Thursday, December 31, 2009

Marketing Strategy : Philosophical Branding

Let me try to dabble with a little philosophy and branding. Branding is all about building beliefs in the mind of the consumers. Brand is a belief . When a consumer buys a brand, what he is essentially buying is a belief.

Belief is a thought repeated often with emotion. When you repeat a thought with lot of emotions, it becomes a belief. In medical terms, these repeated thoughts create neural pathways which later drives the person to a particular action based on that pathway.

So when a marketer wants to build a brand, there are three essential requirements that will ensure success.
1. Create a powerful thought
2. Back the thought with emotion
3.Make the consumer repeat that thought with emotion

First requirement is to create a thought in the mind of the consumer. The starting point of successful branding is to create a valid powerful thought . In branding terms , we call it brand mantra or brand essence. Not every thought will create beliefs. The thought needs to be powerful, relevant and different. Either the thought needs to be powerful or the way the brand thought is expressed should be in a powerful manner.

The second requirement to create beliefs is to add emotion to the brand thought. When the marketers are able to connect their brand thoughts with powerful emotions, then the neural pathways becomes powerful enough to create actions.
The difficult part though is the third requirement - to make consumers repeat the brand thought with emotions. The more the thought is repeated, the more the brand gains its place in the mind of the consumers.

Iconic brands evoke powerful emotions and thoughts in the consumers. Once that belief is created, it will be difficult for the consumer and the competitors to change those beliefs.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Breathe Right : Breathe Better , Sleep Better

Brand : Breathe Right
Company : Glaxo Smithkline Beecham

Brand Analysis Count : 435

Glaxo Smithkline Beecham has launched a new product in the Indian market from its global product portfolio. The new brand launch is Breathe Right nasal strips. Breathe Right nasal strips is one of the first nasal strip brand to be launched in the Indian market. It is a product that Indian consumers have not seen before.

Nasal Strips are a unique drug free mechanical device which helps open the blocked nostrils. These strips are flexible spring-like bands which has an adhesive on the underside . These strips should be placed on the nose and the adhesive will stick the strip to the nose. As the strip tries to come back to its original position, it slowly lifts the side of the nose thus clearing the nasal passages ( Source : Brand website)

The Breathe Right nasal strip was invented by Mr Bruce Johnson. As the story goes, Bruce himself was suffering from blocked nostrils which bothered him very much. One day while driving past the archway at University of Minnesota, he had the idea that these blocked nostrils can be cleared by pulling from the outside ( Source ) .He went to many institutions with his idea but with no success. Finally Dr Cohen of CNS Inc ,which is a US based company ,sealed the deal with Bruce. In 1993, the brand got the FDA nod and by 1998, the brand was worth $70 million.CNS was later acquired by GSK and the brand went to the GSK fold.

The brand is currently launched in the Indian market and is believed to be in testing phase. The brand is currently running a television commercial highlighting the uses of this nasal strips.
Another big advantage of this product is that besides alleviating the nasal blocks, these are snore -relief products also. Since nasal strips are drug-free, there is no side effects .

When I first saw the commercial, I had lot of doubts about their claims. One thought was about the efficacy of the product. How can an external strip open nasal blocks ? Does it have any side effects ? Will it alter the shape of my nose ??? Is it safe for regular use ??

And many of these questions are unanswered and the GSK India website does not have any link to the product or any product details . It is surprising to see many global marketing giants follow a laid-back attitude in updating their websites or providing information about their new product launches. They still does not understand the power of internet as a source to provide brand information. Surprisingly, Hindustan Unilever is one such marketing machine that does to take care of their site seriously. Some of their power brands are even missing from the site's list of HUL brands.

As I understand,Breathe Right is being launched as an OTC product. And since the primary source of information is through ads , the major task for the brand is to answer these critical doubts of the consumers. Many of the potential customers of this brand will consult their doctors before buying this new product and since it is a Glaxo brand, they will get a positive recommendation.

But the brand still have to do a lot of work to educate the customers about this product. The brand will have to use a mix of educative print ads and TVC to get the message across the consumers. Testimonials and celebrity endorsements can help the brand to get consumer trials. I think that even if the Indian consumers will accept the idea of such a product, there will be lot of resistance in trying out nasal strips. In US, the brand used word of mouth, celebrities and sampling to build awareness and usage. In India too such a strategy will yield good results.

Breathe Right is a new product which is not seen by Indian consumer.The brand has the backing of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. It will be interesting to see the marketing strategies of this brand to crack the Indian market.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Brand Update : World Space RIP ( 2001-2009)

Another brand is dead. World Space satellite radio service is set to shut shop in India on the New Year eve. The brand which brought in the country's first satellite radio will officially laid to rest on that day.

The brand which came to India in 2001 was supposed to create ripples in the Indian entertainment market ( atleast I thought so). The brand was launched in India with a preposterous pricing soon realized that India needs a new set of marketing mixes if it wanted to succeed . In 2005, the brand came back with a reasonable price-value proposition. The new pricing helped the brand to earn large number of subscribers to the tune of 4.5 lakh customers who was willing to pay about Rs 1800 per year for music. This is no small feat because in India, it was unheard of a practice to pay for a radio service. The brand also got a boost with the tie-up with Airtel digital TV network. According to reports, World Space India contributed 90% of the subscriber base of its parent.

But luck was not in favor for World Space. In 2009, the parent company World Space USA filed for bankruptcy protection . That was the beginning of the end for World Space India. There was talks about a possible sell off but that too did not materialize.

The failure of World Space India was largely contributed by the bankruptcy of its parent but there are lessons to be learned from the mistakes of the Indian arm also. The first mistake was done during the initial launch when World Space charged exorbitant prices for its receiver as well as the service. The Indian consumers quickly rejected this aggression. The company did not correct this mistake for two years and when they corrected it, already a perception was created in the mind of the consumers about the service being expensive.
The second mistake was regarding the pricing of the receiver. World Space should have concentrated more on selling subscriptions rather than the receiver . It could have come out with receivers with rock bottom prices ( Say below Rs 1000) and aggressively sold subscriptions. Remember mobile services became popular largely because of the low cost handsets . Had the handsets cost more than Rs 5000, the penetration could have been much lower.

The third mistake was the business model. Although the brand did right in the advertising front by roping in the brand ambassador AR Rahman, the field level promotion was hopeless. This product could have done well with a direct marketing approach. But the channel partners of World Space did not bothered to aggressively push the product. They were all waiting for the consumers to make the first contact. The ideal strategy could have to set a subscription target of say 1 million customers and once you have it, then try to upsell premium subscriptions to them.

I don't think that the brand could have still survived if it had followed the above said strategies. Indian market still has not open to the concept of a Pay- Radio. The brand was in the wrong place at the wrong time...

Related Post
World Space

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Brand Update : Horlicks

I was shocked to see an ad in todays newspaper announcing the launch of a noodles brand by Horlicks. I was wondering how can a company like GSK mess up a power brand like Horlicksby launching a totally unrelated extension ?

Horlicks has launched a new extension in the noodles category . The extension has the brand name Foodles and is endorsed by Horlicks. Foodles is positioned as a healthy noodles. The brand has launched two variants of noodles. - Regular and Multi-grain The main USP of Foodles is the " Health Maker" sachet which comes along with the noodles pack. The health maker sachet contains the essentials of 5 vitamins.

Frankly , this is one brand extension which I cannot understand.Theoretically Foodles by Horlicks cannot be termed as a brand extension. In this case Foodles is the main brand and Horlicks is the endorser brand. But for all practical purposes, Foodles is going to impact Horlicks just like any other brand extension.

Horlicks off late has been on a extension spree. It recently launched the Nutribar snack bar with an aim of transforming Horlicks in to an umbrella brand for launching health related food products.

My first contact with Foodles happened last week when my wife tried to trick me with Foodles instead of Maggi. I hated the taste of it and wondered whether Maggi changed the taste of its noodles again. It is only then my wife revealed that she tried to make me eat " healthy " noodles.

What can be the possible logic behind Horlicks trying its hand into launching a noodles brand ?

One reason or argument can be that Horlicks is only an endorser brand . Once the brand is accepted in the market, Foodles can remain as a standalone brand.

If that is the logic, then has the marketers thought about the brand equity dilution of parent brand? Horlicks in no way can be associated with noodles category. Noodles is perceived to be unhealthy , junk food and by associating with this category, Horlicks is definitely going to dilute its core positioning of a health drink.

Secondly, why should a multinational giant like GSK launch a brand with an endorsement from its power brand ? What is restricting the company from launching a new standalone brand ? Only reason seems to be the lack of confidence of the marketer or the search of a short cut to market acceptance.

Has the company thought of the impact of Horlicks if Foodles fail ? If Foodles succeed, does it add value to Horlicks brand or will it dilute the core proposition of a health drink ?
What is Horlicks now - a health drink for kids, health drink for adults, health drink for women, a snack brand, a biscuit brand and a noodles brand .... where is the connection.

Foodles is not going to revolutionize noodles market in India. All the noodles brands are now on the health plank and having a vitamin sachet is not going to do big things for Foodles.

Earlier, my students used to ask me about my favorite brand and I would tell them it is Horlicks because of the focus and smart marketing moves. Now I would say that Horlicks 'used' to be my favorite brand.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Brand Update : Bajaj Kristal RIP ( 2007-2010)

Bajaj recently announced its exit from the scooter market. This announcement also marked the death of the last scooter brand from Bajaj -- Bajaj Kristal. Kristal was launched in 2007 was aimed at capturing the scooterette market dominated by TVS Scooty.

The failure of Kristal was a marketing failure. The firm failed to launch a product that was well differentiated and offered value to the customer. I had written about the stiff pricing of Kristal which may have caused the pathetic response from the customers. Kristal was a half-hearted attempt which was visible in the way this brand was promoted. After the initial promotions, there was no voice for the brand. It was a brand crafted for failure.

Interestingly ,the announcement of Bajaj's exit from scooter market evoked lot of media attention. Channels devoted lot of prime-time discussing the Hamara Bajaj campaign and the death of icons. There was a lot of emotional brouhaha which was totally unnecessary because the exit from the market is a pure business decision. Although the top management of Bajaj was finding it difficult to explain the reasons for the exit, one should understand that Bajaj feels that scooters does not fit into their business model and decided to exit. Nothing more , Nothing less.

The fact remains that Bajaj was not able to either understand the consumer expectations in the scooter segment and develop appropriate product which is a setback to the company's image. The fact that new players like Mahindra scooters are entering the scooter segment adds to the insult and injury to the Bajaj brand.

Even in the case of motorcycles, Bajaj is not having a wonderful time. It had shown a spark of brilliance when Pulsar was introduced, but even after 9 years, Bajaj could not come out with another brand like Pulsar. What it is doing is to milk Pulsar to death.

Related Brand

Monday, December 21, 2009

Marketing Strategy : Celebrate Your Big Ideas

So you have got a big idea... then what ?

Getting a big idea in this tough competitive market place is a lottery and when consumers love that big idea, it is nothing but a jackpot. We are living in a world where there is intense competition even for taglines and positioning. Even in this scenario, it is surprising to see how marketers fall short of taking advantage of that Rare Big Idea.

Take the case of the ZooZoo. The ZooZoo had an unprecedented success in India. This was one of those rare occasions where consumers get emotionally attached to a campaign. Viewers loved the character and celebrated it through blogs and social media.

But what did Vodafone do ?


Off late there has been reports that Vodafone is planning ZooZoo merchandise. But nothing has happened in this regard ( atleast in the place where I live).

It is time that marketers wake up to the idea of celebrating their big ideas. Most of the marketers are still hooked on to spreadsheets and media plans. Brand Promotion ismuch much more than putting 30 seconds ads and then looking at the results.

Ideally Vodafone should have milked ZooZoo to the maximum. It could have developed merchandise like dolls, t-shirts, keychains, collectibles etc on these lovely characters which could have given the brand ways to get into the heart of millions of youngsters. There were countless opportunity for the brand to build a community around ZooZoo.

But so far nothing happened. What a waste of opportunity for the brand. The one and only one reason for this wastage is that one may not be able to project the ROI for such a celebration atleast for the short-term.

Take the example of Disney. When they have hit upon a wonderful cartoon character, they will explore all the marketing opportunities around it. But Indian marketers are not yet open to such celebrations. When Nike hit upon " Just do it " slogan , it created a huge celebration of it. Accenture celebrated its association with Tiger Woods to the maximum ( yes yes.. I know what happened later..), MRF celebrated Sachin and his MRF bat to the maximum and even launched MRF cricket bats.

Take the case of Idea cellular brand. The brand hit upon a wonderful tagline " An Idea can Change Your Life " and the brand celebrated the big idea wonderfully well. It innovated upon this big idea, used the entire promotional mix around this idea and no wonder, the brand has excellent top of the mind recall. But still the opportunities for Idea lies beyond mere advertising and hoardings. It could have done many things to take the ownership of this big Idea. Compared to Vodafone, Idea is much ahead in capitalizing on its big ideas.

When your company hits upon something big whether be it a tagline, a character, a logo , don't hesitate to celebrate it. Create games , create dolls, give away keychains, market collectibles, use social media to build community around your big idea . Put your resource behind that big idea. Own it , celebrate it and enjoy the rewards.

Friday, December 18, 2009

MamyPoko Pants : Pant Style Diapers

Brand : MamyPoko
Company : Unicharm

Brand Analysis Count : 434

Mamypoko is another global brand to hit Indian market. Mamypoko is a Japanese brand of baby diapers. The brand belongs to Unicharm which has its interests in Baby care products, Health Care and Female hygiene categories. The company has launched its premium brand of baby diapers into the Indian market.

Indian diaper market is small with a rough market size of Rs 110 crore but growing very fast due to the economic growth and rapid urbanization. The market still faces the issue of 'penetration ' and the tough task of changing consumer behavior. The market is dominated by brands like Pampers, Snuggy and Huggies.

Baby diapers are still not heavily used in Indian households. Diapers are used only on occasions and is considered not good for regular daily use since it causes skin rashes. The price of this product also acts as a deterrent for regular daily use and a Rs 1 difference on a pack can make consumers shift to another brand.

Mamypoko, as a new brand, faces the task of differentiating itself from the established players. Brands like Huggies and Pampers are already established and has tried every feature/benefits like softness , comfort, dry, light etc as their USPs.

Mamypoko but entered the market with a powerful differentiator. It launched Mamypoko Pant diapers as the brand builder. Mamypoko pants is a pant-type baby diaper - in the sense that instead of the stickers(tape- style) that conventional diapers have, Mamypoko Pants is a " pull up" type of diapers. There is no need to stick the two ends of the diapers together.

Actually Mamypoko is not the brand which has innovated pant-style diapers. Another brand from Unicharm - Moonyman was world's first brand to launch such a innovative product.

Pant-type diapers is indeed a powerful differentiator because it offers a convenient solution to the consumers. Parents especially fathers often find the task of putting diapers to their child a difficult task . If the child is very active, the task becomes even more difficult. Having a pant-style diaper is something that makes parent's life a little more easier.

The brand is currently running a campaign highlighting its main USP.

Watch the ad here : Mamypoko

The brand is also making use of its brand mascot/ character which is named Pokochan.

Mamypoko has done the right thing by launching itself with a powerful message. There is a greater chance that consumers will remember this brand for its USP. But the vital question is whether Mamypoko can sustain its differentiation . It will not be difficult for other brands to launch similar products. Mamypoko can breath easy because it has a pipeline of such innovative features within their global portfolio.

The launch of Mamypoko will open up another set of marketing war in the Indian diaper market.The Indian market is highly price conscious and it has to be seen whether consumers will be willing to pay more for Mamypoko.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Brand Update : Maggi

Maggi has launched its product in the growing Pasta market recently. The variant called Maggi Nutri-licious Paazta is Maggi's major new brand extension in recent times. The Indian pasta market is still in nascent stage with a market size or around Rs 50 crore ( source) but growing very fast.

Maggi pioneered the noodles market in India 25 years back but was not the brand which created the pasta category. The credit goes to Sunfeast which first launched a National brand in this category.

Maggi decided to jump into this Pasta bandwagon for obvious reasons. There is a lot of customer interest in this category. Indian consumers are now more adventurous in their food habits. The Gen Y is mesmerized with the exposure to various cuisines thanks to the media. So there is no dearth of innovators in this segment. Once you get into the good books of these foodies, the flock follow.

Maggi's move was further endorsed when Domino's forayed into the Pasta market with their offerings . So this market is going to see lot of action.

Maggi is currently running a TVC for their Pasta variant : Watch it here

The ad is very similar to the Noodles positioning and both pasta and noodles are sharing a common tagline(with a slight variation) . Paazta uses the tagline " Health bhi, taste bhi, happiness bhi"

One marketing practice reader observed the risk of Maggi moving into a different product category ( brand extension) . He opined that the equity of Maggi will be lost because of this extension . Personally , I differ because Nestle had slowly but surely developed Maggi as an umbrella brand for their food products. They have launched the soups and sauces under this brand. And the brand is doing well in these extensions.

Maggi is currently addressing a category competition. The brand feels that pasta can have a negative impact on its noodles business. For consumers, they view these products as snacks. For such customers, Maggi needed to offer pasta choice otherwise they will move to a competing brand. The current brand extension will have all the disadvantages of brand dilution and cannibalization . But on a broader perspective, it is a matter of survival and category leadership.

Related Brand


Monday, December 14, 2009

Marketing Strategy : Celebrity Endorsement

The recent Tiger Woods 'confessions' opened a whole lot of debate on the role of celebrity endorsement as a marketing strategy. The issue of celebrity endorsements and its 'side effects' is one of the most widely discussed topic in the branding world. Every time there is a controversy involving the celebrity, these chatter arise and dies down soon .

In this context, it should be understood that celebrity endorsement is a powerful promotional tool . If used creatively, celebrity endorsement can propel a brand to a high growth trajectory. But like any strategy, this option too has its own share of disadvantages. The latest Tiger Woods episode again highlight the issues brands can face when their endorsers ran into trouble.

Will this episode refrain marketers from using celebrities any more ? Never. We will be seeing more of these endorsements in the future also. But there are lessons to be learned from this current developments.

The problems that brands face when their endorsers land up in trouble is more when brand depend heavily on the celebrity for equity ( common sense !). When brands use Celebrities as a pivot upon which the entire brand equity is generated, the risk is more and any adverse actions on the part of the celebrity will affect the brand's strategy.

In the case of Accenture, Tiger Woods was the axis for all their promotions. The brand was so closely associated with the celebrity that coming out of that association will cost both money , time and energy. But the silver lining for Accenture is that Tiger Woods was only a symbolization for the corporate brand. The current controversy is in no way going to affect Accenture's consulting business. Only issue is that the brand needs to find another powerful symbol to convey its message.

For other famous brands like Nike and Gillette too, there is only less impact of this controversy because Tiger Woods does not play a crucial role in their brand building strategy. Both these brands have other celebrities to bank upon.

Marketers should understand that using celebrities should only be a part of the big picture and not the picture itself. There are no short cuts to fame. If at all one is using celebrities as the main talking point, derisk by using more than one (if you can afford that). Otherwise run parallel theme based campaigns to help the brand stand on its own.

Indian brands tend to rely heavily on celebrities for equity. The brand owners should understand that this tendency is because of the focus on short-termism and lack of creative thinking. Celebrity endorsements should only be a part of the strategy not the strategy itself.

Related Brand

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Brand Update : Pulsar

Pulsar- the blockbuster brand from Bajaj has launched a new variant - Pulsar 135 LS. The new bike is a 135 CC 4 valve DTSI engine that delivers a power of 13.5 ps. The bike is being positioned as a light sport bike and the company aims to create a new category of ' light sport' bike in the Indian market. Pulsar 135LS is priced at around Rs 51,000.

Pulsar, when launched in the Indian market in 2001 changed the fortunes of Bajaj Auto. With its " Definitely Male " positioning and superior performance, the bike crafted a segment of ' performance bike' in the Indian market. Even after all these years, Pulsar has maintained significant leadership in the 150CC + market.

The launch of a less powered " light Pulsar" was a surprise to me. Why would a company stretch a performance bike downward into the executive segment ? Pulsar was having three models in the performance bike segment 150CC, 180cc and 220 cc. All these bikes were premium bikes and had similar chunky masculine look with exceptional performance.

There can be two reasons for the downward stretch for this brand. According to reports, Bajaj wants to create a new sports category in the executive segment. The company feels that there is a segment of consumers who want a commuter sports bike and Pulsar will fit the bill.

Another larger reason is the volume game. Bajaj so far has not been able to break the leadership position of Hero Honda either in the Executive segment or in the commuter segment. The experiments on Discover and XCD so far has not been successful in displacing Hero Honda. Since Pulsar have an excellent brand equity, it is easy to leverage it for the sake of volume.

Whether 135 LS will be successful or not depends heavily on the bike's performance. But I am sure that the premium positioning and equity of Pulsar will take a hit with the launch of this lighter version. The new 135 LS is not a Pulsar but something in between XCD and Pulsar 150.

In news reports, the company officials had commented that customers doesn't look at CCs while making purchase, they look at brands. But launching a lighter version of a performance bike is not going to boost the equity of the parent brand. On the contrary , if the lighter version fails in the performance, it will have an effect on the equity of the parent brand. Secondly if the lighter version works well, why should one go and buy the larger version ?

Pulsar 135 LS also cannibalizes the existing models of Bajaj Discover and XCD in the executive segment and there is a possibility of any of these brands being withdrawn from the market.

Pulsar 135 LS is a high risk brand from Bajaj. In the search for volumes, the company is risking one of its best brands in the line of fire. On one hand the brand is being stretched downwards and on the other hand, the parent brand is neglected. Except for occasional ads, Pulsar was never aggressively promoted these days. Taglines keep on changing and share of voice is very very minimal for Pulsar.
The only solace for Pulsar is that so far no brand has been able to match the standards set by this brand. But having no competition does not mean that one can mess up a brand.

Related Brand
Bajaj Pulsar

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Hettich : A Home in All Furniture

Corporate Brand : Hettich
Agency : Crescent Communications
Brand Analysis Count : 433

It is not every time that you see a hardware manufacturer endeavoring into branding and above - the - line promotions. Hettich is one such brand that is now ventured into a national launch of their kitchen and furniture fittings.

Hettich is a German company with a rich heritage. The company was started by Karl Hettich in 1888. This $1.1 Billion company is one of the major players in the fittings market. Hettich was launched in India in 2000. The brand had a very soft phased launch and was available only in Mumbai, Kolkatta, Delhi, Gurgaon and Bangalore. Now they have started advertising in the national media which indicates their intention to grow further.

Fittings and accessories were never in the public media space. These were regarded as a b2b product and the major customers were the architects, contractors,builders , designers , hardware distributors etc. But even for the players in this category, branding became important because of the clutter and competition. No consumer was directly involved in the purchase of such items. But things are changing .The growing affluent Indian consumer class also brought in the need for a more differentiated offerings from the players in this category. Hettich is trying to cater to the need of the modern Indian homemaker who desires to have a very smart kitchen.

What is interesting about the brand is its attempt to create excitement in a category of boring products. What is so exciting about hinges, drawers, runner systems, folding and sliding doors. How can one expects customers to think about such products that he is not going to see in a cupboard or a door ?

It is exactly that brands like Hettich is trying to do. Take the case of modular kitchens. Usually consumers give less attention to the hinges and doors . Their attention is more on the look, durability , design and aesthetics. Hettich is trying to change the perspective by educating the consumers about the importance of having a smarter kitchen.

Hettich is running a very rational campaign aiming at introducing the Indian consumers about having a planned kitchen & wardrobes which utilizes maximum space and also maximum convenience. In the brand website, there is a download-able recipe which gives the homemaker fresh ideas about planning their kitchen ( download link here) .

Hettich is not without competition. Brands like Vineta Cucine and Hefele are also looking for this space. And convincing the customer to pay a premium for products like these is a tough task.Hettich's approach to slowly build the market is the right decision. The strategy is to educate, provide experience and convince. The brand has opened lot of such experience shops where customers can see the value for going for a little expensive brands like Hettich.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Mont Blanc : A Story to Tell

Corporate Brand : Mont Blanc
Agency : Meridian

Brand Analysis Count : 432

Mont Blanc is an iconic brand. This luxury iconic brand is now making waves in India. Mont Blanc has a very rich heritage. Created in 1906, the brand was born in Germany. Mont Blanc was founded by stationer Claus Johannes Voss , banker Alfred Nehemias and engineer August Eberstein in Hamburg. The company was earlier christened as Simplo Filler pens but was later changed in to Mont Blanc in 1910.

Mont Blanc which started off as a writing instrument brand soon became an iconic accessory brand selling wallets , watches, jewelery, eye wear and fragrance. This brand thrives on luxury and exclusivity. More than a writing instrument, Mont Blanc is more of an art item, something to show off your success than a functional instrument.
The brand is also carefully crafted. Mont Blanc takes special care in ensuring that the brand communication is reflecting its exclusivity and premium positioning.

Mont Blanc entered India in 1995. The brand has adopted the strategy of slow skimming was initially available in premium boutiques at places like Taj Hotels.
Globally, Mont Blanc built its brand through print media. The brand crafted exquisite ads in the premium lifestyle magazines. This year, the brand deviated from its time tested media strategy and launched its first Indian TVC featuring Bollywood Actor Anil Kapoor and his daughter Actress Sonam Kapoor.

Watch the TVC here : Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc has the tagline " A story to Tell" . This is a positioning that takes the brand from a functional perspective to a higher level positioning. The brand talks about pen as a power to write one's own destiny. This is one of the best positioning statement I have seen in recent times.
In India, Mont Blanc is trying to tell stories of successful personalities who had achieved success not because of heritage but hard work.

The television commercial surprised me because of the choice of Anil Kapoor as the brand ambassador. Even though Anil Kapoor fits well in the brand's positioning based on " story to tell" and rags to riches kind of stuff, Anil Kapoor does not really gel with the over all brand personality of Mont Blanc.
He is an actor who has now virtually retired . Even during his hay days, Anil Kapoor was never considered as an iconic star. So by choosing a star who has faded from limelight seems to be a wrong choice for the brand.
Another question that came to my mind is whether Mont Blanc really needed a brand ambassador ? In the Indian advertising world, stars have become a commodity. These stars only give some 'stickyness' to the ad and other than that there is virtually no value addition to the brand equity.
In my personal opinion, Mont Blanc lost some its premiumness by choosing to get help from a celebrity.

Mont Blanc also was in limelight in India as a part of a controversy. The brand launched a limited edition Pen inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. The pen which was priced at around Rs 12 lakh generated enough controversy for the brand ( worth millions of dollars of free publicity).
The limited edition pen had Gandhiji's image engraved in the nib and also the top of the cap and cone was inspired by the spindle which Gandhiji used to spin cotton.
The limited edition pen with its huge price tag quickly captured the imagination of media and politicians who began a high profile debate on " commercialization of Gandhiji".

As an individual , I was happy that Mont Blanc chose to celebrate one India's finest son with a special edition product. I was more happy because they chose to price this special product with an exorbitant rate. I believe that Gandhiji is not cheap. He lived a humble life does not mean that everything about him should be cheap or priced low. If politicians can choose to use Gandhiji for furthering their goals, why can't brands ? And marketers are not fools to mess with a highly revered icon like Mahatma.

Mont Blanc is a brand that changed the way pens were looked at. The classic white flower-shaped symbol that adored the cap of this pen is considered an ultimate symbol of success. Mont Blanc does not need someone to make it a success it is the other way around.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Turtle : A Little Deeper

Brand : Turtle
Company : Turtle Ltd
Agency : RK Swamy BBDO

Brand Analysis Count : 431

Turtle is an interesting brand story. This is the story of a small brand metamorphosing to a national brand. The brand is from Ladsaria family. The brand was born in 1995 in Kolkatta. The brand is the brain child of Amit Ladsaria who teamed up with his uncle to start a small shirt manufacturing unit with an initial capacity of 20 shirts.

Amit Ladsaria saw a big opportunity in readymade dresses at that time and wanted to cash in on that opportunity. The brand name Turtle was inspired by the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (source)

The brand which started with a capacity of 20 shirts is now a 60 crore brand poised for the big league. In May 2009, Future group took a strategic stake in the company. The backing of this retail giant is set to take Turtle brand to a much higher level.

There are many interesting facets of this brand. Although a small brand, Turtle was very careful in building its brand. The brand has been consistently investing in print and TVCs and the quality of communication was also very good.

Although the brand name was derived from a movie, the brand owners was wise enough to attach a meaning to the brand. Turtle brand is a Turtle lover. The brand has tied up with World Wildlife Fund and The Wildlife Society of Orissa for conservation of rare turtles. The brand contributes an amount for every product they sell. According to reports, the brand has already given more than 18 lakhs to these organizations.

Another interesting feature of this brand is the website . Turtle brand site is one of the best brand sites I have seen in recent times. The brand has been very careful in cultivating a sense of style around itself.

Turtle is targeting the young urban professional. The brand is on the premium side of the price band with the price ranging from Rs 695 - 995.

The brand is being positioned on an emotional platform . The brand persona is a successful goal oriented individual with a softer core. The brand has adopted the tagline " A Little Deeper " to emphasis the different side of the personality. Most of the campaigns are highlighting the soft touch persona of the brand.

Watch the tvc here : Elevator

Although the positioning theme has similarity with Raymond's, the theme offers opportunities to present the brand differently from Raymonds. Although the brand has been consistent in their communication highlighting the emotional positioning, it is necessary for the brand to communicate rational benefits also. This is important when addressing the first-time customers. I would love to see some more information about the quality of fabric and craftmanship in their ads.

Turtle is a strong brand from the East. The brand has slowly but steadily capturing various markets. The strong support from a partner like Future group will increase the brand's reach.
Turtle is a brand with a vision. The brand owners have followed it up with consistent investment and let us hope that the brand will reach its desired destination.