By Ishan Arora:
It is said that – ‘A great brand starts with a hero product’ and Pulse candy has shown its heroism for the DS group in all possible ways.
Launched in 2015, Pulse candy not only caught the attention of people but gave a headache to many marketers. An industry where people make impulsive purchases and lack brand loyalty, Pulse brought in a revolution as many people became addicted to the brand and even paid a premium to buy it.
In an industry where people used to prefer flavour over the brand, Pulse candy changed the perception of many. It took the category from impulse-driven to Pulse-driven as was evident from the fact that the brand generated revenue of ₹ 100 crores in the first eight months. When many people thought that the candy was just ‘hype’ and would dwindle gradually, it proved everybody wrong by clocking Rs 300 crores in sales in year 2017, and surpassing giants like Oreo and Mars Bar.
Now the question is – -in a competitive and imitable candy industry where even the well-established players are not able to survive for a year, how did Pulse candy manage to mint crores of rupees and proved to be a game changer. Let’s analyze the strategies of this heroic brand
Let’s analyse –
Pass Pass Pulse Candy is a Dharampal Satyapal Group product, who are also the makers of Rajnigandha, Pass Pass and Catch Spices.
The product was conceptualised in 2013, and the company spent as many as two years in research and development before releasing the product in early 2015.
Pulse candy earned a whopping ₹ 100 crore in the first eight months, equalling the record of Coke Zero. The company initially launched the product in only three states- Rajasthan, Gujarat and Delhi.
The DS Group spent no amount on advertising and promotions and the candy gained traction through word of mouth publicity.
Initially, the company couldn’t even meet the soaring demand and was able to meet only 60-70% of it, and people paid a premium to buy the product.
Owing to the success of Pulse ‘Kacha Aam’, the company launched a new flavour ‘Guava with Tangy Twist’ in February 2016.
In year 2017, the candy clocked Rs 300 crores of sales and surpassed brands like OREO (Rs 283 crore sales, launch year-2011) and Mars Bars ( Rs 270 crore sales, launch year-2011).
DSG put in a lot of time and hard work in coming up with the right product. After an extensive research and market study, the company realised that raw mango was eaten by people of all ages across India.
Hence a product like Pulse would cater to all the segments, thus maximising the chances of success. Moreover, to make things exciting for the consumers, the company added an element of surprise in the candy (which changes its taste from sour to sweet towards the end). All these factors made sure that customers became addicted to the candy and consumed it day in and day out.
The key success factor for any low involvement-FMCG product is the distribution channel. If the company can strengthen the products’ reach and visibility, the chances of it being accepted by the customers are high.
DS Group- the creator of Pulse, already had a strong presence at outlets through the strength of its flagship product – Rajnigandha (leading Pan Masala brand with over 70% market share).
Capitalising on the extent of their reach, the company was able to maintain a strong distribution hold for Pulse within a short span of time.
From a pan stall to a big retail shop, and from urban to rural areas, the candy was sold everywhere within the first few months of its launch.
In the candy industry, which lacks brand loyalty and most of the purchases made are impulsive in nature, packaging plays a vital role in the purchase decision.
Pulse candy with its bright coloured packaging not only increased its visibility but also attracted the attention of customers getting them to at least try the candy once (and eventually most of them became addicted to it, resulting in more sales).
Word of Mouth is one of the most cost efficient and effective ways of promoting a business. DSG spent no amount on advertising and promotions, and the candy gained popularity through word of mouth (probably because it’s a great product).
Many people referred the candy to their friends and relatives. People even went to the extent of making ‘Pulse – Fan Communities’ on FB. Some even called it ‘The Pulse of the Nation’.
I remember, in my college, during one of the lectures, I gave an example of the candy’s success story and how well it was doing. Soon after that incident, I saw many people buying Pulse candy in bulk from a nearby shop. Definitely, my word of mouth suggestion had played its trick!
Though many big players were selling candies for ₹ 0.5, Pulse sold it for ₹1. To justify the price, the weight of the candy was increased to 4gm from the industry standard of 2.5gm.
Also, the candy gave its customers dual taste (sour and sweet) with an element of surprise. All this made sure that people found it a value for money product.
The above point is also evident from the fact that when the demand for the candy was on the rise, due to capacity constraints, DSG was able to fulfil only 60-70% of the demand.
As a result, people were paying extra to buy the candy (many Kirana shops charged up to ₹ 1.5). This clearly shows the willingness of the consumers to purchase the candy.
Lee Iacocca once quoted – ‘When a product is right, you don’t have to be a Great Marketer’ and Pulse candy has proved the validity of this quote.
Earning 300 crores in just two years of time and that too in a competitive-less differentiated candy industry sounds like an unimaginable task, and many would not even dream of such a start for a candy priced at ₹ 1.
But Pulse has proved that with extensive R&D, a great product or/and a remarkable innovation – anything is possible. The greatness of the product is evident from the fact that various segments liked it- kids, college going students, smokers or working professionals.
Pulse candy aspires to be among the top 3 candies in India, the difficult part of the candy’s journey has just begun. With many similar candies now catching up on its development process, it would be interesting to see what road map DSG chooses for its heroic brand.
Whatever happens in the future, Pulse candy has evinced one thing for sure – If your product is great you don’t need to advertise it.
Updated in March 2017.