In a tough competitive market, longevity is one of the important features of any successful brand, because the industry has witnessed a lot of fly-by-night operators, remarked Varghese Chandy, Chief General Manager, Marketing & Advertising Sales, Malayala Manorama.
Talking about the Kerala market and taking Kerala brands forward, Chandy cited two examples of brands that have had strong Kerala connections and have lived long, unlike many brands. These are the India Coffee House chain and Chandrika Soap.
Tracing the brand journey of the India Coffee House chain, Chandy shared that it was started by the Coffee Cess Committee in 1936, when the first outlet was opened in Mumbai. By the 1940s, almost 50 Coffee Houses were opened across India. However, due to a change in policy in the mid-1950s, the Board decided to close down the Coffee Houses. But encouraged by Communist leader from Kerala, AK Gopalan, workers of the Coffee Board began a movement and compelled the Coffee Board to agree to hand over the outlets to the workers, who then formed the Indian Coffee Workers’ Co-operative and renamed the network as Indian Coffee House. A co-operative began in Bangalore on August 19, 1957 and Kerala has the maximum number of outlets. It is also CNBC Awaaz’s first runner up in the F&B Chain category, second to Café Coffee Day.
Another long staying brand that Chandy highlighted was Chandrika Soap, which was launched in 1940 in Kerala and went on to become a very successful brand, positioned as an Ayurvedic soap. It was taken over by Wipro in 2004 and is still sold as a natural herbal Ayurvedic soap.
Turning his attention to Kerala, Chandy remarked that the state itself is a brand to the whole world, with the highest physical quality of life, highest literacy, lowest infant mortality rate, highest female to male ratio and development parameters that are equal to the developed nations.
Continuing further, he said, “Coalition politics is Kerala’s contribution to national politics. Kerala is a very consumer hungry state – everything is consumed here. Proliferation of brands is the highest here. Even before the supermarkets started nationally, Kerala had many supermarkets. The per capita expediture is more than the per capita income, Gulf remittances partially explains this. Retail brands such as Joyalukkas, Malabar, Bhima, Kalyan, Sheematti, Josco, Lulu, Alappat and so on, are extremely strong here.”
Kerala’s contribution to the media industry has been substantial with several successful media brands such as Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi, Vanitha, Asianet, Mazhavil , and Radio Mango, among others. The reach of newspapers in Kerala is 56 per cent, whereas nationally it is only 17 per cent, Chandy pointed out.
The state has seen quite a few Keralites in various sectors – from cinema to IT to advertising. These include Aravindan, John Abraham, Priyadarshan, Josy Paul, Sajan Raj Kurup, Preethi Nair, Raj Nair, and Pratap Suthan, among many.
At the same time, Chandy also pointed out that the only drawbacks of Kerala are the absence of manufactured brands and lack of entrepreneurship.
He wanted marketers to look at Kerala as one of the key markets in the country and urged media, advertising agencies and clients to work together to create strong brands.
Varghese Chandy was sharing his views at an event organised by the Kerala Publicity Bureau to mark its 50th anniversary celebrations, where the spotlight was on the Kerala market.