Indian Brands Set to Conquer the West: New Report

Download the Report (PDF)

Key findings:

  • Western brands need to watch out. Self-confident Indians place seven local champions in their Top 10. (UK index had just four indigenous British brands.)
  • Index leaders have successfully penetrated Western markets. Infosys (No 1) and Tata (No 2) are both true global corporations, with significant investments in US and UK.
  • Top-rated brands exploit high value sectors previously dominated by the West. Infosys develops 3D phone screens. Tata makes Land Rovers.
  • Indians value engineering and construction. In India, civil engineering giant Larsen & Toubro comes 5th. By contrast, US and UK dominated by tech and consumer brands.
  • Local knowledge makes the difference. Western firms that succeed (Google, Nokia and Facebook) are those that adapt their models to local conditions, or ones that form JVs with locals in the driving seat (Suzuki, Unilever).
  • Apple fails to crack India. The tech giant topped both US and UK indices, but slumps to 40th in India.

India’s Top 20 Corporate Thought Leaders

1. Infosys Technologies 11. Hero-Honda Motors
2. Tata Group 12. Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC)
3. Google India 13. Bharti Airtel Limited
4. Maruti-Suzuki 14. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited
5. Larsen & Toubro 15. Aditya-Birla Group
6. Nokia 16. The Oberoi Group
7. State Bank of India 17. HDFC Bank
8. Facebook 18. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories
9. Hindustan-Unilever 19. Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited
10. Mahindra 20. Hyundai Motor India Limited

20 June 2011 – TLG today publishes its first ever Index of Thought Leaders conducted in an emerging market. The report into India’s most powerful corporate brands highlights the next generation of businesses poised to challenge the corporate titans of the West.
Topping the list is Infosys, the Bangalore tech giant which built its name through outsourcing and is now pouring R&D money into revolutionary new technologies, such as 3D phone screens. Second is Tata, the much admired conglomerate that owns Jaguar Land Rover and Tetley tea in the UK. The top ranked foreign firm is Google, which enters the Index at number three.
One of the most eye-catching results is the absence of Apple from the Top 20. The Californian tech group, which came top in TLG’s most recent Thought Leaders’ reports in Britain and the United States, only managed 40th place in the India index. Commentators have blamed Apple’s inability to crack India on its failure to adapt its business model to local tastes and budgets. Indian consumers can by a new Tata Nano car for the same price as three Apple iPhones.
The unique 2011 BRIC Index was conducted by TLG in partnership with the international research consultancy GlobeScan. The respondents include government ministers, directors of blue chip companies and newspaper editors. TLG defines Thought Leaders as those corporate brands with the power to change the attitudes and behaviours of consumers, employees or politicians.
While TLG’s surveys of developed economies are dominated by the tech and consumer sectors, the Indian market places a higher value on manufacturing and civil engineering. India’s biggest motor manufacturer, Maruti-Suzuki, is No 4. Larsen and Toubro, the contractor building the Mumbai monorail, is 5th. The 10th ranked company is the Mahindra Group, which makes India’s iconic Scorpio SUV.
The Top 10 features two joint ventures between local and overseas companies. It is a quintessentially Indian business model that dates back to Independence but remains equally relevant in the 21st Century. The JVs are Maruti-Suzuki, an Indian-Japanese car maker, and Hindustan Unilever (9th), which markets brands such as Dove Soap and Knorr soup to the sub-continent.
The Western firms that make our list have successfully adapted their business models to meet local needs. For example, Google, through its YouTube platform, streams live Indian Premier League cricket matches. Facebook (8th) offers mobile access for a special rate of 1 rupee (one pence) a day.
The Index will be formally launched June 21 at an event in London where guest speakers will include Jim O’Neill, Goldman Sachs head of global economics who coined the expression BRIC, referring to the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Oliver Martin, Research Director, GlobeScan:
“As the public’s faith in corporate leadership is declining in India, companies must excel in business innovation and progressive CSR to retain a Thought Leadership position.”
Rajan Anandan, Google India Vice President:
“India is uniquely poised to be the biggest Internet economy after China, with over 100 million Internet users. At Google, we’re excited about this opportunity to help bring even more users and businesses online, and drive local innovation and economic growth.
“In the last few years we have helped bring Internet to the masses through various Indian-specific innovations like SMS-based search and various local language products. We’re also focusing heavily on mobile–with over 40 million mobile Internet users, Indians are increasingly likely to come online via the mobile than the desktop.”
Malcolm Gooderham, Founder, TLG:
“Our research shows that Thought Leaders in emerging and developed markets enjoy similar benefits, principally being the most trusted and admired companies in their sector. So the absence of many ‘western’ major brands from the top 20 may concern CEOs who are trying to crack the BRICs. They need to refocus their energies on telling their leadership story.”


USA’s Top 20 Corporate Thought Leaders

1. Apple 11. Virgin Atlantic / Virgin America
2. Google 12. Target
3. Southwest Airlines 13. Walmart
4. Amazon 14. Skype
5. Facebook 15. Twitter
6. Microsoft 16. eBay
7. Intel 17. Toyota
8. RIM (Blackberry) 18. HP
9. Coca-Cola 19. 3M
10. Whole Foods 20. Nike

UK’s Top 20 Corporate Thought Leaders

1. Apple 11. Marks & Spencer
2. Google 12. Virgin Atlantic
3. John Lewis 13. Tesco
4. Amazon 14. Rolls Royce
5. Facebook 15. News Corp
6. Microsoft 16. McKinsey
7. Innocent 17. Nike
8. Co-op Group 18. BAE Systems
9. Co-op Bank 19. KPMG
10. Twitter 20. EDF




On behalf of TLG, Globescan conducted 314 interviews online and by telephone with opinion formers from business, media, government and NGOs in India between April 18 and June 6, 2011.
The respondents included company directors, newspaper editors, government ministers and charity leaders.
In the first wave of questioning, respondents were asked first to identify companies they believed to be Thought Leaders.
The final Top 20 was generated following a second round when respondents were then asked to rank a shortlist of companies based on first round of research against the five characteristics of Thought Leadership identified by Henley Business School.
These are:

  • Pioneer: Takes a new approach to a commercial issue with a social benefit
  • Rigour: Develops rigorous ideas, either original or a novel combination
  • Objective: Delivers benefits for stakeholders, financial or non-financial
  • Authenticity: Output accurately reflects what it stands for and how it behaves
  • Clarity: Clearly communicates positive motivation, mission and product/ service

The study closely followed the methodology used in TLG’s previous Indices of Thought Leaders in the United States and Britain.


Media Contacts

For media interviews with the participating pollsters, please contact:

Oliver Martin
Director, Global Development
(416) 969-3073

About TLG

TLG Communications is an award winning strategic communications consultancy that focuses on turning corporate reputation into competitive advantage through Thought Leadership campaigns. The purpose of TLG is to build brand reputation and loyalty through Thought Leadership. We define successful Thought Leaders as those brands which drive positive change in both attitude and behaviour among key stakeholders.

About GlobeScan

GlobeScan Incorporated is an international opinion research consultancy. We provide global organisations with evidence-based insight to help them set strategy and shape their communications. Companies, multilateral institutions, governments and NGOs trust GlobeScan for our unique expertise across reputation management, sustainability and stakeholder relations. GlobeScan conducts research in over 90 countries, is ISO 9001:2008 quality certified and a signatory to the UN Global Compact. Established in 1987, GlobeScan is an independent, management-owned company with offices in Toronto, London, San Francisco and Washington DC.