People everywhere. Jammed into every little crevice possible. Right next to each other, no matter their race, religion, economic class. Before I got to see India, I thought, “Yeah, so what a lot of people, I get it.” But the Indian rope trick of numbers, as described by Rama Bijapurkar in We Are Like That Only really hit me while I was there. Coming into contact with hundreds of people every day, literally physical contact, makes it really hit you. To see the power of numbers right before you is overwhelming. Not only from a social perspective of seeing people walk along the highways in thousands compared to Americans who drive everywhere, but seeing millions of people everywhere you go, is a very overwhelming sensation. As a marketer, you suddenly find yourself practically drooling thinking about how many potential customers one billion people represent. To see millions of people teeming around our conspicuous tourist bus, you can’t even do the math in your head of how many products that translates into, how many sales, how many customers. So, then, you get it. You get why everyone in marketing, advertising, business is talking about India.
The smallest percentage of the market can represent a huge success for product sales. And the slightest change in consumer behavior by a fraction of the population, can make huge changes in the market. The power of numbers is perhaps more powerful when realizing how flexible and flowing the culture of India is. You could wake up tomorrow and find a new need for a product because a target market has ever so slightly changed.
The hard part is translating that back to people here in the U.S. who haven’t seen it for themselves because that kind of experience is incomparable. We Americans have no point of comparison because it is a completely different world, a completely different culture. When you describe what you saw, people tend to think it sounds less developed, less sophisticated, and start to question why businesses are creating plans to enter the Indian marketplace. Which circles right back to the need for people to see foreign countries free of comparison because every country is different, and no one country is better than the other.