The Tata Nano is a truly innovative, ‘value for many’ product, and glitches associated with the R1-lakh car are mere glitches, international management guru Vijay Govindarajan has said.
Govindarajan — an innovation thinker and author of international bestseller Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators — said Indian companies had so far focussed on the little segment of rich consumers who can afford costly products, and for whom innovation means value for money.
“This needs to change, and innovation should mean ‘value for many’ for India to stay competitive,” said the Tuck School of Business professor.
Reminded about the falling sales of the Nano and the lukewarm response from consumers, Govindarajan was not dismayed. “All innovative products take time to be accepted by the masses,” he said. Cell phones, he said, are an example.
“The rate of adoption for any radical innovation has been 10-15 years… even 20 years. Cellphones came out in the 1980s but cellphone penetration on a mass scale took 20 years. Similarly, it is one thing to make people excited about Tata Nano but another to get commitment to buy it,” he explained.
The Nano is meant for people who have no access to automobiles at all, making quality transportation available at an ultra low price.
“If the Nano doesn’t do well it is a death wish for India because nobody will again believe when an Indian company announces that it is going to make the cheapest tractor (say) in the world,” he said. “It will not be failure of Tata but for India. The Nano has created so much hype that people are associating Nano with India’s coming out party.”
But does India need to wait for a decade to see the Nano flourish? “Not really,” he said. “The next 12 months would be crucial... I am told the sales have already picked up.”