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Have you ever believed that something is true with all your heart and you have never bothered to check the facts?
And then one fine day, all you need is one social media post and a quick Google search to change it all and make you rethink every decision you have made in your life, so far.
This story is about the world-famous shoe brand and how it has embraced the adaptation strategy to immerse itself completely in Indian culture. So much, so that the Indians think Bata is an Indian product.
Was the brand made in India? Is it owned by an Indian?
With all these questions coming to your mind, who would have thought that Bata, an inexpensive product known to all Indian families would not be an Indian company?
The news prompted me to write an article on this type of product as I wondered why Aditya Puri wearing the Bata shoe became National News? Why do we associate brands like Armani or Gucci with a rich and middle-aged brand? The reason is that the brand is an inexpensive product for those Indians who can afford Nike or Adidas.
Bata is a famous 126-year-old Swiss shoe company. It was started in 1894 by Thomas Bata, a former citizen of the Czech Republic.
The brand is a family-owned business, founded in 1894, in Czechoslovakia. It was started by a man named Thomas and his siblings. Overcoming financial difficulties, Thomas decided to sew shoes with fabric instead of leather. Lightweight, lightweight, and inexpensive shoes became a popular choice among locals, and the company began to grow.
By 1912, the said brand had introduced a shoemaker, employing more than 600 workers in his factory, and hundreds from neighbouring villages to work on their homes.
After the outbreak of World War I, the economy came to a standstill, demand was very low and production had to be reduced. Thomas responded to this problem by halving the price of his shoes. This amazing move led to greater sales and even allowed them to expand to other countries.
In 1924, the company had 112 branches worldwide and, in the 1930s, they established a production unit in Kolkata, India. In the 1930s, the Indian shoe market was influenced by Japanese imports. However, when Bata established its production unit, in 1932, in a small town called Konarar, near Kolkata, things changed. Within two years, demand for shoes was so high that the production area had to be doubled in size, and the district became a township, later known as Batanagar.
In 1939, the company sold 3,500 pairs of shoes every week and had nearly 4,000 employees.
Journey to Home Brand for Indians
Those who grew up in India in the 70s, 80s, and 90s would have worn these at some point because tennis shoes were also school shoes.
In the 1980s, when the brand faced stiff competition from competitors like Khadim and Paragon it kept itself at the top of the market through advertising. In addition to enhancing its use, durability, and affordability, the company has also introduced innovative new lines.
Their first tag line was – “Beware of tetanus, even a small injury could be dangerous – so wear a shoe”, to raise awareness of the Indian subcontinent, which was previously unfamiliar with wearing shoes completely. One well-known tagline says “First to Bata, Then to School”.
Today, India is the world’s second-largest manufacturer and exporter of the brand, and, headquartered in Switzerland, remains one of the world’s leading brands of luxury and stylish footwear.
Well, it seems that thousands of Indians are now facing the same predicament after it was recently announced that Bata, yes a well-known shoe company that all Indians love and trust, has elected Indian Global CEO for the first time in history.
Of course, the news of Bata India CEO Sandeep Kataria playing a coveted global role in the company’s 126-year-old company was shocking, but what seems to have shocked many others (including me) is that Bata is, in fact, not an Indian company!
Yes, you read that right. I feel like that Instagram meme that has been trending recently and started with something like ‘I was a year old today when I found out that … The brand is not an Indian brand, but a Swiss one’.
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Not surprisingly, for thousands of other years, he may have grown up witnessing his Swades-loving elders speak well of the genre, thinking that the brand could be just another product of Tata.
But alas, how wrong we were, and just as we all these years of growing up look like a farce because we question our belief system and the concept of judgment.
After writing this article I asked my parents “Do you know Bata Kahan ka brand hai?” They replied, “India ka hai obviously”. Such is the strategy to fully adapt!!