Working towards increasing penetration of kits from 17% to 26% by 2026: Prega News’ Joy Chatterjee

Working towards increasing penetration of kits from 17% to 26% by 2026: Prega News’ Joy Chatterjee

The Mankind Pharma exec delves into the brand strategy that helped it attain majority market share


MUMBAI : Mothers everywhere and, perhaps, more so in India are held to unreasonably high standards, wherein they are expected to lean in at work whilst remaining primarily responsible for the domestic front. This perennial balancing act leads to an intense pressure to ‘perfectly’ manage both work and home for most working moms today, or ends with guilt about their inability to live up to socio-cultural ideals of a ‘good mother.’ It is this narrative that Prega News’ latest campaign #SheIsImperfectlyPerfect released ahead of Mother’s Day chooses to highlight and challenge. The pregnancy detection brand from the house of Mankind Pharma unveiled the second leg of the campaign on Thursday with celebrity influencers and mom bloggers that further attempts to normalise a more ‘realistic’ version of motherhood. caught up with Mankind Pharma general manager- sales & marketing Joy Chatterjee to find out what drives the brand to challenge societal stereotypes on a sensitive subjects like pregnancy and motherhood. The interaction also saw a deep dive into the brand’s journey from 2007 to becoming a leader in the category with an 82 per cent market share through its marketing activities.

According to the brand, it has witnessed a steep spike of over 20 per cent in its demand during the Covid-19 lockdown, and has been growing in healthy double digits annually. Over the years, Prega News has managed to create a unique brand proposition, becoming synonymous with 'at-home pregnancy detection.’

A marketeer who self-confessedly “works to balance bottom and top line” with more than 20 years of Industry experience, Chatterjee currently heads the OTC division of brands like Manforce, Health ok, Gasofast, Acnestar, Unwanted 72 etc- apart from Preganews- at Mankind Pharma, having joined the company in 2006.

By Anupama Sajeet

Edited excerpts:

What was the thought behind the #SheIsImperfectlyPerfect concept, and why do you think it is essential to get these conversations going?  

There is always needless pressure on every mom to be perfect, which puts her in self-doubt about being a good mother. The campaign encourages society to embrace the imperfection of a mother who is always on her toes to work best for her child. The entire ad was curated with the aim to spread the message that it's completely fine to be not so perfect. The film breaks the age-old narrative of mothers always portrayed as the perfect personalities, highly adept at everything they do. It disintegrates this stereotypical image of a mother who always forces herself to be perfect in everything.

With time the number of working women has increased over the years and the trend of living in a nuclear family has been evolving as a lifestyle option. Considering that this number is only going to escalate in the future, it is important to have conversations around embracing the imperfection of a mother to not pressurise the new generation and make them scared to enter the motherhood phase in their lives. We have all observed that working mothers are always chasing the balance between her job and being a mother. The pressure of being perfect makes her life stressful. We don’t want our mothers to live in any stress or guilt for not being able to meet the expectations of a “perfect mother” imposed by society.

What worked in favour of creating brand recall value for Prega News since its inception?

Since its inception in 2007, throughout the journey, the brand focused on educating women and their families about pregnancy to break the stereotypical mindsets and to address the myths existing in society. We continuously come up with campaigns be it on digital or on TVC to spread awareness and take a firm stand on what we believe in as a brand. These campaigns helped us in creating a special bond with the target audience.  

One thing that majorly worked in our favour was that we were determined to develop an emotional connect with the audience by shedding light on the various issues faced by women and also portraying an inclusive conversation aimed at bringing about a social change. The primary purpose at Prega News is not to promote the product but we strive to touch upon the lives of our consumers and create awareness around the sensitive topic of pregnancy. We closely study the problems existing in society and come up with solutions to help people get acquainted with the options they have ahead. At Prega News through our initiatives, we urge the people to be more responsible when it comes to pregnancy.

Given that this method (pregnancy home test kit) was very new for the rural masses, we strived to create awareness around pregnancy care for which we worked towards breaking the stereotype connected to pregnancy detection cards in rural India. Considering the intensity of preconceived notions existing in these parts of the country, we tied up with Asha workers and local NGOs who hold a strong influence on people as key opinion leaders for effective message reception amongst the audience. Also, to create awareness, we organised a caravan activity for 25 days across 125 districts of Uttar Pradesh to establish a better line of engagement with the people there through door-to-door invitations, announcements and distribution of gifts, and many fun activities. We took the opportunity to give detailed information on the do’s and don’ts during the pregnancy. From the proper diet with the right nutrition to what food to avoid was touched upon at large in the activity.

Over the years, the brand has collaborated with some of B-town’s leading actors and of late, influencers. What was the idea behind roping in celebrities?

We aimed at leveraging the various tools to increase our visibility amongst the potential audience throughout the journey of Prega News. When we started in 2007 we wanted to make the brand a household name by making it acquainted with the people at large. For which we collaborated with Neha Marda who was a popular face at that time in every household. Therefore, by roping in Marda we were able to introduce our product in the market. Over the time when we realised that Prega News has made a decent place in the market we wanted to amplify our reach by making it the top brand in the country. For this, we collaborated with leading B-town actors such as Kareena Kapoor Khan, Anushka Sharma and Shilpa Shetty to give mileage to our brand reception. Further to penetrate deeper into the market we also ventured into influencer campaigns where we roped in more than 21 regional mommy bloggers in an influencer activity campaign to spread awareness about the important RTBs of Prega News for expectant mothers.

Considering that pregnancy is a very sensitive topic, what is the primary challenge you have faced in the segment?

The lack of awareness amongst the people is the biggest challenge the brand faces till now. From the very initial stage, it has been a persistent roadblock acting as a deterrent that makes people skeptical about the product and inhibits them from coming forward to find solution to their persisting problem. Hence, to overcome the challenge we realised that along with the promotion of the product we needed to elaboratively talk about the sensitive problem of pregnancy at the root level and encourage women to break free from their inhibitions and come forward to try new solutions to improve the quality of their lives. To achieve this, we continuously organise on-ground events and collaborate with local NGOs and Asha workers to throw light on various aspects of pregnancy and make women acquainted with family planning as an important option.  

How do you plan to further amplify the brand’s penetration into the market?

To penetrate deeper into the market beyond the metropolitan cities, we take an alternate route, as mentioned earlier. In order to reach out to the masses beyond metropolitan cities, we deliver content in their preferred vernacular language to ensure better reception. Previously, we have launched Shakti Awareness program to spread awareness about the product's benefits. Through the programme, we stressed upon how the pregnancy detection kits were important for early pregnancy detection that could help in reducing any chances of health hazards for the baby as well as the mother. We tied up with local Asha workers and NGOs to spread our message and establish a more personal interaction with the local people. They became the solution providers for the women in the village, helping them with the healthcare-related needs.

The entire campaign was unique as it was the first time ever a pregnancy detection card brand had initiated rural activation. We organised local events at the field level to better interact with the audience. We invited 50 to 100 Asha workers and gynecologists to spread awareness around pregnancy and contraception. To date, we have organised 20 such events by tapping around 750 Asha workers across India.

Share about your recent inroads into regional markets with local brand ambassadors.

Over the years, we have realised that content is better received and reciprocated in the regional language. Audiences are better able to form connections with the brand and understand the comprehensive message the brand wants to convey when it is communicated in their own mother tongue. Hence, multilingual campaigns help in entering into a more concentrated market that lies beyond the metropolitan cities but can make up for a larger customer base. Hence, understanding that vernacular content enhances the brand penetration into the regional market, recently we collaborated with Kajal Aggarwal for a TVC as she is a well-known face in the South, helping us form better connectivity with the masses there. Prior to this, we had also roped in Priyamani to amplify our presence in the South and reach the remotest parts of the market. Likewise, Prega News is focusing to expand its visibility in other regional areas as well and has roped in Bengali Film actress Srabanti Chatterjee as the brand ambassador of West Bengal to intensify its reach and regional connection in West Bengal.

Tell us about your future plans. Any upcoming announcements in 2022?

Currently portraying a market share of 82 per cent, Prega News has marked consistent growth and come a long way from 67 per cent in 2019. Passionate to further expand our product into the unorganised and unbranded market we strive to form an emotional connection with the expectant mothers not just in metropolitan cities but make our presence felt in the rural market as well. Considering that the segment penetration across the country is very narrow, we are working towards a unified goal of increasing the penetration of kits from 17 per cent to 26 per cent by 2026.  

We are intensively reaching out to small towns with the help of our rural outreach strategy to penetrate deeper into the regional market. Last year we launched an awareness drive with Asha workers in Lucknow to create awareness around the use of contraceptives and pregnancy detection cards. It was our first interactive session in Malihabad, Bachhwaran (Lal Ganj), Nawabganj (Unnao), Varanasi, Meerut, Kolhapur, Patna, and Bulandsheher in Lucknow and Bihar aimed at breaking the myths prevalent in society and motivating people to adopt family planning in advance. In the future too, the company is keen on conducting such sessions in a phased manner and amplifying its endeavor to educate people on sexually transmitted infections, different contraceptive methods, and regular use of available contraceptives.  

Finally, would you say Prega News' 2022’s Women’s Day campaign with its #SheCanCarryBoth message is at odds with your latest one for Mother’s day, which acknowledges that a mother can be humanly imperfect and not excel at every role as dictated by society?

Both the campaigns are unique in their own way touching upon the different aspects of women’s life. I would say that the message conveyed through #SheCanCarryBoth and #SheIsImperfectlyPerfect complement each other. When we said that women can don multiple roles, we never implied her to be perfect. We encourage the empowerment of women where we do not believe in putting incessant pressure on them. Rather we want them to explore new possibilities in life at their own will and at their own pace, and to evolve over time by learning from their own experiences.  

#SheCanCarryBoth campaign video:

#SheSheImperfectlyPerfect campaign video: