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New Delhi: Indian brands dominated the 2015 edition of Brand Footprint, the IMRB Kantar Worldpanel’s ranking of the most chosen consumer brands in India, taking four of the top five slots.

Parle comes in at No. 1.

Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL)’s hair-care brand Clinic Plus ranks No. 2 ahead of Amul, the milk and dairy products brand from Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd, the Anand-based food product marketing organization. Ghari, the detergent brand from the RSPL Group, is No. 4, followed by Britannia, the food products and biscuits manufacturer.

Parle retained its top spot despite a dip in its Consumer Reach Point score, a composite measure of the number of households buying a brand (penetration) and the frequency of such purchases (purchase occasions). Parle, the biscuits and confectionery brand of Parle Products, is best known for its Parle G biscuits.

Several global brands such as Colgate, Lifebuoy, Maggi and Lux also feature in the top 20, but Indian brands, national and local, dominate. Varun Sinha, group business director, IMRB Kantar Worldpanel, said domestic brands are giving tough competition to global consumer product brands. “Several of them have improved their rankings compared to global packaged consumer goods brands. (For instance) Anmol, a local biscuits manufacturer, has improved its Consumer Reach Point to enter the top 20," Sinha said. Anmol Biscuits started manufacturing biscuits in Kolkata before setting up factories in Ghaziabad and Greater Noida.

Colgate is another global brand in the top 10 and a new entrant. The report said Colgate features in the top 10 because of its exceptional reach of 87%.

Still, several of the brands rapidly climbing the rankings are domestic, even local. Toothpaste brand Dabur Red has capitalized on a surge in interest for herbal products, as has herbal shampoo and oil brand Kesh King.

Mayank Shah, deputy marketing manager at Parle Products, said Indian brands are doing well against global brands as they understand consumer needs. “It is not so much about advertising, marketing or price points. It is our understanding of the Indian consumer—how, when and where he consumes—that helps us do better."

Kannan Sitaram, operating partner India Equity Partners and chief executive of Innovative Foods, agreed: “Local Indian brands in some categories are doing well for the sheer local insights that they have. For instance, Dabur brands are based on ayurveda. Local brands do well in the milk category as milk is not an easy business to manage in India, with thousands of dairy farmers and their complexities which only Indian businesses can crack."

That’s most evident in the case of biscuits. Between Parle and Britannia, a new entrant in the top five, the category has two of the top five brands.

“Biscuits in India are almost like a meal for the poor, taken for nourishment. So here price points are important, unlike in the West where they have a different purpose and are more evolved with fillings and toppings. It is only recently that India has woken up to cookies. So clearly Indian brands do much better in such categories where they have more insights of the market," Sitaram added.

Almost 60% of the top 20 brands in the report are food brands. Personal care accounts for 25%, while 15% are household care brands. “Several dairy brands such as Amul, Mother Dairy, Nandini, Aavin and Vijaya feature among the top 20. Both dairy and biscuits brands dominate the list as the formula for tabulating Brand Footprint includes both reach and penetration which reflects the number of times it is purchased. And both these items are purchased frequently," said Sinha.

Interestingly, the purchase pattern is in line with the spending pattern in the consumer packaged goods market. According to IMRB, 63% of the total spending is on food, 22% on personal care and 15% on household care.

According to Sinha, very few premium brands have managed to get a position in the top 50. “This is mainly due to the fact that most of the premium brands are low on penetration. They need to drive higher levels of penetration. Most of the brands in the top 20 are mass-market or mid-market brands."

The report adds that despite this, a rise in disposable income in India, especially among urban consumers, has fuelled the launch of several premium brands in 2014, and that this is causing some changes in the listing.

In soaps, for instance, the share of spending on premium brands has increased from 30% to 33%, while that on shampoos has grown from 34% to 36%, the report said.

According to the report, almost 45% of biscuit buyers purchase premium as well as cheaper brands.

Smaller pack sizes also helped make the premium brands accessible to a wider socioeconomic audience. In fact, brands in categories such as milk food drinks, face and hand wash and fabric softeners have seen good Consumer Reach Point growth in the past year. “At the same time the Consumer Reach Point ranking of mass-market detergents Ghari and Wheel suffered, due to a significant fall in purchase frequency as premium alternatives become popular," the report said.

Kantar Worldpanel’s Brand Footprint is based on research of 986 million households across 35 countries, including India. The complete ranking comprises over 200 consumer packaged goods categories and 11,000 brands across the beverages, food, health and beauty, home care, alcoholic drinks, confectionery and nappies sectors. The data for this year’s ranking has been collected over the 52-week period between November 2013 and October 2014. All data relates to purchases that are brought into the home.

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