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Tupperware goes more premium

By getting working women in its salesforce and a premium product range, it readies to spread wider

Sohini Sen & Sayantani Kar  |  Mumbai 

Almost every month, one or the other store of Hypercity gets shoppers with the same query. They ask if it stocks Tupperware or not. The fact is, it does not, and neither do any of the regular retail channels. Yet, Indian consumers are well aware of the brand.

Entering India in 1996, the Florida-based company is one of the few who have made direct selling, credible. Even as the debate rages on how to make direct selling in India

less fly-by-night and less reminiscent of Ponzi-schemes, Tupperware is lining up the second edition of its TV communication campaign. This would be its second TVC in the span of a year. For a brand which does not advertise on TV at all, in any of its markets, save for two, it is stepping on the gas for one of its fastest-growing - India.

Relying mostly on word-of-mouth generated at the many 'Tupperware parties' thrown by its distributors around the world, to attract patrons and recruits, Tupperware has put its agents on TV talk shows in Indonesia to tell their entrepreneurship stories. However, the company runs a TVC only in India.

According to Tupperware's global results for the third quarter of 2012-13, India grew by as much as 50 per cent, driven by the middle class' demand for its kitchen storage products. In India, by dint of its all-women salesforce, it has encouraged entrepreneurial skills and financial security of Indian homemakers in 65 Indian cities.

Anshu Bagai, director of at Tupperware, says, "We are well-known as a premium kitchenware brand. But there is this corporate social responsibility built into our brand model itself. We figured that it is time that we highlight this." The brand will portray various women from its salesforce as its protagonists in ads on TV, in print, and social media.

Running the second edition of the campaign will also help it shore up public opinion about its business model, that sees its salesforce earning commission on Tupperware products that it sells at the house parties.

Till recently, Tupperware's 180,000 foot-soldiers were mostly homemakers. But the mainstream campaigns have helped bring in another set of audience into its folds. "Earlier, the notion was that Tupperware was meant only for housewives, but now there are professionals who want to take it up on weekends or at office parties. So, there has been a discernible perception change as well."


Professionals in its salesforce will also help the brand market its new product extensions. It launched a super-premium range of imported kitchenware, called Ultimo -its foray into steel cookware. It also launched a water filter that does not use electricity but lets gravity do its work. While, Ultimo is priced between Rs 1,000-9,000, the water filter (TupperSure) is for Rs 3,200. These are products which need a wider network than that of homemakers' to grow. The Ultimo range targets the upwardly-mobile buyer, while the water filter is up against stiff competition from well-entrenched players.

The premium offerings come after it launched its range of reverse-engineered, low-cost water bottles in 2009 for the price-sensitive market. It remains the brand's entry-level product, with its relatively lower ticket price (Rs 200 now) due to localised manufacturing. "Five years ago the general reaction was that Tupperware was an expensive brand. For many households, the bottle became the first Tupperware product. The premium market opened up only about two years back," recalls Bagai.

A Nielsen brand awareness study in 2012 shows that Tupperware has gained significantly over the findings of a similar report in 2008, attributing it to its consistent in the last three years. It, however, pointed out the need for better awareness in non-metro towns. Rick Goings, chairman and chief executive of Tupperware Brands Corporation says, "We have just made a scratch in the Indian market. In the next two-three years, Tupperware would focus on 70 under-penetrated Tier-II and Tier-III towns. In India, the south is the fastest-growing market for the company, accounting for about half of its business."

Arvind Singhal, chairman and managing director of Technopak Advisors, feels, "Direct will help its reach because modern retail is not deeply penetrated in India." Ashutosh Chakradeo, chief merchandising officer at HyperCITY Retail, which stocks private labels such as Hypercity Everyday and Tupperware's rivals such as Milton and Lock n Lock, says, "Tupperware has been able to strike the blend of unique features with good quality."

Tupperware has been using print extensively for the last few years to advertise its distributors' contacts in a given city for shoppers. Moreover, with increasing competition from other brands stocked in regular retail channels, it has been setting up temporary kiosks next to hypermarkets such as Star Bazaar. However, Chakradeo warns that temporary kiosks actually make for an inconsistent customer experience. For his retail chain, homeware comprises more than 13 per cent of total sales while kitchen plasticware is one of the fastest-growing in the segment.

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First Published: Thu, June 20 2013. 21:30 IST
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