Competition is hotting up in the branded salt market with Tata Salt, the blockbuster brand of Tata Chemicals Ltd, emerging as the market leader. Tata Salt has a market share of around 37 per cent while its closest competitor, Annapurna from Hindustan Lever Ltd, is breathing down its neck with a market share of around 35 per cent, a recent ORG-MARG retail audit revealed.
The ORG-MARG retail audit showed that the 15 lakh tonnes domestic branded salt market would witness stiff competition among popular brands such as Dandi, Surya and Nature Fresh as they try to grab a comfortable share, each with intensive marketing strategies and advertisement campaigns. The ORG-MARG figures revealed that during the financial year ended March 31, 2002, on an average basis, Tata Salt grabbed a market share of 36.58 per cent, while Annapurna’s market share touched 34.46 per cent.
DCW Home Products Ltd’s Captain Cook (now with HLL) had 7.78 per cent market share and other brands such as Dandi, Nirma Shudh and Natural Fresh had market shares of 0.97 per cent, 1.37 per cent and 0.14 per cent respectively. In March 2002, the market share of Tata Salt touched 39 per cent, while Annapurna’s market share during the same period was around 30 per cent. According to analysts tracking the industry, the recent entrant to the branded salt category is Dandi salt.
The brand is being advertised heavily on the regional channels and it has managed to gain around 0.97 share of the branded salt market. However, they said that the unbranded sector continues to control a sizeable share of the overall salt market in the country. Meanwhile, sources said that Tata Chemicals has already initiated new efforts to involve and engage its business associates in marketing and strategy processes to enhance the brand muscle of Tata Salt.
The company has awarded Bates India with the creative duties for their flagship brand. The account, which was previously with Publicis India, is valued at Rs 8 crores in billing terms. Tata Chemicals had recently conducted customised training programmes for its channel partners — distributors and their field force — with the aim of making Tata Salt’s position even stronger in the Indian market.
These programmes are part of a long-term process by the company to build and improve partnerships with its marketing and distribution partners, better teamwork between manufacturer, marketeer and channel partners and leverage resources in a focused manner. Mr Nikhil Thacker, senior analyst with Sushil Finance Consultants Ltd, said: "Currently, salt manufacturers are pushing their brands through their strong marketing networks.
While Captain Cook is positioned on the basis of its unique selling point, the free flowing nature of its salt, Tata Salt is positioned on the purity platform and Annapurna is positioned on the health benefit impact of the iodine content in the salt." Tata Salt, the first branded salt in the country, was launched in 1983, DCW launched its brand in 1991 and Hindustan Lever’s Annapurna was launched in 1996.
Other FMCG companies such as Dabur India and Marico Industries have also got a presence in the salt market, though insignificant, with their brands — Nutra salt, a low sodium salt and Saffola Salt, which is a mineral enriched low sodium salt respectively. Both the above brands are positioned on the health platform and are priced at a significant premium to the normal salt brands.