Thursday, March 15, 2012: 10:35:56 AM

Retail Trend

Branding exercise in India

Misconceptions about branding still prevails in the Indian business terrain, yet the retail sector holds massive potential

Be it the creation or building of a brand, the Indian retail sector offers a varied set of challenges for any product/service/company. This is mainly because of the disparity in income between the different economic classes. Also, the Indian consumer at each level of the class pyramid has different tastes and may not prefer or afford to purchase products or services offered to the lower or higher category respectively.

 
Branding therefore is sensitive business in the country. While the urban society is quite exposed to the concept of branding, companies catering to the rural customer are yet to explore the concept properly and realise its massive business potential.
 
Be it the building or the creation of a brand, the branding exercise needs the right blend of marketing strategy, advertising and public relations to ensure impact.
 
According to Uboweja, director (Brand Consulting and Design) at Brands of Desire, an established brand consulting and design company, “Indian brands have very recently understood the significance of branding and have begun to give it its due attention. This is in stark difference to international brands which originate from North America, Western Europe and parts of Asia like Japan, Singapore and Korea. International brands of repute have been working closely with brand consultants since the last 50-60 years. The big Indian firms probably realised the importance of branding around 2005-06.”
 
How Indian companies see it
 
Indian companies have over the years often equated branding to sales, resulting in unsatisfactory results and ineffective exercises. Mr Uboweja adds, “Indian firms continue to find it tough to appreciate branding as a key business function; because they feel anything to do with branding must result in increase in sales. Increasing sales is not the objective of a branding exercise; rather it is the objective of a marketing exercise. It probably has something to do with the Indian education system. I do not think there is any formal brand creation course even in the top MBA schools of India. There is a lack of clarity in the definition between brand creation and brand building.”
 
The concept of branding in the retail sector is likely to get an overhaul once foreign brands get easier entry into the market. Domestic brands will have to stand in competition with companies who invest heavily in the branding segment and therefore the going could get tough for some of the players.
 
According to Enakshi Kundu, brand expert and public relations professional, ‘I think there is a thin but significant line between branding and marketing that most domestic firms cannot differentiate between. This causes the notion that it is directly linked to sales and the job profiles become target-oriented. This causes a misconception about branding and the exercises are not done as well as it should be.”
 
With media permeating into every aspect of our daily lives, a good branding exercise can help companies make their products and services enter the daily sphere of the Indian customer. However, conceptions need to change to ensure that the branding industry reaches its true potential in the dynamic Indian market.
 
Tias Chakraborty

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