'South Indian brands have been global for centuries'

At the inaugural edition of The Dakshin Diaries, panellists discussed the distinct ways in which brands are built in the South

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Oct 18, 2021 3:40 PM

The inaugural edition of The Dakshin Diaries—a series that focuses on brand stories from South India, broached an important topic- How We Built It: Stories of big businesses/ brands built in the South with insights from some of the stalwarts leading big brands in South India.

Rahul Gandhi, CMO, iD Fresh Food, Pavangopal A, CMO, Nandu's, Rajnish Kumar, Head- Digital & Direct to Consumer Strategy, ITC, Aruna Jathar, CMO, TenderCuts and Vijesh Vijayan, Head- Brand Marketing, Sunpure were among the panellists. The session was chaired by Ruhail Amin, Sr Editor, exchange4media.

Amin kicked off the conversation, quizzing the panellists about the main elements that are scripting this new narrative of regional/ South India-based brands going at a national level.

According to Jathar of TenderCuts, an omnichannel meat and seafood brand, the Indian population is very lucrative to avoid the national reach. "Especially for us at TenderCuts, where the audience is present across the country, and it's all about food and meat lovers, it only makes sense to go national. The brand started in Chennai in 2016, and since then, we have sharpened and strengthened the backbone- the supply chain, the customer connect to network, and how to approach the audience? Once that backbone is strong and infrastructure in place, it's time to go national." The brand is currently available in three markets of Southern India along with Chennai.  

Further adding to the discussion, Gandhi of iD Fresh foods -a food products company based in Bangalore, India, added that South Indian brands have been global brands for centuries.

"Ayurveda is a South Indian brand it's making India popular worldwide. They're not technically a food brand or FMCG brand but are Indian brands that have made South India popular globally. iD is trying to do something similar. We are trying to take South India as far as possible. Why does South India work so well globally? It has many unique things, and the taste profile is one of them. One thing that makes it possible for a brand like iD to scale is the acceptance and the goodness of the South Indian values that the food brings. In our case, it's a staple product,  it's one of the healthiest products, and rice pancakes are eaten in Indonesia, Vietnam, India, and mostly the Middle East. When acceptance adds to a great product with new distribution and brand, we can reach South India everywhere," shared Gandhi.

According to Kumar of ITC, South India is about Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala as far as the markets are concerned. It's about five markets in South India. " You can't take South India then cut and paste everything across the markets in all the four or five different regions. All of them come with their own culture and background, so that has to be kept in mind."

Kumar further added, "One of the things that work well, in digital context or digital brands, is that the language of the internet has been English. Since in South India, most of the population understands English, adoption becomes easier. Many of these new brands or D2C brands also find a lot of resonance within South India when they do their digital marketing efforts and all that because a lot of the population understands the language of the internet."

In the past few years, the industry has seen many new brands coming from South India. Amin taking the discussion a step ahead, spoke about the success stories and the key learnings that the brand has.

Vijayan shared, "For us being a Mysore brand and then becoming a Karnataka brand and the story we get to South Indian brand, our journey was not easy. Its a staple and price-driven category, and lot of states has strong competitors. The best challenge in this category is that nobody is a market leader. The pie is too big and the best part of this category is that the South of India was the biggest consumer.  We started with Sunflower oil and today, we have five different oils. Also, we own three refineries now. We started with the small city to become a South Indian brand, and now we aspire to become a national brand."

Sharing his thoughts, Pavangopal A said, "one of the most important things is the fact that your brand is a sum total of the experience that consumers get to see across touchpoints. There is a huge amount of market potential because 95% of this particular category (omnichannel meat brand) we operate in, is very unorganized. So, by just improving the buying experience makes the segment look more clean and hygenic. As a truly omnichannel brand, we deal with customers walking into the stores and buying and getting delivered at home. Hence, we have to make sure that the basics are covered across all the customer touchpoints

He further added, "At the end of the day, we all are in the short shelf life category, and the supply chain is essential."

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