Friday, November 28, 2008

The Gateway Hotel : Smart and Sophisticated

Brand : The Gateway
Company : Indian Hotels Company Ltd ( Taj Hotels)

Brand Analysis Count : 360

Following the success of the budget hotel brand Ginger, Tata owned IHCL has launched a new hotel brand The Gateway.

The Gateway is a new contemporary modern hotel aimed at the new generation travelers. The hotel is positioned one level above Ginger and two level below the Taj Residency brand. Gateway is aiming at the business travelers who look for comfort and convenience.

IHCL now has four aiming at different segments
Taj : The high end luxury hotel aimed at the super rich.
Residency : The upscale premium hotel.
Gateway : Medium range hotel
Ginger : Budget

Gateway is positioned as a smart ,upscale, midmarket full service hotel providing hassle free contemporary superior service. The brand aims at perfect service without much fuss .
In the case of hotel industry, the predominant segmentation criterion is based on the room tariffs. IHCL feels that there is a gap between the budget hotel and the Residency brand.
This mid market segment offers maximum potential and consists of business travelers and tourists. The tariffs vary according to the locations but reports say that the range is between Rs 3000-Rs 6000.

During the first phase of the launch, the company plans to rebrand some of its Residency Hotels into Gateway. The company has identified sixteen hotels for the rebranding .

Gateway is trying to have an independent identity which is removed from the Taj brand. IHCL is now planning to retain the Taj brand as its Luxury brand. Hence it had the task of creating the distinct identity for the new brand -Gateway.

The Gateway brand is built on contemporaryness while Taj is rooted in heritage. So in the branding parlance, both these brands are poles apart.
The logo of Gateway is designed by the global design firm Landor Associates which had designed the logo for Ginger. The logo reflects the brand values of modernity and simplicity.

The Gateway hotel has already run a series of print campaigns as a part of its launch. The series of ads feature some offbeat successful personalities like Rahul Bose and Shobha De.
The choice of these celebrities was aimed at positioning the brand as a hotel for the new age successful personalities.
The brand has tried to differentiate itself through careful drafting of its service offering. Inorder to create a better service output, Gateway has divided its offering into seven zones which are

The brand thinks that its customers may have needs in any of these 7 zones.The brand aims to satisfy the customers in all these zones. The brand also offers flexibility like breakfast till 2 pm , option for night workout etc. The chain of Gateway hotels also provides a convenient choice for the frequent travelers. In the segment which Gateway targets, there is a need for such a hotel chain.

Although Gateway is trying to create an independent identity, the endorsement of Taj brand will go a long way in establishing the brand during the initial years.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Brand Update : Dabur Chyawanprash

Dabur Chyawanprash has gone in for a major revamp. The look and feel of the brand has changed and so is the brand ambassador. This November, Dabur has decided to change the look and feel of its leading brand Dabur Chyawanprash.

Dabur hold a commanding 60 % share in the Chyawanprash market. The brand has been using Amitabh Bachchan as its brand ambassador. Infact Big B has been endorsing the brand for more than five years now.

Chyawanprash faces a unique perception issue. The brand is perceived to be a health supplement for elders and kids . The younger generation feels that the brand is not relevant for them. Dabur had earlier addressed this issue in their earlier campaign ' Zaroorat Hai ' using the concept of ' role reversal ' .

Although Big B provided huge equity to the brand, the elderly ambassador further reinforced the perception that the product is for older people.

To break this perception, Dabur has come out with a new campaign featuring the new ambassador MS Dhoni. Dhoni is expected to make the brand attractive to the younger generation. The current success of Dhoni as a cricketer and as a captain gives added advantage to the brand.

Dabur has done more than just a new communication. The brand has also changed the packaging. The new packaging with lot of red color symbolises the activity and alertness. The bottle shape also has been made more modern. Chyawanprash also has a new logo which also reinforce the new targeting.

Dabur also has a new tagline for Chywanprash . The brand has done away with the earlier tagline " Zaroorat Hai ". The new tagline is ' Fit Body , Active Mind '. The brand gives the message that to win in life, one needs to have an active mind and a fit body.

The brand is currently running a new campaign in television featuring Dhoni.
Watch the tvc here : Dhoni

As in the case of any successful celebrity, Dhoni also faces the issue of over exposure . He is now sponsoring many brands from textiles to beverages. In the health drinks category he endorses Boost which is a competitor for Chyawanprash in a broader sense.

When I first saw the commercial, I mistook the ad for Boost. Boost also features Dhoni and Sachin as the brand ambassadors. The settings of both the Boost ad and the Chyawanprash ad are quite similar. Both ads even use the same color red as the main anchor. Only at the end of the ad, I realized that it was for Dabur Chyawanprash.

In message formating , it is better to introduce ( identify) the brand early in the campaign while using celebrities. Because the current trend is that most of the celebrities are over leveraged. Customers will associate the celebrity to some other brand if there is late identification of brand in the advertisments.

Professors Brian Sternthal and Angela Lee in the book " Kellogg on Branding " suggests that late identification strategies are used by brands to create a suspense and hence hold the attention of consumers. However, this is a risky strategy since consumers are free to make their own associations throughout the advertisement duration. Presenting the brand name at the end of the ad may not correct the erroneous association. People do not find it worthwhile to put an effort to correct such an association.

The authors say that late ID is useful for those brands where customers have an unfavorable disposition . Here in this case , there is an unfavorable perception that the brand is for elders and kids . But at the same time , the brand ambassador is endorsing a category competitor. Hence in this case, late identification may have little effect than desired.If Dhoni was not endorsing any other health drinks, this campaign could have produced greater results.

How ever, the brand will gain with the association with Dhoni. According the reports, Dabur also retains Amitabh Bachchan . That makes a formidable combination of endorsers for the brand.

Related Brand
Dabur Chyawanprash

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bru : Happiness Begins with Bru

Brand : Bru
Company : Hindustan Unilever
Agency : O & M

Brand Analysis Count : 359

Bru is a power brand from the HUL's stable. A brand which pioneered the instant coffee category in Indian market in 1969 is also an example of many successful marketing practices. According to HUL, Bru is the market leader in coffee segment with a value share of 46.9 %.

Prior to 2004, HUL had many brands in the coffee category. It had Deluxe Green Label and Bru instant as the main brands and small brands like Dilkush, Cafe and Cafe Gold. In 2004, as a part of the power brand strategy, HLL decided to phase out Dilkush and Cafe brands . It then consolidated the coffee brands under the masterbrand Bru.

Bru before becoming the family brand was positioned as a coffee that tasted just like filter coffee. But after the elevation to master brand, Bru took the positioning around happiness.

Bru was synonymous for instant coffee and had an astounding 21% market share in the first year of launch itself. All these years, the brand has been fighting for the numero uno position with Nestle whose iconic Nescafe brand was the market leader. But in 2008, the brand pushed Nescafe to the second position.
Much of the success of Bru can be attributed to following factors

Innovation in new products
Innovation in packaging &
Aggressive campaigns

Nestle lost out because of lethargy. The company failed to consistently invest in its Nescafe brand. I do not seeing any memorable campaigns from Nescafe in recent past. This has cost the brand dearly.

HUL's marketing acumen is vivid in the rise of Bru as the market leader. It has never stopped innovating for this new brand.

Bru was able to give new offerings to customers on a regular basis. One of the recent successful new product was the cappuccino packs. The new flavor gave the brand a new thrust in the market. The new flavors even prompted hardcore tea lovers like me to try out these flavors . The best part was that these cappuccino was available in single serve sachets which prompted consumers to test the flavors.

Another innovation was the cold coffee. Bru launched the cold coffee variants which again captured the attention of the consumers.
These thrusts in new product development and roll out is visible when one visits a super market. The coffee section is full of various flavors and packs of Bru which itself creates a positive vibration for the brand.

Another factor which made Bru successful was the campaigns. The brand is famous for two campaigns. One featuring Amritha Rao was a big hit. The theme revolve around the shy girl wanting to introduce her boyfriend Sagar to her father.
Watch the TVC here : Bru Sagar

Another campaign which was highly popular was the 'little cup' ad. The ad shows the wife announcing the " good news " through a symbolic ' little cup'.
Watch the ad here : bru Little cup

Bru is positioned on the theme of happiness. The brand has the tagline " Happiness begins with Bru ". The positioning and communication has been consistent with the brand's promise of kickstarting one's day with a Bru.

These slice of life ads put Bru in a growth orbit. Consumers started loving the brand for its innovation and campaigns. For the Bru Cappuccino, it had roped in the Bollywood Director Karan Johar to endorse the brand.

Another critical factor that aided Bru's success was the innovation in packaging. The brand made the entry barrier low by launching small affordable SKUs. There are single serve and large packs at different price points making the brand affordable .The brand although is positioned as an aspirational brand is priced affordable thus making it a perfect example of a Masstige brand.

Recently the brand has yet again came out with a customer centric innovation in the form of a flavor lock. Most of the customers worry about losing the flavor of coffee powder once the pack is cut open. The flavor lock is a plastic clip which will lock the flavor from escaping. More than actually locking the flavor, the lock gives a psychological belief that the flavor will not the lost.

This little plastic lock also gives more convenience to the home maker. Typically when buying powders in packs, home makers have to transfer the powder to a container to preserve it for long. This lock effectively eliminates the need for such a container.

Bru is a brand which has reached the commanding position following methodologically all the critical elements for marketing success : customer centric innovation, aggression and new product development

Friday, November 21, 2008

Brand Update : Sprite

On September 2008, Sprite launched a new variant Sprite Xpress with much fanfare. The various news reports celebrated this launch as a packaging innovation which Indian market is witnessing for the first time.

Sprite Xpress is the 350 ml Pet bottle from Sprite. The innovation that the company boast is that this is an " On The Go " Pack. That means that you can carry it with you when you are traveling..

What's new in that ?

According to the Press Release,
the new pack is a strategic initiative aimed to build strong connect with the youth. It is designed to offer convenience and adapts to the dynamic and on the move lifestyle of the consumers "

Frankly I did not knew that a simple packaging can do lot of strategic " things " to the consumers.

Coca Cola has been heavily promoting the Sprite Xpress. The variant is being promoted using a long peppy television advertisement .

Watch the campaign here : sprite xpress

The ad is catchy with a good background song . The ad revolves around the theme " outwit to outrun " and have a new tagline ' Ghumo Ghumao'.

The issue with this ad is that the entire foundation of the ad is based in Hindi. The song and the taglines are Hindi. When the ad is to be shown in the South Indian market, the agency will have tough time translating these in local language without losing relevance and sounding funny.

After seeing the ads I couldn't understand the innovation. After a little googling, I finally understood.

The innovation is in the pricing. Sprite was available in three packs : 300 ml glass bottle pack, 500 ml Pet bottle and large one litre Pet bottle.

Now the new pack is 350 ml in Pet bottle priced at Rs 15. The new pack is aimed at those customers who want single use packs while on the move. So offering the single use Pet bottle makes marketing sense.

With regard to the pricing, the new Xpress pack is priced Rs15 . Although psychologically seem to be lower than Rs 20 for 500 ml, in actual sense, the consumer is paying more for less.

In that way Coca Cola is gaining more than Rs 1 per bottle as margin. In a business with wafer thin margins, getting Rs 1 more is nothing but innovation.

That also justifies the extravagant promotion for this variant. The ads have been shot in Malaysia and runs for a full 60 seconds which really costs a bomb at the current advertisement rates.
The true innovation is with regard to the use of OOH media by this brand. According to reports, Sprite has launched a series of 3 D outdoor creatives on various outdoor platforms like elevators, buildings, hoardings etc.

Sprite has to create a big hype around Xpress and brand it as a packaging innovation because it is priced high. As customers , we have to pay more for such kind of " innovations ". The paradox is that this is from a brand which says " No Bakwaas " only seedhi bath ( straight talk !)

On a marketing practice perspective, Sprite has done a good job in launching such a variant. There will be lot of customers especially youngsters who want such single serve bottles which can be taken along with them. The problem with the existing 300 ml glass bottle is that one cannot take it on the go.

According to reports, the company is planning to launch Xpress packs for its brands like Coca Cola, Thums Up, Limca etc.

For customers : you have to be clear about what you are paying for... baki all bakwas

Related brand


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

J Hampstead : Nothing but the Best

Brand : J Hampstead
Company : Siyaram
Agency : Percept

Brand Analysis Count : 358

J Hampstead is a brand from the house of Siyaram . J Hampstead is an international brand of worsted textile which was acquired by Siyaram in 1995.

When the brand was launched, it was positioned as a premium suit brand with a price ranging from Rs 1000- 1500 p.m. The high price was because the fabric was imported from Italy. Later the brand went in for local fabric and a price restructuring happened which saw the brand retailing at the range of Rs 500-1000 per meter.

J Hampstead is an interesting brand. I think this is one of the very few brands in the consumer space which have an " Initial " along with the brand name. Besides this trivia, the brand is interesting for its experiments with celebrity endorsements.

According to Financial Express (26 July 2008) the market size for worsted suiting is around Rs 1600 crores.

J Hampstead from the start itself has relied heavily on celebrity endorsements. It is also a brand that was unlucky because in most of the occasions their celebrities got into trouble and the brand had to discontinue the campaign.

The famous endorsers for J Hamptead was the tennis duo Mahesh Bhupati and Leander Paes. These tennis stars were roped in when they were in the peak of their careers. But the personal relationship between Mahesh Bhupati and Leander Paes became sour and led to lot of negative press coverage around their fight. This prompted the brand to take off the campaign featuring these players.

Then came the big gamble. J Hampstead was endorsed by the entire South African cricket team. Instead of choosing a single player, the brand took the entire team as the endorsers. The South African team was considered to be very professional and clean. There were campaign featuring the entire team wearing J Hampstead suitings. But then came the unpredictable misfortune. Hanse Cronje , the celebrated SA captain was accused of match fixing. This forced the brand to shelve the entire campaign.

At one point of time Geoff Boycott also endorsed the brand.
Then for a long period, the brand kept off the celebrity bandwagon.

In 2008, the brand came back with the celebrity endorsement strategy but with a difference. J Hampstead is now endorsed by Ms Priyanka Chopra. I think that its the first time that a male textile brand being endorsed by a female celebrity. ( I am not sure whether any other brand targeting males are endorsed by female celebrity)

According to media reports, the agency feels that such an endorsement will be a communication innovation. The campaign featuring Priyanka has been shot in Paris and is currently on air in most of the channels

Watch the campaign here : J Hampstead

So the question arises whether the strategy of a female celebrity endorsing a suiting brand make sense ?
According to reports, Priyanka Chopra is now the hottest star in bollywood with a huge 'male' fan following. The purpose of this campaign is to create brand recall rather than build a long term brand equity . Hence the logic using Priyanka works in advantage to the brand by tapping the 'huge' fan following. (This is the version of the agency)

The theme of the ads also reflects this thinking. Priyanka getting impressed /fascinated by a hunk wearing J Hampstead. Another ad showing Priyanka ' playing' with the material getting impressed by the stuff.

The brand is being positioned as one for the modern independent stylish gentleman who can easily make an impact on the beautiful ladies. J Hampstead earlier had the tagline of " The world's Finest Fabric ". For the new campaign there is a new tagline " Nothing But the Best ". The brand is currently using both the taglines in the campaign.

The brand is facing competition from the likes of Raymonds and Reid & Taylor. Both these brands have created a clear cut differentiation. So will Priyanka Chopra measure up against Amithabh is the key question.

The brand is also looking at that perspective. Textile brands have roped in who is who of the bollywood. Shah Rukh ( Belmonte) Salman ( Mayur) Big B , all have been booked. Hence why not create a difference by choosing a lady.

Frankly , I am not able to predict whether this strategy will work for the target audience? Honestly I am not impressed by the ads because there is nothing new in what is being said.

There are advantages in using Priyanka Chopra because those who like her will watch the campaign. And if the news reports that she has a huge male fan following is true, then that will be positive although it has to be seen how much of those fans belong to the brand's TG.

What I detest is the desperation of the brand about celebrities. Why should a brand go after a female celebrity when they feel that all male celebrities have been booked by the competitors. Does the brand have an identity on its own ? Suppose all celebrities die, what will J Hampstead do ? Will it kill itself ?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Marketing Funda : Marlboro Friday

On November 12 , 2008 , Honda Motors India shocked the Indian autoworld by offering the biggest discount of 40% for its hybrid Civic. The country's first hybrid car Honda Civic was introduced in the Indian market this June. The launch price of Civic Hybrid was Rs 21.5 Lakh. Now the car is sold at Rs 13.5 Lakh.

Naturally the news was the talk of the town. For two reasons, first was the quantum of discount.It was the largest discount seen in that sector and second was that no body expected a price cut from a car maker like Honda.

Now the reason for the price cut has been officially out . The price cut was to clear the inventory . Honda had expected that the customers will buy the new generation Civic Hybrid for the prohibitive cost of Rs 21.5 Lakh. How ever Indian consumers gave this product a miss.

The huge price did not justify the value offered by the car. For one reason, Indians do not care too much for the eco-friendly proposition. We like eco-friendly cars but not at the cost of Rs 21 lakhs. Infact the hybrid feature was not motivating enough to justify the price. The dampener was the 105% import duty which forced Honda to sell the brand at such a high price.

The Civic Hybrid was imported as a completely built unit . The first shipment of 25o cars reached India this June. So far Honda was able to sell only 30 cars.

For high technology products and also products with " limited edition/Special edition" tags have only limited shelf life. When time passes, their value also erodes. Hence Honda had to sell off the inventory. To add to this problem, another shipment of 250 hybrids were on the way.

Honda maintains that the current discount is applicable for 190 cars only. That means the next lot of hybrids will be costing more.

All these events remind me of the famous Marlboro Friday.

On April 2 1993, Philip Morris which is a global cigarette major cut the price of its flagship brand Marlboro by 20 % in the US market. This sent shocking wave across the consumer market in USA. The stock market reacted violently and Philip Morris stock went down by 23 %. The entire consumer goods stocks fell drastically on that day. The market felt that consumer companies have buckled under the pressure of low-price competitors.

Philip Morris at that time was reeling under the pressure from discount brands . The low priced Cigarette brands was eating away the market share of Marlboro which was the market leader.

The branded cigarette business at that time also faced serious issues like
a. Demarketing by government
b.Restrictions on advertising and promotions.
c.Threat of law suits.
d. Price competition from discount players.

Philip Morris justified the price by saying that the price cut is a part of the major shift in the business strategy for long term growth. Many analysts blasted the company and predicted that the iconic brand status of Marlboro will bite the dust.
Philip Morris argued that it will not be able to withstand if it does not react to the price competition.

The Marlboro price cut was followed by a price restructuring exercise by the company across the product line. While the price of premium brands were reduced, it increased the price of its own low priced brands. The aim was to reduce the gap between the premium brands and the low priced brands.

The price cut was executed initially through sales promotions like coupons and offers like one + one free. Later the discount were made permanent .

The brand felt that once the price differential between premium and low priced brands are reduced, customers will choose the branded ones.

Although for the short -term, Philip Morris suffered revenue loss and share price beating, the strategy proved to be correct. After a year, the price competitors suffered and customers began to buy the brand. Marlboro regained its lost market share and share price of Philip Morris went back to sunny times.
The whole event is now known in the marketing world as Marlboro Friday.

I think that the price cut of Honda in India should be called as by Hybrid Wednesday.

Unlike the Marlboro price cut, Honda Civic price cut is not strategic but tactical. But the price cut throws some relevant marketing questions .

The most important question is about the brand equity. Many think that such a drastic price cut will hamper the brand equity of Honda. Since the price cut is for a specific variant, I don't think that Honda as a brand will suffer. Remember that Honda brand is build on attributes like quality, technology ,innovation etc which are still very relevant .

Another question that arises is the fate of those customers who had bought the car for Rs 21 lakh. Obviously when there is such a drastic price- cut, the existing customers are obviously going to be pissed off. According to reports, Honda is planning to compensate the existing customers although its not legally binding. Since there are only 30 customers who suffered because of price-cut, it makes marketing sense to compensate them because these customers are ' innovators ' who have lot of ' value ' among the target audience.

Although Honda claims that price cut is for 190 cars only , I have serious doubt whether they will be able to sell the next lot of hybrid cars for anything more than 15 lakhs. In a way the brand has fallen into a price range by its own making. It will also be a price benchmark for all those car marketers who have plans to launch their own hybrid cars.

What is interesting is that although Honda has misjudged the pricing during the launch, it had corrected the mismatch swiftly. It takes lot of guts for marketers to admit that they had made a mistake.
Honda quickly acted on the inventory problem and rightly identified the new price. According to reports, with in a day of announcing the price cut, Honda was able to sell a whopping 98 cars. So in a way the entire event help discover the price for such an innovative technology based product.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Market Statistics : IRS 2008 Round 2

The latest Indian Readership Survey Round 2 results are out. The top newspapers of India interms of their Average Issue Readership ( AIR) are as follows

  1. Dainik Jagran : 1.62 crores
  2. Danik Bhaskar : 1.30 crores
  3. Hindustan : 92.73 Lakhs
  4. Malayala Manorama : 84.17 Lakhs
  5. Amar Ujala : 80.73 Lakhs
  6. Daily Thanthi : 76.81 Lakhs
  7. Enadu : 68.31 Lakhs
  8. Times of India : 67.12 Lakhs
  9. Ananda Bazar pathrika : 66.76 Lakhs
  10. Rajasthan Pathrika : 66.71 Lakhs

There exists now a confusion between AIR and TR ie Average Issue Readership and Total Readership.

Media planners use AIR to decide on their media plan. AIR refers to the estimated readers for a single issue. Average Issue readership is derived from the recency. Recency denotes the number of people who have read the publication within the publication interval. For example for Dailies , the AIR is those who have read the paper yesterday.

Total Readership is the cumulative of AIR and Claimed Readership ( CR) . While AIR is the readership for one insertion, CR is used in a broader perspective to include addons and supplements.

The readership surveys use the Masthead method. In this method , the respondent is shown the Masthead of the publication and is asked whether he has read the publication.

The major difference between CR and AIR is that AIR denotes those who have read the publication with in the publication time interval. While CR represents those readers who claim to have read the publication but may or may not have read it in the interval .

So if a respondent say that he has not read a paper yesterday then he will not be considered as an Average Issue Reader. How ever if he claims to have been reading this paper but not yesterday , he will be considered in Claimed readership figure.

From IRS 2008 Round 2 , MRUC has moved to Total Readership as the standard rather than AIR. Some media planners are of the opinion that AIR provides better information about the reach of a publication rather than TR.

Usually Claimed Readership figures are more because of replication.

The latest IRS results also has thrown in some interesting trends in the media habits of Indian consumers.

Regularity of reading print media including both dailies and magazines have come down .The average frequency of reading also has come down for all print media. The average viewing / listening time for media like TV , Radio and Internet has increased.

The average time spent on media like TV , Radio increased while the time spent on print has declined. Average time spent in television is 99.4 minutes and 81.1 minutes on radio. How ever time spent on Internet has declined.

Another interesting fact is that the fragmentation in Television media has caused a decline in the time spent with one channel. That means that viewers are not brand conscious with regard to television channels but are program conscious. On the other hand time spent per title for print has gone up.
It was also revealed that print media is losing out in claiming the attention of young Indians. The readership for print among the age group 20-29 has declined by over 16 %.
Some interesting links for further reading
Exchange 4 Media

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rapidex English Speaking Course : Best Seller

Brand : Rapidex English Speaking Course
Company : Pustak Mahal

Brand Analysis Count : 357

Rapidex English Speaking Course is an offbeat brand. A brand which has been in existence for over 15 years has not come into limelight as an example of a good marketing practice.

Rapidex English Speaking Course is a book ( series) from the famous publishing house - Pustak Mahal. This is a book aimed at those people who would like to speak plain spoken English.

I was surprised to find that this book has been in the best seller list for long time. According to the publisher website , Rapidex has sold more than 25 million copies so far, making it one of the most successful book brands in India.

Its also a unique brand where the publisher has tried to promote this book as a product by carefully crafting all the marketing mix strategies.

The product is a very simple straight forward book. Rapidex English Speaking Course is designed as a self study book published in local language like Hindi, Tamil , Malayalam etc . The aim of the book is to give basic spoken English lessons to the reader.

The target segment consists of those who have education but lack the ability to speak English.
The product priced reasonably at Rs 150 also is in line with the value proposition. This book is often taken by those who are worried about getting a job and want to learn to speak basic English quickly.

Pustak Mahal has invested heavily in building this brand. The single column print ads were frequently placed in newspapers and magazines. The tipping point for this brand came when the legendary cricketer Kapil Dev endorsed this course. Kapil was frank in admitting that he benefited from this book. This singe endorsement took the brand sales to new heights.

Another interesting feature I have noticed is that all these years, the brand has never changed its looks. The color schemes and the calligraphy still remains the same. The brand has been able to create a distinct identity by retaining all these brand elements.

The brand buoyed by the success of the English course tried its luck by launching Rapidex computer course. But to my knowledge the extension was not as successful as the parent product.

Now India is seeing a new wave of English language courses. With the Call center boom, new format of language training has evolved and has emerged as a big business. Even in this period, Rapidex is holding on as the first step in the spoken English learning. To keep up with the changing needs, the book also now comes with tutor CDs.

Rapidex is a good example of successful marketing practice. The brand could do more if its able to raise its share of voice positioning itself as the best self study spoken english course available in the market. We already have a culture which consider English learning important. And Indian consumers are aware that the present education does not add much importance in enhancing English speaking skills.
In such a scenario, the relevance of Rapidex brand is as high as in the past.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Best Marketing Practice : Living the Story

Every brand has a story and the success of the brand depends on how well they tell the story to the consumers.
After a near -death experience in the Indian market, Yamaha have slowly started telling a compulsive story. In my last update on Yamaha, I had blogged about their new launch Yamaha YZF R15. Priced at Rs 1,25000, the brand has already made a strong start.

R 15 is positioned as the urban racing machine. The brand boasts about its racing instinct and most of the auto reviews have written positive words for this machine.

Last day I was watching the Auto Car show in UTV i and happen to see the report on the racing championship for R 15 owners held in October 2008. The first racing event was held in September.
I consider this event as one of the best marketing practice where a brand truly living the dreams it has painted for its customers.

The racing event promoted by Yamaha was not for the racing professionals but for the ordinary owners or R 15. But the entire racing was done on the professional race track. So many guys were able to realize their dream of participating in an actual race using their bike.

Its not the first time that a bike brand associating itself with racing . TVS Apache RTR was positioned along the racing platform. Even the market leader in performance bike - Pulsar also was associated with racing attributes.

But R 15 has gone the extra mile by making racing real by launching such an event. I bet that many of those R 15 owners who participated in the race was seeing the racing track for the first time. They also got the chance to burn the rubber and live their dream - thanks to the brand.
This event is also an outcome of the clear understanding of the consumers who buy such a bike.

Those who can shell out Rs 1 lakh for a bike will definitely a bike enthusiast who wanted to burn the rubber and make a statement. These customers will also be the key opinion leaders among their community be it students or professionals. So a racing event will be the best possible way to make them feel good about their purchase.

The customers of R 15 can participate the event by paying a nominal amount of Rs 500. According to the report , the company will handle the transportation of the bike to the racing venue. The riders are given enough training before letting them loose on the race track.

The brand is going to have lot of advantages by organizing such an event. First is the reinforcement of the brand's positioning of a sports bike. The event also will make the opinion leaders to hook on to their brand. Those who have participated this even will cherish those moments and will have generated lot of positive word of mouth . It also will strengthen the case of pricing the brand at Rs 1.25 lakh .

Another interesting factor is that this event is not for potential customers but existing customers. So this case is an example of a successful "After Marketing' . 'After Marketing ' is a jargon that is used for all marketing activities that are done after the sale is over.

Related Brand


Friday, November 07, 2008

Brand Update : i Pill

i Pill is a Morning - After contraceptive from Cipla . My earlier post on the launch of ipill in India has been one of the most popular post ( understandably so ! ) with lot of queries about this pill.

i-pill has not only generated lot of consumer interest but also many controversies. A google search on this brand will give you lot of opinions against this brand. There are reports suggesting that this brand is becoming popular among teenagers.

i-pill when launched was positioned as a product that will prevent unwanted pregnancy. The launch campaigns were carefully crafted in the family setting with a very relevant message highlighting the efficacy of the product as a solution to avoid unwanted pregnancy. The core message of the brand was that ipill will help you get on with life.

The brand has now launched another campaign with an entirely new message content.

Watch the new campaign here : I pill

The message of the new campaign is entirely different from the first series.

Now i-pill is being positioned as an alternative to abortion. The setting of the ad has been changed from family to a closeted conversation between two ladies.

In the new ad, the protagonist screams the word 'Abortion ' many times to highlight that ipill is an alternative to abortion.

I think there is a reason for this repositioning . When Ipill was launched, there were lot of criticism in the market that it is an abortion pill. And moral police in India consider abortion as a crime.

Cipla had to do lot of PR in order to convince the public that i-pill is an emergency contraceptive rather than a pill for abortion. The fight is still going on.

The new repositioning of i-pill as an alternative to abortion is a strategy by the brand to publicly tell the consumers that the brand is not a abortion pill. It also wanted to be projected as a safe alternative to abortion.

As a viewer, I think that the new campaign is of bad taste. The settings although realistic is little repulsive and the screaming of the word abortion also forced me to skip the ad . The launch campaign involving husband-wife , newly weds were brilliantly crafted and was far more superior to the current campaign.

I think that with the new campaign the brand gives a wrong message like " if you screwed up then use i-pill " . Although its true the brand could have communicated it in a better way.

Rather than pitching against abortion, the brand will make more sense if it rightly identifies the target segment. Abortion often is associated with infidelity. So when the brand positions as an alternative to abortion, there is a chance that it is perceived to be promoting infidility .

In a typical Indian family setting, suppose a couple encounters an unwanted pregnancy situation, there is a high chance that they will NOT go for an abortion. Abortion will be done if there are serious issues like financial and health issues. ( This is my opinion and not based on any data. If readers have further insights please feel free to comment. ) . Grudgingly the family braces to accept the new member.

If my hypothesis is true, then i-pill is taking the wrong stance.

It will be better for ipill to concentrate on the newly weds or young couple who often faces this dilemma stemming from sudden burst of love. Abortion is a negative word and why unnecessarily associate your brand with a negative term ?

Related Post
I Pill

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Consumer Insight : The end of air travel as I see it !

This October 2008, in a move that surprised India Inc , Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines announced an alliance for sharing their resources and network. According to a report in Deccan Herald, the company announced that this alliance will share their resources in seven critical operational areas including routes and even employees but both these airlines will maintain their legal and brand entity.

Jet and Kingfisher controls approximately 60 % market share . While pundits and media glorified the swift move by the mavericks who head these companies, I see the formation of a cartel.

As a consumer I see it as the end of my air travels.

Both the companies cited the sluggish environment as the core reason for this deal. The rising fuel cost, the looming recession is definitely going to take a toll in the industry. It makes terrific sense for two major players to come together and share resources and cut costs. I also think this as a unique event when two competitors come together to face the looming threats.

But cartels are bad. Its very bad for a consumer.

I live in the state of Kerala where every sector is ruled by cartels. Where else do you find the Bus Owners forming a cartel in the name of union, auto drivers/owners forming cartels, Taxi owners forming cartels , Film stars have cartels, Film producers have cartels, Contractors have cartels, hotels have cartels, traders have cartels, jewelers have one and even the scavengers have formed cartels.

And Keralites suffer the highhandedness of these cartels. They hold the un-organized citizens at ransom to meet their demands. So we see buses off the road, traders shutting shop and even movie production getting stopped .

India currently lacks sufficient laws to identify and regulate such cartels. Sadly there is no political will to prepare one.

Coming back to the Jet- Kingfisher alliance.

What is going to be the result of such an alliance ? I foresee a significant drop in the competitiveness of the industry as a whole.

I am not a fan of Air Deccan but I credit the boom of Indian Airline industry to that brand. And the death of Air Deccan is going to be detrimental to the growth of this industry.( my personal opinion ).

I am not an expert in this domain but as a consumer I will try to defend my point. Please feel free to comment your thoughts.

I am not a frequent traveler ( not even a regular one ). My first flight where I paid from my pocket was with Air Deccan. Why I chose to fly was that it was affordable ( not cheaper).

There are three main customers for Airlines -

The rich travelers : These customers have the income to afford the travel. They either pay from their pocket or their business foot the bill. So whether there is a slowdown or not these guys will fly.
The Executives : These customers fly frequently but the bill is paid by the company. I feel this segment of consumers form a large chunk of air-travelers. When the economy slows down these class will travel less depending on the austerity measures of their organisations.

The ordinary ones : Well, I belong to this class. I would love to fly if its affordable. This category of customers may not travel regularly.

Air Deccan targeted the ordinary ones and that too successfully. But there was an interesting bonus to that strategy. Lot of corporates began to enable their executives to travel by air . The ceiling of air travel for executives have come down since the airline rates became affordable.

There was a time where an executive who earlier had only the eligibility to travel by First Class train was given the sanction to fly since the rate differential was negligible.

This saw a spurt in airline passengers. Both regular and first- time fliers. Those who have never flied before started looking for better rates.

And look at the way the infrastructure reacted to this new boom. New airports began to come up, jobs in the sector boomed and lot of new business catering to this sector began to evolve.

I agree that much of this boom can the attributable to the economic prosperity that we say in the recent past but the low cost airlines contributed significantly .

Now what is the scenario ?

With virtually no low-cost airlines , the entire industry is in turmoil. Companies have cut the eligibility for air travel why because it is now not affordable. So less number of regular fliers. Airports which came up anticipating large number of consumers see very few and they began to hike the airport charges which again is going to put off many fliers.

And the formation of Jet- Kingfisher is only going to make things tougher. This alliance is going to be a major entry barrier for any new player. And using the commanding postion, these two can silence the current competitors.

Rates will be high, service will be bad and ordinary people will travel by train...

Related Brand
Air Deccan

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Samsonite : Life is a Journey

Brand : Samsonite
Company : CVC Capital Partners
Agency : TBWA
Brand Analysis : 356

A travel from luggage to footwear and watches can be an interesting journey for a brand. Samsonite is on such a journey. The global leader in luggage is on such transformational path from suitcases to a lifestyle travel brand.

Samsonite is a heritage brand with a history of 100 years. In 2010, Samsonite will be celebrating its 100 years of existence. The brand had its origin in 1910 when Jesse Shwayder started manufacturing luggage for travelers. The company was Jesse Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing company. The company was renamed to Samsonite in 1966. According to wikipedia, the brand was named after the biblical character Samson.

Samsonite is the second largest luggage brand in India trailing behind the market leader VIP. Samsonite is known for its premium luggage with major attribute being the strength and sturdiness.
The Indian luggage market is huge with a market size of Rs 2000 crore. But majority of the market is dominated by unbranded local players. The organised luggage market is only Rs 950 crores. VIP has a commanding market share of 60 % in the organized segment and Samsonite is having around 35-40% share.

When Samsonite was launched in India, it took on the fight directly with VIP by making the brand affordable to the Indian consumer. But in 2005, the brand took a major repositioning exercise by positioning the brand as a luxury brand. The repositioning was done using a series of print campaigns in leading magazines. The product portfolio was also rejigged by the inclusion of lot of bold colors and shapes.

The brand even had a campaign featuring the iconic Sir Richard Branson highlighting his choice for Samsonite. The brand has the tagline " Life is a journey ".

Samsonite has a multibrand strategy in the Indian market. It has a very powerful brand which offers affordable luggage solutions called American Tourister. Amercian Tourister is also an international brand which was acquired by Samsonite in 1993

American Tourister is famous worldwide as a study brand. Its famous among advertising fraternity for its iconic advertising of 1970.
Watch the iconic ad of American Tourister here : American Tourister

Samsonite also ventured into premium luxury luggage market in 2006 with its brand Samsonite Black Label. Black Label is a designer type series aimed at the luxury segment. The brand is priced above Rs 20,000.

The multi-brand strategy adopted by Samsonite is also an example of targeting different through different brands.

Samsonite Black Label : Targeting the elite travelers . The price range is above Rs 20,000
Samsonite Range : Targeting premium travelers . The price range is Rs 5000-20,000
American Tourister : Rs 1,000 - Rs 20000

In 2007 the brand did something unthinkable. It extended itself to marketing shoes.. Can you believe it ?
Samsonite shoes !!!!!!

When I first saw the print ad for Samsonite Shoes in a leading business magazine, I nearly fainted. I first thought it was crazy for a luggage brand to extend itself into shoes .
I never understood the connection between shoes and luggage in the first place ( may be I am not smart enough ! ).

Then came the logic. Samsonite is transforming itself from a luggage maker to a marketer of lifestyle products associated with travel. Now I get the connection.
The brand has expanded its scope to cover all products that are associated with travel. Hence we are going to see Samsonite watches , Samsonite Eyegear in the near future. This is the global strategy adopted by Samsonite across the markets.

I am not going to predict the outcome of this brand extension ( brand dilution ? ) . But does it make sense for a luggage maker to venture into shoes marketing and then making watches ?

According to reports Samsonite shoes will retail at prices above Rs 5000. So typically it will be competing with the major brands like Florsheim, Hush Puppies and the like.
Can a brand assume that if it is successful in a travel related product, it can succeed in marketing all products that have connection to travel ?

Take the case of watches. According to reports , Samsonite is planning watches that will automatically adjust to different timezones so a traveler need not correct his watch. But my question is whether a frequent flier choose an Omega , Cartier or a Samsonite watch ?

Marketing is a domain where there are no rules. If Apple can succeed in making ipod and then replicate their success with iphone then why not Samsonite ?

I have no answers... what do you think ? Will Samsonite taste success in its latest repositioning ?

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