How to build a Cult(ish) Indian Brand: Sandeep Sharma, President, R K Swamy Media Group

Making a brand popular is not an easy task. It is a time and money consuming exercise writes Sandeep Sharma.


Making a brand popular is not an easy task. It is a time and money consuming exercise which requires you to have a long term vision and then put together strategies that regularly plug into turning that vision into reality.

In India we seldom see brands being able to last the whole hog. My own personal belief is that we live in the here and now and hence have only built a few great brands over the last 100 years. This in comparison to other countries, our size does not do justice to the potential for brand building that India has always had.

Here, I dip into a jar of nostalgia and go back to a time when Indian brands were truly uninhibited in their zeal to build their brand & continue to be relevant and grow in strength in today’s context too!

Pidilite Fevicol- Majboot Jod! With the customer

Fevicol, the white synthetic resin adhesive was primarily launched to make the lives of carpenters and woodworkers easy. Up until then, animal fat, which was clumsy and cumbersome, was the only glue available. The company’s most successful brand Fevicol and its sub-brands Fevikwik, Fevibond, Fevigum, Fevistick and Fevicryl have consistently commanded over 70% of the total market share.

Fevicol was always about humour and smart positioning, appealed to its core audience and left the general viewer with a smile the recall is so strong that even in adverts without mentioning brand name, people identify when we talk anything but ‘tod-jod’. “From a purely brand point of view, it is incredible that a product specifically aimed at carpenters has such widespread recall among general audiences.

Ghari Detergent- The Outlier

Rohit Surfactants Private Limited (RSPL) from Kanpur silently launched a detergent brand called Ghari for its semi-urban/ rural customers. Ghari followed Nirma’s strategy of keeping low price and targeting customers at the bottom of the pyramid.

In 2011, Ghari toppled Wheel to become India’s largest home and personal care brand. RSPL, is now an Rs.5,000-crore company with Ghari alone contributing around 75% of the total revenue. The company, widely celebrated by many (like us) as an example of the small-town entrepreneurial success story, also sells other products including Venus soap, Xpert dishwasher, and Namaste Dairy brand.

Aggressive pricing is one of the vital reason, Ghari has always maintained affordable pricing, which is why it has managed to become a household and popular name, growth in market demand for washing machines has recently expanded at an impressive rate in India. The purchasing power of Indians has increased, which is encouraging many players in the

detergent market to expand its network and upturn product penetration, especially in the rural market.

Hawkins- India’s favourite pressure cooker

Hawkins Cookers Ltd (Hawkins) was founded in 1957. Hawkins flourished initially under the guidance of Mr. H D Vasudeva & later by Mr Brahm Vasudeva becoming one of the leading Pressure Cooker manufacturing companies in India.

Hawkins continues to be the most trusted cooker and cookware brand amongst the Indian audience. People recall fondly their creative lines “Hawkins ki seeti baje, khushbu hi khushbu udi” and the “Gajar ka Halwa” ad

Hawkins sells pressure cookers across a number of brands with varying price-points including Classic, Contura, Stainless Steel, Hevibase, Bigboy, Futura, Miss Mary etc. Additionally, they market cookware under the brand name Futura.

The company is built on high level of ethics and integrity and it is no surprise that the brand continues to grow from strength to strength steadily building on its large consumer base.

Dabur Hajmola- Flipping the pyramid

People changed, markets evolved and Hajmola kept up with the times. Dabur ka Hajmola - Chatpata swad, jhatpat aaram, (tastes good, provides instant relief) is one such example. Dabur has an entire portfolio of brands that follow this playbook. Dabur positioned Hajmola in the market as a family product- right from the kids to the adults barring any income groups due to its affordability and accessibility.

Through commercials addressed people dealing with the issue of indigestion and how the tablets can cure it in much lesser time, Hajmola found its place in Pan-India shops and heart. In the 2000s, the brand had more than 60% market share in the digestive products markets worth Rs150 crores.

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