Brands rally for an ‘Atmanirbhar’ India

Both national and global brands across categories are embracing their Indian roots to become part of the PM’s Vocal for Local initiative #VocalForVocal, #MakeInIndia, #AtmanirbharBharat, and #Swadeshi are some of the most popular hashtags floating around on social media

by Sanstuti Nath
Published - May 28, 2020
5 minutes To Read
Brands rally for an ‘Atmanirbhar’ India

Both national and global brands across categories are embracing their Indian roots to become part of the PM’s Vocal for Local initiative #VocalForVocal, #MakeInIndia, #AtmanirbharBharat, and #Swadeshi are some of the most popular hashtags floating around on social media these days. The reason is the Prime Minister’s May 12, 2020 speech, where he said that every Indian “has to become vocal for their local, not only to buy local products but also to promote them proudly.” From FabIndia to Tata Motors to Patanjali to Sonata, Indian brands across categories are using their digital channels to embrace their Indian roots. e4m talked to some brands that have initiated their own vocal-for-local campaigns. They believe that the move will be a step towards a 'self-reliant India', as the post-COVID consumers, who are aware of the economic woes of the country, will put their money on local alternatives. This will give a much-needed push to the Indian economy on the path of revival post-COVID. According to KVIC's (Khadi and Village Industries Commission) chairman VK Saxena, Khadi India is a standard example of how brands can become big with the support of the local community. He said, “KVIC was earlier a purely local brand, but with PM's support, it has now attained a global identity. Indian people across the world are vocal about khadi.” Post PM’s speech, KVIC using its social media to express pride in its national identity. Saxena said, “Khadi India has been giving the message of Aatmanirbhar Bharat for a long time now. We are not only creating employment for local artisans, but our products are also doing exceptionally well, both locally and abroad. Our last year’s turnover was around Rs 90,000 crore.” Parle is another brand that came out with an ‘Atmanirbhar’ campaign.  B Krishna Rao, Category Head, Parle Products said, “People know the products brands, but does not necessarily know the ethnicity of the parent company. This move will highlight the Indian roots of the companies, and help the post-COVID consumer, who is aware of the country’s financial woes, to make an informed purchase.” Rao further added that the move will work best for brands where the Indian alternative is a strong competitor. “It is definite that in categories where brands are the strong alternatives, the consumer will be inclined towards swadeshi, but there are categories where Indian alternative either does not exist or do not have a strong presence, there the foreign brands will continue to do well.” Men’s clothing brand Blackberrys is another company that is using its digital platform to highlight its national identity. According to Riyaz Uddin, Brand Head, Blackberrys, the consumer today spends substantial time on research about the product and trends before making any purchase. He explained, “After ‘Make in India’, the PM’s recent announcement - ‘Vocal for Local’ is another big initiative to support the national brands. This is an emotional call, which will arouse a new wave of nationalism amongst all and give us an opportunity to stand stronger as one India. With this, we anticipate an inclination towards the Indian brands along with a positive revival of consumer sentiments.” Riyaz Uddin added that though global brands may continue to be on the buyer's list, but the step will also boost employment at various levels. “With regards to the economy and industry, this will further introduce a positive change in the outlook towards manufacturing and will encourage investments when coupled with policy reforms. Additionally, this will also pave the way for various technological advancements”, he further added. Companies are also using this opportunity as a rebranding initiative for post-COVID times. Alisha R. Malik, Vice President, e-Commerce at Metro shoes LTD, said, “People are aware of challenges our economy is facing, and they will keep that in mind while making a purchase.” Weighing in on whether the move will affirm the brand's Indian identity, she said, “We are focusing clearly on how we want to position ourselves in the post-COVID times, for the ‘new normal' consumer.” PM in his speech urged people to support not only the brands that are registered locally but also the ones that are manufacturing in India and are supporting the Indian economy by generating employment in the country. Though most foreign brands decided to not go vocal on the opportunity, some global brands like the e-commerce platforms, Vistaprint, came forward to align themselves with the initiative. Bharath Sastry, CEO of Vistaprint India, said,  “We are a part of a global company but our key customers are small businesses, individuals and corporations who are local. The company sources and manufactures their products locally with the help of local workers and employees. Hence the brand's endeavour to support small businesses will assist in the overall revival of the economy.” Czech brand Bata, now headquartered in Switzerland, also took to Twitter to highlight its contribution to the Indian footwear industry since 1931.