Monday, November 16, 2015

Brand Update : Will Tata Motors be made great by Messi

In a really surprising move, Tata Motors roped in the football legend Lionel Messi as the brand ambassador. Tata Motors has been in a sticky wicket in the last few years. Once the Indica magic was over, Tata motors were not able to produce a volume player. Nano was a disappointment and the company watched its competitor  rolling out best sellers year after year. 

The company had been working hard behind the scenes under the revival strategy named Horizon Next. The first two products under this plan were the Zest and Bolt. Both gained good reviews in the market, but the baggage of the Tata Motors brand was pulling down any scope for a spectacular show.
Perception is powerful and often enduring and it is not easy to change perceptions. The  lack of perfection and nagging complaints of earlier Tata Motors cars created strong perceptions which are proving to be a tough nut to crack. Tata Motors is one of those brands which people know, like and trust but doesn't want to buy. 

The big endorsement from Messi is another effort of Tata Motors to change perceptions. The brand knew that it is losing out from the mind of the younger generation. With the competition in the Indian market is global, nothing less than a global icon will do for a brand like Tata Motors. 

The company is currently running the endorsement campaign named " Made of Great ".
Watch the ad here: Tata Motors Made of Great 
The ad is all about Messi. The new campaign is all about Messi and Tata Motors attempt to make some connect with this iconic football player. 

The Messi effect would come into play with the new launches of Tata Motors. According to news reports, the new launch Tata Kite was teased in the above-mentioned ad. The new launches would benefit from this high profile endorsement. 

While Messi would rekindle some interest in Tata Motors, what is important is to make good the flaws that created the perception that is preventing brands from Tata Motors to have customer preference in the buying process. Products from Tata Motors are in the bottom of the consideration set in most cases. Consumers will consider products for purchasing only if caters to some minimum requirements. Sadly somewhere the products of Tata Motors is lacking ( or perceived to be lacking ) on those vital parameters. 
Hopefully, as the ad goes, Tata Motors would rediscover those factors which make the products great. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Baleno : Premium play using a phased-out brand?

Brand: Baleno
Company:  Maruti Suzuki

Brand Analysis count:  # 560

Maruti Suzuki Ltd ( MSL) is in the process of  foraying into the premium hatchback ( B+) segment with the launch of Baleno. The announcement was surprising to me since the company which is struggling to break into the premium segment has chosen to name the product with a phased out brand!

Interestingly, Baleno was MSL's foray into the premium sedan segment, 16 years ago. Baleno was first launched in 1999. Although the car was exceptional in terms of quality, MSL priced the product exorbitantly high. In 1999, the brand was priced at 8 lakhs. This along with the general VFM perception of Maruti brand caused a lukewarm response to Baleno. Later Baleno reduced the price substantially to around Rs 5.5 lakhs. Despite these efforts, Baleno failed to deliver volumes resulting in its withdrawal in 2006. It is said that the quality of the product is evident in the fact that Baleno is still used as a racing car in India.

It is in this context that the launch of the new Baleno hatchback becomes interesting. MSL has stated that it aims to break into the premium segment of the Indian automotive market. The company had created a premium distribution network branded as Nexa. The company had launched its premium crossover S-Cross through Nexa. 
Everyone knows that MSL has the issue of being perceived as a value-for-money brand. Many experts suggest that more than the VFM perception, the brand Maruti have an issue with the design. So far no product from MSL was having a premium design. 
When  the company has such a perception problem existing, why would it launch a " premium" car with a brand which was phased out? Frankly I don't see any logic or rationale behind that move. Baleno, in my personal view, doesn't have a lasting equity which  could help in the new product launch. Further, the new product is a hatchback and not a sedan. 
So what is the value that the old brand Baleno is bringing to the new product is puzzling. Baleno is also a product which failed due to its high ( premium) pricing. Now MSL is launching a high-priced hatchback in that same name is nothing but an irony. The only logic I see is that the Baleno hatchback is a global product and hence the brand. 
In my opinion, MSL has lost an opportunity to build a premium brand. By launching Nexa, the company wanted to create a separate identity away from old Maruti products. When the company has invested so much in creating a different identity, why would it bring back a brand which has the baggage of history? 
Premium-ness comes from exclusivity, stellar performance and brand equity. I wonder how could anyone relate premium-ness to a brand which was phased out because it was not successful?

On the branding front, I consider the Baleno branding as a big mistake. Baleno hatchback would be a successful product probably as a VFM product and I doubt whether it would be a premium brand as wished by MSL.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Brand Update : Peter England wants you to Be Everything You Love

Peter England that came to India with the promise of an Honest Shirt, has undergone yet another change. This time, the brand has seen a significant change in its personality. From a stiff collar personality, Peter England has become a very youth, adventurous brand. The change in the brand personality is now reflected in the new TVC. Along with the new personality, the brand has also adopted a new tagline " Be Everything You Love ".

Watch the new TVC here: Peter England - Be everything you love

The brand that was launched in 1997 had made a significant positioning change in 2010 when it adopted the tagline " Beginning of Good Things ". The brand had a celebrity endorser at that time. Even then, the brand's personality was that of an affable, honest, serious brand.
In the new avatar, Peter England has become a new person. The new personality reflected by the main actor in the advertisement is young, adventurous and probably irreverent. This is a serious shift from the original brand's persona.
Along these years, the brand has also added more products to its portfolio, including belts, bags and the like. The brand is trying to woo the new young generation and this effort is reflected in the new commercial.
But sadly the theme that the brand has used in the new avatar is used many times by other brands. The interview setting, the older interviewers, and the  smart young hero all looks so cliched and stereotyped. While the move towards new personality is justified, the execution of the new positioning seems to be below average.
It is also to be noted that the young man depicting the brand's personality has not done everything he loves and wishes to do so in the next five years. That prompts me to ask why is he not doing it now ?? 

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Mahindra Gusto : Kisi Se Kam Nahi

Brand : Mahindra Gusto, Centuro
Company : Mahindra Two Wheelers

Brand Analysis Count  : # 559

I think, this is the first time I am writing on two brands in one post. Mahindra had launched its 110 cc scooter in 2014. The brand is going to compete with the likes of  Honda Activa, Access etc. Gusto is interesting brand because it calls itself as a car in two wheels ! 

Gusto is positioned on its car-like features. The brand pitches against the cars claiming that it has car-like features like height-adjustable seat, remote flip-key, LED pilot lamps, find-me lamps etc. The brand has based this theme on the insight that car-owners look down upon the two-wheeler riders ( source - afaqs). Hence the campaign of Gusto features car-owners mocking the Gusto rider and become surprised when they find that Gusto had car-like features. 
Gusto was initially launched with tagline " Break Free" and was positioned as a fun scooter. Now the brand has adopted the tagline " Kisi Se kam Nahi".
Another interesting fact is that Mahindra is promoting its motorcycle and scooter using the same concept. There is a common campaign for Gusto and Centuro and both these brands share the common tagline " Kisi Se Kam Nahi . 

Watch the ad here : Mahindra Two Wheeler ad
Along with this long ad, there are small ads featuring the various car-like features. 

The concept and the innovation creates a wow feeling. I think Mahindra two-wheelers has done well in identifying good differentiators. The brands can be proud of being pioneers in bringing in car-like features into two wheelers. 
Having said that, these features can be easily copied by the competitors and hence the extent of sustainability of this differentiation is limited. Since Mahindra Two-wheelers is trying to get a foothold in the market, these feature rich products will help the company very much; provided the brands succeed in the basic product functions like ridabililty , reliability , performance etc. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Brand Update : Cycle Agarbathi ropes in Big B as Brand Ambassador

Cycle Agarbathies has roped in Amitabh Bachchan as the brand ambassador. The organized agarbathi market in India is worth around Rs 2400 crore, and Cycle has approximately 20% share of this market. The move for a high-profile celebrity endorsement is a strategy to take the brand to a national level. 

The brand also changed its slogan to “ Purity of Prayer”. The new commercial is well made, and BigB was able to pack an emotional tone to the brand. According to reports, the ads were created by Soojith Sirkar of the Piku movie fame. 
Watch the tvc here: Big B Cycle 

The agarbathi market that is highly fragmented is witnessing intense competition with the entry of ITC with the Mangaldeep brand.  In a market like this, distribution is the key since customers tend to experiment with new fragrances and brands. Cycle wants to play the game of branding and with a high profile endorser like BigB, the brand stand a good chance of gaining more share of mind in the market. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Brand Update : Honda Relaunches Jazz

After withdrawing the premium hatchback Jazz in 2013, Honda has relaunched Jazz with an aggressive pricing. Jazz is an interesting marketing story of a brand which failed not because of product but pricing. Honda had priced out Jazz in its earlier avataar. Now the company had become very responsive to the value conscious nature of the Indian consumer. 

Jazz in the 2015 version has been priced upwards of Rs 5.31 lakh which makes a great value proposition in the segment. The Jazz will compete with i20 and higher version of Swift. The new aggressive pricing, new styling and the Honda brand equity will definitely boost the fortune of Jazz in the new launch. 
Also unlike the earlier brand-pull strategy of Honda, there is a marked change in the approach of the dealers towards sales. I casually inquired about the Jazz at Honda service center when I gave my car for service and has been getting sales call for Jazz. This marks a clear departure from the earlier " Take it or Leave it " approach.

The brand is launched with the tagline " Nothing Else is a Jazz " and is playing on the sporty features of the brand. 
Watch the ad here : Honda Jazz relaunch TVC

With aggressive pricing, new styling and with a diesel engine under hood, Jazz would further boost the share of Honda in India for sure.