Global scale can help firms innovate

09 December 2009

NEW DELHI: Multinational companies can take advantage of their scale and reach to produce goods suitable for specific groups of consumers, Shantanu Khosla, managing director of Procter & Gamble's Indian arm, has argued.

As previously reported, P&G has heightened its emphasis on innovation during the downturn, and also announced its intention to expand its operations in emerging markets like India.

In-keeping with these trends, Khosla has suggested that a long-term focus on research and development should be seen as the "primary driver of business, financial and economic growth."

He further argued that collaboration and creativity are at the heart of these efforts, and are also central to Procter & Gamble's own mission.

"It is my firm belief that innovation must be consumer driven and it must be managed as a social process. At the end of the day, innovation is a human activity," he said.

"Innovation inspired by consumer needs can be a powerful transformational experience ... And that is what we like to believe we are about: touching lives and improving life."

More specifically, corporate social responsibility is one key element of this approach, an idea that has been advanced not only by P&G, but also by corporations like Hindustan Unilever and HSBC.

Khosla further posited that a global presence can actually help brand owners meet the needs of communities of consumers in different countries.

"We must understand that today we live in a world where there are as many similarities as there are differences," he said.

"A person in rural china or India may have more in common with rural Mexico or Brazil than with urban China [or] India. Similarly, Mumbai or Shanghai has more in common with NYC than with the rest of the country."

Moreover, open innovation, which involves working with other companies or members of the public, is becoming increasingly important as a driver of competitive advantage, Kholsa continued.

In India, the world's biggest advertiser works with partner organisations including the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Indian Institutes of Management in such a way.

Its innovation efforts have also moved beyond simply introducing new products, and cover everything from its communications strategy to the materials and packaging it uses.

"Organisations … need to leverage emerging technologies and collaborate with stakeholder communities across geographies to co-create value to make everyday life a little better now and in the future," Khosla concluded.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff