India is a country where people belonging to almost all religious faiths live – Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Jains. They speak different languages. With a population of over 1 billion and 65 per cent literacy level, the country offers exciting opportunities to marketers. The country –specific risks like corruption, political instability, vast cultural differences, poor infrastructure etc are equally threatening. The ethical and moral roots of society are, however, very strong. People believe in joint family system (especially in North India) daily, believe in destiny, respect elders and senior citizens, perform rituals scrupulously and are generally God fearing. The spread of consumerism, the rise of middle class with high disposable incomes, the flashy lifestyles of people working in software, telecom, media, and multinational companies and stock market addicts seems to have changed the socio-cultural scenario in recent times. After the 90s, people have started rationalizing the philosophy – ends justify the means. Such lower ethical standards have now become a real threat to business organizations which have, traditionally been carrying out their operations in a fair way.
Do not rub People on the wrong side:
The Muslim world dubbed the recent attack of USA against Iraq as war against their faith, religion, and Allah. To register their deep anguish , resentment and protest, the whole Muslim world has decided to boycott popular American symbols like McDonald’s Pepsi, Coca Cola. The new Cola brands in the form of Quibla cola in Britain, Mecca Cola in France and West Asia, Zum Zum Cola in Iran are new symbols of Islamic protest against American domination . In most countries the godowns of Pepsi and Coca-cola are being burnt up. McDonald’s outlets are boycotted and other popular symbols of American origin are being put on the hit list.
The All India democratic women’s association sent letters in protest against some commercials on TV deemed offensive following which the I&B Ministry sent notices to a few channels to take the ads off the air. A handful of commercials were deemed objectionable, including those of ICICI, Jockey underwear Kamasutra condoms and Bacardi Breezer. But directly in the line of fire was the beauty industry’s most uncomfortable success story: fairness cream advertisements a segment whose annual market size in India is estimated at Rs 650 crore. Singled out were Hindustan Unilever Limited’s Fair & Lovely commercials .
One of the ads has the father of a girl saying, Kaash mera ladka hota (if only I had a son) after the snub the girl applies the HLL cream, becomes fair (and therefore pretty) and lands the coveted job of no, not a rocket scientist, but an air hostess. Another shows a father worried that a prospective groom will reject his daughter as he had rejected the daughters of a few others for the sin of being dark (Fair & Lovely steps into solve the problem again). Feminists have dubbed the ads as Ludicrous and humiliating because the ads show women as inferior. Both the companies have begun the damage control exercise now, so that their grip over the fairness cream market, estimated to be $ 70 billion in Asia alone remains intact.
Many political factors influence how managers formulate and implement strategic direction due to socialist leanings of some of the ministers. Coca-Cola and IBM had to move out of India in the late 70s. A deep seated fear of multinationals made the political leaders to shut the door on giant multinational companies for a painfully long time. Entry barriers protectionist policies, high tariffs, anti-nationalist slogans, bad publicity have had a cumulative effect in creating a closed economic model where people had to wait for years to buy a Bajaj scooter or a fiat car in India. When things turned from bad to worse the situation was sought to be remedied through a bold liberalization program in the early 90s. Apart from a willingness to bend the rules and get along with the times political stability is also essential for economic growth.
Source: Strategic Management