Making Sweet World a popular brand amongst children was not effortless for me. The challenge came in the form of making candies popular in India.
The year when Sweet World came into existence, there weren’t many options available to children to choose from. There were hardly three or four candy brands available in the market.
Therefore, the first challenge for me was not merely popularizing my brand of candies but making candies a preferred choice of children. I had to devise and strategise ways to do so. And I started by educating customers and internal staff.
To people in India, sweet was synonymous to mithai (sweet meat). Candy wasn’t a very familiar term for many. They though candies were like mithais. People asked me, “If I would make the candies in morning and sell them in the evening-- Like the mithaiwalas do in our country.”
But gradually I overcame that challenge successfully.
While, I overcame the initial hurdle, some technical challenges lay ahead of me.
Being in the food industry, maintainence of process and quality of product emerged as a challenge for me. But I didn’t really see it as a challenge, to me process and quality mean hygiene, which is extremely important for any operator in this industry.
And unless your customers are satisfied with the quality you provide, they wouldn’t come back to you.
For me it was important to win the confidence of mothers as my product was targeted to young children. And its their mothers who needed to be convinced about the hygiene of our product as they are always concerned about what their children consume. For that matter, being a mother myself I wouldn’t allow my children to buy anything that lacks hygiene.
In fact, the reason behind the popularity of foreign candies and chocolates is the tremendous level of quality that they maintain. I wanted to the bring the concept and the candies from abroad to India. When I wanted to start it, the import rate was very high. It was only in 2002, when the import rate went down, I imported the product in the Indian market. Sweet World candies are manufactured in the USA and dispatched in our Mumbai store. From the Mumbai store they get distributed to our different outlets.
|Name: Vrinda Rajgarhia
Age: 42 years
Education: MBA - William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration, University of Rochester
Experience in business: 8 years with Sweet World (since 2002)
Leadership Style: Leading by example
Big Learning: Never compromise on the quality of the service and products
|Name: Sweet World
Set up in: 2002
No of employees: Over 100
Website: http://www. sweetworldonline.com
While it took to some time to combat these challenges, the most crucial of all was preserving the product. Candies are perishable in nature; they melt if not stored in suitable condition. They can’t be refrigerated either as by doing so the product will lose their normal texture and taste.
The products need to be kept in an air conditioned room only ranging between 18-20 degree celcius. This is why we chose to retail our product through malls and not high street stores.
For maintaining the quality we have our own chain warehouses. We also have air conditioned transportation that run across the country. In malls, as well, we take care of the power back up.
To maintain our process and quality, we haven’t introduced self-service in any of our outlets. But sometimes, it does get awkward when we have to stop our customers from picking the candies, while they want to touch, feel or smell it. We have to take care of hygiene, we cannot allow our customers to touch edibles as that could transmit germs. And for the same reason, our sales staff is strictly instructed to use hand-gloves while picking the candies from the candy cabinet.
Sweet world has carved a niche for itself in the market. Our candies are purchased by several five star hotels. Likes of Leela and J W Marriot form part of our clientele. And it’s not difficult to tell that customers are very finicky about the quality of product which makes it maintaining quality all the more important for us.
Our customer base is growing with every passing day. But we don’t aggressively invest in ATL (above the line) and BTL (below the line) advertising activities. For us the product does it all. The quality of the product speaks for it self. In fact, we are yielding good with just word of mouth.
We have come a long way from where we started. Our first store was launched in Mumbai which was a stand alone store. Back then stand-alone store was the preferred mode. Shop-n-shop retail format was not even known. After our first store, I was quite doubtful whether we would be able to take Sweet World any further. But eventually we did it!
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