Saturday, August 9, 2014

Reflections on the marketing of Malkha

The marketing team at Malkha needs to introspect on its marketing, customer reach, customer servicing, and generally whether the marketing of Malkha is in tune with both the need to sell the product as well as the overall objectives of the Malkha enterprise. Malkha sales at the exhibitions are generally satisfactory. Usually about 80% of buyers at these events are customers who have bought Malkha earlier. This of course is a great compliment and repeat customers are a marketer's dream.

The way in which we sell Malkha is much the same as it was 6 years ago when we first began, (we're happy to say that most of the customers who were our first buyers are still with us), which is through exhibitions and through e-mail orders, and since 2011 from our outlet in Hyderabad. Sales through e-mail orders and through the Malkha shop are growing, while sales from exhibitions are static. It is through exhibitions that we reach new customers. Taken together, marketing and production of Malkha are currently well matched.

Malkha is not large enough to hold exhibitions on its own, it is invariably part of shows organized by larger entities: Dastkar, Dastkar Andhra, Sasha in Kolkatha or the Crafts Councils of different states. These events attract the well-heeled part of society but usually not the buyers who patronize large stores selling mass-produced clothes. Since Malkha's long-term objective is not only to democratize  production but also to make good things available across the market spectrum, it should be the next step in our agenda to reach these customers.

Malkha plans to start an on-line shop to do this and to keep up with the planned increase in production. Setting up systems for the on-line sales is a long, complicated business, since Malkha wants to keep track of different permutations and combinations of yarn and cloth making in different places. Through the on-line shop we hope to reach customers who who don't otherwise get to see Malkha at exhibitions.

How to do this? One way is for Malkha to take part in Handloom shows organized all over the country by the Ministry of Textiles. We do, but these shows are often cancelled without notice. Also they go on for too long and are badly publicized, so there are few customers.

The Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai is an event where people who would not normally go to 'Craft' shows are exposed to Malkha, and we see that interest in our fabric among this group is growing. We look for more such events, and for permanent outlets in areas where this large segment of the Indian market shops.

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