Grabbing The New Pie

17 Nov,2012 09:45 IST

Grabbing The New Pie

'The $10 Trillion Prize' talks about how China and India will soon translate into one of the largest markets by value

Dharmendra D


The $10 Trillion Prize By Michael Silverstein, Abheek Singhi, Carol Liao, David Michael Harvard Business Press Pages: 314 Price: Rs 995

The joke is, even bears are bullish about China and India. So it is no surprise millions of words are printed, blogged, tweeted and posted on how to tap two of the world’s largest markets. The $10 Trillion Prize is the latest in the series of books on Chindia. The three authors of the book work with consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and have years of experience studying India and China. They try to help readers understand how that large mass of consumers is developing, who will benefit from the growth and how all these can translate into one of the largest markets by value — of $10 trillion.

There are three sections. The first part establishes the context of growth of the two markets. The second one offers a snapshot of the target consumers, while the final section sees the authors throw recommendations on how best to capitalise on the opportunity. The book begins engagingly with an account of the authors’ visit to the Li Family Restaurant in Beijing nearly two decades ago. And they juxtapose the experience with what could be their experience now, to illustrate China’s dramatic transformation.

The book is at its best when attempting to describe a typical consumer in each of the markets. The reader gets the wallflower experience of being a consumer in China and India. There is also a very useful, short appendix on differences between these geographies. The penultimate chapter, ‘The BCG Playbook’ is the most action-oriented part of the book and offers the kind of insight one would expect from authors from a strategic consulting firm such as BCG.

But a few examples seem dated. For instance, Nokia is no longer the dominant player in India. It is losing marketshare to newer rivals. In fact, Nokia is no longer as paisa-vasool (value-for-money) as it used to be. Aravind Eye Hospital is cited as an example of paisa vasool. Infinite Vision, a book on the history of Aravind Eye Hospital, says the institution was founded on the principle of improving access to healthcare. While the scale of Aravind made cataract operations affordable, it was a byproduct of Dr. V’s mission to make healthcare affordable, not necessarily an attempt to maximise value.

Similarly, the authors refer to jugaad as ‘doing more with less’. Any Indian would know jugaad is improvisation and not productivity improvement. But the authors’ focus on women as a highly underserved customer segment is, though brief, well chosen. And the reader may want to refer to The Third Billion by DeAnne Aguirre and Karim Sabbagh (Booz & Co.) for some similar insight, but in greater depth.

That said, the book is, perhaps, a little late to arrive. As even the authors have said in an appendix about potential hitches to the growth stories of China and India, there are a few derailers to this optimistic future. And some scenarios they discuss have already materialised bringing growth estimates dramatically down — especially for India, which is losing momentum.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 26-11-2012)

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