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Good Advice: Take India as It Is, Not How You Think It Should Be

Even the world's biggest brands can struggle to succeed in India. Coca-Cola chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent urges global companies to accept the market as it is, not as they wish it to be.

If you come to India with some grand, predetermined strategy or master plan, prepare to be distracted, deterred, and even demoralized.

That’s something I keep in mind as I think of The Coca-Cola Company’s experiences in India. Coca-Cola launched operations in India in 1950 shortly after independence. Our business grew steadily. But in 1977, we exited (along with other multinational companies) after a new law diluted ownership of our assets and operations.

We returned to rebuild our business in 1993 as economic reforms unleashed a period of robust growth. It was harder going than we’d imagined. We struggled at first to find and keep talented employees. We learned that although Indian consumers were eager to embrace global brands, they resented any hint of global corporate dominance. It took us time to understand that small stores, many operated by families out of the front of their homes, were an unappreciated source of economic opportunity.

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Keywords: retail supply chain, Indian marketplace, investment in India, India's consumers, logistics & supply chain

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