Submitted by admin on Mon, 06/05/2017 - 13:22

Ankit Agarwal, Director of Zed Black from the Mysore Deep Perfumery House, talks about signing up MS Dhoni as brand ambassador and how he is going about his plans to be the leading agarbatti brand in India in the next five years



Q] MS Dhoni and agarbatti – that’s a very unlikely match. What made you choose MSD as the face of Zed Black?

Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a youth icon in this country. He has achieved a lot, having come from a small place like Ranchi and has become a cricket sensation across India and the globe. Zed Black as a brand also represents the same things that Dhoni stands for. We started as a small venture from a garage in our Indore residence. Today, we are present in every nook and corner of the country. India is a young country and we wanted to identify the right person to connect with the youth. So it became an obvious choice for us to go with Dhoni, as he is so popular with young people. Earlier, we also had Bhagyashree as brand ambassador for the Hindi-speaking markets and Hansika Motwani for the Tamil markets; they are very popular faces in these regions. But we always thought that there should be one face representing the whole brand. This should be someone who is equally famous across the entire country – be it Guwahati, Gujarat, Jammu or Chennai. When the team brainstormed about this, the unanimous choice was Dhoni.


Q] Apart from the newly launched TVC, what other platforms will you be using to amplify the campaign?

Over the years, we have been the largest spender in Print in our category, so that is one platform we will continue to use. We strongly believe in the Print medium. We have not been very active on Television but we are going to be on TV a lot more now. Digital is the new age medium and we definitely have to be on that platform too. Having taken on Dhoni as the face of the campaign, we hope to connect with the youth on Digital and Social Media platforms. We haven’t finalized our Digital campaigns yet, but we will roll out something very soon.


Q] Will youth be a key part of your target audience?

Traditionally, agarbatti has been a household product and it is usually 25-to-30-year-old married women who are the target audience. They will continue to be the TG. But we also recognize that everyone prays and believes in a God. So many Indians wake up and pray using an agarbatti at the start of the day for a variety of reasons – exams, jobs, marriage and more. We are, therefore, seeing the youth as prospective customers and we are looking to target them.


Q] With Dhoni on board, by how much have you increased your marketing spends?

I cannot share the exact number but yes we are spending much more with the new TVC and will spend more once we roll out our digital campaigns.  Over the past one year, we have almost doubled our marketing spends and are looking to increase it by three to four times during this year.


Q] Are there any other brands in your portfolio that you are riding big on, aside from Zed Black?

Zed Black will continue to be the front-runner – it is the engine of the company. Aside from this we have Dua, a brand that is popular with the Muslim community and is big in markets like UP, MP and Rajasthan. We also have Manthan, our dhoop brand that is popular in North India, and Panchdeep that is big in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. We are very strong in the Hindi-speaking markets and are also slowly penetrating into the East and South markets. Over the next few years, we plan to strengthen our position in the East and South regions.

 Q] Can you give us a sense of how the industry is doing at the moment, and where do you see Zed Black a couple of years from now?

The industry is consistently growing at a rate of 6% to 10% each year, and Zed Black has around 15% of the organized market share that is about Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 crore. In the next five years, we hope to gain at least 30% of the organized market-share and hope to be the number one brand in the market too.


Q] What kind of growth have you seen, year on year?

Over the last three to four years, we have consistently been growing at a rate of about 20%. With our new brand ambassador on board, we are looking at a projected growth of at least 30% now.  


Q] What are the challenges in an industry like this?

In general, the industry is very labour intensive and there is no modern machinery. So we still depend largely on labour and that is sometimes quite challenging. Another concern is that this is a largely unorganized market and anyone can enter this industry with a capital of as little as Rs 1,000.


Q] What is your strategy for the smaller, rural markets?

Rural markets are the most important base for us because agarbattis are sold there more than in the urban areas. Zed Black has always been strong in the rural markets. Our strategy and approach for these markets is therefore different. Newspapers are the most important medium that allows us to connect with the rural consumers, especially in the smaller towns where there is no electricity. Print remains the most important part of our communication but we ensure that we advertise on other platforms as well.


Q] What is the strategy for your overseas markets?

For the overseas markets, we have created a product called Chakra. We have seen a very positive response to the brand in all the markets we are present in, especially as people of foreign cultures like Indian traditions and culture. We participate in various cultural fairs and exhibitions across various overseas markets to promote Chakra.  


Q] What percentage of your sales comes from the overseas markets?

As of now, exports contribute only about 2% of our sales. In the next five years, we hope that number will increase to 10% of our revenue, and we plan to expand our presence to as many as 50 countries. Currently, we have a presence in 25 countries.


Q] Aside from exports, what else do you see as potential growth drivers for your brand?

I think there is tremendous potential in the online space, institutional sales and modern trade. Our growth will be driven by these three.


Q] What percentage of your sales is driven by e-commerce?

Currently, our online sales are negligible, but there is potential for growth on the e-commerce platform. We are present on Amazon, Flipkart and Shubhkart already, and expect more sales from this space in the next three to five years.


Q] What makes your brand successful, given that this is such an unorganized market?

Our fragrances are unique and they make our brand special. Moreover, we don’t compromise on product quality. Innovation is very important to us, we innovate in packaging, fragrances and communication, and that sets us apart. Our distribution network is also very deep. We have 30 offices across India and we bill our customers directly. We try to minimize the layers in between and maintain transparency with our customers.

Q] Are there any markets within India that you plan to focus on during this year?

Honestly, we are focusing on every part of the country. We want to sustain and grow in places where we are strong. In the East and South markets, there is a lot of scope for Zed Black to grow and we will work on penetrating those regions.



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