Brand managers beware! Have you ever heard of LG Shoes or tried a pair of Santro denims?
A walk through the lanes of any down-market bazaar in any city would confound you no end as familiar brands greet you in bewildering incarnations. Your loved brand may end up adorning a category you never imagined even in your wildest dreams. The list could be endless what with Samsung toothbrush or Sony chappals. Welcome to the world of “Naqli” brands. There is some difference between replica products/brands-a la China or Russia make for say a cloned Rolex or a Swatch. The replicas encash the original’s popularity albeit at a fraction of its price, of course, with quality given a go by. “Naqlis” invent categories of their own !
India is fast emerging as the counterfeiting capital of “Naqli” brands.
The target audience is essentially naïve migrants or the blokes at the bottom of the pyramid, who are vaguely familiar with the brand names but ignorant or oblivious of the category they actually represent. On confronting one representative of such a fake brand pop came the answer-“the manufacturer was too tired to think of an original name post production”. So it’s the “creative block” fostering such knave creativity!
One printing press owner had this to share:“ local manufacturers often come up with clumsy copy designed in dated DTP shops & insist on icing up the same with any celebrity snap available”. So we have a Katrina or Kareena molling up the product full gratis. Celebrity endorsement comes free for these “Naqli” brand owners. Once saw a vintage Zeenat in a bikini at the neighbourhood salon, delicately poised on a pack of aftershave. Can’t recollect when Zeenat became the brand ambassador for “Panty”aftershave lotion. (God knows what odour that was supposed to emanate!)
Surely the picture would have caused incessant drools on the leching regulars in for a shave. Pantene shampoo transgressing into forbidden domain? Nah the “Naqli” at its destructive best!
These brands have a fetish for quality too. So, right from razors to transistors have quality mnemonics etched all over them. Standards like BSI,ISI,ISO all are mentioned in the same breath. Trademarks(TMs),Service Marks(SMs) & Registered are franked with feverish fondness. All these with the sole purpose of lending credibility to the product on offer. Brand extensions are child’s play to the “Naqli” brand vendors, no board meetings or due diligence on consumer insights here, just take a product and place the brand name you like, without the bother of thought. Here a Dettol toothpaste would not elicit any grimace or guffaw. A smooth cut & paste job so to say. Sometimes “Naqli” brands try and foray into the same category as of the original. Their innovations on spelling would teach many a marketer the brass tacks of ambush marketing. Polgate and Hepsodent toothpaste regaling in the original’s brand finery can befool an unsuspecting consumer.
You like it or lump it “Naqli” brands are here to stay till the time the originals get cracking on them and set precedents of punitive action. Until then “Naqlis” would continue to decimate the real brand’s personality.