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WHY IS PHOOL MORE THAN A ‘SUSTAINABILITY’ BRAND?

It appeals to a wider audience than the members of the ‘sustainability’ movement and makes them care about its products.

The environmentally/socially conscious are attracted to a brand that puts recycling at the heart of its offering. Not just recycling, but recycling of temple flowers into incense products and uplifting its women workers in the process.

The design codes of the pack, with its folk-art inspired style and lack of marketing clutter, appeal to the discerning user, always on the lookout for sophisticated products.

The visual codes of the brand are striking and very different from conventional agarbatti brands like ITC’s Mangaldeep. The dusky skinned silhouette of the woman who looks tribal, is also the silhouette of the women whose hard work recycles the flowers. And so, the brand valorises the creators on its pack. The visual literally suggests that work is worship. The blue waters remind the user that he/she is contributing to cleaning up of the holy Ganga.

The brown colour of the cartons indicates recycled paper and sustainability. The bright colours that are coded to the fragrance source, connote hope of a better future for people and for the planet. The round gold dot with the line below is the bindu, a symbol of deep significance in Indic thought. The touch of gold along with the ‘less is more’ design code (lack of clutter) gives the brand a premium and sophisticated/classy look.

But Phool also speaks to mainstream users who aren’t looking to buy into sustainability or unique design.

To the devout it presents a novel proposition – religious offering doesn’t need to be left behind at the altar but can be reintegrated into daily life, further strengthening the holy presence in your home.

The concept also reflects the popular idea of purity in prayer: in addition to bathing beforehand, wearing clean clothes and remaining barefoot, you can now take comfort in knowing that your choice of dhoop/agarbatti is keeping the revered Ganga clean. Purity takes on a dual meaning; the purchase and use of Phool doesn’t just energize pure thoughts but is also a form of pure deeds and actions.

Phool teaches a valuable lesson to those interested in marketing products in the Sustainability space. Sustainability today as a consumption platform for products and brands has niche appeal. Its appeal is restricted to the believer-followers who are willing to change their way of life to align with the ideology.

Phool shows that in order to expand its appeal to a broader audience of buyers, sustainability will need to be coded with additional layers of meaning. It’s not about offering additional benefits that justifies price premiums as per conventional marketing thinking; additional benefits address the rational mind. It’s about added layers of meaning that give every user a feel-good factor, not just the eco-conscious. Phool reveals how that can be done in an elegant and classy way.


All images taken from Phool