Brands such as Unibic, Epigamia, 4700 BC, PeeSafe, Ustraa, Soufull, and Wingreens did not exist ten years back, yet have managed to take on large consumer brands and change the competitive landscape. These brands have even outpaced their category growth rates.
A quick look at all these brands will tell us that they are incredibly dynamic and have managed to meet shifting consumer needs faster than major players – whether for probiotic yoghurt, artisanal popcorn, men’s grooming, personal hygiene, or gourmet packaged food.
So, what changed in the last ten years that led to the uprising of insurgent brands? Insurgent brands understand the changing needs and want of India’s rising middle class, especially the millennials, far better than incumbent brands.
These brands have differentiated themselves by being the best in a product category and driving that message with clever consumer-centric marketing campaigns such as Paper Boat’s Aamras advertising campaigns. Through clever story-telling that played on nostalgia, the brand made itself into a category leader.
These insurgent brands are also digital natives. They have scaled their distribution 100X in the given time because they relied on digital technology and real-time market intelligence. They have used Direct to Consumers (D2C) tech effectively to micro-segment retailers and consumers. In the process, they have built B2B eCommerce marketplaces to reach consumers quickly and be available consistently, which often is a challenge for emerging brands.
Their size also offers them advantages to make changes quickly and provide customised offerings to match consumer demand. At the height of the lockdowns in 2020, these insurgent brands could find alternative suppliers to plug the availability gap. One that large, incumbent brands weren’t able to do quickly enough.
While insurgent brands offer several RTM lessons for incumbents, it’s vital not merely to replicate their model. Instead, here are three areas that large brands can focus on:
- Put the consumer back in the centre: Rather than peddling products based on decades-old perceptions of the consumer, incumbents have to rediscover the changing consumer needs. They need to reach the consumer directly and quickly.
- Acquire insurgent brands to create faster-growing portfolios: Incumbents are increasingly acquiring insurgent brands to gain leadership in a product category. They also acquire a faster-growing product portfolio in the process, whose distribution processes can be replicated in other product categories. It enables the growth of both the insurgent brands and the incumbent’s forays in other categories or markets.
- Deploy B2B eCommerce Marketplaces to become more nimble: Incumbents have to find and create newer and more agile ways of working for their teams and partners. Such a marketplace places the power of steering the growth of a brand in real-time directly in the incumbents’ hands. The entire supply chain is digitised to leverage insights on demand and availability and empower partners and stakeholders to favour the brand.
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