What an unprecedented period we are experiencing in our lives. The unthinkable is happening and all of us, for the first time ever are in this global storm. For once no one is fighting as a different country, race or religion but as Humanity.
In all, this has the biggest impact on the economy of every country and that is being handled at each country level. Some are strong financially and some are weak but everyone is in the same boat and the global impact is being seen.
This is leading to a lot of noise of nationalism and saving each one’s economy. Strange as COVID actually showed we have to fight as one but then when have we as humans ever learnt.
The Vocal for Local campaign has been introduced by our honorable PM amidst the lockdown to save our economy, our MSME, our jobs and our Country. A concept we have been discussing and talking about for years but has mostly been confined to board room discussions, maybe over drinks or good jargon to use for PPT rather than selling our solutions to the world to invest or get business.
Unfortunately, on ground things are the other way. This is not because policies were not correct or intention was wrong or some people took advantage as it always happens but because We as Indians don’t honor ourselves, our country our Earth. A lot will find this rhetorical and would troll me for the same but this starts not by changes in buying habits but by changing ourselves, internally. History has repeatedly showed that we have not honored ourselves and that has led to us being divided and ruled. We battled not the world, but fought among ourselves and let everyone else win but not let the ones we love or close to win.
The basis of vocal for local is not to go crazy and buy everything Indian only because over years our dependency has gone to the next level and that cannot change overnight by deleting an APP and shouting in social media at some brands. What we don’t like, we don’t buy and we quietly order online where no one sees what we buy, moreover when it’s cheaper.
Vocal for local means we have to intentionally remember what started as a movement in early years that we will try buy local items which are Made in India and at the same time also start questioning the other brands on why they are not making in India. For most products globally, the product success brings the raw material industry nearby as well as the demand grows and logistics and delivery is key, so time to market pushes for manufacturing ecosystem more closer to final product.
Same will happen but we have to change and instead of waiving a magic wand and saying no more import or other country products, we have to have a strategy in place. My big 2-3 in strategy:
Market feedback: All say we want local so let each operator start with having local and imported product and then go to the consumer and get the feel. If there is a genuine pickup of local and consumers are ready to pay slight delta also, you will be able to start a cycle. It is always finally business that defines strategy and emotions can run high but they go cold also fast and as entrepreneur one can only hope that there is stability in business and thought process so this will be critical.
Partnership: Most Operators consider the suppliers, as just buyer supplier relationship and there are always options to everyone in the world at some point of time has been or will be a buyer and a supplier. Anyway I feel it is time to change that here. Go make your local suppliers your partners and share your issues and views and find way together to succeed. No one wins if one loses in the chain in the long run. No big stories are created with one winner takes it all.
Technology Investment: We are blessed to be a country of intelligent people and successful smart thinkers. It’s time we make our industries more professional to get the right minds and valuing them in technology. We need to let our companies open to work with technology companies to grow and create. The solutions we create will also be the solutions world will embrace as all humans and all business are same globally, just local environment is different.
Future Plan: We must start by honoring our mother earth and honoring our country. If we has tily stop all imports and only buy local,that may also result into a big backlash if local is not of good quality and market ready, customers will go back to old ways and future of this movement will be certainly in jeopardy. It’s important to sit with your partners and plan a future with timelines to move to a path of least dependency on certain specific countries but go more GLOCAL (global supply chains for local products across the world).
These steps are not easy as most of us are currently in survival mode & there is no doubt about that. However, survival is important right now because if industry won’t survive, it doesn’t matter whether the product is local or imported.
At this juncture, I must mention with upmost gratitude and importance how Indian pay TV industry partners believed in MyBox and gave us the opportunity to design and sell in India for last 10 years with the essence of being a true Make in India product. In the same breath, I also thank my team for being the engine of all the innovative solutions we offered and sustained. However, even after spending a considerable time, I am subjected to question pertaining to the assumption that all components used in a STB is from our one single neighbors and we are 100% dependent on them. To break the myth, the answer is NO. If you ever were to break down a set top box component wise ,the top 10 items in a set top box is Chip set, tuner, memories, mechanicals and power supply ,remote cable and packaging. It now all depends who imports from where these items. This is where a good design company can try move to maximum dependency on certain specific country but are We ready to work with them and give a small premium and show patience while this change Happens.
Then there is another perspective of branding and marketing it rightly that needs an example. An Apple, Samsung or Sony all are considered non specific one country brand because they are brands of other countries, their R&D and product design is their own and they promote and sell whatever best they can from wherever in the world to give consumers the best product in best price. So this is what we do as well, we fully design local Indian solutions by Indian design teams. When we were manufacturing in big volumes in India for big operators, our value add locally was really going high as partners were ready to set up base in India and provide support due to volumes but then again cheaper and long term financing took over and all that fizzled out.
As a friend company (DEKI) wrote:
This is one of those times when we must decide whether cheap is really the way forward or we are willing to pay for our own pride.
Choice is Ours.
We should use this time to strategize and plan but with one written rule- We will make Vocal for Local successful within a timeline (each makes its own) and we will honor our country and our mother earth by our best contribution to the humanity and make a beautiful Country.