Monday, September 29, 2008

Snickers : For the 4'O'Clock Hunger

Brand : Snickers
Company : Mars INC

Brand Analysis Count : 351

To the joy of all chocolate lovers, the world's largest selling chocolate Snickers is now officially in India. The brand has been selling like hot cakes in India as an imported chocolate. Now Mars INC has formally launched the brand in India.

Snickers is owned by Mars Inc which is a $21 Billion company headquartered in US. The company belong to Mars Family which has a rich heritage dating back to 1911. Snickers is the largest selling chocolate in the world with a sales of over $ 2 Billion. Mars Inc is famous for its famous Mars chocolate which have a huge fan following across the world. It also markets the brands like M&M and Bounty.

Snickers has been a favorite of Indian chocolate lovers who devoured this chocolate bought either from the duty paid shops or brought in by the NRIs. But over the last two years , the brand has been available in most bakery's across the country . A report in Business Standard ( June 08) suggest that the imported Snickers and Mars outsold Cadbury's and local brands.

Snickers was born in 1930. The brand acquired the name from one of the favorite horses owned by Mars family

Snickers has been soft launched in India. There are no media reports or Press releases announcing the launch of this brand. I am not sure whether Mars Inc has started producing this chocolate from Indian factories or its still imported.

Snickers is a heavy chocolate with peanut, milk chocolate and caramel. Globally it is positioned as a snack rather than a chocolate . In India too, Snickers has been positioned as a snack.
What is interesting about Snickers launch in India is that the brand chose to localise the brand communication . The first TVC of this brand is made for India and made in India.

Watch the TVC here : Snickers India

Usually MNC brands try to import their global communications to India to create that global image. How ever Snickers chose to be Indian from the very beginning.

Snickers is positioned as a snack food. More specifically , the brand is being positioned as a snack food to fight the Four' O ' Clock hunger. The brand has the Hindi Tagline " Hunger Baja Char . Snicker Khol Yaar " , translated to " When 4'o'clock hunger strikes, open Snickers bar".

The positioning of Snickers is not very different from its competitors. Remember that CadburyPerk had the same positioning as a snack. However Snickers have a strong fan following in India even before its official launch.

For many years chocolate marketers have been struggling to teach Indians to take chocolates when you feel hungry. But so far they are not able to break into the mindset of Indian consumers. Indians don't consume chocolates when hungry. Chocolates are mostly taken after you take some food or they take it when they want some thing sweet . Why because Indian consumers don't consider chocolate as a food. So Snickers will be fighting the age old perception and will have a tough time teaching Indian consumers new lesson.

Snickers will have a tough time in India. Most of the chocolate manufacturers are faced with stagnant sales . To sustain the initial momentum is not going to be easy. Globally the brand has been trying hard to prove that Chocolates are good for health. It had undertaken many studies which prove that chocolates can be good for health. These studies are also very controversial and sparked many debates about its validity.

Snickers has the advantage of a strong cash rich parent and a strong brand equity. It will be interesting to see how this global brand breaks into Indian market.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Brand Update : Whisper

It has been long time I updated about the brand Whisper. Whisper has been a challenger brand . During the launch in 1989, this brand challenged the market leader Stayfree which was rather complacent from being the market creator and the leader. 

By smart brand building, Whisper made Stayfree shudder by garnering 40% share in the market. 
The last two years has seen a brilliant marketing fight between Stayfree and Whisper. Johnson & Johnson sharpened their marketing skills and regained its dominant position by waging a price war. 

J&J knew that P&G was burdened with high cost and it could not lower the price of Whisper. Further Whisper was positioned as a premium brand. The price was enabled Stayfree to retain the leadership position in the Rs 700 crore Sanitary Napkin market in India.

But Whisper did carry the fight on price by launching Whisper Choice which was the affordable variant for the price sensitive consumer. Its expected that Whisper Choice will bring in the volumes and take on the fight for leadership position.
Another significant development which prompted me to update this brand is the current campaign. 

Whisper has recently launched its global campaign "  Have a Happy Period " campaign in the Indian market. I sat in a state of disbelief when I first came across the campaign that boldly used the word " Period " ( common usage for Menstrual period) .  I think its the first time in India that some brand has expressively used this term in the mass media. 

Most of the ads for sanitary napkins shy away from the usage of  word 'Periods'  in their ads . Most used term was " Woh Din " meaning ' those days ' to denote the menstrual periods. So the new campaign made me curios as to whether Indian consumers have  matured enough to hear such terms through mass media. 

The campaign " Have a Happy Period " was created in 2005 by Ms Denise Fedowa who was a VP at Leo Burnett Chicago. This campaign is still running across various countries.  According to a report in Adweek, research shows that consumers are telling the marketers to be transparent and frank in their communications. 

The success of this campaign is a proof that consumers are  accepting frankness in marketing communication as long as it does not cross the limit of decency . 
Read a wonderful article in adweek here : Talk Dirty

P&G thinks that Indian consumers are also mature enough to understand the new found frankness with regard to Whisper. I agree because the TG of Whisper belongs to the educated sophisticated ladies who have more liberal world view. We are living in a generation where parents are not shy in telling their kids about menstrual periods and physiological changes. 

What is more interesting is that along with these campaigns, P&G is also running a below-the-line campaign called  Whisper School Health and Hygiene Education . The program tries to educate the teens about hygiene and care during these periods. The samples of Whisper is also distributed to the Teens. 

The idea behind the campaign is to catch the customers at the Point of Market Entry Stage . ( source ET). The kids are introduced to the brand at a time when they are about to use the category. And once the customer uses these kind of products, they stick to the brand. 
In order to build a community around the brand and also to encourage customers to talk about the brand, Whisper has launched a website specifically for this brand. The site is which encourages the customers to interact with each other. The site also serves as a media to spread product information and new launches from the brand. 

I used to tell in marketing classes that one of the ways to increase the sales of a product is to find new uses for the product. I found an interesting report that AIIMS is planning to use sanitary napkins as bandages because its hygienic and have excellent absorbing qualities. Read here . 

Related Brand

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tic Tac : The New Hello

Brand : Tic Tac
Company : Ferrero
Agency : Orchard

Brand Analysis Count : 350

Tic Tac is world's leading mint confectionery. This brand belongs to the Italy based Ferrero Group which owns some iconic confectionery brands like Ferrero Roche and Kinder Joy.

Tic Tac is trying its luck in the Rs 180 crore mint confectionery market in India which is dominated by the likes of Polo , Chlormint and the likes.

Tic Tac is differentiated from the rest of the crowd on the following aspects :

Packaging : Tic Tac comes in a special transparent plastic box with a flip open lid. The compact box acts as a clear differentiator for the brand. The packs are easy to carry and easy for the customer to use.

Form : Tic Tac is also different in terms of the product form. The small mints are called tic tacs are uniquely shaped and looks beautiful.

Flavors : Tic Tac 's main differentiator is the flavors. The brand is available in many flavors including fruit flavors. This helps the customer to break the monotony . Since consumers exhibit variety seeking buying behavior when buying confectionery , the many flavors help the brand immensily .

Ever since the launch last year, the brand has been investing heavily in communication.The initial communication was focusing on the main benefit of freshness . The tagline of the brand was " Natural Mint , Natural Flavors ".

The ads of Tic Tac was well made which showed the rain following a young man. Rain indicating freshness. The focus of the ad was to reinforce the connection of mint and freshness.

Currently the brand has repositioned itself on a new platform. The brand is now running a commercial positioning the brand as a conversation starter. (similar to Timex )
The brand has a new tagline " The new hello ".

Watch the commercial here : the new hello
What I like about the ad ( library ad ) was that the models look very ordinary and that makes the brand more approachable.
Tic Tac also made sure that the brand is available at a reasonable price point. The brand is retailing at Rs 10 which makes it attractive .

Tic Tac in a way has made every marketing mix elements right for the Indian market. The product is good and well differentiated . The brand is at an attractive price point , the product is available at most of the outlets and the company has been investing in brand communication.
The new positioning statement also has the strength to sustain few years .

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Brand Update : Titan

Titan has launched a new series of watches. The series is called Titan-WWF series. This series isbeing launched in collaboration with the International NGO -Worldwide Fund for Nature ( WWF).

Titan and WWF had entered into a tie-up to celebrate the World Environment Day. World Environment day is celebrated on June 5 every year. This year's theme is on Low Carbon Economy.

The current launch is an extension of the tie- up between Titan and WWF.

The aim of the collection is to raise the awareness about endangered species among Indian consumers. The new series is inspired by six species of animals who are fast getting endangered. The six species are

Indian Tiger
Indian Rhino
Gangetic River Dolphin
Red Panda
Whale Shark
Oliver Ridley Turtle.

The collection is targeted at the new generation consumers who wants to express their concern about animals and nature .

According to press reports, some contribution will go to the WWF from every sale of these series of watches.
More than the monetary part, this collection is aiming at the non-monetary benefit of awareness among the public. These series of watches are priced at the range of Rs 3000- 38000 and comes in 13 different styles.
Already the brand is running a series of print ads featuring the brand ambassador Aamir Khan.

The launch of this series is a good move by the brand to add a touch of social equity to the brand. Its a way for a brand to show concern to matters that affect the consumer . Another positive about this series is that the designs looks good and may prompt many customers to buy this brand because of the style rather than the cause.

On the negative side , Titan is far ahead of its time because Indian consumers are less sensitive towards Nature ( my opinion ). Hence I am doubtful about the actual number of customers who will opt for this series for the actual cause. The sale of this series will be a good indicator of Indian consumer's sensitivity towards this cause.

Related Brand

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wild Stone : Wild by Nature

Brand : Wild Stone
Company : McNroe Chemicals Ltd
Agency : Asian Shopping Club

Brand Analysis Count : 349

Sex Sells or does it ?

Well an ambitious chemicals company in West Bengal thinks that Sex sells . So when they wanted to sell deodorants they put that principle into practice.

The result speaks for itself. Their ad which is available in the youtube is watched more than 8 lakh times. A brand search in the google gives you 100 invitations to see the uncensored ads. So at times sex do sell.

Wild Stone is a market challenger. This brand from an unknown company has been able to make its presence felt in the market thanks to the controversy generated by the ad.

The ad is set in the background of Durga puja. The plot is that a homely bengali lady accidentally bumps into a stud and the Wild Stone perfume takes her into a fantasy involving the stud.
While youtube has the uncensored version, the channels are showing the heavily censored version.

Compared to the raunchy ad of Amul Innerwear, this ad is not of bad taste but ofcourse its highly suggestive ( I am talking about the censored version ).

In a report in Live Mint, the company clarified the heavy use of sex in their ads by saying that the TG which is 15-30 is highly influenced by these type of commercials.

Like in the case of Amul innerwear , these type of commercials helped these brands break the clutter. According to Live Mint, there are about 37000 television ads which are shown on every day. To make the customer discuss about the ad is not a child's play. For a small company with a limited budget, its a jackpot if their commercial is discussed and shared.

I think these controversial ads help these brands get the trial sales very fast. And for a new brand , getting trial sales is of significant importance. Because if the product is good, the customers will come back .

But there is a risk factor also. The risk comes from the regulators and civic society who will definitely cry foul. Recently Government has asked HUL to withdraw the commercial of Axe Dark Temptation.

Another risk is with the execution . The agency has to be very careful not to offend the customers. If the customer is forced to switch the channels because of the ad, its not going to help the brand.

In the case of Wild Stone Deo, the censored version has helped the brand to break the clutter and I bet many have checked out this brand. I am yet to find this in my city hence not able to comment on the price. I feel that is priced at a premium.

But there is another issue. From here to where ?

Amul Innerwear has released the follow up commercial which was again little controversial . For Wild Stone, the challenge is to bring the brand into focus.

The tagline ' Wild by Nature ' will prompt the agency to follow the current route which I feel may not do well with the brand. The brand should aim to build on the current eyeballs into developing a positive association with the brand through the follow up campaigns.

Related Brand
Amul Innerwear

Picture courtsey
Cutting the chai

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brand Update : Air Deccan RIP (2003-2008)

On August 30 ,2008, Kingfisher officially announced the rebranding of Simplifly Deccan to Kingfisher Red. It marked the end of a wonderful brand which rewrote the aviation industry in India.

Air Deccan was India's South West Airlines. It made air travel affordable and many Indians had a chance to experience traveling in a plane. Now it is a part of history.

As a marketer , I am upset at the demise of a wonderful brand. As a consumer I worry that I will not be able to have an affordable air travel. Without Air Deccan , air travel will not be the same again. Its back to the earlier days where flying will be restricted to rich and those who travel at their employer's expenses.

When Kingfisher took over this brand followed by rebranding it as Simplifly Deccan, I thought that Air Deccan will emerge as one of the best low cost carrier in India. I did not believe media reports that Kingfisher was only looking at the overseas flying license.

Now I feel these reports were correct. Kingfisher had the following agenda :
Kill the competition
Gain market share
Get the overseas flying licence.
Many new airplanes and routes.

By taking over Deccan, Kingfisher got a larger marketshare to fight Jet Airways. More over Air Deccan was creating huge problems for full service airlines. By taking over and killing this brand,Kingfisher has made life easier for all airlines.

For Captain Gopinath, its life as usual. As an entrepreneur , he has built a business, scaled it and then sold it at a best price.

The problem for Air Deccan was that it went public too early. When the companies become public, its operations are guided by the quarterly reports and stock markets. Stock markets never understand the logic of long term sustainable business models. If the quarterly results are bad, there is media / investor frenzy calling for blood.

For Low cost carriers, one cannot survive by looking at quarterly results. The business may bleed for long before attaining break-even. Especially in Indian aviation industry where there is still confusion in terms of policies.

For a consumer, the death of this brand is a huge loss. Its visible also. All airlines have jacked up prices, cut many routes and scaled down their operations. This has prompted many consumers to depend on Railways again. If Air Deccan was alive, it could have rode this season with lower prices. That's what a low cost airlines will do when every airlines increase their prices.
Kingfisher Red will not play the game of Air Deccan. It will be a flanker brand that will fight Jetlite. But never will you be able to fly at reasonable rates.

Related brand
Air Deccan

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Consumer Insight # 5 : You are just a Number

I just had a enlightening conversation with a Vodafone Customer " care " center. The unsolicited call came and poor me attended. It went on like this

Lady : Sir, This is from Vodafone customer care center

me : yes

Lady : Sir We wanted to check whether you have activated our GPRS services.

Me : I have activated the GPRS services

Lady : Sir Do you know that you can download pictures and wallpapers from Vodafone website

me : See I don't use this service

Lady : Ok Sir.... What is your name ?

me ( Stunned ) : What ?

Lady : What is your name sir ?

me : You called me and you " should " be knowing my name !!!!!!

Lady : No sir, we only have your number.. Please give your name so that I can enter your name in the system.

I sat there wondering what is happening to marketing.

A company calling a customer and telling him that ultimate truth

Dear Customer .. You Are Just a Number.

Consumer Insight # 4 : Fish Rots From The Tail

There is a book titled " Fish Rots from the Head ", written by Bob Garratt, talks about the role of Board of Directors and the crisis in the boardroom. As the title of the book indicates, Bob feels that the decay of the company often starts with the passive attitude of the Board of Directors.

But I have a different opinion.

Yesterday I went to my bank which is India's largest private sector bank. I have limited my visits to the bank owing to the horrendous customer experience and has been relying on the passive but decent ATMs.

I have been banking with this bank for last five years and I must say that none of the officials including the Branch manager whom I have interacted during the opening of account works here now. It seems that people here changes every week.

I would say that its a clear sign of decay and decay starts with the tail . If Board of Directors are Head, then the front office ( customer service) will be the tail isn't it ?

In a classic article titled " Best Face Forward " in HBR December 2004, the authors Rayport & Jawroski clearly states that in this competitive world, customer service or rather customer experience is the only available competitive advantage.

But we can see that many companies turning a blind spot when it comes to customer service. Your company loses its competitive advantage the moment you outsource customer service. Firms spent lot of money bringing the customer to the company. But when the customer reaches out to the company, it gives a raw deal.

Why do companies do this kind of basic business stupidity ? There is only one reason - cost.

Customer service is a costly business. Its costly because it involves people. And most businesses look at human resource as a cost center . So for a business , it makes perfect sense to avail cheap labor through outsourcing its customer service. If China offers a cheap customer call center service, I bet most of the Indian companies will outsource from China.

So firms reduce the number of their customer service staffs . The existing staffs are given double workload. Often these guys forget how to smile . These people are under severe emotional labor. They have to give their best face forward irrespective of their emotional situation. These guys/gals may have their personal/professional problems but cannot afford to show it to the consumer. So their stress level will be equal or higher than those in the sales field.

How many companies are sensitive to these issues ? To add to this issue, some firms give sales target to the customer service executives.

But for a customer, what is lost is the experience . In most of the new generation banks , customers are just numbers. In a rush to reduce the human interaction ( which is costly) companies invest in technology believing that technology can replace human interaction.

Its true that when comparing to rude staff, machines are better . But not always.

What the companies need is a judicious mix of people and technology. We are forgetting that we are living in an experiential economy. Customers - whether small or big, are looking for experience especially in the service sector.

When the market is growing, all these customer service issues are set aside . Firms look at break-neck growth . The key focus is customer acquisition. But market does not grow indefinitely. At some point of time, growth will stop and what you have will be the existing customers whom you have forgotten.

When you go back to these customers who was given a raw deal, you get back what you have given them.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Brand Update : Yamaha

In an interview with CNBC TV18, Rajiv Bajaj was asked about competition. His reply was he get jitters with the new launch of Yamaha R15. What Pulsar done to the motorcycles, R15 may repeat it.

I did not believe that statement. I viewed the launch of R15 with cynicism because of the price tag.

Can anyone think of buying a bike for Rs 100,000..

But a conversation with my journalist friend who handles the automobile-column in a leading newspaper changed my perception. According to him, R-15 is selling like hotcakes.

In my last post on the brand Yamaha, I had suggested that the brand needs was a statement. And it did make a statement with R15

R 15 is a stunner interms of looks. Auto reviews say that it doesn't disappoint interms of the performance.

More than that ,Yamaha got the timing correct. The market was evolving and there was a need for a motorcycle which made a statement. Two factors paved the way for the wide acceptance of R 15.

First was the emergence of a new set of customers who wanted a bike and was willing to pay the price to look different. R15 gave that fillip to this segment. These guys liked fast bikes and wanted something that suited the Indian conditions.

Second was the dealer support. Price wars among the bike marketers had significantly eroded the margins. R15 gave the dealers their required margin and they gave enough support for this bike.

Pulsar was too popular to be exclusive so the bike had to be exclusive and the higher price ensured that not everyone could afford this bike.

Whether R 15 will deliver volumes or not, it has given a new lease of life to Yamaha. The brand which was once an icon now have a chance to regain its lost status.

Related Post

Friday, September 12, 2008

Himalaya Herbals : Himalaya First

Corporate brand : Himalaya
Agency : Meridian

Brand Analysis Count : 348

Himalaya is a leading player in the highly fragmented Indian ayurvedic industry. Himalaya was born in 1930. The founder of this group is Mr M Minal who sighted an opportunity in tapping the abundant ayurvedic resources available in our country.

The branded ayurvedic OTC drugs market in India is worth around Rs 19000 crores. But much of these is being shared by many localized players .
Himalaya is famous for its liver supplement brand Liv.52. This brand is promoted through the ethical route and at one point it was the third best selling drug in Indian market.

Himalaya shot into limelight with the high profile launch of its OTC brand Ayurvedic Concepts. Ayurvedic Concepts was launched in 1999. The brand was launched with much hype and was successful in getting the initial mindshare.

Ayurvedic Concepts was promoted by heavy load of television commercials featuring an English speaking Dadima ( old lady). But then the brand did the unthinkable. After spending a truck load of money in promoting Ayurvedic Concepts, the company decided to create another Umbrella Brand . Thus corporate name Himalaya became the umbrella brand and Ayurvedic Concept brand was killed in the process.
I think its the dilemma faced by most of the Ayurvedic drug marketers. The sheer size of the brand portfolio makes it impossible for a marketer to think about individual brands. Most of the ayurvedic medicine marketers have an ethical line of products that they sell through prescriptions. Then they have another line of OTC products. Again the complexity of ayurvedic treatments makes the number of medicines in the list very large.
So the challenge is more than marketing. Firstly the company has to provide a full range of products. Otherwise the doctors will not support the company. Secondly it has to find the resources to support the OTC venture. So in a way , allocation of marketing resources becomes a complex decision process. So the company decision for a unified brand identity is logical but the lesson learned was little costly.
In an interview in Express pharma online, the company CEO Mr Raviprasad cites an important consumer behavior regarding the purchase of Himalaya products. According to him. customers of this brand first will have a single positive experience and then he moves to other products from the brand.
That means that a customer will try out Himalaya product because of some urgency/prescription or referral and out of that experience, he will try other products.
This insight has prompted the company to launch a campaign Himalaya First . The campaign was intended to bring in the first time users to the brand.
Himalaya is also credited with its initiative to launch the first ayurvedic boutique shops for the brand. I was amused when I first saw an exclusive Himalaya store in my city. I wondered whether it makes sense to launch an exclusive branded shop for an ayurvedic brand.
I personally feel that Himalaya thinks a little ahead of times. Perhaps the brand wanted to be a Body Shop in the wellness segment. The company has opened more than 225 stores across India.
But the task is to make the customers to use these wellness products. The brand should be thinking about tapping some celebrities to attract the consumers. The key is to link Himalaya brand to wellness. Even today, consumer associate ayurveda with remedial action rather than as preventive solutions. The task is to make the consumer use this products as a preventive solution that will provide wellness. Someone like Akshay Kumar or Salman Khan can give a heavy boost to this brand.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Western Union Money Transfer : Money and More

Corporate Brand : Western Union
Company : First Data Corporation

Brand Analysis Count : 347

Western Union Money Transfer is world's largest money transfer company . The company has its operation in over 200 countries . Western Union has a rich tradition of over 150 years.

Western Union came into existence in 1851 as Newyork & Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph company. As the name suggests, the company was in the telegraph business. In 1856 the company changed its name to Western Union .

Western Union started its money transfer business only in 1871. It was only in 198o that the company's revenue from money transfer exceeded revenue from telegraph business.

Western Union is a pioneer in introducing many firsts . It was the company that invented Stock Ticker. Western Union also invented the electronic money transfer and in 1914 the company invented the credit card.

Now Western Union is a key player in the global money transfer industry. The company generates majority of the revenue through the consumer to consumer ( c2c ) money transfers. Western Union is now a part of First Data Corporation which is a Forune 500 company.

The business model works something like this :
The company has a network of agents for receiving and sending money across various geographies. When the sender of the money contacts the agent, the information is fed into a common data processing system. The sender has to pay a transfer fee for sending the money. Within minutes, the money is transferred to the receiver.

Western Union gets revenue from the transfer fee and also from the difference in the exchange rate spread.

Although Western Union was in India from mid nineties, the company began to aggressively market only from 2000. India is a big market for money transfer agencies. The target market for these companies are the migrant workers .
According to reports, Indian diaspora is earning around $ 160 bn annually. The money that is transferred to India is roughly $15 Bn annually .

Western Union has been adopting a unique way of marketing especially in India. The brand has been investing heavily in brand promotion. Along with the brand promotion ,Western Union has been expanding its reach by opening agency offices across the length and breadth of India.

Watch the commercial here : Western Union

Earlier in money transfers, it was the sender who would chose the money transfer agency. Now through extensive networking and building brand, receivers tell the senders to opt for Western Union. So the brand has changed the consumer behavior in its favor. The brand give customers confidence and the reach give the customers convenience.

The brand building of Western Union has been highly localised. I never thought that this was an international giant because the ads were very Indian and very local. The company started its campaign highlighting its key differentiator i.e time. It takes ten minutes to transfer your money .
Now the brand has moved to a more emotional platform in line with the global positioning. Globally the brand talks about " Money and More. " .Now the brand talks about how it enables customers to realise their dreams and wishes bridging the time and distance.

Western Union is a classic example of a global brand with local strategy.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Brand Update : TVS Scooty

Scooty never ceases to innovate. That is one quality that makes this brand my favorite. Being the market leader has never made this brand laid back. When customers began to look at electric scooters, TVS responded by launching an electric variant of Scooty- Scooty Teenz Electric.

The latest innovation in TVS Scooty is the balancing wheels. Now Scooty comes with two small balancing wheels that will help the users to learn riding scooters by themselves. Balancing wheels are common in bicycles but its the first time a scooter brand is trying out this.

I think its one of the best consumer centric innovation I have seen in recent times. One of the biggest stumbling block in marketing of scooterette is inhibition of customers to learn riding scooters.

Most of the ladies often feel lazy in going through the entire process of learning to ride and then appearing for licence test . This has severely affected the growth of this market. While most of the girls/ladies agree that using scooters will significantly enhance their lifestyle and offer them freedom, the thought of investing time in learning to ride puts them off.

To tide over this obstacle, TVS Scooty had initiated a program ' women on wheels ' . The brand had started a chain of driving schools for ladies where the brand guarantees that the ladies will be taught how to ride a Scooty in one week.

The latest innovation is a direction in this regard. I think its a cool idea to have balancing wheels in Scooty. First it will encourage the TG to take the vehicle on road with confidence and also they need not beg their dad/brother/husband to help them learn riding. So this small innovation will go a long way in empowering the TG to learn riding by themselves.

More importantly this will help break the hesitation for first- time users to buy Scooty. From my own experience, my wife sometimes tell me about buying a scooter but then dismisses the thought by saying " oh I now have to go to a driving school and learn riding, don't have time ".

Ofcourse balancing wheels alone can help one to learn riding but it will instill confidence in ladies to think about Scooty as a serious option.

Kudos to the brand.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Suguna Poultry : Younger Tender Better

Brand :Suguna
Company : Suguna Poultry
Agency : R K Swamy BBDO

Brand Analysis Count : 346

Suguna Poultry is one of the major players in the fragmented poultry industry in India. Suguna is a classic case of commodity branding . Suguna Poultry started its operations in 1984. The company is based in Coimbatore in Tamilnadu.

The story of Suguna is interesting to a marketer for two reasons. First is obvious in that Suguna is branding poultry products which is a hardcore commodity business. Second is its unique business model.

India is the third largest egg producer and fifth largest poultry meat producer in the world. Indian poultry market is huge with an estimated market size of Rs 20,000 crore ( Business line) . According to Business Standard ( July 08), the size is estimated to be around Rs 12,000 crore.

The market is highly fragmented and dominated by local players. It is in this context that Suguna 's story becomes relevant.

Suguna came into a difficult market with a difficult idea. Branding chicken ! But through heavy investment in the media, Suguna was able to create a mind space for itself .
In the poultry market , the frozen meat market was around Rs 7500 crore. It was in this market where some amount of branding activity was seen.

The market further expanded with Godrej Agrovet entering the market with their brand Real Good.Suguna was promoting itself on quality and tenderness. I remember seeing lot of ads of Suguna during mid nineties. But in Indian market, consumers prefer live birds to frozen meat because of the easy availability of live birds. Suguna was able to make its brand prominent in this market also.

Suguna has sold live birds and eggs worth Rs 2020 crore in 2007 without owning a single poultry farm. That makes their business model interesting. The company pioneered contract farming in the poultry industry in India. The company source their produce through 12000 contract farmers across different states.

According to reports , Suguna owns the day -old-chickens , feed and feed medicine and the contract farmer is responsible for the day to day management of the farm. The farmer gets the assured income while the company takes care of the risk . In that way Suguna can channel its valuable resources to marketing and distribution.

Then the company entered into another lucrative market of selling branded egg. Each year India produces around 47 billion eggs worth Rs 10,000 crore.The market is growing at a rate of 15 % in an year ( Economic Times ).

Suguna has four egg brands and sells over one million eggs a month. Suguna launched these value added egg which is fortified with vitamins. This is done by feeding the laying hen with specialized nutrient feed.I am a regular customer of Suguna eggs.
The brands are
Suguna Pro
Suguna Active
Suguna Heart
Suguna Shakthi

Infact my wife started buying this brand of eggs for my child since she was impressed by the packaging which made the eggs look more hygienic and healthy. Priced almost 50% more than the usual eggs, Suguna had to show some differentiation in the product to justify the premium.

I closely looked at this simple product ( egg) for differentiation and it was evident. The eggs were clean , more shining and uniform in terms of size and shape. Another differentiation was in the packaging. In branding commodity, a marketer should be able to justify the premium and Suguna was able to do just that.

Suguna also has expensive range of eggs under the variant Suguna Heart which contains less cholesterol and rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

Buoyed by the success of these businesses, Suguna has entered into front end retail by launching Suguna Daily Fresh retail outlets. Reports also say that the company is launching Ready To Eat Chicken products also.

Suguna is a case which proves that its possible to brand any commodity.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Brand Update : Tata Indica

Tata Motors recently launched the new generation Indica Vista. The best selling car from Tata Motors has become even better with a new look and a new positioning.
Tata Indica was launched in 1998 and has sold more than 9 lakh cars so far. It is the second largest selling car trailing Maruthi Alto. Indica is a classic example of managing product life cycle efficiently.
From a shaky start, Indica has come a long way. Written off by many skeptics as Ratan Tata's unachievable dream, Indica has proved skeptics wrong by selling huge numbers. The core strength of the brand being its value proposition.

To sustain in a highly competitive market for more than 9 years is no child's play. Tata Motors has invested heavily in both product and brand development over these years. The new launch is yet again another proof of the company's resilience.

Indica Vista is Tata's entry into the luxury hatchback segment. The segment is dominated by Maruthi Swift. Indica Vista replaces seven variants of the original Indica V2.
Over the last few months, the sales of Indica was showing a decline. A classic case where the product reaches the declining maturity stage. And as theory says one strategy is to go for product modification.

Vista comes with a new style, more space and a new set of engines. The car sports Quadrajet and Safire engines which was build jointly by Tata Motors and Fiat. The new Indica Vista comes in the price range of Rs 3.50 - 4.50 lakh price range.
The original Indica is also retained in the product line. Now Indica offers a wide choice to the customers from price points of Rs 2.80 lakh to Rs 5 Lakhs.

The brand Vista sports a refreshing next generation look . Indica had the weakness of not looking peppy or sexy. That put off many young customers. The new Indica Vista is more curvy and looks pretty cool . But not as sexy as its competitors like Swift or Getz.

The brand now sports a new tagline " Changes Everything ". The slogan is primarily telling the consumers that the brand has changed. The ads are also more tuned to attracting the new generation.
Watch the new tvc here : Indica Vista

More than looks , I feel that Vista will sell more because of value proposition. The acquisition of Land Rover and Jaguar and the Tata Nano has helped a quantum leap interms of brand equity for Tata Motors.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Best Marketing Practice : Customer Ombudsman

Best Marketing Practice #2

HUL has introduced a unique practice in India by launching a Customer Ombudsman. In July the company appointed a retired Justice Mr M S Rane as the customer ombudsman. It is for the first time that an Indian FMCG company has appointed an ombudsman for customer grievances.

Ombudsman are usually officials who are charged with the responsibility of representing the public by investigating and addressing grievances and complaints of the public. ( Wikipedia).

The current move was a part of the Lever Care initiative of the company which was started in 2007. Through Lever Care , the company wanted to provide a single point of contact for addressing consumer complaints and feedback .

The Lever Care works through a system of call centers and designated officials who will handle the complaint management process. The customers are encouraged to contact the Lever Care numbers/email etc in case of a grievance.

According to the company, the complaint pack will be replaced by the company with a new one . Then the complaint will be processed for further action.

According to the press release, those complaints which could not be resolved through Lever Care will be routed to the Ombudsman who in turn will investigate the complaint .The decision of the mediator will be binding on the company and not on the consumer.

I was intrigued by this news. Why should an FMCG company put so much pain in the complaint management process. I was under the impression that FMCG companies will not be facing much complaints compared to consumer durable companies and service firms.

According to a report in Livemint , HUL has around 200 cases in various courts against it ( I was surprised ). Court cases can take away lot of time energy and money from the company. HUL hopes that such an alternative will help both the customers and the company to handle complaints and grievances quickly.
I think its a good proactive move by the company to make things easier for the consumer to address his grievances. I think its a best practice because its usually a nightmarish experience for a customer to get his problem addressed. Ombudsman helps genuine customers to get a speedy unbiased redressal.

Secondly HUL really doesn't need such a mechanism when compared to other businesses.Most of the products are of high quality, less priced and the service element in its products are negligible. Still the fact that the company has invested its time and energy in reaching out to the customers is quite laudable.