Mysore Deep Perfumery House (MDPH), known for its Zed Black brand of agarbattis, believes that its recent diversification into segments such as food and beverages, confectionery, and hygiene can help it achieve a turnover of ₹1,000 crore by fiscal 2027. In a chat with businessline, Ankit Agrawal, Partner and Director, MDPH, talks about the changes that are sweeping across the agarbatti industry and what the future holds for the company. Excerpts.


Digitisation is not something that one would normally associate with an old-world product like agarbatti. But we all know that is exactly what is happening. Can you tell us how, from e-commerce to online branding, digitisation is shaping the industry? 

The agarbatti industry is undergoing a transformation driven by technological advancements, changing consumer preferences, and a global outlook. The integration of digital platforms, sustainability initiatives, and innovative product development are key factors shaping the industry’s present and future landscape.

Today, customers extensively research products online before making a purchase decision, exploring information about agarbatti varieties, raw materials, fragrances, sizes, colours, and availability on platforms like Google and other e-commerce websites. The agarbatti industry’s innovations also influence customer choices.

Embracing digitisation is crucial for companies like ours; we’ve streamlined manual processes with software for our salesforce. This digital transformation allows easy tracking of sales teams through geo-tagging, enhancing productivity by providing real-time information on products and schemes via mobile apps. 


What role does data analytics play in your line of business? What’s been your experience leveraging data analytics? 

Undoubtedly, as often emphasised, data is the new oil, a concise way of stating its significance. The value of data lies in the profound insights it provides, offering a clear perspective and aiding in decision-making. Regular access to relevant data is crucial, as it not only guides decisions but also sharpens focus, revealing the true nature of challenges. This proactive approach, grounded in accurate data, ensures decisions are driven by substance rather than being influenced by verbal communication. You then act in a more focused manner. And that’s what data does to us. So, data is a very important part of our decision-making. And we have seen that correct data leads to a correct approach, which in turn increases the business overall.


What do you see as clear trends in your industry?

Customers are increasingly preferring branded products with high-quality, good fragrances and charcoal-free fragrances. Charcoal-free products are also getting hotter day by day. Apart from that, coloured sticks are also in demand. Agarbatti in different forms, such as dhoop cones, sambrani dhoop cups, and dhoop sticks, are also getting very popular, indicating a growing trend of customers becoming more quality-conscious and preferring well-known brands.


You spoke about the industry’s low entry barriers. By extension, there are also a lot of unorganised players. Do you see some consolidation happening?

Historically speaking, there has not been much consolidation. The agarbatti industry may look very simple from the outside. But the art of making an agarbatti has been passed on from generation to generation. So there will always be space for niche players. But with technology, mechanisation and innovation, there could be changes. 


Counterfeiting is a bane of the retail industry, and the agarbatti segment is no exception. How are you fighting this menace? 

The agarbatti industry is a small industry with very little entry barriers. So, it’s very easy for someone to make counterfeit products. To combat this, we’re actively raising awareness among customers through methods like posters and disseminating information via WhatsApp. Additionally, we’re taking consistent legal action and conducting raids against those producing counterfeit products. We’re diligently pursuing legal routes, filing cases in court, and obtaining orders against such individuals. This ongoing process involves numerous suits nationwide, with raids conducted across the country.


What are your plans on product (portfolio) expansion and foray into new markets? 

Apart from agarbatti, we are also focusing on dhoop sticks, havan samagri, and sambrani cups.

Expanding our horizons, we’ve entered the entire pooja essentials category with the Zed Black Samarpan range, offering a comprehensive range including camphor, ghee diya batti, puja oil, chandan tikka, kumkum, and more.

Recent ventures include the hygiene division under the brand ‘Orva’ with handwash, dishwash, and shining powder. Our venture into the hygiene category signifies a strategic move to meet diverse consumer needs. We’ve introduced a line of premium-quality products, including handwash, dishwash, and shining powder. These offerings reflect our commitment to not only spiritual well-being through products like agarbatti but also to the overall wellness of our consumers.

We have already expanded into the confectionery and candy business. We have set up a new plant and added new machines to increase production. We already have 5-6 production lines and are expanding to increase the production of Din Din variants like lollipops, jellies, and candies.

Expanding our global footprint is our motive now to establish a strong presence in diverse international markets. Our recent entry into three new countries, notably Morocco, exemplifies our commitment to reaching new audiences. This expansion is not just about introducing our products but also about adapting to and understanding the unique preferences of each market. In existing markets like South America and the UK, we’re actively fortifying our presence by strengthening distribution networks, increasing product visibility, and engaging with local communities. This approach goes beyond mere market penetration; it aims to foster lasting connections with consumers by understanding and addressing their specific needs.


You are targeting ₹1,000 crore in turnover against ₹650 crore last fiscal. How do you plan to get there?

MDPH has experienced remarkable expansion in recent years, witnessing a substantial increase in net sales compared to the previous fiscal. Over the last five years, the company has consistently achieved double-digit growth, culminating in an impressive 15 per cent quarter-on-quarter revenue increase in the current fiscal year.

Having initially made a significant impact in the incense sticks and puja essentials category, our diversification into the food and beverages, confectionery, and hygiene segments is poised to propel us further. We are now aiming for a turnover of ₹1,000 crore by fiscal 2027.

In the next three years, both Orva and Din Din are anticipated to make substantial contributions to our core agarbatti and puja essentials business. Orva, positioned primarily as our direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand, and Din Din, designed as a mass product, are expected to gain considerable traction in both urban and rural markets.