When The Coca-Cola Company began looking into expanding operations into India, the initial marketing data showed great opportunities. After all, Indias economy is the thirteenth largest in the world when adjusted for purchasing power parity, and it is growing at 6% a year. The country has a vibrant stock market the market cap as a percentage of GDP has grown from 12% in 1990 to 41% in 2001. There are also 180 million households and 290 million economically active consumers defined as monthly households with income greater than $60 per month.
Encouraged by this and other research, the soft-drink giant entered India and soon found itself in a battle for market share and survival. Recently, Stan Sthanunathan, vice president of Knowledge & Insights with The Coca-Cola Company, spoke to MBA students in a global business environments course at Emory Universitys Goizueta Business School about the challenges of doing business in India.
According to Sthanunathan, succeeding in India meant scrapping the business model that had worked well in other locales and shifting its initial focus more toward the customer and away from business operations. Only by really understanding the Indian consumer and taking into account data and knowledge from the countrys soft drink industry, culture, consumer behavior, languages, geography, was Coca-Cola able to finally find the insight it needed to put into place a plan of action to successfully compete in the market, explains Sthanunathan.