Ujaya Shakya
Jul 03, 2020

View from Nepal: Clean feed policy in Nepal - a blessing in disguise for Indian brands

The author explains what the clean feed policy means and how it could be beneficial for the country

Surf Excel's film for Bhai Tika
Surf Excel's film for Bhai Tika
We just celebrated National Paddy Day, the festival also named Ropain Diwas, DhanDiwas, and Ashadh Pandra, celebrated on 15th of Ashadh (usually end of June or early July) annually to increase rice production. It’s a national event where people across socio-economic strata join hands and celebrate in unison. 
We are still relatively close-knit families where traditions are quite deep-routed with the ancient culture of the land. We don’t follow international calendar to celebrate Father’s Day or Mother’s Day (except for social media) as we have our own indigenous much diverse culture for such occasions. Both days are much larger affair as per the Nepali calendar. We also have women celebration week during Teej festival which is also very important annual affair. And of course, our new year is 1st Baisak and many other such traditions, culture and practices which might be different or similar in the region.
These are few occasions, but there are thousands more where we can connect with niche cultural and traditional practices, which can help brands depending upon their target market, can have opportunities to build more credibility with their consumers. For once, lets understand that Nepal is not just the Himalayas – we have three regions – Mountainous, Hills and Terai (plains) and language, culture specific to the land.
In the changing world politics, we also need to understand the emotion of the people of the land. Nepal is a youth-led country and these youth are very evolved, they have exposure and like any other youth, are not interested in just another brand message. The prime factor that needs to be noted is today Nepal is a proud country with courage and valor, so the way to win our hearts is to make a brand stand out by making its communication undergo ‘Nepalisation’ in the right terms, with a solid connection with the land and its people.
We all know clean feed policy is a reality now and it is going to be implemented in next few months. At the core, what clean feed policy means is that foreign advertisements are not fed to the people within Nepal. In fact, many times, most of such advertisements have no relevance except for the fact that few Bollywood stars are quite popular among certain segment of Nepali audiences.
In most occasion in the past, these ads have been played just by doing language adaptation with no other consideration of localised context. It might have helped the brand to gain initial brand awareness. We all know that India and Nepal, apart from having an open border, also enjoy a lot of trade and personal relations, which run much smoother than any other neighboring countries. The religious context and certain traditional connections make our relationship robust. But, we marketers at times forget that the emotions, the way of living or even the mindsets of the consumers are not exactly the same in both countries. The touch points superficially look alike but at close proximity, I have noticed that they do differ a lot. If we want to use the same message picked from Indian communication to attract the consumers in Nepal, it may not give similar returns as the context might differ and with my past experiences, there have been occasions where we have failed to create similar magic even with popular Bollywood face. This is where clean feed policy might come as a blessing in disguise for many Indian brands who already have large consumer based now but want to reach more deeper in both market and mind share. 
In the past, many Indian brands have looked at Nepal only as another trading opportunity. That will have to change if they want to grow further and cement their way towards much deeper relationship.
Though this has been often conceived as a drastic move but in reality, I think it is something that will actually help foreign brands to establish much deeper connections.
Does ‘Nepalisation’ actually help?
Yes, it does. Some of the Indian companies and global brands have already been reaping the benefits of such deeper connections. Coca-Cola is one such good example, having adopted most of their international campaigns very successfully with Nepali festivals and imbibed true essence of local cultural. They have even created successful partnership with popular local foods like momo and other traditional food habits. Another successful story is Ncell, who has been creating many such passion points targeting Nepali youth and have entered the Nepal market with their famous campaign, 'Here for Nepal'. Surf Excel created a beautiful film which went viral in social media during Bhai Tika as they timed it rightly for the occasion. 
Others brands like Asian Paints has replaced all their major brand communication with a Nepali touch and have evolve as much stronger brand. Dabur has created customized brands and have been using Nepali celebrities, stories and context to make their brands much deep-routed. Other large Indian FMCG brands like Set Wet, Himalaya, Britannia have also used local production and celebrities very successful in the recent times making them ready for the changing policy. Tata Yodha and Hero Motors created a beautiful film with real-life consumer stories which touched the audiences emotionally and was much appreciated. Almost all these campaigns have been indigenously conceptualised and produced in Nepal with local talents and agency partners. Definitely there is no lack of technology and creativity to deliver the result – plus the incredible natural beauty of Nepal. You just have to be open for ideas. 

The author is the founder and managing director of Outreach Nepal and the author of ‘Brandsutra’
Campaign India

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