Monday, February 27, 2006

Margo:lost in the Neem trees !

Brand : Margo
Company: Henkel
Agency: FCB Ulka

Margo is one of the oldest herbal soaps in India. The brand which is more than 85 years old is famous for its neem content. The product although famous for its positive effects to the skin is nowhere in the market. This is a brand which never changed with the customer. During its launch, the product had dedicated customer base and since the product was unique due to its medicinal value , customers tend to be loyal. The whole brand was having Neem as its core identity.

But Margo failed to understand the changing dynamics of Indian consumers, more and more choices began to unfold before the consumer and Margo was becoming a niche brand. Margo was positioned as a "complete skin care soap". When market became fragmented with lot of products positioning at different attributes, Margo was sidelined as a medicinal soap.

The product has inherent negatives, the fragrant was not attractive nor the shape. It was also less lathering compared to its competitors. Margo changed hands from Shaw Wallace to Henkel. Although Margo was relaunched in 2003 with a new fragrance and shape , it has not excited the market so far. The new positioning is " Margo skin clear skin". The brand had a following in AP, Tamilnadu and West Bengal ( am not sure about its present status). The single mistake the brand made was to miss the new generation. It failed to attract the young users.

With Lifebouy herbal variant and other established brands taking in the "neem" content away from Margo, this brand needs a hell lot of money to rejuvenate itself. May be a high decibel big celebrity endorsement may help this brand ( try Aishwarya for a change) . Can it change its avatar and fight lifebuoy in the health platform?

This is a brand that failed to change with the customer or changed very late.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Thums Up : Taste The Thunder

Brand : Thums Up
Company: Coca Cola
Agency:Leo Burnett

What will you do after buying a brand which has a market share of 60 % for 120 crore?

a. Build it further
b. Consolidate the position
c. Extend the brand equity
d. Kill it

Well a company took the choice ( d) .

A company known for its marketing prowess, owner of an iconic brand which is considered to be the most valued brand in the world. Does this choice seem totally … idiotic?

That was what Coca-Cola Company tries to do with Thums Up…

Thums Up was launched in India in 1977 when the multi national giants coke and Pepsi were asked to leave the country. Thums up ruled the Indian market for 16 years . A brand owned by Ramesh Chauhan of Parle was a carefully built icon. It could withstand the competition from Pepsi and was a market leader.
With the Cola war hotting up with the reentry of Coke into the Indian market in 1992, a very unusual event happened. Ramesh Chauhan sold Thums Up to Coke for 120 crores.

There after we saw a very unusual happening, an event very rare in Marketing history, a company killing a market leader bought for 120 crores to launch its global brand. In marketing this never makes sense. Why should you kill a leading brand for launching your own brand? Are you so smart ? Over confident?

History proved other wise….

Thums up even after 13 years sells more than coke and Pepsi. The brand is so strong that it has refused to die. After 1985 “ New Coke” failure, this is the greatest marketing blunder that Coke made.

Thums Up was our very own Indian brand. Launched as a very masculine brand with the baseline “ Taste the Thunder” stole the heart of millions of Indian youth. Thums UP is a strong tasting cola targeting at young adults. It has the highest carbonation among the cola brands which appealed to the palate of Indians. The brand is very popular in Andhra Pradesh , Maharashtra Gujarat, UP , West Bengal, and Karnataka with Andhra contributing 30% of the sales.

The brand personifies victory,achievement and celebration.

With Thums Up; the largest selling cola at its fold, Coca Cola initially tried to kill the brand to pave the entry of Coke. But they found that only Pepsi will benefit with the withdrawal of Thums Up and retracted the strategy. The new owners tried to reposition Thums Up as a manly brand. The famous tagline “Taste the Thunder “was changed to “I want my Thunder” But that change was a flop and the company retracted the old tagline. Later they again changed the baseline to “ Grow Up to Thums up” in tune with the strategy of blind taste campaign depicting Pepsi as a sweeter brand , hence not for men. It is said that the campaign was successful.

Right now Thums Up is degraded as a flanking brand for Coke. Coke is using it just to bash Pepsi. Coke has been using all macho film personalities like Akshay , Salman and Sunil Shetty to position this brand as a macho brand . We see sporadic bursts of promotions of this brand but one can see the dilemma of Coke about this brand. Full scale promotion of the brand can take away the share of coke which they cannot afford to do. Taking this brand away will help Pepsi. So he only choice is to push it along till it dies on its own.

Coke was never fully into the promotion of the brand. Half heartedly they tried to market the brand making all sort of repositioning and experiments. Even after all these messing up, the brand is strong. May be the consumers are not willing to let go the brand. This is a classic case of a brand getting an iconic status. A case where the customers take the ownership of the brand. Now Coke no longer owns the brand , consumers own it.

Had Coke promoted the brand, Pepsi did not have a chance in Indian cola market. By looking inwardly and taking a blind eye towards the consumer, Coke has compromised on the basic principles of marketing. Coke could have ruled the Indian market with Thums Up. But they could not stand the thought of Coca cola playing a supporting role to another brand.

Coke is trying to create a separate market for Thums Up. It is playing the regional game and in areas where coke is strong, slowly Thums Up is withdrawn. As a marketer I don’t see a future in this brand. This icon is going to fade into the annals of History of Brands

Thums Up: Lost its thunder.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Iodex : Ooh Aaah Ouch

Brand : Iodex
Company : Smithkline Beecham
Agency : Enterprise Nexus

Iodex is a classic example of a generic brand being dumped by consumers because it did not change with changing consumer expectation. Another classic case of marketing Myopia. A brand which once commanded 70% market share is now languishing at 20%. Moov have moved Iodex from the first place.

How can this happen to a brand owned by a gaint like Glaxo commanding a market share in excess of 50% suddenly become a laggard?

Iodex like Chetak, Robin, did not change with times rather these brands were resistant to change. May be blinded by the success of the brand, the managers did not care what a smaller company named Paras was doing.In the 400 crore pain and rub market, Iodex have left the position of a leader to a follower. David have humbled a Goliath.

Iodex although a quality product had certain shortcomings
1. Greasy
2. Bad smell
3. Unattractive packaging
Moov looked at that shortcomings and projected itself as a product which is white, nice smelling and no greasy. Iodex could have retaliated with a white version but did that only after the battle is over. Too late.

Iodex have a great legacy, a history of 86 years but all lost because company thought about themselves as invincible. The campaigns were good and the brand was accepted by the consumers.But that never means that customers will stay with you for life.
ooh aah ouch...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Tata Safari : Reclaim Your Life

Brand : Safari Dicor
Company: Tata Motors
Agency: O&M

Safari is the first luxury SUV in India. Launched in 1998 Safari have around 23% market share in the booming SUV market in India. Although Safari has been dwarfed by the success of homegrown Scorpio, it is an example of the guts of Tata to invest and built a brand.

Although Safari has been there in the market for 8 years, it has not been able to excite the market in the way Scorpio did. One of the major factor being the product quality.With the failures of Estate and Seirra, Tata motor's image had took a beating .
Safari is India's first full bodied luxury sport utility vehicle is known for its comfort and luxury. Launched as an off roader, the positioning of Safari has been changed thrice. Initially Safari was positioned as an offroader. the ads had jungle as the main locale and the baseline said " Make your own road". The ads created by O&M were catchy and rightly positioned the premiumness of the brand. Later consumer research revealed that Safari is used by urban folks and perceived as a City vehicle and not an offroader. Hence Safari shifted its positioning as a " Car for the urban Jungle".Tata projected Safari as a lifestyle product and promoted Safari using all media including Placement in Film ( ROAD) , sponsoring events and high decibel media blitz.
Safari recently did a major overhaul and launched it with new look and new engine DICOR and a new positioning. The new DICOR says " Reclaim your life" taking the campaign to a higher level and trying to connect with the customer at a higher plane ( Oops ! Am I becoming philosophical?).
It can be called as Laddering where initially you start taking about functional aspects but later when the brand awareness is high you connect with the need of the customer at a higher level. Here Safari dares you to break from your past and go after your dreams.
Personally I was really impressed by the ad, the message and the product. Going by the new strategy of Tata Motors to load their products with value, Safari is also loaded with all the hightechs that is seen usually in high end SUV's.
Safari has all the potential to Reclaim its Rightful Place .

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Vicco : Lost in the woods?

Brand : Vicco turmeric
Company: Vicco lab

Vicco Turmeric cream is India's first fairness cream although it is not positioned as a fairness cream. The product which is based on turmeric have a 54 year old history. The product was launched in 1956 missed the liberalisation era all together.

Although the product is successfully exported, the potential of Vicco Turmeric is not fully utilized in the Indian market. Vicco was marketed as a skin care cream . Over the years this product is stereotyped as a brand for " would be brides" . The ads which was aired for a long time had this theme.
In olden times this theme perfectly works since marriage is the most important occasion in a woman's life. But Vicco failed to understand the changing consumer trends which Fair & Lovely correctly sensed. Women have changed and their attitude towards life have also changed. Instead of marriage, now there are many occasions where women celebrate . Infact the stereotype of marriage now don't work. In simple terms the TG changed.
Vicco never was aggressive. It continued with its conventional traditional strategies while HLL marched away with the market.
Vicco Turmeric ayurvedic cream is in the naturals segment of Indian skin care segment which is estimated to be around 1300 crore. Except for Vicco there are no pure naturals brands in this segment . All major brands have a naturals extension some of them have failed miserably.
Vicco had huge potential because of its excellent quality , brand recall and more importantly the ingredient "Turmeric". It should have owned "Turmeric" factor. Now we see lot of local manufacturers selling turmeric powder to women to be used as a cosmetic. That was a market that Vicco should have concentrated. Fairever succeeded because of the ingredient saffron. Vicco could have made a killing with turmeric which is one of the best ingredient you can ever have. But alas....
Although there is lot of concentration on fairness market, there is a market for pure beauty creams which can give a wholesome solution to the consumers, Vicco turmeric had all that to be a leader.
A brand is built only if there is a clear strategy and support . Vicco failed to understand the changing value system of the customers. What it needs is a repositioning strategy based on the wholesome properties of turmeric and lot of noise in the market.
What a potential to be wasted.......

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Wagon-R: For a Smarter Race

Brand: Wagon-R
Company: Maruti
Agency: Hakudo Percept

This is one of the successful brands from Maruti portfolio in the premium segment of compact cars. Wagon R was launched in February 2000 and has gone through several makeovers during these 6 years.

Wagon-R which was priced very steeply during the launch did a drastic price cut to appeal to the customer. Initially Wagon-R struggled with the value proposition. The quality of the car was excellent and Wagon-R was rated as a top quality compact car by JD Power Quality surveys. Once it got the price right and with the demise of Zen, Wagon- R had a jolly good run.

Wagon-R has a unique Tall Boy shape is one of the original tall boy cars although the credit for tall boy design popularity goes to Santro. Wagon-R was initially positioned on the basis of the functionality platform. Initially promoted as a family car with the baseline “Feel At Home” Wagon-R is yet to find the right message to be given to the customer

Maruti calls Wagon-R as a Multi- Activity vehicle t with a unique look, more space and excellent drive quality. Maruti likes Wagon-R to be perceived as an Off-beat car.

Maruti struggling to find the right fit for the car in the minds of the customer,changed the positioning from “ Feel At Home “ to “ Inspired Engineering” to “ As Interesting as You Are “ and finally to " For a Smarter Race " to project the unconventional design and the off beat persona of the car. These changes have not so far affected the sale of the car either positively or negatively. The car sold very well because the product was good. Since the competitor Santro has really bored the customer, Wagon-R gave a choice to the customer.

Recently Wagon-R changed the positioning again. The new baseline says “For a Smarter Race”. The campaign shows the young man doing the unconventional act like starting his own business and the chick getting really impressed by that. Very unlikely fit; such kinds of guys drive a Scorpio or a Safari. Also the locale of the ad is a riverside; Wagon-R is not an off-roader!

Maruti is still confused.

Wagon-R has the record of a brand which has changed the positioning so frequently like a baby changing its diapers. The sale is going north because the product is good contrary to the fact that the positioning is going south (We may have to test whether positioning affect the sales of a product. Wagon-R proves it doesn’t). Personally I don’t think that Wagon-R is bought by unconventional offbeat thinking yuppie. All my friends have bought this car because of its functionality as a compact city car: nothing more,nothing less.

As long as the product is selling, anything goes …..

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Domex : 100% germ killer

Brand : Domex
Company : HLL
Agency : Lowe

This is a brand that is trying to challenge the unorganised sector. The household cleaner market is estimated to be around 400 crore and the phenyl market is around 200 crore. Domex is a major brand in the floor cleaning and disinfectant market in India.

Domex was launched in 1997 targeting the premium end of the market . Initially the brand was marketed as a premium specialist floor cleaner. Floor cleaners are less popular in the Indian households. Only 3% of the households use floor cleaners. 97 % use proxy products which are the combination of phenyl, detergents ,acids and bleaching powders.The purchase of floor cleaners depends on the demographic factors and the type of floors.

HLL realising the potential in this segment reduced the price of Domex from Rs 42 to Rs 22 to appeal to the mass market. Hll also tried to woo the hospital segment for Domex. It launched a co branded certification program called Domex Clean hospitals. This project was later put on hold.

Domex has a 30% share in the Rs 30 crore specialist floor cleaner market neck to neck with Lizol from Reckitt & Benckiser. How ever in the Rs 40 crore toilet cleaning segment Domex is lagging behind the market leader Harpic which have a market share of 75-80%.

While most of the players in the household cleaning segment focus on the cleaning ability, Domex is positioning itself as a germ fighting cleaner. It promises 100% germ kill ( if Domex is used undiluted) and is targeted at households where there are kids. Domex is also trying to fight Harpic using the " germ kill" platform. Harpic is focusing more on cleanliness. The ads are catchy and right on target.

Although the market for specialist cleaners is small the ultimate objective of Domex is to capture the unorganised Phenyl segment which is a larger segment. Domex launched a Domex + phenyl variant to capture this segment.
Domex also launched a direct to customer initiative named " phenyl Khallas" to educate the consumers about the virtue of using Domex comparing it with local phenyl.
Domex is a bold brand trying to capture a commodity market

Monday, February 13, 2006

Vimal suitings : Where art Thou ?

Brand : Vimal Suitings
Company : Reliance Industries Ltd
Agency : Mudra

One of the oldest and most respected iconic textile brand of India is languishing some where in the attic of the mega corporation Reliance. The brand which started of as a Saree brand developed itself into a mega textile brand for women , men and even for furniture ( Vimal Harmony is one of the largest furnishing brand).

Vimal suitings was launched in 1980 after the successful Vimal range of sarees. At that point of time Reliance was a predominantly a textile company. This brand was carefully positioned as a premium men's suitings brand. The brand which was handled by Mudra, was promoted heavily by Reliance. At that time the major competitors being Bombay Dyeing and Raymonds.

According to the case study of Vimal available in Mudra Website, the Vimal Suitings brand was developed in 4 stages . The first stage involved convincing the customer about the quality of the brand explaining the technology behind the making of Vimal in advertisements. The second stage involved creating a personality of the brand using living legends. In the ads, living legends like army veterans, experts in various fields were used as models to build the character of the brand as a credible brand. The third stage involved promoting the brand as a fashion brand or Style guru. The ads showed Kabir Bedi and the likes catched the imagination of the TG. The 4 stage used cricketer as models to appeal to larger crowd. May be Vimal was one of the first brands that used cricketer as models ( correct me if I'm wrong).

I would add the fifth stage as letting the brand die without giving it any marketing support.

The brand was targeted at the young ambitious who are challengers to the CEO's . The brand personality was stylish, and aspirational. Vimal was promoted using the famous tagline " OnlyVimal " created by Late Frank Simoes. The tagline is said to be personally approved by Dhirubai himself. The brand was a premium brand and the ads were catchy. Reliance also opened exclusive Vimal showrooms as a part of promoting the brand.

Later in the 1990's the Reliance business model changed. The company changed from textiles to petrochemicals and Vimal was not fitting into reliance business plans. It was the only retail brand of Reliance ( now we have RIM) and company never focused on Vimal.

As far as a marketer is concerned, Vimal was a great brand with huge potential ( whether it fits into Reliance plan is another issue). 90's also saw the shift in the consumer's preference towards readymades. Although reliance had a readymade brand "Reance" it was a half hearted move which resulted in a flop.

Vimal was known for its quality and style. Still people remembers its simple baseline " Only Vimal". Lack of marketing support had virtually killed the brand. Now the position that Vimal occupied is now owned by Raymonds and Reid & Taylor.
News reports suggest that Reliance may revive the Vimal brand owing to their retail foray and the opening of the textile sector to the global markets. Vimal have already being messed itself up with the launch of V2 brand which is cheap and available even in grocery stores. What a way to mess up a brand ! Vimal have stopped marketing sarees and is said to be concentrating on suitings. Suitings are becoming more popular because of the increasing globetrotters and professionals.

Reviving Vimal will be very difficult since this brand has lost its touch with the new Indian consumer.

Oh Vimal!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Nightingale : Experience The Finest In Paper

Brand : Nightingale
Company : Srinivas Fine Arts

Nightingale is a super brand ( my choice). There has been lot of debates and thinking about how to market a commodity. Want an answer? Study this brand. Nightingale has carefully built one of the best brands in an industry dominated by unorganized sector.Nightingale is the brand owned by Srinivas Fine Arts (SFA). SFA had a humble beginning. Started in 1964 by Chockalingam and Brothers, as a print trading company in Sivakasi, SFA have now become a global player with a presence in 5 continents. SFA later expanded their business from print production of textile labels to maps and graphs. In 1974 SFA started its own paper trading business. In 1992, it expanded to packaging, soaps and matches.In 1990's SFA introduced the Nightingale brand to the world.

The Indian stationery market is estimated to be around 5000 crores with the organized market accounting to around 500 crores. Nightingale now produces a wide range of products from Diaries to notebooks and journals.

Nightingale right from the beginning carefully positioned itself as a premium brand. The market for diaries was not hot and no effort on branding was visible. I remember only one player : Eagle brand for diaries and notebooks.

Nightingale changed all that. It has created and now owns the premium end of the diaries and notebooks with a clear market and product strategy.
Nightingale brand is built on Innovation , Quality and Image. The brand has carefully segmented the premium segment of the Diary market. IT has also ensured that the quality will be the major focus. During the early days, there was not much focus on the quality aspect for these kinds of products. It was basically a functional or utility product. Nightingale changed that perception and positioned the diaries as a lifestyle product.

Besides quality, Innovation was the factor that was crucial in branding a commodity. Nightingale based its product not only on functionality but also on concepts. The diaries and notebooks are concept oriented. For example, there are Nightingale diaries like Religious diaries (Nightingale was the first one to come out with a Christian diary), Environmental Diaries, Notebooks which are based on personalities, Diaries that have cartoons and quotes, Vedic diaries etc. Altogether there are 264 varieties of diaries from Nightingale.
Nightingale was the first brand to have diaries for various professionals like engineers, doctors which had special sections useful for these professionals.
Nightingale also markets its most expensive diary “ Silver Oak “ which is priced at Rs 57000. This undated diary has 140 gm silver ornamentation and designed by David Sarac. Already the corporate have grabbed this product for corporate gifting.

Let us look at how carefully Nightingale crafts each of the products. Take the case of a product called Layflat notebook. The product have long durability , It maximizes the use of space and have a special ruling and comes with a page marker. Each of the products has some qualities that make it worthy of a premium.

Innovations like a five year diary, undated diaries, theme based diaries personal journals like journal to write about your dreams, and Fashion diaries have made this brand a lifestyle brand.

With Nightingale , experience the finest in branding....

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Pleasure : Why Should Boys Have All The Fun ?

Brand : Pleasure
Company: Hero Honda
Agency: FCB Ulka

November 2005 saw the launch of the scooter from Hero Honda branded " Pleasure". The launch is a bold one because of two reasons
1. The scooter is going to compete with its technology partner Honda.
2. Hero Honda is perceived as a bike manufacturer.

Pleasure is a 102 cc scooter targeting the young ladies. The launch makes sense because the scooter segment is now growing and is expected to touch 1 million units. In the scooter segment , the ungeared scooter segment is growing very fast. Hero Honda wants to have a pie of this segment. It is a paradox in that in 1990's Hero Honda disrupted Scooters with its 4 stroke bikes and now it is introducing a scooter.
Pleasure is positioned as a Pleasure scooter. The company is targeting Ladies and Ladies only ( that is clearly and obviously cried out in the baseline and in the ads). That,I will call a sound strategy. If you are targeting ladies, why should you expect men to ride that scooter. So Hero Honda has decided that the brand will be for ladies. Pleasure is going to be sold through " Just4her" showrooms where the salesperson will be ladies . ( Men are going to be pissed off by that)
The product comes with 8 flashy colours and lot of features for the fairer sex like broader seats, electric start etc. So as far as the product concept goes, Hero Honda have a winner at hand.
The communication executed by FCB Ulka which is splashed all over the channels have an international look and aimed at the ladies of age group 18 - 35. The segmentation is based on the current techno boom and the emerging empowered ladies segment.
Will it work in the real world?
If I had the answer, I would have been next Philip Kotler.
There are some danger points in Pleasure's paths. The product is pitted against Honda Activa and Dio. Activa is a formidable player and its reputation itself is an entry barrier for Pleasure. Since the pricing of Pleasure is comparable with that of Dio, Pleasure should have to make sure that it create a meaningful differentiation.
Hero Honda off late has been unsuccessful in its new product launches. It has not been able to take out Pulsar or Boxer and all the new product launches like Ambition was flops. So Hero Honda will have to convince the ladies to choose Pleasure over Activa. If Hero Honda is able to sustain the brand over one year, there is a possibility of migration from Scooterette segment to Pleasure.
Till that time " Let boys have fun" .....

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Yamaha : Not truly Yamaha !

Brand: Yamaha
Company: Yamaha
Agency : Dentsu

Yamaha which once ruled the mind of Indian youth is now in dire straits. The company which is the second largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world is having a market share of 5% in the booming Indian two wheeler market which is growing at a rate of 12-15%.


Yamaha is a performance bike manufacturer which recently celebrated its golden jubilee of its existence . In India Yamaha was present in a joint venture with Escorts which brought out the blockbuster Yamaha RX 100 and the cult Yamaha RD 350. Yamaha and Hero Honda had during the late 80's beat the hell out of scooter manufacturers , but Yamaha now has lost its edge. Yamaha broke the partnership with Escorts and started its India operations as a 100% subsidiary of Yamaha Japan from 2001 onwards.

Yamaha was not able to sustain the momentum it had generated during 1990's with RX100. RX100 was a bike that had style and substance. The product was powerful, gave no mech problems and was embraced by the youth. But after the tight environmental regulations introduced in 90's , RX100 had to be shelved. RX100 was replaced by RX135 which was no where near RX100. The ride was terrible and the product had nothing to boast about. It was the beginning of decline of Yamaha.

Yamaha was not able to bringout a blockbuster product in the recent past. It is unfair if I don't mention that there were lot product launches from Yamaha but nothing clicked. The reason being that the company was focused on Utility segment ( true that money is there only in that segment). Yamaha did not try to look at the changing profile of the Indian consumer.

Yamaha also thought that it had the same premium image in the mind of the customer . It failed to realise that the brand equity has eroded because of failed product launches. It had no product to showcase its superiority as a bike manufacturer. While Bajaj demonstrated its arrival in to the bike segment with Eliminator and Pulsar, Yamaha still tried its luck in the executive segment which was dominated by Splendor from Hero Honda.

Yamaha should have realised that inorder to break the Splendor's dominance, It had to build a brand in the premium segment and using that image, try its luck in the mid segment. Bajaj launched Eliminator to show the technical superiority. We drooled at the cruiser and then grabbed Pulsar. Yamaha failed to do that.

Yamaha tried to shock the market with a low priced Cruiser Enticer at an unbelievable price of 49000 but the product failed because the company wanted to play the volume game. Enticer could not sustain the huge initial it got because the market for cruiser was only emerging and the product did not live up to the expectation. Cruiser with only a power of 125 cc was itself a failing proposition. Now that there is a trend towards low priced cruiser pioneered by Bajaj Avenger, Enticer relaunch may succeed.

Yamaha then launched Crux and Libero and Fazer in the executive segment but could not set the market on fire . The company says that it is moving away from utility bikes to performance bikes. The launch of Fazer was towards this direction. The product had an unusual look hence failed to catch the imagination of Indian bike enthusiasts. Here again the company made a mistake of not making a statement.

Yamaha is having big plans for India. The company is earmarking 200 crores in revamping its operations. On the marketing side, it has roped in John Abraham as the brand ambassador.

I am no expert in Motorcycles but I feel that Yamaha now needs to make a STATEMENT. A powerful statement that will force the consumers to look up and say " Its a Yamaha".
Just compare the Fazer launched in India and the Fazer which is showcased internationally, the Indian Fazer is no where near the international one. Why did Yamaha which wanted to play the lifestyle game launch a stripped down Fazer ? Had it launched a chunky masculine Yamaha in India, the brand will move miles ahead in the mind of the consumer. Forget the price and the volume, bring the best bike to India and make a statement.
What we have in India is not the Yamaha but only a shadow. Yamaha if it wants to emerge from the shadows will have to shed the volume game and seriously build the brand.
To become Truly Yamaha , Change the rules...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Chevrolet Tavera : Family car or Taxi?

Brand : Tavera
Company: Chevrolet ( GM)
Agency : Enterprise Nexus? or McCann?

Chevrolet Tavera was launched in 2004 by GM to tap the emerging segment in the Indian Automotive market : the SUVs. The brand has a good start and helped GM to project the much needed growth interms of volume.

Tavera was pitted against Qualis when it was launched. Tavera was better in styling and other features, while Qualis was the ugly duckling. So naturally Tavera with its aggressive pricing became the choice of families.

Tavera was initially positioned as a comfortable family car. It was slated to dominate the Multi- utility vehicle segment with a potential even to eat into the C-class segment dominated by Hyundai Accent, Ikon and City.
But nothing happened. The sales of Tavera was dipping and contrary to expectations, this product is not setting the market on fire.

India is a good market for MUV or rather large vehicles. Although parking can be a major problem, the psychographic profile of Indian families need such a large mode of transport. We Indians like to take the family together on trips, films outing etc. Most of the cars can accommodate 4 or maximum 5. If you have kids, they need more space to enjoy the drive. Iam not kidding because we think that kids need less space so we cram them up in small cars . Really they are uncomfortable sitting in Mom's lap or fighting with the sibling for the window view.

Tavera sought to eliminate all that. The car is large, price is good, reviews about handling and comfort is also good, but something somewhere is missing. The part which is missing is right positioning.

The car which was initially positioned as a family car is now marketed as a Taxi. The baseline is now changed from ' The comfortable family car" to " To drive your business ahead". GM wants to play the volume game. It is perfectly working and I am seeing lot of Tavera Taxis. It is the same story as Qualis.

GM needs to learn from Toyota, how they position the Innova as the family car despite the vehicle being used as taxis. Tavera is yet to decide on the strategy. It wants to be a family car and taxi? Can a brand be every thing to every one?

The dilemma is evident in the new campaign with Irfan Pathan and Zaheer Khan playing cricket in Tavera. One of the most ridiculous thing I have seen in promoting the product. If you are talking to family, then cricket is not the right media. If you are talking to business people, then talk about car features not cricket. Any way you look at the campaign , it is absolute waste of money. The company is also changing its agency and when ever the agency changes, expect the positioning also changes.

Tavera have to decide where it want to go. Family or business. If it is family, then the volume will take time to come and if it is business, spent money on direct selling rather than spending money on Irfan or Zaheer.

With excellent product qualities and price, Tavera have all the potential to survive in Indian market If only .......

Monday, February 06, 2006

Polo : Mint With A Hole

Brand : Polo
Company : Nestle
Agency : Lowe

Polo is the market leader in the mint candy category in India. This is a brand that has created lot of excitement in the market with its smart advertising and promotion.
The history of Polo dates back to 1725 when Rowntree opened a tea and coffee shop in York. In 1948, they began selling Polo Mint candy. The company changed hands and in 1988 Nestle bought the company over. Polo was launched in India in 1994.

The word Polo is said to be derived from the word Polar . The word points to the cool and fresh feeling gained after taking a freshener like Polo.
Polo comes under the Adult confectionery market which is estimated to be around 1100 crores. Polo is the market leader in the mint based lozenges category.
Polo is famous for its positioning as a " Mint with a Hole " which created lot of excitement for the brand. The campaigns portrayed the unique shape as a differentiating factor. The campaigns was humorous and the product gained instant market.

The category is now facing lot of competition. Big players like ITC and Perfetti is eyeing this category seriously. ITC have acquired MintO from candico in 2002 and aggressively promoting the brand with the positioning " unusually Cool". Candico earlier pitted MintO as a Mint without a hole thus challenging Polo headon. Then ITC repositioned Minto as a cool brand. There are other players like Chlor-Mint getting aggressive in this market.

Nestle recently have done away with its successful positioning based on the Hole. The brand changed the agency to Lowe. The current campaign talks about the cosmetic benefit and value addition. The ads talks about whistling while eating Polo with the baseline " Polo ghao seethi bajao" which does not create any meaningful impact on the TG.

Polo was successful in the market because of smart ads and some innovative product strategies like Polo holes in sachets at a very low price point. But recently the company has discarded the age old positioning of Mint with a Hole . This shift together with some ineffective ads can prove to be a watershed for the brand. The fresh breath proposition is already taken by the competitors.The competing brands are also making innovations in the products like coming out with flavours other than mint, sugar free variants etc.
Polo will have to work hard on its product strategy to keep the market it had created.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Fair & Lovely : Chand ka Tukda

Brand : Fair & Lovely
Company : HLL
Agency: Lowe

Fair & Lovely ( FAL) is the brand that revolutionized the Indian Skin care industry. This brand is World's first and largest Fairness cream brand with a presence in 40 countries and a value of around Rs. 6 billion

Indian skin care market was dominated by conventional beauty care products like Bezan,Multani Mitti etc. FAL changed all that. Launched in 1975, FAL is the product born in the Unilever research center. In 1988 the brand went international. FAL commands a market share of over 70% in the Rs 1000 crore fairness market in India.
FAL virtually created and owned this category for long. In the fairness market, FAL enjoyed monopoly till Cavin Kare entered this lucrative segment with Fairever. The success of Fairever prompted many players like Godrej to tap the market.

FAL sustained the pressure from the competitor by careful branding and new product launches. The brand never failed to emulate and learn from the competitor .When Fairever launched the ayurvedic variant, FAL launched a much better variant. Then came the competition from Ozone Ayurvedics with their brand No Marks trying to carve a niche. HLL countered with FAL Antimarks and launched a controversial comparative ad that took the steam out of No Marks.
When Fair ever launched the soap, FAL also responded with soap. FAL never allowed the competitors to gain an upper hand in the market which it created.
FAL achieved such tremendous success because of careful branding and ad campaigns. Initially HLL to do some ugly talking about fairness. Some of the ads were controversial because of gender inequality and stuff like that. It was necessary at that period because the category was new and the brand should first talk about the need to be fairer.
Now the brand has laddered up to more aspirational values like "Transformation of Women" The insight is that the transformation will be more than skin deep. The ads showing a girl achieving the ambition of being a cricket commentator ( a male bastion) were very much effective in connecting with the TG.
HLL has also extended the brand to more aspirational values by launching Fair& Lovely foundation that works for Women Empowerment achievement and Transformation which are the qualities for which FAL stands for.
FAL have also launched a premium subbrand Perfect Radiance to tap the premium segment of the market.
Fair & Lovely was able to dominate the fairness market because of careful marketing and is a showcase of the marketing genius of HLL.