Disney develops unique model in India

15 March 2013

NEW DELHI: The Walt Disney Company, the entertainment group, is pursuing unique strategies in each of its major emerging markets, with India one key test case for this localised operating model.

Andy Bird, the firm's international chairman, argued its tactics in India had to differ from markets like China, Russia, South Korea or Latin America, all of which demand a bespoke approach.

"We recognise that each market we enter essentially needs its own 'Disney' company – with strategies and products and messages that are compatible with the culture and relevant to local consumers," he said, as reported by the Hindustan Times.

In India, Disney has opted to focus on media and entertainment, as the sector is set for a "huge leap forward", the country's middle class is growing and there is a "traditional focus on the family".

At present, its broadcast networks reach over 100m Indian viewers per week, while the firm's takeover of UTV - a media group active in fields from film to online gaming - in 2012 gave it access to 250m more people.

Alongside television channels like Bindass and Hungama, as well as UTV, Disney believes its Star Wars and Marval franchises have the greatest potential for success in India.

"In India, we have built a creative prowess, second only to that found in the US," Bird said. "No other Indian media company will have the breadth of businesses we will have and no other Indian media company will connect with generations of consumers like The Walt Disney Company India will do."

To enhance its position, Disney and UTV staff in India are working closely with their peers at business units like Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm in the US. The Indian digital team is also drawing on insights from Japan.

In contrast to India, the firm's strategy in Latin America currently centres around making the transition from being seen as a "high-end, rather elite brand" into a "broader mass market brand".

The difficulties related to importing content into China have led to a different approach in the Asian nation, with an emphasis on "telling Disney stories" through both theme parks and building a retail network.

When discussing the prospects of opening a theme park in India, Bird suggested the infrastructure was still too limited to justify the cost. Disney's theme park in Shanghai, for example, will cost over $5bn.

"While setting up a park, we have to keep in mind the demand pattern for the next 50 to 75 years as once you open the door to the park, it remains open on all days. Everything, including the infrastructure, has to be in place before opening the doors," said Bird.

Data sourced from Hindustan Times/Business Standard; additional content by Warc staff