Saturday, April 30, 2016

Khadi : Is the potential realized ?

Brand : Khadi
Company : Khadi and Village Industries ( KVIC)


Brand Analysis Count : # 563

Last day I visited a Khadi Outlet looking for some Khadi cloth to beat the scorching heat wave sweeping across God's Own Country. The interest in Khadi was a result of a miserly search for an alternative to the much expensive linen. The visit had inspired this post because I saw both opportunity and disappointment.
Khadi ( as mentioned in Wikipedia) is an iconic symbol of the independent struggle. The cloth became a movement when Mahatma Gandhi exhorted the nation to boycott British Cotton and embrace the homemade Khadi. 
Khadi again came into limelight when our Prime Minister urged the Indians to support Khadi. As per the reports, there was a surge in the sale of Khadi after the appeal by our PM.

As a marketer, I saw a huge opportunity for Khadi because of the very nature of the product. As per the reports, the cloth has a  unique property of being cool in summer and warm in winter. Further, the product is very rugged and durable. 
The disappointment was the lack of branding and product development for this product. I visited the largest Khadi outlet in Cochin and the lack of product choice and variety was appalling. The colors and choice were limited which shows the lack of investment in product development. This product had the alternative to the expensive linen had it come out with better product choice. 

Regarding the branding front, Khadi was not a trademark or no one thought of protecting Khadi as a brand. It was a generic term for handwoven cotton cloth. This changed in 2014 when a German firm Khadi Naturprodukte registered it as trademark in European Union. 
The Government of India had since challenged this and asked Khadi and Village Industries to register Khadi as a trademark. 
In India too, there is no clear ownership for Khadi. You can buy different types of Khadi products from different vendors. This creates many problems in terms of product quality and consistency.

What the Government needs to do is to take ownership of the Khadi brand and try to encourage more product development in terms of color, clothes etc. KVIC. Khadi can be positioned as an ingredient brand. The firms can be encouraged to develop Khadi based products . At the brand level, KVIC should take ownership of the brand and promote Khadi's image. The unique selling proposition of " Cool in Summer and Warm in Winter " should be exploited.

Khadi is a heritage brand with great potential. Only if the ownership is clearly defined and a concerted effort in branding is done, the potential will not be met.