Hungry for familiar foods: Think global, act local

Sonya Misquitta and Dheeraj Sinha
GREY Group

'Think global, act local' has been a marketing mantra for multinationals trying to extend their brands to new countries and cultures. Nowhere is this more obvious than with food, which is strongly rooted in demography, local cultures, religion, location and economy. As a result, MNCs have often struggled to find acceptance for their products.

Apart from exporting global brands to India wholesale or adapting a global brand to Indian tastes, few foreign companies have created a uniquely Indian brand that is culturally specific to India. By merely localising western food constructs by tinkering with flavours, they are missing out on the larger opportunity to package local ideas. They seem to be confining themselves simply to the organised market or, perhaps, taking an arrogant attitude that sees India simply as a large market of would-be consumers, hungry for modern goods and services. By pitching their products to small segments of relatively affluent buyers who most closely resemble the prototypical western consumer, they are missing out on the very real opportunity to reach much larger markets farther down the socio-economic pyramid.