Monday, July 07, 2008

Meera : Healthy Hair for Years

Brand : Meera
Company : Cavinkare
Agency : Bates 141

Brand Analysis count : 336

Meera is a classic example of ethnic marketing in Indian context. Ethnic is defined as that which is pertaining to or characteristic of a people ( group) sharing a common and distinctive culture. Ethnic marketing is understanding those distinctiveness and adapting product and marketing strategies inorder to appeal to that group.

Meera is famous for its herbal hair wash powder. The tradition of using powder hair wash lies in our culture and tradition. Traditionally Indian women relied on powdered herbs to nourish their hair.

Then along with changing lifestyles, new products like shampoos began to take the place of these herbal powders. While hair oils have retained their position in the hair care market, the use of hair-wash powder was reduced to a niche.

It is in this context that Meera as a brand becomes interesting. The brand not only catered to the niche but also has developed this market and evolved to become an umbrella brand for more traditional hair-care products.

Although there was many companies who were selling powder hair wash, most of these players belong to the unorganized sector . Shaw Wallace had a similar product but the firm was not promoting that line. Cavinkare began to aggressively built the brand and Meera became the market leader in that category.
Herbal hair wash product typically consists of powder/essence from Shikakai , green gram, tulsi, veliver, reetha , hibiscus ,feenugreek etc.

When time passes by, these traditional products tend to lose relevance . Traditional products fade from the market for many reasons like
a. Better new products : New and better products make some traditional products less relevant.
b. No marketing : Because of lack of marketing, many traditional products fade from the consumer's mental space.
c. Product availability.
d. Changing consumer preferences
e. Non-viability of manufacturing and marketing traditional products.

In the case of herbal powder market, the products are unattractive to urban market because these are not easy products. Herbal powders are often messy and the user has to spent lot of time in using the product. In this fast life, the urban consumers are looking for fast solutions.

In my observation, consumers with grave hair problems tend to go back to these herbal products because of they feel worthwhile to invest time in using these products.

Meera as a brand has made the choice easy for the consumers. Instead of using unbranded products, consumers trusted Meera since it came from a well known company. The brand also is available in sachets thus making it convenient for the consumer to buy the product in smaller quantities. Meera uses the slogan " Healthy hair for years " highlighting the efficacy of the product.

Buoyed by the success of the hair-wash product, Cavinkare extended Meera into shampoos and soaps.
In 2004, the brand extended itself to the highly lucrative hair-oil market. Indian hair-oil market is worth around 1800 crore.

Inorder to differentiate Meera herbal oil , the company relied on a smart packaging design. The oil bottle had a visibly suspended porous cylinder containing the herbal ingredients and the consumer can see the oil deriving the nourishing from these herbs on a continuous basis. The brand virtually put into practice the dictum - " The differentiation should be observable ".

Meera is a popular brand in South India. Infact in another classic case of localising the marketing /product strategy, the brand launched Meera Chemparathi Thali in Kerala. Chemparathi is the regional name for Hibiscus. Hibiscus powder is used by Keralite as a traditional hair-care solution. Meera cashed in on this and launched the variant.

Meera is a brand which keep the hope of traditional products alive. The acceptance of this brand by consumers also gives a proof about the efficacy of traditional solutions.

With regard to the brand, Meera has extended itself to many product categories where the brand lacked competence. For example in the shampoo segment, Meera does not have a clear differentiation . In the case of soap also Meera does not have a USP. The brand was successful in offering some differentiation in oil but there the competition is huge.

Its a tough choice for a marketer to resist the temptation of leveraging a successful niche brand to mass market categories. But on hindsight, it is always wise to keep niche brand a niche brand.