Among all the small things that we use in our daily life, many become so habitual that without them, we feel uncomfortable using a different brand. Regular tea, special soaps for Diwali bathing, even the order of pages of and fonts of daily newspapers, etc. become so habitual that the consumer does not want to substitute them. We become attached and loyal to the image of a particular brand. One of the most important secrets of a successful business is to create a positive identity and capture it in the minds of the customers. Usually, big companies systematically cement their company’s image in the minds of consumers through advertisements. For this, the company’s logo creates its own identity by using a large system that works on colours which are published everywhere. However, small businessmen try hard to provide goods and services similar to other entrepreneurs in the market. They try to attract customers by keeping the price low. Even nano entrepreneurs can gain an edge over the competition by impressing their brand identity and quality on the minds of consumers. Nano businesses are usually concentrated in a specific area of a village or town. They are able to gain customer preference and loyalty there. As in the case of Misal in Pune, there are loyal groups like Bedekar, Katakirr etc. In many cases like pattice, vadas, tea-coffee, bread, even the usual panwala, the consumer is not easily ready to buy another product. Creating an identity and retaining customers in that area is more important than price.
In a survey conducted by Centre for Excellence in Entrepreneurship & Development along with DeAsra Centre of Excellence for nano entrepreneurship at Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, many entrepreneurs said that building brand awareness makes customers come back to them again. For this, they use various colours, logos, and bring a subtle yet distinctive touch to the product or service. Nano businesses make up the bulk of the market. They face high competition. But those who manage to tap into niche customer segments and create a strong brand value amongst them, survive the competition. Not only survive, but also, they further grow their business. There are many such examples in cities like Pune and Mumbai which have a cafe culture going around in the youth. New cafes have sprung up in small lanes. If you think about it closely, the cafes that have their own face, character, are the ones that are successful. Then in some places, there are ‘book cafes’ stocking books; in some places, they have become popular by encouraging customers to host shows. There have been many studies on what micro enterprises should do to create such an identity. One is to know the customer and their preferences. The second is to accordingly introduce a feature in the product or service that customers will quickly like. And lastly, one needs to continuously strive to create a distinctive identity and instil it in the mind of the customer. It is important to keep in mind that one cannot survive in the competition only by imitating others.
This article by Dr. Lalitagauri Kulkarni was originally published in Marathi in Sakal Newspaper on November 14, 2023.