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ITC Lights An Aggressive Export Plan For Agarbathis
The Financial Express - 02 Jun 2003

Mona Mehta

ITC Ltd has charted out aggressive marketing plans to promote its entire agarbathi range in India and in the international market as well.

As for the Indian market, the company is planning to expand its existing number of retailers from 25,000 to two million across the country within a year. At present, the company’s 25,000 retailers cater to Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Bangalore, ITC Ltd’s ITC Agarbathi Business CEO VM Rajasekharan told FE.

On the company’s new plans, Mr. Rajasekharan said: "Our objective is to increase points of our product availability in the market by targeting small convenience shops, including tobacco retailers."

In order to create awareness about its agarbathi range, the company is for the first time planning to launch new mass media advertising campaigns which will include radio, television and print ad campaigns during the second quarter of 2003, Mr. Rajasekharan said.

"With the move, we hope to achieve a market share of around five per cent in the Rs 1,000-crore agarbathi market in India within a year," he added.

At present, ITC’s agarbathi brand competes with regional brands such as ‘Cycle’, ‘Padmini’ and ‘Vasu’. "To gain an edge over competitors, we have agarbathis catering to all the three segments. The ‘Spriha’ range, targeted at the top-end of the market, is priced at Rs 20 for 20 sticks in nagachampa and gugool fragrance. Spriha is made by the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. The company has also launched ‘Nivedan’, made by small-scale companies in Bangalore, targeted at the middle-end of the market priced at Rs 10 for 20 sticks in sandalwood fragrance. The lower-end ‘Ashageet’ agarbathi in jasmine and rose fragrance is priced at Rs 4 for 10 sticks and Rs 7.50 for 20 sticks," he added.

Once the company meets up the target of expanding its distribution network, it will foray into the international market within a year, he said. As part of its exports thrust, the company is also looking at the possibilities of foraying into countries such as the US, Europe and South-East Asia to export its entire range of agarbathis there. "If required, we may also set up a distribution hub there," he added.