It has now been now almost 4 weeks of my rural marketing-cum-sales internship in the barren hinterlands of Madhya Pradesh, India. For an aspiring consumer goods Brand Manager, who wishes to start his career with hardcore sales, there has been truck-loads of learning!
I try to cover at least 3 villages each day. ‘Cover’ typically includes visiting the small retail stores in the village, interacting with the owner, understanding the last-mile-distribution/ supply-chain problems &, gaining consumer insights into the category we operate in- Oral care.
Procter & Gamble’s Oral-B toothbrush and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolates are extremely strong brands in India. While P&G is a competitor for us (Oral Care segment), Kraft-Cadbury is a company that we love. Why ? Because eating chocolates should also lead you to remember the importance of oral care.
During my village market visits, i’ve encountered numerous spoofs of popular FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) brands. But the two spurious brands that stand out in terms of reach (& omnipresence) across the rural landscape are –
The package design, logo & names are eerily similar.
Now, these spurious products get consumer goods companies all worked-up! They try to stop these through legal recourse, issuing consumption advisory, etc.
Should they be really worried ?
But why ?
Because it is a testimony to the tremendous strength & pull of your brand! For every marketer worth his/her salt, it should be the greatest dream, and not the worst nightmare, to see copycats of his/her brand springing up.
Cheap imitations of Louis Vuitton, Rolex, Apple iPhone spawn all over Asia.
Are they losing consumers due to these cheap imitations of their brands ? NO! Instead, it creates a new market for these premium brands- the people who can afford and are willing to buy those at premium prices, just to show-off that they aren’t buying inferior imitations.
What, then, does such mass-and-illegal replication signify?
1. Your distribution is not strong enough to reach every possible consumer. 2. There is a market that you do not intend to cater to, while that market awaits your affordable entry.
Take this as the next big business opportunity for you to strategize your moves toward. Devise innovative models & work hard to achieve that elusive last-mile-distribution success.
Therefore, P&G and Kraft-Cadbury, please take a bow. Your brands are great & aspirational enough to get copied in the remotest rural lands of India 🙂