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Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the Indian market

India has become the fastest-growing major economy in the world, recording an impressive 6.75% growth in GDP in 2017-2018.

If you are considering doing business in India, please be sure to explore our ten tips to enter the market below and also be sure to reach out to our team in New Delhi.


  • Find the right partner – Identifying the right partner goes a long way in successfully navigating the complexities of the local business environment for a new entrant. A local partner can provide much-needed assistance in understanding the Indian market. This partner can give you valuable market insights on competition, regulation and other important issues. They can also introduce you to the network with the reach to target prospective clients without much investment on the ground.


  • Enter the market with a long-term perspective – India is certainly not a place for businesses to make quick gains – you need to be invested for the long haul. Although it’s a huge market with a population of 1.3 billion people, including 400 million middle-class consumers, it has its share of challenges when it comes to market entry. Because India is such a huge and attractive opportunity, there is no dearth of competition. Additionally, given the complexity of the market, it takes time for the companies to understand the environment and develop the right strategy. On average it takes international companies nearly 3 years to successfully penetrate the market.


  • Prepare yourself for a challenging legal regulatory landscape – India is ranked 63 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. The rank of India improved to 63 in 2019 from 77 in 2018. There have been considerable changes in Indian legal & regulatory laws making operations in India easier, however, it’s important to engage local knowledge and professional services to guide you through the legal, financial, bureaucratic, and cultural complexities.


  • Invest in a senior-level/experienced local representative – India is a relationship & service-oriented market, meeting in person is very important in the region & essential for winning sales. Hiring an experienced business development manager from the industry has proven to be successful for many Enterprise Ireland clients across industries. The local employee can effectively build relationships with Buyers, Distributors & actively participate in promotional activities.


  • Indian businesses are often hierarchical in nature – Decisions are generally made at the highest of levels. Therefore, unless the company director, owner or a very senior manager is present at a meeting, a decision is not likely to occur at that stage.


  • Localise the product – India is a very diverse market and, therefore, it is hard to categorise the Indian buyer. Indian consumers are not only looking for the availability of products, they also want a better experience, services and ambience. Global brands have seen tremendous successes in India by localising their brand, product and/or services to meet the needs of the Indian consumer base.


  • Price sensitive & value-conscious market – The Indian consumer is very ‘value-conscious’, evaluating benefits and quality vis-à-vis price. Until recently, price was the most important determinant of a purchase, given the low disposable income of most Indian households. But with the India growth story, there has been an evolution in what defines ‘value’ for Indian consumers. The key trigger for this shift has been the exposure to modern lifestyle through media and travel, giving them a perspective on various products and possible benefits.


  • Vast geography & diverse culture – There are many Indias within India. India is a multilingual, multi-ethnic and pluralistic society, and vast cultural differences can be seen between North and South India. Additionally, India is a vast country, it often takes multiple sales partner/distributors in different regions to affectively cover the market.


  • Meeting in person is very important in this region and there are a range of social norms you should know about – dress formally, a handshake is a standard way to greet men & women, carry a business card & address people by a title and their last name.


Enterprise Ireland is committed to helping Irish firms succeed in global markets and have industry experts on hand, ready to help you access the Indian market. Our Market Advisors are always available to support you and provide business expertise and on-the-ground knowledge.

For more, download our Going Global Guide

If you would like to know what to prepare ahead of your first MA call, click the graphic below

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