Tiremakers Working to the Global Stage - Tire Review Magazine

Tiremakers Working to the Global Stage

Recently, India’s Economic Times was considering if – and when – any of that country’s major brands could become a truly global brand. The Indian Nike, Wal-Mart, or Coca-Cola, if you will.

And it is an interesting question for a still-emerging country. With its fast-growing consumer sector, Indian and international brands are a big hit. But can any home-grown Indian brand make it to the world stage?

I suspect the answer is yes, and such a global brand could well come from among its tiremakers – Apollo, JK, MRF, Ceat.

Already traded across Europe and in other corners of the globe, each of those brands does have the opportunity to be India’s breakout brand name. But it will be some years before we really know.

There are two types of global brands: the out-of-nowhere supernova that virtually invents a category and becomes a global giant seemingly overnight, and those famous brands that have decades of consistent performance and steady promotion under their belts. Brands like century-old Goodyear and Michelin and relative youngster Bridgestone have spent trillions expanding and solidifying markets, moving with consumer shifts, creating top-technology products and promoting themselves at every turn. All three turn $20-$30 billion in annual sales.

By contrast, not only are India’s top tire brands relative newcomers to the world stage, they are relative newcomers within their home market. And none have the resources today to go toe-to-toe against established global icons.

The Indian economy is the 10th largest in the world, but accounts for only 2% of global trade, the Economic Times said. India and China remain the fastest growing economies on the planet, but the closest either country has to a truly global brand lies in Tsingtao, China’s Budweiser.

“We have some of the largest selling brands in terms of volume but mere volume doesn’t make the brands global. It is brands with a clear differentiation and deep-rooted insight that are truly global,” Vivek Sharma, CMO at Philips Electronics India, told the ET.

“Unlike their western counterparts, there is little innovation that Indian brands actually do. Having genuine global scale requires capital and resources that most Indian brands lack. It is something that they will gather over a period of time,” Harminder Sahani, CEO of Wazir Consultancy, a New Delhi-based consultancy focused on brands and retail, told the newspaper.

The Tata Nano micro-car may attract worldwide attention if only because of its size and sale price. The fact Tata is a mega-huge corporation with its fingers in many sectors is lost on most of the world, as is its ownership of the storied auto badges Jaguar and Rover.

Even as a supernova brand now, Tata still has a leg up on the rest of the Indian market, and given time and money it could become an iconic brand.

So, too, could tire brands Apollo and JK, which appear to be in the best position because of their current product offerings and reach outside of India.

All it’s going to take is time and money.

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