Survival of “Regional” Brands

If you visit places outside Dhaka, you will find many unknown local brands in many product categories at district or upazilla (smaller administrative unit) levels. Some of them sound funny (like “tiktiki” or lizard brand mosquito coils in Savar), some brand names are highly symbolic (like “Hati” or Elephant brand drycell batteries in Mymensingh) etc. Some names are plain owners’ name and nothing else. You won’t find these brands at national level stores, however, they are successfully surviving at regional level for a long time. Have you ever thought of where they got the competitiveness to face national level competitors in this age of media spending and superiority claims? It is interesting to think of their competitive advantages.

I think the prime source of competitiveness at the rural or district level is the “price”. These local brands perform the basic function that they promise and are available at lower prices to attract the segment of cash-strapped customers. So, their target segment(s) could altogether be different from that of the national competitors.

The second source of competitiveness could be the easy access to “distribution” outlets. Regional brands are quick to reach the regional outlets, sometimes into deeper pockets at outskirts where national producers have hard time reaching them. So, “availability” makes these brands survive in a competitive scenario.

Some local brands are sponsored by local businesses that have great social contributions as well. For example, Amrit Lal Day in Barisal, whose products are found everywhere competing effectively against national competitors. Apart from its “karikor bidi” businesses, which may not promote any social cause, the group has great contribution in education sector which cannot be denied. People can easily “connect” themselves to this brand, making it popular regionally.

Is there any other source of competitiveness that you can think of? Do you think multinationals have something to learn from them as well?

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About 1mmarketing

Working as Associate Professor, School of Business, United International University, Bangladesh; a North-American graduate, with doctoral studies from UUM, Malaysia, cherishing a wide-view of the world, with multiple interests in culture, people, traveling, and specifically marketing science. I have a colorful and diversified background with a blend of corporate experience, research, consulting, training, public speaking and teaching. I love to write about marketing issues that affect our lives, and talk about its direction that would promote the greatest human welfare.
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2 Responses to Survival of “Regional” Brands

  1. They can do some kind symbolic promotional activities. For example – for ‘tiktiki’ mosquito coil, they can make a kind of giant puppet/cartoon that can be placed beside or inside of the shop which will eventually play a positive role of survival of these brands since this is throwing some sort of communication to the consumer about them. And, yes, of course, multinationals have lots of things to learn from those little initiatives in rural areas regarding attractive price, availability and so on. But, on the otherhand, one question might come into consideration that the scope and area of the multinational initiatives are much more higher than the little rural brands. Hence, the planning and program of the multinational firms will likely be far different from any aspect of business such as price, distribution and promotion etc. comparing with those tiny rural brands.

  2. I think the price is not at all the competitive advantage for these regional brands. The only inimitable competitive advantage is the brand stories, i.e., the stories of men behind the brands.The owners (men) behind the brand have some kind of legends known to the people of a particular area and that makes the brand sustainable in the face of national competition. Though the stories/legends are not like those of Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and the likes, but the brands in question own stories which are powerful enough to connect with the people of a particular area.

    As we are taught in business schools, building unique, relevant, and strong stories around the brands (or the men behind the brands) are the key to sustainability.

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