Last week, Nike’s global headquarters decided to downsize its operations in India by firing 20 percent of its staff in the country. The news comes roughly a year after the sportswear giant announced the closure of over a third of its retail stores in India.
While this may seem significant in the context of India, for Nike this was part of a global corporate restructuring which saw the Oregon-based sporting giant focus its investments on a select group of 12 metro cities - none in India - across the world. The decision also highlights a dilemma that major global brands, especially sports brands, face: How to crack the severely complex Indian market; simultaneously battling ever-changing regulations, geographies, and government policies, while selling to a price-sensitive consumer base, the majority of whom still view their products as aspirational and a luxury.
With a booming economy and a young population bitten by consumerism, India is among the biggest markets for consumer goods globally. Since the late 1990s, several multinational consumer companies have come ashore, looking to get a piece of the pie that is just over 1.3 billion people strong. Quite a few, however, have had to dial back plans, if not leave empty handed.