Long in depth read on not just WeChat but a few of the Chinese companies trying to win in India.
The whole thing is good but the summation is spot on.
Sahai says that for Chinese companies mainly those supported by the BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) trio, China market is always the core business and the rest of the market is an expansion, which creates some sort of inertia when dealing with the competition here in India.
But, it has become increasingly clear that India as a market cannot be generalised. As Sajith Pai, who works with VC firm Blume Ventures, puts it, India is divided into three consumer segments: the first 100 million, mainly the urban or affluent Indians and are the main targets of indulgent e-commerce brands; the second 100 million classified as the aspiring class; and the last a little over a billion — three segments he calls the splurgers, strivers and survivors.
Pai says that most global companies investing in India, including Apple, Facebook and Instagram are aware of this graph and think of India as a secondary market by targeting the first 100 million. Things may be changing from the WeChat days with a new crop of Chinese companies trying to cater to the new 100 million, including rural India, new internet users and youngsters. Case in point: MX player, NewsDog, Shareit, and UCBrowser that cater to the new internet users in India have a higher chance of surviving in India because they understand the new Indian users better.
Still, unlike China where there is a big government-initiated push for a common language and similar culture, cultural diversity in India, like lack of a common language, city structures, and economic disparity makes it difficult to generalize the Indian market. That’s the lesson that Tencent – and, indeed, the BAT trio – seems to have learnt and are only investing in large Indian companies.