YCCI Conference Takes a New Look at Marketing to Consumers in China and India
Drawing participants from four continents, the first annual China India Consumer Insights Conference took place in New Haven, Connecticut, at the Yale School of Management on April 3-4, 2009. The conference was the inaugural event hosted by the China India Consumer Insights Program of the Center for Customer Insights at Yale SOM. The focus for the symposium was the unique challenges and opportunities that China and India present to marketers.
The conference took a multidisciplinary approach to its subject. In addition to the expertise of marketing researchers and practitioners, interdisciplinary research drawing on economics, political science, demographics, and other disciplines provided context to the shifting consumption and investment patterns in these rapidly changing societies. Many panels touched on the fact that businesses that approach either China or India as monolithic markets will have trouble finding success. Presentations offered perspectives on the many markets within each of these emerging economies.
Keynotes were delivered by Adil Zainulbhai, managing director of McKinsey & Company in India, and Deepak Advani, vice president of information management software at IBM. Other presenters and panelists included Rajesh Shukla, chief statistician, National Council of Applied Economic Research of India; Eric Roth, principal, McKinsey & Company; Victor Yuan, CEO, Horizon Research Consultancy Group; as well as scholars from Yale, Harvard Business School, the Wharton School, China Europe International Business School, Australian School of Business, and others.
One example of a presentation that brought new insights to the issues came from Martin Ma of the Boston Consulting Group who drilled down on the digital generation of younger Chinese, showing evidence that the Internet and electronics markets have penetrated well beyond the largest urban areas. He also discussed the ways consumers in China are differentiated from other countries in their interactions with platforms such as blogs, online shopping, and videogames.
Rama Bijapurkar, marketing strategy consultant and author of Winning in the Indian Market, discussed the struggles many multinationals have faced with their “India strategies” that simply apply an existing template from other countries. She cited missteps by big box stores that tried to introduce shopping experiences with wide, ordered store aisles only to discover many Indians prefer a store layout without straight lines that is more reminiscent of shopping in a bazaar.
The academic scholars covered a wide range of topics, such as branding, perceptions of price fairness, and micro-credit defaults and payments. Professor John Zhang of Wharton explained why price wars succeed in China and help the initiator to gain substantial market share and marketplace success, while the strategy typically fails in the United States. Professor Julien Cayla of the Australian Graduate School of Management explained how marketers reinvent traditions in order to successfully market products. He emphasized that when properly done, even foreign companies can leverage a country's traditions and culture to win the hearts of local consumers. Other topics ranged from the impact of globalization on emerging market consumers to marketing solutions that can help increase school enrolment in rural India.
In addition to YCCI, support for the event came from Warburg Pincus LLC, the South Asian Studies Council at Yale, and the Marketing Science Institute. Future conferences will rotate among the United States, China, and India.
For more information on YCCI conferences and programs visit the YCCI website: http://www.cci.som.yale.edu/