Yash Bhatia

How regional brands can thrive beyond their home turf

At the inaugural Festival of Indian Languages (FOIL), curated by afaqs!, panellists deliberated on challenges and offered insights for brands aspiring for a pan-India presence.

In the evolving marketplace, regional brands often face unique challenges when attempting to expand beyond their home territories. These brands, deeply rooted in local culture and consumer preferences, encounter hurdles such as brand recognition, market competition, and the communication context of a new region while seeking to broaden their reach. 

Recently, at the first edition of The Festival of Indian Languages (FOIL), curated by afaqs!. There was a panel discussion on Leaving Home, where the marketers of regional brands talked about challenges faced while venturing beyond their home state and lessons learnt during the process. 

The panellists included: Amarnath Dutta, chief sales and marketing officer, N. Ranga Rao & Sons (Cycle Pure Agarbathi), Mohit Ghate, co-founder and CEO, Wit and Chai group, and GD Prasad, founder, VS Mani & Co. The session was moderated by Venkata Susmita Biswas, executive editor, afaqs!. 

Cycle Pure Agarbathi was founded in 1948 by N Ranga Rao, grandfather of Arjun Ranga who is now the managing director of the company. After 40 years of existence, the brand went pan-India. 

Amarnath Dutta says that while entering different markets, one of the key principles was to look inward and identify core competencies to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace. “We realised perfumery was our unique strength compared to other players.” 

The brand has expanded to over 350 SKUs with 150 regional brands in India. Its presence also spans 85 countries currently. 

“As we transitioned from a local to a national brand, we recognised the diverse needs within India. We created specific fragrances for different regions, such as the brand Godhuli for East India, which is a top seller in West Bengal. Catering to the varied 'Bharat' within India has been crucial to our success,” he highlights. 

VS Mani started as a D2C brand in 2020. But, for offline retail, their focus is just on the home state. 

GD Prasad mentions, “Our decision to pivot to our home state was purely based on market-driven. We realised that to convincingly promote our filter coffee to audiences outside the south of India, we needed to win over our home state first.” 

Prasad added a data point that Tamil Nadu's filter coffee market alone is valued at about 2,500 crores per annum. 

“The market size is far surpassing the potential market size outside our home region. This shift in focus was not about changing our brand story or communication strategy, as we have always been clear about our roots and values. Rather, it was a strategic move to prioritise the market with the greatest growth potential,” he adds.

He adds that the company’s early decisions were made with a broader audience keeping in mind, but now we’ve realised the importance of honing in on our home state first and foremost.

Mohit Ghate from the Wit and Chai group, an advertising agency based out of Pune advised the brands when entering the Maharashtra market. 

“Once the brand decides to foray into a specific region, create a separate property for that region, it can be an offline event or a separate Instagram page,” he adds. 

The agency has worked with Amul. He adds that there is a vast opportunity for brands to go granular, as in India every few kilometres, the language changes. 

Ghate also asked brands to enter different markets initially only with their hero product. 

Dutta also advises that brands should listen to consumers while approaching new markets. With quick commerce emerging, their brand is innovating in that channel. 

“We have launched 50 new products on quick commerce, taking live feedback from it. If successful, these will be expanded to general trade,” he highlights.

afaqs! FOIL 2024 Media Partner:


Community Partner:

The Advertising Club Bangalore

Networking Partner:


Associate Partners:

  • Jagran New Media

  • Manorama Online

  • TimesNow Navbharat and

  • Voxxy Media

This is the era of ‘Bharat’—an India where regional audiences have become more important than ever. Anandabazar Patrika, the leading Bengali daily in India, has always set a benchmark for how journalism should be done in a regional language. A brand that has become a habit and a matter of pride for Bengalis, Anandabazar has been a stalwart for over a hundred years. Anandabazar has always stood for innovations and disruptions. It has partnered with thought leaders in art, culture, and literature to foster the growth of the Bengali language. Anandabazar.com, the digital arm of Anandabazar Patrika, carries this rich legacy of its parent. As a digital-first organisation, it is revolutionising content creation in regional languages. It aims to disrupt age-old practices and embrace the new. The Festival of Indian Languages (FOIL), as an initiative aims to explore the power of local languages in mass media, which as an idea resonates with the same values and ethos that Anandabazar stands for. 'FOIL' will try to paint the linguistic patchwork that keeps together the magical concept of India. Anandabazar.com proudly partners with afaqs! in this endeavour.

Have news to share? Write to us atnewsteam@afaqs.com