Challengers at work: A peep into the path ahead for some homegrown disruptors
Challenger brands acquire their reputation and clout by coming up with a disruptive product, price point or marketing strategy that the competition is too big and/or sluggish to acknowledge until it’s too late. But after amassing share and occasionally becoming the leaders themselves, how do they continue to remain nimble? For this special issue on ‘Great Brands of India’, BE looks at some home-grown challengers to find if and how they’ve managed to keep the disruption going.
A Healthy Pulse
In a category where entry cost is low and loyalties not very high, to create a Rs 300 crore brand is no mean feat. But it’s something that DS group’s hard-boiled candy brand Pulse achieved within two years of launch. And that, with minimal above-the line spends: the brand launched its first TV ad this April. Pulse intends staying the course and growing, according to Shashank Surana, VP – new product development, DS Group, by “expanding the flavour basket to cover the maximum spectrum of consumers, regions and tastes, along with increasing the depth and width of the distribution,” he shares. After all, the euphoria around the flagship kachha aam may not be replicated as easily for the other flavours: orange, guava and pineapple. Apart from 2-3 new variants, DS Group is working on another innovation in this format, which it hopes will define the category yet again adds Surana, refusing to divulge more details at this stage.
Shine on, Yellow Diamond
Indore is known for its mouth-watering snacks — Sarafa Bazaar and Chappan Dukaan form vital parts of every tourist itinerary. And so, its Indorian antecedents may have played a role in Prataap Snacks’ Yellow Diamond betting big on the organised Indian snack market, pegged at over `500 billion. The brand has become a formidable force with its play in chips, namkeens and extruded snacks (potato or cereal based shape-snacks like ‘Wheels & Scoops’, Chulbule, Puff and rings) and enjoys a sizable national footprint. Getting Salman Khan as brand ambassador also helped gain recognition. Views Amit Kumat, MD & CEO, Prataap Snacks, contrary to popular belief, while the chips segment is the more visible, it is also very limited in scope for innovation. The winner, both on innovation and growth potential is extruded snacks. Rings for example, in the East became a ubiquitous product and also one that helped the company establish distribution.
Now Yellow Diamond hopes to replicate the ring-success story at a national level. To continue with the disruption agenda, the Sequoia-invested company is planning to launch two new brands – premium salty snacks like quinoa chips, lentil crackers etc. under the 7Wonders brand and also foray into sweet snacks under the soon to be launched Richfeast brand.
Keeping The Ghadi Ticking
The Rs 20,000-crore laundry market was jolted a few years back when a lesser-known player from Kanpur, Ghadi detergent (owned by Rohit Surfactants) shook key players like Wheel, Surf, Rin, Tide and Nirma. It played well on its strengths of a good product at a great price, delivered with the line ‘pehle istemaal karo phir vishwas karo’ that resonated well with a large consumer-base in the keenly contested category. As per market sources, it has been leading with a market share of around 25%.
Detergents as a category is already mature with extremely high penetration. The battle is beyond the pack now and not within, according to Akashneel Dasgupta, executive creative director, ADK Fortune, the creative agency for the brand. Ghadi is now hoping to take the conversation beyond product delivery and opting for a larger stand through its recently launched platform ‘saare mael dho daalo’. Elaborates Subroto Pradhan, agency head, ADK Fortune, “it talks about cleansing in a larger sense: cleansing of the nation, of the society and its evils, our own personal regrets and misconceptions etc.” On the product front, there is a big innovation in the pipeline, we are informed.
Swearing By The Oats
The Delhi-based Bagrry’s has been at the helm of creating key sub-categories like muesli and oats. While these have been picked by numerous other brands wanting to buffer their portfolio, Baggry’s has continued to innovate. The ‘Oats for India’ range, for instance, where the grain was transformed into staple forms such as atta, poha, dalia, suji and rava, for easier consumption, shares Aditya Bagri, director, Bagrry’s India. A recent innovation has been ‘Corn Flakes Plus’. Bagrry’s intends to bust a popular myth about the largest segment of the breakfast cereals category. “Corn flakes traditionally aren’t a very healthy choice: low in fibre, high on the glycaemic index and with artificial antioxidants,” informs Bagri. Whereas their offering has 2x the fibre of regular corn flakes, and while the product look, texture and taste is identical, it is far healthier he claims. In addition, there’s a foray into the QSR space with ‘Bagrry’s Health Cafe’. The family-run business has innovated on packaging as well: cereals in PET jars, a first-ever, perhaps globally.
The Rule of Three
A check-list for challenger brands to continue challenging and disrupting
Challengers mostly share some common characteristics: an entrepreneur’s hunger to win along with single person decision-making, and being free of the pressures faced by most MNCs on margins, profit, shareholder return etc. Possibly why brands like Fogg and Ghadi managed to disrupt the way they did. Here are some dos and don’t s for the journey.
1. Think: Work on a dual-pronged strategy on an ongoing basis. Even while increasing the scale of operations on the last disruption, plan and execute the next level of innovation.
2. Prioritise: Even though challenger brands have speed and ability to execute on their side, they also have to sift from a number of ideas before zeroing in on the one that they intend bringing to market.
3. Stay risky: Too often marketers fall into a trap of making me-too products after one has succeeded. Entrepreneurs think of disruption, but as they grow, risk avoidance creeps in.
(With inputs from: 1. Dr Renuka Kamath, professor, marketing at SP Jain Institute of Management, 2. Hamsini Shivakumar, co-founder, Leapfrog Strategy Consulting, 3. Satbir Singh, founder & chief creative officer, THINKSTR)