Tuesday, September 11, 2007

BRIC by brick

With apologies to Goldman Sachs, I must say that the clubbing of India as a part of BRIC is perhaps the biggest mistake that we all took to. No matter if statistics show that India will grow at a scorching pace, no matter if in less than a few years of the report India overshot the predictions by Sachs – we should still not have taken to it in the way we did. A lot of PR hooha, a little proof-of-the-pudding, and a name like Goldman S, and you’ve got the right broth for a success thriller. Though I am thrilled that the report got India into the limelight, I insist that to be the limited use the report had for India.

But, I am going to contend the fact that BRIC was not a good idea. In fact, I am telling you that the clubbing together has done more harm to India than anything else in the last few decades. Assuredly, with the kind of publicity the positioning has received, India will take a lifetime before the comparisons to BRIC, especially the neighborly China, break down and we are treated as an independent country in its own right.

The rationale behind the fact that India should not be clubbed with BR&C draws itself from the fact that while the growth figures, may (on the surface) show similarities, there are huge and divergent basis for the growth. It doesn’t take rocket-science to see that the culture, history, politics, environment, information, work-ethics among many more are as different as chalk to cheese among these countries. Its as much as asking the preference between Empadas, Dal-Chawal and Wonton Soup?

Why do we want to be different? Why do we want our own positioning? The answer is the same as why we brand a packet of chips, ketchup, or any other service or product. It allows for the distinctiveness to show and it allows our kind of target audience to be attracted to what is best suited to us. We are not selling India to everyone (while there is something for everyone in India for sure!), there is a core audience who we want to target and attract – as for the rest, we’re happy if we don’t offend them. Like India, every other country, including Honduras or Nicaragua has its own unique core audience. Drawing from the same reference, we might not target the company which invested in China as the core investor, or we may not find Starbucks suited to our backyards as much as the Brazilians do. As long as we’re taking action after thinking and not because others are doing it, we’re probably headed the right way.

Hopefully, over time and with considerable effort, we’ll be able to undo the damage done by the Goldman Sachs report. But more importantly, the start point is in recognizing the need to do it now.


Edward Hugh said...

Hi Cul de Sac

And thanks for the comment on my blog. I'm afraid I don't really agree with you, although I'm not a real fan of the BRIC grouping either.

But basically the issue isn't to do harm or good to India, but to get a better scientific understanding of what economic development is all about, and the role demographics have to play in it.

Which brings me to my central disagreement with the BRIC concept, Russia doesn't belong there at all, since the demographic trajectory is completely different. In it's place I would put Turkey, which is much nearer the profile of the others (although even China is far from being a classic case due to the long term application of the one child policy there are structural distortions in the population pyramid which are going to be hard to restore).

If you want to see some of the reasoning behind this, go to the Turkey Economy Watch page in my sidebars, and read the recent Turkey, Anatolian Tiger, post.

Good luck anyway.


Cul de Sac said...

Thanks for your comment Edward. I am glad that more than just me object to the BRIC grouping. Further, your thought about the inclusion of Turkey and exlusion of Russia in the BRIC grouping is valid . Completely accept that.

However, my article was more to show the problems faced by India from a pure positioning point of view.


RaAn said...

Differentiation has hit its heights and when every individual and every nation attempts to pursue differentiation, dissonance is bound to arise. My perspective is that if a brand has to gain (more) prominence, there is no harm in aligning towards one which is already established. Guess, India stand to gain a lot by being in the BRIC ecosystem as the growth of the ecosystem will significantly enhance its image (growth). Further, it solely depends on India to gain prominence in the BRIC ecosystem and bring out its own differentiator.