Monday, April 16, 2007

India in the brand

This is a set of thoughts that I have strung together, perhaps I will put it together a little more coherently over some time.

As we are exposed to more and more global products, many products/brands are waking up to smell the coffee. In the face of international competition, is it better to play the game in their own category or take the market to another place? The other place is, India. Brands are in a game of oneupmanship in the race to repackage India. Marketers and firms are discovering that the answer to competition, as Indian philosophy will tell you, is within ourselves. India has always had strong brands, some of which were always niche, some of which were mainstream, but it seems to be only now that companies are waking up to its full potential.

Lays chips or not, Haldirams and Garden are going great guns marketing traditional snacks like Chivda, Farali Chivda, Moong Dal among their other variants. Pepsico is responding in kind by launching Mast Malabar and other local flavours - and not with international flavours.

Soaps and toothpaste are a sea change. Lux, today, has a chocolate variant among other things. But the market is moving in the direction of India with natural oils, face packs - soaps with multani mitti and what not. Medimix (my take - watch out for this new improved brand), Jeeva are some of the "new faces" of soaps. Even if Lux, Lifebuoy, Godrej No 1, Breeze and Nirma are the leading soaps, some of their variants are, distinctly Indian.

Dabur Red has a growing market share ever since it made its staple Dabur Lal tooth powder available in toothpaste form. In the supermarket, you will see a toothpaste by the name of Neem and if you see closely, the toothpaste is marketed not, by some local company, but by Henkel.

Another thing that is happening, is the rise of strong local brands especially in food - like pickles etc. And these are not chalu (fake/unauthentic) brands, they sell in the premium range with USPs such as organic, hand-made, preservative free and so on.

And talking of brands that are about India, how could I miss Fabindia?

The writing was on the wall, when only the "Masala" flavour of Maggi sold well, but now it is even more clear. Unless you are talking to a niche market (like those who only listen to English music -where are they these days), Indian is the flavour to go. So, whats the brouhaha about it. It may not seem remarkable today considering that almost every thing in the supermarket has an Indian flavour or a variant, but think back to a few years ago and you will realize what a transformation it has been.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is time now for us to make an effort to move these brands out of India. Surely there will be takers for a dabur red all natural paste, as there are takers for chinese food, thai food?