Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Hippo : Fights Hunger

Brand : Hippo
Company : Parle Agro
Ad Agency : Creativeland Asia

Brand Analysis Count # 446

Another brand has entered into the highly competitive snack- food market. The brand Hippo was nationally launched recently by Parle Agro. The Indian branded snack-food market is worth Rs 6500 crore has now become a battle ground of titans.

Indian snack-food market growing at 25% p.a is witnessing marketing fight worth watching. The players are trying every tricks of the trade. This intense marketing competition has expanded the market and also created new segments. One such new segment is the healthy snack segment.

Marketers were aware of the gradual trend among consumers towards healthy foods. Although this trend is limited to certain sections of society, marketers are calculating that healthy snack-foods will become a mainstay category in the snack-food market. Infact Ms Indra Nooyi of Pepsico had openly stated her vision of Pepsico leading the healthy food movement.

The healthy snack segment in the Indian Snack market has got a big boost in recent times with the launch of Aliva brand by Pepsico and Monaco Smart Chips by Parle. Earlier, Lays tried its hand by launching a low-calorie version to counter Bingo's claim of 'baked not fried 'proposition. The high profile campaign of Monaco Smart Chips featuring Aamir Khan put the spotlight on the healthy angle of snacks.

Hippo calls itself " Delicious Baked Munchies ". This baked wheat based munchy is neither a potato chips nor a biscuit, but something in between ( source Business India). The munchies are available in Pizza flavor,Chinese Manchurian, Hot N Sweet, Thai Chilly , Yoghurt Mint Chutney and Indian Chatpatta. The brand is priced at Rs 10 per pack.

Hippo is currently running its launch campaign across channels.
Watch the ad here : Hippo

Hippo has tried to position itself differently from the rest of the brands. While the other snack brands have positioned itself on product properties, Hippo brand tried to take the generic need platform.
For example :
Lays is positioned as a convenient snack,
Bingo on the different tastes,
Aliva also on health + taste
Monaco Smart Chips on health ( baked ).

Hippo is being positioned as a hunger- killer. The brand wants to be a guilt-free snack for hunger moments. The brand is banking on two properties - made from wheat and free of MSG & GMO to prove its healthy snack claim.

The brand also chose a different way to communicating its positioning to the consumer . The brand is trying to tell a story. The story is based on the premise that ' Hunger is the root cause of all evil. So the brand motto is ' fight hunger, fight evil'. The brand has adopted the mascot Hippo who is in the forefront of eliminating hunger and thus eliminating evil. Hippo has the tagline " Hippo Fights Hunger ".

Although the brand has tried to tell a story and successfully created an initial hype, I have serious reservations about the differentiation of the brand. The brand has taken the " Hunger" platform, but how is it different from other snack-foods that offer same qualities ? How is Hippo different from a Bingo or Monaco Smart Chips ? .

I feel a lack of uniqueness in the brand. The problem of lack of differentiation will come into forefront when the initial consumer interest dies down. Without a clear USP, the brand needs to constantly stay on top of the Share of Noise to drive the sales. If you observe the campaigns of Parle Agro brands, the company adopts a " On/Off " kind of advertising strategy. Sometimes there are lot of ads, and sometimes, there is no sign of any brand communication. In a category like Snacks such intermittent burst of ads may not work. One needs to have a steady continuous stream of campaigns ( ATL and BTL) to drive the sales.

From the first campaign, I don't see any attempt from the brand to create a differentiation. What the brand had tried to do was to establish brand familiarity which it had done successfully. But the brand needs to find a meaningful differentiation if it wants to survive for the long term. The brand can develop its positioning further using its core brand promise of " Guilt-free snack for hunger moments ".

One of the most striking aspect about this brand is the packaging. The company has put in lot of work behind making the packaging stand out in stores. Since the purchase of snacks are highly spontaneous, the packaging offers immense strategic importance. Hippo has really differentiated itself from the rest of the crowd in the packaging front.

Another aspect of the brand is its emphasis on ' After-Marketing". After- Marketing is what the brand does after it has sold itself to the consumer. Like Appy Fizz, Hippo has cleverly used the packaging to engage the consumers after the purchase. The pack contains interesting information and one-liners which takes the brand-consumer conversations beyond advertising .

As a new product launch, Hippo has done all the right marketing moves. The brand has a catchy name , good product qualities, excellent packaging, nice pricing, distribution reach etc. It has also created right kind of noise in the media during the launch. The real test is after the initial euphoria. The brand is fighting players with deep pockets. It will be interesting to watch how Hippo takes on the giants.

Related Brands
Lays
Aliva
Bingo
Appyfizz