Four top tips for successful business expansion in India


With a population of more than 1.36 billion people and just over 450 million internet users in 2021, this huge South-Asian country entered the e-commerce sector rather late in the day.

With a 50% annual increase in turnover in 2018, India could become one of the top five e-commerce players in the world between now and 2025.

Did you know that India is one of the most attractive destinations for investment projects? The natural resources and qualified workforce make India an economic power to be reckoned with.

In this article, read our advice on doing business successfully in India.

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What you need to know to do business successfully in India

Adapt your product to the population

Know your market inside out! The fact is that a product that doesn’t meet the expectations of consumers in the end market can prove fatal, and the most common cause of failure of business expansion projects. Foreigners seeking international expansion often try to expand their businesses with products that don’t (or barely) meet consumers’ needs and buying power.

The case of Maruti

Maruti, a local Indian manufacturer and market leader, holds 51% of the automobile construction market As you can see, it’s important, as a foreign company, to align yourself to the manufacturer’s prices if you want to have even the slightest chance of selling. Otherwise, your company will have great difficulty in establishing its reputation, and therefore, of expanding in the country.

To ensure that this is not the fate that awaits you, don’t forget to do your market research, that crucial stage that will help you prepare the ground. The Indian market is a rather distinctive one. It needs to be studied carefully and in great depth.

Need help? You can always call on India Direct, an organisation that will help you to test the credibility of your product in the country.

Other aspects should also be considered:

  • Offer the best value for money. It is important to know that Indian customers will often tend to buy the cheapest product offered to them. Be competitive!
  • Offer something unique. Even though you will always have competitors, whether direct or indirect, ensure you have a USP. Don’t forget to remain authentic.

Recruit a Country Manager

A little reminder… A country manager is responsible for a company’s business development in a new country or geographical area. They have a very important role to play: they must manage the launch and development as well as the offering on a local basis, from production through to commercialisation in the market’s distribution networks.

With their knowledge of the territory, the language and the market, they are the most able to set up the correct strategy and ensure the successful establishment of the company on the ground via frequent analysis of the competition. They wear many hats, including those of regional CEO, marketing director, intermediary between the parent company and subsidiary, sales manager and support team…and sometimes a range of other headgear too!

As you probably already know, India often presents a big culture shock for westerners, whether in terms of social, personal or professional life, Therefore, the value of having someone in your team who already knows the country and its culture well, is immeasurable. They will facilitate the implementation of your managerial behavior as well as greater professional success.

Target the right region

India is a complicated country. To think that all regions are similar would be a mistake. Being made up of 29 states with very different characteristics, and 23 more or less official languages, the sub-continent differs from a unitary centralized country, starting with a strong cultural and linguistic distinction between the north and the south. That is why it is important to target your chosen region of India before trying to set up in business there.

Your business sector can help you to position yourself. For example, Bangalore is the ideal capital for the IT sectors, Hyderabad for the sciences, Bombay for consultancy, New Delhi for the sensitive sectors… There is also Chennai, where many companies in the automotive and IT sector are located, as well as Pune, a highly industrialized city, and Tiruppur for the textile industry.

Make sure that you always seek strategic locations for your offices and find the right profiles to recruit for your company, because there are a great number of negatives to consider. Mobility is very difficult and uncommon in India. Hence, the need to discuss your choice of region thoroughly.

Seize the right opportunities

According to Business France, there are numerous infrastructure projects in progress: 700 km of underground railway under construction and around 30 km of motorway every day. These construction projects attract numerous investors from across the world for public-private partnerships. With faciliated investments, companies can be 100% owned by foreign capital, including around twenty business sectors such as textiles, automotive and pharmaceuticals. The pharmaceutical sector which can moreover be a source of opportunity for India. In 2019, the country exported nearly 20 billion dollars worth of pharmaceuticals (a figure that has been on the rise since 2018, making it one of the ten largest exporters of medicines in the world).

With all these upcoming infrastructure projects, India may transform several of these cities into smart cities over the next few years, creating a whole host of calls to tender.

A qualified workforce

As you undoubtedly know, India has the advantage of a highly qualified and inexpensive workforce. In addition, it is home to an increasingly young and dynamic population, taking India into the top ten of the biggest economic powers in the world.


As you can see, India, with its booming middle class, is still in the process of developing and becoming an increasingly attractive prospect around the world. Nevertheless, doing business in India remains a very complicated process. Don’t plunge in until your project is thoroughly researched. This Asian country is not right for every company!

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