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  • Digital Desh Team

All dressed up… but nowhere to go!

Updated: Dec 10, 2020


“जो चम्बा चप्पल बाटा ब्रांड के नीचे हज़ारो में बिकती थी, वही चप्पल आज महीने में केवल 10-15 लोग खरीदते है.”
We used to sell the Chamba Chappal by the thousands under the Bata Brand. Today, we barely get a footfall of 10-15 customers a month.

Ank Bhatt is a nurse by profession and also works alongside his father in the 60-year-old family business. Over the years, the demand for the handicraft has fallen in favour of its cheaper manufactured substitute. At its peak, they exported these Chappals overseas under the Bata brand for a good 20 years. Off late, however, the quality of the product has fallen drastically, given a rise in amateur craftsmanship.

Contrary to his father’s opinion, Ank believes that a shift to the manufactured product, while maintaining the ethos of the Chappal is a more lucrative option as the manpower and shoe-leather cost is much lower. The challenges he is currently facing are related to the cost of the machinery and the training requirements. Additionally, the work of manufacturing these chappals is community-specific, which considerably lowers the manpower available.


Ank uses an Oppo A37 smartphone, primarily as a social media consumer and a net-banker. He uses a BSNL and Airtel connection as he faces network issues in the town and has recently moved to Jio for data consumption.


Although the business currently has a website, Ank is skeptical of listing his product on any aggregator e-commerce site for two reasons: a lack of sizable inventory and a weak local brand. Given Ank’s constrained worldview of the urban demand, he has failed to realize that in a supply-constrained market, he has the ability to value this handicraft at an exponentially higher mark-up subject to market access/awareness and strong branding. And for the value creators, Ank being the only indirect connector to the market, his skepticism keeps them further away from being rewarded appropriately for the value they create.


A comparable handicraft in the Indian footwear industry is Maharashtra’s iconic Kolhapuri Chappal which was recently granted the geographical indication (GI) tag which recognizes the authenticity of the footwear at national and international markets. A high-end brand and legitimacy associated with the Kolhapuri Chappal allow artisans to value the product at higher multiples compared to the Chamba Chappal whose prime issues arise from weak branding and lack of awareness from urban consumers seeking unique rural produce.


Although the business currently has a website, Ank is skeptical of listing his product on any aggregator e-commerce site for two reasons: a lack of sizable inventory and a weak local brand. Given Ank’s constrained worldview of the urban demand, he has failed to realize that in a supply-constrained market, he has the ability to value this handicraft at an exponentially higher mark-up subject to market access/awareness and strong branding. And for the value creators, Ank being the only indirect connector to the market, his skepticism keeps them further away from being rewarded appropriately for the value they create.






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