Friday, January 15, 2010

Can branding counter imitation products in India?


Deepak Kr. Juneja, Utkal University, Bhubaneshwar

As the consumer in India goes up the ladder of economy, his focus will shift from basic needs to wants. The Indian consumer is becoming more literate and intelligent with time and he surely wants value for his money! The competition being intense, there will be various firms vying for the consumer’s attention. The Indian consumer wants to pay a reasonable price for a quality product.

With so many products in the market, he will go for the product that he identifies with, has used and is satisfied with. As such, it is important for a company to build brand equity of its product in order to differentiate itself from its competitors.

Imitation Products might offer you the same essential qualities and features at slightly lower prices, but what it does not offer the average Indian consumer is the trust and reliability that a well established brand has generated through the years. Further, the consumer also experiences a sense of belongingness and pride in being associated with the brand.

Thus, even if the product is priced at a slightly higher price than its competitors, the consumer won’t be reluctant to shell out the extra rupee or two. It also applies to the services sector. If your client is satisfied with your performance, he will prefer to retain ties with you rather than going for a new company on the block that offers rock bottom prices but has not established its credentials yet.

Therefore, in order to survive and counter the immense competition faced from Imitation Products, a company should invest in appropriate branding of its products so that consumers have brand loyalty and are ready to shell out a premium.


Kunal Kr. Roy, SJSOM,Mumbai

There has been a steady growth in the Indian rural market since the 80s and presently, it’s bigger than the urban market, both in terms of FMCG and consumer durables. Reason being the fact that 70% of India still lives in villages. The markets in these rural areas are the real arenas for transaction of Imitation Products.

Why can’t branding counter Imitation Products in India? Firstly, the 300 million BPL Indian people cannot afford to buy high cost branded products. Secondly, there are two types of Imitation Products: counterfeits and pass-off products. Counterfeits bear identical name, logo, trademark and even same name and address as the genuine manufacturer. They look exactly like the originals and are very difficult to differentiate. Pass-offs are similar sounding and have similar appearance, for example “Daily Milk” for “Dairy Milk”. Someone in a hurry to buy, or not educated enough, won’t discover the difference. Brand elements of many major FMCG companies have already been imitated by the regional players. In villages, these fake products are more easily available. The Imitation Product market in urban areas is mostly concentrated to electronic goods. Even though people are aware of the better quality of the original product, the majority of go for counterfeits because of the huge price difference.

Fake products have captured the rural Indian market so well that introducing a branded product now will make the branded product appear fake. Also, companies can never price their branded product low enough to match or even compete with their rural counterparts. This makes it almost impossible for them to wipe out the fake products from the existing markets.

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