Mission-Driven vs Market-Driven approach

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Mission-Driven vs Market-Driven approach

Published on Jan 31, 2020 by Ashok Kasilingam

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A decade ago, almost all of the major Internet platforms were American. Today, atleast half of that top ten are Chinese companies. And we're beginning to see this in social media too.

TikTok, a Chinese social media app has already been downloaded more than 1.5 billion times around the world. TikTok has its own means and has its own slang. It has its own star system.

When it comes to mobile payment (the ability to pay anything and everything with your phone), China's AliPay and TenCent's WeChat Pay are already dominating the world. There is been a big race by these companies to capture the international markets and to apply their market dominance to every nook and cranny of urban life like food delivery, electricity bills, on-demand manicures, shared bikes, flight tickets, movie tickets.

It is becoming very clear that there is no way for Western companies to compete with their Chinese counterparts on the product pricing front. So there is a pressing need for differentiating the company's offering from their competitors based on the local customization and add on services which customers expect with the product.

These value added services will lead to enhanced customer satisfaction and bring in recurring revenues. Companies like Shoppify's valuation are 10x times more of their actual generated revenue by purely focusing on recurring revenue.

Most of the Silicon Valley Internet companies in the past two decades have largely stuck to their core product offering by taking a lean approach and let the brick and mortar businesses handle the on-ground logistics. Their whole focus has been on coming up with novel and elegant code based solutions to problems. They automatically assumed the product they build should be adopted by the world without the need for any local customization.

This approach of global product mentality and deep centralization is in stark contrast with the Chinese companies who just wont stop by just building the internet platform - but they want to recruit each seller, handle the goods, run the delivery team, supply the delivery vehicles, repair those vehicles and control the mode of payment.

And if need be, they will subsidize that entire process to speed user adoption and undercut rivals. Failure of American juggernauts like eBay, Google, Uber, Airbnb, LinkedIn, Amazon to capture Chinese markets could be mainly attributed to this reason.

In this era of rising nationalism worldwide, these deep localization and customization of the product offerings to suit each global market is the order of the day. Those companies who don't budge to these demands will go out of business.