Keeping Up With the Times to Script a Success Story- Lessons from an Indian Mithai Store

In times when traditional businesses are facing a blitzkrieg of brands, malls and departmental stores many small and traditional Indian businesses are feeling the heat of competition. The Indian mithai store like the kirana store is an intrinsic part of life in rural and urban India.  
As companies like Cadbury make inroads in to the Indian sweetmeat business with products like mithai centered chocolates and gift packs for Diwali and Raksha Bandhan among other Indian festivals, it’s time for the Indian mithai store owner to get his act together.
This is the story of one such Indian mithai store that has stood the test of time with the help of expansion and product oriented strategies.   
In the beginning…
It all began in the year 1950 when Mr. Mulchand Sethiya came to Pune city from Rajasthan. A first generation entrepreneur, he started supplying namkeen (farsaan items) and within a couple of years of starting this business he opened his first store in Pune camp.
Expansion and the inspiration behind it…Customer satisfaction with his products was the main reason why he was inspired to expand his product line to include sweets in his repertoire.  It was his family and friends who motivated him to believe in himself and his ideas when he started out.
Their first store opened in the year 1951 at 415, R.S Kedari Raod, Bhopla Chowk, Pune Camp.  They have one more branch which is located at 525, Centre Street, Pune Camp.
Things as they stand today… Today, Mr. Champalal Sethiya, 67 and Mr. Kantilal Sethiya, 55 sons of Mr. Mulchand Sethiya are at the helm of affairs of Mulchand Sweets which is a partnership firm.
The owner’s take on their growth strategy…The two brothers attribute the reason for growth in business to the popularity of sweets and their importance in most festive occasions in Indian society.  India, being the land of festivals there is a festival that is celebrated almost every day and sweets complete those celebrations.
Keeping up with the times…Also with time the demand for different types of sweets such as sugar free sweets, low fat namkeens and baked sweets vis-à-vis fried ones has grown.
Mulchand Sweets have endeavored to meet the changing needs of their customers and they offer a wide variety of sweets and namkeens under one roof.   
Their USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is their range of namkeens and savories.   They strive to maintain hygiene and quality while using only the best ingredients.  Their snacks section has a delectable range of snacks and savories on offer and people walk in just to enjoy them.  
Roadblocks…No business venture is free from problems and the main issue for Mulchand Sweets is competition.  Recently there has been a spurt in the number of sweetmeat shops in the city and customers have a wide choice of stores and sweets to choose from.
Besides that the popularity of chocolates, pastries and cakes is growing and that is eating in to the market share of sweetmeat shops.  People are becoming more and more health conscious and are opting for sugar free and low fat versions of sweets over traditional ones.  Hence the need to innovate and offer a range of products that will suit this market segment has arisen.  
Promotional strategies…They are promoting their business by advertising on cable television, an online store and through hoardings which are put up during festive occasions.
They are doing their bit for society by giving donations to various mandals for the organization of festive celebrations in the city and arranging blood donation camps during Mahavir Jayanti.  
They want to see Mulchand Sweets as the best sweet shop in Pune city in the next five years but do not have any plans for expansion as of now.
The importance of a vision…Their slogan “Whenever you think of sweets and namkeens think of us” reflects their vision for their venture.
They want to be the most preferred sweetmeat store in Pune city to the point that they should be a part of any celebration in any home in the city.No matter what the occasion…Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Raksha Bandhan, Navratri or weddings and anniversaries they have sweets and savories for all these events.

[The case study has been contributed by Mariam Noronha.She is a teacher with over eight years of experience. She has taught a wide range of Management related subjects and has authored and presented papers at national and international seminars and conferences. An avid reader, researcher, writer and blogger; she has authored numerous articles in the fiction, web writing and travel writing genre.  ]


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