Come summer and it is all sweat and no fun. For a tropical city like Chennai, the heat seems to be in no way considerate. The temperatures reach searing height of 40 degree C (even higher at times). This becomes a playground for a host of manufacturers and dealers who make the best of the opportunity to throw their stocks at us. Air conditioners, water coolers, air coolers and all have their lion’s share in the market. Cool drinks and soft drinks manufacturers fight for their space, buttermilk fresh lime and watermelon vendors cry out loud to be a part of the competition, and consumers happily spend money to even buy themselves a glass of cold water.
The marketing gimmicks that these companies use to push their products in this season are worth mentioning. Summer sale is one popular hoax. Buying products at heavy discounts, e.g. fans, air conditioners, air coolers, and water coolers are wide spread. Though popular companies do provide great quality stuff, this is the time of the year when brands like Carreer, Panasoanic, Notional, and Blue Straw make their appearance. The less informed consumer group falls for these spurious brand names by acquainting them with their more popular counterparts. As a result, they buy home air conditioners and water coolers which had been spending the last few months in junk yards and tinkering shops. They will work for the time being, maybe a few months beyond the summer but then they’ll abruptly come to a halt, and by that time the “person” who sold it to them would be long gone. This is not only the case with people who are not well informed, even affluent people fall for this kind of forgery.
Last summer at the Chennai Marina, I saw a family of well dressed people and their kids having fun, they had a Mercedes Benz (ok, the Benz doesn’t mean they are well informed but still their English accent was pretty good, and they were not foreigners, so I assume they were educated). The kids started pestering their parents after a while, asking them for ice cream. Their mother tried telling that they can have it at a parlor on the way back. It was of no use, their father went to one of those portable cycle mounted ice cream carts and got them each of what appeared to be Kwality Walls products. Seeing those kids eat made me want to have one, and I approached the ice cream cart. Before asking for the ice cream I noticed something unusual about the name, I realized that it was Kwality Halls and not Kwality Walls, I looked around to see if I could inform that family, but they had left. The work done on that spurious brand was amazing, everything right from the name to the graphics looked similar but they had a slight difference. I had no idea as to what to do. That particular company had not done anything wrong, they had their own brand name graphics et all. I could not say they were selling bad products as I did not try it. (I did not want to try, found it to be risky).
This duplication has its ill effects. The people who provide seemingly well known names to sell their products do not undertake the same quality tests and inspections which are done by the bigger companies. As a result the cases of food poisoning and communicable diseases also increase during summer. The duplication of products doesn’t end here, there is at least one duplicate brand for every popular brand, and they also make good sales in the summer. Rasna becomes Ranaas, Kalimark (popular soft drink in semi urban and rural Tamil Nadu) becomes Kallimark, even summer clothing have brand alternatives. I found VIP innerwear on T Nagar platforms under the name VPI. Imagine the condition of the person using if the quality of the material is bad. Summer sweating and itching can make matters worse. Well, what is it that can be done to curb this profiting practice? The companies concerned have to take necessary steps for copyright infringement or maybe file a complaint saying that the brand name is similar and so, misleading.