Namah Chawla

“We want to expand our offerings to ready-to-eat segment”: Hemant Jhaveri, Badshah Masala

Six decades old brand plays legacy card in new ad. Chat with brand MD Hemant Jhaveri about cross-category competition, digital media spends and more.

Its catchy jingle from the 1990s, ‘Swaadh Sugandh Ka Raja, Badshah Masala’, made it a household name. Badshah Masala has been around for more than six decades and provides a wide range of ‘masalas’ (spices) for different dishes, like biryani pulao masala, chana masala, curry masala, dhansak masala, etc.

Famous ad films of the brand:

Hemant Jhaveri is the managing director of Badshah Masala and also holds a controlling stake in the company. Recently, the brand launched ad films that attempt to target the younger generation, while carrying the brand’s legacy forward and also portraying it as a generational product. The ad campaign is conceptualised by Gemius Design Studio.

Sharing the idea behind this recent campaign, Jhaveri tells afaqs! that the ad aims to educate and spread awareness among the younger generation about how they can conveniently cook their favourite dishes. “In earlier days, people used to make spices at home, but our product is a quick solution, as it provides ready-made spices.”

However, the fact is that nowadays, the younger generation doesn’t have much time on their hands and is more inclined towards ready-to-eat options that provide a quick fix to hunger pangs.

And, unlike 3-4 decades back, when Badshah Masala used to face direct competition only from the likes of MDH, Catch and Everest, nowadays, it also faces a tough fight from various RTE brands.

We asked Jhaveri whether this is something that concerns him. “The ready-to-eat segment is definitely on a rise, but it is not currently competing with the spice industry. Right now, our immediate target is to increase our sales and, once we have done that, we would also like to enter the ready-to-eat segment.”

Badshah Masala is available on all major e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, BigBasket, Grofers, etc. It also sells masalas through its own website. Giving an insight of the brand’s online sales, Jhaveri informs, “The percentage of our online sales, when compared to offline, is low, but it is in the growing stage right now and we see it increasing drastically in future.”

He adds that 13-15 per cent of the annual revenue generated is allocated to media and advertising budget. “Out of our total advertising budget, we are planning to allocate 20 per cent to digital this year.”

Jhaveri says that the COVID pandemic, digital acceleration and increased importance of social media have made the brand increase its digital spends, which were almost negligible 3-4 years back.

He explains, through an example, why the brand is late in leveraging digital. “People won’t buy a Rs 65 masala pack and pay Rs 50 in shipping charges on that. But at the same time, there is a lot of promotion opportunity that online sales provide and we want to capture it. Digital media has helped us to reach those parts of our vast country which we can’t reach through offline channels.”

The immediate focus for Badshah Masala is to multiply its revenue, work towards its media strategy and make its presence felt in digital as well as print media. “Over the last few years, we have been a little quiet, but we want to change that and become a bit aggressive. Due to the increased demand levels in the country and also from international markets, we want to expand our offerings to the ready-to-eat segment,” Jhaveri signs off.

Industry review

Explaining what a brand like Badshah Masala can do to engage younger consumers, Nisha Sampath, Managing Partner, Bright Angles Consulting says that younger people do incline towards experimentation with international cuisines and ready to eat foods but nostalgia is a very powerful trigger when it comes to food.

“Food connects us at a very visceral level with our past, and our memories from the past, as few other categories can. A legacy brand like Badshah can do a lot by understanding and tapping into this nostalgia.”

She points out that the brand should encourage more people to re-discover the pleasure of cooking, to create their own nostalgic cooking moments and the pandemic, when we are home-bound, seems a great time to do it.

“The foray into digital and social can also be a valuable asset to build the brand in the future. Badshah Masala has a benefit of legacy and residual goodwill that will automatically generate interest in the brand. There are many trends that give them a headwind at this time. For example, the interest in researching and preserving our traditional cuisines and recipes. Also, the health and wellness trend to eat fresh, eat local and eat wholesome.”