Boro is slang for a popular profanity in Swahili. hardly the kind of information that marketers would be interested in one might imagine. Unless of course you happen to be Emami trying to sell Boroplus in Africa. Then you have to think of a new name for the very brand that you are trying to build and so Boroplus becomes Beeuplus. Similarly the concentric circle shape of Good Knight coils is a familiar sight to most of us.
However, when Godrej Sara Lee decided to market the coils in Bangladesh it changed the shape to that of an octagon. Surely mosquitoes are not that different? Well perhaps not but the consumer sure is. Turns out that in Bangladesh consumers would rather have a lot of fumes as compared to the low emission variant that sells in India. The list goes on and on. While reams have been written about Indian brands entering overseas markets little is known about how exactly they go about the marketing task. Until now. We tracked down marketers from across categories to get a sense of how they went about building brands in an overseas markets. We spoke to agencies that handle these brands in lands far away to understand how they approach their task. And the one thing that is clear is that establishing brand presence, no matter how big the brand is in India, is a tale of endurance, grit and long term commitment to remain invested in these markets.
Even though Emami group director, Prashant Goenka has travelled extensively across Africa, the continent, he says never fails to amaze in terms of its diversity. He’ll tell you Africa is the place to see people bathing with soda instead of water, because they believe it lightens their complexion. Fair skin clearly is not just a desi obsession. “In west Africa, there is a strong French influence and complexions are dark, but in North Africa people with light skin are in majority,” Goenka explains. So there’s huge potential for Emami in the dark continent, particularly in skin care, which today contributes around 35 % of the Rs 100 crore turnover of the international business he states. However, for all that talk of its potential, marketers say the going is tough for one has to be careful. Often particular attention to local nuances translates into customisation not only of product formulations but also brand names. Take Good Knight mosquito coil for example. The coil which is sold in Bangladesh is not the traditional circular coil Indian customers use to engulf themselves in smoke, rather it’s octagonal.
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