Subhas Warrier
May 09, 2023

Opinion: India and it’s entrepreneurial spirit can be spurious in certain quarters

The author talks about how counterfeit brands create a large amount of loss for marketers who have painstakingly built brands and achieved a certain stature for decades

Opinion: India and it’s entrepreneurial spirit can be spurious in certain quarters
Monday mornings are about distilling the behavioural science lab at the agency. The warming up session is about the weekend and that is when we share each other’s little anecdotes.
We all use anecdotal evidence, don’t we? This essentially, becomes our incubator (of sorts) to curate commonly heard stories and observations and people’s different takes on various subjects, particularly consumer psyche.
This week our creative director pulled out three cans of carbonated drinks one after the other
which he had picked up from a Bus Station on his weekend jaunt. It was from a distance so
no one had a doubt on the labels of each of these drinks.
A large population, about 35 m of Indians travel through long distances every day. The biggest catchment area for them are the Railway stations and Bus Stations and this is the market place most marketers look to penetrate. However, the biggest barrier for MNC brand placement is the un-organised sector of this country which churns out roughly 25-30% of counterfeit products. 
You will see an amazing array of brands that will put the global brand builders to shame in this crowded market place. We are perhaps still one of the biggest markets of un-organised ‘organised’ sector that follows a different rule of business.
Pick your choice of these carbonated beverages and taste it without fear. If not anything it will quell your dry throat in the middle of a hot windy Indian summer. You will be spoilt for choice.
All properly labelled with FSSAI nos.and even a customer care contact no.! in case you wish to write in a compliment or for that matter a complaint. They are well reachable for redressing
all consumer concerns and I am not even joking.
You ask for 7-Up and you will be given a 7-ip. Ask for Mirinda and you will have a Miracle in your hand or a Mini-Dew. As an educated consumer you will not ‘buy-in’, but imagine a large proportion of lesser educated consumers. They may not see the difference and perhaps in a hurry to catch the next bus to reach home they are easily duped into the familiarity of the packaging.
Whilst one will be amazed at the dexterity of these players and the spirit of survival it is creating a large amount of loss for marketers who have painstakingly built brands and achieved a certain stature from consistently investing for decades.
According to FICCI the counterfeit industry in India is estimated to be around US$ 12 b which is growing at the rate of 44% annually. The growth rate itself, alarmingly dwarfs most other industries. The implications on revenue loss for legitimate business is huge and hence the cascading effect on tax revenue for the government.
Besides the absurdity of a gullible consumer and a predatory business game-play, consumers should be made aware of the situation so they can take a considered call on what makes up for spurious consumption, what does not?
The author is director, account planning, Sensibly Weird Company
Campaign India

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