CHENNAI: In a war between two fidget spinners, the one that was made in India defeated the one from China, in a video on Youtube. However, when it comes to the brand perception of India products across the world, the ‘Made in India’ has failed to live up to the mark. After over three years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative to create a brand image of Indian products under the label ‘Make in India’, the country is still struggling to factor what all govern people’s perception of its product in other countries.
A survey conducted by the Statista-Dalia Research between last December and January 2017, ranked India 42nd among the 49 countries analysed for the popularity of their indigenous products in 52 countries. The study showed that people in different countries perceived Indian products as marginally better than China (49). Interestingly, China which stood last based on the consumers’ response from different countries for the quality of its products, ranked first among the mainland Chinese as revealed in the nation-by-nation ranking.
German-made products topped the ranking for product’s quality, efficiency and trust among the respondents.
Among the surveyed countries, brands of Indian origin were most popular in the United Arab Emirates. About 65 per cent of the respondents from that country see Indian products in a positive light. UAE is followed by Bahrain (63 per cent), Saudi Arabia (60 per cent) and, surprisingly, Ecuador where 52 per cent of the respondents said they view Indian products favourably.
The survey found that perception of Indian products was lowest among European countries. In fact in Austria, none of the respondents felt Indian products are reliable. Likewise, only eight per cent respondents in Germany, a country whose products were ranked the best among all ‘Made in (country)’ labels, considered Indian products just good enough.
Interestingly, the top three countries where Indian brands have strong approval rating are all in the Persian Gulf region, which has a large India diaspora. For instance, in UAE alone, there are presently 3.3 million Indian-born people and the preference for Indian products could, therefore, be traced back to where they come from.
In fact, the data by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry also shows that the UAE is India’s biggest export market, after the US. Among the key Indian exports, gold, jewelry and diamonds make up most of the percentage of exports there.
Fortunately, there are some Indian brands that are gaining footholds in the global market. For example, Amul, Dabur and Old Monk are available in the Middle East, the US and other countries. There are outlets of Cafe Coffee Day in Austria, Czech Republic, Egypt and Malaysia. Bajaj has a distributor in Ecuador and its automobiles are popular in Kenya and South Africa.
However, the potential such brands have, to propel the label “Made in India” is yet to be acknowledged back at home. Not a single Indian brand made it to Asia’s Top 100 list, according to a Nielsen’s study. Amul, which ranked 120 in 2015, slipped to 126 in 2017. The next Indian brand Big Bazaar, a retail store, is noted to be consistently sliding down every year. Additionally, the State Bank of India has also sunk from Asia’s 536th top brand in 2013 to 886 this year.
Micromax, the homegrown smartphone maker, emerged as the second largest smartphone brand in Russia in Q1 2017, but lost to Chinese smartphone makers in India, according to a mobile analyst firm Counterpoint. Qute — a compact quadricycle exported by Bajaj to countries in Europe, Africa, South America, and the rest of Asia — is yet to hit the roads of India. The famous Ongole Bull from Andhra Pradesh is very popular in Brazil where it is bred in large numbers. From there, it is being exported to other countries as well. But in India, the breed is on the verge of extinction.
“Like all successful brands, India as a brand, too, should stand for being a great product in itself. Also, the country and its people have to understand what India symbolises,” executive director of ITC Kurush Grant said in 2011.
Interestingly, how the Indian products are perceived abroad do not solely depend on their quality, but could also be a reflection of other factors such as the country’s foreign policy.
"A negative impression of India has been created in the minds of foreigners because of perceptions of, for example, poor foreign policies, reports of dishonesty in political parties, unstable relations with neighbouring countries, corruption in the country's administration, and limited trade and cultural relations with the rest of the world (particularly China and fast-growing countries in the region)," wrote business professors Alok Chakrawal and Pratibha Goya expressed their views in an article, Creating Brand India: Strategies, Issues and Challenges.
“Even in this age of fast electronic communication and the Internet, where things have become so transparent and easily accessible to people across the globe, people from outside India have a hazy idea about India and its high income disparity, poor health and sanitation conditions, complex caste system, religious and communal conflicts, frenzied approaches of some groups,” the two added.