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Riding the Wave of Spirituality With the legacy of over 70 years, Arjun Ranga is sustaining Cycle Pure Agarbathies' market leadership with a visionary approach

By Aastha Singal

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Cycle Pure Agarbathies

With the westernization seeping into the lifestyle of today's millennial generation, spiritually has taken a back seat. Going to temple on weekends with family to pray for the good health of loved ones has become passé as clubbing and partying with friends has become a priority. Keeping up with the changing times, there are very few companies who are still connected to their roots.

India is the home for legacy businesses. One generation after the other, businesses go on for a long run. Some forget their basic DNA along the way and those who don't, diminish as the new trends take over the market. Cycle Pure Agarbathies, however, belong to none of the mentioned categories. With the legacy of over 70 years, the incense stick brand has witnessed three generations of entrepreneurial brilliance.

Taking the business to new heights is the third generation entrepreneur, Arjun Ranga. The Managing Director of Cycle Pure Agarbathies and Managing Partner of its parent company, NR Group, the business visionary has played an instrumental role in sustaining the group's market leadership by initiating bold business and marketing strategies. In an exclusive conversation with Entrepreneur India, the ethical entrepreneur unveils the strategy for sustaining a legacy business.

Independence Connection

Only a year after India was released from the clutches of British rule, N Ranga Rao sowed the seeds for what was to become the world's largest incense stick brand. Arjun is highly inspired by his grandfather, who started the business at a young age with the core purpose of earning a living after losing his father, without knowing that his basic attempt to earn bread and butter for his family would create an accidental legacy.

Addressing confusion behind the name of the brand, Ranga said, "In our country with many languages and religions, cycle symbolizes simplicity and harmony. Hence, it is called Cycle Pure Agarbathies. As a brand is recognized by its solid core competent, in our unified thought, we decided to create all our products in-house." With Indian values deeply engraved in the DNA of the brand, NR Group is moving ahead seamlessly.

Following the Ethics

The brand has grown into a conglomerate over the years, all thanks to good marketing and the solid vision. "We have always believed in collaborative and ethical growth," Ranga said, adding that as the business expanded in size and offering, "The fundamental business IP was the same. We manage with the same level of morals and business standards, governance code and family business value (like years ago)."

The brand is taking up various measures to preserve the culture of worshipping every day, which is slowly diminishing, by bringing innovation to their incense sticks and introducing other products. With the aim of regaining millennials' faith in spirituality who Ranga believes are always looking for answers, Cycle has launched an e-magazine and an app to re-connect the youngsters with their roots.

The conglomerate also runs a non-profit, charitable arm of the NR Group, NR Foundation that works to empower women, provide educational support to children through financial assistance and promote health through Project Prerepana.

Market Competition

According to a recent AC Nelson study, the incense stick market in India is worth about INR 5000 crore and is growing at a CAGR of 10 per cent. While the overall incense stick market is evenly distributed between organized and unorganized sectors, the organized sector is growing at a faster pace. Cycle Pure Agarbathies is a market leader in the organized sector with 25 per cent market share with ITC closely following behind.

However, Ranga seems unaffected by the increasing competition and feels that Cycle is so deeply embedded in the minds of people who pray regularly that no other brand can replace its presence. "Our basic goal has been to ensure that whenever someone prays, they use cycle agarbathi."

Recently, Private Equity investor Motilal Oswal made an undisclosed investment in the company for a minority stake. Explaining why getting him on board was a brilliant decision, Ranga said, "He has come on board for two reasons, one is to fund the growth and second because we needed some seeded people who can help us scaling the business better."

Legacy Expansion

Over the years, the NR Group has ventured into multiple fields. Building on the Group's competence in fragrance creation, Ripple Fragrances has forayed into the air care segment and introduced a plethora of offerings under the Iris and Lia brands. Leveraging the lack of players in India's home fragrance market, Ripple is building India's first complete home fragrance chain with its own stores.

While the Master Fragrance Creator, Kiran Ranga handles Ripple, his brother Anirudh Ranga has established NESSO - Natural & Essential Oils Private Limited as the global leader in Indian floral extracts. The group has also ventured into aerospace with Rangsons Defence Solutions. The fast-growing design house focuses on the Aerospace and Defence sectors.

Another of Cycle's sister concern, Rangsons Schuster Technologies is a leading manufacturer of Aviation Tubes and Hoses in India. The group has its own exporting business which is utilized to export incense and other Group products to more than 75 countries including Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Far East and North America.

Aastha Singal

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Features Writer

A business journalist looking to find happiness in the world of startups, investments, MSMEs and more. Officially started her career as a news reporter for News World India, Aastha had short stints with NDTV and NewsX. A true optimist seeking to make a difference, she is a comic junkie who'd rather watch a typical Bollywood masala than a Hollywood blockbuster. 

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