Monday, August 16, 2010

Brand Update : Mentos Becomes a Chewing Gum

Perfetti van Melle ( PVM) has introduced another product line extension for its highly successful brand Mentos. The launch of Mentos into the Rs 600 crore chewing gum market throws in lot of questions regarding the basic logic of this strategy.

Mentos has been a unique brand in the Indian market. The brand carved out a special place of itself through the product characteristics as well as through some very humorous campaigns. Unlike other candies /chocolates, Mentos was a chewy confectionery which blended the properties of candy and chewing gum together. The product had a sweet crest and a gum like inside. The brand was a welcome break for all those consumers who looked for something new. It also appealed to those consumers who disliked the inconvenience of the chewing gum but would like to have something they can devour for a longer period of time.

Mentos was also popular because of its clutter breaking campaigns. The tagline " Dimaag Ki Batti Jala De " was one of best taglines I have seen in the marketing world. The brand also came out with very cool campaigns which made Mentos a very popular brand.

The launch of Mentos Chewing Gum may be in line with the company's global product strategy. In other markets, PVM have a chewing gum extension for this brand. Having said that I am little skeptical about this extension. Primarily because of the issue of cannibalization.

Mentos will compete with PVM's own brands like Center Fresh and Happy Dent. Center Fresh will be the one who will be facing the competition from Mentos. I don't understand the feasibility or the logic of bringing in one more brand into category where another brand is present.

Another aspect which worries me is the possible dilution of the position of Mentos as a chewy confectionery. One of the key differentiator for Mentos was the swallow-able chewy nature and through the launch of a chewing gum invariably dilutes that position. Now a consumer cannot order Mentos and then just eat it. He may have to check whether it is a chewing gum or the original swallow-able Mentos. Otherwise he will be in trouble .

Now what is Mentos ? a swallow-able chewy or a chewing gum or both ??

In the launch of this variant, PVM has done something which was unthinkable - blatantly importing a television commercial and changing the voice-over and putting it in India.

Watch the launch campaign here : Mentos Chinese

PVM was a poster boy of the Indian advertising world because of the creativity it had extracted from the ad agencies. The ads for Mentos, Happy Dent, Chlor Mint were all glorious examples of creativity. But here the company chose the easy way of copying an ad from other market and pasting it in India. I wonder why PVM did such a sub-standard move for a power brand like Mentos.

The ad itself is disgusting . The ad does not create any sort of rapport/connection with the Indian consumers as such. The brand had moved several notch below the established brand image through this campaign.

The launch of Mentos Chewing gum seems a half-hearted effort of PVM to increase the market share of Mentos. The way the product is launched points to the short-termism winning over the long-term brand building strategy which PVM earlier adopted.

I think that the brand owners did not eat Mentos while thinking about this launch. Eat Mentos and " Dimaag Ki Batti Jalao ".

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