By: Saurabh Sharma
Photo: Gaurav Kumar

Navan, a student of Delhi University swaggers along the corridors of his college. He has a reason for it. With a Hush Puppy bag on his back, a Lacoste shirt, Reebok sneakers, and a Fast Track watch, he comes across as a very brand conscious youngster.

Welcome to the age of Brands.

Striving for Levis Jeans or going gaga over Louis Vuitton products are some of the personality traits of the present fatafut generation. Barista and Café Coffee Day are the hot destinations of the youth. So are McDonald's or Pizza Hut.

Girls go mad for D’damas jewellery and boys for Denim. Spalding and Van Hussein may not have anything in common but they find the same place in wardrobes. Sunsilk and Pepsodent are a must in the morning. Same goes for Nescafe Coffee.

Even at the local level, consumers work according to their brand consciousness. Various local shops have gained popularity and turned into a brand in their respective neighborhoods. Savouring Shawarma, a Lebanese dish from a shop named Al-Bake at Community Centre in New Friend’s Colony is different than having it from any other place. Relishing Chicken Tikka Masala at Karim’s is more satisfying than eating it from a different place. Why? They all are brands with whom we like to associate.

Hard Nut to Crack

For every company to stand apart from its competitors, branding becomes necessary. It’s the brand name that drives their sales. The present generation X is very conscious about what they wear, eat and drink. They don’t want to settle for anything less than brands. This gives companies a good opportunity to cash in from brand consciousness, but at the same time it’s a Herculean task to get established as a brand.

Branding is all about a name, symbol or design, or a combination of them. According to management Guru Philip Kotler branding is “a seller’s promise to deliver a specific set of features, benefits and services consistent to the buyers.” This all takes lot of research and painstaking efforts from the company.
Therefore it makes sense to understand that branding is not just about getting your target market to choose you over the competition. It is all about getting your consumers to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.

Major Players

The expenditure on the ads by the companies has ballooned. A 30.5 per cent hike in ad spend packs a wallop for Hindustan Lever, a big advertiser. Now it constitutes 10.5 per cent of the total sales which is 4,215.7 crore.

Nestle India, too stepped up marketing support of its brands despite the pressures on its profits. The company has roped in celebrities such as Rani Mukherji and Preity Zinta to endorse its Munch chocolates and Maggi noodles.
Others companies such as Marico and Gillette India hiked their ad budgets to nurture new products. Indian Information industry has also seen a similar rise . Top Indian information technology companies like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Wipro, are stepping up investments for branding initiatives, so that they can be counted among the top five players on the global stage.
Thus every one is fighting for a piece from the pie of the market. And branding seems to be the only way out to boost the sales.