Sunday, July 01, 2007

SAS Paper Leaf : Innovation

Brand : SAS Paper Leaf
Company: S A Saifulla & Company

Brand Count : 245

SAS is an offbeat brand and is a classic example of innovation. The brand claims to be the first in coming out with Paper Banana Leaf. The brand is owned by SAS Company based in Pudukottai in TamilNadu.

Now for non South Indian Readers, Banana Leaves is.. no was an integral part of one's lunch. With the changed lifestyle, the use of Banana Leaf is now restricted to Marriage Feasts and also during festivals like Onam ,Vishu, Ponkal etc. Banana Leaf is also used in restaurants to serve traditional south Indian meals.
This tradition has taken some serious threats due to the change in the lifestyle and also because of the rapid urbanisation that we see now. The banana leaves are becoming scarce in cities and towns. In the earlier days, every house had Plantain cultivation and getting banana leaves was not an issue. But now in cities where flats and congested living has become a norm, who has the time and space to maintain such plants? Now frantic search for Plantain leaves is common during festive seasons and one has to pay even Rs 2 for a leaf ( which was available free in olden days) which is a stark reality of today.

Catching this need , SAS company has comeout with artificial paper banana leaf which solves the problem of the urban masses. This is an innovative blend of tradition with modernity. Although eating a feast or a sadhya in a artificial leaf will not give the thrill of the original, one should appreciate the logic and smartness behind this innovation.
The brand aims at the following target customers and usage situations:
1. Restaurants who serve traditional sadhya .
2. Hotels who supply parcel meals.
3. Caterers
4. Unexpected guests, functions ( households)
5. Export markets where south indians are more eg. middle east
6. Lunch packs during picnics outings etc.

The Brand faces competition from local unbranded players. But the website of SAS claims the following differentiators: Hygienic, sterilized, withstand high temperature hence ideal for packing,. The brand also claims that it cannot be torn and uniform in size. More than that it is available in all departmental stores and supermarkets. The brand is priced Rs 12 for a pack of dozen. Hence the brand takes advantage of the convenience and ease as its main selling point. The brand also advertises heavily on Television .

I feel that the brand will fare well in the institutional sales at hotels and restaurants. At the consumer end, since the usage of Leaves are limited to specific occasions , one cannot expect steady sales at this front. For that the brand may have to spent lot of money tackling the seasonal issue for this traditional product.One way is to prompt the customers to stock atleast one pack of this product for emergency situations. A campaign in this regard can drive some sales for the short term. Once the customers are comfortable with this product, SAS can be assured of some steady sales at the customer end.
Whether the brand will thrive or not, SAS Paper leaf is a classic innovative marketing story.

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