Manish Bandlish, managing director, Mother Dairy reveals that the biggest challenge for a heritage brand like Mother Dairy is remaining relevant to the consumer, and staying true to the brand objective set out at inception. “With every new generation, we have to learn to speak their language, and remain relevant to them. Brands mean different things to different generations,” he says.
He adds, “The way I remember Mother Dairy when I was young is very different from how my kids see it. It is important to know the younger generation and talk in their language to remain relevant to them.”
Bandlish informs that within its milk portfolio, the R&D team worked on the toned milk offering in order to give options to consumers who are adopting new health trends. “The core brand positioning is quality, trust, and innovation. Our product portfolio has grown such that today we have offerings from breakfast to dinner, and consumers look to us for quality dairy products that are central to their daily diet,” he adds.
Catering to younger consumers doesn’t mean that Mother Dairy is going to embrace new age trends like veganism in a hurry.
“We will never get into plant based milk or other dairy alternatives. It defeats the purpose of setting up Mother Dairy – which is to facilitate good business for dairy farmers,” Bandlish says firmly. He adds that while lifestyle choices like veganism are on the rise, the dairy market in India is still evolving, and as such, milk and dairy products will continue to find place in the Indian consumers’ grocery basket.
At almost 50 years old, Mother Dairy, is among the older homegrown brands in India. While reaching the 50 year mark is easily one of the most coveted milestones for a brand, it also comes with its challenges. Born as a result of the White Revolution started by Dr V Kurien in the form of Amul, Mother Dairy started its journey with focus on the Delhi NCR region and has now expanded to more than 100 cities.
For Mother Dairy this has meant constant innovation in their product offerings, and in their communication. Set up in 1974 as a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), the brand follows the same model as Amul. It acts as a bridge between the milk producers and the consumers, ensuring efficient marketing and sale of milk produce, and providing milk farmers with the wherewithal to conduct business efficiently.
While it was set up as part of the milk co-operative movement, Mother Dairy has over the years expanded its product portfolio in order to keep up with the times, and the evolving tastes of the consumers. Its product portfolio in the dairy segment includes ice cream, paneer, cheese, and lassi/buttermilk apart from milk.
The original brand positioning is reflected in the logo and packaging of the brand, he explains. The shape of the logo signifies the world of Mother Dairy with an arch at the top connoting the caregiving values of the brand to all its stakeholders starting from the farmers to the consumers. The combination of blue and white colour in the logo unit denotes the dairy connect and also stands for purity, wholesomeness, natural and trust.
Bandlish explains that the name Mother Dairy was also chosen to signify that this (brand) is the centre point of the operation for the milk farmers to distribute and market their product.
Going forward, Mother Dairy aims to strengthen its distribution and marketing in the markets it has already established presence. “We are consistently working towards consolidating our position in existing markets in coming years and (will) gradually venture into newer markets to expand our distribution and consumer base,” Bandlish explains.
He elaborates that the dairy industry in India has many more peaks to scale. Given the width and length of the country, and the under-penetration of the organised sector (in dairy), he believes that in the coming years, organised players will be able to leverage their infrastructure and grow the market.
This is one of the reasons he also believes that Amul and Mother Dairy need not compete for consumers’ attention. “I think the market is big enough, and has enough headroom for growth for both Amul and Mother Dairy to grow,” he adds. Amul of course has a head start of nearly 25 years on Mother Dairy, but Bandlish is confident that both can co-exist.