HOW PARLE-G BECAME INDIA'S FAVOURITE BISCUIT
Parle Distributorship is the world’s largest selling biscuit and also India’s 8th most trusted brand. Whether it’s with a steaming cup of chai or with a mug of lukewarm Bournvita, Parle- G is almost every Indian’s go-to biscuit. Some like it in the form of a pulpy mixture at the bottom of their cup of milk or tea, while others like to dunk their Parle- G for just the right amount of time - not too long, lest the biscuit would sink to the bottom of the cup and your tea time wouldn’t have that happy of an ending. While most middle- class Indian mothers have attempted to bake their first cake using Parle- G, it also is used to quickly concoct a healthy and simple porridge for babies. It has created for itself a well deserved place in almost all Indian kitchens - you will find a packet or two nicely kept in an airtight plastic or steel container that is brought out during tea time. The same is the case at every tea stall - you’ll find them kept in a large plastic jar. It has been in the market for decades, and is enjoyed by people of all age groups, all income groups and all backgrounds alike. Shiv Visvanathan, a sociologist, says, “It is not a biscuit. It is a biskoot.” The word biskoot is an Indianised version of the word biscuit and has found itself a place in the masses’ lexicon. The parent company, - even with its eclectic variety of products - is known by people as Parle- G, and 80% to 90% of all of the parent brand’s recent sales growth collected during the lockdown comes from Parle-G.
I remember watching a video where a cafe in Los Angeles, owned by Indian brothers, has a ‘Parle- G ice-cream sandwich’ in the desserts section of its menu. This goes to say that Indians have essentially attached the biscuit to their Indian identity. Chai is a beloved beverage among Indians, and Parle- G has always been its most loyal companion. I believe Parle- G’s success also has something to do with how beautiful a combination chai, a beverage we Indians literally swear by, and Parle-G make. I have watched several ‘foreigners react to Indian snacks’ videos and in every one of those videos, you will find the foreigners tasting a Parle- G biscuit. Their overly amazed faces after they take their first bite leave the comments section flooded with several Indians commenting about their love for the biscuit. A netizen even called Parle- G an emotion, and I believe this could never be a contentious topic. The biscuit has indeed created a special place in our hearts, and to find an Indian who hasn’t consumed Parle- G at some point in their life is as good a challenge as getting a camel through the eye of a needle.
Parle- G has always been a biscuit of the masses. Its mass- market appeal began in the pre- Independence period, when the brains at Parle Agency planned to bring out a biscuit for the common Indian man. The popularity of this biscuit is such that even today, Parle is known to Indians as a brand for the masses. Even though Parle came out with its ‘Platina’ products later on, it still stood to symbolise a mass brand. It’s low price made Parle-G a poor man’s biscuit and 50% of its sales have been coming from rural India. Today, you will find Parle- G packets that cost Rs.1, Rs. 2, Rs.3 and Rs. 4 in tier 2 and 3 cities as well as in rural markets. At a time when biscuits were a luxury, Parle offered both quality and quantity at an affordable price, making it an instant hit among the masses. Even today, doctors would ask you to “eat a Parle- G biscuit” before you take your medicine. This is because the brand has managed to retain its quality, making it a trusted energy- giving food product.
strategy, complete with great quality and taste, and its advertisements only further showed that the company was staying true to its original philosophy. This was because their advertisements didn’t make the audience believe that they were being advertised to; with the right balance between entertainment, emotive narratives, and marketing, the brand managed to capture the audiences’ time and attention.
Parle- G has formulated several creative ad campaigns till date. In 2018, Parle Agro Agency launched an ad campaign titled ‘You are my Parle- G’. It was a campaign that the audience would interpret in their own individual ways. To some, the campaign aptly highlighted the fact that we don’t acknowledge everyone around us enough and end up taking them for granted, while for others it evoked emotions of nostalgia. For John Thangaraj, a planning director at an advertising agency, the ad campaign reinforced that the heritage biscuit is a part of our past. He believes that a brand should stay true to what it stands for. Parle does so by actively keeping the audience engaged with ad campaigns that elicit emotional responses from the masses even today, and is one of the factors that has caused the biscuit to remain popular, even while having several competitors. Other ad campaigns like ‘Parle-G Hindustan ki taakat’ placed the brand as the pride of the country and linked it to energy, strength, and intellect. This also attaches to it a certain Indian-ness, and Indian expatriates are quick to associate Parle- G with their motherland and the memories that surround their childhood and upbringing back home.
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