[Cross-posted] We can be pretty con?dent with Ford’s latest non-announcement announcement that the Tata acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover is a fait accompli.
The Indian multinational says it will make no changes to employment at Jaguar and Land Rover, which no doubt helped swing the sale in its favour. And there are other elements, which I and others have covered elsewhere.
One issue now will probably be whether Tata can overcome buyer resistance to brands under Indian ownership. There could be, some say, nasty old racism and prejudice at play against the Indian people.
I don’t think it will enter into the dialogue greatly. Most people still thought of Jaguar and Land Rover as British when they were owned by an American ?rm. Marketing for the two companies will remain similar, not suggesting any change has taken place behind the scenes. The cars will still be made by the same people. In fact, corporate ownership is one of the things most consumers are totally ignorant about.
It is easier for the snobs to buy the idea that certain Italian brands somehow retain their inherent Italian-ness even when LVMH owns them, or that certain French brands are still French even when owned by Gucci. They will probably complain that India has not had a history in luxury brand management.
It’s more narrow-minded cobblers, when one considers how Indian fashion has been some of the world’s most ornate for centuries (after all, they have probably had fashion as a concept for a longer period than any western nation). (Satya Paul comes to mind as one premium brand directed at Indians and the Indian diaspora.) More recently, we might be reminded of just how the Indian hospitality industry has raised its standards to equal anything in the west (the Aman Resort group’s properties comes to mind, or the $46,000 per night island holidays from Sahara Group’s Paradiso brand). One of the most well recognized beauty icons is Indian: former Miss World Aishwarya Rai (???????? ??).
It doesn’t take a genius to see how some of the richest Indians are living, in mansions that are guaranteed to knock the socks off many of the prejudiced occidental snobs. Indians “get” luxury.
When I ?rst emigrated to New Zealand, most people thought of Hong Kong as a place of junks and cheap goods. They held this impression well into the 1980s and even the early 1990s, in a pre-World Wide Web age with less travel. Now they think of a cosmopolitan powerhouse. Equally, India—helped in no small part through its nation branding campaigns—will overcome any negative images.
What will more likely happen is that Jaguar and Land Rover—or maybe the Jaguar Land Rover division of Tata Motors—will propel Indian industry as a whole into the luxury branding sphere. Others will follow Tata’s lead and in ?ve years, we will think of Indian luxury totally naturally, just as we think of LVMH or Gucci.
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Filed by Jack Yan