In a world where economic uncertainties and inflation pose constant challenges, corporations are rewriting their playbooks to not only endure but to thrive. One innovative strategy gaining momentum is corporate licensing – a tactical move where companies extend their brand equity into non-core categories, creating additional revenue streams and fostering deeper connections with consumers. This paradigm shift was recently dissected in a compelling panel featuring Darryl Simsovic, CEO of Pitman Training, and H.S. Bhatia, Managing Director of Kelwon Electronics & Appliances Pvt. Ltd.
Unleashing the Power of Storytelling for Brand Extension
At the core of corporate licensing lies the transformative power of storytelling, a concept vividly articulated by Darryl Simsovic as he unveiled Pitman Training's remarkable journey. Pitman, a brand boasting an illustrious legacy spanning almost 200 years, faced the challenge of staying relevant in today's dynamic market. Darryl emphasized, "We had a great British Heritage brand, but how do we take that old fossilized view of Pitman and turn it into something modern?"
This metamorphosis involved leveraging storytelling to communicate the brand's evolution. Pitman Training moved beyond traditional courses like shorthand, adapting to contemporary needs by introducing coding, blockchain, and social media management. The narrative shifted from the nostalgia of the past to the promise of relevant, modern skills.
Simsovic asserts, "We are not the Pitman your grandma knew. We are the Pitman of today, blending our heritage with modern skills tailored for today's market."
Fostering Emotional Connections through Licensing
For H.S. Bhatia, who ventured into licensing with Daewoo, the decision was rooted in recognizing a brand as more than just a name. Bhatia emphasized, "A brand is a personality," and building a brand from scratch involves a significant investment of time and resources. Licensing, in this context, serves as a shortcut to tap into an established legacy.
Daewoo, with its automotive legacy in India, seamlessly integrated into Kelwon Electronics' product portfolio. Bhatia highlighted the importance of aligning the brand's heritage with the licensee's existing offerings. The emotional connection consumers have with the automotive giant facilitated a smoother transition into diverse categories like batteries, inverters, and lubricants.
Bhatia reflects, "Daewoo's legacy, combined with our product categories, created a perfect fit. It's not just a brand; it's a shortcut to building trust and heritage in a new market."
Revitalizing Legacy Brands for Today's Consumers
The evolution of legacy brands is crucial in a landscape dominated by rapidly changing technologies and consumer behaviors. Darryl Simsovic stressed the need for legacy brands to revitalize themselves to appeal to a younger audience. He highlighted the challenge faced by companies with long histories, emphasizing the importance of modernizing logos, communication strategies, and engagement on digital platforms.
Darryl notes, "Legacy brands, despite their rich history, need a facelift. We need to speak a language that resonates with today's market, showcasing our heritage while offering contemporary solutions."
The Global Advantage of Licensing
Bhatia shared insights into the structural advantages gained through licensing with a global brand like Daewoo. The extensive network of licensees worldwide provided access to new technologies, products, and best practices. This global exposure empowered Kelwon Electronics to bring cutting-edge solutions to the Indian market efficiently.
Bhatia elucidates, "As a licensee, you become part of a global network. Access to new technologies and practices gives you a competitive edge, allowing you to introduce the best to your market."
Addressing Skills Gap Through Licensing
Darryl Simsovic discussed Pitman Training's vision for India, emphasizing their commitment to addressing the skills gap in non-university educated individuals. With plans to open 400 locations in 10 years, Pitman Training aims to provide vocational training tailored to the needs of those who may not pursue traditional university paths. This aligns with a global trend addressing the shortage of skilled workers in various industries.
Darryl declares, "We aim to be a solution to the skills gap. Pitman's programs are designed for individuals seeking practical skills, irrespective of their educational background."
In the face of inflation and economic uncertainties, corporations are turning to licensing as a strategic avenue for growth. The panel discussion highlighted how storytelling, emotional connections, brand evolution, and global collaboration play pivotal roles in the success of corporate licensing. As legacy brands embark on a journey of transformation, the synergy between licensors and licensees becomes a powerful catalyst for unlocking new trends and ensuring sustainable business growth.
Through corporate licensing, companies are not merely adapting to change but actively shaping the future of their brands and industries. Mastering the art of storytelling, fostering emotional connections, and embracing global perspectives are the cornerstones of successful corporate licensing strategies. This dynamic approach is not just a response to inflation but a proactive stance towards innovation and resilience in an ever-evolving business landscape.
In 2017, The Organic World (TOW), sprouted as the green heart of Nimida Group in Bengaluru, sowing the seeds of sustainability to cultivate positive change in our way of life. Founded by Gaurav Manchanda, Director, The Organic World, this unique brand strives to offer a holistic range of organic and natural products. From pesticide-free fruits and vegetables to chemical-free homecare products, TOW provides consumers with over 3000 choices to embrace a healthier, cleaner, and more sustainable lifestyle.
Gaurav, during his return to India from the United States in 2016, identified a gap in the market for healthy and organic food options. Motivated by a personal quest for such products and a desire to offer the same to a wider audience, The Organic World was born in 2017. Starting with the launch of its first store in JP Nagar, Bengaluru, TOW quickly expanded. Today it has 15 stores across Bengaluru, and is exploring the franchise model and the plan is to steadily expand TOW’s footprint across South India.
“Our journey is only getting started. We plan to expand up to 100 stores over the next 18 months, and exploring cities like Chennai, Pune, and more,” he says.
TOW positions itself as a multi-brand retailer, hosting products that are not only organic but also differentiated, providing better value to customers as they journey towards a healthier lifestyle. The stores boasts a comprehensive product range, including fruits, vegetables, dairy, staples, personal care items, and home care products. The presentation of these stores is world-class, ensuring a unique and engaging shopping experience.
Gaurav sheds light on TOW's commitment to responsible retailing, focusing on three core pillars: authenticity, accessibility, and affordability. The company enforces a rigorous vetting process for products, maintaining transparency by publicly listing 25 blacklisted ingredients and chemicals not allowed on their shelves. This disruptive approach challenges the industry to prioritize healthier and sustainable products. TOW has created a strict ‘Not In Our Aisle’ list – a list of chemicals and harmful ingredients that do not find a spot on its store shelves, despite their industry popularity. This includes ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener, found in soda, juice, candy, breakfast cereals and packaged snacks; artificial flavorings/colors found in most packaged foods; Tertiary Butylhydroquinine (TBHQ), an antioxidant found in biscuits, microwave popcorn, butter substitutes and chicken nuggets; parabens, sulfates and phthalates found in personal and beauty care products; and a range of acids and toxins found in home cleaning essentials, to name some.
“When you step into our store, it's an interesting and world-class experience. We strive to be a full basket retailer, so you can complete your shopping journey within our stores. Now we have about 3000 SKUs on our shelves, and we continue to introduce interesting categories and products,” explains Gaurav.
The brand’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond its product offerings. It has introduced a zero-waste section in select stores, encouraging customers to bring their own containers for grains and nuts. The company is conscious of consumer preferences, with a dedicated vegan category accounting for a significant portion of sales. TOW's initiatives have not only resonated with environmentally conscious consumers but also positively impacted its revenue.
The Organic World has embraced a tech-driven approach to bridge the online and offline shopping experience seamlessly. Initially partnering with tech enablers, TOW later developed its in-house tech stack, comprising apps, websites, and delivery mechanisms. This move provides the company with more control over data, enabling better insights into consumer behavior.
Acknowledging the challenges in the grocery and organic sector, Gaurav emphasizes the importance of trust in the brand and scale to stay competitive. The company strives to deliver within a two to four-hour time slot, and in a bid to make its last-mile delivery sustainable, TOW is exploring the use of electric vehicles.
In a market flooded with products labeled as organic, The Organic World sets itself apart through a combination of the 3As. The brand's strong category play, especially in emerging trends like veganism, further distinguishes it from competitors. The company's commitment to scale, transparent pricing, and a variety of unique products solidifies its position as a leading player in the organic and healthy foods sector.
“We work closely with farmers and a network of farmers under the brand Happy Harvest Farms. They are certified and organic. Additionally, we do our own checks internally, and based on these checks we believe that we are able to provide an authentic experience to the discerning consumer,” Gaurav asserts.
He is optimistic about the future, fueled by the growing awareness of health-conscious consumers. With plans to expand its store network and franchise model, TOW aims to be a dominant player in the Indian organic market. The brand envisions not only leading in the organic sector but also influencing responsible retailing practices across the broader retail industry.
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