India is known to create excellent consumer products in its vast hinterlands which have all been loved and appreciated by the targeted local audience for decades.
Traditionally, India has always had a self-sufficient local culture where people trust their neighborhood businesses and those businesses kept adapting to the preferences of their consumers.
Decades of such sacred relationships between consumers and local businesses have led to several success stories where a local cuisine or a local business has quickly been adopted and loved nationally and even globally.
Advent of technology over the years brought all of us closer and hence it is getting easier and easier for businesses to reach many consumers at once. Hence, we see so many brands that have emerged around us as a replacement for the unbranded products we always trusted all our lives.
A large company launching a branded product in any industry gives the consumers an excellent choice because it comes up with an implied trust in the product or service being offered. But it makes it difficult over time for the local businesses to compete with this brand.
Hence we see our loved local businesses disappear over time. For me personally, it was Pahuja Juice Corner in the city where I grew up. It was once the embodiment for the freshest possible alternative for getting a refreshing glass of cold beverage. For some reason, Mr Pahuja found it difficult to compete with Real Juice, Coca Cola and now B-Natural and then Red Bull.
Large national brands may have more resources than Mr Pahuja but I am sure they cant give the same consumer experience with their standardized national product as Mr Pahuja can do so by custom creating fresh fruit juices and delivering it personally through his own delivery boy and do so much faster than global brands. That is because his outlet is next door to the customer and his kids’ study in the same school as his consumers.
Maybe it is just us - but we feel that this business owner will have a much better grip on what the customer wants when compared to the category manager sitting in the regional headquarters of the national company. But that is just our opinion.
The big brands that are coming in may have a lot to offer, but is the core product significantly better? Or is it just convenience and the packaging that has changed drastically?
Lets ask ourselves, are we fully satisfied with the experience that prevalent brands today give us or is there something better we can together create? That’s an important question we all must ask ourselves and the answer was personally a big YES for all of us at team OI.
Don’t get us wrong - we like the products and services that are on offer. We immensely appreciate where these brands have led us so far. All of us at team OI have personally loved these brands over time and have immense respect for the companies that brought us these products when we had limited options.
But what we are now asking ourselves is – Is the current consumer experience offered by these brands the best that we can together jointly achieve in today’s tech enabled world?
As a consumer, we felt that the true potential of our local heritage and the true Indian local customized service is something that large, organized players are unable to provide to the same level as a local business can offer.
Making one standard answer and catering to a large audience is an amazing strategy for some products but we feel maybe there are some categories like Food where people will always like new variety, formats, and cuisines.
There may be plenty of brand for sandwiches and pizzas that offer us dishes cooked with ingredients we are not used to eating and topped with flavors that sometimes feel foreign to us. They are good alternatives to try out and we also realize that some of us have started to like them over dal sabji roti as a staple meal.
But how many times do our thoughts go after Dal Makhni, Paranthas, Tandoori Snacks, Chaat Pakodi and how frequently do we have strong cravings for peculiar items like Sharma ji ki fried idli, Fauji uncle ki dal, Volga Bakery ka cake, Collonel uncle ki Egg bhurji and yes Mausami Juices with kala namak from Pahuja Juice Corner.
We here at Team OI take such thoughts very seriously and sometimes we together sincerely crave for Tom Uncle’s Cheese Maggi. It’s the best Maggi in the world if you ask us. Too bad that the aunty that survived Tom uncle is now struggling to keep the joint in its old spirits.
I have no doubt that she still has the capability to make the world’s best Maggi. We at Team OI would never make the mistake of doubting Tom Uncle’s legacy and the hard work that went behind setting up that business brick by brick over years. But if we are to be true to ourselves, we must acknowledge the reality and look at the market forces.
She does not have the margin left anymore to run as generous a kitchen as she once used to.
She must find it mathematically difficult to afford that extra 5 Rs of Butter on top now that she has to pay extra 16 Rs as sales commission on a maggi of 80 Rs. People do not want to pay anymore than that for a customized Maggi filled with fresh green veggies, Amul cheese and MDH Masale. Why would they pay 200 Rs for that custom Maggi even if it can be delivered from a store beneath their house within 15-20 mins.
Her cold coffee was also something to die for but it would take 20 minutes as she had to send the only helper to buy the milk from the neighborhood store. She could not afford enough margin to stock milk in her fridge.
The name still rings a bell in 1000s of students that ever studied in North Campus of Delhi University. For over 2 decades. Many of them are still around and would give anything to have that maggi. But lets face it – time moved too fast and the businesses that couldn’t rapidly adapt to change saw their relevance go down over time.
On a contrasting note, we would all be very much comfortable paying 350 Rs + tax + service charge + delivery fee for a basic version of a pizza that is sold globally and customized partly for India and may have 1-2 option for your local taste preferences. We would also be comfortable waiting patiently looking at an app and hoping for a delivery rider to get allocated and then wait patiently if an order gets stuck. It’s hard-to-get things moving when you are hungry and dealing with a restaurant, a sales agent and a delivery agent.
There are still many options that we all have when we want to eat such food, unfortunately limited branded ones. We wish there were more Indian brands that celebrated our being.
The India we all grew up in.
This worry eventually became a dream for us - when we decided to set out to solve this unique problem.
We don’t want to create more brands in areas where consumers already have plenty of choices.
We want to go the exact opposite way.
We want to BRAND the UNBRANDED India and in a very Indian way.
Punjabi Monk – Patiala Shakes – Thali Wali – Tandoor & Rumali – Homestyle Paranthas
Those are the kinds of brands we want to build.
We know that not all local / regional businesses have the kind of well-rounded exposure needed to develop a full brand identity. It does take a lot to create a brand from creative design – business strategy – legal hassles – building websites & apps – setting up online ordering and then putting all of this together in a package that looks as compelling as the big corporate companies.
It seems almost like an uphill battle and that is why you see Mr Pahuja’s business diminishing over the years although I still have fond memories of his service.
Now that his business does not have the same charm as it once had in the city, he must find it hard to maintain the rent of that big shop in the prime location and must have reduced the number of workers in his store. This must be the reason behind his reduced service level and reach over time.
He no longer delivers to the house that I once grew up in. ☹
He must have tried selling his products on the various marketplaces, but I do not think he was ever able to develop a trustworthy relationship with them. He feels it’s not worth selling through them as he barely makes any margin and has to constantly worry about cost and cancelled orders.
Mr Pahuja says doing such business forces him to further cut cost and that further reduces quality.
So although it may seem like Mr Pahuja has options, he rarely has any.
We at Team OI care very passionately about Mr Pahuja and others like him. We are sons and daughters and brothers and sisters of several Mr Pahuja’s and we want them to start serving us back. We want them to come back bigger and stronger.
That is what we want, and we know its not an easy task.
The forces of business are against Mr Pahuja, fast migration towards technology is not helping him, its rather making bigger companies better and better. We were sad watching all of this play out over last few years and then one day a lightening struck us and we had an idea, a rather simple one.
If we could somehow help Mr Pahuja to go online in a simple and cost-efficient manner & if we can convince the consumers to view the products of their local businesses at par or better than the branded products of large companies, then maybe we can break this vicious cycle.
This is what keeps us up at night and we have found a medium to do all this in a cost-efficient manner and keep the transactions in a simple structured manner that benefit the two most important parties – the consumer and the business.
We are in the business of re-invoking the trust between local business and consumers and Urban brands is our endeavor to help regional businesses walk the digital mile and compete neck to neck with large, organized players.
So if you are motivated enough to walk the mile - then we will assist you end to end.
We will deliver your favorite brand to your doorsteps like a Car - perfectly assembled and customized for your local business needs.
If you are a business struggling under such forces and find it difficult to buy a brand at our quoted prices, then please give the CEO a direct phone call at 97173 50080 and bargain with your open heart. We are an Indian business and we deeply wish to remain Indian and would be honoured to uphold the age old Indian tradition of BARGAINING.
If you are a struggling business and this digital asset can help you in any way, please tell us your story and we will embrace your heart burn with a STEEP DISCOUNT if your story moves us. We have a special generosity towards women entrepreneurs & would encourage all of them to fulfill their dreams and start their businesses. If you are a women entrepreneur working towards a social cause, then please apply for our incubation program and we will support you 100% in your E-Commerce needs.
Hoping to do something good everyday :)