Skateboards may seem like a distinctly American and Canadian product but Newport Beach, California, manufacturer Street Surfing, LLC has expanded its global reach with skateboard sales in India.
Using Trusted Advisors
Street Surfing expanded their market with help from the Gold Key program of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Paul Watson, Vice President for Street Surfing Americas, Asia, and Africa, said any business planning to export products or services should first contact the Department of Commerce or the U.S. Commercial Service.
“Distribution in India is a logistical challenge,” Watson told me during the third annual India Trade Conference held in Irwindale, California and co-sponsored by Quanta Consulting, a firm that helps companies craft a strategy to reach India. “You want a person who knows customs and someone who has lots of experience. The Department of Commerce is an excellent place to begin and their cost is quite low for the quality of advice they offer.”
India’s Youth Market
Watson said his company chose India because of the large number of youth. Out of 1.1 billion people, 30% are younger than age 14 (roughly the population of the United States) and the median age is 25 years old. They wanted to reach “the hip, young demographic.” He noted people in their 20s are now making up to 10 times what their parents did.
Street Surfing faced the challenge of a difficult to work with retail channel within the country. But through their market research, they found that children go to sports schools for their activities. Some sports schools will have up to 2,500 students. Watson said his company took a full year to enter the market before they successfully marketed and sold through the sports schools. Now, they’re generating sales by tapping in to the enthusiasm of both the coaches and students.
Enter India Wisely
Companies wanting to do business in India’s emerging market should:
conduct market research to determine if they must re-position or re-craft their products
get to know the local culture within the country
take time in building relationships
Those who successfully do business in India agree that it’s not possible to fly in, shake hands, make sales or find a supplier, and leave.
Street Surfing was awarded the U.S. Commercial Service Export Achievement Certificate during the recent India Trade Conference that featured keynote speakers John Fielder, president of Southern California Edison, Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President of the Americas and India for Qualcomm, and Holly Vineyard, Assistant Secretary, South Asia, U.S. Department of Commerce.