Textiles sector, think marketing

In the textile industry, how must financial support from the government be utilised?


Rohit, financial support from the government should be for two clear purposes in your industry. The first is to upgrade the manufacturing process, which is funded forever. The second is for marketing and branding. The industry of textile and yarn is an export revenue earner. Building an India brand in this space is a possibility.

I support an “India-made” branding plan for the Indian textile product at large. One can seek funds from the India Brand Fund and one can indeed target for funds from the Ministry of Textiles. I do believe what is needed is a plan. The right ideas will get the right funding from the government. I think there is no shortage of money with the government for such programmes. There is instead a shortage of good ideas that seek funding.

Let’s remember. Government money and funding must never be seen as money that is given to the industry to buy fish. Instead, this money is meant to be seen as money that is doled out to help you learn the skill, the art, the science and philosophy of fishing.

Thus far, government money has been used as a way to subsidise the spend of individual units. This subsidy mentality needs to go. It is time to understand that life cannot be subsidised forever. If the money is used for skill development and the money that is received is seen to be money that is helping upgrade skills that lead to better marketing and better premium realisations, so be it. If not, this is money that is wasted.

The industry needs to sit together, ideate and put out a plan that is completely market-centric to the market of consumption rather than the market of production. In India, we have focused far too long on production. Time to pull up our yarn and think marketing and branding. There is joy in this space. There is light in this space. There are profits in this space. None of these are immediate. If you are willing to wait, there is light. If not, there is just darkness all around.

If you as an industry do not invest in brand-building for Indian yarn and textile and the finished product, we will forever complain of a new destination that is robbing us of profits and margins for our produce. Today it is Bangladesh, tomorrow it may be Vietnam and the day after tomorrow it may be Timbuktu.

I have memories of a drink called Bovonto. Where has it gone? Must we not revive heritage brands such as these?


Malathi, you invoke a precious old brand name.

Bovonto is a classic case of a local taste that dominated the early era of the bottled drink. It is still around.

I can think of Kalimark Bovonto and Torino from Bangalore being two killer brands in the era before Coke and Pepsi. Add Dixi Cola to that as well. These are brands that established a clear high ground on consumer taste and dominated it for decades. And then they folded up. Financial pressure of every kind, the reluctance to modernise and contemporise and the inability to keep pace with competition in terms of advertising and marketing outlay, did these brands in. This is a David versus Goliath category. The Goliath is global and the Davids are totally local. This battle will not be fought with advertising in the future. Instead, this will be fought on the plank of the high ground of taste. I do believe Bovonto has the opportunity to position itself uniquely today. It needs to focus on the story of positioning rather than the story of advertising, which it will ill afford in the medium term in any case.

Harish Bijoor is a brand strategy expert and CEO of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. Mail your queries to cat.a.lyst@thehindu.co.in