Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Indianise (localise) or perish

Walk across supermarket aisles (I mean, any store which offers the facility to walk in and shop) and you will notice something. The thing about self service shops is that it lends itself to sampling stuff, which is kind of difficult in the kirana style groceries, unless it is recommended by the shopkeeper. The trend that I am talking about is not new, but perhaps more noticeable these days and it refers to the headline of the piece.

Brands are Indianising like nobodys business.

Variants in tomato ketchup are now more Indian than ever before. Theres pudina and chatpat (tastes good) from Maggi (Nestle), theres tom chi and tom imli from Kissan (HLL) and a company called Jones has some more variants.
(Aside 1: To me Maggi ketchup feels slimy and pasty as compared to Kissans ketchups (why?). Aside 2: Malcolm Gladwell has argued brilliantly that the taste of tomato ketchup has not changed over the years; he ought to visit India for this one reason (they may not qualify as ketchups in his definition though).)

Walk across to the biscuit section and there are many Indianised versions and many launches and failures here. Maska Chaska of Britania (or is it Parle?) is doing quite well. The latest one is Snacky, a chilli flake salted biscuit from ITC, which is actually quite good.

Maggi over the years in its noodle segment has seen that it is the Masala variety that has sold the best in the veggie section (it actually had a tomato and a southern spice variety long ago, but they never clicked) and I think Sunfeast Pasta will go the same route with only the Masala flavour as a mainstay.

Earlier, there were many copy paste launches of phoren brands, but today most brands prefer to Indianise their offering rather than copy paste a brand.

Yes, there is a lot of scope for many brands (ideas, industries and a host of other things) to enter India, but all (or atleast some) of them will discover (like MTV did) that to survive in the Indian market, a direct copy paste approach will not work, a local flavour is needed to take it to the masses.

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