Well, I am not talking about cigarettes here. It has been merely 6 months since my last lecture in engineering. Though I had single book for all subjects in last semester, I am quite missing the presence of a notebook around me. It is very difficult to remember what I haven’t written on the last page of my notebook. There are uncountable memories from that bunch of sheets clubbed together and named as “Notebook”. The cause of reminiscing is the stationary store. I went there to buy a fevistick which in turn helped me to connect something which was broken. The exchange of Rs. 5 and Fevistick gave me thought to write on. I stayed at that stationary store for say 5 minutes but what it took me through was a surprise.
I observed the notebook racks full of ‘Classmates’. Though I used classmates in my last year of engineering, the presence of Navaneet notebook in the corner of the rack caused me to feel sad about my choice back in time when I choose Classmate over Navneet. At that particular moment I didn’t even think of the market share this classmates notebooks is going to acquire. A 100+ years company entering into notebook category was astonishing for me as well as the rest of the world. When they actually launched their first notebook back in 2003, world was thinking about why a cigarette company doing this? While they are famous for wrapping the paper and insert some tobacco inside to let the smokers have their addiction between two fingers, why they actually want to unfold the paper and let the students write on that for their future. From the business point of view there is no proper answer for that or we can say it is not even matter what the question is when the business gives you sufficient profit.
Navneet started its penetration in India from 1959. I personally have used all the Navneet product from a small size notebook to Guides for each subject in school. I even used their “FffuUnnN” products that were launched in same period when ITC entered in market with “classmates”. I feel bad when a 55+ years brand is lagging behind the 10+ years brand category. Though it is not mistake of Navneet also. It happened only because of the way of launching ITC used. I remember that there was no specific price difference in classmates and Navneet products. If it is there it is not surely more than Rs.3 per product (Specifically about notebooks).
After doing some research I come to know that Navneet and Classmates causes the disruption in case of Hindustan Pelcils Private Limited. HPPL started its business as per name in the category of pencils and similar products way back in 1958 ( a year before Navneet and 55 years before ITC’s classmates). HLLP started with Natraj pencils and eraser in the low cost range. After enjoying success in low cost range they launched the middle price range product under brand name of “APSARA”. Personally, I have used Natraj till my 5th standard and after that I switched to Apsara and in engineering re-switched to Navneet/Classmate. I remember the TVC (Television Commercial) of Apsara pencils saying “Extra dark, Extra Mark” wherein a school girl gets 105 out of 100 because she writes her paper with Apsara pencils. At that particular time that was enough for me to switch to Apsara pencils rather than thinking of any other brand. From Natraj to Apsara to Navneet to Classmate, the transformation was significant. But when in the end I see at this transformation – “ITC Rules”. It made an impact on me and also increased the value of ITC as brand.