India - Country Commercial Guide
Market Entry Strategy

Generalizes on the best strategy to enter the market, e.g., visiting the country; importance of relationships to finding a good partner; use of agents.

Last published date: 2021-10-22

Strategic planning, due diligence, consistent follow-up, patience, and commitment are prerequisites for doing business successfully in India.  The Indian market necessitates multiple marketing efforts that address differing regional opportunities, standards, languages, cultural differences, and levels of economic development.  Penetrating India’s markets requires careful analysis of consumer preferences, existing sales channels, and changes in distribution and marketing practices.  India is a face-to-face society, and in-person meetings are typically required before formalization of work partnerships or agreements.  While the pandemic has led Indian companies to work more frequently with global partners in virtual environments, it remains to be seen whether this is a permanent shift in business practices.   

Finding Partners and Agents  

New-to-market businesses must navigate issues such as sales channels, distribution and marketing practices, pricing and labeling, and protection of intellectual property.  These issues are most effectively addressed through an Indian partner or agent, and relationships with potential agents are extremely important.  Due diligence is strongly recommended to ensure that partners are credible and reliable. 

Market Entry Considerations 

There are many international companies eyeing opportunities in India.  For entry into the Indian market, it is essential to identify the target market and find quality partners who know those markets and are well-versed in procedural issues.  U.S. exporters should also explore market strategies in India such as forming subsidiary relationships or joint ventures with an India-based company.  Other important points for market entry in India include creating strategies for specific regions and income groups (i.e., target segments); crafting offerings according to the target group in order to gain early acceptance; obtaining mandatory licenses and approvals; and understanding import documentation and procedures.