Adi Narayan is a Bloomberg reporter based in Mumbai, where he covers a wide variety of consumer-facing industries in India. He often turns stories about products and markets into broader, more compelling narratives.
In Depth recently spoke with Adi to discuss his busy work schedule and his writing and reporting style.
I understand you cover a lot of different markets in India — food, tobacco, alcohol, luxury and more.
Is it difficult to stay on top of multiple industries at the same time?
It can be quite an exercise to track all of these sectors and stay abreast of what companies are doing. I often find myself delving into tobacco excise tax issues in the morning one day and then switching to calling sources to find out about some deals happening in beverage makers and food companies. There is never a dull day, really. There is no one way to do it, though I try and keep some time each day to soak up on all the news first and then focus on just one thing at a time.
Your style is one of turning a story about a product category into a broader tale about public behavior and preferences. Why are you passionate about that approach?
There are nearly 5,000 stories and headlines that go out on the Bloomberg terminal each day. So when a user clicks on one of my stories, I believe it’s a valuable opportunity for me to tell them a tale about the way things are in this part of the world. Every story lives in a context, and finding the most interesting and important context is essential to making a story relevant for any reader.
What are the unique challenges in of reporting in India? Is there anything that makes the reporting process easier than other places you’ve worked?
Knowing the local language or having someone who can fluently speak the local language is the most important thing. A lot of people in India can at least use some broken English, so it’s easy to get carried away thinking one can do an interview in English. But that ends up getting a hugely oversimplified version of the story. And like in other emerging markets, getting simple things- like a reliable taxi, or an internet connection, or some official document- can turn out to be a frustrating experience.
Where do you see the consumer market going in the future? Are there any ongoing trends you’ve got your eye on?
Online retailing will continue its rapid growth — the market is expected to grow sevenfold by 2018. India’s malls and organized retail stores tend to be concentrated in the cities, but people in small towns and villages aspire to the same stuff and increasingly have the wealth to buy it. E-commerce is tapping into this demand. The country is now reaping the benefits of a demographic dividend, but that could soon change as an aging generation starts occupying a larger chunk of the population. Consumer companies have so far largely focused on the young, and I think that will change in the next decade or two.