Arjun M Ranga, Managing Partner, NR Group & Managing Director, Cycle Pure Agarbathies, says he expects double-digit growth in all the new segments that the company has entered
‘Difficult’ is how Arjun M Ranga, Managing Partner, NR Group & Managing Director, Cycle Pure Agarbathies, describes the lockdown — a period when the agarbathi to aerospace conglomerate N Ranga Rao & Sons (NRRS) did not have any sales from March to May.
However, Ranga compliments his employees and says they did really well as the company planned before time and transitioned to work from home even before the lockdown was implemented. “The organization had a business continuity plan in place, we could transition well till Unlock 1.0 came in. Post that we focused on the supply chain, getting our production back in order by following all the safety and hygiene protocols. With our continuous effort over the last few months, we are slowly coming back to previous levels of our business,” Ranga said.
‘Brand Strategy Remains Intact’
While Ranga sees Covid-19 as a road-hump, he says that the overall brand strategy remains intact. “Our marketing spending medium has changed slightly more towards digital and overall TV continues to be the main medium. We don’t see any significant change in the advertising, media methodology, and company. The timing will defer, as in when the markets start to open up more and more. We are following all safety protocols and are geo-targeting our communication on digital platforms catering to the needs of our audience. We are focusing on Google ads and Facebook ads in the location we are present right now.”
Looking at the company’s broader marketing, NRRS first invested in cricket in 2004 and since then the involvement has gone from cricket sponsorship to sponsorships in IPL and KPL, supporting sportspersons across disciplines and even owning the Mysuru Warriors team. Commenting on the company’s sporting association Ranga says, “Cricket was a very important association for us in the early stages for establishing marketing for the brand but today the ticket is no more the main medium. We have gone back to the traditional GECs (General Entertainment Channel) as the brand objective for creating brand awareness and that has been achieved. We now need to communicate RTBs (real time business) to consumers. We believe that GEC is the best way to do that. We have associated with other sports as well that have mass connect like the kabaddi league.”
The company’s flagship product, Cycle Pure Agarbathies, operates in a low consumer involvement sector and Ranga says that consistency and quality and making the product available in the market are key in ensuring consumer engagement and remaining top-of-the-mind. “Consistency and availability are two factors that will ensure consumers purchase and brand identity. Apart from that, the campaign for core region RTB is important. Ultimately consumers buy agarbathi for fragrances and good quality fragrance will ensure brand awareness. To maintain a constant presence in the market and ensure the flow of the product a steady distribution channel is extremely important. Over the last few months because of the situation, there were a few challenges on that front, but we have been able to overcome them swiftly.”
Tapping into the Spiritual Realm
The festive season is a very important season for the agarbatti industry, however celebrations are expected to be muted this year. Ranga says, “We are not sure about how the consumers are going to react so all the planning is short-term as of now. This year’s celebrations will not be that grand but people will definitely celebrate it within the safety of their own household. The prayers and rituals will continue, which will definitely lead to an increase in the consumption of home-worship products during the festive season.”
Keeping the situation in mind, NRRS has upgraded its online shop and introduced Vedic Parampara curated special pooja kits for the convenience of the consumers. The company also recently introduced the Pure Prayer App and Ranga says the response towards the app and the website has been good. The app is not a monetisation activity but a service to help devotees connect with the divine during the COVID-19 times and the initial intent was to help people conduct prayers and rituals in temples in Karnataka and no convenience fee is charged. However, the company charges a convenience fee to organize any special Homas or Yagnas or special rituals.
The company also launched a web magazine on spirituality called soulveda. com that extends the brand’s ideology of wellbeing. Soulveda strives to motivate and inspire through its content focussed on happiness or wellbeing, discourses from spiritual leaders, life-altering takes on relationships and love, or short stories tugging at your heartstrings. “Soulveda is born out of a need we saw in society – a need for a content platform to contribute to the holistic wellbeing of people through healthier, harmonious ways of life. The objective being to contribute to the physical and mental wellbeing of people, healthier ways of life, hence, happier societies,” says Ranga
Innovation The Driver of Growth
Innovation and diversification has been the hallmark of NRRS in the recent past. The company portfolio now includes air (air and bathroom) fresheners, car fresheners and aromatherapy oils, worshipping and prayer ingredients.
Says Ranga, “Innovation and diversification have been essential to us from time to time we have come up with new solutions in the industry. Recently we entered the personal and home hygiene segment with our brand ‘Healing Touch’.”
More on the products, Ranga says, “In the home-worship front, the growth has been steady especially with since our pooja products are of superior quality. We are the only manufacturer out there who has Cosmetics & Drugs certification and licence for Kumkum. Our products are well received in the market across the segment. Sales for the home fragrance vertical, which includes aromacology, have grown exponentially during this pandemic. We expect double-digit growth in all of these new segments that we have entered.”
As part of the company’s Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative, Cycle Agarbathies recently associated with the government of Assam to set up a dedicated project for bamboo to be used in agarbathi production. Through this association, the company will be extending operational support and technical know-how to manufacture bamboo sticks for Agarbathi.
Looking ahead, Ranga says, “We will continue to deliver value to the consumers, we will continue to innovate and ensure that our product reaches the market in time and as usual, our priority will always be producing quality and pure products to our consumers. As of now, challenges are ensuring the availability of raw material and timely supply and distribution of the products in the market.”
“Opportunity always has to be created, it’s never available. As our industry is highly fragmented and very well established, we need to constantly innovate to create new opportunities. The growth driver will always be innovation,” Ranga concluded.