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Emerald/MDI Gurgaon
Virtual issue

Emerging markets case studies

Guest editors: Ritu Srivastava & Prof. Parul Gupta

Emerald has partnered with MDI Gurgaon to arrange a case writing workshop.

The objective of the Case Development, Mentoring and Publication Workshop is to mentor faculty on developing unique cases on Indian managerial issues.

The idea of a case workshop is not new to Business Schools in India, what is new and unique is the mentoring and development part of it. 

Find out more

Boat: The Indian Startup Scripts a Revolutionizing Growth Strategy

Subject area: Strategy
Authors: Sheela Bhargava, Parul Gupta

Founded in 2016, Boat Lifestyle is a Delhi-based Indian startup in fashionable consumer electronics. In the past five years, Boat earned remarkable profits and emerged as one of the most promising startups through its innovative products offerings and promotion. Aiming at its target customer segment, the millennials, it promoted its products through social media marketing such as influencer marketing and brand tie-ins with sports teams and music events. The case focuses on the dynamics of the Indian wearables market that is facing tough competition from global and local players. To ensure continued growth prospects, while maintaining a tight focus on product differentiation, quality, and customer satisfaction, there is a greater need for Boat to rethink its market development and growth strategies regarding new innovations and adopting long-term orientation like diversification and global expansion.

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Keep Good Shape (KGS) – the expansion dilemma

Subject area: Entrepreneurship
Authors: Bikramjit Rishi, Vinit Vijay Dani

Ms Megha Bafna, the founder, conceptualized starting Keep Good Shape (KGS) in the year 2017. She started the business with a seed capital of INR 3,500 (US$54.13) from her savings. The idea stuck to her mind as she was working with a real estate firm, and every day, she packaged salad for her lunch. Bafna thought that if someone makes the salad available, she will buy it. Based on this this unmet need of the consumers, KGS started as a passion in 2017 and became a full-fledged business in 2021 with 400 daily customers and 38 full-time employees. Today, she serves 22 different salads, including customized salads for customers with lifestyle diseases based on a subscription model. She grew her organization using social media tools such as Facebook and WhatsApp without using any traditional promotion tools. COVID-19 pandemic has increased her orders by almost 10% as healthy meals emerged as people’s choice in 2021. In 2021, she has to choose between expansion through cloud-based kitchen business models across India. She has been confused about selecting the suitable cloud-based kitchen business model and contemplating about funding if she has to expand the business.

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BSRM Steel, Bangladesh: growing from building safety to caring hearts

Subject area: Strategy
Authors: Mir Mohammed Nurul Absar, Sadia Akhter, Ritu Srivastava

BSRM group established Bangladesh’s first-ever steel mill in 1952. For around 70 years, BSRM had been leading the steel industry of Bangladesh with a single product – long steel. Over the recent decade (2010–2020), Bangladesh had been one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. As the economic development was closely tied with the consumption of steel products, per capita steel consumption in Bangladesh became more than double. Moving from 24 kg in 2010, per capita steel consumption became 55 kg in 2021. Industry experts predicted the per capita steel consumption to be 75 kg by 2024, indicating an enormous scope for the steel industry to grow. Moreover, the industry’s growth momentum was predicted to continue until the nation became a developed one in 2041.

This growth momentum kept attracting new competitors to this business. Nevertheless, BSRM maintained the market leadership by dint of its first mover’s advantage, superior quality, branding, innovation and large-scale operations and ultimately accumulated substantial free cash flow over the years. Now, Aameir Alihussain, the Managing Director and CEO of BSRM, was concerned about managing the growth of his business. Would BSRM continue to concentrate on producing steel and building forte by the backward and forward integration of the value chain? Or should the firm opt for some related diversification? Alternatively, was it the right time for BSRM to consider opportunities for unrelated diversification? While opportunities were many, the amount for investment was limited. Thus, Alihussain was in a dilemma pursuing the right corporate-level growth strategy for the overall sustainability of his business in the long run.

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Fingertips: how women entrepreneurs are reshaping the beauty and wellness business in India

Subject area: Entrepreneurship
Authors: Jayanta Chakraborti, Meeta Dasgupta, Bhaswati Jana

Nikita Patel is an women entrepreneur from a small town called Indore in India. She wanted to run a spa business and started a mobile spa venture called “Atheeva” to offer spa services. However, her venture ran into trouble because of objections from male members in the family and due to feeling of insecurity among her female staff members. She had to close down Atheeva after running the business unit for eight months. Undaunted by the failure, she again started a new venture called “Fingertips” to offer Nail Spa services. This time she took the help of digital marketing to promote her business and started spreading her business into different cities through franchisee route. However, she again faced headwinds in business due to rising attrition rates and challenges of maintaining work-life balance.

This case covers the journey of a women entrepreneur as she faces multiple challenges and overcomes them and seeks answers to the path she should take to take her business to the next trajectory of growth.

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Mentorrd EduTech: charting new territories through social media marketing

Subject area: Marketing
Authors: Navneet Senecha, Ritu Srivastava

It was late April 2021, and Mr Srinivas Rao, the co-founder and director of Mentorrd EduTech, India, was contemplating the journey of more than five years. Much had changed since the startup Mentorrd Education Technologies Pvt. Ltd. (Mentorrd EduTech) was launched in 2015. From being an online artificial intelligence (AI)-based tool for analyzing and building resumes, Mentorrd expanded to specialized premium services for career development catering to MBA aspirants from India to international markets. However, during the same time, many problems had also started showing up.

The competition had increased, and conversions became difficult. Mentorrd generated 95% of its leads through Google Ads pay per click (PPC) advertising. However, now, the increased competition made PPC costlier, where Mentorrd started at INR 10 per click but was now paying INR 50 per click. The customers also were only limited to searching for keywords; hence, actual lead conversion was minimal. Mentorrd was present on different social media platforms and had developed an audience: LinkedIn (close to 10,000 followers), Facebook (1,600+ followers) and Twitter (numbers), but conversions from there were only contributing to 5% of the total revenue. Mr Rao wondered that with a change in demand from general review services to specialist resume and interview preparation services such as MBA, he would have to develop a sound social media strategy integrated with the current Google Ads usage to reach the audience and generate conversions. He had a limited marketing budget which he wanted to use most effectively but was not sure how to spend across platforms.

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Financing the growth of Urban Chowk

Subject area: Accounting and Finance
Authors: Hetal Jhaveri, Ashutosh Dash

Kartikey Rajput, the promoter of a food park Urban Chowk, was waiting for the Covid regulations in the country to be relaxed. The entrepreneur in him found a business opportunity to provide hygienic food with a beautiful ambience and floated a food park (Urban Chowk) with the support of his wife Nikita Agrawal in 2017 and the second edition amidst Covid in 2020. The business model was well-appreciated by food vendors as well as customers. Rajput could see future growth potential in urban India. But his aggressive business plan to open five food parks in different cities in the next three years was disrupted due to the Covid pandemic. The expansion required huge investments, and post-pandemic challenges were plenty. The decision to go beyond Ahmedabad required the selection of cities besides the major challenge of the financing choice. The new cities might have huge footfall potential but finding the right location at the right price was a different challenge. Rajput was also concerned with the sources of getting the required finances. The entrepreneur was contemplating and evaluating the alternative sources of finance available to a start-up.

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Transforming challenges into opportunities – a case study of Shukan hospital during COVID-19

Subject area: Strategy
Authors: Priti Nigam, Purvi Avantilal Chavla Neera Jain

The case highlights the successful management of the crises faced by a multi-specialty hospital named “Shukan-Caring Lives”, established in 2017 in Vadodara city of Gujarat, India. The case revolves around the Chief Operating Officer, his executive management body and the paramedical and medical staff of the hospital, who dealt with the grave Corona crisis. This case shows how the change in leadership style from participative to situational leadership style could manage the situation by taking brilliant initiatives and providing insightful solutions with a lot of dedication, showing how situational leadership can deal with the transboundary crisis.

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2020 case studies

Imaging Goa's B2B sales dilemma: Provoke or Justify

Subject area: Marketing

Authors: Pravat Surya Kar, Meeta Dasgupta

In the past two decades, imaging Goa (IG) and Azim Shaikh had weathered many business crises. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, he became aware of critical fault lines in his B2B selling model.

IG offered customised digital display solutions, but its primary source of revenue was B2B selling of interactive flat panel display (IFPD) devices. It, respectively, controlled about 35% and 3% of the market share of IFPD sales, respectively, in Goa and western India. IG’s success in the B2B segment was because of Shaikh’s ability to build strong relationships and customised solutions in an emerging market context.

To deal with the COVID pandemic, the Indian Government had imposed a country-wide lockdown, which forced organisations to adopt work from home. This, in turn, created a pull for IFPDs. Yet, very soon Shaikh realised, in the new normal, there was a growing mismatch between his selling efforts and outcomes. Though overall revenue had not fallen much, but the veteran seller had started doubting his tried and tested relational solution selling model.

Case dilemma involves the selection of appropriate selling approaches e.g. solution, insight or tiebreaker selling for different situations. This case also offers an opportunity to discuss, how to use online channels to complement B2B selling. 

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Retail Post COVID Growth Strategy – Is Omni Channel the Way?

Subject area: Marketing

Authors: Ritu Srivastava, Yogesh Yadav

The case is about a value-retail chain, We Mart India, facing the sudden lockdown situation in April 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting India. Shailesh Mehta, the Chief Operating Officer of We Mart is wondering what he should do post the lockdown to bring back the retail chain to its pre-COVID fast-paced growth of 25% YOY in June 2019.

We Mart focused on physical stores as a part of its strategy with an emphasis on the in-store experience. The company catered to the aspirations in fashion for the youth through a series of fashion apparel and accessories in Tiers 2 and 3 cities.

The company had grown successfully in two decades and had expansion plans for 2020, which now seemed hazy because of this unpredicted biological disruption impacting businesses. Mehta’s worries were intensified by the change in the consumer trend that was witnessing a shift from offline to online. He wondered about how to incorporate this change and also realign the corporate growth plans in amidst of a challenging situation. To add to his woes were thoughts about established competitors online already apart from the existing offline ones.

Research methods: This case is based on primary and secondary data gathered through interviews and publicly available secondary sources. The name of the company and protagonist have been disguised.

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GoBhaarati – Contributing in the 'Journey of Healthy Living'

Subject area: Marketing

Authors: Vinit Vijay Dani, Meeta Dasgupta

GoBhaarati Agro Industries and Private Limited (GoBhaarati) operated as a nonprofit social enterprise in the Health and Wellness Industry, providing natural indigenous traditional Indian products such as millets, honey, turmeric, jaggery, rock salt and serving millet-based snacks to consumers.

At the epicenter of Gobhaarati's branding strategy was its health and wellness positioning. The company's mission was to increase the positive perception of millets and to convince consumers that there was intrinsic value in a product's origin and production processes. Iriventi aimed to achieve a turnover of at least ten crores by 2025, but the company's sales and financial resources were limited.

With this clouding in mind, Iriventi could not decide whether to let GoBhaarati stay niche in business or to expand it organically.

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Leadership through differentiation: Hero’s journey with Niloy Motors in the motorcycle industry of Bangladesh

Subject area: Strategy

Authors: Mir Mohammed Nurul Absar, Ritu Srivastava, Sadia Akhter

Hero MotoCorp Limited of India; the world’s number one motorcycle company by volume, established its second global manufacturing facility in Bangladesh in 2018 with the Nitol-Niloy Group. A sister concern, Niloy Motors Limited (NML), had been in charge of the marketing, distribution and sales of the brand "Hero".

Abu Aslam, as the Chief Marketing Officer of NML soon had to confront this fast-paced and highly competitive motorcycle market of Bangladesh. He needed to meet the corporate goal of becoming the market leader by the year 2025. On the one hand, Hero was comparatively a late entrant; on the other hand, the market accommodated almost all popular global brands such as Bajaj, TVS and Honda.

The high growth economy with a rising middle class and a favourable government policy had made the Bangladeshi motorcycle industry quite lucrative for the global manufacturers. Upon its entrance, Hero found a price-sensitive market where it soon became number two by adopting the cost-leadership strategy. However, the incessant price-cutting by the players led to the price war, and every company was losing profit. The resulting situation had created a strong challenge for Aslam as achieving the market leadership through cost-leadership seemed to be an impractical strategy.

Towards the end of the 2019–2020 sales-year, Aslam introduced a new variant of Splendor Plus to the entry cc segment with some new features and a slightly higher price. Receiving a significant positive customer response, Aslam was seriously considering sailing away from cost-leadership. Now, Aslam was in a dilemma as he needed to choose from the three alternatives of adopting the differentiation strategy, namely, differentiation, focussed differentiation and broad differentiation.

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DMart: An Ace in India’s Retail Space

Subject areas: Corporate Finance, Strategic Management, Corporate Valuation

Authors: Dr Tarun Dhingra, Anshul Jain, Ankur Mittal

This case is based on the growth path of a retail chain company, DMart (Avenue Supermarket Private Limitied), in the rapidly growing organised retail industy in India.

It operates a unique business model that garners significant revenue growth with high profitability.

The case covers the competitive advantages of DMart with respect to its peers, and its valuation through discounted cash flow model.

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The transition to greener ways at Parsa’s

Subject areas: This case is most suitable for courses in marketing research studying of consumer behaviour, entrepreneurship; and small enterprises in strategic management

Authors: Mir Insha Farooq Farooq, Parul Gupta

Parsa's is a case about a quick-service restaurant in an Indian emerging market, which faces the harsh realities of environmental degradation. In a very short span of time, Parsa's has evolved as a reputed brand- steadily growing with around sixteen outlets across different parts of India, most of them in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian subcontinent's landmass is getting buried under its own garbage with the country adding more than fifteen million metric tonnes of waste every day. This unmanageable waste generation, which is piling up, adds to the pollution of land, air, and water. To curb this menace, India's Government came up with a one-time plastic ban on October 2nd, 2019.

At Parsa's, Javeed- it's owner, had envisioned in 2018 to transit to greening their business activities. The organization's greening was providing a unique selling proposition. But they were still in early transition. Indian market being an emerging one, is yet to adopt green practices. And Jammu and Kashmir is no different from the rest of the nation. But Parsa's had to now think beyond the plastic ban which was mandatory to all and this strategy will no more provide a competitive advantage.

Both the partners were unsure whether the consumers were ready or they need more awareness. Javeed, a management graduate, suggested to conduct a survey in the Kashmir region as their quick service restaurant (QSR) had a good holding in most of the districts of Kashmir.

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Sheroes: Entrepreneurship by Acquisitions and Organic Growth

Subject areas: Growth of an Entrepreneurial Venture, Entrepreneurial Strategies, Women Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship by Acquisitions, Serial Acquisitions, Community Based Models

Authors: Deepa Kumari, Dr, Sharda University, India, & Ashutosh Dash, Dr, Management Development Institute, India

The teaching case looks at the dilemma of Sairee Chahal. Chahal is the founder of SHEROES, an online community for women. SHEROES started as an online career ecosystem for women.

As time progressed Chahal witnessed conversations beyond career and moved towards women centric themes. Chahal decided to pivot it into an online community for women. Her growth strategy for SHEROES has primarily been driven by serial acquisitions coupled with dispersed efforts on organic growth. In the meanwhile, Chahal had harbored an ambition to bring 100 Million users to SHEROES by the year 2024.

In a period spanning from 2016-2020, Sheroes acquired six niche women centric companies. Sheroes grew to be community of 1 Million users to 20+Million women users by 2020. On the other hand, the industry leader, Mogul used a diametrically approach to grow the platform into 30+Million users by 2020. It had primarily used organic growth strategies such as content development, designing courses, referrals and many more.

However, Chahal found herself in the dilemma when a reporter posed a question to Chahal. Chahal’s growth strategy depended on acquisitions, coupled with less effort in organic growth. Conversely, Mogul grew primarily via organic growth strategies. The reporter’s question forced her to question and revisit her growth strategies. She wondered if a target of 100 million users could be achieved with acquisition as a major driver and less effort invested in organic growth or, whether it might be better to make organic growth the key growth strategy, while pushing acquisitions to the back seat.

The uniqueness of the case lies in female protagonist who is trying to build a larger-than-life community primarily via acquisitions with little effort on organic growth. Such a phenomenon has rarely been explored in the teaching cases. The case is based on the secondary data and the information is available in the public domain.

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Kingfisher: Ultra Max re-positioning hurdle

Subject areas: Marketing Management, Brand Management or Marketing Strategy

Authors: Bikramjit Rishi, Associate Professor, Institute of Management Marketing, India, & Archit Kacker, Student, Institute of Management Technology, India

United Breweries Limited (UBL) was part of UB Group, which was a business conglomerate. United Breweries Holdings Limited (UBHL) or UB Group was headquartered at UB City, Bangalore, India. It dealt in many businesses, out of which UBL was one of them.

Kingfisher Ultra Max was Kingfisher's newest addition to the super-premium strong beer segment. It was a lager based beer with 8% ABV content and was stronger in terms of alcohol content than Kingfisher Ultra, which was also from the super-premium segment. This brand's positioning was such that it targeted the premium segment.

The top management was considering a change in positioning for their Ultra Max brand. A research report submitted by a premier business school also recommended a change in positioning. The officials in the meeting are contemplating the two options for the shift in positioning; one is to make the change of positioning across India, and the other is to make the change specific to some states.

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