Samir Patil is a man who left McKinsey to return to India to, well, buy the pre-Harry-Potter wellspring of joy and inspiration that is Amar Chitra Katha. In a blog on the Harvard Business Review website, he recounts some of the challenges he faced as the head of the newly formed ACK media.
One of the trickiest challenges in India is to get the size of the market right. At first sight, the market will always look attractive. After all, according to the National Center for Applied Economic Research (NCAER), 31.4 million households (13% of the total number) form the Indian consuming class, defined as those with annual incomes of between $6,800 and $34,000. That translates into a seemingly vast market of 160 million people. Disappointingly, there's a huge disconnect between the top-down view and ground reality.
My struggle to make sense of this disparity finally led me to a simple conclusion: There are two product categories in India, viz. the need-to-have and the nice-to-have. In a society that regards education as the path to prosperity, school supplies fall into the need-to-have category. Children's entertainment products — such as books, DVDs and other media — are only in the nice-to-have category, according to parents.
Patil sold the company to Future Group in 2012.