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Pricing is a challenge, every global brand has to find margin of opportunity: Tim Calkins

Q&A with international brand guru and professor at Kellogg School of Management

Digbijay Mishra  |  Kolkata 

Tim Calkins, international brand guru, professor at and a frequent traveller, thinks India, despite being an enormous brand, is price- sensitive and challenging for foreign brands to make a healthy return on investment. Calkins, on his maiden visit to the city of joy, tells Digbijay Mishra that key for a brand is to trace margin opportunity and also talks about what needs to be done when things go wrong on social media.

How do you see Brand India?
India is extraordinary brand, an enormously important brand and there is certainly a huge opportunity for companies in such a big market. It's a challenge to market here. A lot of companies have learnt that it is tough to break in here and it is easier said than done, partly because there is logistical challenge and there are some really good Indian brands.

What are the Indian brands that you have heard about globally?
Many Indian brands. I am aware of Tatas, Infosys, Mahindra,

India is said to be a price sensitive market and many foreign brands continue to struggle with that. What should be the ideal way to tackle that?
The challenge for an international brand is getting financial return. They enter new markets with products because they think there is an opportunity of getting financial returns..and the challenge, India holds is, to generate income especially for new players.. it requires huge investment for multiple years. Pricing is a challenge and every global brand has to find margin opportunity..

We have witnessed severe competitive advertising environment recently where brands are naming each other directly in advertisements. What do you make of that?
I really love tough competition, so I like it when they fight hard to defend their position. I am pro-competition, but any of the thing you do has to fit culturally. In some countries, it is fine, but in some places it might not work ,so important thing is whether it fits the country culture.

But, can it actually make an impact?
You got to take competitive threats early and seriously because a new competitor can do enormous damage to your existing position. The second thing is, companies have to remain innovative otherwise a gap remains.

Companies or brands are very active on social media. Do you think it will overcome other tools of marketing?
There is no question social media has become a core marketing tool but i don't think its going to take over everything. It will become one of the tools among many that people can use for marketing.

So if once things go wrong on social media, what is the ideal way to tackle it?
If something negative goes viral you need to respond immediately . If you wait for a few days to think about the right way to respond then the story is got to be of control, so the key thing is you got to be watching and be ready to respond.

First Published: Sat, November 30 2013. 19:24 IST