Direction of Brand Khadi

Part 2 of the Khadi series

How I think Khadi can be made great…and here is my understanding.

Every market has several segments.

If we were to base segments on price, there would be three main segments (and I am talking absolute basics here) – those that cater to the low-income group, those that cater to the middle income group and then the high income group.

Question is – do we want Khadi – the legacy of India, the epitome of sustainability and slow-fashion, to be a mass brand? Or a prestige brand?

I was a part of a webinar recently where one of the esteemed panelists, said that we do not bat an eye lid when we want to purchase a Michael Kors bag or a Louboutin shoe.

The thing is that these brands are symbols of luxury and status in life. They have strategically targeted millennials, made luxury and aspiration affordable, used social media astutely, spent extensive budgets on SEO and Email marketing.

If we want Khadi to achieve this status, then it needs to be marketed likewise.

A rusty dusty showroom with lackadaisical staff is not going to do the work.  

Neither is making Public sector units like Air India and ITDC mandatorily buy the fabric is going to build the brand.

Many marketers will not agree with this – but sometimes Brand building efforts go against the principles of sales efforts.

A Brand is in the head. A sale is done on-ground. Brand is soul. Sale is body.

Brand building is Image building. And it involves making difficult choices. It acts as a filter to participate in certain activities and desist certain others.

My view is that KVIC’s approach lacks right there.

We are still so ensconced in the legacy and we have forgotten that we need to step up the image building efforts.

Perhaps the Government’s effort to keep the legacy intact is by denying small businesses from using the tag of Khadi, who according to them would be tainting the legacy and outrightly pushing powerloom fabrics as Khadi.

And yes quality control is extremely important. Critical even.

But, do we know for sure that isn’t already happening by the KVIC?

Apparently, KVIC plans to take Khadi global.

Excellent. The share of Khadi exports is still 0.22% of India’s total textile exports. (2018 figures)

They have designers on their panels. Double tap.

But it is not about getting a few famous designers to do the work and doing a fashion show that will bring the fillip to the brand.

A fashion show is not the only way to build the brand. It only helps the designer. Yes, it triggers some demand. The last time KVIC organised a Khadi fashion show was in 1989 ( Source – textilevaluechain.in)

By the way, did you know that Issey Miyake New York showcased Khadi kurtas in their exhibition last year?

khadi on Exhibition at Issey miyake exhibition in new york .
Pic Courtesy – Isseymiyake.com/en/news

I love that it received such a great platform. Point is – how many of us knew about it? And what did it do to the Brand?

It was a movement then; it needs to be a movement today too.

Point is, how many are interested in it!

What irks me is that it is such a great product. Once you purchase a Khadi, it lasts for years.

I remember I had purchased funky bright coloured Khadi kurtas and I used to wear them in college.

I am taking a leaf out of Ansoff’s Matrix, which builds a mathematical proof that if we want to market an existing product to a new audience, we need to create relevance for it. Our effort lies in the orange grid below.

One – target millenials in India.

Two – make it aspirational and affordable.

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If we want the Khadi to be great, and continue its legacy, one it needs to speak to millennials, the youth. And the market is right here – India. Our youth.

Second, Make it affordable to them.

Have premium imagery but make it attainable.

Isn’t that what’s brand building about?

Stylise the brand.

Contemporise it.

Brands erstwhile considered to be fuddy-duddy like Bata for example, have given a fillip to their brand so beautifully.

Khadi ideally should hold the place in the world like Yoga or Ayurveda. Yoga has gone from being an exercise to a lifestyle. Sure, a lot of people have tainted it and taken advantage of it and used it for their advantage. But then that is democracy right…

A legacy is for every one. It cannot and should be a for a select few only.

Yoga is an 80 billion dollar industry worldwide (Source – CII Blog) and thriving, so much so that brands like Adidas and Nike have forayed into Yoga apparel. Indian e-tailers have seen more than 200% growth by virtue of their yoga products.

Everybody benefited from it. The producers and the consumers.

I wish I was the CMO of Brand Khadi – I would have taken it places by making it aspirational and attainable at the same time.

It irks me to see that the obvious isn’t being done.

What I have written above is not rocket science.

So tomorrow, the Indian youth would be willing to pay their top dollar to buy a Khadi product – much like a Louboutin shoe or a Michael Kors bag.

The views expressed above are mine alone. You might feel differently – based on the information you have.

I am most happy to learn from your perspective. Leave a comment below or write to me on sixyardsoffinery@gmail.com