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3.1.08

The Indian luxury brand: Jaguar, Land Rover the vanguards to the west 

We can be pretty confident with ’s latest non-announcement announcement that the acquisition of and is a fait accompli.
   The Indian says it will make no changes to employment at Jaguar and Land Rover, which no doubt helped swing the sale in its favour. And there are other elements, which I and others have covered elsewhere.
   One issue now will probably be whether Tata can overcome buyer resistance to under ownership. There could be, some say, nasty old and prejudice at play against the Indian people.
   I don’t think it will enter into the dialogue greatly. Most people still thought of Jaguar and Land Rover as British when they were owned by an American firm. for the two companies will remain similar, not suggesting any change has taken place behind the scenes. The cars will still be made by the same people. In fact, corporate ownership is one of the things most consumers are totally ignorant about.
   It is easier for the snobs to buy the idea that certain Italian somehow retain their inherent Italian-ness even when LVMH owns them, or that certain French brands are still French even when owned by Gucci. They will probably complain that has not had a history in .
   It’s more narrow-minded cobblers, when one considers how Indian has been some of the world’s most ornate for centuries (after all, they have probably had fashion as a concept for a longer period than any western nation). (Satya Paul comes to mind as one directed at Indians and the Indian diaspora.) More recently, we might be reminded of just how the Indian hospitality industry has raised its standards to equal anything in the west (the Aman Resort group’s properties comes to mind, or the $46,000 per night island holidays from Sahara Group’s Paradiso brand). One of the most well recognized beauty icons is Indian: former Miss World (ಐಶ್ವರ್ಯಾ ರೈ).
   It doesn’t take a genius to see how some of the richest Indians are living, in mansions that are guaranteed to knock the socks off many of the prejudiced occidental snobs. Indians “get” luxury.
   When I first emigrated to New Zealand, most people thought of Hong Kong as a place of junks and cheap goods. They held this impression well into the 1980s and even the early 1990s, in a pre-World Wide Web age with less travel. Now they think of a cosmopolitan powerhouse. Equally, India—helped in no small part through its campaigns—will overcome any negative images.
   What will more likely happen is that Jaguar and Land Rover—or maybe the Jaguar Land Rover division of Tata Motors—will propel Indian industry as a whole into the luxury branding sphere. Others will follow Tata’s lead and in five years, we will think of Indian luxury totally naturally, just as we think of LVMH or Gucci.
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Comments:
Hi Jack. Thanks for the timely post. To say something about TATA... their much hyped [and now expected] $2500 microcar is on its way to be unveiled on January 10th at the annual auto expo in New Delhi. With that in view when they'll acquire Jaguar and Land Rover [it will probably take some more time and the deal is expected to be wrapped up by the first quarter] Tata Motors - in all probability - is going to have a serious image management problem - with Jaguar and Land Rover at the end and the world's cheapest car [the $2500 microcar] on the other. To remedy this ineluctable and unique problem I think they have few more things to do other than what you have touched upon - leaving the Jaguar and Land Rover management untouched [like they did with Corus] and not trying to get 'blessed' with being associated with two of the world's iconic brands, nor 'tinkering' the brands with any 'tinge of Indian-ness' whatsoever. It's true that people often don't see who the person or group or consortium is behind a brand... they only see the brand and yes, it's origin.  
G'day Jack, that was an interesting post. I admit I was shocked when I was listening to BBC world a couple of weeks ago and heard about the Tata take over. Lordknows whether it's going to work out economically, but symbolically I think it's a great thing to happen. It's finally showing that the neo-liberal pro-Western globalisation consensus is starting to break down. Indian firms aren't supposed to be doing this in their logic!

I think India, like New Zealand, has squandered a lot of opportunities in recent years for good sustainable long term development. Though of late I must say firms there finally have been (as you noted) taking advantage of national branding. After all, despite it's serious infastructural issues and a myriad of socio-economic problems, the nation is politically stable, incredibly fast growing and has a well-educated workforce.

They just need to get people talking about India like they do the People's Republic of China.  
Thank you, gentlemen. After a successful first year under Tata, which I think is on the verge of becoming the next Ford (as in revolutionizing motoring à la Model T with the Rs. 1 lakh car that Rohan writes about above), we’re going to see a lot of experts all say how inevitable it was that India would be a home for luxury brands. I agree with you that while India has some problems, it is blessed with many factors that make it a potential economic powerhouse—and unlike the PRC it is doing so without building as many of what are essentially second-rate replicas of western products.  
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Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.


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