How Parle G tackled crunch with price and reach..some interesting history

Interesting business history snippet on the iconic biscuit brand:

There is a spot where the warm aroma of fresh baking catches hold of anyone travelling in a Mumbai local train enroute Andheri and further north. A result of the busy ovens at the first factory of baking a batch of the world’s largest biscuit brand, Parle G. The company makes 400 million of those a day.  Parle Products was established in 1929 to manufacture confectionery such as boiled sweets, after the promoter family, the Chauhans, bought a decrepit factory. was born as a decade later, even as the bugle for World War II was sounded.

Parle had to manufacture military-grade biscuits for British soldiers right after, but ensured that it could manufacture the nutritional Parle G for the common masses. 

Parle G, as we know it today, has grown to be bigger than any other biscuit brand in the world by carrying forward the same positioning from the thirties, perfected over the years with a resourceful knack for scale and self-sufficiency. Launched as an affordable source of nourishment (it underlined the calories in a pack at one time) to counter expensive, imported biscuits in the British Raj such as Jacob’s (cream cracker of United Biscuits) and those of erstwhile large biscuit maker, Huntly & Palmers. Britannia, then based out of Calcutta (Kolkata now), was strong in the east, while Glaxo glucose biscuit, also imported, ruled over the south.

Kamal Kapadia, who worked at Parle for 32 years and left as CEO, Bengaluru project, in 2004, says, “There were many local manufacturers in the early years, mostly cottage industries. Biscuits then would first mean glucose biscuits.” Kapadia recalls that in 1960, Britannia launched its first glucose biscuit brand, Glucose D, later endorsed by Amjad Khan’s Sholay avatar, Gabbar Singh in the 1970s.

It was then that Parle Gluco started feeling the heat, even smaller players would imitate the pack and carry the suffix of ‘glucose’ in their names. People, especially who were not literate would just ask for glucose biscuits.

Munawar Syed, who worked on the Parle account from the seventies till the nineties, at Everest (now director at Triton), says, “People were confused by similar brand names. Glucose became generic. We did advertise the differences but then, took a call to change the name and ride more on Parle.” In 1982, Parle Gluco was repackaged as Parle G. The company had earlier tried to battle knock-offs by imprinting the plump little girl (an illustration by Everest) on its packs, in the mid-seventies. It clicked with Parle G’s target audience, kids and their mothers.

Kapadia says Parle always believed in branding: “I still remember Parle G’s taglines such as ‘Often imitated, never equalled'”. Parle was among the first advertisers to paint Mumbai’s train compartments with Parle Gluco ads when the Indian Railways allowed it.

It was the belief in branding that also made Parle G’s makers self-reliant, build scale and maintain pricing. Kapadia says, “It wanted to sell biscuits in consumer-friendly packs, rather than leave them loose in jars.” Parle resorted to importing and patenting its own packing machinery as early as the fifties.

🙂

How these things are shaped is quite a story..

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: