Mohan Padmanabhan

Kolkata, Aug. 8

ITC Ltd, maker of Mangaldeep brand of agarbattis, has launched a `5-in-1' product.

Mr R. Srinivasan, Member, Corporate Management Committee of ITC, told Business Line, besides the all-India distribution reach and well thought out media campaigns, what has really helped Mangaldeep brand agarbattis was the selection of fragrances through a scientific approach based on consumer preferences. The company's vendor development programmes, including stabilisation of operations in Tripura, have enabled ITC to fortify its presence in the Rs 1,200-crore market for agarbattis, he said.

He said the market, dominated by strong regional players, had shown a growth of 6-7 per cent in 2004 over that in the previous year.

The 5-in-one product comes in two packs Rs 10 for 25 sticks and Rs 30 for 100 sticks. The two new additional fragrances are `Aeon' and `Amalum', besides the usual Sandal, Bouquet and Jasmine. According to Mr V.M. Rajasekharan, CEO of the Agarbatti SBU of ITC, the new fragrances have been developed in-house after intensive research at the Group Laboratory. Pointing out that the idea was to provide superior value for the consumer nationally, he said the thrust strategies have to be on region-specific preferences, considering that market leaders such as the Bangalore-based NRR (owner of the Cycle brand), with some 1,800 million sticks per annum, have a very strong in the `3-in-one' market segment. Mangaldeep now sells around 1,200 million sticks per annum. He said Mangaldeep's success as a superior product could be gauged from the fact that already there were Mangaldeep look-alikes in the market.

ITC sources agarbattis entirely through the cottage-SSI chain.He said the Durbar agarbattis (masala battis brand from ITC) have a strong demand in Andhra Pradesh (an estimated Rs 40-crore market).

Besides the recent bamboo development programme initiative, in collaboration with the Tripura Government, ITC is now on the look-out for tie-ups with various NGOs to give a leg up to Government of India's rural employment generation programme. ITC is working with organisations such as Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living, Bangalore, and `Seva', in Mongyr, Bihar, for rolling of agarbattis by village women.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 9, 2005)
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