Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saint-Gobain : The Future of Glass

Corporate Brand : Saint-Gobain
Agency : Lowe

Brand Analysis Count : 330

Saint-Gobain is one of the global leaders in the Glass manufacturing industry. The company has a long history dating back to 1665. The company came into existence in France as a part of Louis XIV s plan to restore the sagging French economy. The company soon became a monopoly in Europe and extended its operation across the world.

Saint-Gobain came to India in 1996 with the acquisition of Grindwell Norton. Grindwell Norton was a major manufacturer of abrasives at that time. Saint-Gobain is visible in the consumer space as a construction-glass products marketer. Besides glass, the company is also into manufacturing high performance materials , abrasives and project management.

Indian treated glass market is worth around Rs 5000 crore. Saint-Gobain is one of the most visible brand in this market. Indian treated glass market is an example of an Oligopoly. There are three major players - Saint-Gobain,Asahi Glass, Gujarat Guardian ( Modiguard) which control the majority of this market.

Treated glass is basically an industrial product ( B2B product ) and the customers are builders and architects. This market is poised to a huge growth owing to the construction boom witnessed in India.
Despite being in the B2B market, Saint-Gobain has invested heavily in brand building. Till now, the brand had eight television commercials to its credit. These investments has enabled Saint-Gobain enormous advantages in terms of brand visibility which translates to better margins and market share.
Construction Glass products are low involvement products and the purchase process is often complex that involves lot of people like architects, building contractors, investors etc.

By investing heavily in the brand building, Saint-Gobain has tried to influence the key decision makers. The campaigns focus on two broad themes
1. To establish the brand as the leader
2 . Highlight the quality of Saint-Gobain glasses.
The memorable campaign includes the one that involves the Japanese waiter speaking out " Hai " and the one where the lady throws water into the clear-glass at a hotel .

Recently the brand launched a range of Sun- Ban glass which prevents heat and thus gives a cooling comfort to the rooms.
The early investment in the brand has given Saint-Gobain a clear lead in the emerging home segment. The booming economy also has opened up a new market for such products in the home construction segment. Further the emphasis on brand also has prompted the builders to look for factors other than price when deciding on such solutions.

Saint-Gobain has the tagline : "The future of glass" . The brand takes pride in its rich heritage and wants to position itself as an innovation leader. The launch of sun-ban glass is in this direction. Although such products are available in the market, Saint-Gobain is the first brand to advertise such a product.

By building a brand Saint-Gobain has achieved two advantages -
a . de-commodize the market
b. Emphasize on non-price attributes like quality .

Saint-Gobain is a classic case of a successful B2B brand. The brand has proved that investment in brand building can give long-term results even in a highly competitive business market.