Friday, January 30, 2009

Brand Update : Toyota Innova

Innova which created the luxury MPV segment in 2005 has reinvented itself . This January , Toyota launched a refurbished version of Innova. The new Innova has a new front bumper and have a sporty look . The interiors have also been spruced up.

Since its launch in 2005, the brand had a dream run. According to domain-b website, Toyota has sold over 1,60,000 units since its launch. The brand have a market share of over 36 percent in the segment.
The brand virtually ruled the premium segment without much competition. The brand also had the exemplary Toyota quality which created a benchmark for future competition.

The relaunch of Innova is a pre-emptive strategy by Toyota because of the recent launch of Mahindra Xylo. Toyota knew that Xylo can be a dangerous competitor. The simple fact that Mahindra shook the SUV market with Scorpio makes it a worthy comeptitor for Toyota.

So as a market leader, Innova had to respond to competition. I am impressed with the speed in which Innova reacted to Xylo launch. According to reports, the MPV segment witnessed a degrowth in 2008. Mahindra is expected to bring consumer interest back to the segment. The pricing and the quality of Xylo is reported to be good enough to give Innova a tough year ahead.

The degrowth of MPV segment is due to the lazy marketing by Innova. Innova also became laid back last year in terms of promotions and product improvements. The brand shot into limelight through some classy adverting featuring Aamir Khan. Later Aamir was dropped and Innova went into silence. There was just one campaign for Innova in 2008.

Although the MPV segment have few intra-segment competition, they compete with other segments. Hence the high profile launches of premium cars in other segments will have its effect on Innova.
In my personal opinion , consumers in India evaluate products across segments while making a decision. So a consumer may look at Scorpio and Skoda together and then make a choice. Hence when all other brands are making noise, Innova lost many customers because of its laid-back promotions.

Xylo has really warmed up this brand and Innova has responded early to the competition. The brand does not have much issues on the product side but there is an issue in the promotional side. The brand really needs a heavy dose of promotions to retain its glory.

I am sure that Innova may be missing Aamir Khan......

Related brand


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kohler : The Bold Look

Brand : Kohler
Company : Kohler India

Brand Analysis Count : 375

Kohler is a global brand which has a unique position as a designer kitchen and bathroom accessory brand. This American brand has a rich history dating back to 1883.

Kohler was launched in India in 2006. The company is in the business of power systems , kitchen and bath accessories. Indian bathroom accessory market is worth around Rs 2500 crore and Kohler is aiming the premium segment of the market.

The brand came into my notice when I saw the advertisement of Kohler, where the lady asks the famous architect to build a house around a faucet.

Watch the commercial here : Kohler Architect

I frankly did not like the ad. What in the world one would imagine such a situation where you fall in love with a faucet or a closet ? I thought it as absurd when a person wants the architect to build a house matching a bloody tap.

Infact that lousy ad prompted me to go and search for this brand. And surprisingly now I am impressed.Impressed because Kohler wants people to fall in love with their products. Impressed because of the kind of innovation that the company try to bring into a product like bathroom fittings, taps and closets.

It would not be an exaggaration to say that Kohler has an iconic status in this segment. The brand is in the forefront of innovation and some of the products are really mind-blowing.

For example, Kohler has a brand - Purist Hatbox toilet which is a one piece tankless toilet .It has electronic actuation and Quiet close toilet seats. The design is totally unique and minimalistic.

The brand hence want to be a desire- object. Another interesting thing about this brand is its commercials. It is sad that Kohler chose its worst commercial for India.

Actually Kohler is famous for some of their commercials. One such campaign is known as " As I See it " .
In this campaign, Kohler partners with nationally recognized artists and photographers and create ads . The artists are free to use Kohler products to create the imagery. This campaign has won several awards for the brand. The campaign was launched in 2002 and is executed by the brand's ad agency GSD&M Idea City. Kohler launched the campaign in India in 2008.

Kohler globally has been positioned as an object of desire, unconventional and bold. The brand has the tagline " The Bold Look " . The " Bold Look" campaign originated in 1960 when the brand tried to experiment with bold , unconventional designs. The Bold Look later bacame the reflection of the culture and attitude of the company. If you closely look at most of their products, the brand has tried to break away from the conventional mould.

Kohler is trying to create a new perception about bath fittings and accessories. The brand is targeting the upwardly mobile Indian consumer segment who would like to have the best of all worlds. More over , bathroom fittings and faucets have become lifestyle products. Indian consumers are now mimicking the west for their home designs. People now want " dry " bathrooms , bathrooms which look like " living rooms "....

All these have created huge potential for a designer brand like Kohler.

Related Brand

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Brand Update : Ford Ikon

After nine years of Joshful existence, Ford has relaunched Ikon. Ford Ikon has been given a new life, a new look, a new engine and a new positioning.

Last November, Ford Ikon was relaunched with a Dura Torq TDCI diesel engine. The brand was earlier available in petrol only . The diesel version of Ikon will appeal to the consumers who worry about the fuel prices.

Besides the diesel engine , Ford Ikon also sports a new look and spruced up interiors.

The positioning also have changed. The Ikon now ceases to be a Josh Machine. The brand has replaced its " iconic " tagline "Josh Machine " with a new tagline " Sensible Bhi, Crazy Bhi "

Watch the new campaign here : Ford Ikon

I was a big fan of the Josh Machine tagline. It was a simple but a very effective positioning statement. It reflected everything that the brand stands for.

It is true that the brand has become older and dated. The brand needed new energy. But the new campaign is definitely anything but Josh. The idea is old and the execution average.

One of the reasons why Ford Ikon's position deteriorated in the market was because the brand never reinvented itself. There was not much happening with the brand . The brand off late became complacent in promotions. There was no campaign which was worth remembering in the last 5 years. The brand could have kept the energy by constantly promoting itself. But Ford adopted a strategy of milking this brand without investing much on the promotions.

If you ask any one about Josh Machine, you will never get a wrong answer. The brand and the tagline was heavily associated and remembered. If this tagline has to be replaced, the brand should have replaced it with an equally powerful positioning statement. "Sensible Bhi, Crazy Bhi " is nothing but a boring tagline. The brand also just lost its core positioning of a sporty car.

Remember that there is no other Indian car brand which is positioned as a Josh Machine. By forgoing such a powerful statement, Ikon has just lost its Josh.
Related Brand
Ford Ikon

Friday, January 23, 2009

Saint Juice : 100 % Juice , Nothing else

Brand : Saint Juice
Company : Parle Agro
Agency : Creativeland Asia

Brand Analysis Count : 374

Saint Juice is the new entrant to the fast growing fruit juice market.The brand is making a foray into a market which is highly segmented and often highly confusing (to the consumer) .
Indian beverages industry which is worth Rs 7000 crore is divided broadly into carbonated and non-carbonated categories.

The fruit based drinks market is highly confusing for a customer . Frooti, Tropicana, Maaza, Real etc are all fruit based beverages. Some tastes good and some not so good.

If you look at the products, there are different types of fruit beverages :

Fruit Drinks : These are those drinks where there is a less than 20% fruit pulp.
Frooti ,Maaza etc belong to this category. Fruit drinks is the dominant category which is worth around 250-300 crores

Fruit Nectar : These contains less around 25- 85% fruit pulp. Brands like Godrej Xs and Real Nectar belongs to this category. This is a small category worth around Rs 35 crore.

Fruit Juice : These are fruit beverages that contain 85% and more fruit pulp. Tropicana and Real belongs to this category. This category is worth Rs 150 crore.

With in the Fruit Juices segment , a new category is emerging which is the 100% juice category.
( A nice article on this here : afaqs )

Most consumers are not aware of this micro segmentation. Those who drink Frooti or Maaza does not know or is not bothered about the fruit pulp content. The reason is that ,they drink these beverages for the taste ( and quenching thirst ).

Unlike the fruit drinks , customers of fruit juices are health conscious. One of the reasons for them taking this product category is that they want a healthy drink. The product is more of a health supplement than a beverage. The fact that these products are less tasty compared to fruit drink is a proof that only the health conscious ones will take it.

The category of fruit juices are dominated by Dabur's Real and Pepsi's Tropicana. Real is the market leader with around 55 - 60% share and Tropicana takes the rest.

Saint Juice is a 100 % fruit juice. The brand is positioned as a 100 % juice. This positioning is relevant because consumers are confused about the category. I tend to believe that Real and Tropicana was 100 % juice. But later only I found that these were not.

In such a scenario, Saint Juice's positioning of 100% fruit juice makes sense for the consumers. As of now , the brand is very clear about the positioning. Another factor that appealed to me about Saint Juice is its minimalistic design. The packaging is uncluttered and very visible on supermarket shelf.

The brand is now being promoted in print media and inside stores. The brand has taken the tagline " 100 % Juice , Nothing else ". The message is Simple and straight forward. The name Saint has been chosen in line with the brand's core promise.

The 100 % juice positioning of Saint is a real threat to Real and Tropicana. Real and Tropicana had extended itself into fruit drinks and fruit nectar categories. Real have Real Twist and Tropicana have Twirl in the fruit drinks category. Both these brands have their nectar variants. Recently Real and Tropicana launched their 100 % juice variant. This is a typical case where a brand is trying to be everything to everybody.

As a ordinary person, my perception of Real and Tropicana was that it was a fruit Juice brand. Now they have diluted their core proposition for a larger market play.

There are ofcourse hurdles for Saint Juice. While proclaiming that the brand is 100% juice, it may also have to convince the customers that its competitors are not having 100 % juice . Since the customers are already confused, 100% juice positioning will be relevant to them only if consumer doubt other brands. Real has identified this threat and has rejuvenated Real Active as a 100% juice brand .

The current positioning of Saint Juice is targeting the consumer who is actively looking for a 100% juice. These are consumers who take juice as a part of their diet and also knows the difference between various fruit drinks and doesn't bother much about the taste. But the category is very small .

The larger category belongs to those who like taste but wants to have a healthy fruit juice. This is the category which has large number of customers. Here taste is a significant attribute. Customers in this segment may not clearly see a distinction with in the category. For these customers, any drink in tetra pack will qualify as a fruit juice. These customers may not see a relevance in the 100% juice positioning. It is going to be a challenge for Saint to bring these customers to its fold.

Hence the next challenge for the brand is to take the 100% pure proposition into certain benefits that a larger set of customers will appreciate.

When there is lot of clutter and noise in the market, it makes sense for the brand to talk straight. Consumers look for simple solutions to his needs.

Related Brand

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Brand Update : Idea

Idea cellular has been hit by the Idea Virus. The brand has been investing heavily in its " Ideas that Change " theme.

The latest in the series is the Idea for participative democracy.

Watch the tvc here : Idea for the people

The new campaign revolves around the idea of using mobile for understanding the public opinion and thus encouraging public partnership in development and encouraging participative democracy. ( What an Idea ! Sirjee )

As usual , this brand is making the best use of its brand ambassador.

The earlier campaign was addressing the issues of
and Education.

As a part of the current campaign, the brand has started a new website : bythepeople .in
There is nothing special in the website except for a voting form.

What I like about Idea's marketing initiatives are the effective use of media like OOH. You will never miss the Idea hoarding and these hoardings changes in line with the campaigns.
The brand also makes use of its brand elements like the color and the tagline to its advantage.

" What an Idea , Sirjee " have already become a hit lingo .

As a pure promotion strategy, these social themes work well primarily because it is different. Atleast one brand is taking about things that matters.

But these initiatives are not carried over to the implementation by the brand . Hence no serious change can be expected out of such initiatives. The campaigns just serve as a sounding board for ideas that has possibilities - nothing more and nothing less.

What happens is that when the brand is talking about Democracy, its earlier pitch for " Education for all " takes the backseat... The caste issue has long been forgotten.

I am not saying that the brands should spend their limited resources in trying to change the world.

But little sad that these ideas only have life till the next big idea...

Related Brand


Brand update

Best Marketing Practice : Building a Brand Tribe

Read my article on building brand communities in the Ad Club Bombay website : Building brand tribes

Monday, January 19, 2009

Yo bykes : Ab Rasta Hai Mere Pass

Brand : Yo Bykes
Company : Indus Electro-trans ( Electrotherm)
Agency : Canvas Communications

Brand Analysis Count : 373

Yo Bykes is the first electric Scooter to be launched in Indian market. Launched in 2006, this brand is a market leader in the Rs 500 crore electric scooter market in India. Yo is from Indus Electrotrans which is a division of Electrotherm India which is a major player in the foundry and steel industry.

When electric bikes & scooters were launched in India during 2006, there were lot of expectations about this category. The rising fuel prices , air pollution , growing concern about environment provided enough opportunity for such a product. The rising fuel costs were the most significant factor behind the growth of this category.

Yo Bykes rode on the back of the higher fuel prices. Electric scooters are dirt cheap to run compared to petrol vehicles. Compare the cost of Rs 50 for 500 km for electric scooters to Rs 50 per 60 km for petrol scooters.

Besides the advantage in running costs, electric scooters had also another advantage .There is no need for license or registration for certain variants. According to Indian rules, those vehicles which are powered by engine less than 250 watts and has the maximum speed less than 25 kmph do not need license.

Yo Bykes launched the first scooter in this category branded as Yo Smart.

The electric scooters gained rapid consumer attention across the country. The market saw the evolution of a new category . In 2007, the electric two wheelers sales was around 10,000 units thus taking 10% share in the two wheeler industry.

These figures attracted lot of players into the market. Most of the bicycle marketers ventured into this segment. Even large companies like TVS and Bajaj began to view this segment seriously.

TVS felt that electric scooters was a major threat to its Scooty brand. It proactively launched the electric version of Scooty to counter this threat.

How ever, the euphoria over electric scooters could not sustain its initial momentum. The sales peaked when there is a fuel price hike but then it is back to low volumes.

The main issue was the power of the vehicles. The standard electric scooters were severely underpowered. This was because of two reasons. To sell scooters that do not need registration, the power had to be kept low. Another reason was that when power was increased, the fuel efficiency will come down.

To counter this issue, Yo bykes launched another variant Yo Speed which was having an engine output of 750 watts . This was the first scooter to get the approval of Automotive Research Association of India. But these high powered scooters had a price equivalent to the petrol scooters.

Even after two years of launch, electric scooters have not been able to give a threat to its petrol competitors. These brands still occupy a niche rather than becoming the mainstream category.

All brands of electric scooters including Yo is positioned on the basis of its fuel efficiency. Although fuel efficiency is an important attribute for a consumer, it is not a determinant variable for purchase of a scooter.

Due to the lack of power, these electric scooters does not appeal to men. And many would also use scooters to travel with family, e-scooters is definitely not a choice in such a scenario.

Most of the customers for this category are ladies and self -employed men who travel short distances. The common perception is that e-scooters are like underpowered scooterettes. Although the running cost is low, the cost of ownership is at par with the ordinary scooters. There is also a yearly recurring cost for the replacement of battery. So when a customer does his mental accounting, electric scooters' fuel advantage is not compelling enough.

So will electric scooters replace petrol scooters ?
Then what is the future of electric scooters ?

The current differentiation of electric scooters on fuel efficiency will work only for certain segments of consumers. Yobykes have to find some other interesting propositions for the consumers to opt for such scooters.

Rather than competing with mainstream scooters, e-scooters should expoit multiple niches.

These scooters are excellent option aiming at students and pre-teens. It could be the First Scooter for everyone..

Another small niche are those environment conscious segment which are growing but now a very small one. Yo can partner with NGOs for a cleaner environment thus promoting the concept of such scooters.
Rather than focusing on fuel efficiency , YoBykes should be able to provide reasons for customers to chose an underpowered scooter. Otherwise, the brand will be highly dependent on the whims and fancies of OPEC 's oil barons.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Nestle Milkybar : Dum Hai To Bahar Nikal

Brand : Milkybar
Company : Nestle
Agency : JWT

Brand Analysis Count : 372

Milkybar is the leader in the white chocolate market in India. Launched in 1998, the brand is now making lot of noise in the media as a part of its repositioning exercise. In a typical market challenger strategy of Byepass attack, Nestle always avoided fighting head on with the market leader Cadbury's Dairy Milk.

Nestle chose to attack the market by launching brands like Kit Kat , Munch and Milkybar and thus create a new market for itself away from the market leader. Milkybar is one of such brands.

Milkybar is a white chocolate. White Chocolates are those which contains Cocoa butter, milk and sweets and no cocoa solids.

Milk Chocolates are those which contains milk solids in addiction to chocolate. In some reports, Milkybar is considered as a white chocolate while in some it is referred to as a milk chocolate. Nestle have anothe milk chocolate brand hence Milkybar can be positively confirmed as a white chocolate.

When I was indulging in chocolates, milk/white chocolates were a regular part of my indulgence, especially when bored with brown chocolates.

Although Milkybar was around in Indian market for a while, the brand came into aggressive state during the relaunch in 2006. During that time, Nestle relaunched the brand on the platform of healthy chocolate. The chocolate was fortified with calcium and positioned as a chocolate bar for energy and strength.
"Milkybar gives me power " was the brand's positioning platform.

Milkybar not only created the white chocolate segment but expanded it through product innovations. The brand launched a soft chewy fudge form of Milkybar branded as Milkybar Choo. This was a big hit for the kids who loved the soft fudge form of chocolate. The brand also made itself affordable by pricing the variant at Rs 5.

Currently the brand is running a campaign with a new tagline " Dum hai to bahar nikal " ( if you have guts, get out and play ) . The brand asks the youngsters to just get out and play.

Watch the campaign here : Dum Hai to bahar nikal

The ad is well made and drives a point. The campaign is backed by events and contests to reinforce the new positioning.

What is interesting is that the brand is addressing the higher age group of the target segment . I think that the previous TG audience for Milkybar was the kids of age 5-10 yrs. But the current ad is targeting pre-teens (8-12).

Milkybar is has competition from Milk Treat from Cadbury's.

Milkybar is a global brand from Nestle's portfolio. The brand was born in 1937. Globally the brand is positioned towards small kids. The brand have a mascot which is the " Milkybar Kid".
In India, instead of Milkybar kid, we have the picture of cow to reinforce the " Milk " factor.

The positioning of Milkybar was a healthy chocolate works well with parents. I was surprised when our family doctor suggest that we give milk chocolate to our child rather than the brown one. As a parent, I am also influenced by the " Goodness of Milk " factor. But often kids prefer the brown one over the white one.

Milkybar is a nice example of a brand carving a place for itself in a market which is dominated by an iconic brand. The new positioning may broaden the consumer segment for this brand. But how the older kids are impressed by the brand is something to watch for.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Canada Dry : RIP ( 1995-1999)

Brand : Canada Dry
Company : Cadbury Schweppes ( Later Coca Cola)
Agency : Mudra

Brand Analysis Count : 371

One of my colleagues yesterday showed me a 1989 issue of Business India where he pointed out an ad of a long forgotten brand - Canada Dry . We passionately talked about the brand which we both liked.

Canada Dry was launched in India in 1995 . The brand ,from Cadbury Schweppes ,was a highly popular brand of softdrinks across the globe. Canada Dry was a much hyped brand because it was from the house of Cadbury. Cadbury Schweppes launched Canada Dry and Orange Crush in the Indian market with much fanfare.

Canada Dry was a Champagne Softdrink. The brand has positioned itself as a champagne and the taste was different and refreshing.

The brand was also promoted heavily in various media. The ad featuring the snow and tiger brings back the nostalgia about this brand. The brand was positioned as a premium cooldrink . The brand gained immediate acceptance because of its association with Cadbury. The brand had the potential to become a premium softdrink brand in India .

But alas, the brand did not last too long in the market. In 1999 CocaCola took over the beverages business of Cadbury Schweppes and like GoldSpot and Limca , Coke killed this brand.

It is sad to see such brands being killed for no reason connected with customers. The only reason for Coke to kill these brands was to make way for Coke's original brands. In the case of Canada Dry , the brand only had a negligible presence in the Indian market.

Look at the Indian market now - Is there a premium softdrink brand in India ? Neither Coke or Pepsi was able to create a premium softdrinks category in India. They have not even tried yet.......

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Brand Update : Bournvita

After building the brand over a beautiful concept of confidence, Bournvita has gone down the ladder in the latest campaign.

I was virtually shocked to see the latest campaign for Bournvita ++ ( a new variant ?) which talked about the merging of Science and Nature !!!

In my last update on Bournvita, I had applauded Bourvita in taking up Confidence as its positioning platform. But it all has been virtually killed in the latest campaign.

I will share the Advertisement once I have it..

The ad which is poorly executed talks about Science and Nature coming together in Bournvita thus helping the kid to succeed. The ad shows a ( poorly made) Robot and a Grass covered man ( indicating nature) helping out the kid who is doing the homework.

If the ad is made aiming at kids, the agency have no idea about the new generation kid's standards . If the ad is aimed at parents, then again the agency have no idea about Parents either.... This ad is ideally suited for a kid in the year 1965....

I wonder why this sudden change in positioning ? Science , Nature and Bournvita have nothing in common. Bournvita is a tasty Malt Food Drink... it was like that and it will remain like that for consumers.
Bournvita has been selling on taste which was again reinforced by the association with the company brand- Cadbury's . The earlier campaign has taken the brand to a better positioning platform of Confidence against the arch rival Boost's focus of 'Winning Energy'.

The only logic I see in this ad is that the brand feels that consumers perceive Bournvita to be unhealthy because it is brown and tasty. Hence the sudden love for this nature- science crap. There were lot of other sensible ways available for this brand for developing association with health .

I think the brand has done a terrible mistake in forgoing such a valuable positioning platform as Confidence and accepting a crap positioning which is not at all relevant to the target segment.

Related Brand


Monday, January 12, 2009

Brand Update : Axe

Axe is a marketing phenomenon. This brand knows how to keep excitement ticking in the market. Last year saw the controversial Axe Dark Temptation making headlines . The brand has started 2009 with yet another launch - Axe 3 deo.

This is a unique innovative product where the brand asks the consumer to use two Axe Deos to gether to make a new fragrance. So Axe 3 comes in a combi-pack of two fragrances and the consumer can make a third one by spraying the two deos together.

Watch the ad here : Axe 3

Smart move indeed. Has anybody thought of combining two deos for a new fragrance ? ..

Axe 3 was launched in other markets in 2007 as a limited edition product.
A typical Axe 3 packs contains two deos marked 1 & 2. These cans should be sprayed together for a new fragrance.
The question is why should a consumer spend double the money for deos ? Why should he use two together and blow away double the money ?

The answer is that the brand does not expect every one to do so...

This is a product launched to keep the excitement going. That is the purpose of limited editions. All those Axe fans will try out this new product and competitors will have tough time matching this brand .

Axe has always been an unconventional brand. These seemingly outrageous innovations are in line with the brand's core positioning. And these launches gives enough reasons for Axe to advertise and that keeps the brand on top of the share of mind.

Related Brand


End Note : Neither the HUL website or the Axe Effect website carry any information about this new product launch. It is sad that a professional company like HUL did not have the common sense of regularly updating its websites.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Top Ramen : Its not Noodles, Its Smoodles

Brand : Top Ramen
Company : Indo Nissin
Agency : Dentsu

Brand Analysis Count : 370

Top Ramen is the second largest Noodles brand in India trying hard for the past 18 years to beat Maggi Noodles. Top Ramen is a global brand from Nissin. Launched in 1991, Top Ramen has been trying all possible marketing tool to dethrone Maggi.

As a hardcore Noodles fan, I remember trying out this brands on two occasions. First occasion was when the brand was launched. The brand quickly went into limelight with its famous positioning as Smoodles. I guess that Smoodles means Smooth Noodles . But after the initial trying,I went back to Maggi noodles.

The next occasion was when Maggi changed the taste. That was an occasion where, as a brand loyalist , I dumped Maggi . For a while I bought Top Ramen . Then when Maggi reversed the taste, I switched back....

Top Ramen at that point of time was one of the heavy advertisers in the media. And since the taste was also comparable , many Maggi users may have switched to this brand. But it could not retain the customers like me. One factor is the price. Top Ramen was always perceived as a premium brand compared to the affordable Maggi. ( Its my perception since I don't exactly remember the price difference ). The high price may have prompted many Maggi users to switch back .

Another factor was the promotion. Top Ramen could not sustain the share of mind it generated during the formative years. Maggi was able to bring in lot of noise because it had become an umbrella brand and was advertising for various other products .

Top Ramen had an interesting distribution strategy . For the past 10 years, the brand has been distributed by Marico. It is a case of marketing alliance where Top Ramen was utilizing the distribution strength of Marico. In 2008, the alliance was mutually called-off . Now Nissin is building its own distribution network.

It is puzzling to see that a global brand with lot of support from its parent could not put up a big fight with Maggi .The major issue faced by Top Ramen was the differentiation. Top Ramen could not offer any serious differentiation to Maggi either in terms of the product or brand. Since there was no serious differentiation, Maggi was able to gain back the lost ground because it was the pioneer brand who built the category. Top Ramen also lost out when Maggi repositioned itself in the health platform.

Having said that, Top Ramen had its share of innovations. This brand is credited with innovating a new category of cup-noodles in Indian market. The difference between cup noodles and instant noodles is that cup-noodles need not be cooked, it is ready to eat just after adding hot water into it.
Top Ramen currently holds more than 90 % share in the cup-noodles market. Maggi has recently entered the cup-noodles market with its brand Cuppa- Mania. It is expected that the entry of new players will expand the category.

Unlike instant noodles where the brands are targeting kids, Cup-Noodles is targeting adults. The segment aimed by Top-Ramen is 16-35 .

Top Ramen is also credited with the launch of curry-noodles in India. While ordinary noodles are dry, curry noodles have both gravy. Top Ramen to me is heavily associated with Curry Noodles. and that is one of the reasons why I did not buy the brand ( i hated the curry variant).

So the brand has not been remaining dormant. It has been doing the right things in the market but somehow the brand is not able to manage the perception among the consumers. It is in the promotion front that Top Ramen has failed to make an impact.

When Maggi repositioned itself as a healthy food, Top Ramen should have followed suit since the market was moving towards healthy foods. When Maggi launched its rice noodles, Top Ramen should have followed since it could have added value to the brand.

Except for the first phase of brand promotion, Top Ramen did not have any worthwhile campaign in its 18 years of existence. Hence as a customer, the brand is not giving me enough reasons to change my addiction to Maggi brand. Even it is not giving enough reasons for kids to buy this brand.

Related Brand

Update : Marketing Practice reader ' Outspoken ' that in 1999 Shah Rukh Khan endorsed Top Ramen Curry Noodles. But that campaign has long been forgotten.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Savlon : Heals Without Hurting

Brand : Savlon
Company : Johnson & Johnson
Agency : Lowe Lintas

Brand Analysis Count : 369

Can a brand ,which was proved by laboratory tests as better than its competitor, backed by one of the most reputed business houses in the world, having many product advantages over its competitor, have any chance of failing in the market ?

If your answer is no , then think again ....

Savlon which was clinically proven to be a better antiseptic than Dettol ,backed by Johnson & Johnson ,having advantages like better scent and non-stinging properties miserably failed in the Indian market.

Why ?

Frankly I am also clueless. That is why Marketing as a subject is so intriguing... it is full of surprises. Philip Kotler once said " Marketing is a subject that is easy to (pretend to )unders tand but difficult to practice ".

Looking at Savlon, I wonder whether the success of a brand is depended on sheer luck... Is luck the only reason why out of 100 brands launched, only 5 succeed ?

Is Savlon an unlucky brand ? or Did Johnson & Johnson failed in building this brand ?

Savlon was a brand owned by a pharmaceutical MNC ICI ltd. Later ICI's OTC brands was acquired by Johnson &Johnson . Savlon was relaunched in Indian market in 1993. The brand was expected to give the market leader Dettol, a run for its money. But even after millions of rupees spent , Dettol still rules the antiseptic lotion market.

Savlon had lot of advantages over Dettol. According to media reports, some lab tests indicated that Savlon is an effective germ killer than Dettol . Savlon is effective against both Gram Positive and Gram Negative germs.

Another advantage about Savlon was that it does not sting while being applied on wounds. Dettol used to give a stinging sensation while applied on wounds. Savlon also had a better scent compared to the more clinical smell of Dettol.

Armed with these properties, Savlon went into a direct attack on Dettol . The product was positioned as an antiseptic that does not hurt while healing. The main differentiators for the brand was its no-sting property and better smell. According to media reports, during the relaunch, J&J spent heavily on promoting the brand.
The relaunch was a success and consumers tried out the new product . But the story did not continue like that.

Dettol confronted the frontal attack from Savlon in a different manner. It tried to attack one of the most valuable brand of J&J - Band -Aid by launching Dettol plasters.

This move got J&J defensive. It never expected Dettol to attack another brand in retaliation. Dettol plasters had the potential to attract consumers because of the brand equity commanded by Dettol Antiseptic.

J&J scrambled to protect Band-Aid by launching a series of variants in the medicated plaster segment. In doing so, resources was spent on defending Band-Aid rather than in advancing Savlon.

Savlon suffered heavily because it lost the support interms of investment in brand building. Dettol had a brand equity built over more than 50 years (at that period of time) and it is not an easy task to break into that equity. It needed painful long term sustained investment.

How ever Savlon was pushed to a back burner after Dettol introduced the plaster. Savlon never re-emerged.

During 1998, a funny incident happened. I deliberately used the word funny because it is funny.
In 1998 HLL acquired the rights to launch Savlon Soaps from J&J. While the rights for antiseptic lotion remained with J&J, the marketing alliance was for soaps.

HLL was worried at the success of Dettol soaps. Armed with a strong association with antiseptic property , Dettol soap became a huge success and cornered a significant chunk of the premium medicated soap category. HLL, who wanted to rule the entire soap category ,wanted to arrest the rise of Dettol soap.

Instead of trying to develop its own brand of soap, HLL looked for an easy solution. Thus came the idea of marketing alliance with Savlon. With much fanfare, Savlon antiseptic soap was launched. J&J was happy because it got some cashflow by giving the rights of Savlon.The marketing alliance lasted only for 4 years.

According to reports, HLL put Savlon soap in dustbin in 2003 and repositioned its Lifebuoy brand to fight against Dettol.

So where did Savlon went wrong ?

There are marketing experts who say that the positioning of Savlon was not correct. No-stinging and sweet scent are not important for a consumer looking for an antiseptic lotion. What they look for is effectiveness. Hence Savlon was trying to differentiate on attributes which are not considered to be important by the consumers.

More over, consumers tend to believe that the stinging sensation is a side-effect of the effectiveness of the antiseptic.So if it does not hurt , it is not effective. Dettol has taught them that way.

I believe that Savlon did not achieve its desired success because J&J was not able to support it interms of investment. Somewhere along the way, the company disowned the brand. One reason can be that antiseptic lotion is a small market that does not warrant such heavy investment. But if that is so, the the company shouldn't have introduced a brand in such a category.

Savlon now occupies a negligible part of the market. It is a popular brand in the institutional market but in the consumer market, it is a no-brand.

Related brand

Monday, January 05, 2009

Best Marketing Practice : Take- Back Campaign by Nokia

Nokia recently announced a green marketing initiative in India. From January 1, the company is taking back used mobiles and chargers from the customers for recycling. The campaign titled as Take-Back campaign is a unique social responsibility initiative by this market leader.

Under this campaign, the company is encouraging the mobile users to give their old, unused, broken mobiles and chargers for recycling. The campaign is initially launched in Bangalore, Delhi, Gurgaon and Ludhiana and will be expanded to national level in coming months.

Nokia has installed 1300 recycled bins at the Nokia Priority dealers across these pilot markets. Nokia also promises to plant one tree for every mobiles dumped. Another interesting fact is that the company accepts mobiles of any make.

This is a best practice because the brand is addressing an issue proactively. E-waste is going to be one of the worst environmental hazards in years to come. Mobiles contribute heavily towards this waste. India being the fastest growing mobile market in the world, this issue is going to be of mammoth size in the future.

The Take-Back campaign is aimed at educating people on the necessity of reducing e-waste through recycling. The concept of recycling is not popular in India and Nokia wants to set an example.

The campaign is also proactive because Nokia is the indisputable market leader in India with a share of 70 % in the mobile phone market. So the brand is responsible for contributing to the piling e-waste with regard to mobile phones.
Although Nokia says that the recycling will help the company in acquiring fresh raw materials, the new campaign is more of a social responsibility initiative rather than a business one.

By launching such an initiative, the brand is also giving an important lesson to other marketers. The lesson is about long term investment on brands. This take-back campaign is not going to generate any short -term benefits for the brand. Ofcourse it had given some positive PR for the brand but nothing more and nothing less. Indian consumers are not very thrilled by green marketing initiatives because of lack of awareness/concern. Second this campaign is also expensive because Nokia has to built an infrastructure to support this take-back. The benefits will come may be in future when consumers realize that the brand have foreseen such an environmental crisis and took proactive measures to reduce that . Now, How many brands will ever think of such an investment ?

In future companies will be made responsible for such accumulation of wastes . In developed countries, strict rules are now in force to check the proliferation of such wastes. India too will move to such a regulated regime in near future.

Hence it makes sense for a market leader to initiate such a campaign. It increases the brand equity ( in future) and also prepares a robust green logistics infrastructure for the future. Green logistics is denotes the logistical infrastructure to collect back the products from the customers for recycling or repair.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Cadbury Bournville : You Have to Earn It

Brand : Bournville
Company : Cadbury India
Agency : O&M

Brand Analysis Count : 368

On October 2008, Cadbury relaunched its Bournville brand of dark chocolates in India. Relaunched- because the brand has been in Indian market for over 30 years. But this brand was neglected . From my personal experience, I do not remember seeing this brand before it being relaunched.

Bournville is the name of a model village in England. This village has a strong association with Cadbury. According to Wikipedia, the village was set up by Cadbury when they relocated their chocolate factory there.

Dark Chocolate is a type of chocolate which is made by adding fat and sugar to cocoa. This is the type of chocolate where milk or milk additives are not added. Dark Chocolates are otherwise called Plain Chocolate. According to European standards, a chocolate must contain minimum of 43% cocoa to be considered as dark chocolate ( source :aalstchocolate .com)

In most of the global markets, dark chocolates are one of the fastest growing category . The growth is attributable to the health benefits of dark chocolates. Recently there were researches which stated that chocolates contain anti-oxidants and if taken in right quantities can be beneficial to health. Chocolate marketers took a marketing festival out of these research findings.

In India Cadbury relaunched Bournville brand for two reasons . Opportunity and Competition.

Mimicking the global trend, Cadbury also see a major opportunity in developing a new category of chocolates i.e Dark Chocolate Segment. In a market where 70 % share is owned by Cadbury, it feels that it is the right brand to develop the category. More over, the research findings about the health benefits also gives an additional marketing reason to develop this category.

Another reason for the relaunch is the competition that Cadbury face from the imported brands. Cadbury has lost its hold on the premium chocolate segment to imported brands. Now most of the retailers are stocking global brands like Ferrero Rocher, Mars etc. Customers are also preferring these global imported brands over the more familiar Cadbury brands.

Most of the global chocolate brands like Hershey , Ferrero etc are planning their entry to the lucrative Indian market. Recently the Mars group launched their brand Snickers in the Indian market.
This threat has forced the market leader to take a proactive defense strategy by creating new categories. By creating the new category of dark chocolates, Cadbury have the first mover advantage and also will be able to bring in freshness to the Cadbury umbrella brand.

Bournvilla is being positioned as the finest dark chocolate. The brand is currently promoted as the category innovator.
Watch the tvc here : Bournville

The brands says that one has to EARN this chocolate and not just buy it , referring to the quality of this chocolate. Bournville is made from the finest Ghana Cocoa beans and comes in four variants -
Rich Cocoa
Raisin & Nut
The brand is retailed for Rs 75 for 80 gms.

Bournville is targeting not all customers. This brand is for those who love chocolates. The brand is aiming the 20-30 yr old SEC A segment. This is a chocolate that one will indulge when they feel like indulging. Because this product tastes differently from ordinary milk chocolates, the brand will appeal to a select niche.

That is why the brand is asking consumers to follow a special brand ritual while eating Bournville. One has to first enjoy the darkness of this chocolate. Then place the chocolate bar near the ears and break one cube and hear that crisp sound. Then smell the chocolate for that special aroma. Then slowly eat the chocolate enjoying it slowly. .....

I think that the brand will have lot of initial sales because customers will test it because of the attractive price. Rs 75 is an attractive price which will enable consumers to test it. But whether there will be a repeat purchases will depend on the liking of the taste .