Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Moti Soap : RIP

Brand : Moti
Company : HUL

Brand Analysis Count : 341

Moti was India's premium brand of soaps during the seventies. Now there is no trace of this brand. Moti originally was a brand of Tata Oil Mills Company ( TOMCO). In 1993, TOMCO merged with HLL.

Moti was a special soap which had certain differentiation. The first differentiation point was the Shape. Unlike other soaps which came in cake form, Moti was round soap. Moti is the vernacular term for Pearl . So the soap was also in the shape of pearl.

Another uniqueness was the size of the soap. Moti was a big soap. Often one gets bored of the soap and it never quite finish fast.

Moti came in popular fragrances like Gulab ( Rose) and Sandal.

Moti was promoted as a premium soap . The soap was expensive and during the eighties, the soap was priced around Rs 25.

Tomco also promoted this brand heavily. Most of the campaign had a signature brand imagery the soap surrounded by pearls. Those ads were in most of the magazines during the peak stage of this brand. Pearls formed an important role in the entire brand communication and pearl was an anchor which created an association with the brand in the consumer's mind.

I was searching for an ad of Moti and thanks to Saumyadip's blog, I got a vintage ad of moti.

Moti then moved to HLL following the merger. That marked the end of this brand.
I am not sure why HLL decided to sideline Moti soap. The brand was never promoted and slowly the brand faded into oblivion.
The reason for this brand's death may be because it did not fit into the brand portfolio of HLL. While Hamam ( another Tomco brand ) thrived, Moti was never in the picture.
Then with the Power Brand strategy, brands like Moti never had a chance to survive.

The brand had prospects if HLL had done some serious product development. In the branding perspective Moti had certain assets. The name and the imagery were wonderful assets for a marketer. Moti had both these assets.

The problem was with the product. There was something missing in the soap which ultimately lead to the death of this brand. Another factor was at the segmentation side. Now also the market for a premium soap is abysmally low in India. Now also there is no successful premium brand of soaps in India ( Essenza de wills is trying hard ).

So it was also a tough choice for HLL. The company may have felt that Moti did not have a future as a premium soap. And it may cannibalize some existing brands if the prices are rationalized. Moti may had to be repositioned if it had to survive . But HLL was not prepared to invest in a brand which had a minuscule 2% of the market. So the decision was to slowly kill the brand.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Logan : The answer is Here

Brand : Logan
Company : Mahindra Renault
Agency : Saatchi & Saatchi

Brand Analysis Count : 340

Logan was launched in India in 2007. With in a year's time, this brand has achieved reasonable success in the tough Indian auto market.

Logan is a brand from Mahindra Renault , the joint venture between Mahindra and the French auto major Renault. Renault is a global auto major known for innovation ,technology and racing. Mahindra is our very own company who hit a jackpot with the Scorpio.

When the Jv was announced, the entire auto enthusiasts were looking forward to a new experience to be delivered from these celebrated manufacturers. But soon the company made it clear that the product that they envision will be an affordable sedan rather than a premium one.

In 2007, Logan was launched. The brand was able to get good PR during the launch. The PR was there because of two reasons :
a. It was a launch from Mahindra who claimed lot of appreciation for the success of Scorpio. Hence every media was expecting a similar successful product.

b. The price of Logan was a major driver of the PR. Logan was to be sold at around Rs 4,50,000 which made it one of the cheapest sedan on road.

The initial hype created a huge flow of booking orders for Logan. There was 3000 bookings in the first three weeks itself.

Then came the commercials. In my personal experience, the campaign was a big let down. It was a meaningless ad which showed a foreign lady in some James Bond type plot and blah blah....
The car was initially positioned on the basis of the benefit of space. The slogan talked about Logan as a ' Wide Body ' car.

Although I did not understood what a wide bodied car is , commonsense told me that it is a more spacious car.

Logan has been a success so far . With in one year of launch, it has notched up 12% marketshare in the respective category . At one point of time, it surpassed the veterans like Honda City in sales.

Logan is yet another example of a brand understanding the value proposition of Indian consumers. When the brand was launched, many pundits decried the poor looks of the car. They wrote off the car saying that Indian consumers will vote out this ugly duckling.

But Logan survived. Survived because the product delivered. It was a spacious large well built car which came at a mouth watering price of less than Rs 5,00,000. The surprise came when Logan delivered big on mileage. Consumers began to see beauty in the beast .
In India, consumers give weightage to functionality than design. Toyota showed to us with its Qualis.

In June 2008, the brand went for a repositioning. Infact the brand has took a serious take on the image aspect. Kunal Kapoor was roped in as the brand ambassador and new campaigns were aired.

The brand also has repositioned from a functional angle to a mix of functional and emotional framework.
While the presence of Kunal added some spice to the image, the brand still talked about the deliverables like more mileage , better handling and great value for money . The new campaigns are far better than the initial ones and Kunal Kapoor gives some push to the image aspect.

The brand now tales the slogan " The answer is here " . The brand also has an interactive interesting site where readers can post questions that usually does not have a typical answer. For example : Superman and Batman wears underwear outside. But Why ?.

The logic behind the new slogan is that Logan is the answer to most of the questions asked by the customers . For example : Why can't a sedan give more mileage than a small car ?

A typical issue that most of these value for money brands face is on tackling two segments : the tour taxi segment and the individual segments. Brands like Indica, Indigo , Qualis and now Logan face the issue of the use of these brands as Taxis.

Brands worry that the popularity of a car as a taxi will tarnish the image of the brand. Indica and Indigo have the issue of being popular as a taxi thus repelling some customers from owning it.

Logan also have the same issue , go to Hyderabad, you see a lot of Logan as taxi cars. But will it really hurt the brand ?
I think popularity as a taxi car will be helpful to the brand if its able to provide some distinction to the individual owners.
Being popular as a taxi car means that the car is good. As we know , the taxi's cannot afford to have a car which is expensive to run and maintain. So if taxi owners are buying it, it must be good.
Second, more number of taxi's the more affordable will be the spares.

The major downside is about the image of a taxi car. My question is whether image is a significant factor when one decides to buy an Indica or a Logan . My take is that although image is important for these customers, the main driving force will be on functionality and cost of ownership. People buy Indica because it is the most value for money car in that segment.

But bad image can act as a repellent. So what can a company do about it ? .

I think that the brand should bring some distinction to the non-commercial cars by adding some feature that makes Logan ( or Indica ) different from taxi car . Either it can restrict these commercial cars in to one color or add some thing like graphics so that private Logan is different from the Taxi Logan .

To give the brand a boost. Logan recently launched a limited edition Logan Edge for those who wanted more from Logan. Edge also is aimed at repositioning the brand as an aspirational product to all those who are looking for an upgrade to a sedan.

Logan is not without threats . Tatas are on a marketing offensive now and has launched Indigo CS to take on the price competition. The compact sedan from Indigo has been a success since it made the sedans more affordable.
Service is another area for concern. Although Mahindra has excellent network of dealers, whether it can give excellent service to Logan customers is something to wait for. From the market feedback, Mahindra is not known for excellent service delivery compared to peers like Maruti. Renault has to work closely on the service front .

Logan has yet again proved that there is always a space for a product that functions well and priced reasonably. The success of Logan has prompted the parent company to explore more categories in the Indian auto market. Logan also has raised the bar for most of the car marketers. Now consumers are truly pampered.

Related posts
Indigo CS

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Update : Randy Pausch

The inspiring Carnegie Mellon Professor and the author of the book - The Last Lecture ,Dr Randy Pausch passed away on July 25th Morning.
The ailing professor has inspired millions through his lecture and through his book. I hoped for a miracle recovery but god had other plans for him.

See the news update from Carnegie Mellon : Here

To quote his words
" We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand ".

Randy played his hand very well and left a legacy. He reminded me of living the life to the fullest and achieving your dreams.
Thank You Professor.

My condolences to Jai, Chloe, Dylan and Logan.

Watch the last lecture : here

Related Post
Book Review of Last lecture

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dip Trix : Just for Kids

Brand : Dip Trix
Company : General Mills

Brand Analysis Count : 339

Dip Trix is a unique brand. This iconic US brand debuted in India in 2005.Already the brand has become a hit in the Indian market.

Dip Trix is a snack food targeted at kids aged 4 - 12. The product is a Cookie and Cream snack which consists of fun shaped cookies and Cream.

Trix brand was launched in US in 1959. The brand has an iconic status in US with a range of products like cereals and yogurts. Dip Trix is the Indian avatar of Trix.

Dip Trix is a result of a careful consumer observation . The brand found that the users ( Kids ) wanted to play with food . But parents usually does not permit their kids to play with food.

Thus born this product which allows kids to play with the food with out getting rebuked. Dip Trix satisfied this need in a most simple way. The product comes in a unique tray pack with two compartments. The product comes with fun shaped cookies in one compartment of the pack and there is a cream in the another compartment.
Kids can then eat cookies either by dipping it in the cream, make sandwich , dunk or lick thus making the whole process fun-filled.

In India the brand has been doing pretty well. Going by the rate in which I buy it for my kid, Dip Trix has achieved its share of success.

Even before Dip Trix came to India, HUL has tried its luck on a similar product branded as Bistix. But the brand failed to took off.

There are two main reasons for success of Dip Trix. One is the smart pricing. Unlike other foreign snacks , Dip Trix is priced reasonably at Rs 5 . This is a magical price point which allows the parents to buy it because its perceived to be affordable. The fact that one pack can keep the child occupied for 10 minutes add more value to the product.

Second success factor is the marketing strategy adopted by General Mills. The brand has adopted a 360 degree marketing effort to capture the consumer mindset. It has successfully aligned the brand with films like Krrish . The brand gave away Krrish masks along with the product thus increasing popularity many times. Last year the brand has promoted itself through Spiderman 3 by giving away goodies.

The brand also have a highly interactive site at where kids can log in an play games. According to reports, the brand site has tremendously enhanced the brand's salience among the target group.

The brand also have a mascot. The mascot is the Trix rabbit which is always in the lookout for the creams. The cookies usually comes in the shape of the Trix rabbit.

Selling snacks to kids is a tough job. To catch the attention and loyalty of kids is a marketer's acid test. In a way Dip Trix has achieved that.

From my experience, I have observed that kids are also influenced by the peers. For instance, when I first bought Dip Trix, my child was not impressed. But when she saw one of her friends eating it, she also began to ask for the product. So these sales promotions help the brand to get into those 'little' opinion leaders and thus breaking into the rest of the TG.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Consumer Insight #1 : What are your customer's expectations ?

I just put down my telephone after some heated exchange with my traveling agent. The reason as always about refunds. I canceled my air tickets a couple of weeks back and after a dozen phone calls I still wonder about the possibility of getting my refunds in the near future .

Much has been written on customer service . Researches, articles, books and what not. But still we see the same pathetic management of customer service.

Last week, while visiting my new generation bank which boasts about being the most tech- advanced bank, I had to wait for 45 minutes for getting a Demand Draft. That too in a bank which have an automated queue handling system. The manager was helpless and surprisingly the bank does not have a formal complaint's handling mechanism. I was amused to see that the link for registering complaints in the bank's website does not work !!!!! Hum Haina ???

So is it about meeting expectations or managing expectations ?

Today's Economic Times ' Brand equity has a great piece written by Ms Janelle Barlow titled " Take your customer's complaints seriously ". She is the author of a very relevant book " Complaint is a gift ".

Read the article here : Take your customer complaints seriously

I strongly believe that a firm's customer service quality will reveal only when there is a complaint.How a company handles the complaint is the true determinant of its customer service quality.

Coming back to my experience with my traveling agent, I had certain expectations regarding the service to be provided by the agent. The service provider was not able to understand those expectations. The company may have systems and processes which can delay the refund, but as a consumer, I am totally unaware of what happens inside the company.

The entire issue would not have happened if the service provider gave me the information about possible delay at the point of cancellation. But that did not happen. So marketers should learn to be truthful to the customers while setting expectations.

Its common sense that no marketer can satisfy all the expectations of the customers. But what he can do is to try and manage those expectations.

In the case of the bank , it had built a series of expectation in the consumers through high profile celebrity endorsements and ads. Then at the consumer touch-points it fails miserably . For example the 'service request receipt ' generated by the machine sets the expectation by giving the time taken to attend my request. The time given to me was 90 seconds. Then everything went offtrack .
Marketers often fail to practice the wisdom of Understate and Overdeliver. Most of the time you bring in the customer promising him many things that you are not able to deliver.

Seth Godin has written a good post here : Seth on customer expectations

For the consumer : Never pay for your service in advance. If I hadn't paid my tour operator in advance, things could have been much different. He would have made calls to me and I would have been the king. So if there is an option for taking the service on credit, do it. Because marketers have a bad habit of forgetting their customers after being fully paid.

Please share your views and experiences on the customer service you have encountered.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Brand Update : Titan

Titan has repositioned itself this year with a new set of brand values and positioning statement. In a typical case of Laddering, Titan has embraced a higher set of values going beyond the basic product attributes.

Titan has come a long way . From a preferred gift item to a stylish accessory, the brand is now moving towards a higher goal of self - actualization.

Titan has now acquired a new positioning. The new slogan " Be more " captures the essence of the new set of brand values. From the reports, I think that the brand has adopted " Live life to the fullest " as the core brand manthra .

Watch the new commercial here : Titan Be more

As usual the commercial has captured the essence neatly and as usual Aamir does a perfect job.
In the commercial, Aamir says " Be born Everyday " which truly captures the spirit of the new positioning.

As a customer, I find the commercial and new positioning attractive. The brand is trying to move away from product attribute/benefit ( style) to a more abstract set of values ( Liberation).

Having said that , there are a couple of apprehensions also. Usually brand-laddering is a tricky move . Unless you are very careful, there is a chance that the customers may miss the whole idea. Sometimes marketers have a grand idea but customers will be left clueless. Ultimately if the customer does not understand the advertisement, then everything is a waste.

The current campaign is strictly for urban customers and is going to appeal to those customers who have a definite view of themselves and the world around them. Others will see this as another ad featuring Aamir .

The brand has to make sure whether this category now is mature to have this higher level of message. I still feel that Indian consumers look at a watch primarily as a time-keeping device as well as an accessory. It has not yet reached the position where consumers see it as an expression of liberation or self actualization.

The earlier campaign " What's Your style " appealed to a larger segment of customers because it talked about a very tangible benefit of the brand. The new campaign is more on one's 'view of life ' hence there is a chance that many customers may miss the whole point.

Usually when the brand is laddering up, it will also have supplementary campaign that reminds the customers about the functional attributes and benefits of the brand. In the case of Titan also , such supplementary campaigns are essential to appeal to a broader audience.

With regard to the concept of " Be More ". This is not a new manthra as far as Indian brands are concerned. There are many brands which talked about doing more and realizing dreams. The recent Cinthol campaign is also about doing more ( Don't Stop ). However, this need for self actualization is all pervasive and is a highly relevant value as far as customer is concerned.

Related Brand
Brand Laddering

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Brand Update : Idea

Idea is running a new campaign on education . The new campaign featuring Abhishek Bachchan as a School Principal is aimed at promoting the concept of inclusive education ( education for all).
The campaign begins with a scene where a poor girl child is denied admission in a reputed school .The school principal think of a new idea to use Idea Mobile phones for teaching these poor kids.

Watch the Tvc here : Idea School Campaign

I was both impressed and intrigued by this idea. Impressed because the concept of inclusive education is a noble cause. Intrigued because I was not sure whether its possible to teach through mobile phones.

Further probing on the internet virtually crash landed my admiration about Idea. The idea is only an idea. This is just a campaign . Nothing more and nothing less. I thought that Idea cellular had actually developed a real model where kids in rural India can learn using mobile phones. But in fact this is only a campaign.

I think that many of the viewers would also be thinking that Idea has actually implemented this in rural areas .

The latest campaign was more in touch with reality than the earlier campaigns ( mobile numbers instead of name ) . That may be the reason I mistook it for a real life CSR initiative.
So what Idea is going to do is to spread the message of " education for all " using these campaigns. The brand also have tied up with an NGO Nanhi Kali and NDTV to further spread the message.
Had Idea tried implementing this model , then it would have given more credibility into the new initiative. The award winning campaign of Times of India's Lead India is a classic example of cause marketing . Not only was the campaign effective but at the end of the campaign there was also an output interms of identifying some leaders.
But in the Idea campaign , there is no visible output which can further enhance the brand's equity . There is no scope for following it up with another set of campaigns.

Idea with execution will change your life.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Inkfruit : Always On

Corporate Brand : Inkfruit

Brand Analysis Count : 338

Infruit is a unique brand with a special business model . The company is a e-retailer of designer T shirts. But there is a specialty in its business model. The brand aims to source designs from the consumers itself . It is another attempt to co-create with the consumers.

Inkfruit in its earlier avatar was known as Gnome was launched in December 2007. The company aims to discover the design talents in the country and provide a platform to exhibit their designs to a broader audience.

The model work like this :
The aspiring designers can send their designs to Infruit and these designs will be put to vote inside the Inkfruit community. The designs which gets maximum votes is eligible for a honorarium .
These designs are screen printed on T shirts which will be put on sale in the website. The company claims that the T-shirts are made of high quality and the screen printing delivers to the designs.

The T shirts is available for Rs 349 ( Plus delivery charges ) which I think is a reasonable price .

India does not have a pure T-shirt brand. Although most of the readymade brands have T shirts I feel that there is a scope for a pure-play T shirt brand. Because there is a wide acceptance of this category among all demographic profiles in the Indian market. Ladies, Kids, Gents, youth ;all like wearing T-shirts.

In this perspective, Inkfruit has done the right move in tapping this market. Here the differentiation is with design. The company smartly is trying to tap the design talents in the country in a very economical way. We know that reputed designers are costly while there is a huge design talent in India who are looking for platforms to express their skills. Inkfruit offers them the much desired platform.

But all are not rosy for the business model of Inkfruit. The concept of e-retailing is in the nascent stage. The penetration of Internet among the consumers is a vital variable in the success of any e-retailing venture.
There are security fears among consumers in using internet for shopping . To tide over this fear, Inkfruit has introduced Cash-on- Delivery at an additional cost of Rs 30.

With regard to the branding, Inkfruit has to have more clarity. Is it going to be a corporate brand or the T-shirt brand or is it going to be the store brand ?

From the pictures of T-shirts in the website , It is not clear whether there is Inkfruit label in it.According to the company, the name of the designer features on the label which would be a highly motivating factor for the designers.

So with regard to the brand, Inkfruit has to decide and convey its basic brand values to the consumers.
In the marketing perspective, I feel that Inkfruit should be branding its T shirts either using the corporate name or other suitable names. Then they can develop designer series based on the results of the community voting.

Another factor is the sustainability of the model . Inkfruit has tapped the enormous potential of ' Word of Mouse ' and the marketing team has been proactive in reaching out the bloggers and CGM publishers. So far Inkfruit has got tremendous support from the bloggers and online publishers. The brand has to take it forward to the next level of engagement.

T shirt is more of an experiential product which the consumer would like to see, touch and feel before going to make the purchase. So the challenge for the company is to tide over this experiential nature of this product and make the consumer to look at the design and then buy.

To do that , the company may have to induce the customer to make trial purchases. Although the price is reasonable at Rs 349, if a customer wants to order it through COD, then the cost will come to Rs 409. This can put off those customers who wants to try it off. So the company can rethink on the delivery/ COD cost to induce more trial purchases.

It is not easy to make the customers vote for designs and then buy from the website. That require lot of effort from the company . In branding jargon , the level is the Active Engagement where the consumer will use their personal time to participate in activities connected with the brand.

Inkfruit is a unique brand with lot of potential . The realization of this potential is dependant on the effort of building a community around this brand.
Checkout the brand site :

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pilot : The World's Most Reliable Pen

Brand : Pilot
Company : Luxor Writing Instruments Ltd
Agency : Lowe

Brand Analysis Count : 337

Two days back, while looking for a pen, I came across the good old Pilot Hightech Point 05. The pen brought back memories of student days where Pilot used to be the favorite pen especially for the exams. I gave in to the temptation and bought Pilot pen. The pen is just the same. The same style, same smoothness and same quality.

Pilot is a global brand. Ryosuki Namiki, a Professor at Tokyo Nautical School invented a gold writing tip for fountain pen. He along with hid friend Masao Wada established Namiki manufacturing co in 1918. In 1938, the company name was changed to Pilot Pens Ltd.
Pilot pioneered the fine art of writing by introducing path breaking products and evolved itself to be a leading brand in the writing instruments market.

Pilot came to India in 1982 in collaboration with Luxor Writing Instruments Ltd. The market at that time was dominated by ballpoint pens especially Jotter pens. The first product from Pilot in India was Pilot 05 micro-tip. Retailed at Rs 10, the brand gave a new writing experience to the Indian customers. The pen was lot smoother and the micro-tip gave a new freshness to the writing. So even though the product was expensive, it became a huge success.Micro-tip virtually changed the pen's market in India by creating a segment in itself.

Then came the Pilot 05 Hightech point . Priced at Rs 25, the brand had the USP of ' three dimple technology which enabled consistent flow of ink. The pen could also be refilled. Pilot had by then established its reliability and quality in the mind of the consumers. The pens became aspirational for most of the students.

Success of Pilot pens can be attributable to its ability to satisfy a need in the Indian market. Pilot pens combined the positives of both fountain pens and ball-point pens. People favored fountain pen because it enhanced one's handwriting and ball-point pens where popular because it was easy to use . Fountain pens was messy and refilling it was a boring routine. Pilot was a pen which had ink but it was not messy compared to a fountain pen.

The brand was also promoted heavily by Luxor. At one point of time, Pilot was endorsed by the actor Shekhar Suman. The tagline of the brand was " Pilot : Reads well, writes well ".

But during the late ninetees, the brand became stagnant. The reason was the increased competition from me-too products. Soon consumers had a lot of choice. Luxor also focused more on its other brand Parker. Hence in the media also, Pilot was not active. The high profile entry of Add Gel Pens also sidelined this brand.

One of the important reasons for Pilot's fading relevance is that the brand now does not have any meaningful Point of Difference. All the competitors have achieved parity with Pilot interms of technology . Even some have came out with superior technology than Pilot.

But still Pilot holds a unique position in the mind of the consumers. The brand still is one of the oldest and largest selling pen in that segment ( I do not have figures ).Luxor has launched a series of new pens under the brand Pilot. Now Luxur holds 15% marketshare in the Rs 1500 crore writing instruments market.

After using Pilot 05 after many years, I wonder whether this brand is being under- utilized by Luxor. According to reports, the brand has been focusing more on below-the line promotions. But the brand has the potential to do more.

Indian consumers also have become more choosy in terms of this category. There are customers who like micro-tip , some like a more heavy tipped pens, some go for style and image, some for the ergnomics etc. Pilot has to adapt to the varying customer requirements. Luxor has not been able to launch the new products of Pilot which are available in other parts of the world.

It is time for Pilot to ladder up to a higher plane rather than closeted as a mere pen. So far the brand has not compromised on quality and image . But the equity is slowly fading because of lack of promotional support.

The brand is a highly functional, reliable and quality writing instrument. Worldwide , Pilot takes the core brand value on reliability . But here Reynolds has already taken the reliability position. But Pilot can always take the core value of " Fine Writing ". It is something that all Pilot users will vouch for.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Marketing QA : Product line extension and Brand Extension

Marketing Practice reader Onam Jindal asks this important question about the difference between product line extension and brand extension.

For most of the marketing students, these terms are confusing. The different definitions in the text books makes it more confusing.

Interestingly the definitions of PLE and BE are different in two editions ( 11 & 12 ) of Kotler's Marketing Management text book.

In the eleventh edition of Kotler's Marketing Management,

Product line is defined as a group of products with in a product class that are closely related because they perform similar function, are sold to the same customer groups, are marketed through the same channels, or fall within given price ranges.

Line extensions consist of introducing additional items in the same product category under the same brand name , such as new flavors, forms, color, added ingredients, package sizes etc. For example Lux soap comes in different variants like Lux Crystal Shine, Lux International etc. So when Lux comes with a new variant, it is a line extension.

Brand extension happens when a company uses its existing brand name to launch products in other categories. For example, Woodlands which is a shoe brand extends itself to readymades and accessories.

This definition has certain ambiguities because the term category can be interpreted in different ways. For example , when Lux brand is extended to Shampoos , is it a product line extension or brand extension ?
The answer is : if we take personal care as a category, then the extension is a product line extension since soap and shampoos belong to the same category. But if we take soap and shampoos as different categories, then the extension is a brand extension.

In the twelfth edition , this ambiguity is put to rest. The latest edition of Kotler & Keller 's marketing management text book defines Brand extension as follows :

When a firm uses an established brand to introduce a new product, it is called brand extension.
Brand extensions can be classified into two : Line extensions and category extensions.

Line extensions happen when the brand launches the new product in the same category targeting a new segment through new flavors, added ingredients, package sizes etc.
Category extensions happen when the parent brand is used to enter a different product category.

So according the new definition, Brand Extension becomes the umbrella concept which can be used whenever a brand uses its name to any new product. The gurus has introduced a new term category extension to replace Brand Extension in the earlier definition

So now Lux coming with a new flavor is broadly a Brand Extension and more specifically a line extension.
Woodlands extending to apparels is broadly a brand extension and more specifically a category extension.

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.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Big Fun : Rest- in - Peace

Brand : Big Fun
Company : Gum India Ltd

Brand Analysis Count : 335

Big Fun was one of the hottest selling chewing gums during the Eighties. The brand evokes lot of nostalgia in me and reminds me of the countless fights that I had with my parents to buy this brand.

Big Fun was launched in 1985. At that time the bubblegum market was at the nascent stage. It was this brand which initially created the bubblegum market in India.
Big Fun was also one of the first brands in confectioneries to focus on sales promotion as the core promotional strategy . The brand initially started by offering the pictures of Disney characters to induce the kids . The brand was also harping on the BIG bubbles that can be made with it.

But the real tipping point came with the 1987 Cricket world cup. Big Fun ran a highly successful campaign focusing on cricket. The brand offered a series of collectible pictures of cricketing stars along with the bubblegum wrapper.
Along with the pictures, there was also runs/wickets which the kids would collect and keep score. At the end of the sales promotion, the kids can exchange the scores with some gifts like comics and goodies.

The scheme was a super-hit. More than the goodies, kids started collecting these pictures for the love of cricket. Favorite star's pictures was traded and kids began to buy the product for the pictures rather than the bubblegum.
Those were the days of Kapil, Viv Richards, Holding, Gavaskar, Vengsarkar, Shastri .

Bubblegum during those times was not as sophisticated as today's. Big Fun was hard rectangular shaped with a syrupy taste. One has to do a lot of chewing to make it mellow and also to make the first bubble.

Picture courtesy :

I also happen to see the old ad of Big Fun from the blog of Soumya Dip : Cutting The Chai.

The brand was cashing in on the cricket fever during those times. But in the early nineties the brand died . I am clueless on the reasons behind the death of such a highly popular brand. There is a possibility that the company ran into financial trouble and together with the decline of the popularity of the entire bubblegum category may have caused the death of Big Fun. The product also was not tasty enough to sustain the brand once the sales promotions' effect is gone.

I was now wondering why companies were not running such promotions during IPL. If a brand has done similar promotion during this era , will it create the same magic that Big Fun has created 20 years back ?

Big Fun is yet another brand that has faded from the memory of consumers. Another sad story of a home grown brand biting the dust.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Brand Update : Onida

Onida has ventured into mobile phones. The brand has launched the phones in the price range of Rs 1500-8000. The brand hopes to cash in on the equity of the brand in the white goods segment.

Onida was facing the issue of rivalry between the brothers over the control of the business. At one point of time, there were reports of the brothers putting the brand on the block .Now it is said that they have reached a consensus and the focus is again on the business.

It is in this scenario, that the brand has extended to mobile phones.The power of Onida brand was visible during the recent spat between the brothers. Despite the management issues, the brand was able to hold on to double digits market share in the CTV segment. During the last year, the brand was virtually silent in terms of promotions and had messed up the positioning by constantly changing the slogans.

Onida mobiles also carry the same positioning of the parent brands . The slogan used in the print ad is " Call Your Other Side ". The brand calls itself " Wickedly tempting" which will bring the spunkier side in you.

I feel that the brand has jumped into this category too early. The brand although enjoys a good equity has not been nurtured in the past couple of years. So without nurturing the core brand, any extension is going to have a negative impact . On the other side, the extension can also bring freshness to the core brand . Onida may be hoping that the extension can rejuvenate the brand.

But the issue is that mobile phone market is a highly competitive market with Nokia ruling the game. Almost all consumer durable majors have their line of mobile phones and almost all celebrities are booked by different brands. The latest being Samsung endorsed by Aamir Khan.
Hence to get eyeballs in this category requires hell lot of investment. And I bet Onida may have to compromise on other categories if they want to seriously enter the mobile segment. The brand may be hoping that the noise made in this segment will also have an effect in other categories also.
Second is the huge investment needed in product development. The models in this segment has a shorter product lifecycle and Indian consumers are now learning the habit of changing mobiles every year. Again more money to be spent on R&D and less money on brand building .