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Ambuja Cements : Branding a Commodity

Corporate Brand : Ambuja Cements Company : Ambuja Cements Agency Brand Analysis Ltd : ( Holcim Group Company) Grey 423

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Ambuja Cements formerly Gujarat Ambuja is one of India's largest cement brands. The company came into existence in 1984. Ambuja Cements is a classic example of a successful commodity

branding. Indian cement market is different from the rest of the world because the largest segment of buyers of cement in India is the individual home owners rather than the institutions. Although this scenario is witnessing a change due to the boom in the organized realty sector, individual home owners form a significant segment that no cement marketers can ignore. Although these individuals shell out the money to purchase cement, they are not the decision makers in the buying process. The intermediaries like the contractors , masons etc take up the role of the influencer/decision makers in the purchase of this product. Since the consumers view this product as a commodity, the involvement of ordinary home owners in the purchase . Ambuja Cements is one of the companies that realized the potential of brand as a differentiator. Even in the eighties, Ambuja cements started its activities for building the brand. Infact according to Superbrands report, Ambuja cements is the first cement brand to start advertising in television. Ambuja Cements also used the outdoors extensively to reinforce the brand image and enhance brand recall. Ambuja Cements also focused on influencing the other players in the business like the contractors/masons and engineers through camps and meets. These initiatives helped Ambuja to charge a premium over other brands. With the competition hotting up from Grasim + Ultratech, Ambuja Cements could hold on to its share because of the

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While branding the cement commodity,Ambuja Cements concentrated on its core brand promise of " Strength ". All through its campaigns, the brand was very consistent on reinforcing its positioning as the " Strongest " cement . The brand was also very clever in selecting a unique logo. Commodities are boring products . But for smart marketers, this is also an opportunity to make a difference. Ambuja cements bought in lot of humor to this ( otherwise) boring product. Most of its campaigns are humorous which makes the consumers stick to the advertisements . The ad which I like most is the ad where the brothers ( Boman Irani) try to break the wall which they put up to separate their houses when they were fighting with each other. Some Ambuja other ads here : Ambuja 1, 2

These ads reinforce the core positioning of Ambuja as a strong cement. Strength is a very highly relevant attribute as far as customer is concerned. While branding a commodity, the critical question is whether these ads can influence the consumers to change their commodity mindset towards this category. The answer is definitely affirmative. I have noticed many home owners directly procuring these products for their home construction because they don't trust the contractors. In these scenarios, high brand recall will give the edge for the brands. Branding can change the perception of consumers towards commodity. The point is to create a compelling reason to do so

"Commodity Branding"
- by Arunashish Ghosh & Tanuj Vijay * Part - I Executive Summary Today what rules? A single word, "BRAND". Brand not only is a differentiator but also a value creator for a product. It creates a space in the minds of the customer which has been blocked & clogged with various desires, wants and means. Brand has been like a light-house in the ocean of in-differentiable products giving rays of assurance of quality, dependability and value. It also acts as a direction provider for the customers to choose the right path in obtaining value for money. Today's world is moving towards lesser and lesser differentiation in the products due to technological developments. This development has

reduced the competitive advantage of various companies who earlier had a concept of power brands. Day by day we are moving towards a world which is in-differentiable product rules with the only parameter of differentiation price. We have been living in a world dominated by brands like 3M, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Gillette, Whirlpool, etc. But in today's dynamic scenario, we are talking about not the power brands but the commodity brands, due to continuous reduction in differentiation. The concept of commodity branding posts new and exciting challenges with the modern business managers. The challenges being a collaborative strategy of cost leadership, differentiation and price sensitivity clubbed towards a single goal of making commodity a brand. In this paper, we the student managers had taken up the challenge to evaluate the concept of commodity branding and its various challenges like lack of customer awareness, lesser ability & willingness to pay and unarticulated & latent wants. The report has targeted the commodity at few places as paper, the reason being itself a commodity product in Indian context. The biggest challenge faced by the commodity brand is the clogged customer mind and his diffused decision making process. We have tried to develop strategies to hit the exact point to create a differentiated image of the commodity brand in the customer's mind. The various concepts evaluated in the process of trying to understand the process of commodity branding are complex wants generation, decision, making process, customer behavior at retail points and various approaches towards branding. We have tried to formulate implementable strategies to establish a commodity as a brand. Introduction Paper has been in use for time in memorial. Paper is one of the things which was not only a part of the human evolution but also recorded its evolutionary phases and his achievements till now. But still we find people are not aware of what importance the paper as a commodity product has. A just look around in our day to day life would be enough to prove its significance. Paper is there right from your wallet, to your desk papers, your academic achievements to your means to express your feelings and emotions to your near and loved once. Thus this paper would be looking at the various branding strategies and the present problem identification to give the paper as a commodity product a brand push to increase the sales. Corporate Strategy Analysis A fundamental responsibility of corporate management in a commodity product business is to continuously position the enterprise to exploit the changing market environment. Management must monitor and asses the dynamics of the market place. Following are the various analyses that we need to do to arrive at a better competitive strategy: Customer Analysis: To establish a strategic edge over its competition must define the broad market it intends to

serve, segment the market and identify the specific segments it intends to concentrate upon. The customer analyses are essential for the complete competitive strategy development and it includes Defining the market place, Market Segmentation. Competitive Analysis: The competitive analysis begins with an examination of the structure of the industry. This structural overview provides insight into the attractiveness of an industry and the competitive rivalry. Part - III

Internal Analysis: A critical assessment of a company's strengths and weakness can be a painful process for management. It forces managers to identify things as they are in terms of Performance analysis. Environmental Analysis: Environmental analysis is concerned with identifying trends, opportunities, threats and limitations that will affect and influence a firm's strategic position. Customer Wants and their Buying Process

Nature of wants To want a particular product is to have a disposition towards using, consuming, or processing that product. Wants are always identified in terms of a disposition to some action. Implications of the nature of wants The consumer of the paper is not always conscious of his wants until some stimulus, like advertising, facilitates recall or activates the want These wants are known as latent wants. Consumers have many a time unarticulated wants and this is more relevant when we are talking about the commodity product such as papers. People are not able to quantify what they want. Active wants weigh the feasibility of satisfying want. A consumer will always look for a feasible and affordable product. We can assume that the want for quality paper at a good price or in short the value for money can be adopted as an active want. An individual customer's want can be described as a "cluster concept", that is, a want can be thought of as a cluster of attributes not all of which must be possessed by an offering for the consumer to feel the want is being met. Next Part - IV Purchase Decision Making and the Individual Customer It is important in commodity market to understand and manage the customer for competitive advantage. The general purchase or the nature of the purchase decision can be better understood by this diagram.

Nature of the purchase decision


Consumer Behavior at the Retail Point In this we will try and understand the decision making process of the consumers of paper products at the retail point. A retailer's ability to develop a sound strategy depends on an understanding of consumer behavior. Consumer behavior can be defined as "the process where by individuals decides whether, what, where, how, and from whom to purchase goods and services". Part - V The decision making process: A consumer's decision process, regarding the buying of the paper or other branded commodity products, is comprised of two parts, the process itself and factors affecting the process. The decision process consists of six basic steps affected by consumer's demographics and life style. The decision process has been outlined in the below diagram.

Decision making process by the consumers


Problem awareness: At the problem awareness stage in the decision process, the consumer not only has been aroused by the social, commercial, and/or physical stimuli but also recognizes that the product or service under consideration may solve a problem of shortage or unfulfilled desire. A consumer moves from the stimulus to the problem awareness stage because of a motivation or desire for a product. It is difficult to determine why a consumer is motivated, especially because of unarticulated needs. Part - VI Routine decision making: Routine decision making takes place when the consumer buys because of habit and skips in the purchasing process. The consumer is willing to spend no time on shopping, and the same brands are usually repurchased regularly. These products or services have little risk for the consumer because of experience. Pricing strategy: A price strategy can be either demand, cost, or competitive in orientation. In demand-oriented pricing, the retailer sets prices based on consumer desires. The top of this range is called the demand ceiling; the maximum consumer will pay for a product. Cost oriented pricing sets a price floor, the minimum price acceptable to a retailer so that he can obtain a specified profit goal. With Competitive oriented pricing, the retailer sets prices in accordance with competitors. Competitive Oriented Pricing For the commodity market we would suggest to go for the competitive oriented pricing. This approach uses competitors' price as a guide point, rather than demand or cost considerations. A competitive retailer can price below the market, at the market or above the market. It is clear that a retailer should have his pricing strategies integrated with its retail mixes.

Competitive oriented pricing for commodity market is utilized in several ways: It's simple: there are no calculations of demand curves or concerns with price elasticity. The ongoing market price is assumed to be fair for both the consumer and the retailer. Pricing at the market level does not disrupt competition and therefore does not lead to retaliation. Part - VII The retailers gather the goods under the sorting process. The concept of retailing to the commodity product customers suggests the strategy to maximize the customer profitability as - Customer orientation, Coordinated effort and Profit orientation. Brand Identity The identity is a brand's unique fingerprint that makes it one of a kind. Brand identity lives entirely in the minds of the consumers. An identity is not what the marketers create but what the consumers perceive has been created. The two most crucial variables that dictate a brand's identity in commodity product market are: 1. How a brand is "positioned "within the minds of the consumers and prospects, and 2. What kind of living personality the brand projects into the market place. Let us try and discuss the above stated crucial variable like "Brand positioning", brand positioning is the strategic genesis of the marketing mix. The strategic personality is the set of external qualities of each brand, its public face, which is a direct extension of its positioning.

Brand Identity Diagram


Part - VIII Evaluating the brand reality for Commodity Product:

Brands are complex animals that live in their own ecosystems of economical, social, and competitive realities. The most important realities of all are the realities that share with their customers. Evaluating a brand's reality is the first step in creating and managing the optimum identity. The three realities which are important are: 1. Customer individual reality: This is basically the attitude carried by the end customers about the brand and its positioning in their minds. Individual reality exposes the hidden need and aspiration from the brands which are articulate and inarticulate in nature. 2. Internal reality: Internal reality is the attitude and the perceptions carried by the internal customers of the company. 3. External realities: This is what we generally call the positioning or the projected image of the brand to the market. The above discussion would lead us to the positioning of the brand in the minds of the internal and external customers for commodity products. As we know the positioning is not an act but it's a continuous process. Thus now let us analyze another important feature of brand identity and that is brand personality or as we also call it strategic brand personality in commodity market. Strategic brand personality of Commodity Product Developing a strategic personality should start with a review of all quantitative data and other research that might shed light on the needs, desires, and attitude of the audiences who will judge the brand personality. The Big Five Brand personalities of a commodity product can also be assessed more definitely through adjective checklists or ratings. Stanford's Jennifer Aaker conducted a research project looking at brand personalities that provides interesting glimpses into the personality of well known brands. She concluded that the brand personality is mainly influenced by five factors. Part - IX These factors are as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Sincerity (down to earth, honest, wholesome, and cheerful) Excitement (daring, spirited, imaginative, and up-to-date) Competence (reliable, intelligent, and successful) Sophistication (upper class and charming) Ruggedness (outdoorsy and tough)

There are seven suggested ways to achieve or to arrive at a strategic brand personality: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Weigh the alternatives with a single customer in mind Envision the personality's extending seamlessly from the positioning Focus personality on a core emotion Make likability a high priority Find room in the brand personality for confidence Invest in your investments Establish a" keeper of the personality" to work with the "keeper of the positioning"

Execution of Brand Identity Strategy The brand identity strategy in commodity market offers the following multi-step approach: 1. Evaluating the brand reality by analyzing the images and associations. 2. Individualizing the customer. 3. Prompting the power positioning in the mind of the prospects by brand communication and marketing activities. 4. Humanizing the Identity by adding personality to the brand which can communicate the core values of the product. Brand Prism In order to become, or to stay ahead, brands must be true to their identity. The identity concept is crucial for three reasons; brand needs to be durable, to send out coherent signs and to be realistic. The Brand Prism is a tool to accurately trace out the brand personality and identity of any commodity product. Thus it helps to build a better brand image and position the products at a better level. The six facets are: -

How to Brand and Market a Commodity By Dave Dolak Introduction Branding as a marketing strategy has seen a significant increase in interest in recent years due to a variety of factors. The increase in competition in just about every product category coupled with the ability for most consumers to quickly and easily seek out and compare all competing offerings via the Internet has put a great deal of pressure on brands to strengthen their positions and continually seek ways to deliver greater value to customers. Companies are now fully realizing the importance of creating strong brands that provide real customer benefits so they can avoid the vicious practice of continual price slashing and cost reduction due to the downward pressure that exists in commodity markets. They're discovering that it is desirable to compete on more than just price and volume. The Global Trend Toward Brands Companies on a global scale now realize that one of the most promising paths to long term longevity, a prosperous organization, and healthy profits is to create and manage strong brands for their products and services. We are seeing countries such as China, Korea, India and Finland, put forth powerful brands with global impact. In the words of Scott Bedbury, author of the book by the same name, it is indeed "A new brand world." Definition of Commodity

Commodity products are largely undifferentiated products that offer little or no perceived differences between competitive offerings. These are lowly differentiated products or services with high levels of substitutability and straightforward price discovery. Commodity products are fungible as competitive offerings are easily interchangeable. With little-to-no perceived difference, consumers shop for commodities primarily on a low price basis. Producers of commodities are driven to compete on low price and high volume. In general, the product life cycle is at the point where significant customer education and assistance is not required, customers have widely adopted the product, the market is mature enough to have attracted multiple competitors, and the market expands while prices decline as consumers demand price concessions. How to Brand Your Commodity How then do you go about branding a commodity product? The answer lies in first identifying or devising ways to create unique attributes and unique promises of value offered solely by you and your product offering. This distinction as to why your brand is unique in your category is also referred to as your unique selling proposition. Your unique selling proposition (USP) tells your target market the main and most important reason they should choose your brand over competing brands. Your USP is a claim of a unique set of benefits not found anywhere else. Once you have defined your most important unique selling proposition, then you begin to build your brand based on it. Let's take a closer look at steps to commodity branding Step #1: Conduct a comprehensive audit Launch an initiative to understand how your current clients perceive you and your product or service. Conduct a brand audit and conduct primary research to understand why your customers choose your product. Commodity marketers are often very surprised to learn from customers that price is not the most important factorlet alone the only factor. Study your competition and examine industry trends. How are your competitors positioned? What are their brands' or products' strengths and vulnerabilities? How does your position compare with competitive positions and how will those positions be affected by industry trends? Conduct an internal audit in additional to your external audit. Find out what all stakeholders think and feel about your brand. What do they value? What guides their daily behavior on the job? What brand promises do they feel they must deliver on? Are their goals in line with the goals of your organization and your stated mission? Lastly, conduct a communications audit to uncover the real messages you are sending to your internal and external stakeholders through your communications. Are your marketing

communications saying the right things in the right ways consistently over time and across all media? Are your internal communications to employees and shareholders doing the same? If you discover some inconsistencies and liabilities during this phase, fret not. Suspend judgment on what you find. Remember, the most important goal to accomplish at this point is to emerge with an accurate picture of the current state of affairs, be it pleasant or unpleasant. Only once you have accurately diagnosed any illness can you begin to prescribe the cure. Remain objective and seek to define things how they really are. Step #2: Find and define points of differentiation in your offering Once you have conducted your audit and surveyed the competitive landscape, then you can make a list of all the ways you are unique. Provide reasons other than rock-bottom prices as to why you are different and why people should buy your products or services. Even in industries where clients say, "all of the products from us and our competitors are the same," we can find branding opportunities. Sometimes obvious differences will be defined in your product offering by this point. Other times not. What else can serve as the basis for differentiation? Uncover hidden differentiators:Many things can serve as the basis of differentiation for and subsequent branding of your commodity. These attributes can apply to your product itself, your service, your company, the support you offer, or other intangible qualities that are unique to your total product offering. What makes your company unique and preferred in the mind of the prospect might be something in the product, something in the manufacturing process, or maybe even some strongly-held corporate belief or philosophy. What have some commodity sellers used as points of differentiation? A) New product features Look for ways to create new product features that certain customers will value. Innovate and redesign your product to include new and unique features. B) Plus 1 features "Plus 1 features" are small, incremental differentiating features in products. By adding incremental features into your product offering, your brand may offer value not found anywhere else. Be wary, however, once this practice is common in any competitive environment there will come constant pressure to add Plus 1 features while continuing to cut price. This can be a good strategy in high volume markets that are expected to last indefinitely, however.

This strategy is often found in high technology industries where manufacturers will add Plus 1 features such as additional software pre-installed on computers, new ring tones for mobile phones, digital cameras in phone models, or Internet service providers who offer spam blocking software or personal Website storage space as part of the purchase in addition to their core product offering. C) Bundles Bundling several options, features, or services into your package can significantly increase the value of your offering. You may be able to find ways to offer several features, services, or options and package them together to create a "bundled", value-added package. I've seen companies offer extended warranties, a supply of relatively inexpensive consumable items as "starter kits," and enhanced support packages in order to offer greater desired value to their customers and reduce the overall cost of ownership. D) Payment terms and guarantees Does everyone in your industry offer net 30 terms and 30-day guarantees? If so, then by offering more generous terms and longer guarantees you might be able to increase the value you offer without investing significant capital toward new product features and value-added "giveaways." Other tactics might be to do simple things that make customers happier, such as utility companies billing in equal, predictable monthly amounts to counter spikes during peak usage months, or being flexible with your payment terms to meet the standard business practices of your customers. E) Better quality Reduce your defect rates and the value you offer your customers will increase by improving reliability. F) Reduce uncertainty Offer money-back guarantees or other means to make it easier for customers to trust you. Other ways to reduce or reverse risk are to offer free trials, lengthen money-back guarantees, promise free repairs or replacements, offer "try before you buy" evaluations, 100-percentsatisfaction-no-questions-asked return policies, free financing, or delaying your invoicing. By segmenting your customers you may find different levels of risk-aversion amongst them. You may address such concerns by creating different levels of value to your customers such as a Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels of support packages available. This will help meet the needs of those who value additional assurance while proving a low cost option for those most driven by price alone. G) Better product delivery Find a way to get product to your customers better or faster. Often by increasing your distribution network you can offer faster response and reduced delivery time. Overnight shipping, staggered shipments to meet your customers' inventory needs, more secure shipping, or available backup delivery methods might be things you can explore. Sometimes just being the

person in your industry with the highest on-time delivery or fulfillment rate can make the difference. Airlines often use their "on-time departure" ranking as a differentiator. H) Packaging and design Often innovative or eye-catching packaging of a product can serve as a strong differentiator and help become a part of the brand's DNA. For example, it is nearly impossible to see the unique colors and artwork on a bottle of Tide laundry detergent and not know which brand it islong before you even see the name on the label. Innovative, unique, and appealing packaging can alone be the only point of differentiation you need in order to start building a powerful brand. I) Definition and communication Define and communicate your standards for secure ordering, fulfillment, delivery, installation and training, and technical support. You might just promise something that none of your competitors are willing to put in writing. That, in and of itself, might make you unique in your industry just be sure you deliver on your promises. J) Customer-driven added value Ask your customers what they wish you could offer or what they would like to see and often they will tell you exactly what you can do that cannot be found anywhere else. Customers have a way of knowing what unmet needs there are and they are usually happy when a company comes along and asks them how to serve them better. They are comparing you against your competition constantly and will often have insights and data that you don't. Have a clear understanding of what your customers want and need before tying your brand to what you perceive to be a customer value. Don't try to guess what your customers might respond to. Ask them! More often than not they'll tell you. Just make sure you do it in a way that is valid and statistically significant through research. You might just uncover a benefit that you never would have thought about on your own. K) Look outside the industry for examples Intel looked to examples of component (or ingredient) branding in other industries such as NutraSweet, Teflon and Dolby for its inspiration. Step #3: Choose the most compelling and unique point of differentiation to create a strong position for your brand Perhaps even more important than defining points of differentiation for your brand is to make sure these points offer customer value for which your targeted customers recognize the value offered. Differentiators are nice, but not worth anything to you if your customers do not recognize them or see any value associated with them. Why should somebody choose you over your competition other than price? The answer to this question might help you choose the best position upon which to build a strong brand.

There may be many possible positions for your brand but it is important to choose the one that is most defendable, least likely to be copied, most compelling, and most unique. Do not try to incorporate so many points of differentiation in your positioning that your customers become confused or overwhelmed. This might cause competition with yourself, cannibalize sales of your higher profit offering(s), and be very difficult to manage. Be different! Find a way to offer something unique that cannot be found anywhere else. Your most important, unique, and least easy-to-copy point of differentiation should be the unique selling proposition for your brand and serve as the basis for your branding efforts. Step #4: Eliminate reasons for your customers not to purchase from you This one sounds deceptively simple, but often companies unwittingly offer certain things or behave in certain ways that turn potential customers away. Be honest with yourself and seek to uncover and understand the reasons customers choose to not do business with you. In the computer and software industry we often see customer resistance to purchasing from vendors who "lock in" customers through proprietary systems and software. Other reasons people will not buy from you might be confusing billing and/or payment terms, poor post-sale support, unfriendly sales staff, or simply your location. Identify the reasons people avoid choosing you and eliminate these reasons if you can. Step #5: Create a powerful image for your brand Create and build a powerful image for your brand. Once you make your product or service distinctive, build your new image through a combination of words, imagery and other devices that appeal to human logic and emotion. Choose or create a memorable name for your brand. Create a visually effective logo. Write a tagline or slogan for the brand that concisely captures and communicates the essence of your unique selling proposition. A brand must communicate what it distinctively stands for using as few words and/or images as possible, so keep the message simple but memorable. Build the image so it is distinctive and easily recognizable to your target market. Image alone can help differentiate a commodity-whether based on real or perceived benefitsas long as the strategy is executed properly. Images can be built to inform consumers about hidden or small differences that they might otherwise be unaware of and thus turn these differences into something that, in their own minds, they simply cannot live without. A brand is an identifiable entity that makes specific promises of value and all aspects of your brand's identity must communicate those promises and convey the uniqueness of your brand so you create the desired image within your market. Branding is more than the development of a memorable name, an appealing logo, or a catchy slogan. All components of a brand must work together to create a differentiated personality for the brand that heightens awareness while building preference. Such strategic awareness will

allow the brand to enjoy greater loyalty from your market while commanding a price premium with better margins. Step #6: Market the brand Brand communication is an essential part of building a strong brand for your commodity. Commodity products require unusually clear communication of the value offered in both economic and emotional terms. Highly targeted and sharply focused communication must take place within the framework of an integrated marketing communications plan that includes one or more parts of the marketing communications mix: personal selling, promotion, direct marketing, advertising, and public relations. The brand value must be communicated clearly and consistently over time and across all chosen communications channels. Communicating your brand promise clearly, concisely, and consistently across all marketing communications channels will enable you to build strategic awareness. Strategic awareness occurs when not only do your customers recognize your brand, but they also understand the distinctive qualities that make it better than the competition. Strategic awareness occurs when you have differentiated your brand in the mind of your market. Only when strategic awareness is established can you hope to create brand preference within your market. Once brand preference is created, then it becomes a scientific exercise to quantify the price premium that can be commanded by your brand. Going Forward Continually look for ways to innovate, create customer value, and stay ahead of the competition. Eventually all forms of differentiation can be copied, so continually stay ahead of the curve to ensure that your brand remains differentiated from the commodity pack mentality. Do this through a comprehensive program of differentiation, image building, product development, consumer research, service, delivery and quality improvement. Routinely measure factors such as: brand loyalty, name awareness, perceived quality, relevance and preference. Focus on continually improving the four core customer values of convenience, availability, product or service functionality, and relationship to find ways to continually increase the value you offer to your customers. Summary Commodity selling is a challenge that presents unique opportunities for creative marketing. When marketing and selling commodities, you must resist the urge to cut prices. Instead, seek ways to protect your price by offering more value, finding unique ways to differentiate yourself, and creating powerful brands that foster price inelasticity. Copyright 2005, Dave Dolak. All rights reserved.

------------------------------Sugar industry, worth Rs 60,000 crore, is one of the largest agro-based industries in Indiaa country that happens to be the largest consumer and second largest producer of sugar. Indian sugar consumption is growing at a CAGR of 3.75%. Since India imports sugar in years of deficit and exports it in years of surplus, the country has to engage in production of raw and refined sugar rather than plantation of white sugar. Change in process technology to produce refined sugar throws up possibilities of producing various types of specialty sugar. In order to bring stability in the sugar industry, it is also essential to ensure proper utilisation of the co-products such as power, anhydrous and hydrous ethanol, among others. The government is seriously considering deregulation of the industry, which is expected to bring changes in the sugar business, both at farm level and at sugar sale or marketing end. Sugar being an essential commodity is highly regulated at present, be it raw material pricing or product sale. 20% of sugar is subsidised by the industry for public distribution system at almost 35% lower than the free sale price. Sugar emerging as a branded commodity Until now sugar as a commodity did not undergo branding as such. However, like other commodities such as wheat flour, vegetable oil, salt, tea and others, sugar too is likely to emerge as a branded product in future. In fact, a few sugar companies did turn to packing white sugar as a branded commodity but could not record much success, the reason being packed white sugar although gives an assurance of hygiene as compared to loose sugar, consumers are usually not satisfied with value for price of packed sugar. Specialty sugar In the absence of big branding, brand equity for white sugar led to the idea of specialty sugar products such as sugar cubes (white and brown), sachets, mineral sugar, breakfast sugar, icing sugar, candy sugar, Demerara sugar and others. These specialty sugar varieties offer value to consumers in terms of taste, form and packaging. Specialty sugar segment can be broadly classified into retail, food and beverage, pharma and candy bulk. From refined sugar, 21 types of specialty sugar can be made. A few varieties of flavoured sugar are being marketed by companies besides sugar manufacturers and are receiving positive response from consumers. Various types of specialty sugar in different sizes, colours, shapes and packing are available in modern departmental stores as well as retail chains. For instance, Demerara sugar is a global name for brown sugar or coffee sugar, which is seen to be preferred more by consumers over white sugar. Specialty sugar like icing sugar is preferred for making cakes and therefore has a specialised use. Mango, coconut, lemon and orange flavoured sugar, which are considered healthy, are apt substitutes to be used in drinks. Road ahead When release mechanism is removed and sugar manufacturers are free to sell sugar in the market as per consumer needs and demands, the market branding of sugar, particularly specialty sugar segment, is bound to grow and prosper. With expected 25 million tonnes of sugar production in 2010-11 and 24 million tonnes of consumption, both sugar production and consumption are bound to increase lineally. It is believed that sugar consumption will

touch 35 million tonnes in the next decade. Therefore, there is huge potential for specialty sugar depending on how well one presents and markets the packs.