How these 4 traditional brands stay relevant in the digital world

“Staying relevant is key. When you tell your story, you better have a modern story to tell.

Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Salesforce Marc BenioffThe words couldn’t have been truer. One of the main ways to survive in a fast-paced and ever-changing business environment is, indeed, to stay relevant.

However, that is easier said than done. Staying grounded in a highly competitive and ever-changing market requires constant effort and innovation on the part of the founder. From integrating technology and assessing consumer demand patterns to monitoring competitors, entrepreneurs must constantly up their game.

Moreover, companies have also realized that technology has to play a central role for their survival.

SMBStory lists four traditional companies that are deploying numerous strategies to stay relevant amid the digital boom.

Charak Pharma

Charak Pharma was born the year India gained independence, founded by brothers DN Shroff and Dr SN Shroff.

Over the years, the pharmaceutical company has carved out a place for itself in the Indian and global markets. It offers approx. 106 SKUs (storage units) in categories such as dental, gynecology, ortho, etc., and is present in approximately 200,000 points of sale in India.

Charak also exports to over 30 countries including USA, UK, Greece, Portugal, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc.

Even though pharmaceuticals as an industry has gained tremendously during COVID-19, it has also forced the business to do some soul-searching.

Dr. Ram Shroffdirector of Charak Pharma, said:

“COVID-19 has been a huge wake-up call that has come at a huge cost. It also made us all rethink what we were doing. Sometimes you overlook certain things, but when the going gets tough you start looking at everything.

COVID-19 has driven the business to go digital, and Dr. Ram asserts as he says, even though they’ve been in the offline space for decades now, the business model has now changed.

In 2018, Charak Pharma launched its direct-to-consumer (D2C) platform Vedistry, which offers personal care products for skin, hair and general health. While the D2C website was launched some time ago, Dr. Ram says the company only realized the importance of developing it in the past two years.

Calling India a “massive opportunity” with strong “business prospects”, Dr Ram appears poised to tap into the online market. With Vedistry, the company plans to introduce products in several categories such as Women’s Health (specifically PCOS), Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Endometriosis, and more.

Read the full story here.

JK Masale

JK Masale was launched in 1957 by a spice merchant Dhannalal Jain. The brand offers over 65 products available in 155 SKUs and also exports to over nine countries including Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the UK.

Over the years, JK Masale has managed to stay relevant in a market dominated by Mahashian Di Hatti (MDH), Suhana Spices and Everest Spices.

Vijay Jain, the company’s chief marketing officer, shares that one of the most important aspects of running a business is to “grow with the times.” For example, the company started importing Super Sortex machines from Europe in 2006. These machines help improve seed quality. Vijay says they used them to fork the quality of poppy seeds, or ‘posto’ as they are commonly called in West Bengal.

“It detects seed quality within a minute,” he jokes.

Other aspects that have helped the business include diversification and customization. The company innovated in its packaging by introducing the spices in glass and plastic jars, sachets, etc.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the team launched the brand online through its own website and on e-commerce platforms including Amazon. It also launched new products such as cassia powder, black salt and a few others last year. These efforts paid off as the company, whose sales fell 20% in FY21, announced a 30% increase in sales this year, in April and mid-May 2021.

Read the full story here.

Jahagirdar Foods

Jahagirdar Foodshas witnessed the evolution of the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) industry in India. Despite its arduous journey, the brand continues to innovate to stay relevant in this competitive market.

Until 2019, Jahagirdar Foods was an offline heavy brand. However, thanks to COVID-19, the company now has a pan-India presence, as well as a D2C website. The brand is also available on Amazon.

In a conversation with SMBStory, Saloni Mayur Chindhade, director of Jahagirdar Foods, says the pandemic has played a major role in changing many things within the company and the industry. The Nashik-based FMCG, which was established by his father, Milind Jahagirdar, in 1996, manufactures a host of products including cookies, cookies, chocolates, premixes, namkeens, and more.

The company did not suffer a severe blow during the first wave since its outlets sold essential items such as bread. Seeing this, the brand converted its website into an e-commerce platform in October 2020, which saved the brand from the second killer wave last year when stores were shut down completely.

Today, the traditional FMCG business is deploying innovative strategies to stay relevant. For example, Saloni says the brand is improving its online presence to ensure that at least 30% of sales come from this channel by the end of this fiscal year.

The company tries to align itself with the dominant market trends. Saloni says Jahagirdar Foods will soon launch a line of fiber-rich products after noticing an increase in customers preferring health-conscious foods over the past two years.

Read the full story here.


Sunbaby is a well-known Indian toy brand which was launched in 2001 by Sonali and Sunil Aggarwal. It offers more 2,000 references in 15 categories baby care products and children’s games, including strollers, baby chairs, car seats, baby bedding, baby carriers, etc.

In an interaction with SMBStory, Sonali says India’s toy-making industry has evolved significantly, especially as the pandemic has ushered in a new wave of toy-making in India.

The company has also been able to evolve with the times. Although its website was functional from day one, Sunbaby primarily sold offline through its distribution channel until 2010. However, the dominance of online marketplaces amid shutdowns has been a game-changer for the toy industry. Sonali says listing on platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, FirstCry and more has been “a welcome change”.

“The online channel has allowed us to sell our products directly to customers without any intermediaries. It has also given us wider acceptance of our products in the market,” she notes.

Even during COVID-19, when the offline market was shut down, Sunbaby’s online business came to the rescue. The company saw an almost 50% increase in demand from online channels. Today, 30% of its sales come from offline demand, while 70% comes from online demand.

In the future, the brand is eyeing the international market. Sunbaby hopes to strengthen its presence in existing markets, including Dubai and Saudi Arabia, as well as explore new territories such as Egypt.

Read the full story here.

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