Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Creation of a brand

I happened to reading about Gulshan Kumar and the story behind the T-series brand. The T-series brand took the nation by storm a few years back, when it turned the film music industry on its head. T-series realized that between the monopoly of the HMVs and Music India and a loophole in the Indian copyright law was a market with a huge potential. This has been documented in many places and studied in business schools. But T-series did not stop at recording known songs recorded by unknown voices and selling it for cheap. It went into the business of film production, producing religious film albums. It even got into tape production and the like setting up its manufacturing plants.

These thoughts came back to me while I was at a local footwear shop. Unlike an urban footwear store, this one had a thousand labelled cartons, each of which was a "brand". There was Bata, too, Indias ubiquitious brand, but jostling for space were Vismaya, Doctor, Flute and what not. For the customer who is only looking for price differentiation, in, say, a rubber slipper, his sales spiel was "Bata will cost you x while this will cost you only y", x being greater than y. In a commodity like rubber slippers, which is relatively easy to duplicate, Vismaya or Flute can hit Bata. But if Bata revamps its designs every few months making it difficult for imitators or changes its raw material or finishing grade that is difficult to be imitated, it will win hands down. For Flute to succeed, it has to think like T-series if it has to revolutionize the market and go beyond just imitating.

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