Monday, March 31, 2008

LIC Health Plus : Scaring The Hell Out of You

Brand : Health Plus
Company : LIC

Brand Analysis Count : 318

Indian health insurance market is nascent but with huge potential. With only 10% of the population having some form of health insurance, Indian Insurers have seen just the tip of a gold mine. In a very wise move to unleash the potential of the Indian health insurance market, IRDA gave license to many life insurers to enter the market with new innovative health insurance products.

Surprisingly LIC also got itself into this lucrative market. Reports suggest that there are 315 million insurable persons in this market with an estimated market size of over $ 812 million . The market is estimated to reach $ 5 Billion by 2010.

The major issue facing health insurance market is the lack of awareness. Even in the urban market, the awareness about health insurance is very low.

It is not only the lack of awareness about the insurance policies but also the need for having a health insurance policy. This blind eye towards the need for health insurance is rampant in the middle-class who really needs such kind of insurance cover.

The basic reason behind this lack of awareness is because of two reasons :

a. The availability of inexpensive health care. Historically health costs were considerably low in the Indian market. This is because of government control over medicine costs .

b. In early days the kind of diseases and the cures were very much limited. Diseases were less and cures were also less.

c. The false belief that major illness will not happen to oneself.

d. The premium paid in Health Insurance is lost unless there is a claim to it. This is a major negative since premiums paid is lost.

Both these have changed. The cost of health care has risen beyond one's imagination.Government has limited the support on health care and medicines are becoming expensive.

The new lifestyle began creating lifestyle diseases which only have lifestyle cures that has lifestyle expenses attached to it . Now new diseases has arisen and new cures too. And no one has a guarantee of not getting a major illness.

It is in this context that health insurance attain paramount importance to ones life . From my observation, a major illness or a major accident can ruin the finances of a family. With the family size becoming smaller, the avenues of getting financial support is also thinning. Health insurance is a backup against such disasters. I remember a couple of instances where the entire savings of a family wiped out because the guy met with an accident.

Coming to the brand in context, LIC has launched its health insurance plan branded as Health Plus. Health Plus is an unit linked health insurance plan where the money invested will grow investment rather than lost as in the case of conventional health plans. But the premiums are expensive compared to the conventional types.

The new launch is backed by heavy advertising . The ads are scary and will scare your hell out of you. The ad shows a lady reading a magazine on her bed and suddenly the room morphs into a hospital room . The next scene shows a guy watching television sitting on a chair and suddenly the chair morphs into a wheel chair. The voice over says " Anything can happen to you anywhere and anytime " .

The ads and the message are very very disturbing. The message is hard truth but some truths can be really disturbing. A typical human reaction to such truth is denial and not acceptance. And most often the consumer will turn their head against such disturbing visuals rather than embrace the message. I am a person who has taken such insurance policies but for me also the ad was repulsive. You need not scare your consumers to purchase the product.

What Indian consumers need is real education about the need for having health insurance. The issue is not to make him disturbed so that he denies the truth and get on with life. So the message ought to be on a softer side. Since HealthPlus is a unit linked plan, one can add savings on premium as an attraction. Reliance Insurance had launched a campaign health + wealth which is more an attractive proposition.

The print ad for Health Plus also features a visual from hospital. These are displayed in hoardings too. It too is of bad taste. The execution of the message is with out taking the viewer's emotions into context.

The challenge is making the consumer realize the importance of protection against possible loss of financial security rather than worry about hospitalization expenses. The reason why I took health insurance is to protect my family from any financial shocks rather than cover the expenses ( which was secondary). I remember a friend asking me whether I expect any diseases to occur, when I explained to him the details of health insurance. He failed to understand that I took health insurance to safeguard my existing financial security from such shocks.

The consumers for these products are those who are healthy , alive and rocking. They hate to see themselves in wheelchairs or hospital beds. During this phase of life , one expects to live healthily always. To make him aware of a potential shock should be done in a more subtle way.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Brand Update : Onida

The summer is on and air-conditioner ads have started to peep in. Surprisingly one of the ads that caught my eye was that of Onida.

Onida and the devil is having a tough time . The main reason for this is the fight between the brothers : Gulu and Sonu Mirchandani and their brother -in- law Vijay Mansukhani over the control of the group.
The fight had severely eroded the share of the brand and even the marketing of Onida. Onida was staging a recovery after the successful relaunch of the brand and the return of the Devil. But the family feud made things difficult for the brand .

What is interesting about Onida this time is the branding . According to reports in, the creative duties of the brand has partly moved from Rediffusion to McCann Erickson.

But as usual, when the agency changes, the entire brand elements changes. For Onida, the change is always for the worse. When O&M took the brand from Avenues, the famous tagline " Neighbor's Envy, Owner's Pride " and the Devil was taken off. The brand suffered for almost 10 years and has never recovered since .The change of agency from O&M to Rediffusion again changed things and Devil returned in a new avatar and a new tagline " Nothing but the truth" came into existence.

The new arrangement is not making things better. In 2007, Onida launched a new campaign for its A/C and with a new tagline " It can change your life ".
Now the new campaign for the air conditioner features a new Devil and the tagline has again changed to " Experience the desire " .

Onida is proving to be a case study about " How to Mess up a wonderful brand ".

As a marketer, I believe that the ownership of the brand should be with the Company and not the agency. But what is seen is that the brand managers 'outsource' the strategy to the ad- agency. Things are consistent till the agency handles the account. But when the agency moves on , the new agency resist continuing the existing strategy since it was crafted by the competitor.

So whatever be the quality of the existing branding strategy, the new agency will try to change it. This has resulted in many brands drifting from time-tested successful themes to uncharted territory and often sink in confusion.
Onida which already is in deep trouble is moving on to further confusion with an unnecessary change in the positioning strategy. The brand has not been able to consolidate the earlier theme based on 'truth'. Even before establishing it, the brand has repositioned again.

Can anyone explain the logic ?

Related Brand

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Idea : An Idea Can Change Your life

Brand : Idea
Company : Idea Cellular
Agency : Lowe Lintas

Brand Analysis Count : 317

Idea is an interesting brand in the mobile service provider market in India. The brand is interesting because of its troubled history and the current marketing practices.

Idea in its earlier avatar came into existence in 1995 as Birla communications. In 1996 the company was rechristened Birla AT &T. In 2001, the company again restructured into Birla Tata AT&T. During that time, this combine was the talk of the town. Here you have three major players coming together to tap the promising Indian cellular market. But nothing happened. Soon the much touted JV failed and Birlas bought out the entire stake from the other two players.

In 2002, the birth of the " Idea " brand took place. By looking at the history, its obvious that nothing may have happened to the brand. I would say that the market also did not demand heavy investment on branding during those times. Much of the connections happened based on tariff and offers.Idea was more focused on expanding the network and improving the infrastructure during those years.

Idea as a brand began to take shape in 2006. I think that till that time, the brand owners were not sincerely committed to the brand ( My Assumption). However by the end of 2005, major investments were seen in the brand.

According to the Idea website, the brand has taken Innovate, Stimulate & liberate as the core brand values. But its doubtful whether these brand values are communicated to the consumers.
Idea is now having a market share of around 15- 17% share in the entire mobile communications market.

Even after 2006, Idea as a brand was never in the limelight. A major factor was that the investment on the brand was erratic. Most of the ads were highlighting the new tariff plans. During that time, companies was frantically rolling out new tariff plans trying to bring in customers through attractive offers.

Idea displayed its brand value - innovation through various offers and schemes. Idea My Gang was an example of such an innovation. The Closed User Group specifically targeting young customers was the first of its kind.

Idea brand got a major boost in 2007 when the brand roped in Abhishek Bachchan as the brand ambassador. Reports suggest that Abhishek and Idea had a 3 year contract which cost the company around Rs 30 Crore.
The entry of Abhishek gave the brand a lot of eyeballs. The brand had chosen a tagline " An Idea Can Change Your Life " and the entire brand communication was around this theme of ' an idea changing the life '. Before Abhishek coming in the campaigns, the brand had done a series of campaign highlighting the positioning around the theme.

In my opinion, the major breakthrough for the brand came from the campaign involving Abhishek as the Sarpanch ( village chief)
Watch the Tvc here : Number & Name

Although many viewers scoffed at the ' idea ' , the ad gave the brand lot of mileage. Also it gave some confidence behind further investment in the theme revolving around " idea" and 'Communication' changing ones life.
The latest commercial where Abhishek plays the role of a guide and using sms to communicate with a deaf tourist further popularised the brand
Watch the tvc here ; Idea guide

I must say that both these campaigns had a sticky factor. The sticky factor was indeed the performance of Abhishek Bachchan. This single factor has made the brand Idea and the tagline " An Idea can change your life " very popular. The latest campaign has a new additional slogan " What an Idea " which also has the potential to become a popular lingo.

My personal view is that despite getting these eyeballs , Idea has not been able to get its acts together. I still feel that the brand has not yet found its true essence. There is a glaring disconnect between the message in the ads and the brand. Infact as far as cellular service market is concerned, Idea as a brand does not stand for anything.
I feel that despite the ads being sticky and well made, there is nothing mentioned about the brand Idea. No message to the consumer as to what the brand stands for , what it means, and what it does. At best these campaigns will do is to increase the brand recall. Nothing further than that.
Idea is also heavily investing in events as a media to build the brand. It is associated with some of the popular shows like Idea Rocks India, Idea star singer & Idea Andhra idol ( reality shows).

The brands in this industry has already recognized the importance of investing in brand building and is trying to corner as much mental associations possible because many aspects of the services are getting commoditzed. The features like connectivity, tariff plans and coverage are almost standardized. There is intense fight in the Value Added Service domain but I feel that it will also get standardized. Vodafone is now on an overdrive to position itself as a VAS leader. The new entrant Virgin Mobile is also started coming out with new ideas life incoming calls which pays the subscriber money !

So the challenge is to get the brand embedded in the mind of the consumer so that they chose the brand instead of the plan or a feature . For that Idea may have to define a certain position.

My personal opinion is that Idea has not found its true self. The brand has everything going for it except the idea !. The brand has a good name , a good logo, a catchy slogan , a cool brand ambassador and lot of money but what a paradox - the right idea is missing.

The slogan and the theme focusing on the idea concept is powerful. However when executing, there has to be a connect between the Idea brand , the function ( the service provider) and the Idea ( concept). The latest TVC is the closest interms of connecting the functionality of the brand and the concept. But not enough.

An Idea can change your life . But which idea will change this idea's life ?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Brand Update : Cinthol

Cinthol , the flagship brand of Godrej Consumer Products Ltd is set for a makeover. The brand has roped in Hrithik Roshan as the brand ambassador. The new campaign is on air featuring Hrithik performing out -of- the- world stunts.

Watch the TVC here : Cinthol

Cinthol interestingly is the only masculine soap brand available in the Indian market. Ever after Lifebuoy repositioned itself targeting family, there has been no soap except Cinthol targeting male. The reason may be that marketers felt that soaps are usually bought for the family and used by multiple members . The decision of the soap brand usually is taken by the lady in the house. And moreover, soaps were never considered to be a part of the male grooming product category.

But things are different now. There is a marked shift in the consumer interest towards male grooming products. The category has expanded from shaving products, deo etc to face wash , hair care , face creams etc. The shift is also a result of the emergence of Metrosexual male and also of the Urban Nuclear Family where every individual members have the freedom to use individual products. So typically a modern household may see husband and wife using two different brand of soaps.

In this context , the relevance of Cinthol as a masculine brand achieves paramount importance for Godrej. Even without much promotion, Cinthol has a share of over 2 %. While Business Standards pegs the brand size to be around Rs 80 crore, Businessline puts the brand's size to be Rs 200 crore.

More than the new users, Cinthol's strength has been a strong brand loyal customers. This is both a strength and weakness. The prime challenge for Cinthol is to be relevant to the new Male.

The new campaign features a new look for Cinthol and a new slogan. The last ad of Cinthol featured the slogan " Get Ready Get Close " .
The new slogan for Cinthol is " Don't Stop" . The brand promise is
24 hour confidence &
Long lasting freshness.
Although the slogan has been changed, the positioning has been in a consistent line. Cinthol has long been positioned on the basis of the properties of Deo, freshness and confidence.
The new slogan tells the audience to have confidence to do what ever he likes. The execution of the concept is little out of the world but interesting to watch.

Regarding the choice of the celebrity , Cinthol has pulled off a coup by roping in Hrithik. But what I have seen is that Hrithik has not been exploited as a brand ambassador. Brands like Acer and even Coke was not able to fully exploit this celebrity.
My first impression about the ad is positive but the ad is not enough to raise the brand to a level of an icon. Having said that the slogan " Don't Stop " with core brand values of Freshness and Confidence give the brand lot of power to move ahead.

Related Brand

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Brand Update : Vivel & Fiama Di Wills

Its raining celebrities at ITC 's personal care brands. In a major marketing initiative, ITC has roped in two of the hottest bollywood stars to endorse its personal care brands. In my earlier post on Vivel Di Wills, I have expressed my confusion over managing Vivel Di Wills and Vivel.

The latest TVC surprisingly features a new campaign for Vivel featuring Kareena Kapoor endorsing Vivel ( and not Vivel Di Wills) . The positioning of Vivel is same as that of Vivel Di Wills. That makes me wonder again .....
Now the only difference may be is in the flavors . Vivel Di Wills may have some exotic flavors while Vivel comes in usual stuff like sandal ... ( I don't really know !).

Any how ITC has hell lot of cash and can afford to have as many experiments as they wish. It is we, the poor Professors, sweating before the students trying to explain the logic or lack of it .

In another campaign, ITC has introduced Deepika Padukone to endorse the premium personal care offering Fiama Di Wills.
These high profile campaigns especially the celebrities is sure to give HUL nightmares. The celebrities being used by almost all soap brands have hurt Lux the most.

Brand Update
Vivel Di Wills

Monday, March 17, 2008

ING Vysya Life Insurance : Mera Farz

Brand : ING Vysya Life Insurance ( IVL)
Company : ING Vysya
Agency : Rediffusion Dy&R

Brand Analysis Count : 316

In most cases, we discuss branding in relation to products rather than services. Some how there is a feeling that unlike products , building brands through promotions lacks significance in the marketing of services. Usually service brands are built on functional dimensions rather than on imagery.

Hence it is taken for granted that if the service provider delivers excellent functional performance , the brand will automatically grow.Five years back , financial service firms focused on their sales force and below -the- line promotion and shied away from aggressive brand building through advertising.

But the increase in competition and the cut-throat warfare on the field forced the service firms to venture into aggressive brand building through advertising.This trend was initiated by the aggressive brand promotion by telecom service providers. Financial services firms began to realize that having a good brand will make the life of a salesperson a lot easier.

The latest aggressive candidate in the financial services branding is ING Vysya Life Insurance ( IVL ) . IVL launched its insurance services in 2001. Now it has grown into size with presence in 246 cities and 300 odd branches.

What has interested me is the current campaign run by IVL. The brand did not have a good run in the Indian market. According to media reports, the IVL has a market share of only 1.2 %. The primary reason being that the strategy of the company is slow and steady growth rather than aggressive growth. So very rarely you get a call from an ING Vysya Insurance advisor.

The brand first launched its campaign in 2007 when it identified the core brand value. ING Vysya Life Insurance decided that the brand stands with the consumer in helping him fulfill his responsibilities towards themselves and families. Thus IVL took up the slogan " Mera Farz " which means " My Responsibilities ".
Watch the campaign here : Mera Farz 1
The ad was well made but nothing special in terms of creativity and was not intended to deliver any result on the field. But this gave the brand a vital direction for the future.
This year, IVL came out with another set of campaign which captured the attention of the audience .
The new campaign took birth from a very important consumer insight that with every happy moments , comes certain burden of responsibilities " . The thought of these additional burden creates a " Sinking Feeling " in the mind of that person and it will take away some degree of joy from him.

From this insight came this campaign : Sinking Feeling
The ad show three situations
1. Marriage
2. Birth of a child
2. Daughter getting admission to a expensive college.

The protagonist in all these cases feels a sense of sinking with the burden of added responsibilities.

What I noticed from the reaction of my family members is that the idea has clicked. There was a little smile in everyone's face when they saw this ad.

There is no doubt that the idea is a BIG Idea but the execution was a little too straight. Personally speaking , I did not liked the term " BURDEN " . In Hindi the term used is "Bhari" and in Malayalam the term used is "Bharam"- both these terms are used to denote Burden and also heaviness.

When my child was born, I never felt it as burden but it is true that there was added responsibility but never a burden. Even the child's education to be termed as a burden is too harsh . It was not the visuals but the term " Burden " that I disliked about the ad.

The message behind the campaign is that ING Vysya's plans help you to experience the joy of responsibility.

Then came another ad which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Watch the ad here : ING Goa

The ad shows the husband Satheesh literally sinking into the floor when his wife tells the friends about 'their ' plan to buy a house in Goa. Even after seeing the ad many times, we all still liked the look of the harassed " Satheesh " . That was a wonderful execution.
The big idea of ' Sinking Feeling ' has the potential to last for some time because it stems from an actual consumer insight.

These campaign has brought the customer's attention on this brand. The insurance advisors now will have a chance to spent less time talking about the company and more time selling the plans

Marketing Practice featured in ALLTOP

Marketing Practice blog is featured in Alltop is the new venture of Mr Guy Kawasaki. Alltop is a content aggregator with a difference. It looks simple, uncluttered and does not overwhelm the readers compared to other site aggregators.

Check out the new site here : Alltop
Marketing Practice is featured in the small business section .

A big thank you to the ALLTOP team

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Brand Update : Kit Kat Chunky

Kit Kat has launched its globally successful variant Chunky in India this year. Kit Kat Chunky is a king size single finger variant of KitKat.
Kit Kat Chunky was globally launched in 1999. The high profile launch was a result of an internal rejuvenation project ( project Tyson) to lift up the sagging Kit Kat brand. Kit Kat Chunky was an instant hit and was touted as Nestle's most high profile brand success in that decade.

The reason for the variant launch in 1999 was because of the lack of popularity of original Kit Kat among the 18-25 year old. Chunky made the brand popular again in that segment.

In India , the brand has been launched in two variants : African Choco and Hazel nut
The variant is being promoted through TVC. Watch the commercial here : Kitkat Chunky

The look of the product itself raised some questions in me. The product is so Un Kit Kat like . Instead of the famous four finger product you have a single finger chunky chocolate bar. The packaging is also entirely different from the original brand. Will it not affect the parent brand ?

The success of this variant globally shows the paradox of marketing. The success of Chunky itself contradicts the 'conventional ' wisdom of Brand Extensions that extensions should be in line with the original brand's core values and strengths. Here that rule is broken that too successfully.

Having said that I feel that one has to be very lucky to get away with that kind of extensions. In India the market for wafer based chocolates has been negligible. Although Perk and Kit Kat had initial volumes, these brands now occupy a negligible share in the total chocolate market. The reason for Chunky's launch is to address this issue. Compared to the wafer chocolate, Chunky is a full finger Chocolate with added crispies like nuts. The launch is from the insight that Indian consumers like to have more chocolate than anything else.
But Kit Kat Chunky is not the first brand to try out these products. I remember Cadbury's having a Chunky range which later faded in the market . Whether Chunky will raise the fortune of Kit Kat is some thing to watch for.

Related Brand
Kit Kat

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Brand Update : Poppins

Poppins has launched a new campaign with a catchy slang " Doon Kya " . The new ad is aimed to create a viral ,anchoring the slang.
Poppins always had a irregular promotional strategy with short bursts of promotional investment. The latest being the campaign " Goli Rainbow Wali". According to agencyfaqs, the brands feel that it is alienated from the intended target market i.e 8-10 yr old.

In the new campaign , the brand give the message that Poppins has so many flavors that you will give it to everyone.

These days marketers are using catchy slogans to sustain the interest in the brand. Its not a new phenomenon and we know the catchy slogans of Pepsi , Coke ,Frooti etc but the difference here is that now marketers depend on local slang to catch the audience's attention.

The advantage of using a popular local slang ( usage) is that if successful, the slang can sustain the brand for a long time. The disadvantage is that in a country like India where we have different languages, local slangs cannot have a national appeal. For example in the Poppins' case, the usage " Doon Kya " is alien to South Indians and you maynot be able to find an appropriate local slang to substitute the original one.

The fact is that most of the time advertising agencies are not sensitive to the language diversity of our country . In my experience , I have seen many ads created by reputed advertising agencies being messed up by unprofessional dubbing. Even agencies does not bother to approach native dubbing artists for the ad. In most of the ads dubbed in my language - malayalam, the dubbing is done usually by a Tamilian and usually it sounds horrible.

For the Poppins ' Doon kya' also the kids in South Indian states may not be impressed with the idea. On the other hand, there is also a chance that these things catch up with the non-Hindi speaking customers but the odds are less.

Watch the Poppins ad here : Doon Kya

Related Brand

Coffee With Sundar

Blogger Mr. Sundar was kind enough to e-interview me on his blog " Coffee With Sundar " . Where I talked about my blog and academics in general.

You can read it here : Coffee with Sundar

ahem .... It was my first e-interview as a blogger...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Airwick : Its Good To Be Home

Brand : Airwick
Company : Reckitt & Benckiser
Agency : Euro RSCG ( Malaysia)

Brand Analysis Count : 315

Airwick is the latest entrant into the Indian Home Air Freshener market. The size of the market is very small and agencyfaqs estimates the size to be around Rs 75 crore. The market is dominated by players like Godrej Sara Lee which extended its car- freshener brand Ambipur into this category.

Airwick is a global brand which made its debut in USA in 1944. Ever since the brand has grown to become world's largest home freshener brand with an estimated brand size of Rs 6000 crore. The entry of this brand is expected to increase the penetration of this product category.

Airwick in a way has imported its entire global branding strategy into this market. The entire brand elements are being launched in the Indian market.

Airwick has been launched in India in three different format :
-Electrical Diffuser which looks similar to the mosquito liquidator . The diffuser is priced at Rs 125
-Aerosols priced at Rs 99
- Freshmatic Automatic Spray priced at Rs 799.

The brand is focusing on two major benefits : Odor elimination and Premium fragrance. The brand is targeting the SEC A ,A+ segments.
According to a report in Agencyfaqs, the brand has identified five consumer insights that shaped its entry strategy in India. The insights are that
Indian homes are
- smaller ,
-have attached toilets,
-Inadequate ventilation,
-No sunlight penetration
-Lack outdoor spaces to dry clothes.
These factors cause build up odors which also affect the mood of people living in those houses. The brand is being promoted on a basic premise that pleasant fragrance create pleasant Moods. The brand is taking the tagline " Its Good to be Home " . Globally also the brand has the same slogan.
What is more interesting about the brand is the promotion. The brand uses animated cartoon character in their campaigns.

The main heroes of campaigns running in India are
Mrs Octopus
Mrs raccoon
Mrs Kangaroo.

The ads are created by Euro RSCG Malaysia and only the language is made Indian. I have my own reservations about importing foreign campaigns to India but some how I liked the Big Idea of using animated characters to promote a adult - product.

From my experience , I observed two things about the ad :
a. Its clutter breaking . Because its different, you tend to notice the ad and also the brand.
b. If you have small kids, they will force you to watch this ad.

The characters are lively and has given the company lot of room for the creatives to work on especially on point of purchase materials and packaging. It can also develop unique sales promotion schemes taking advantage of these animated characters.

The ads have given instant brand recall but the campaign is not without disadvantages.

The major disadvantage is the the market for air-fresheners for home is nascent in India. Infact most of us are unaware of this product category. Infact the ad does not explain the category much and assumes that the customers are familiar with the products (while Indian consumers are not ). Frankly I first mistook it for mosquito repellent.

Having said that, the brand has lot of strengths. The brand can leverage the distribution strength of Reckitt & Benckiser and the changing demographics aswellas lifestyle has thrown up immense opportunities for products like Room Fresheners. Infact I foresee that the commercial customers like Hotels, restaurants, offices , retail etc will be the major takers for these products initially.

The challenge for this brand is to penetrate the middleclass where it will be fighting the good old incense sticks, and perfumed floor cleaners. The cost is also little prohibitive but the strategy that will be adopted will be to price the Diffuser low to increase the penetration of this product category. The major task will be to change the customer's perception about odor. I think that Indian consumers take the odor inside rooms for granted (except for bathrooms) . Infact we never think about it unless it is too much stingy. We also associate cleanliness and fragrance together so we may have never thought of room fresheners.

But the fact is that we like our homes to have pleasant fragrance. So the slogan rightly captures the idea " Its good to be home "

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Smyle : It does Wonders

Brand : Smyle
Company : Maneesh Pharmaceuticals

Brand Analysis Count : 314

Smyle is one of the popular brands in the OTC market in India. This 60 crore brand earlier belonged to Kopran Pharma and was later sold to Maneesh Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

Smyle as the name suggests was firts launched in the Oral care market. Its most popular product was Smyle Mouth Ulcer Gel. Smyle was one of the first OTC ayurvedic Mouth Ulcer Gel. The product achieved instant popularity because of its effectiveness.
Mouth Ulcers are a common irritating disease . The reason for mouth ulcers can be many : digestive problems, vitamin deficiency, accidental biting, use of heavy antibiotics etc. Once it is there, it causes severe pain and one will not be able to eat anything till the ulcer get cured. Normally we used to treat this ourselves using some home remedy like applying coconut oil etc. Usually one will resort to medical advice only in case of severe ulcers.
But the medicines that are usually prescribed for Mouth Ulcers tastes too bad and often smells bad also. This has opened up a new untapped market for a user friendly product.
Smyle Mouth Ulcer Gel had lot of advantages. First was that it tasted pretty OK and hence the customers did not mind using the product again and again. Secondly Smyle was ayurvedic and hence perceived to be side - effects free. Thirdly , the product was very effective.
These advantages created lot of equity for this product. But the market was small and Smyle Gel was essentially a niche brand. Smyle ulcer gel was promoted heavily through TV and print ads. I still remember a TVC which shows a guy screaming with pain inside a cinema hall while having a popcorn.
What was interesting is the way in which the brand owners extended the brand " Smyle " . I don't know the exact hierarchy of the launch of these extensions but here is the list of brand extensions of Smyle :
Smyle Mouth Ulcer GEl
Smyle Toothpaste
Smyle Prickly heat powder
Smyle throat reliever
Baby Smyle range of baby soaps
Baby Smyle baby powder
Smyle Lozenges
Smyle vaporub
Smyle Freshness talc
Smyle first aid kits
Smyle band-aid
Smyle nasal inhaler.

All these products were launched in a span of four years. Common sense says that the brand extensions was too many too fast.Smyle extending itself into powder and baby products does not make sense because the parent brand Smyle does not have a strong brand equity to support these category extensions.
Marketing theory suggests that inorder for a brand to extend into multiple categories, the parent brand should have strong relevant brand equity aswellas brand values. Smyle as a parent brand did not had such extendable brand equity. What Smyle had was a successful product.
Smyle Toothpaste made sense because Smyle was associated with Oral-Care . But there also the brand did not invest on building a positioning platform but tried to become a price- warrior. Fighting the giants like Colgate, HUL and Dabur needs more than low price.
While the throat lozenges and cough syrup extensions had a connection with oral-care, the brand had to break into the strong hold of power brand like Vicks. Smyle throat reliever had a USP of Gargle and Gulp property but I feel that the brand lacked power to compete with Vicks.

Having extended so much into so many products, Smyle may have shown an increase in the cumulative sales but in the long run, there is a chance that the brand may bleed itself to death. With out developing a core brand, too much energy has been spent on these brand extensions. Successful umbrella brands like Vicks and Johnson & Johnson have unmatched core- brand strentgh which Smyle lacks. Smyle as a brand had lot of advantages like a good brand name and a successful product . The brand could have leveraged the Smyle name and could have built a strong brand image taking some time . For example Smyle can take meaning of Smile from relief, enjoying life , freedom from pain , instant relief etc. Once that core values are built, these extensions could have worked . I am not saying that the extensions of Smyle has failed but I have a feeling that the brand will be wasting too much money over building these individual extensions since Smyle lacks a core equity.

For every brand manager, its always a dilemma choosing between investing in a brand Vs showing high sales figures. In this era of managing brands on a quarterly basis, investing in building brands takes the back seat.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Vivel Di Wills : Beauty with Confidence

Brand : Vivel Di Wills
Company : ITC
Agency : Law & Kenneth

Brand Analysis Count : 313

Shortly after launching the up-market personal care brand - Fiama Di Wills, ITC has launched another personal care brand - Vivel Di Wills. Not only that, another two brands has been launched - Vivel and Superia in close succession .

Vivel Di Wills can be termed as a brand for the middle class and priced well below Fiama Di Wills . Vivel Di Wills has been launched even before the brand Fiama Di Wills settled in the market. In a way ITC is flooding the personal care market with its brands.

Vivel Di Wills - as the name suggests shares the term ' Di Wills ' with Fiama and Essenza. Vivel Di Wills comes in two variants : Sheer Radiance and Sheer Creme. Sheer Radiance contains Olive Oil while Creme variant contains Shea Butter.
What differentiates Vivel Di Wills is the ingredient branded Actipro-N which was developed by ITC R & D team. Actipro -N nourishes, protects and hydrates the skin thus enhancing the beauty of the skin.
Vivel Di Wills comes in an attractive carton package with some elegant color scheme. The brand is priced at Rs 16 for 75 gm cake.

Now comes the interesting part. When I was shopping, the attractive packing and display of Vivel Di Wills prompted me to take one ( for my wife ) . But when I reached the section for soaps, I was surprised to see another set of soaps with the brand name Vivel . This was confusing to me and I thought that it was a fake brand taking advantage of Vivel Di Wills. On closer examination, I was surprised to find that Vivel also belong to ITC. Then I checked the price and it was less that Vivel Di Wills. The packaging was ordinary and there was even a sales promotion offer attached with the soap ( Price off) .

So there are two brands Vivel Di Wills and Vivel priced differently and even the brand elements are different. News reports say that Vivel has four variants : Satin soft, Young Glow, Ayurvedic Essence, Sandal Sparkle.

So the natural question is about the logic of these two brands with similar brand names launched simultaneously. In a press release available in the ITC portal, the category head Sandeep Kaul mentions that they are going to use price and positioning difference to separate the brands Fiama and Vivel Di Wills since Fiama also launched a soap recently.

But the question is with Vivel Di Wills and Vivel. I am a little confused but a parallel can be drawn between Vivel Di Wills, Vivel , Lux and Lux International. Lux International is positioned as a premium soap while Lux is a mass market one. ITC may be adopting the same strategy. ITC is looking at two segments within the medium priced soap category and using a small price differential, it is tapping customers who can pay a little more for extra benefits ( Masstige brand). The campaign for Vivel Di Wills will indirectly draw customers ( Value conscious ) towards Vivel.

Vivel Di Wills is being promoted using TVC and the message is that the lady is so beautiful that the husband does not notice any other ladies. My initial impression about the soap is positive and I find the fragrance refreshing and new. The brand name Vivel Di Wills is urban and will definitely appeal the educated urban consumers . The brand also has its advantage interms of the ingredients. Indian consumers will be impressed by the ingredients like Olive Oil, Active Clay, Shea butter which gives this brand a unique healthy natural perception.

The idea behind these fast launches is to provide a complete range of soap brands to the Indian consumer. ITC knew that it is a late entrant to the market. Time is too short for phased launches. Hence the strategy is to offer a full portfolio at one go and then try to manage the differences.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Brand Update : Coca-Cola

This summer, Coca-Cola has launched the latest campaign featuring Hrithik Roshan.

Watch the TVC here : Coke Ad

The new ad has a new theme and a new positioning. According to news reports, the brand is trying to project a new young image to counter its rival Pepsi. Hence this summer , the brand will be using Hrithik for the communication .

The brand is now trying out a new theme endorsed by the slogan ' Jashan mana le ' meaning ' celebrate '.
The concept is that Coca-cola is an integral part of every celebration and with coke , there is celebration. The celebration is often spontaneous . The brand is now trying to project enjoyment and exhilaration. All said and done, the ad is nothing special. The theme and the execution is only average and I remember seeing the same type of ad for many brands. Even Cadbury has done the same theme.
Again Coke can relax because Pepsi is doing much worse. The new ad of Pepsi featuring Ranbir , SRK and Deepika is one of the horrible ads I have seen in recent times.

From both Coke and Pepsi ads , what I make out is the panic that these brands face to project themselves as youthful. Saying that the brand is young will not make a brand young.Creating a new name Youngistan or getting a youth icon to endorse the brand is not going to make the brand young.
To be young needs these brands to develop an attitude and attitude takes good thoughts to be built around the brand. Somewhere down the line Pepsi lost the connect with the youth. Coke is yet to discover that thought.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Brand Update : Amul Macho

So here it is, Amul Macho's sequel to the controversial first ad has been launched.

Watch it here : Amul Macho orangutan

Like the previous one , this one is less spicy but have all the elements to rake up some controversy.But the ad is not raunchy or bad taste as the previous one. Interestingly the first ad involving the newly wed created huge interest among the public with blogs and forums discussing the ad in detail. In that aspect, the first one was a remarkable success.

The second ad features orangutans and the ad is definitely well made. I am not referring to the storyboard but the filming. It would have burned a big hole in the companies pocket to make those orangutans act.
However the brand is sticking to its earlier positioning of " crafted for fantasies " . The idea is nothing new and I remember a couple of Indian innerwear ad like Rupa having ads which shows ladies chasing men in underwears . The difference here is that the protagonist is an orangutan. Some scenes in the ad makes us squirm if we are watching with our family and the intention is to generate some controversy. The lady looks like the same one from the earlier controversial ad and the song is also the same.

Related Brand
Amul Macho