Kellogg School dean and marketing expert discusses coming global trends that will elevate India and China’s economies
During a July 13 discussion in Chicago that included personal career anecdotes, as well as his objectives for the Kellogg School, Dean Dipak C. Jain engaged students in the Kellogg Part-Time MBA Program with a survey of current global marketing challenges.
In speaking to members of the part-time program’s Asia Business Association at Wieboldt Hall, Jain recounted his academic journey from mathematics to marketing, joining the Kellogg School’s Marketing Department in 1984. He also emphasized the importance of the school’s global brand and presence, saying that he has worked to promote these since assuming the deanship in 2001.
But Jain’s primary focus during the lecture was on marketing hurdles and trends and the ways that companies should structure themselves to garner market leadership.
“The next two decades will be the decades of Asia,” said Jain, noting that the economics of India and China are in transition, requiring that students, academics and practitioners continue studying the nations’ development.
Given the rapidity of market change, said Jain, “anything you predict is bound to be wrong.” As a result, he advised focusing on “anticipation rather than prediction,” remaining proactive rather than reactive.
In addition, he said, hyper-competition, increasingly demanding customers and continued globalization (“a force like gravity”) will create opportunities and impediments for business leaders.
To become best positioned in this environment, Jain said that companies should structure themselves to capture maximum benefit from growth, innovation and leadership. He noted that the marketplace is rewarding companies that grow, both organically and through mergers and acquisitions, and he pointed out that increased transparency was making it easier to see the critical data before buying a company.
With respect to innovation, Jain pointed out how Kellogg, historically, has employed creative strategies to acquire top students and faculty, preferring to recruit younger professors who were highly talented but who had not yet made a name for themselves. Similarly, the school pursued students who were very bright but who truly excelled when working in teams. As a result, Kellogg pioneered collaborative business learning and went on also to produce world-class executive education programs designed to provide “lifelong learning.”
Speaking more broadly, Jain said that economies in transition should focus on process innovation rather than product innovation, since the latter requires much research and development to launch.
Regardless of industry or market position, Jain said that leadership is essential for success, and good leaders appreciate the importance of their employees. Leaders should “humaniz[e] business by recognizing that people are the only source of differentiation and value creation,” said Jain.
Looking at global business trends, Jain highlighted the emerging opportunities in customer well-being and hospitality. Globally, as more people are living longer, they are concerned with healthy aging, he said. They also will want to remain active by traveling and generally enjoying life, producing new business opportunities for those ready to serve this market. Demographics in India, on the other hand, reveal a much younger population — the median age is 24, said Jain, with some 255 million teenagers in the country. The fastest-growing segment is the 35-and-under market. Overall, the size and scope of India and China is so large that consumer opportunities are extraordinary.
“Business is all about people,” said Jain, adding that if a third of the world’s population live in India and China it would only make sense for companies to devise strategy around those countries. Indeed, he noted, businesses cannot afford to lose this market.
“We need to think about this demographic evolution,” he said, to remain innovative in business.
— Reporting by Sameer Afsar and Anisha Madan, members of the Kellogg Part-Time MBA Program’s Asia Business Association.