World media perceive India as a self sufficient market; but the outsourcing label persists

MUMBAI: Current perceptions of India worldwide seem to be dominated by it's IT prowess. "It is time that the world sees India's other strengths, be it in automotive, biotechnology, steel, banking, intellectual capital, our democratic institutions, pharma, textiles, tourism and emerging areas like medical R&D. We need to drive perceptions closer to reality," says R&PMC CEO Roger C B Pereira.

In the first ever global study of media perceptions of India around the world, it was seen that India is perceived by the world's media as a country that has thrown off its isolationist, self-sufficiency mindset for the most part. No longer wary of Western influences, the country is now embracing globalization. But what the study also indicates is the need for planned and sustained communications that will take India beyond its 'outsourcing' label.



The study essentially throws light on the growing importance of India. Interviews conducted by Edelman and its India partner R&PMC with journalists in 10 major cities across the US, Europe and Asia indicate that India enjoys a very strong reputation among media. Although, interestingly India's "Share of Voice" (SOV) in the U.S. media is dwarfed by China (46 per cent), which has a 3-1 advantage over India (14 per cent). This contrast gets even more striking, as an analysis of content shows that one out of every four stories on India is about outsourcing, whereas only one out of every sixteen stories on China is about outsourcing, say media reports.

Edelman further pointed out that the findings were significant as they indicated "a continuity in the reforms process even with the change of government in the world's largest democracy." He added that India and Indian companies "have a strategic imperative to reach out to all critical stakeholders to ensure the market is seen in the appropriate mode of sustainable growth."

Offering a regional perspective, Edelman Asia-Pacific President Alan Vander Molen added: "The comparisons to China are certainly natural. However, the emphasis of multinationals in the region should be to concentrate on how to leverage relationships across both of these markets, instead of looking at them as competitive for investment dollars."



On the other hand, India's 5-year plus prospects stronger than other emerging markets. It is also perceived as being in a different class from other emerging markets like Brazil, Russia, Poland and Mexico. Brazil is seen as a country just beginning economic reforms, Russia's economy is still looked at as weak and its government as autocratic, while Poland and Mexico are seen as way behind in perceptions of emerging markets even in Europe and the US.

India is perceived as excelling in high tech (96 per cent of those interviewed), software (44 per cent), textiles (40 per cent), pharmaceutical sector (32 per cent), call centres (17 per cent), automotive (16 per cent) and consumer products (16 per cent).

The survey's findings indicate that India needs to reiterate its strong management expertise (as having a corporate executive leadership with a vision for the future), transparency, corporate governance and leadership role in corporate social responsibility (CSR), add the reports.

Media percentions also indicate that emerging markets seem to be closing in on India's dominance in BPO, and seems to be perceived as a threat with the Philippines which offers a lower cost structure, Mexico and Canada which offers greater proximity to the US, and Ireland and South Africa being closer to Europe. These countries also enjoy time zone advantages when compared to India.

India's educated, English-speaking young workforce, a democratic and business-friendly government (despite administrative hurdles in the transition process), a low cost structure and an eager and savvy consumer market with growing buying potential seems to be India's key advantages over other emerging markets, inform the reports.

The flip side is the perception of India in its infrastructural standing (35 per cent of those surveyed), transportation (35 per cent), financial services (30 per cent), pharmaceuticals (20 per cent), manufacturing (20 per cent), automobiles (15 per cent), heavy industry (15 per cent) and its poverty (14 per cent).

Sector-wise, both international and Indian media agreed that IT is a strength (over 80 per cent across countries). However, India's prowess in the pharmaceutical and auto sectors seems to be an issue of debate. Media in Asia (69 per cent), EU (73 per cent) and the US (50 per cent) believe that India is strong in pharma in contrast to the Indian media (30 per cent). In the auto sector, 60 per cent of Indian media felt that India is strong, whereas international media held exactly the opposite view, with the lowest opinion held by Asian media (7 per cent) followed by EU (18 per cent) and the US (20 per cent).

Thirty three per cent of US media agreed that Indian corporations doing business in India are transparent in their business conduct and adhere to high standards of corporate governance. But only 17 per cent of the US media believe that MNCs are transparent and adhere to high standards of corporate governance. Interestingly, 67 per cent of US media believe that Indian companies doing business overseas are transparent and adhere to high standards of corporate governance.

Edelman is the world’s largest independent public relations firm, with 1,800 employees in 40 offices worldwide. R&PMC is communications consulting firm in India, which began operations in 1987, add the reports.

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