Monday, December 29, 2008

Zeiss : We Make it Visible

Brand : Zeiss
Company : Carl Zeiss India
Agency : Modern Medtech

Brand Analysis Count : 367

Carl Zeiss is a respectable name in the global lens' market. This decade old German company is named after its founder Carl Zeiss who was an optician. His company first started making lenses for microscopes and later extended his product range to cameras .

The company began its Indian operations in 1998. Although present in different verticals, the brand came into consumer space during 2005.

Carl Zeiss manufactures spectacle lenses under a joint venture with GKB Hi-Tech Lenses which is a home grown company. The spectacle lenses are sold under the brand Zeiss.

Indian spectacle lenses market is worth around $90 million ( Rs 360 Crore). Looking at the population, the potential is huge. But like many other products, this market is also dominated by unorganized sector which accounts for more than 75 % of the sales.

There are only two highly visible brands in the spectacle lenses category. One is the global major Essilor and other is Zeiss.

Zeiss has been trying to build its brand by consistently investing in media campaigns in India. It has been regularly advertising both in visual and print media.

The marketing of spectacle lenses is a difficult task because so far the category is regarded as a commodity. Consumers seldom ask for a specific brand of spectacle lenses since they are not aware of any brands neither they are aware of any specific advantages of using a branded spectacle lens.

So typically a consumer goes to the optician with his prescription and selects his spectacle frame and asks for the price of the lenses and gives the order. No where in the process , he asks for a particular brand for his lenses..
This offer tremendous opportunity for a marketer but it is not an easy task .
Zeiss has been trying to brand the commodity called spectacle lenses. But I am not impressed.

I have been watching the commercials of Zeiss for a while now. Frankly I did not knew that Zeiss was from the house of Carl Zeiss. I have heard about Carl Zeiss since the brand is famous as a camera lens. More over the latest mobiles from Sony and Nokia is now sporting Carl Zeiss lenses. Cameras which have Carl Zeiss lenses are often sold at a premium.

But the positioning strategy if Zeiss spectacle lenses is far from spectacular.

Watch the commercial here : Zeiss Spectacle lenses

The main USP of this brand is that it is branded...... Sounds funny isn't it ?

Zeiss is positioning itself as a spectacle with brand mark. For non-marketers, Brand Mark refers to the logo or symbol that the brand has.

I frankly does not understand the logic behind this positioning. Brand is defined as a name , term, symbol, logo which are used to identify and differentiate a product from the competitors .
But having a brand mark is never a differentiator. You cannot build a brand over its brand mark.....

Zeiss in their ads try to claim that " Brand nahi hai to style nahi " ( means if it is not branded, then it is not stylish ). It is true also. Consumers try to show off their brands. And successful brands are those where consumers are willing to act as living billboards.
Take Levi's or Nike, consumers are willing to show off. But not because they have brand marks.

First the company has to build a brand on certain core values or attributes . Once this is built, consumers will adopt the brand and act as the brand ambassadors. People does not buy Nike because it has the brand mark SWOOSH . But because they love the brand for its values embedded in " Celebrating authentic athleticism ". Consumers evangelize Apple not because of the brand mark but because of the innovation that is personified by the brand.

Here Zeiss has got it all wrong. Having a brand name or a logo is not suffice for consumers to love your brand. Brands should be built on strong attributes ( tangible or intangible). Brands with out brand values is at best a Label.

Zeiss thinks that its major competitors are the unbranded spectacle lenses. Hence the company feels that having a brand mark is the best differentiator. I was surprised to find that globally also the brand is positioned as a spectacle lens with laser marked brand mark.

Essilor has done a better job in promoting its brands like Transitions and Crizal. Consumers understand that these brands are having quality and certain important attributes.

Zeiss is a powerful global brand which has a reputation of being high quality manufacturer. The brand also has a powerful secondary association with the country of origin - Germany.

It should have taken some important attributes and promoted those attributes. Having a brand mark is an advantage but only after the brand is being built. People like others to see that their sunglass is a Ray-Ban because the brand has an image built on style and quality. Hence the Ray-Ban brand mark on the glasses make sense for the consumers.

First the brand has to understand the important attributes that customers look for in a spectacle lens. Then try to understand which are the most critical of those attributes which influences their decisions. Then develop the brand around those critical attributes. I don't think that the current USP of a brand-mark is considered important by consumers and is a sufficient reason for them to pay a premium for the brand.

Zeiss must go back and learn some basic brand building before investing such huge amount on money on meaningless campaigns.

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  1. You are right about the fact that a brand has to first be built and then expect a brand mark to sell. Also the mention that the Crizal brand has built 'clarity' as its USP is very true.

    Also in segments like these i think the best brand builder is the optician. Give him a better margin and teach him a few things about the brand and he will market the brand to the customer for you (provided margin is good).

    Nobody is going to go hunting for an optician who stocks a particular brand of lens!

  2. Anonymous6:38 PM

    well rightly quoted "a brand has to first be built and then expect a brand mark to sell" Zeiss Brand is now a well established brand, "Brand nehi to style nehi" was a campaign to promote authentic visual aid to youth, the main punch line of Zeiss India campaign is "hey whats on your eyes", it was done based on the market study conducted in 2006 which says that most of the wearer doesnt know what they are wearing, the main emphasis was on Quality, for which the company stands,
    i think you have missed the other campaigns from the same company, which introduces Carl Zeiss as a company (started in 1846, best known for Cine Lenses and Surgical Instrument)and at the end where a lady says "hey whats on your Eyes"
    there was also an AD which speaks about Individual Lenses.
    The USP is not the brand or the logo, it is the Quality Standard of the Brands itself which has a history of making worlds most precise tool....visit


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