Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Duckback : Another Name for Quality

Brand : Duckback
Company : Bengal Waterproof Ltd

Brand Analysis Count : 386

Duckback is a heritage brand. The brand have a rich history dating back to 75 years. Duckback is a brand owned by Bengal Waterproof Ltd ( BWL). BWL is a pioneer in water proofing products in India. The company, which was founded by Mr Surendra Mohan Bose in 1920, is best known for its Duckback brand of rainwears.

Duckback brand evokes a nostalgia in me because it was an aspirational brand for me during my school days. But since Duckback was a premium rainwear, I had to settle with the local look alike.

As a brand, Duckback had huge brand equity. It was synonymous with quality raincoats. The brand had a strong association with quality and consumers were willing to pay a premium for the quality offered by Duckback.

But in the marketing front, Duckback was a laidback marketer. The brand spent very little on the promotions front. In an interveiw published in the Business Line, the company officials admitted that the brand was an arm chair marketer since demand always exceeded supply.

Rainwear market is a highly fragmented one and is dominated by local players. Duckback is the one of the few raincoat brands in the organized segment . I don't really remember any famous rainwear brands other than Duckback.

Duckback as a brand faces the issue of seasonality. These products are sold only during rainy seasons.Hence managing seasonality is a big issue for companies selling these kind of products.

Duckback infact have a very diversified portfolio. The brand have a product range of over 62 products ranging from rainwear, boots,boats, tents,baby mats, medical beds , school bags ,luggages etc. The brand is also a supplier to defence forces. So the brand has managed the seasonality issue through a diversified portfolio.

But Duckback is predominantly known to the consumer world for its raincoats and school bags. Although the brand is known for its quality products, it had done little to develop the rainwear category as such. If you look at this rainwear category, we still see those poorly designed stale raincoats . In the developed markets, rainwear is a designer category which is positioned as part of one's wardrobe. Hence companies come out with well designed raincoats and bags which often is considered as style statement.

But in India, Raincoat is not considered as a part of your wardrobe. You will have a raincoat, if you ride a bike. But if you travel by bus or when you walk, raincoat is not at all considered. I have seen in the west, people wearing raincoats while walking in the rain. So in a sense, there has been no attempt to expand the user base of this product . The marketers so far has been concentrating on the bike commuters for selling this category.

If you look at an ordinary commuter in a bus or train, it is a nightmare to travel during rainy season. Umbrellas help but not much to protect your clothes and especially if you travel by bus, you will be drenched after the travel. I have always thought of using a raincoat while traveling in rain ( walk or bus) because it is so convenient but did not dared to use because it was not common for a person to use a raincoat while walking. I feel that there is a hidden need for smart rainwears targeting those people who travel in local transport and also for those who prefer to walk.

In the branding front also, Duckback never capitalized on the tremendous equity it had. Duckback could easily projected itself as a " Offroader " brand like Woodlands. But it never invested in building it as an umbrella brand .

Duckback still have a huge potential both as an umbrella brand for rainwear products and also as a rugged offraod brand. The only thing the brand should do is to invest in building the brand.

Ad courtsey : Cutting the Chai

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