Zippo looks to relight its path in India; far away from the smokers and towards the aspiring youth


The brand of Zippo lighters has transcended commerce to become a cultural zeitgeist, an artifact of cool, and an heirloom passed down generations. It’s a cult that’s now looking to “relaunch” itself in India.

Zippo in India had two distribution partners within the late 2010s and named, in 2018, Penn, barely instrument and gifting brand, as its new distribution partner. Lucas Johnson, associate chair, Zippo global marketing, tells us the company runs wholly-owned subsidiaries with Zippo employees performing at the offices.

Otherwise, it signs exclusive and/or non-exclusive distribution agreements. He tells us they’re operating in India with a hybrid model; it is the Bhawar agreement but has also appointed Sunil Moses as director of sales and operations. One all told the foremost important challenges for the brand in India and across many countries is that the prevalence of counterfeit and lookalike products.

“We’re putting people on notice. We all know this could be a problem and now that we’ve our people within the market, we are coming after it aggressively,” remarks Johnson. The AVP also believes they need to permit the Indian consumer confidence that what they’re buying, offline or online, could even be a real product.

“From a marketing standpoint, we are working to form Zippo as a premium lifestyle fashion accessory,” remarks Arneeta Vasudev, national head, PR & Influence, Ogilvy India. 

She also tells that the kind of assets and films they’re creating will speak to the TG through social and PR which they’re looking to stay aloof from “spaces where a cigarette brand or a pan supari brand would be visible”. 

Once out of the box, you’ll be ready to examine the merchandise for specific markers like “the bottom stamp, the chimney within the 3-2-3-hole pattern, the curved lid…” “Zippo’s primary focus, in India, will remain on lighters,” remarks Johnson when asked about the brand’s extensions like clothing or pet apparel making their way here. One can expect to appear out for Zippo lighters at places like Willian Penn, Beer Café, CCD, and Spencers.

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