Paras Milk is getting image conscious. For the first time, the company that markets the brand - Ved Ram & Sons - has taken the decision to appoint an agency to help grow the Paras brand. Incidentally this was also Deepak Mahrotra's brief when he joined Ved Ram & Sons as general manager marketing in April this year. Thus, in the first week of May, Mahrotra invited Hakuhodo Percept, Confluence, Triton, Ambience and Studio for a strategic presentation. However, Mahrotra admitted that owing to the modest size of the account, which is estimated between Rs 1-Rs 1.5 crore, the company did not consider a big agency.
Hakuhodo Percept and Confluence were a natural choice for the pitch because the present team at Hakuhodo was the same one that worked on the Mother Dairy account while at Interact Vision. Vis-à-vis Confluence, Paras had engaged the services of Confluence last year for media releases. "We are very likely to zero in on an agency this week and the choice is really among Hakuhodo, Confluence and Triton," confesses Mahrotra after some persuasion.
It became imperative for Paras to initiate an organised brand communication effort because the brand was suffering from a diffused brand personality. Elaborating on the issues before Paras, Mahrotra says, "Paras has been in the market for 30-40 years now, and yet it has not been able to create an identity of its own. The urgency to get organised set in when big names such as Britannia started stepping into the pouch/packaged milk market."
Despite the fact that Paras lacks a brand identity, Mahrotra claims that it has as two strong advantages over other brands - especially Mother Dairy. "First is that Paras is definitely a good quality product since it is procured from the Bulandsaher belt (western UP). Second, we do not reconstitute milk in the lean phase (when the milk production goes down by one third in summers) as Mother Dairy does. Now what Mother Dairy does is that it converts the surplus milk during winters into white butter (fat) and SNF (solid non-fat) and stores it. When summers approach, the constituents are mixed up to reform milk. This makes up for the shortage in supply. But we do not face the shortage problem in summers because there is enough milk to meet the demand in our region."
These factors will be the focal point of the communication strategy for the brand as well. "An attempt will be to project Paras as a vibrant and young brand without deflecting from our previous route of trust. Probably the brand communication will also emphasis on the naturalness of the product."
Mahrotra made another interesting observation. Like other food products, consumers are increasingly shifting to packaged or pouch milk. However, the scenario currently is heavily in favour of the loose market. According to NDDB (National Dairy Development Board) estimates the total milk market in Delhi is 40 lakh lt per day. The bulk of this market is constituted by the unorganised loose sales, by the local dudhwala. This market is estimated at 70 per cent. Of the balance 30 per cent, about 16-18 per cent of the market is under the sway of organised loose milk suppliers like Mother Dairy. The pouch market is the smallest - between 12-14 per cent.
But what stands in Paras' favour is the fact that the packaged milk market is growing at 14 per cent whereas organised loose milk market is growing by just about half that figure - 8 per cent. Paras hopes to acquire the number two position in the packaged/pouch segment. Mahrotra is confident that strengthening the distribution network from 2,500 suppliers to about 4,000 by next year would help in achieving the objective. Once this target is achieved, Paras plans to follow Mother Dairy into the value-added milk products market like flavoured milk and dahi.
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