Captain Cook Salt

Our Case Study for Captain Cook Salt

Background : 

DCW LTD. was a chemical product company entering into fast moving consumer goods(FMCG) in the year 1992. The first product was Salt, where it had to carve out a niche against the market leader “Tata salt”. Tata Salt was the only branded product in the category with over 80 % market share. Rest of the market was divided among un-organized regional players. Tata Salt enjoyed complete monopoly at the consumer touch points and trade level.

Tata Salt was the category leader with more than 80% market share.

Since it was a startup project, the task was to launch the product against a well-entrenched market leader and brand a commodity.
The company had plans to launch similar products in future like branded Wheat Flour and range of packaged spices.

Project Scope:

  • To create a business plan to launch the product in Indian market.
  • To create a marketing plan which included the development of name, packaging, positioning, pricing and communication strategy.
  • Development and management of sales & distribution network on a pan India basis.
  • Design Go-To-Market strategy and execute the launch process.
  • Design and execute a powerful advertising and promotional campaign to create awareness and interest among consumers.
  • Review and manage the launch campaign.

The Process:

We were aware that to fight a well-entrenched market leader, we needed to create a powerful brand identity. Hence “Lintas” advertising agency was hired to develop a sharp and focused communication strategy.

A good name “Captain Cook” was selected. The criterion was that it should give cues about “cooking” Also we wanted to bring some mystic into the brand name.

Captain James Cook FRSRN (7 November 1728– 14 February 1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. Cook made detailed maps of Newfound land prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.


Tata salt was being sold at Rs 2.0 per kilo. And the conventional wisdom said that you should price your product below market leader.

The product was priced 50 % higher than market leader Tata Salt to create a quality perception.

We wanted to send a message that Captain Cook Salt was a superior product in quality, hence it is priced higher.


Tata Salt had no clear-cut positioning at that time. It was being sold as “Tata Iodised Salt” and since there was no competition in the organized sector, it had a virtual monopoly.

We positioned our salt as “FREE FLOW SALT” and conveyed this message through television, press and retail promotion.

Advertising & Promotional Strategy:

It was an era where Government ran  Door-Darshan TV, which was reaching almost 70 % of the population. Private TV channels had just started with Zee TV launching their channels.

It was decided to select TV as the key medium of communication. We took founder membership of Zee TV and as a result got excellent discounts to air our commercials on prime time. Hence a combination of Door-Darshan and Zee TV were used to create rapid awareness and interest among potential customers.

Salt being low interest and low-value category, TV commercials were made to show the FREE FLOW and superior quality of the product.

Along with using mass media in form of Television to spread the message, retail promotions were done to create visibility at the consumer level. Special display windows were created to showcase the product along with attractive point-of-purchase (POP) material.

To create a buzz around the brand, eating contests were organized in hotels and exhibitions. Attractive vacations were given to distributors as performance incentives.

The sales team was recruited and brand identity was created.


The product was launched successfully on a pan India basis.

The product was accepted by the consumers and consumer feedback was positive.

The product became an instant hit and grew by almost 300 % every year and became Rs 100 crores brand in the fourth year.

This resulted in the product being very successful. The media dubbed the launch as one of the “best product launches in the decade.”

(Hemant Mishrra, Founder and Principal Consultant with Neeti Brand Accelerator, was Vice President (Sales & Marketing) with DCW Home Products during 1991-96, when “Captain Cook” Salt was launched in Indian markets)

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