Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Marketing Strategy : How to Create a Category

When Tata Motors launched its sub 1tonne commercial goods carrier- Tata Ace in 2005, it created a huge change in the small commercial vehicle segment in India. After five years, Ace is ruling the new category of mini trucks in the Indian market.

India is witnessing a huge surge in the creation of new categories. As the market grows, marketers find new ways of identifying and satisfying needs and wants. With increased competition, marketers often look for creation of new categories where they can avail better share of revenue and profits.

The recent high profile launch of iPad by Apple Inc has put a spotlight on the strategy of creating and owning new categories. Burdened with competition from across the globe, category creation is the magic pill that marketers now look forward to for survival.

Need Gap and Price Gap

When attempting to create a category, marketers broadly look at two approaches – need based and price based. In the need based category creation, marketers look for unmet needs and wants. Sugar Free is the brand of artificial sweeteners which pioneered this category in India. The brand identified the need for such artificial sweeteners in the emerging health conscious Indian market and tapped it quite successfully.

Another broad approach is to look for price gaps in the existing category and carve out a new category based on the price factor. Tata Nano is expected to carve a new sub-category on its own at the bottom of the pyramid with its 1 lakh price tag.

Bundling Multiple Uses

Marketers also try to create new category by bundling multiple uses. While lot of debates are going on about the future of the Ipad, it is interesting to see the attempt to create a new category by Apple through this product. Apple Inc is trying to create a new category by combining multiple uses together in a single product. iPad can act as a eBook reader, play music, surf the internet, play games and perform office related tasks. Marketers can think about creating a new category of products that performs multiple tasks thus solving multiple needs of the consumers.

Emulating successful brands

Mahindra recently launched a new commercial minitruck- Gio which emulates the success of Tata Ace. Gio is a sub 0.5 Tonne goods carrier aimed at creating a new category of compact mini truck in the Indian market. Mahindra Gio is expected to carve a significant customer base out of the existing commercial three wheeler segments. Gio shows that marketers can create new categories by emulating successful marketing practices from other categories.

Break- Away Positioning

Marketers can also look for new category ideas from existing categories. When Swatch was launched in Switzerland in 1983, the watch market was categorized on the basis of price. Watches were perceived to be a functional product and were segmented as premium, mid-range, and low price range. Swatch created a new category within the industry by positioning itself as a lifestyle product rather than a functional product. Swatch adopted the strategy of break-away positioning where the new category is created by breaking away from an existing category Swatch was positioned as a fashion accessory by careful design of marketing mix elements which created an iconic status for the brand.

Think Beyond Products

In order to create a new category, marketers should be able to think beyond products. The focus should be on ideas rather than the physical products. The ideas will later transform itself to products. But to get the right kind of ideas, marketers should be able to understand the life of a consumer. Consumers may not always be in a position to give new product ideas to a marketer. But an observation into the life of a consumer will throw a million insights which can later be transformed to practical product ideas.

Look at the consumers

Consumers are always looking for ways to improve their lives. Some of their needs are hidden or even latent. By closely interacting and observing the consumer , marketers will be in a position to create newer product categories and thereby becoming more relevant in the life of the consumers. For example, Indian computer market is witnessing a shift towards laptops and netbooks. This shift has created a need for a mobile internet service which can enable the consumer to surf the net on the move. This need has enabled companies like Reliance Mobile and Tata Indicom to come out with a new sub-category of internet broadband datacards. The increased health consciousness of Indian consumers has created a huge new category of functional foods and healthy snacks. These new categories are being created only through careful observation of consumer needs and trends.

Consumers are constantly looking for ways to make their life better. There are immense opportunities for new categories that can make the life of consumers a lot easier. Marketers should be willing to experiment new products and categories inorder to cash in the abundant opportunities before them.

Originally Published here at