Thursday, December 01, 2005
BRANDS AND THEIR POWER
The subject of brands always fascinates me.When I was young and I am referring to the late 40s, we were familiar with some consumer brands which have still survived.I thought that was something amazing. For instance,it was Margo soap of Bengal Chemicals or Colgate toothpaste,which were de riguer at home. And these are still household names. A family friend working in the Navy would get us our requirement of Ovaltine every month which was then our morning cuppa tea. And to improve body resistance,we were given the famous Waterbury Compound. When we suffered from some minor burns it was always Burnol and it was used for cuts as well(it was their adline,not only for burns but cuts also) .And my father used a 7 o'clock shaving blade followed by the Aqua Velva aftershave. I recall how he was aghast when I stealthily removed this bottle from his suitcase when he had returned from one of his business tours only to allow it to slip out of my hands. It broke into smithereens and spread the fragrance for some days in the room. And when it came to groomimg one's hair it would be Brylcream for the elder gents. For us it used to be pure coconut oil!
I still remember the first cigarette that I smoked. It was a friend who gave me a 'Scissors' cigarette,'kainchi', as it was referred to.I used to envy those who used to flash "Capstan'packets and 'Goldflake' cigarette tins and make a fashion statement. For some it was Pond's cream for the face and for others Cuticura powder. Almost all these brands are still alive and kicking. Many years later we made a slight shift in brand loyalty(not all of us though) by moving over from Cuticura to Yardley.
When I read recently that Lornamead of UK had bought over the Yardley brand for 60 million pounds, I realised that some products could also enjoy immortality. First produced and sold in 1770,Yardley of London,the essence of Englishness,has changed hands.The buyers are Jatanias,a Gujju family who migrated from Uganda during Idi Amin's pogrom about 40 years ago.They are four brothers,the youngest is Mike and the brains and face of the family business.They are together and their philosophy is 'let dynasty not become dallas'.Something our Ambanis and Birlas and Piramals and Bajajs can learn. Jatanias have been snapping up 'orphan consumer products' at a rapid pace.30 brands in last 5 years for 100 million pounds.With a 650 million pound empire they are no 3 in Asia's Rich List.They are exuding wealth and also exuding the unforgettable fragrance of English Rose Yardley.Who knows they may give it a twist by giving Yardley a Gujju sugandh.