Storyboard18 | Behind Mankind's plans to take Prega News to rural markets

The pharmaceutical company shares how it's gearing up to make a bigger regional play with a little help from influencers and an unplanned boost for the category

Updated: Nov 8, 2021 07:09:25 PM UTC
Mankind launched many campaigns for urban markets, but now it’s shifting focus to smaller regional and rural markets. Image: Shutterstock

For eleven years, the pharma brand has been saying ‘Prega News means good news’, targeting people in Indian cities. Now Mankind Pharma is taking pregnancy detection kits beyond metros to smaller cities and towns to tap regional markets.

The pregnancy detection kit brand has come a long way in the last decade in terms of creating an almost new category in the wellness space in India, and establishing steady sales and a robust distribution network. It has also roped in top celebrity moms to create buzz. Now the brand is looking to make inroads into non-urban markets.

Mankind is strengthening its reach in different states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, and other, focussing on places such as Mirzapur, Unnao and Kannauj.

While the product would be available in the retail stores across rural centers, the brand is also focusing on an e-commerce play so women can buy the kits easily and more privately.

300 seconds to rural

“In the initial days of our advertising, the core focus was to make people aware about the benefits of a pregnancy detection card. We have always emphasised how Prega News brings good news in only five minutes and how it is convenient to use and also easily accessible,” says Joy Chatterjee, general manager-sales and marketing, Mankind Pharma.

Mankind launched many campaigns for urban markets, but now it’s shifting focus to smaller regional and rural markets. Using the reach of regional TV channels, Mankind’s communication plan includes customised messaging with regional brand ambassadors headlining the campaign in various markets. The current penetration of the pregnancy detection card category is 16 percent, and Prega News plans to take it to 26 percent by FY26.

Social stigma, the biggest roadblock

“In rural markets, there is still a lack of awareness among people, which restricts the sale of pregnancy kits. The penetration is at 17 percent in India overall. Also, people face hesitancy while asking for such products. There is a stigma attached, which needs to be changed,” Chatterjee tells Storyboard18.

While the brand was on a recce of rural markets, they realised that if they had to make women aware of pregnancy detection cards, they needed to engage with local people.

“We realised we needed to associate with NGOs, Asha workers, and others, where we can talk about pregnancy. This helped us. We then thought of getting regional ambassadors on board so that the women could associate and relate more with them,” he says.

Prega News’association with Srabanti Chatterjee, Kajal Agarwal and Anushka Sharma, who have a pan-national appeal, have helped in reaching the remotest parts of markets.

Bring out the influencers

Prega News has created a host of campaigns like #SheIsCompleteInHerself, #SundayIsMomDay ,and many others, to spark social conservations rather than just focusing on the functional benefits of the product. The brand has roped in several celebrities over the years to create awareness.

Its advertising journey started in 2010 with its first brand ambassador, television actor Neha Marda followed by bigger names such as Shilpa Shetty, Kareena Kapoor and Anushka Sharma. But its approach to celebrity endorsements is changing.

“There are two parts to the Prega News advertising journey—the first one being functional which educates people about the tangible benefits of the product and the second phase was more about using celebrity moms to popularise the product,” Chatterjee said.

When Prega News first decided to get into over-the-counter (OTC) selling, its first TVC was launched with television actor Neha Marda known for her roles in soaps like Balika Vadhu. As soon as the product had established a place for itself in the market, the brand started roping in bigger celebrities from Bollywood to give the kits an instant boost.

Now with the product being significantly well-known, the brand has gotten back to using regional celebrities to add a “closer to home” feel.

Television and OTT actors like Priyamani, Manasi Parekh and Mahi Vij are now being roped in. The brand is also actively engaging mom influencers like Neha Dhupia and Soha Ali Khan, who are often seen talking about motherhood and various issues around being a mother on television and social media.

Neha Dhupia, for instance, was seen participating in a campaign called ‘I’m With Yellow’ where the brand advocated against associating colours with the gender of a baby. Now the brand is extending this ‘social good’ strategy to rural markets.

An unplanned boost for the category  

Health and hygiene are not the only categories of products that benefited during the early months of the pandemic and the lockdowns. According to the company, demand spiked over 20 percent during the first lockdown.

Prega News currently holds more than 80 percent market share in the segment. Chatterjee shares, “We sell around one crore pregnancy test cards every month. We will be launching a new premium packaging of the product. We are building awareness in rural areas and the focus will continue to be on social messaging.”

The factors that are fueling growth, according to the company, include a rise in disposable income along with changing lifestyles, growing literacy rates among women, and an increase in unplanned pregnancies.

And that’s just good news for Prega News.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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