Friday, April 08, 2011

Nerolac : Painting A Greener Tomorrow !

Brand : Nerolac
Company : Kansai Nerolac

Brand Analysis Count : # 478

Nerolac is an interesting brand story. This brand which has a rich heritage of over 97 years is on an aggressive mode in the Rs 2.1 Billion Indian paint market. The company which created this brand was born in 1920 as Gahagan Paint and Varnish Co in Mumbai.In 1957 the company was transformed to Goodlass Wall Pvt Ltd  later to Goodlass Nerolac Paints Ltd . The company was a part of the Tata Group till 1999 when its technological partner - Japan based Kansai Paint Co Ltd took a controlling stake in the company from the Tata Group. Now Nerolac is a subsidiary of Kansai Paints and the company has been rechristened as Kansai Nerolac Paints Ltd.

Nerolac is a leader in the Industrial paint segment of the Indian paint market. The Indian paint market is huge with an estimated market size of over Rs 17000 crores of which decorative paint segment constitutes over seventy percentage. The market is typically Indian which means that it is fragmented. According to a report by the brokerage firm Equity Master, the unorganized sector commands around 35% of the market. In the organized  decorative paint segment, Asian Paints is the market leader with a share of 30% followed by Nerolac with 20% , Berger Paints with 19% and ICI with 12%. 

Nerolac from the beginning of 2000 has been trying to attain leadership position in the decorative segment and the fight makes it a really interesting brand story. Nerolac had to fight the tremendous brand equity of Asian Paints in that segment.

Nerolac is a brand which never hesitated to invest in promotions and brand building. The brand has a really commendable awareness which was created through heavy brand promotions. The jingle " Jab Khar Ki Raunak Badhana ho, Deewaroan ko jab sajana ho , Nerolac , Nerolac "  still lingers in the memory of the public. Such catchy jingles and campaigns lifted the brand to double digits market share levels but could not bridge the gap with the market leader. 
It was in 2003 , that the brand made a huge plunge in celebrity driven promotion by roping in Amitabh Bachchan. The endorsement from Big B was a big news at that point in time. One of the major positioning move for Nerolac also happened at that time.Nerolac was originally positioned on a beauty-enhancing  proposition. The brand talked about decoration and in a plain speaking style successfully associated itself with that proposition otherwise that jingle couldnot have survived this long.

In 2003, the brand tried to emulate the Asian Paint's positioning based on colors. The ads featuring Big B had the tagline " Ye Rang Jo Hain, Zindagi ko Chootha hai " ( This color touches your life). In my personal opinion, the adoption of a positioning similar to Asian Paints confused the consumer.Although the endorsement of Big B put the brand on a high awareness state, the similarity of positioning had a negative effect on the association of brand and celebrity. I remember reading a report which mentioned that during the Big B endorsement, when consumers where asked about the brand which Big B endorsed, rather than Nerolac, they mentioned Asian Paints.

Before that positioning change in 2003, Nerolac had many things going for it. The brand had very powerful brand elements like the jingle and even a popular mascot - a painting tiger named Goody. The mascot was very popular and shared a powerful association with the brand. But the mascot was discontinued in 2003. Goody was created in 1970 to act as a differentiator and also create an identity for the brand. Since there were many players, the owners wanted as mascot to make the brand stand out. The decision of dropping such a powerful popular brand element was a mistake that Nerolac made. The brand should have made the mascot contemporary and that could have added some additional power to the brand .

During the late 2008, the brand still felt that it is not able to close the gap between itself and the market leader. The association with Big B was discontinued and the brand went for non-celebrity campaigns.

This year, the brand decided to make another high profile attempt using none other than Shah Rukh Khan to endorse the brand. The brand is now running lot of TVCs featuring the new celebrity ambassador.
In a significant move the brand has repositioned itself. In tune with the global positioning of its parent Kansai Paints, Nerolac also adopted the positioning based on environment -friendly attribute. The new campaign positions Nerolac as a healthy paint with no lead content and Eco-clean property. Shah Rukh sells this idea through the TVCs
Watch the Ad here : Nerolac 
So far Nerolac's major marketing issue was its inability to create a meaningful differentiation from Asian Paints. While Asian Paints established itself on the Color platform , Nerolac was confused about its own strength. This was reflected in most of their campaigns. Although the campaigns were well made, these ads did not reflect any image for Nerolac. Now the brand seems to focus on the Environment Friendly Healthy Paint as its core positioning platform.

The question is whether this positioning is important and meaningful for the consumers. It is true that Indian consumers are aware of the harmful effects of paint fumes. But this issue happens only during paining and after the painting is done , the harmful effects are hardly noticed. So will a focus on the Healthy Paint attribute be considered a powerful differentiator ?
Healthy Paint is a meaningful differentiator but not a powerful or sustainable one. Asian Paints or any other competitor can easily achieve parity with this feature. Infact Nippon Paint is already running a campaign for its Odour free paint  product.

In comparison with Asian Paint's focus on colors, Nerolac needed a much more powerful emotional differentiator rather than a eco-friendly platform because eco-friendly has now become a most used one rather a passe . Every brand talks about its eco-consciousness in one way or other. So putting that as the main positioning may not stand against a powerful competitor like Asian Paints.

Having said that , the presence of  Shah Rukh Khan will give a terrific boost to the brand. But this boost will be because of the celebrity power rather than the brand power and will fade when the association stops. The brand have adopted the tagline " Kuch Change Karo, Chalo Paint karo " roughly meaning, " Change Something, Start Painting  " ( !!!!!!) . Frankly I did not exactly got the idea behind the tagline. The tagline is not at all related to the core positioning of a Healthy Paint. So there is some confusion regarding the core brand manthra . Theoretically  the taglines are derived from Core Brand Manthra and the lack of that core manthra is the reason for most of positioning errors.

On a branding perspective Nerolac still needs to identify meaningful positioning to beat Asian Paints. Environment Friendly or Healthy Paint is an idea whose time has not come to India as of now.