How smart SME food brands make to the main street!!!

Building a strong brand is a very big challenge, especially for an SME.  While large scale companies can afford to splurge Crores on a product to create a nationwide brand recognition, SME would find it difficult option. Here are some unique strategies SME brands have beaten the race, often with lots of common sense and ingenuity at pocket expenses.

Freemium strategy – Many startups have successfully used this strategy in IT to reach out to prospective customers by first offering the product free, enshrine them with experience and lock-them up. The Grand Sweets is a famous snack chain in Chennai that has successfully built its clientele by offering tasty rice puddings (puliyogare or belebath) in a small doses to attract all walkers in the street. The tasty  “Prasadam” offered to all their customers after morning and evening prayers has made this brand a cult brand.  It is a clear cut strategy to get people into the shop to try the mouth watering freebies and then they end up buying something from the shop.

Greed Pull strategy – Biryani’s come in many flavors and the market is crowded. How as a late entrant would you grand the eyeballs and keep the counters ringing?. Here is what a Biryani joint, Donne Biryani did in Bangalore, offer a 1 gram gold coin. One customer gets the gold coin in their Biriyani everyday. The joint has stopped the plan, but words of mouth and loyalty built by this drive have made it a top of the mind place.

Community Pull strategy – Sticking to a clan always pays for an SME. Many a SME have built successful businesses catering to only a particular community or a region. Madurai idli or Chettinad hotel, have successfully targeted communities and have created a place for themselves in the market.  Successful brands here not just create particular community ambience, but emerge as platforms for these communities to meet and extend their social networks.  Target the localities with higher concentration of the community is a must strategy.

Ride on Newbie bandwagon – Smart SME food joints know a change of throne is the right time to reach out to newer segment. Rayalaseema Ruchulu, a food brand in Hyderabad serves only cuisine from a particular region of Andhra Pradesh. They timed their entry with the coronation of Late Rajasekhara Reddy, the ex-CM from that region. Both political masters and taste masters liked the concept and the joint has expanded multifold in the capital.

Iyengar Rusk strategy:  A common strategy successful bakery joints perfected is in the first week bake early, bake little, let the aromas flow into the street and close early. Convert the loaves into rusk and other items and close the shutters early for couple of days. They were implementing a successful strategy called “signaling”. By closing early and signaling quality and high demand. Similar strategy  is adopted by a very popular Gujarathi joint in Koramangala, Bangalore. The joint successfully created successfully a myth around its Dhoklas’ by prominently displaying the board, “sorry all our Dhoklas for the day over due to popular demand”.

Innovation & Fusion: SME brands have realized the best way to be heard over the din is being innovative. How about “Masala” sandwich or “Peanut Pineapple Sandwich” to become a house hold name?. More so if you have a bunch of hungry, pocket light student population to try out, give feedback and spread the brand around city for free. This is what “Dharmavaram Sandwich Centre” has perfected to glory.

R.Ganapathy & Deevika.A.P

Why many sales teams fail???

One of the paradoxes of corporate life is that you see many a time a star-studded sales team fail to reach the numbers while a bunch of honchos seem to ride home easily. While dissecting the common differentiators between the two teams across organizations, keeping all things equal, I discover three fundamental characteristics that define a winning team to one that also ran. First, the winning team has focus. It knows what animals it is chasing after, the pain areas it is going address and unabashedly goes back to the targets, even if rejected earlier. Secondly, the winning team pays attention to details. There is intensity in planning, intensity in reviewing the lost and won cases and more importantly intensity to follow up and unlearn. But the most important thing that differentiated winning team from others is the independence the team had from top management. Sales team that had too many changes to accommodate the wishes of the management, teams that had management interfering too much into tactical decisions and management dispensing with trust and respect of the senior members of the sales team in front of other sales team members failed to meet the mark. When I shared the observations with my grandmother, she flashing her single tooth 100 voltage smile, laughingly said, hey is not it what Ramayana teaches you. Lord Ram, the efficient leader marshalled an army of monkeys, crossed the ocean and defeated Ravana. Old age wisdom, hope the new age CEO realizes the fundamentals have remained the same. Focus, attention and independence are must for a team to sales team to win.

R. Ganapathy

Store brands: why Indian stores are n’t getting it right??

Store brands are a profitable proposition for retail chains to lure customers and build loyalty. Many stores believe the store brands are successful when they are targeted for generic products and targeted at customer who buy mainly based on a lower price tag. Many retailers, including Reliance, Foodworld, Spencer, etc seem to believe in this logic. Indian retailers have brought in their store brands for commodities such as Sugar, Spices, Washing liquids, etc. Unfortunately, many customers are not enthralled by poor packaging or by supposedly lower price tag. Walk through aisles show huge discounts, buy-one free offer galore for many of the store brands. Why has this strategy failed?. Globally, most successful store brands or private labels are not cheap. Nor they come in cheap packaging. Many a store brand come in cool design and has low everyday prices. Target since mid 1990’s has focused on creating successful store brands and emphasizing on design. Target ensures their store brands do not look like hands-me downs. Publix is another retail chain that has successfully created generic brands into cool brands. Indian retailers must take a look at what Loblaw of Canada has done with its “President Choice” brand.  It is a premium line of product, often with a separate section and prominent aisles. President choice (PC) is targeted at grocery and household products, and focus is on consistent quality. In store branding is enhanced by separate section, PC products are promoted as being equal or better than name brands. No price comparison with national brands. In fact, many of their storefronts, promote through a secondary signage of President Choice. Importantly, their brand promotion has used PC as a generic promotional platform for products other than President Choice, but with a tag line that refers to “people who bring you president choice”.  Closer home, one of the smaller retail company that has done better with its home front brand is M.K. Ahmed group. Their store brand, “Aathica”, has is not low price, is targeted at few groceries, and competes against the national and local brands. In some segments it focuses is on groceries for a particular community, say Malayalee or Tamilian. Simple, consistent packaging with active sales push has seen this brand available across other small Mom-and-Pop stores. So what must larger retail formats do?. Retailers must first define a clear store brand strategy. They need to define why they are into it and what is its positioning. What to emphasize price or quality. Retailers must identify for what products they would extend this brand and how do plan to sustain it. They also need to plan how consistently would they enhance the brand experience in the storefront and how they can use dedicated aisles for it. Without a comprehensive plan and execution, store brands are not going to yield sustainable and predictable revenues and customer loyalty.  

A.P. Deevika