Monday, September 27, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Brand portfolio decisions are strategic in nature. These decisions have very powerful impact on the entire brand architecture and marketing strategy of the firm. According to marketing theory, there are two basic brand portfolio models –House of Brands and Branded House.
Recently Rajiv Bajaj, CEO of Bajaj Auto announced a decision that the company will not be using the corporate brand Bajaj for any of the motorcycles produced by the company. Instead, the bikes will sport individual brand names and Bajaj Auto will be a garage of independent brands like Unilever and P&G. According to newspaper reports, the company will focus on four brands – Pulsar, Boxer, Discover and KTM and will not use the parent brand to endorse these individual brands. Bajaj Auto has made the decision to move from a Branded House portfolio model to House of Brands portfolio model.
House of Brands
House of Brands model refers to a brand portfolio where firms will choose different brand names for various products across categories. These brands will have own identity and personality. Different products in the same category will also have individual brand names. FMCG giants like Hindustan Unilever, P&G l follow the model of House of Brands. For example HUL has soap brands like Lux, Rexona, Hamam, Lifebuoy, Dove etc.
House of Brands portfolio model have many advantages. One of the biggest advantages is the focus that managers can give to individual brands. Since each brand will have separate identity, brand managers can devise focused strategies with regard to segmentation, positioning etc. Individual brands also give tremendous amount of freedom as far as strategies are concerned. Brand managers are not constrained in devising their strategies since the brand is not linked to any other brands in the portfolio.
Since the brands in the portfolio are independent, the failure of any one brand is not going to have an impact on other brands. Controversies affecting one brand will have minimal impact on other brands from the same company and brand managers can distance other brands from the brand which is facing the issue.
House of Brands model also have its fair share of disadvantages. Since the firm intent to have different brand names for various products, the cost of promotion of these multiple brands will be more compared to Branded House model.
In the case of House of Brands, the promotional budget has to be shared which will create internal competition among various brands for a larger share. While internal competition can be beneficial, there is also a chance of internal conflicts within the brand management teams.
Another potential disadvantage is the chances of brand cannibalization within a category. For example soap brands Rexona and Hamam from HUL compete with each other in some southern markets. Thums Up and Coca Cola compete with each other in markets where they co-exist.
If not done carefully, different brands in the portfolio can also create confusion in terms of positioning and segmentation. Overlaps in segments, cannibalization, same positioning, and clutter etc can occur if the firm is not careful about the individual brand strategy. At one point of time HLL (now HUL) found its brand portfolio with too many brands that overlapped with each other. The company had to undertake a brand rationalization exercise which reduced the number of brands from 110 to 30 power brands.
Branded House portfolio model is where the firm chooses to have one brand name for all the products that is marketed by the company. Many firms use the corporate brand name for all the products that they sell in the market. Dell is often cited as a classic example of a Branded House.
The biggest advantage of Branded House is the economies of scale in terms of brand promotion activities. Since there is only one brand to promote, the firm can channel the entire resources more effectively.
Another advantage of Branded House is that the promotional cost of introducing new products into the market will be significantly lower compared to House of Brands. Since the new product will carry the common brand name, there is an increased chance of consumer acceptance because of the existing brand equity of the parent brand. The firm is thus spared of the task of building brand awareness from the scratch.
A major disadvantage of Branded House model is the possibility of brand dilution arising out of different products from the same brand. Unless carefully monitored, product proliferation within the brand portfolio can dilute the core positioning of the parent brand. It may not be possible for all products to have the same positioning theme and any deviation from parent brand’s positioning will dilute the core positioning them of the Branded House.
Firms strictly adhering to Branded House portfolio model may have to forego many market opportunities if those categories do not fit into the parent brand’s positioning. For example a Branded House marketing luxury product may have to forego the mass market opportunities because of the positioning constraints. That constraint is not applicable for House of Brands because the positioning of one brand may not affect another.
Another disadvantage of Branded House portfolio is the impact of product failures/controversies on entire portfolio. Since all products carry the same brand name, failure of one product can have a negative impact on the parent brand. Any controversy involving a single product can have devastating influence on the entire product range.
Although theoretically these two portfolio models exist, in practice firms tend to use various elements of both models together while devising their brand portfolio strategy.
(Reference: Tybout, A., & Calkins, T. (2006). Brand Portfolio Strategy. In Kellogg on Branding (pp. 104-129). Wiley India.)
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
- Sometimes consumers have to wait inorder to avail a service/product. In such cases, marketers should be able to add value to the waiting time of the consumers. The waiting time is the time spent with the marketer. Hence it is the responsibility of marketer to make an impression on consumer during that waiting period. If the consumer is waiting at the company premises ( like showrooms, clinics) then he should be treated in a manner where he enjoys the time spent with the firm. In cases where he is waiting for the product at his home, such time should be adequately rewards. For example, during the launch of Nano,Tata Motors announced that it will pay an interest on the booking amount for Tata Nano since the actual delivery of the car will be made only after a few months.
- Another strategy is to reduce the waiting time so that the perceived value of the product/service goes up.
- In cases where such value cannot be provided, marketers should be able to set only reasonable expectations with regard to the time factor.
- For a marketer of physical product, the time is about speed . TIME translates to - How fast the new products are launched, the stocks are replenished, product improvements made, information passed to the consumers and after -sales services are performed.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Although many marketing literature propounds the dictum “Customer is the King”, it is seldom practiced in its fullest sense. Marketers would love to put customers at the center of their business strategy but the intense competitive environment forces them to think beyond the customer and move towards the competitors.
There is a dilemma in the marketers mind with the choice of whether the firm’s principal orientation should be towards customer or competitors. Conventional wisdom say that firms should be oriented more towards customers than competitor. Peter Drucker famously said “The purpose of business is to create customers “. When a firm is customer oriented, the entire business is centered on customer needs and satisfaction.
According to academic literature, there are three components of market orientation (1) Customer Orientation (2) Competitor Orientation (3) Inter-functional coordination. Customer Orientation is where the firm spends its resources on gathering information about customer needs and behavior. Competitor orientation is where the firm directs its resources to gathering information about competitor behavior and activities. The firm’s strategies will then be based on the information gathered through any of these orientations. (Source: Narver, John C. and Stanley F. Slater. 1990. "The Effect of a Market Orientation on Business Profitability." Journal of Marketing 54 (October):20-35.)
Customer orientation helps firms with a clear in-depth understanding of consumer which results in a focused marketing effort. Research has confirmed that customer orientation helps firms to increase performance and enhance customer satisfaction.
Too much customer orientation also can be dangerous. There is a chance of marketers becoming blinded by their current focus thus oblivious of the changes brought about by the competitors. There are critics who argue that customers may stifle innovation in companies because customers may not be able to explicitly state their expectations or anticipate future needs. Customers are often resistant to change and this forces the highly customer focused firms to maintain the status quo thus refraining from game changing innovations.
The firms who are skewed towards competitor orientation are blamed for launching me-too products in an effort to fight competition. Too much focus on competitor often forces firms to invest in understanding customers or anticipate their needs better. Too many resources will be spent on competitive activities which may restrict investment on breakthrough innovations. Competitor oriented firms are more open to the changing trend in the market. Since their actions are more directed by the actions of the competitor, there is less chance of lethargy in marketing activities.
Firms must understand that there is a trade-off between these two orientations. Firms will have to lose something if they chose either of the two orientations. The ideal option is to balance both the orientation. It is easy to advocate that firms should have both customer and competitor orientation but with a limited resources in-terms of men and money, firms will find tough to have best of both worlds.
Companies must realize that the choice of customer / competitor orientation is dependent on the environment in which firms operate. There are external and internal factors that will decide the orientation of the company. For example, there are organizations like Zappos.com which is totally customer oriented. The customer orientation run deep within the organization’s DNA and the entire firm is structured around the customer.
Competitor orientation is more preferable in markets which are growing very fast. In fast growing markets, firms should invest in gathering more data about competitors which will enable them to develop innovations at lower costs.
Customer orientation is preferable in more uncertain markets. When the markets are changing very fast, firms can focus on customers which will enable them to change their marketing strategies quickly in accordance with changing customer needs. Also firms that deal with complex markets need to focus on investing in customers rather than competitors.
The choice of customer vs. competitor orientation is ultimately depended on the top management’s world view. The choice is important because there are only limited resources available with the managers to spend on either of these orientations.
Firms can strike a balance between these orientations if they can focus on the following guidelines.
- Invest in a robust market intelligence mechanism in the marketing department. The mechanism can be internal or outsourced, but the emphasis will be on information gathering and dissemination. When a mechanism exists, depending on the market environment, organization can decide on the type of information that should be gathered.
- Encourage free flow of information within the organization. Market orientation tends to be ineffective if the organization is bureaucratic. Hence firms should ensure that important market information is passed to various levels quickly.