Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

What’s right with India

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Whenever I pick up a newspaper or a magazine — especially The Economist — I keep reading pieces about what’s wrong with India. Corruption is rampant, the infrastructure, what there is of it, is falling to bits, the government is senile and feeble and the economy is flagging — and so on. All of which may be true — but it rather depends on your perspective.

I live in Europe. Well, I live in Britain.  That’s not quite right either. I live in London. And I can tell you that the perspective on India from Europe or Britain, or even London, doesn’t look all that bad. In fact, from where I’m standing, it looks quite good.

Look at us.

The Euro? Don’t ask. Indebtedness? Everywhere. Growth? Forget it. It’s negative. In other words, we’re going backwards. Corruption and incompetence? Look at the banking sector. Morale? Dreadful. Leadership? There isn’t any. Yes, I’m talking about Europe, the world’s biggest and richest trading area — still.

Where are the Alphonsos?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

I had my first Alphonso mango of the season a few weeks ago in London. Oddly enough, although so many things are so easy to get hold of in London, Alphonsos aren’t. You either have to go to very expensive food halls — places like Fortnum & Mason or Selfridges or Harrods — or pick them up at one of the more selective South Asian food shops that are scattered around.

So how much is Kodak worth now?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Kodak, one of the world’s best-known brands, is disappearing. Its products are obsolete; the company didn’t manage to change quickly enough.

Why do we buy what we buy?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Let’s cut out all the marketing jargon and adspeak. Consumers (that means people, you and me) try to buy rationally, on price – it’s cheaper, on quality – it lasts longer, on service – they won’t let you down when things go wrong. And sometimes it is genuinely possible to make rational choices when we buy things. Mostly though it isn’t anymore, because products and services are increasingly similar in their rational characteristics. If they are poorer quality or more expensive than a direct competitor, they die.

The world’s greatest logo

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Whenever I’m interviewed about branding I almost always get asked: “What is the world’s greatest logo?” By which I suppose the interviewer means, what is the world’s most recognised brand?

Why no McDosa?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The whole world now knows that India has arrived. It isn’t just Infosys and TCS. Tata is the largest manufacturer in Britain with Jaguar Land Rover and Corus — not to speak of Tetley. Bajaj exports a significant proportion of its motorcycle output to Africa — and so on. Indian companies are finally starting to make a significant impact on the global scene.

First impressions and beyond

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

If you walk down a quite narrow and almost absurdly overcrowded street in Mumbai’s former financial district, Fort, you’ll come across an undistinguished building about 100 years old. It’s called Bombay House. This is the home of Tata.

Brand architecture – one name or several?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

You may be sitting at the airport drinking a Kingfisher beer while you are waiting for your Kingfisher flight. Maybe in a year or two you will be able to stay at a Kingfisher resort and talk to your friends on a Kingfisher mobile network.

Making your mind up in India

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

When I tell people at a dinner party in London that I’ve just been to India — which I sometimes do because I’m frequently in India and I lived in Mumbai once — people very often say to me, ‘Oh, how wonderful! I went there once. India’s so spiritual isn’t it?’ So I reply ‘Well, it probably is, but not the bits I go to’. By which I mean Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and all that — bustling, busy, commercial and industrial India isn’t remotely spiritual. Or am I missing something?

Family businesses and the brand

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

I’ve had a lot to do with family businesses, in India of course, but also in Britain, Spain and quite a few other places. In fact, I come from a family business. My father was head of a transport business and all his brothers (my uncles) and, maybe more important, all the brothers’ wives were in it too.

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