Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oxemberg : Body Music

Brand : Oxemberg
Company : Siyaram

Brand Analysis Count : 457

Whenever my wife purchases a shirt for me , 80% chances are that the brand will be Oxemberg. Although she knows my brand preferences which does not include this brand, Oxemberg will finally make it into her choice list.

The reason is that she looks for design/patterns and often other brands
fails to impress her.

Oxemberg is one of the pioneers of readymade branding in India. The brand which was launched in 1995 rightly envisioned the trend towards readymade clothing in the Indian market.
The brand has been in existence for more than 15 years and is worth over Rs 80 crore. In this highly cluttered and fragmented market, being existing itself is a big achievement for Oxemberg.

However I wonder whether the brand was able to realize its true potential ? Was it left out in the sidelines by the aggressive competitors ?

Oxemberg is a brand targeting the higher middleclass segment. The brand is priced little higher than the brands like Peter England , John Players etc.

One of the factors that has slowed the brand's growth was the limited distribution and the low brand promotion. The brand is being retailed only through select MBOs and is not highly promoted across the media as compared to the competitors. The lack of brand promotion together with the high price may have caused many customers to opt for value brands like Peter England.

One of the reason for low brand promotion may be because the brand chose to grow very slowly. The brand never went for a high profile national launch but moving slowly from one geographical market to another. Despite being in existence for 15 years, I don't remember any memorable campaign run by this brand through any national media . Despite these constraints, the brand sustained itself all these years.

It seems that Oxemberg is now aiming for a much higher play. The brand is now very visible across the print media with the new campaign featuring the celebrity Niel Nitin Mukesh. The brand has adopted the tagline " Body Music " which contains the brand message : Clothes that Move to my Rhythm.
" Body Music " is a very good tagline and positioning of Oxemberg fits to the body like Music is a remarkable idea. The tagline perfectly conveys the message of " perfect fit " property of the brand . The use of word " Music "also gives a sense of coolness to the brand.
The print ads are well made and catches the attention of the readers very well. It is also nice to see the brand taking the positioning based on "body fit ".

As a brand user, I feel that the real strength of Oxemberg is the design. Its patterns have some quality which is not seen in other brands. Even though the cloth quality may not be the best, Oxemberg scores high in the design which should be highlighted in the marketing communication. The current positioning platform is flexible enough to talk about design also.

It is good to see aggressive marketing activity for Oxemberg at the national level. The brand commands fair share of brand awareness because of its long existence. The new communication thrust will take the brand to the next level of growth.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Marketing Strategy : How to Market The Intangible

Marketing the Intangible

Originally Published in

Services contribute about 5o% of India’s GDP and have become an important growth engine for our economy. The growth in the service sector has opened up immense opportunities for new products and also newer markets. The huge service economy of India has attracted many players into the market. The market is now flooded with new players and new products.

Marketing of services is a challenging task primarily because services are largely intangible in nature. Because of this intangible nature, consumers find it difficult to visualize the service or evaluate the quality of service before purchase. For established services this problem is less because customers already have formed their opinions because of their past interactions. For a new service firm, getting the customers to try out the service is a very difficult task. This calls for a strong branding effort on the part of the service marketer to lure the customers into their offerings.

Creating a service brand is not the task of the marketer alone. The entire organization is responsible for crafting that brand experience. This is because of the fact that service cannot be separated from the service provider. When the brand promises a consumer of a definite experience, the entire organization should be working as a single unit to provide that expected experience. People who are a part of the organization form an important element of the consumer’s perception about the service brand. For example, the behaviour of the cabin crew in an airline service is a critical factor that defines the perception of the consumers regarding that brand. Hence managing a service brand is more of a strategic function rather than a mere functional task.

According to the branding guru Kevin Lane Keller, marketers should employ a full range of brand elements while crafting a brand strategy for service. The brand elements like Logo, Symbols, characters and slogans play an important part in the formation of brand image. These brand elements becomes important because services are intangible unlike physical products.

The first task for marketers is to make services more tangible so that consumers can visualize the service easier. This is done by adding tangible elements into the service. Hotels and resorts create tangibility by creating excellent infrastructural facilities which gives the consumer a fair idea about the service. For pure services the task of creating tangible elements becomes more complex. For insurance and financial services, the marketers have to build a strong brand image which acts as an equivalent of a tangible element.

For a consumer, evaluating a service before purchase is a difficult task. There is a strong element of risk which is perceived by the consumer before availing the service for the first time. Marketers’ task is to reduce the risk perception and encourage trust so that consumers try out the services. Many companies use branding as a tool to build trust and thus create a long lasting relationship with the customers.

Professor Leonard Berry in his article “Cultivating Service Brand Equity “in Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science” talks about four ways to build service brand equity. According to him, the service brand should be (a) Different (b) Determine your own fame (c) Make an emotional connection and (d) Internalize the brand. Strong service brands create powerful differentiators to convince the customers that they are different from the rest of the crowd. Service brands should also be very clear about their core strengths which will inturn makes customers to come back to their service offering. The brand should then build emotional connection with the consumers. Another important requisite is that the employees of the service organization should internalize the brand values and then only they will be able to provide outstanding customer service.

While communicating the service brand’s message, firms should be able to project its credibility, expertise and trustworthiness to the customers. Brands use characters, logo,symbols,colors etc to reinforce its service promise. ICICI Bank successfully used celebrities to build its image as a trustworthy new generation bank. Global consultancy firm Accenture firm uses Tiger Woods to convey its core brand value of “Performance”. These brands have used brand elements like slogans to reinforce the brand promise. Brands like Bajaj Allianz use characters to convey its message. Bajaj Allianz uses the animated “Super Agent “character to convey the message of reliable customer service. These brand elements help the customers to visualize the services even in the pre-purchase stage thus reducing the perceived risk of service failure.

Marketing a service require a holistic approach where the entire organization is focused at fulfilling the brand promise. It becomes the responsibility of every employee in the service organization to take part in creating the experience promised by the brand.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sure : No Sweat

Brand : Sure
Company : HUL

Brand Analysis Count : #456

HUL has launched a new brand in the Indian market - Sure . Sure is an antiperspirant brand from Unilever's global product portfolio. The brand is claiming to be the largest selling antiperspirant brand in the world. Sure is sold extensively in UK and Europe.

Sure is an interesting brand for a variety of reasons. The launch of Sure brand marks another era in the deodorant market in India. The deo market is divided into categories like Body Spray, Deo with germ fighting properties and Antiperspirants. The Rs 700 crore Indian deo market is dominated by the body spray categories. The launch of a global brand like Sure is going to develop the antiperspirant market in India.

For the promotion of Sure, HUL has roped in the actress Asin. The brand is currently running the launch campaign across South India featuring the celebrity.

Watch the launch ad here : Sure

Since the antiperspirant category is new to the Indian market, the brand has tried to educate the customer about the product category in the launch phase. The launch ad essentially talks about what the product is and the comparison between ordinary deo spray and antiperspirant.

Another interesting aspect of Sure brand launch is the question mark over the fate of Rexona. The fact is that Sure is Rexona !!!
While Sure is marketed across England and Europe, the same product is marketed as Rexona in other global markets including India. There are rumors that with the launch of Sure in India, HUL may kill Rexona deo brand in near future.

According to newspaper reports , Rexona which created the deo market in India is now a marginal player in the market with hardly 5% share. HUL virtually messed up the Rexona brand (soap) with lot of experiments like migrating to Hamam. Even in the deo category, Rexona was virtually neglected in terms of promotional spend.

Sure is marketed with the same tagline and brand elements as Rexona. Both Rexona and Sure carries the same logo - the Tick mark and the same tagline " It won't Let You Down". Sure is also using the slogan " No Sweat " in the launch campaign to reinforce the product benefit.

It is unlikely event where you see two different brands using the same logo and tagline. It does not make any marketing sense unless there is an underlying thought of migrating one brand to another. It can be assumed that Sure will launch its full range of deos and Rexona will be slowly taken off the shelves.

The deo market is witnessing intense competition these days with n number of launches happening. The trend these days seems that get a good fragrance, outsource production and do high profile marketing.

Even the antiperspirant market has seen new launches with Garnier launching its product in the category recently. By launching Sure , HUL is making sure that it does not leave any part of the category to the competitors.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Brand Update : Vivel Extending to Fairness Cream

ITC's soap brand Vivel has launched its fairness cream extension in the Indian market. The brand has been launched in Kerala and is expected to offer stiff competition to the market leader Fair & Lovely.

Vivel's fairness variant is branded as Vivel Active Fair and comes in three SKUs - the 50 gm pack is launched at a price of Rs 70, 25 gm at Rs 38 and 9 gm sachet at Rs 5. The brand is running its launch
campaign with big splash in major newspapers . Vivel Active Fair is banking on its ingredients like vitamins, minerals and moisturizers along with SPF 15 sun protection rating.

In a direct challenge to Fair & Lovely, Vivel is selling its sachet at Rs 5 ( introductory offer) compared to FAL's Rs 7. Indian personal care market is driven by sachets and the Rs 5 price point will help Vivel to achieve the important customer trials. Rs 5 price point is also beneficial
to both customers and retailers because of the coinage factor. This pricing may force HUL to lower the price of FAL's sachet.The Indian Fairness Cream market is worth around Rs 1700 and growing at 15% .

ITC is making lot of headway in its personal care business. The brands like Fiama and Vivel has successfully made their mark in terms of brand visibility. Although the company may not be making money in the personal care business because of the heavy promotional investments, these brands have built a strong foundation that can fuel further growth.It is common for brands in the personal care business to go for brand extensions. Vivel is trying to transform itself to a personal care brand rather than just a soap brand.

It is interesting to see that the brand refrained from using celebrity to endorse the fairness cream. I wonder why ?

Related Brand

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Marketing Strategy : Customer Service Starts From The Top

Customer Service Starts From The Top

Originally published here in

The $847 million deal between Amazon and was making lot of waves among academicians and practitioners across the globe. The discussions were not about the valuations or the deal but about the unique customer service culture of is an online retailer of fashion accessories predominantly shoes. The retailer is famous for its focus on customers. The key factor behind the stupendous success of is their customer service culture. The company is passionate about their customers and the culture of putting customer first runs through the entire company. The entire business model of this company is centred on customers and the CEO is the driving force behind this customer oriented culture. The company has a warehouse that is open 24X7 so a customer who orders at 11 PM gets a next day delivery. The company also has a 365 day return policy where a customer, if he is not satisfied, can return the product with in 365 days of purchase and get a refund.

Every company understands the need for customer service. But it is interesting to see that the understanding seldom translates into actual practice. One of the primary reasons for the huge disparity between understanding and execution of customer service initiative is the lack of customer service culture.

Top Management Involvement

The quality of customer service is directly proportional to the involvement of senior leaders of the company. Although the actual execution of service is done at the lower levels of management strata, unless the senior leaders are held responsible for customer satisfaction, the process will not excel. But for that, customer service should be given its legitimate position in the management functions. In service firms it is natural that customer service is given its due importance. But in other companies there is no reference to customer service as a function.

When senior managers become involved in managing customer service and satisfaction, the function gets recognized in the organization. Priorities change and service does not become an irritant but a priority. Firms like,Ritz Carlton, Mitchells and Marriott thrive because of the intense involvement of top leadership in monitoring customer service. In firms like Zappos and Marriott, the CEOs take personal interest in customer service initiatives.

Employee Motivation

Although it may seem very basic to state that employee motivation is critical to any customer service initiative, many firms fail to practice this obvious dictum. Since the frontline employees are the implementers of customer service, it is absolutely essential that they are given the necessary authority and responsibility to handle any request from the customers. This perhaps will the main reason why consumers do not appreciate being serviced by call centre executives. These outsourced firms usually do not have any authority to solve the issues of customers.

In the famous book “The Last Lecture “author Late Mr. Randy Pausch writes about a memorable incident of a $ 100,000 salt and pepper shaker. The author during his childhood days was taken to Disney Land by his parents. Randy and his sister bought a souvenir salt and pepper shaker for their parents. But immediately after they purchased the shaker, it fell and broke. Randy and his sister were terribly upset because they had spent their entire pocket money on that gift. Then a fellow guest suggested the crying Randy that they tell the store what happened.

Randy and his sister approached the store and was surprised when the store staff replaced the shakers for free and even apologized for not packing it correctly. The author then mentions that his family later went on to give more than $100,000 worth of business to Disney Land. The salt and pepper shaker was not worth more than $10 but the small gesture by the Disney Staff created goodwill that is worth millions.

Such customer service excellence will not happen unless the employees are intrinsically motivated. The motivation comes from the responsibility and the freedom that comes with the job. It is in this context that organisational culture becomes critical. While processes can make customer service error free, spontaneity can come only from individuals. Organizations should strive to bring that spontaneity into the customer service.

Another story about customer service spontaneity -

Bill Marriott , the Chairman and CEO of Marriott International, in his blog once narrated a story about an Associate who gave his pants to one of the guests . The guest who came for a business meeting found that he accidently packed his wife’s slacks instead of his own. He realized this only minutes before the meeting began. The chances of going to a store to buy one and making it to the meeting on time were minimal. One of the Marriott Associates noticed that he happened to be of the same size as the guest and offered him the pair of pants he was wearing. The pants were of perfect fit and the guest went to the meeting on time. The Associate managed with his extra casual pants till the grateful guest returned.

(source :

It is not that companies today are not aware of these basics but the fact is that in pursuit of high growth, often these fundas take the backseat.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Brand Update : Sugar Free Natura - Expanding Brand Usage

Sugar Free Natura , the sugar substitute brand from Zydus has been slowly and consistently expanding the scope of the brand. In marketing theory , different ways to grow a brand is to expand the usage situations and finding new uses for the brand and through new variants. Sugar Free has been trying exactly that.
Sugar Free launched itself as a sugar substitute for beverages. So instead of using sugar in beverages like tea, coffee, cool drinks etc, the brand tried to position itself as a healthy sugar substitute.

Rather than specifically focusing on diabetic patients ( who obviously needs such a product), Sugar Free concentrated on a larger consumer base by positioning itself as healthy alternative to sugar.

But the brand realized that focusing just on beverages severely limits the usage of the product. Hence the brand launched a campaign expanding the usage of the brand by telling the consumers to use Sugar Free not only for beverages but also for all other delicacies which require sugar like home made sweets. The brand also roped in the popular Chef Sanjeev Kapoor as the brand ambassador.

The brand has now moved into the next level of value addition by launching flavor sachets for tea. The new product is Sugar Free sachets which contains flavors like Ginger, Lime along with the sugar substitute. The new variant gives another reason to buy the brand.
Sugar Free is a brand that has realized the potential for a healthy alternative to sugar. India has an exploding diabetic population and such a product hold tremendous scope in future. The only factor that limits the growth of Sugar Free is the higher price. The price severely limits the repeat purchase and regular use of this product. The category will grow only if the brand is able to break the price barrier.

Related Brand

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Brand Update : Vanish Gets a Brand Ambassador

Vanish, the stain remover product from Reckitt has found a celebrity endorser in the actress Sridevi. The brand is now running a campaign featuring the celebrity.

Watch the ad here : Vanish
The new ad shows a move by the brand away from the previous campaign formats. The brand has been consistently using the global communication format till now. The brand has thought of using celebrity to penetrate more into the market. The choice of a " retired" actress like Sridevi is intriguing.

What will be the benefits that the brand expects out of this new strategy of celebrity endorsement. The first benefit is obviously more acceptance for the product in the consumer's mind ( hopefully) aided by the brand equity of celebrity. More brand familiarity. Use of celebrity in POP materials will have lot of impact on the purchases. Boosting the brand acceptance in semi urban markets.
The new campaign has discarded most of the brand elements especially the pink T shirt clad girls who were an integral part of the earlier campaigns. I feel that it was a mistake to remove that important component from the new ad.

Related Brand

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Marketing Strategy : Four Pillars Of Customer Focus

The Four Pillars of Customer Focus

Originally Published Here at

Customer focus is one of the most used jargons in the marketing lexicon. Despite being accepted as an important strategy, many firms have not yet been capable of delivering exceptional customer service and focus in their operations.

Customer focus is a choice and the choice has to be made at the highest management level. Being customer focused is an expensive proposition. It is resource intensive and needs hands-on management from senior leadership of the company. More than money, customer focused strategy depend on human resource. The investment needed for maintaining customer focus is the time and dedication of all management levels towards the goal of service excellence. Most of the firms which aspire to be customer focused fail because of the lack of involvement of top management in customer-related activities.

Most companies invest their resources in creating processes and automating customer touch points. After this investment, the management leaves the customer management to these insensitive machines and algorithms. The entire process will be a waste unless there is a human element in it.

For any organisation who aspire to be customer-centric should start by building a strong foundation .Without a strong foundation, customer centric activities will lack in their effectiveness.

Customer knowledge, Culture, Human Resources and Conflict resolution are the four pillars of a customer focused organisational strategy.

Customer Knowledge

Customer profiling is the first step towards building customer focus. This is one of the most difficult phases in the quest towards customer focus. The depth of customer focus in a company is directly proportional to the depth of the customer information collected. The effectiveness of all customer-related promotions will depend on the extent to which the collected information is being used at the customer touch points.

For example in a business to business environment, firms are sitting on a huge pile of customer information. The information from the past interactions with the customer, the information from the past sales data are all available with the company. How well this information is available to the sales force will determine the effectiveness of any customer related campaign run by the company. While most firms collect customer information, this information are seldom updated or distributed to the concerned personnel.

Another important task for the managers is to identify the customer group that the organisation should focus on. It is near impossible for organisations to satisfy every customer. Some customers may be unprofitable for the company to serve. The management should be able to take informed decision on the customer groups which it will have to focus on. Once these groups are identified, firms must orient its organisation to deliver exceptional service to these customers.

Customer-Centric Organisational Culture

The second most important pillar of customer focused organisational strategy is the culture. Customer-centric organisational culture is where the entire organization is tuned to deliver exceptional service to the customer. Customers become the centre around which the organization is built.

The Chief Executive becomes the Chief Customer Officer. Every process and actions of the firm is prepared with customer in mind. Although this proposition may sound theoretical, companies like Marriott, P&G and FedEx have built their business around a customer focused strategy.

Human Resource

People form the third pillar of a customer focused organisation. The employees are the vital interface between the customer and the company. Customer focused organisations invest huge resources in developing a team of highly trained customer- care executives.

It is critical for organisation to understand the importance of front-line employees who deal directly with the customers. These employees represent the face of the organisation. There has to be clear role clarity for employees who interact with the customers. Customers always prefer a single contact point with the selling organisations. Customer focused organisations thrive because their entire organisation is created to optimize customer touch points. The customer –care executives are given enough authority and responsibilities to deal with customer requirements. Cases which are beyond their authority are escalated to higher levels.

Conflict Resolution.

Handling customer conflicts is the litmus test of the effectiveness of any customer-centric organisation. When there are no conflicts or complaints, customer management is not a daunting task.

The real depth of customer focus is revealed when there is a complaint or a conflict. As customers, we all have faced situations where our complaints go unresolved. A recent survey conducted on mobile phone users revealed that unresolved complaint was one of the major reasons for customer churning in Post-paid customer segment.

Customer focused organisations have a robust complaint handling mechanism backed by strong process and also sufficient budgets. These organisations have a system where complaints or conflicts are addressed within a stipulated time frame. The unresolved complaints are escalated to higher levels of management and necessary actions are taken at each levels of management for proper remedial actions.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Titan Zoop : Be Cool

Brand : Zoop
Company : Titan Industries
Ad Agency : Ogilvy

Brand Analysis Count # 455

Titan has re-entered the kids' watches category with a new brand Zoop. Titan has been launching a series of watch brands in recent years. According to a newspaper report, the company is transforming itself into a house of brands with a number of brands catering to various segments. The company had recently launched brands like Xylus, Obaku, Zoop etc all endorsed by the corporate brand Titan.

Zoop is a brand targeting the kids aged 5-12. Through Zoop, Titan is filling a gap in their brand portfolio. Kid's watch segment although a high potential market is dominated by unorganized players.

In 1998-99, Titan tried to tap the market with a brand Dash. But the brand failed to catch the fancy of the market at that point of time. Analysts says that Dash was too early for the Indian consumers. During that time, parents were not that interested in spending on kid's accessories like Watches.

Now the company feels that the market is ripe for a brand like Zoop. Zoop is being positioned as a cool , must-have accessory for kids. The brand is running a launch campaign in most of the channels.

Watch the ad here : Zoop

Zoop is endorsed by brand Titan. The brand has the tagline - Be Cool ; which will be well liked by the target customers.

While researching on the brand, I found a couple of articles which mentioned that Zoop's positioning itself as "Be a Star ". The brand wanted to talk directly to the kid and acknowledges the star in him. But from the launch ad, it seems that the brand is focusing on " coolness " quotient rather than the " stardom". Hence the brand has focused on bringing in new funky designs in its range.

Zoop will be definitely a brand to watch out for . The brand has the equity of Titan and the pricing is exceptionally good. Zoop is priced between Rs 350-Rs 900. And it makes a perfect gift to kids too.

Zoop faces competition from the host of unorganized players in the market along with cheap Chinese imports. For Zoop, budget competition will also be something to be concerned about. Budget competition is the competition for the money . Budget competition for Zoop will be those kid's products across various categories that falls in the price band of Rs 350- Rs 1000. That include toys, clothes, video games, etc. If you look at the launch campaign of Zoop , the brand subtly addresses that competition by pointing at the ' need ' for a watch.

Although there are many positive things going for the brand, it is not easy to catch the attention of this segment. The kids get bored with products/brands easily. Functionality may not be on the priority list of this segment of customers. It may not be realistic for Titan to assume that kids will pester their parents to buy more than one watch to quench the style thirst of kids. So the task is to get more and more kids to purchase the brand and be happy about it. So constant campaign innovation will be the key to brand success.

Zoop has rightly positioned itself on the style factor and I am sure many young customers will fall for it.