The Story of a Girl

I remember when I first saw her.

She never even looked me in the eyes, yet still exuded a confidence clearly drawn from capability and experience. Her immovable countenance sheltered all that lay behind those composed brown eyes. Calmly, confidently she held her hands before her face with fingers open as if to say: “Here it is. Here I am. This is everything.” Her reputation preceded her, but still I was unprepared for all that her existence would teach me.

She remains a mystery, though many have harbored speculations as to her true identity. Her aura, her presence engenders a comfort and familiarity, brining to mind the warmth of a hot chai, unbefitting the underlying mystery of her person. As I gazed down at her, I wondered silently to myself how she managed to mold herself from girl into icon, from individual into figurehead. Maintaining a clever blend of fame and obscurity that eases the mind toward indulgence. I stood bewildered at the mystery of the girl. To know the face and what lie within, but not the name.

Though nameless, to most she is known simply as the “Parle-G girl”.

If you haven’t heard of Parle-G, you most certainly aren’t Indian. Parle’s flagship product, Parle-G, is one of the oldest brand names in India and the world’s largest selling biscuit. From its humble origins in British-controlled India, Parle-G developed into a household name, a fabled chai companion, and a true product of the masses.

Though just a simple biscuit, Parle-G’s development into a product for the masses is a prime example of how to develop a brand and rapidly scale an idea/product. For starters, Parle-G is cheap and therefore accessible. Hungry consumers from across income spectrums can afford the indulgence. On the back of the accessible cost, Parle-G built up a distribution network that includes millions of retailers and therefore transcends geography. From small village kirana stores to massive food retailers, Parle-G is never too far from the consumers reach.

Through the decades, the timelessly iconic Parle-G girl has remained the face of the biscuit behemoth on familiar red and yellow packaging. Parle-G is simple and doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. There is an elegance in this simplicity that, coupled with the accessibility afforded to it by the low price point, has bred familiarity, attachment, and, thus, loyalty. Consequently, Parle-G has become synonymous with biscuits.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned from Parle-G is that regardless of social intent, the only way to truly impact the lives of people is through proper execution. Parle-G is simple. Parle-G is cheap. Parle-G is accessible. Parle-G is successful.

When I took my first bite into a crispy, tasty Parle-G I lacked an appreciation of the processes behind it and its remarkable impact. I had no idea that it was so dearly beloved by so many, has distribution chains that number in the millions of retailers, or even that it makes up 70% of the market share for biscuits. Yet as I took that first bite I was met by the focused gaze of one special girl who knew it all along…Perhaps the G truly is for genius.