Monday, February 14, 2011

Mediker : Sunday To Sunday

Brand : Mediker
Company : Marico Industries Ltd
Ad Agency : BBH Communications

Brand Analysis Count : 472

Mediker is a specialist brand from Marico. This brand is a classic example of a Niche brand . Mediker is a brand with a 3 decade old history. The brand was originally from Proctor & Gamble and in 1999 Marico bought the brand for a consideration of 10 crore. 
Mediker is an Anti-Lice shampoo. The brand is a leader in this niche with a market share of almost 100%.

Lice is a irritating problem for most of the homes where there is a girl aged 5-12. According to a research conducted by the brand, 23% of urban households are facing the issue of lice. The problem is more grave in the Southern part of India due to heat and humidity. Around 82% of school going girls suffer from lice in metros and large cities. 

Having infected with lice is not only a health issue but a social one also. The girl suffers not only from irritation but in some cases ridicule and isolation. Parents relate lice with unhygienic and instruct their wards to keep away from kids who suffer from lice. 
Mediker in a way is a boon for those who suffer from this irritant.  The brand has a powerful equity and recall among consumers. The brand then was faced with a unique perception problem. The initial ads of Mediker was solely focused on the effectiveness of the product. The ads had the visuals of kids getting irritated with lice attack and mother then uses Mediker shampoo and when she combs the hair, lice just falls off. The ads gave an impression that Mediker kills the lice and hence can cause harm to the hair.The fact is that Mediker makes the lice unconscious and thus combing causes the lice to fall off.

Since Mediker did not have a brand /category competition, the only competition it had was from the lice comb. Lice comb was the preferred first option for the consumers. But lice comb was painful for the kids and often caused damage to hair and scalp. The effectiveness of the comb was also limited. Hence the focus of Mediker was more on showing the effectiveness and painless feature and ads were geared to communicate those benefits to the consumers. 
The brand owners did not gave much attention to this perception issue and ads were reinforcing the effectiveness of the product along with that the perception of a harsh product. Mediker was perceived to be a harsh product and mothers tend to use the product only as a last resort. This perception severely limited the usage of the product and hence the category size was small.
One of first task of Marico after acquiring the brand was to make good the perception of Mediker. The brand was re-launched in 2001 as a gentle solution for lice attack. The brand was trying to become the first choice for consumers faced with the problem of lice . 
Mediker was always sold at a premium. Since this is a specialist product the product was priced more than the ordinary shampoo brands.
In 2003-2004, the brand went for an extension into hair oils. Mediker launched Mediker Plus hair oil which was an attempt aimed at increasing the category size and also bridge the price gap. Hair oil was priced below the shampoo and was more gentle compared to the shampoo ( perception). 
The brand also went in for a packaging change with green bottle giving way to sky blue colored bottle with a fairy on the label to denote the " gentle " promise. 
2010 saw another brand relaunch for Mediker. The brand has been made more Natural and the hair oil extension has also been relaunched. The ads featuring the South Indian film star Shobana was also on air to announce the relaunch. 
Mediker's communication was consistent over its life cycle. The brand initially had to educate the consumers on the usage since Mediker was more like a treatment than hair-care. The shampoo had to be used for 4 consecutive sundays inorder to break the life-cycle of lice. To help consumer remember the usage, the brand owners used the famous " Sunday to Sunday " tagline for Mediker. The tagline is still remembered by the consumers.
Now the brand has moved to a more emotional /social platform for positioning. The brand is directly addressing the mother's concern about the child's interaction with others and the worry of getting infected by lice. The brand now tell mothers to let her child socialize without worrying about lice.
Watch an ad here : Mediker

The brand by nature is niche. There is no use in trying to increase the brand size by diluting its specialist status. The only possible way for the brand to increase its size is to make the category bigger. Since lice attack is a perennial problem, the brand should be able to position itself as a preferred solution ( first choice) . Now it is considered to be the last resort even after repeated attempt by the brand to change that perception. 
Mothers are very caring especially with personal care products for their children. My 6 year old daughter uses Johnson & Johnson shampoo on her hair. Now replacing that with Mediker should demand some real problem ! 
For Mediker, focusing more on gentle means diluting the effectiveness ! so this decision is a real dilemma for the brand manager. The change in perception will take time and Mediker is on the right track in handling the issue. It had roped in a celebrity and also put a " Natural " tag to it which will make the brand look more gentle. The brand is also conducting lot of below-the-line (BTL) activities to spread awareness about anti-lice treatment and solutions in schools and townships. The brand should put in more investment on celebrity mothers  and make the packaging more gentle and attractive ( to kids) to change the perception of a tough product.