Monday, July 16, 2007

Knorr : Searching for the Right Flavor

Brand : Knorr
Company: HUL
Agency : FCB Ulka

Brand Count :251

Knorr is World's largest selling soup brand from the Unilever stable. Born in 1838 in Germany,Knorr derived its name from the founder Carl Heinrich Knorr who developed a preservation process for foods which became the basis for the creation of the product Soup.
In India Knorr was marketed by International Best Foods Ltd which was a subsidiary of BestFoods Inc who owned Knorr brands worldwide. In 2000, Unilever acquired Knorr from BestFoods Inc.

Knorr can be said as a pioneer in the creation of Soup market in India. The brand started the category promotion which has now resulted in this category growing at a rate of over 18% ( According to AC Neilsen).But even after these efforts, Soups are still small in terms of category size.
In a marketing point of view, Knorr is a resilient brand because it sustained many crazy marketing actions from HLL ( now HUL). When HUL acquired this brand, Knorr was a pure Soup brand. But soon after the acquisition, the marketing gurus of Levers were confused as to what to do with this brand. Since the Foods business in India is largely unpredictable, is it wise to have a brand that is dedicated to Soups which is a category alien to Indian palate.
Then came the much hyped power brand strategy and something funny happened with Knorr. HLL decided to integrate its local brand Annapoorna with Knorr to create a new brand Knorr Annapoorna. ( This move makes the concept of GLOCAL, funny). Then came the craziest part, Knorr began to move from Soups to Ketchups to Spices and even Salt. I would call it the ultimate product line extension .The company ensured the failure of Knorr Annapoorna by stretching it that far. The period 2000 - 2005 was a period of crisis for this brand. In 2003 , facing the growing clout of Maggi in the foods segment, HLL tried to counter Maggi with the launch of Knorr break-time snack soup under the subbrand Soupy Snack. That failed miserably.

Knorr Annapoorna brand was a failure because those who liked Annapoorna brand was repelled by Knorr and those who like Knorr was repelled by Annapoorna. In 2005, the two brands went in for a divorce.
2005 saw the relaunch of Knorr with the international pack and retaining some careful targeting. The brand wanted its upmarket status and decided to concentrate more on Soups and all the extensions of spices and salt was terminated.
2006 was good for Knorr brand because the brand manager was able to focus on the category rather than spending his energy on variants that does not make sense. During this period, the brand cameout with campaigns that promoted the category rather than the brand itself. Soup and its benefits were highlighted. This together with the efforts of Maggi Soups ensured a healthy growth for this category.
This year saw HUL playing around with this brand again. Knorr again went for a Brand Extension in the form of Ready To Make curry mix.
Watch the ads here : Make a Meal

The move is again little confusing because the primary category of Soups has not been fully developed. Knorr has been successful in ensuring adequate shelfspace and also has positioned itself interms of variety and taste. The brand's USP is the wide assortment of flavors. Knorr boasts of 14 different flavors and the price is also very reasonable. The Soup brand is running a campaign that shows husband making the soup for the family ( refreshing idea) when his wife is busy engrossed in a movie/serial. The ad conveys the qualities of " Ready to make" , Family warmth and taste.

The rationale behind the extension to Ready to Make products may be to make this brand more familiar to Indian households and also a plan to make Knorr an umbrella brand like Maggi. Worldwide Knorr has moved beyond Soups to become a full fledged Food brand. InIndia I feel that the brand has not matured that much. My personal belief is that Knorr will have a better future if it sticks to what it is famous for ie Soups.The brand could have spent its resources to promote Soup Category more and then rule that category.

What do you think?

Source : businessline,agencyfaqs