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Doing Business in India - Tips for USA Companies

As the world's second most populous nation, with more than one billion people, India is projected to become one of its biggest economies. It is tipped to nearly draw level with the United States by 2050.

For foreign executives, doing business for the first time in India can be a bewildering experience. There's the new - different business customs, bureaucracy and the dizzying scale of the population - but also the familiar.

You'll likely be dealing with people who speak the Queen's English, and who graduated from top Western universities.

You can get lulled into a false sense of security - but for people dressing a little different and talking a little different, they are just like me. That's a completely false premise. There are all kinds of nuances in the culture, implicit cultural norms that we don't know about until we run afoul of them.

For companies with any kind of global interest, the writing is on the wall that they need to have a strategy for India.

For USA companies rushing to enter the Indian marketplace, it needs to be recognized that the country is a very different proposition - both in terms of business practices and consumer preferences - and must be treated accordingly.

One of the common pitfalls in addressing the Indian marketplace is simply dusting off something you might offer in your home market. Indian consumers are very different - enormously value conscious and very, very finicky.

Holding to too high a price point could be fatal for foreign businesses, as Indian consumers have less capacity to pay than Western consumers. But by making their products affordable to the mass market, businesses put them within reach of hundreds of millions of potential consumers.

The companies that fare best in the Indian market are those that customize their products to the particular preferences of Indian consumers.

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