In the business of corporate gifting, it’s the innovator that thrives. Post 2001, reports indicate that the ghost of September 11 has cast its shadow on the revelry in some quarters of the corporate world. Verily, in a market already hit by recession, companies as a policy have slashed down expenditure; cost cutting is ‘in’ and at first glance, the Rs. 1000-crore corporate gift market appears to have become a casualty to it. A closer look reveals that a new gifting philosophy has emerged – traditional gifting is out, useful i.e. practical gifting is in. And at the top of the list are quality diaries, planners and yearbooks.
Till today, India Today ruled the market for corporate diaries. Now competition has reared its head; Nightingale and Montblanc recently launched an exhaustive range of diaries and planners. Montblanc has brought out a collection of diaries in leather cases, comprising calendars, address books, notebooks and writing books costing Rs 3,990-10,000, sold exclusively through its boutiques and authorized retailers.
With 264 new variants including ‘fashion diary’ with fashion forecasts and tips, ‘engineer’s diary,’ ‘corduroy diary,’ ‘doctor’s diary’ etc, V. Balasubramanian, President, Srinivas Fine Arts foresees a growth in the culture of gifting quality diaries, “In Europe, US, Middle East & South America, diaries are an integral part of the new year corporate gifting culture; a leading European company sold 120 million diaries last year. Currently in India, the diary gifting culture is growing; more and more corporates, both MNC's and leading Indian companies, are taking to the culture of gifting quality diaries.”
Confirms Poonam Sangha, Senior General Manager, Consumer Marketing, India Today, “The last ten days to the next five days is the peak season for corporate diaries. India Today has a premium set of diaries targetted at the upper-end segment; we have received orders from businessmen, senior corporate executives etc for both personal and gifting purposes.”
Is there a scope for further growth? From his personal experience, Balasubramanian cites, “If I were to see the last eight years period, barring a couple of years back where the sales were stagnant, we have been growing year on year. Nightingales sales have infact increased over the last two years. Keeping that in mind, I project that as the market opens up further, this business is definitely bound to grow over the next 3-5 years.”
Where does Nightingale stand in the scheme of things? Balasubramanian explains to exchange4media that there is no syndicated market research figure to quote from a third party source like Org Marg, “Going by the corporate and retail business we have been doing, we have been growing at a healthy rate for the last eight years. At the retail level, at the top-end of the market, we are the market leader. I sell diaries at Rs. 500-1500 MRP; no other Indian company sells diaries beyond this range. We also have our mid-priced range from Rs. 100-350 where the competition is active. But we do not indulge in the mass range. According to me, at the top-end, there is no one else in Asia; this year we have introduced the world's first jeweled diary at Rs. 57,000. In the mid-priced bracket, we have 40% market share.”
So does India Today view Nightingale as a threat? “No, we have been market leaders in the premium, branded segment for the last fourteen years. And we are the only players in this segment; Nightingale deals with customized diaries and caters to a very different audience,” defends Sangha.
Nightingale, however, is confident. “Our diaries have been designed after extensive market research; different end-users have different requirements from their diaries and there are hardly any diaries in the market today that cater to an individual’s unique requirements. Our diaries are targeted towards those people who believe that their diary should be more than just a utility product. Nightingale is a lifestyle brand, a fashion statement,” stresses Balasubramanian.
But is there really a market for customized diaries to this extent? “Yes, we believe that no two human beings are the same; their needs are different, their tastes are different, their expectations are different; so how can we give them the same diary? We were the first in the industry to carry out extensive consumer segmentation and a product differentiation exercise, which helped us in successfully launching niche products. The extensive range that we have built up is the single most important reason for our global success,” says Balasubramanian .