NEW DELHI: A number of regional brands in India, in categories from food to personal care, have aspirations to become national brands, but they face a number of challenges in making that leap, not least how much to invest in marketing.

"They need to build key aspects like awareness, relevance, differentiation and esteem," said Dhunji S Wadia, president at Rediffusion Y&R, India. "Acceptance will not necessarily be automatic and investments will be needed to boost salience and preference," he added.

One brand ready to step up is Gujarat-based snack foods outfit Balaji Wafers, which commands 65% of the market in its home state, and significant shares in neighbouring states – 50% in Maharashtra, 35% in Rajasthan and 25% in Madhya Pradesh.

"In the markets where we lead, we have been focusing on hitting the right taste, quality and price, along with ensuring steady last-mile distribution," said co-founder Chandubhai Virani. "It is only now that we will think of investing in branding," he stated.

The Business Standard reported that the business had "set aside a hefty budget for branding and marketing for the coming year".

The Economic Times highlighted a number of other businesses aiming to make the transition from regional to national, including Havmor and Vadilal in ice cream, Prataap Snacks in salty snacks, Cremica in ketchup and crisps, Ghari detergent, Wagh Bakri tea and Vi John consumer care products.

"We have built the brand and product portfolio to be more than just a regional player of men's consumer care products," declared Vimal Pande, CEO of Vi John. "We're growing into a national brand with expansion into home and personal care."

While several of these brands have received private equity investment that will help fund marketing budgets, they now face the question of how to spend it.

"A regional brand has to put in much more effort to stand out and look credible," noted Rajiv Rao, national creative director for O&M. "To do this, they have to do something really brave yet relevant.

"It is about making the brand appear much bigger than they really are … regional brands have to put in much more effort (than established larger rivals) to look credible."

Data sourced from Economic Times, Business Standard; additional content by Warc staff