Tag Archives: India

Aping your Brand ? Don’t worry, take a bow !

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 –

"Oval-D": A widely available spoof of P&G's popular brand, Oral-B
“Oval-D”: A widely available spoof of P&G’s popular brand, Oral-B
The fake "Day Milk" (on the left) | The original Cadbury's "Dairy Milk" (on the right)
The fake “Day Milk” (on the left) | The original Cadbury’s “Dairy Milk” (on the right)

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 ?

Hell NO!

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 🙂


Selfless Teachers: Transforming Lives & Building a Nation

The past 1 month has been replete with extremely humbling (and inspiring!) experiences. For the summer of 2014, i am interning with a New York-headquartered global consumer goods company and have been asked to pilot an innovative model to increase rural sales in hinterlands of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

So during a market-assessment visit to a small village (population <3000), i bumped into 2 public (state government) school teachers who, in the merciless 43°C afternoon sun, were personally taking academic report of each student to the student’s home.

Why ?

Because the village kids tend never to show their academic results to their parents!

Such painstaking efforts, on personal expense & time, just to ensure parents remain aware of their children’s school performance. There were 40 students in the Middle school (grades 6th – 8th) and 92 in the Primary school (grades 1st – 5th)

“I’ll do whatever it takes to ensure that no student drops out of school after 8th grade. They must at least graduate from high-school”, said 49 years old Hemant Vaidya, the Headmaster.


52 year old Somprakash Shrivastava, the other noble teacher (Headmaster of the Primary school) sweating door to door to meet parents & give their child’s feedback said, “God did not bless me with any children of my own, but i give scholarships to these students from my salary in the hope that someday at least a few of them will make it big in life. At no cost should talent be allowed to get wasted.”

It is these unsung heroes, selfless servers of the society, in the remotest parts of the country, who truly help build a great nation and an even better world.

गुरु गोबिन्द दोउ खडे काके लागूँ पाँय
बलिहारी गुरु आपने गोबिन्द दियो बताय

– legendary couplet by the famous 16th century Indian poet, Kabir.

God and my Guru (Teacher) both stand before me.. Whom should i revere first ?
Of course it has to be my Guru (Teacher) first, because it is he who will actually show me the way to God.