Should the story of the Indian pickle be rewritten?
Pickles in India have a rich legacy, with ancient texts of 17th century and before, describing no less than fifty types of pickles. ‘Maa ke haath ka achaar’ is a term we keep using to refer to pickles, some being passed on from one generation to the other within the family like a heirloom. While pickle brands, of late, are expanding into ready to eat categories and identifying a more reciprocal market abroad with better engagements, have you thought of the possibility of selling the pickle like a premium product, say wine?
With the age old tradition of our grandmothers preserving the pickle dying, is there a cause to worry about the future of handmade pickle per se? Branding does just that. It gives a sense of an aura to a commodity or a thing much beyond the period it has ceased to exist. Branding the pickle right might be the most significant question in terms of upholding the Indian heritage.
Building a premium brand identity and packaging, while having a strong and impactful narrative running through it, a cooperative model should also be leveraged at the back end to supply authentic products. In cosmetics, Kama and Forest Essentials have done this very thing with the concept of luxury Ayurveda. Brands such as Fabindia and Raw Mango have also tried to fit in this category. Raymond, of late, has tried to position themselves as the brand which wants to make khaadi the fashion statement of the nation.
Consumer product companies have a tendency of adopting a mass manufactured approach for marketing its products. But products like wine and cheese are produced in limited supplies and so is the pickle. It’s a craft that’s mastered over generations by grandmothers and their mothers and grandmothers, like cheese and wine have to be made and allowed to go old, to develop flavours that are intense and desirable. The scarcity of these edibles accounts for their value and that should come across in their brand positioning.
If it is a coveted product, why not display the narrative of it in its communication? The Europeans have mastered this art, selling fermented grape juice like it is the nectar of the Gods. How people associate the concept of the chateau with wine making, it being considered very traditional and at the same time exotic and handcrafted, the achaar should perhaps also be associated with the figure of the homemaker and be made known globally. Instead of selling pickles in plastic jars, wooden and glass bottles can be used, the story of its making being sold in little scrolls tied with a thread around the bottle neck. The scrolls can have the name of the women who have made it with care. Adding the age of the pickled product also makes greater sense, adding to it more value.
References- Sahil Kini’s “Selling Pickles Like Wine: Premium Consumer Products From Bharat ”Purvita Chatterjee’s “In a Pickle, brands look beyond at spice market”