Chumbak co-founder Shubhra Chadda: 'Indian designs have not been marketed adequately to appeal to a wider audience'

Chumbak co-founder Shubhra Chadda: 'Indian designs have not been marketed adequately to appeal to a wider audience'

There has been an increase in demand for local products in India as, according to a recent report by Brandz, India experienced a resurgence in national pride, while also embracing globalization.

This has manifested in a desire for products and brands that best reflect Indian heritage, sensibilities and tastes, which benefited local brands and put pressure on multinationals to follow suit it.

Indian brands are realizing the power of localized content and art and are fostering it to build their own customer base. Founded in 2010, Chumbak is one such brand that has integrated Indian art to give a twist to souvenirs. The Drum spoke with Shubhra Chadda, co-founder of Chumbak to find out what instigated her to start the brand.

She says: " Chumbak was founded with my husband Vivek Prabhakar. The focus then was to bring to the untapped souvenir market a set of products and designs that tickle the humor of the Indian consumer. We love traveling and every time we would return from a new place, I would purchase souvenirs like magnets."

"One day while staring at my fridge filled with magnets from various places, I realised that apart from the traditional replicas and other Indian souvenirs, no one was making souvenirs like magnets, of designs that I could proudly display on my fridge and gift to others. I had an ‘aha’ moment and decided to pursue the idea to create designs that represented the quirks and eccentricities of India on fun and easy to purchase products."

The Drum earlier spoke with Sanket Avlani, curator and founder at Taxi Fabric who said that the large corporations, brands and the government need to increasingly engage and get involved with the arts. He said brands need to invest in them and open up the possibilities of these projects impacting the people of India. Chadda echoes his sentiments, as she says: "Indian designs and art have not been given enough importance nor marketed adequately to appeal to a wider audience and along the years, globalization trumped local aesthetics."

Chumbak already has stores across India and is available online. Chumbak's marketing strategy focuses on in-store experience, digital, social, strategic partnerships and community focused events. According to Chadda, Chumbak plans on opening another 10-15 stores by the end of this financial year.

Chumbak has expanded its inventory over the years. As to why, Chadda explains: "Our vision, to grow from a souvenir brand to a lifestyle brand, was possible only by expanding the products categories. There was immense potential for us to tap and widening the access to our designs and aesthetics was the only way ahead to create and meet consumer demand."

Mary Meeker 2017’s report showcases India as an emerging Internet superpower, even though only 27% of the country’s population has access to internet right now. In India, TV will account for more than half of daily media consumption the report said.

Whether Chumbak plans to go mainstream with TV ads , Chadda says: "No plan to go mainstream with advertising just yet, but we are looking to engage our customers even more with events, social and digital. We have been retailing Chumbak products on Amazon, Flipkart for over three years."

Brands are living in a digital age where social media rules the day but navigating this isn't without its challenges, particularly when marketing under the influencers. Influencers are becoming the new salespeople for many savvy brands in India.

As to how Chumbak is integrating them, Chadda says, "Chumbak became popular because of organic word of mouth marketing and social media influencers do just that for the brand in today’s digital scenario. They are interesting, trendsetters that customers sought recommendations from and we are very happy to work with influencers that resonate our brand aesthetic and values."

As Indians are increasingly empowered by digital access, the interest in and power of local Indian brands will increase, making Chumbak one of the leaders in a new era of aesthetics for Indian brands.

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