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Amazon.com Becomes Junglee.com

By: Mike Awada. India is one of the largest, fastest-growing, and most promising economies in the world. With a population of 1.17 billion people, global businesses have been shifting their time, focus and resources to this one time British colony for years. The Indian population is known for being focused, hard-working and intelligent; leading to large contributions to the global economy. It should come as no surprise that within the last week, global retail giant Amazon.com has sought a new way to get in on the action.

Junglee.com was originally started by four Stanford students in 1996. They were providing online database technology helping consumers to find millions of assorted products shortly after Amazon went live doing the same thing in 1995. Amazon must’ve seen quite a bit of promise in the company early on, as they acquired Junglee.com in 1998 for a whopping $200 million.

India already sports the worlds third largest e-commerce market behind the U.S. and China. Indian online sales in 2009 totaled $4 billion USD. The encore to that year was an eye-opening $10 billion in sales in 2010. The move is expected to rival current Indian e-superpower Flipkart.com for the battle of online goods. The sites look very similar, featuring a conservative layout emphasizing the special product offerings. This can be directly attributed to the fact that Flipkart.com was started by two former Amazon employees and IIT Delhi students in 2007.

But why ‘rebrand’ to target a particular population when the Amazon brand is already recognizable worldwide? Is this really a risk worth taking? I think the term ‘Amazon’ strikes a particular chord here in the U.S. because it’s something that as children, we had embedded in our mind. The Amazon was a larger-than-life river and rainforest with exotic creatures and overflowing with mystery. While many Indians are familiar with the Amazon, the term ‘Amazon’ just doesn’t have the same effect there.

‘Junglee’ is term with similar connotations to the Indian people. The term ‘Junglee’ translates to wild or ill-mannered in Hindi, so the message is similar to what Amazon invokes in Americans. Hindi is the most popular of the 100+ languages in India, the primary language of approximately 45% of the population. Junglee was a musical mega-blockbuster movie in India back in 1961. Having been a classic movie and familiar term, Junglee is something, like the word Amazon, that is inherently embedded in the minds of the masses, which is good for brand recognition.

Some might argue that this new brand is a blown opportunity to expand their Amazon brand on a global scale. I actually think this is a brilliant move, one that will simultaneously boost the original brand by including the Amazon logo throughout the site. Junglee.com will not only offer local specialized goods, but access to Amazon’s global database of products that essentially includes anything one could ever want.

I believe this move has huge implications for the ongoing ‘globalization of the internet’, and we could continue to see many new brands emerge from mega-companies for various regions in the world. This is a big reason why I like to take fliers on 5-8 letter brandable.com’s, especially ones with interesting meanings outside of the United States. Technology has torn down many barriers to entry for multinational corporations, and the constantly evolving nature of the internet and it’s increasingly amazing capabilities will have fascinating implications on a global scale.

What are you feelings on this move for Amazon? Have you noticed companies taking similar risks, or even stretching this idea a step further? What are the implications for global business, and the rapidly expanding world of domains?

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