Sunday, January 02, 2011

Teflon : Life Runs a Little Smoother With Teflon

Brand : Teflon
Company : DuPont

Brand Analysis Count : 469


Teflon is a pioneer in ingredient branding . Infact this is a brand which popularized the concept of ingredient branding even before Intel's classic Intel Inside branding story. The story of Teflon is a classic and interesting story on Ingredient Branding.
Ingredient branding is a special case of co-branding where the marketer brands components or ingredients contained within other branded products.

Teflon is DuPont's brand of a chemical compound known as Polytetrafluroethylene. Teflon is a high molecular weight compound containing carbon and fluorine. The invention of this compound was made at DuPont's research center by Dr Roy Plunkett in 1938. Dr Roy was working on a experiment on refrigerants when he accidentally discovered a compound which was inert to almost all chemicals. Rather than discarding this compound, Dr Roy and his assistants tested it and Teflon was born. ( Source here)
In 1954, a French engineer named Marc Gregoire created the first non-stick Teflon coated pan (source )
Now Teflon is a powerful brand with a global brand recall of over 98 %. The brand has almost become generic name for properties like non-stickiness , anti-corrosive applications. As a consumer we use this brand in the automobile , clothing and in our kitchens.
The growth of Teflon from a chemical compound to a powerful ingredient brand was not by chance but because of a very well executed branding strategy.

The first factor behind the huge success of Teflon was the product itself. Teflon ( compound) is patented by DuPont. Hence the brand is protected against any competitive threat. Competitors had to find a way to either circumvent the patent or discover a substitute. Although there are substitutes for Teflon, this patent created a huge entry barrier for potential competitors.

The branding strategy adopted by Teflon was at three different levels.

At the consumer level , the ingredient brand has to convince the customer about the brand's promise and utility. At this level, the ingredient brand has to promote itself to the consumers through various brand campaigns. For example , Teflon is currently running a branding campaign for its Teflon Fabric Protector product.

At the manufacturer level, the ingredient brand has to convince the other manufacturers to co-brand with itself in the promotions. This is the most difficult task. The host marketer should be convinced about the ingredient brand's value and the value that it will bring to the host brand.
For example , Asian Paints had a branding campaign with Teflon Surface Protector featuring Saif Ali Khan ( Watch the ad here)

There is one more task which the brand has to do -It has to reinforce the ingredient brand's image as an expert in its field. At this level, the brand acts as endorser to the host brand where the consumer is assured that the host brand will perform better because of the presence of the ingredient brand.

Teflon became a huge brand because it was successful in establishing itself at these three levels. At the consumer level, the brand was able to create awareness and also establish confidence. At the manufacturer level, the brand was able to associate itself with a large number of established brands. At the endorser level, the brand became so strong that consumers began to prefer Teflon endorsed products over other products.

Teflon is now engaging consumers at different categories. The brand now has presence in surface protection, fabric protection, automobile segment etc. Along with that , the brand has its presence in industrial application market also.

Teflon is an interesting marketing lesson for all of us. DuPont has proven its marketing acumen by establishing strong ingredient brands like Teflon, Lycra etc. These success stories will inspire many marketers to view branding as a serious strategic tool .