signs. Like most of Asia, Indians are indirect communicators. If that is not complex enough, consider that India has 26 major languages.

Learn the art of flexibility and patience

Being patient and flexible is an asset, even if you come from a country that likes to be blunt, direct and structured. Most Indian communication is indirect, so it can take some time to work out what the real issues are. India is full of surprises and you cope best through being flexible. Dropping any “one rule for all” approach is a good start.

Indian consumers going online

Indian consumers flocking to Ultra-Premium groceries

Retail is changing fast in India

Freshpik has just been launched and marks Reliance Retail’s foray into the Ultra-Premium grocery segment in India. It is a new “experiential gourmet food store” and comes within the retail arm of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd.

Freshpik will offer a range of food items comprising fruits and vegetables – with specially curated organic varieties and live microgreens, essential ingredients for international cuisines like Japanese, Italian, Korean, and Thai, breads, ice creams, artisanal cheese, chocolates from local and international producers, and frozen desserts.

The ‘Good for You’ range of premium and healthy food products caters to the diverse dietary preferences of health-conscious customers.

Apart from this, customers can also choose from exotic varieties of tea and coffee; a wide range of personal care products, including premium ayurvedic and natural products; a host of kitchen accessories like cooking ware, serve ware, and bespoke and ready-to-pick gifting options.

A distinctive aspect of Freshpik is its immersive shopping concepts – created by integrating digital and physical themes – that elevate the experience of shopping to a whole new plane.

“If good food is your thing, Freshpik is a paradise. It’s a playground to delight all our senses, touch, see, smell, hear, taste, enjoy… Freshpik is a food experience, not just a store” said Damodar Mall, CEO Grocery Retail, Reliance Retail.

How is India travelling? Some developments for investors and exporters

Some developments for investors and exporters

  • One billion vaccines: The cumulative coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine doses administered across the country surpassed the 1-billion milestone, today. Over 700 million people have been administered the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, while 290 million have been fully vaccinated, according to the government’s CoWin website. The government has set a target to vaccinate all adults by the end of 2021.
  • Moody’s banking rating: Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the outlook for the Indian banking system to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’. It believes that the deterioration of asset quality since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic has been moderate and an improving operating environment will support asset quality. Moody’s expects asset quality to further improve, leading to decline in credit costs, as economic activity normalises. The rating agency has projected India’s real GDP growth for 2021-22 at 9.3 per cent.
  • Tax targets overshoot: The Centre is likely to exceed the budgeted tax collection target of Rs.22.2 trillion for the current fiscal year by Rs.2.5 trillion, according to experts. This is driven by better indirect tax mop-up, compliance measures and recovery in most sectors following the second wave of the pandemic. Personal income and corporate tax collections grew by 74 per cent to Rs.5.7 trillion in the first half of the current financial year, mainly due to advance tax and tax deduction at source (TDS) payments.
  • Power deficit: The power shortage situation in the country is improving as per the data released by the Central Electricity Authority. Power shortage came down to 1,456 MW on 17 October 2021 from 2,714 MW a week back. Peak power shortage stood at a massive 11,626 MW on 7 October 2021. According to power sector experts, demand has moderated due to the onset of autumn and heavy rains in many parts of the country. Moreover, an improvement in coal supplies would further bring down the power deficit.
  • Data consumption: India has the highest mobile data consumption in the world which is about 11 to 12 GB per user a month. The country is adding as much as 25 million new smartphone users every quarter making it a flourishing ground to launch digital initiatives, Ram Sewak Sharma, chief executive of the National Health Authority of India said. By 2025, India’s data consumption is likely to be doubled to nearly 25 GB per person a month, driven by affordable mobile broadband services and changing video viewing habits, Swedish gear maker Ericsson said.
  • E-Commerce sales: The share of e-commerce in the overall sales pie has touched new highs in the first fortnight of October 2021, according to market trackers and companies. Several categories, including smartphones, consumer electronics, apparel and daily necessities are growing faster than last year. The share of smartphone sales online surged to around 60 per cent in the first fortnight of Navratri-Dussehra from around 55 per cent, early estimates by market tracker Counterpoint Research showed. Televisions grew to 40 per cent from 31 per cent in the same period last year, while refrigerators, air-conditioners, washing machines and kitchen appliances rose to 9-10 per cent from 6-8 per cent. Market research firm RedSeer Consulting said the overall online shopper base has grown by around 20 per cent this festive season compared to last year, with tier II markets contributing to almost 61 per cent of all shoppers
  • Foreign investment: India witnessed net foreign investment inflows of USD 8.3 billion in August 2021, as compared to net inflows of USD 649 million in the preceding month. Net inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) rose to USD 5 billion from nearly USD 3 billion in July 2021. Net inflows of foreign portfolio investment (FPI) worth USD 3.3 billion were seen in August 2021, after witnessing net outflows of USD 1.6 billion in July 2021.

Thanks to ASK Capital Management Pte Ltd for the above information.

India’s Economy “Picking up Steam” Says S&P

Australian exporters – take another look at India

S&P Global Ratings said that after stalling post the second wave of the Covid pandemic, India retained the country’s BBB-sovereign rating with a stable outlook.

INTO INDIA has urged Australian firms looking for new markets to take another close look at opportunities in India.

S&P said that growth will improve over the July-September quarter, pointing to high-frequency indicators such as goods and services tax receipts and motor vehicle sales. Record forex reserves, and India emerging as an external creditor to the world has also supported the rating and stable outlook, S&P said.

Data released in July showed India’s economy expanded 20.1% year-on-year in the April-June quarter on a low base though sequentially it was down 16.9% over the previous quarter. 

S&P anticipates another Covid wave in India, but with rising vaccination coverage, it expects this to be less severe both in terms of health and economic impact. India’s vaccinations have crossed 700 million and in the first week of September, the daily average has been over 7.6 million doses.

Source THE INDIA EXPERT blog of Gunjan Bagla

CONCLUSION – INTO INDIA asks exporters and investors – if you are not now heavily committed to India, now is the time to take action.

Deloitte finds US firms investing more in India than in China

INTO INDIA has long called for more western investment into the growth story that is modern India.

Now, according to a survey conducted by multinational professional services network, Deloitte, a large proportion of international business leaders remain confident in India’s short- and long-term prospects and are readying plans to make additional and first-time investments in the country.

The India FDI Opportunity survey of September 2021, which questioned 1,200 business leaders of multinational corporations in the U.S., U.K., Japan, and Singapore, found that India remains an attractive destination for investments, scoring highly for its skilled workforce and prospects for economic growth.

  • 44 percent of the 1,200 business leaders surveyed are planning additional or first-time investments in India
  • Nearly two-thirds of first-time investments will be made within the next two years
  • Business perceptions of India are better in the U.S. and UK compared to Singapore and Japan
  • Recent reforms by the Indian government to improve ease of doing business are popular, but awareness of policy improvements remains low

It also said that more business leaders, especially in Japan, are making investments in India for access to the domestic market rather than using India as a springboard for exports.

“India has the strongest positive perception in the U.S. when compared to markets such as China, Brazil, Mexico, and Vietnam. The U.S. and U.K. business leaders expressed greater confidence in India’s stability,” it said.

Investment is always indirectly but powerfully linked with market entry and trade outcomes. INTO INDIA applauds the enthusiasm of the US for India and hope this is also taken up in Australia – where investment funds are high – fourth largest wealth management market in the world.

Getting lost in Higginbothams – amazing bookshop in Chennai

You can get lost in Higginbothams – or, at least, I have!

On Chennai’s Mount Road, Higginbothams has stood tall and proud since 1844. Said to be the oldest bookstore in India, it was founded by Abel Joshua Higginbotham—an India-born Englishman.

After an unsatisfying career as a seamen, Higginbotham became the manager of a bookstore in the basement of a Methodist chapel. He bought and ran the store for 60 years with his youngest son, before switching to the current Mount Road location.

The bookshop is housed in a grand, colonial structure and still carries an old world charm with wooden furniture and tall stained-glass windows.


LIC Building, 116, Anna Salai, near Regional Passport Office, Chennai.

Tech innovation is not just about tech – it needs a basis of deep understanding of your business

Sundaram Business Services has a deep understanding of Australian business.

Indian firms like Sundaram Business Services in Chennai and Australia should be on your radar for tech innovation – in addition to their tech innovation capabilities, SBS has been active in Australian business for many years and knows the business environment very well.

A KPMG survey ranks India third among countries that show the most promise for tech innovation.

Tech innovation is most successful when the supplier has a deep understanding of your business. This is like a mantra for the SBS group – building innovation on the sound basis of business understanding.

There has to be cross cultural understanding and good communication.

Whether it is Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning or other innovation, success is gained when the supplier has the capacity to how your business works and what your needs are in the market.

More than 800 industry leaders were surveyed for the report which said 39 per cent believe global ‘hub’ cities such as London, Singapore, and Tel Aviv will continue to play a vital role, enabling talent to coalesce and collaborate in communities with a solid digital infrastructure.

India a prime target for Aussie exports and investment – Austrade

Austrade’s Ashley Brosnan puts the case for Australian businesses to quickly get into India:

Australian businesses continue to see opportunities across a range of sectors including education, mining and resources, infrastructure, agri-food, and digital services. Thanks to the steady success of some great Australian brands, Australia is already a trusted supplier and investor.

However, India remains a challenging place do business. Expansion requires a high degree of market literacy and on-the-ground experience. Local partners help exporters and investors to navigate markets and regulation – and these partners can prove invaluable.

Despite this, the Government of India has signalled that India is ‘open for business’. It is emphasising investment and competitiveness as factors that will support the economy and encourage a return to growth.

The effects can be observed already in global rankings. India has moved up 63 places in the World Bank ‘ease of doing business’ rankings in recent years.

Austrade is helping Australian companies to explore India

The Australian Government is investing heavily in developing commercial links between Australia and India. The Australia-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreed by Prime Ministers in June 2020 creates further opportunities for Australian business.

The Partnership seeks to build supply chain resilience between the two countries. It strengthens and diversifies trade and investment links with a focus on education, critical minerals and technology cooperation.

Today, Austrade posts across India are working intensively with Australian businesses to understand market, identify opportunities, make connections and help companies negotiate contracts.

India consumer spending skyrockets

India’s consumer spending a “revolution”

Austrade’s Ashley Brosnan on India’s consumer spending “revolution”:

The biggest revolution taking place is the rapid rise of a huge, diverse and wealthy consumer market. Despite the impacts of the pandemic, domestic demand is likely to be a major driver of recovery and growth over the next decade, making up 60% of the overall economy.

E-commerce is taking off as smartphone usage multiplies. India already has over 1 billion internet users and the digital economy’s contribution to GDP is projected to grow 15–20% by 2024.

Incomes are also rising strongly. India’s median income per household is expected to reach A$13,867 by 2025. The World Economic Forum considers that consumer expenditure in India will grow by a factor of four up to 2030.

This means over 80% of Indian households will be middle-income in 2030 – an increase of 140 million. Another 20 million will be considered high income.

India’s emerging and aspirational middle class is seeking premium food and beverage, healthy lifestyle products, technical infrastructure, quality healthcare and education, entertainment and consumer goods.

Trends in consumer demand are encouraged by a substantial, highly-skilled Indian diaspora in Australia, which is set to number 1.4 million in 2031.

India’s millennials drive a shift to consumer demand

India’s millennials – what a shock – are borrowing for consumables.

This is a massive generational shift in India where previous generations believed in first saving and then buying – even if it took years or ultimately going without.

Consumer credit companies such as TVS Credit and Bajaj Finserv have been increasing the share of their offerings to these niche segments not covered by conventional lenders and NBFCs.

The loans are known as EMI’s (equated monthly instalments) and are used to buy various goods, including mobile phones, consumer durables and small-ticket items on easy, no-cost EMIs via loans or credit cards.

It is the segment of youthful, low-income but tech-savvy consumers that fintech lenders are targeting – half the small loans are of Rs5,000 or less.

The country’s largest AI-enabled consumer lending platform, ZestMoney, noted in a report that it had seen more than 125% growth in EMI funding.

E-commerce majors such as Amazon, Myntra, Flipkart, MakeMyTrip, Decathlon and Paytm, among others, have seen a substantial surge in online sales in the past year due to EMI financing schemes – and digital payments mean no cash.

The New India is not afraid of debt – signalling a major uplift in consumer demand for decades to come.