Marketing

Waiting in the wings

Harish Bijoor | Updated on April 11, 2012

Perceptions of it as healthy have contributed to wine's popularity in the country, but import duties play spoilsport.

I am told Indians are drinking more and more wine. Is this a market one can bank upon?

- Rohit Sardangi, Pune

Rohit, India is a wine market waiting to happen. Many reasons really. The first big one is the fact that Indians have largely not been exposed to good wines thus far. The oldest one that India knows is the Golconda Ruby wine. This in many ways has been the lowest common denominator wine that common India knows.

But then remember, India is today not as common as it was. Sophistication levels and sophistry have been growing by leaps and bounds in tandem with economic prosperity. Economic prosperity has found ways of flowing out into social prosperity, and eating and drinking out have grown exponentially. With this, wine takes centre-stage.

Wine is also considered the “more healthy” of them all alcoholic-brews. Red wine in particular, with its flavonoid profile, has entered the psyche of the Indian as something that is healthier than them all. This has made the glass of wine ubiquitous in the hands of the health-conscious socialite.

Add to this the fact that women have taken to wine in big numbers. Social drinking has had women adapting to and adopting wines.

While beer is seen as too down-market to hold and whisky a bit too strong, wine has been their drink of choice. It has also been the entry drink to liquor consumption. It is seen to be the least harmful, and the least potent (erroneously, of course). Wine, therefore, wins.

The market in India is waiting for exponential growth as we get exposed to a myriad number of wines from across the world. What's missing is quality, different origins as choice, and different flavour profiles to boast about as part of party conversation.

The biggest hurdle has also been the high import duties.

If the price of wine comes down as per EU levels, there is bound to be a boom. So watch the wine space of India for more.

Cavinkare has been a big brand from the South. Is it still one? I don't see much of it.

- Shashi Singhal, New Delhi

Shashi, Cavinkare has been one of India's big successes from good old Chennai. I do believe it still is.

Cavinkare was the pioneer in the space of packaging-engineering for brand success. The small sachet shampoo became ubiquitous. Cavinkare went evangelistically behind this movement altogether.

In many ways the low unit pack (LUP) in a sachet meant many things. It meant a consumer could experiment with a smaller amount of shampoo for first buy. In this manner it was a great sampler pack.

Second, a small sachet was found to be good as it was an exact measure. If you took shampoo out of a bottle and used it, you would use either too little or too much. In a sachet, you smoothed out the exact measure. You did not waste and you did not use in excess, as most brand marketers want you to.

Third, the price point of a LUP was compelling. It democratised shampoo usage. It actually allowed a daily labourer to buy one just as someone in the upmarket locales of a Cumballa Hill in Mumbai or an Upper Palace Orchards resident in Bangalore. Even the person who was using shampoo once a month could buy one.

Fourth, this was a great ambassador pack to enter rural markets with. Penetration was easy. The sachet was easy to handle and transport through trade channels.

Fifth, this was a great display pack – every small retailer loved hanging the sachets up in strings and as streamers. The brand got fantastic visibility without paying for it. Cavinkare succeeded because of all this in the early days. Packaging-engineering for brand success, if you will.

What was missed out was the opportunity to remain aggressive in the space. There was a certain degree of tentativeness even in the face of success. A hesitation, which was palpable. And that, I believe, was its only weakness as a company in the aggressive space of FMCG.

The company got painted as a bottom-of-pyramid player in many ways, a corner it really found difficult to get out of.

How does mobile telephony help the agriculturist at large? I'm confused.

- Ramola H., Mumbai

Ramola, don't be.

Mobile telephony has made information accessible to all. Price dissemination of agricultural products is today evenly achieved, mainly due to the mobile phone. It has reduced the dependence on physical market visits to gauge market prices and market sentiment as well.

Today, market sentiment is estimated with just a few calls to the important ‘ mandi'-players all across. This transformation is but incomplete to date. Social networking sites will hasten this to a different level altogether. Wait as AgriBook becomes the new FaceBook!

Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. askharishbijoor@gmail.com

Published on April 11, 2012

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