There are numerous noodles brands in the market today, but when you think of desi Chinese, it is Ching’s Secret that comes to mind. It is a testament to founder Ajay Gupta’s advertising prowess. Fuelled by his belief and passion, he created a niche for his brand in a market dominated by powerhouses such as HUL and Nestle.
When he roped in actor Ranveer Singh to appeal to the masses, many were sceptical. But he soon proved them wrong. From Rs 115 crore in 2010, the brand’s revenue rose to Rs 350 crore in 2015, right after the Ranveer campaign in 2014. This year, the revenue is estimated to rise to Rs 700 crore. Ching’s Secret is now available in 11 states at 2,75, 000 stores and by 2019 is poised to be present in half a million stores. In an interview with CNBC-TV18’s Mangalam Maloo, Ajay Gupta spoke about his vision for the future of the brand. Edited excerpts:
Mangalam Maloo: Why did you think of establishing Chinese food?
Ajay Gupta: When you look at India, recipes change every 300 kilometres. For instance, from Tamil Nadu to Karnataka, within each state, the sambhar recipe changes every 200 kilometres. So I needed to create food that wasn’t being cooked at home. Also, for a sustainable business I wanted to choose a cuisine or range of products that would work across the country. So, I felt it had to be a foreign food. Most of the large cities in India had a Chinatown, and then Chinese food made it to the streets as well, which meant the common man loved it too. If the common man loved it, chances it people were making it at home, hence the food ingredients business began.
Maloo: So, in a sense, you’re saying the most popular cuisine of India is Chinese food?
Gupta: The reality is that from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, there is one common cuisine in this country, and that is desiChinese. Today, there is a schezwan missal, schezwan doza, chili idli and a chicken 65.
Maloo: You launched your brand at a time when Maggi was reigning in popularity and Knorr was also gaining momentum. How did you then penetrate that market?
Gupta: My research said that multinationals typically do not make headway in a space where the food culture is strong. Multinationals are great at doing assembly line numbers, but understanding the culture and creating products on a regional basis is not something that they love doing; they are more focused on scale.
Most importantly, our biggest differentiator was the cuisine itself. People don’t think of Chinese when they think of Maggi and Knorr, but when you say Ching’s, only desi Chinese cuisine comes to mind.
Maloo: Was your advertising at the forefront at this time?
Gupta: Bollywood is a religion in our country. And to quickly reach out to the masses, I needed the Bollywood connect. But we were clear that we weren’t looking for the mere presence of a celebrity. We wanted someone who embodied the brand’s DNA. This is why Ranveer was a good fit. He’s not just the brand ambassador; he is part of our marketing team sharing his inputs on every campaign we roll out.
Watch the complete episode here
to find out more about Ching’s Secret’s interesting journey as CNBC-TV18’s Disruptors.