India’s largest consumer-facing companies have begun pushing ‘vocal for local’ themes across all advertising and marketing campaigns and last-mile sales pitches.

The move follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation on May 12, where he had urged Indians to be “vocal about local” brands and buy products made domestically. And local brands such as ITC, Parle Products, Amul, Dabur, Bisleri, Godrej, Marico and Voltas are jumping on the call as an opportunity to garner support and increase consumer consideration.

“We are highlighting Indian roots and have started promoting ads with this message on digital media and TV, particularly news channels,” said Mohit Malhotra, CEO of Dabur, which makes Vatika shampoo and Red toothpaste. “Made in India will be a key factor likely to influence purchase decision and the vocal for local campaign has the potential of harnessing India’s traditional knowledge like Ayurveda.”

India's largest diary brand Amul has said it will increase its emphasis on the theme, something it has been doing for three decades. “As far as food is concerned, consumers prefer local brands since it suits their taste, (are) fresh, affordable and its share will further grow,” Amul managing director RS Sodhi told the Economic Times.

In consumer electronics, brands such as Voltas and Godrej Appliances also plan to significantly push ‘vocal for local’ themes in marketing campaigns and last-mile pitches to consumers, once the market opens up.

A day after the Prime Minister’s speech, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) clarified that local does not imply only products made by Indian companies, but also those manufactured in the country by multinationals. While the party won’t issue any directive to buy local, a BJP spokesperson said people might themselves start buying good quality products made in India.

Brand specialist and social commentator Santosh Desai told the Economic Times that the theme may not sway consumer preferences too much. “Most consumers are not aware of brand ownership, except for a few like Patanjali which have been built on Indian-ness.”

Global brands currently dominate the Indian market in most categories and there are few local alternatives. They account for over 90% of the Indian market in the smartphone and television categories and over 80% in refrigerators and washing machines.

They have a 50-65% share in toothpaste, skin creams, soaps, shampoos and laundry. In most discretionary segments, such as beer, aerated drinks, chocolates and coffee, global brands make up for almost 90% of the overall market.

Sourced from Economic Times