We are like that only – Rama Bijapurkar – Review

Finished the book more than a week ago, but couldnt find time to review it. Its a pretty good read if you are someone in the marketing or management field. Also a must read for all the multinationals who plan to setup their shop in India. According to Rama, the main problem with the MNCs entering India is that they think the world is one homogenous market. They believe, what works in the Americas, Europe, Asia has to work in India too. Its because of such thoughts that many of the multinationals have not managed to penetrate the Indian markets. After spending billions and being in India for more than 15 years, Coke and Pepsi still dont make profits. But they chug on cos they learn something new every day about the Indian consumer and the market.

Other notable flop in the Indian market is Kellogs cereals. The company couldnt understand that Indians prefer a hot steaming breakfast every morning, instead of cereals dunked in cold milk. Even if the lady in the household is working, the kitchen in an Indian household starts buzzing very early in the morning. Rama fills up the book with lots of figures and stats to back up her claim. Quite an interesting read.

Most market analysts and business strategists bark up the wrong tree when they set out to evaluate the india opportunity by asking the question, ‘When will India have the per capital income and infrastructure of China, the westernization and per-capita consumption of Brazil, the education levels of Russia, the institutional framework and maturity of US?’ What theyare actually asking is, ‘When will India become like someplace else?’

The correct answer to this incorrect question is ‘probably never’; certainly not in the lifespan of most people reading this book! That is the most important truth about India. To use a popular Indian phrase and the title of the book, ‘We are like that only! Mind it’ (loosely translated, it means ‘deal with it’!) Evaluating India through a comparative lens will lead to the inevitable conclusion that now will never ever be a good time to enter a market of billion consumers. US$700 billion GDP and growing at 8 to 9 percent, because it will probably never catch up with the benchmark ‘someplace else’.

However, when evaluated through a standalone lens there are no suprises here and it’s clearly a mixed verdict. The glass of market attractiveness is half full and half empty. However, there are several signs that would lead one to believe that the glass is filling – maybe not as fast as we would like to, but the water level is definitely rising with each passing year.

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  • lazybug

    The title of the book sounds ‘commercial’ but when I read the blurb, it sounded like a management school book. So, kept back on the shelf. 🙂

  • Liju Philip

    @Ottayan, The next 5-10 years would start seeing the first children of liberalisation get into the workforce. It would be an interesting India out then.

    @Blahstory, blah blah blah 😉

    @Akhil, the book was of good use to me when i was doing my MBA project on ‘Retail Management in India’.

    @Manpreet, yup gimme a paratha, idli, dosa anyday over some soggy cold cereals. 🙂