I love a good story, be it through advertisements, movies or an entrepreneur who dared to think differently. I believe in bringing in fresh perspectives -- to a corporate profile or a Facebook post -- like new wine in an even newer bottle. I graduated with a journalism degree from the Xavier Institute of Communications. My weekend rituals involve watching Bollywood movies and reading up on style trends.
It was a simple, one-line brief: Agar product chatpata ho, toh aapki aankh bandh honi chahiye, varna maza nahi aaya (if the product is tangy, then your eyes should close automatically to relish it, or else it is no fun). That was the lone instruction from Rajiv Kumar, vice chairman of the DS Group, for his R&D team working on the Pass Pass Pulse candy. So far, it has proved to be the only one that matters: Within a year of its launch, Pulse contributed over Rs 150 crore to the DS Group’s kitty. A mere drop when seen against the approximately Rs 7,700 crore that the group clocked in FY16, but significant considering the time frame, and the fact that it came from a hard-boiled candy priced at Re 1.
The DS Group is no stranger to the confectionery segment. The 88-year-old, tobacco-to-hospitality conglomerate has other offerings in the market (Pass Pass and Chingles), but Pulse candy, its latest, seems to have added spice to a stagnant market. The raw mango-flavoured hard-boiled candy (HBC) with a piquant powder filling in the centre hit the sweet spot with adults and children alike, getting just the reaction Kumar wanted. Hashtags like ‘#PulseofIndia’ to memes like ‘my face when I am eating a Pulse Candy’ have trended organically on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram since its launch in April 2015. Not to mention the fact that over 150 crore units have been sold, despite competition from an established player like Parle, whose Mango Bite and Kaccha Mango Bite are priced lower at 50 paise.
“We knew the product would be successful, but the consumer response has surprised us,” Kumar, 53, tells Forbes India. At the heart of this success, he believes, is the group’s focus on maintaining quality with every innovation. “We never focus on bottom lines; if the product is fine, then bottom lines have to come. Most of our R&D projects involve a lot of time, and that is our biggest investment. We don’t launch till we are completely confident about the product,” he says. The company spent almost two years developing Pulse candy, while Pass Pass took over five years before it was launched in 1999.