Ikea the popular Swedish retailer is now venturing out in India. I recently read about Ikea’s search for ideal store locations in major Indian cities. Ikea the concept store is quite popular in the US and people like their low-priced (DIY) products which are essentially a broad range of ‘assemble-yourself’ home décor products and furniture etc. India with its cost-conscious population is a different market though; Ikea must have its homework on the model and its target shoppers, but with a growing middle class and more westernized youth, I feel Ikea could do well in India. India too has different retail brands like Lifestyle; Future Bazaar; Fab India etc. in different cities for home décor but it also had chicken sandwiches before McDonalds!
I am also struck by the immense potential of growth for small businesses in the handicraft arena given all the amazing stuff that India produces. I was struck by the popularity of Delhi Haat during my recent visit. I found that Delhi Haat has grown into a sophisticated exhibition place for craftsmen who are charged minimally for displaying their products. I was amazed at the variety of craftwork, furniture, textile and home décor stuff that was on display. Dilli Haat is the brain child of tourism
development in Delhi and it was established to promote different crafts, arts
and its craftsmen in India.
It is a platform for many dying skills and a great attempt to revive age-old workmanship and skills passed on from generation to generation in India. There is an array (a huge one) of ethnic and elegant products right from handicraft, handloom, furniture (quite minimalist variety too) and I could not help but wonder what will it take to place all these up on a cool website and give the artisans all over India through Delhi Haat or a similar channel, a global market to thrive? The first market would be the 30 million or so Indian Diaspora around the world but beyond that the cool things that are being produced by these artisans, I find Indian products to be in rage with folks like Selena Gomez, Madonna etc.
Given that a lot of these artisans are from small towns and from parts of rural India, you would be giving them an opportunity to produce and not have to come to bigger cities to deal with brokers etc. for selling their produce. It would also grow the “Indian Soft Power” by continuing to introduce India to the world.
Some rural India for the West? What do you say? An Indian Ikea for the US?
Your thoughts are welcome.
Sanjay Puri has been working on Indian-American issues and facilitating stronger US-India relations through USINPAC (US India Political Action Committee) and AUSIB (Alliance for US India Business), two bipartisan organizations that he chairs.