Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chandrika : Best Soap Nature Can Offer

Brand : Chandrika
Company : Wipro
Agency : FCB Ulka

Brand Analysis Count : 290

Chandrika is a heritage brand. The brand came into existence in 1940. This hand made ayurvedic soap owes its existence to the founder C.R Kesavan Vaidyar who identified the potential for an ayurvedic soap way back in 1940.
From a humble beginning, the brand has come a long way withstanding the test of time. Its a brand that has survived all these years without changing any of the marketing mixes. Now after 6 decades, Chandrika is changing .

Chandrika is a 28 crore brand and has a loyal customer base in the southern states like Kerala and Tamilnadu. The brand was manufactured and marketed by SV Group till 2004. In 2004, Wipro acquired the marketing rights of this brand after a protracted battle with other suitors like Marico.
Chandrika all through these years has been positioned as a traditional ayurvedic soap gifted by nature. The brand differentiates itself from other ayurvedic soaps with its 7 essential oils
Orange oil
Cinnamon leaf
Wild ginger
Sandalwood oil
Lime peel
and Coconut oil.
The brand boasts of being made from pure coconut oil which comprises of 70% of its ingredients.
Chandrika is a handmade soap which is 100 % vegetarian. The brand faces competition from the likes of Medimix and Jeeva together with host of natural soaps and its variants.
The brand has been promoted reasonably well through various media in South India, but the campaigns were ordinary . In the marketing front, Chandrika never was an aggressive player. I think that the company was happy with the sales and loyal customer base it had. Moreover ayurvedic soap market was small and was not growing enough to warrant a change in any of the marketing mix elements. The brand did not even bother to change the packing for a long time.

However 2000 saw a rejuvenation in the ayurvedic soap market. There was a sudden interest from consumers towards green products. Now the ayurvedic soap market is estimated to be Rs 227 crore( Businessline). The increased customer interest has bought in many new players in the ayurvedic soap market. New brands like Jeeva began aggressive promotion which forced older brands like Medimix to sharpen their marketing strategy. This market also made some big companies looking for acquiring brands to gain a foothold in the ayurvedic soap market.

The owners of Chandrika chose to sell out this brand than to fight the competition. The sale of Chandrika was a messy affair with legal battle between Marico and Wipro. At the end the war, Chandrika was acquired by Wipro. The one factor that made Chandrika attractive to suitors was its quality product properties. Wipro felt that Chandrika had qualities which are scalable to a national market.
There was a visible change in the brand after Wipro took over the marketing . Although
Wipro was careful not to tamper the product attributes, the brand changed the shape and packaging. Original Chandrika was in the cake form ( rectangular) while the market was moving towards the oval soap form . Chandrika changed to oval form and the packaging was made more contemporary. The oval shape helps the soap to dry quicker thereby lasts longer. These moves were of important significance because most of the time traditional brands fail because it does not change with times. Hence the first task of Wipro was to make the brand contemporary.
Along with the cosmetic changes , the brand was relaunched with a new positioning.
Watch the ad here : Chandrika
The challenge before Wipro was to make this traditional brand contemporary without losing its core values. The brand was stagnant hence had to attract new users especially the new generation. Then came the big idea. Chandrika took the two qualities : Natural and Exotic as its core brand values. Then came the challenge to communicate this values to the customers. The brand chose to use the brand imagery of a SPA to convey the new positioning. The big idea is to equate the bathing experience with Chandrika to an oil bath at a SPA.
The experience of a SPA is unknown to majority of Indian consumers. Most of use have seen it in TV but may not have visited a SPA. Hence the new equation with SPA takes this traditional brand to an aspirational level. In order to communicate this new positioning, the new ad had to have an ideal imagery. The agency chose the luxurious Pangkor Laut Spa Resort in Malaysia as its location for the ad.
Along with the new campaign , Chandrika also introduced a line extension - Chandrika Amrutham. The variant has an innovation in the form of an aromatic oil that comes with the soap. The soap and the oil opens the pores of the skin and gently cleanses the skin and thus creates a feeling of freshness. The brand which claims to have 18 herbs is positioned as a soap that gives complete freshness for body and mind. Although the variant sounds interesting, it has not clicked in the market because aromatherapy is not yet popular in India. Further the combination of soap and oil is new . But after reading about the variant, I feel that there is lot of potential for this variant if heavily promoted.

In the early nineties, the ayurvedic soap market was in shambles because of price offs and cheap products. A shift in consumer tastes has bought in more serious non- price attributes to gain importance in this market. Wipro has " applied thought " on this brand and the result is evident in way this brand is promoted. Within a few years, Wipro was able to rejuvenate this brand and made it more contemporary. The brand has already running a new campaign these days. Its happy to see a traditional brand morphing to a new young brand.