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India Is an Excellent Market for the UFC

I've noticed this morning that a couple bloggers have attacked the idea of the UFC trying to expand into India.  Kelsey Philpott at MMA Payout makes the argument  that going to India is a silly idea for economic reasoning.  I don't mean to pick on him or anything, but this is extremely short-sighted for numerous reasons.

India is one of the greatest economic miracles in modern history.  It is true that there is wide income disparity, and that many people there still live in poverty, but it is the 12th largest economy in the world, and the growth potential in India is tremendous.  Would members of the MMA media like to talk to the heads of law firms and succesful businesses expanding into India and tell them that they are wasting their time?  Even the NBA is trying to make inroads into India, everybody acknowledges the marketing potential, and lecturing the UFC on it because of non-factors like India's corruption and disparities in income and literacy is insanity. 

Getting into India now would be a brilliant move.  The country is rapidly rising out of poverty, and as televisions become more widespread, the UFC could take advantage of one of the greatest untapped markets in the world.  India has the largest middle class on the planet, and it is constantly growing both in size and wealth.  It is the perfect market to expand to.

Discussing all the reasons India is an incredible market would take about 3 hours, so I suggest reading this 2007 piece at Business Week:

The next two groups—seekers, earning between 200,000 and 500,000 rupees ($4,376- $10,941), and strivers, with incomes of between 500,000 and 1 million rupees ($10,941-$21,882)—will become India's huge new middle class. While their incomes would place them below the poverty line in the United States, things are much cheaper in India. When the local cost of living is taken into account, the income of the seekers and strivers looks more like $23,000 to $118,000, which is middle class by most developed-country standards. Seekers range from young college graduates to mid-level government officials, traders and business people. They enjoy a lifestyle that most of the world would recognize as middle class and typically own a television, a refrigerator, a mobile phone and perhaps even a scooter or a car. Although their budgets are stretched, they scrimp and save for their children's education and their own retirement.

Strivers, the upper end of the middle class, tend to be senior government officials, managers of large businesses, professionals and rich farmers. Successful and upwardly mobile, they are highly brand-conscious, buying the latest foreign-made cars and electronic gadgets. They are likely to have air conditioning, and can indulge in an annual vacation, usually somewhere in India.

The middle class currently numbers some 50 million people, but by 2025 will have expanded dramatically to 583 million people—some 41 percent of the population. These households will see their incomes balloon to 51.5 trillion rupees ($1.1 billion)—11 times the level of today and 58 percent of total Indian income.

In thirty years or so, the companies that established themselves early in India's growth period will be very strong.  The UFC would be wise to try to be one of those companies.