Saturday, July 30, 2011

Brand Update : Titan does an Eco-Drive with HTSE

Aiming to consolidate the leadership position in the Indian watch industry and to further thrust the brand's attempt to enter the premium watch segment targeting young consumers ,Titan launched a new series of watches branded as HTSE.

HTSE stands for High Tech Self Energised . 

Titan has been trying out various strategies to enter the lucrative luxury  and  premium segment in the Indian watch market. Titan was always associated with the premium segment targeting the middle and upper middle class of the social strata. The Luxury segment of the market is now occupied by the global iconic brands like Cartier, Rado, Omega etc. Titan tried to enter this market with the brand Xylys recently. HTSE is an attempt from the brand to tap the lucrative segment of upwardly mobile young Indian consumer.
HTSE range of watches is characterized by its ability to energize itself using the light from the surroundings. That means the watch does not run on a battery. The brand is targeting the techie youth who would like to flaunt their gizmos ( source  : afaqs). 
The brand is currently running a campaign featuring the brand ambassador - Aamir Khan
Watch the ad here : Titan HTSE
The ads are undoubtedly well made and gives an ultra-cool image for the new range. Aamir Khan perfectly gels with the brand. Aamir and Titan can be termed as a classic example of a perfect celebrity-brand match.

The technology that drives HTSE is not something new. Citizen was a pioneer in bringing this technology to the watches through its Eco-Drive range of watches. Eco-Drive saved the Citizen brand from near-death and gave the brand a tremendous boost in the Indian market. Eco-Drive was positioned as a sophisticated ultra-cool watch and the brand caught the attention of the young Indian consumers who wanted to flaunt their savvy personality. While Titan was perceived as a great brand, it was never considered techy or ultra-modern .Titan felt that such a serious persona will alienate the young consumers who look for exciting , modern brands.  

According to Business Standard ( Link) Titan was working on technology to compete with Eco-Drive.And that effort has been fulfilled in the launch of HTSE. HTSE thus fills in a big positioning gap in the brand. The brand now can boast of being as technically advanced as any other watch brand in the world. 

One of the interesting factor that was noticed was the branding of this range. Titan chose to brand this range using an acronym HTSE. I am not really convinced about the effectiveness of this naming strategy. The brand could have chosen a proper name for the range rather than a dull acronym. It could have used HTSE as an ingredient brand and extended this ingredient brand to support all its other range of watches. So by using HTSE as a sub-brand, the company has limited the technology to a range of watches. So every watch that runs on this technology would come under HTSE range. If it had used HTSE as ingredient brand, that would have been a powerful differentiator and can be leveraged across the various sub-brands of Titan. Eco-Drive is used by Citizen as an ingredient brand and uses this technology to support all the range of watches. 
However as a sub-brand, HTSE has the potential to further Titan's leadership position among the lifestyle segment. This technology will help Titan to reposition itself as a exciting brand rather than the current image of a serious brand.

Related Brand

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Marketing Practice Ranked As One of Top 10 Indian Blogs

It is with great pleasure to inform my dear readers that this blog has been rated among the Top 10 Indian Blogs ( Individual) by the reputed Global PR Firm Edelman.

This has been possible only because of the support and encouragement of the readers of this blog. Thanks a ton for the support and patronage. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Brand Update : RIP Sparsh (2006-2008)

Sparsh which was expected to give a tough competition to Johnson & Johnson is history. Infact the brand was dead within a year of its launch. The brand was silently put to rest by Marico and there is no mention of the brand in the company website.

Sparsh was a serious foray by Marico in the baby personal care segment. The segment is hugely attractive with a major disadvantage - which is the presence of Johnson & Johnson. And it is really amazing to see that the brand equity of J&J is such a powerful entry barrier that even the best of FMCG marketers cannot break the stronghold of J&J in the segment.
Marico is not an ordinary player. The company had proven its marketing acumen with its successful brand portfolio. But in the case of Sparsh, the company had to beat a retreat. And beating a retreat in the baby segment market is one of the biggest mistake that  a brand can make.By withdrawing, the brand is breaking the trust factor which is very vital in surviving in this segment.
Sparsh could not survive because mothers preferred to be loyal to J&J because of the trust that J&J brand had with the consumers. It is not easy for a new brand to break that bonding. Wipro tried with its Baby Soft but was not successful. Now Sparsh bite the dust fighting the giant. 
So is it not possible to fight a giant like J&J ?. Theoretically it is possible. But it takes long years and millions of cash to be the profitable No.2 in the market . Not many companies were willing to burn that much cash. Although Sparsh is now dead, there are reports of a possible rejuvenation of the brand. It would have been wise if the brand fought really hard and stayed put in the market rather than surrender meekly within a year of launch.

Related Brand

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Brand Update : McVities Gets into Celebrity Endorsement

World's first digestive biscuit is now banking on celebrity power to stay in the fiercely competitive Rs 9000 crore Indian biscuit market. The brand has roped in Bipasha Basu and Shriya Saran to endorse the Mcvities Digestive brand. Both the actresses are known for their " Health Consciousness " and are well accepted by the people who would like to be fit and healthy as these celebrities project themselves to be. 

The endorsement from the celebrities also marks a shift in the positioning of the brand. During the launch phase , McVities was harping on the taste and had adopted the tagline " The new language of Taste". For the Digestive variant, the brand has adopted the tagline " Habit you would love to keep".
Watch the new campaign here : Mcvities Digestive
The ad has tried to make the brand appeal to the younger audience ( 25 + health conscious adults). The brand is also trying to impress upon the audience by showing its international acceptance.
McVities Digestive has playing on a very difficult market. Despite a very visible trend towards health, Indian consumers are yet to put that into actual buying. According to recent research, Indian consumers doesn't compromise on taste. So rather than indulge in a taste-less healthy food, Indian consumers prefer to take less of tasty junk food. This has forced many companies to scale down their ambitious plans to launch healthy snacks and foods.
McVities is trying to create more usage for the biscuit by asking the consumers to indulge in more occasions. Although theoretically  the strategy is sound, it will be very difficult to make Indian consumers to compromise on taste.  I don't think that Bipasha or Shreya is going to make much impact on the sales of McVities Digestive among the intended target segment (25+ adults). The presence can definitely increase the visibility of the brand and thus more trials. But for biscuits, the success is in making the consumers return to the brand again. McVities definitely will thrive in the niche market but may have to wait long till healthy biscuits will become a part of the mainstream.
Related Brand

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Brand Update : All Out Kills the Frog

In a sad development, the new owners of the brand All Out - M/s SC Johnson has killed the most powerful brand element of All Out- The Frog. The new campaign of All Out does not feature the famous All Out Frog which was instrumental in popularizing the brand across various segments.
From the birth of the brand, the frog has been the unique identifier and differentiator for All Out. The character was very much instrumental in conveying the effectiveness of the brand. 
People began to instantly understand the frog's symbolic meaning. But the Frog has now moved into history. The current campaign not only excludes the frog but the entire positioning of the brand has been changed. Instead of the frog, the brand is now following the typical laser effect that all other brands shows in their respective ads . The brand now has the tagline " All round protection for the family " and has moved away from being the " Yamraj for Mosquitoes ".

The removal of All Out frog is a definite retrograde step for the brand. The learned minds of the company forgot to appreciate the effort and the money that has been spent on creating such a powerful brand element. The frog was also a powerful differentiator for the brand. All these has been removed in one stroke. I don't understand the rationale or logic behind killing such a powerful differentiator . If that brand element was replaced by another powerful element, it would have been fine. But rather, the new campaign is nothing but a copycat of other similar brand's advertisements. So in a way the company has found an ingenious way to kill a powerful brand.

Related Brand

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Brand Update : Grow Up to Verito

After the rebranding of Logan to Verito, Mahindra has undertaken the most difficult task of positioning the new brand Verito. The task is tough because the brand needs to distance itself from its earlier avataar - Logan ( atleast in the positioning). And the latest campaign was able to do justice to the task of creating a new platform for the brand. 
Watch the ad here : Mahindra Verito
The ad takes the brand out of the Logan's rational positioning and puts some personality  into the brand. This is very significant for the brand because Logan was positioned purely as a rational brand and Verito needs to create a distinct personality away from Logan. Mahindra thus chose to do that literally by bringing in a personality called the Verito Man. Verito Man although has some legacy qualities of Logan like rationality, the brand has become more human. The brand has a new tagline " Grow Upto Verito" asking the small car owners to move up to the brand. The brand now is talking to the owners of small cars who are contemplating to move to a bigger car.
For a start, the ad seems to be good.The idea of a Brand Man is nothing new and idea has been used many times by different brands.In the case of Verito , this concept of Verito Man can be used to create a brand personality which will be critical for the brand's future.
 Verito's prospective buyers anyway is not going to be allured by the ads but will be driven by the logic of buying a value for money sedan. But Verito Man will definitely bring the brand into their choice set.
Soon after the rebranding, lot of Verito is on the road and that is a good sign for the brand. 

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Ruf N Tuf : Struggling to Survive

Brand : Ruf N Tuf
Company : Arvind Mills

Brand Analysis Count : # 488

Ruf N Tuf  was an innovative brand which virtually revolutionized the Indian jeans market. It was also a brand which ultimately failed to capitalize on the tremendous growth that it created. Born in 1995, Ruf N Tuf was India's first Ready To Stitch jeans brand. Ruf N Tuf along with Newport Jeans virtually made the jeans category penetrate into the semi-urban and rural markets.

During the 90's jeans gained much prominence in the urban markets. Although there were enough room for all the players in the market, Arvind mills felt the need to expand the market by targeting the rural/semi urban market. The strategy was partly driven by the increased competition from the urban market by well known global labels.
Ruf N Tuf was a brilliant idea. The concept was to sell the ready-to-stitch jeans to the consumers who were not accustomed to buying readymade clothes. The ready-to-stitch brand was very affordable and broke the price barrier for this category. Jeans were no longer an aspirational product but became affordable to a larger section of the market.

The idea of ready to stitch jeans caught the attention of the consumers. The brand was highly successful in the initial phase of the lifecycle. Consumers liked the very relevant brand name and the price was the real game changer. For 299 one was able to afford a good quality jeans when the average prices of readymade brands was over Rs 700. The brand had the Bollywood Action Hero Akshay Kumar as the brand ambassador for Ruf N Tuf. These tactics made the sales of the brand soar during the initial phase of the brand's life.

The successful run of Ruf N Tuf did not last long. The brand faced significant problems from counterfeits which merely copied the brand elements and fooled the consumers. Ruf N Tuf tried to manage the counterfeits by embossing log on the jeans pocket but these measures found little success.
The brand then began to face another issue which is directly linked with its product performance. The idea behind Ruf N Tuf's business model is that the tailor will stitch the jeans in a way that is comparable with the readymade ones. That assumption proved wrong. Consumers began to feel that the tailors were not able to bring the finishing in a perfect manner compared to readymades. The local brand made use of this weakness by launching low quality jeans with good stitching and competitive price. This strategy of local brands virtually killed the market of Ruf N Tuf.

To counter the onslaught from local readymade brands, Ruf N Tuf reduced the quality of the product and tried to compete on price. That strategy too failed to click in the market. Since the market of Ruf N Tuf was highly price sensitive, the local brands took advantage of the weakness of Ruf N Tuf. The presence of Newport and Ruf N Tuf  started creating problems in the company's product line. These brands began to cannibalize each other despite having different distribution channels.

These issues created huge inventory issues for Arvind Mills during the early 2000 forcing the company to put Ruf N Tuf in the freezer. The brand was on the verge of being killed. In 2004, the company decided to rejuvenate the brand by associating with Big Bazaar. According to the arrangement, the brand will be available only through Big Bazaar. Thus Ruf N Tuf virtually became a private label ( not theoretically ).

The story of Ruf N Tuf provides some insights to the difficult task of marketing. The consumers loved the idea of a ready-to-stitch jeans  and the low price. But they are not ready to compromise on quality and fit. And the business model of Ruf N Tuf had no control on the tailor who made the final product. Hence the brand was not able to control the complete experience to the consumer which ultimately lead to the demise of the brand.

The next question is that if the ordinary shirtings and suitings can thrive then why not Ruf N Tuf ?  I think its because of the points of parity . Ruf N Tuf's point of parity was established with readymade Jeans and not textiles. Hence the consumers expected Ruf N Tuf to be having the same stitching quality as the readymade jeans.Hence the comparison with readymade jeans is inevitable.I think the brand could have carved a better market if it had established parity with denim clothing rather than readymade jeans.
The current strategy of associating with Big Bazaar ensures the survival of the brand. Through the extensive chain of stores, the brand rightly ensures that it reaches its desired TG through Big Bazaar. Big Bazaar offers instant reach to the bargain hunters and price conscious consumers. In that sense, the brand has struck on a workable strategy. Having said that , from a mainstream brand to a private label ( somewhat) it is a fall from grace. The solace is that the brand is still alive.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Acti Life : Daily Nutrition for Adults

Brand : Acti Life
Company : Zydus Wellness
Brand Analysis Count : # 487

Acti Life is a new brand in the Rs 2000 crore Indian Nutriceautical market. The brand is trying to create a new category of Adult Nutritional Drink in India. It is a bold step on the part of Zydilla to create a new segment in the highly cluttered health drink market. Acti Life is a new brand in the Rs 2000 crore Indian Nutriceautical market. The brand is trying to create a new category of Adult Nutritional Drink in India. It is a bold step on the part of Zydilla to create a new segment in the highly cluttered health drink market.
The health drink market in India is dominated by brands focusing on child nutrition. The mega brands like Horlicks, Bournvita, Complan all have spent huge amounts of money in developing the health drink market in India. The competition in this market is huge and often has lead to all out war between the brands.Horlicks, the market leader, was the first brand to understand the potential for a brand for adults. That resulted in the launch of Horlicks Lite and later Women's Horlicks. These were product-line extensions and the brand's primary focus was on the kid's segment.

It is in this context that the launch of Acti Life becomes significant. Acti Life is targeting adults ( age 18 and above) and is harping on an impressive list of nutritional benefits as its USP. The brand is trying to educate customers that different age group has different nutritional needs and hence need specialized brands like Acti Life.The brand is now running a campaign telling people to switch to specialist brand like Acti Life
Watch the TVC here : Acti Life

The brand has done basic homework on the segment and the brand's microsite is full of educational literature on the need for such a dietary supplement. The challenge is to convince the consumers to buy and that too regularly. The brand is very optimistic in telling the consumers that it has to be taken two times daily .Acti Life comes in two flavors - Chocolate and Coffee. The main differentiator for the brand is the presence of  Prebiotic Actifibres which enhances digestion and reduces cholesterol levels. 

The brand has adapted a rational positioning platform and the initial campaigns are focused on taking about the rational benefits.The brand has the tagline " Daily Nutrition for Adults " which is a basic tagline which doesn't inspire much analysis.

The challenge for the brand is to bring in the habit of taking such a product. I think that Indian adults are little hesitant to purchase a health drink for themselves. There is an inertia in choosing such a product and most consumers will shrug away from admitting that they could need a health drink . Also there is a perception that health drinks are for kids. These are the two issues that Acti Life needs to address if it wants to break into this demographic segment.