Back to India – Will you find your favorite products? (1 missing so far)

Updated: Desipundit linked to this post. Thanks Kaps. It is close to 5 months since we moved back to India after 10 years in the USA. Like everyone, I did worry about whether i will find some of my favorite products/brands in India.  So i decided to do a small study on brand penetration in India for the benefit of everyone that is contemplating the big move.  There is 1 product that I like (and I know many people in the US like it) is not available. Hold on to that thought – just to create some suspense. Overall out of the Top 100 brands, 84 of them are already in India. 4 of them are in coming soon category (Starbucks, Armani, Nissan, Harley-Davidson). Only 12 of the Top 100 are not here yet – Budweiser, Kleenex, Tiffany & Co., Hermès,, Gap,  Zara, Ikea,  Danone (Dannon in US), Disney, Nintendo, Volkswagen.  I also created a color coded brand penetration chart for the Top 100 (green means available, amber is coming soon and red is not available). We definitely do use several products that don’t figure in the Top 100. Here is a run down of typical ones by product segment: 1. Food – Bagels not available in Chennai (iam a big fan of bagels). But available in Bangalore at Bagels & Bakes – Phone: 2351-6103 and Oberoi’s 2. All of these available in a decent supermarket:
Personal Care – Gillette’s shaving systems (Mach3..), Deos, After Shaves, Listerine mouthwash and  usual  breath mints like Mintos, Tic Tacs etc.  Many options for Diapers and feminine care products.  Locally branded toilet and kitchen tissues are available. 4. Household products – Dranex, liquid plumr, 3M scotchbrite, lysol, pinesol. Non-branded items like can openers, typical varieties of mops are available as well. 3. Restaurants –  the more common ethnic cuisines are all available – Thai, Japanese, Lebanese, Malaysian, Chinese, Korean, Italian.  Rare ones like Ethiopian etc. are not there or are harder to find. There is no Ethiopian in Chennai yet. 4. Telecommunications – Broadband DSL as well as Cable Modem can be had for anywhere from Rs. 250 per month for 250Kbps to Rs. 1000 per month for 1Mbps and beyond.  Wireless routers  like Netgear are available as well. 5. Sport – a number of good gyms around. squash, bowling, snooker  are  available as well.  6. Entertainment – Theme parks, cinema complexes, Chennai (Abirami Theater Complex) and Hyderabad both have Snow World where they are creating snow and you are given winter gear to play in it. Neat idea. The Abirami version is perennially crowded but I am told the Hyderabad version is the happening place for cool people. On the TV Channels front, Priya Raju is a bit upset that her favorite channel A&E is not available here. MTV, VH1, Discover, HBO etc are available. 7. Pharmaceuticals – most of them are available. If you use some rare medicine, please ask someone to check availability for you. 8. Automotive – All the major players are there. If you are used to automatic shift (as opposed to manual stick shift), you have plenty of options. 9. Household goods – Several options for DVD players, microwaves, home theaters, flat panels and the prices have become more reasonable.  100% clothes dryers were not available earlier. Now IFB Bosch is selling one. So you can get rid of the clothes line! Dishwashers are also available – multiple options. 10. Shopping – excellent malls are there everywhere. Spencer’s Plaza – the much talked about one in Chennai is too chaotic for my taste. There are too many shops and by the time you figure out how to go from one shop to the one you are looking for, your head starts spinning. There are shops in every nook and cranny of the mall. I wonder how anyone locates their favorite shop when they need to – especially the ones that are tucked into one of the corners. My favorite is the newly opened Chennai Citicenter Mall on Radhakrishnan Road. The Lifestyles shop inside there, complete with escalators inside the shop, is almost like any Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s store in the US. The mall is less crowded, at least for now. 11. Beverages & Snacks – Typical Soda brands are Coke, Pepsi, 7up, Mirinda etc. are available. Lay’s potato chips available in all flavors including some local variants. Now for the missing entry – It is Tropicana juice (the-not-from-concentrate version). The made-from-concentrate version of Tropicana is available in plenty in all supermarkets. Not just Tropicana, no other brand (like Odwalla) that sells tetrapak-based fresh juices is available in India. My curiosity got piqued and I investigated this further  to understand why this is the case.  It turns out that Tropicana uses an innovative technology called Flash Pasteurization to pasteurize fresh juice and pack it into aseptic containers like Tetrapak. Flash Pasteurization helps maintain the flavor of the juice. Conventional pasteurization  technology is said to destroy the taste. Incidentally, Tropicana invented this flash pasteurization technique in 1954 and ever since USA has had the luxury of having fresh packaged juice and India is still waiting. By the time, Flash Pasteurization is introduced in India, another more advanced technology is taking shape. A new technique called Shockwave Pasteurization is being developed. New Scientist reported that Shockwave Pasteurization promises to further reduce the damage to the flavor:

The process is being developed by Achim Loske and colleagues at the
Autonomous University of Mexico’s Centre for Applied Physics and
Advanced Technology in Querétaro. Loske subjected vials of bacteria to
shock waves in a device called an electrohydraulic generator, which
generates shocks with pressures of up to 1000 atmospheres, accompanied by intense flashes of visible and ultraviolet light.

This combination, Loske says, killed bacteria in the vial. “A possible
advantage of the treatment is that, as far as we know, shock waves
don’t change the taste of the food,” he says.

Hope, at least, flash pasteurization comes to India soon. References:
1.  Tropicana invented Flash Pasteurization in 1954! 2. Odwalla : Freshology 3. Good description of pasteurization


1. Observations from my first 2 weeks in India.

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  1. Anonymous said May 31, 2006, 2:20 am:

    Danone has a tie-up with Britannia. But Danone products are still not avlbl in India:

  2. Anonymous said May 31, 2006, 3:24 am:

    what i dont understand here is why do people returning from abroad have to find those brands here in india? not that i am some socialist or anything of that sort and neither am i some pro-swadeshi campaigner or something…

    but its curious that people, when they go to the US of A dont look for narasu’s pickles or everest masala powder or even sambhaji chaap beedi for that matter in USA and get acquainted to whatever is available there…

    cant the same be done back here in india… cant CCD suffice instead of Starbucks? cant Topaz/Vidyut serve the purpose instead of Gillette…

    Just a curious question… thats it

  3. Anonymous said June 1, 2006, 1:16 am:

    Good question Iyereducation – I think brand managers would love to find an answer to that. In my opinion, it is just familiarity and trust borne out of years of using a brand.

    Not sure, i will agree that when we go to the USA, we don’t look for familiar brands. We absolutely do. There are a lot of Indian grocery stores in the USA which have been founded on the express premise of fulfilling your needs for Indian stuff. You can get everything from Prestige pressure cookers down to the Everest masala that you like. Now you may ask, why don’t people use a American-branded pressure cooker which are found in most supermarkets? You may be surprised to find that many people carry a Sumeet mixie to the USA even though you get very good blenders in the US. I think, as I said before, everything boils down to familiarity and trust.

  4. Anonymous said June 1, 2006, 1:17 am:

    Thanks Kaps. Hope Dannon starts selling their famous yoghurt here soon.