Domestic Brands Venture Out – How do Indian Shoppers Benefit?
While a host of foreign brands have made their way into our retail stores, a new trend of domestic brands heading overseas is now on the upswing. Specifically, nice retail brands such as Kaya Skin Clinic, Himalaya Herbals, Fabindia, Titan and Hidesign are rapidly establishing / expanding their presence abroad, tempting the Indian Diaspora and global audiences with an array of quality products and that are well conceptualized and professionally crafted. Most of these retail brands initially ventured out to focus on markets that have a significant Non-Resident Indian (NRI) population such as the Middle East and Southeast Asian countries. This was in part due to the changing profile of the NRI population in these countries, which has gradually evolved from low paid workers in the '70s to today's well-heeled professionals, and the fact that set up and operational costs can be significantly lower (as compared with the US and the UK) in these countries. Besides, as with all of Asia, the middle-class populations in these countries as well are on the rise; and along with their spending power, they have also found the intrigue to experiment with niche foreign brands. This largely explains the success of brands such as Himalaya and Fabindia, which now retail through their exclusive concept stores, in these markets. It is likely that with the success of such retail ventures abroad, many other domestic brands will follow suit. Aside from an opportunity to experiment on an entry strategy into foreign markets, this will also create an opportunity for Indian brands to really focus on their retail service strategy. Let's face it, retail servicing is still evolving in India, while some of these markets already have far mature processes and standards. Indian brands are still focused on ensuring pleasant shopping experiences for their customers, and yet to move into value added areas such as customer education and engagement. For instance, walk into any Nike store abroad, and you will often find sales staff, who are into serious sports training themselves, and can engage you with valued inputs on choosing a product suited to your individual sporting style and needs. Brands venturing abroad will eventually transfer their learnings back into the domestic market; making for improved retail experiences for the average Indian shopper, and overtime, raising the overall retail service standards. That would mean more choices, and more power to the customer - now, who wouldn't like that? About the author: Lakshmipriya Somasundaram is a Contributing Editor for TradeBriefs. She can be reached at lpsom@hotmail.com.

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