Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Brand Update : Amrutanjan wants to be Sexy

It has been a long time since I updated about Amrutanjan. A lot has happened with this brand including a rebranding exercise and launch of various variants. Amrutanjan which once had a generic status in the pain balm market is now the third largest player in the Rs 1700 crore pain balm/rub market with a market share of around 10%. The balm which was projected as a one-stop solution for all kinds of pain found it difficult to position itself in the increasingly fragmented market. With more and more specialized brands entering the market, Amrutanjan's positioning of an all-purpose brand became largely diluted.

Realizing this, the brand came out with a slew of variants and a change in the positioning. The brand also rebranded itself with a change in the logo to make it more contemporary and appealing to younger generation. Amrutanjan launched a sub-brand Amrutanjan Relief specifically for Cold management product range. The brand also introduced Roll-On variant positioning it on the basis of convenience in carrying.

In the promotional front, the brand changed its famous " Its Gone " ( Fast Relief) positioning and experimented with various other positioning platforms. In 2010,the brand roped in celebrities like Asin to endorse the brand. 
Another experiment in promotion was the " Be Ready " campaign where ten  ' slice of life ' situations were shown in the TVC where people accidently  got injured. The campaign wanted consumers to be ready with Amrutanjan because one never know when injury will happen. The campaign further asked consumers to share their own videos of such instances. 
When its main competitor Zandu Balm sizzled the market with Malliaka Arora , Amrutanjan followed suit with an attempted sizzling ad for its roll-on variant. According to Soumyadip of Cutting The Chai blog, the ad is inspired by the (in)famous Savita Bhabhi . 
Watch the ad here : Amrutanjan Roll on
The ad also gives a new tagline " Kick Out Pain " for the variant.
In my opinion, the new campaign qualify for one of the worst brand campaigns in India. The ad which is of poor taste neither talks anything sensible about the brand nor it is interesting. The brand thought that this campaign would become viral but that also did not happen. Overall it was a mega flop campaign.

Amrutanjan never found a strong positioning ever since it ditched its " Its Gone " ( fast relief)  platform. There was no reason for the brand to ditch such a strong memorable positioning. Now it is paying price for that mistake. 
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Wella Kolestint : Deep, Longer Lasting Color

Brand : Kolestint
Company  : Wella ( P&G)

Brand Analysis Count : # 491

Competition is hotting up in the Rs 1200 hair color market in India. World's leading hair color brand Wella's Kolestint is upping the ante in the fast growing premium hair color segment in the Indian market. Wella is World's biggest cosmetic company based in Germany. Wella has a rich heritage dating back to 1880 and was  created by Franz Stroher. 
In 2003, the company was acquired by P&G.
Kolestant is the premium hair color brand from Wella. The brand was launched into the Indian consumer market in 2010. The brand is currently on a promotional overdrive with a series of campaigns across the media.

Indian hair color market has seen significant shift over these years. The segment was pioneered by Godrej Ltd with its hair dye products. From hair dye targeting the greying Indian consumer, the category has seen a remarkable shift in the last few years. Hair coloring has now become a part of  urban Indian consumer's personality. From a product used to mask ageing, hair color has become a part of fashion . While hair dye was predominantly used by the greying consumers, hair color has found tremendous acceptance across various age groups. Hair Colors infact has consumed the hair dye market atleast in the urban market.

This product category has found so much acceptance that ET puts the urban hair color market at Rs 600 crore growing at the rate of 25% per annum. This stupendous growth has got the attention of all major cosmetic brands to enter into this segment.
Kolestint is a premium hair color brand directly competing with the market leader Loreal. Hair color market is classified into three product categories - powder/cream/henna. Powder form is popular in the economy segment while premium segment prefers the cream product form. The top end brands target the SEC A segment of the Indian consumers.
The market leader Loreal is positioned on its brand equity and premiumness while the new entrant Kolestint is taking the benefit positioning. Kolestint's USP is that the hair color lasts much longer compared to competing brands. The brand had a consumer insight that most of the time, hair coloring goes unnoticed.Consumers complain that even after spending lot of money on hair coloring , the effect is not noticed and the coloring lasts only for a few days . Kolestint has used this insight to position the brand as a hair color that not only lasts longer but also will get you noticed. The brand has used this proposition very effectively using celebrity testimonials.The brand has used Noticability Attribute in its launch ad with John Abraham and Bipasha Basu.

The brand used popular television/bollywood celebrities like Shruti Seth , Ragini Khanna etc in the subsequent campaigns which talked about their own experience with the brand. In the follow up campaigns, the brand focused on Long Lasting Color benefit as the USP.
Watch the campaigns here : Shruti Seth
Here the brand is using the same strategy of Loreal to break into the market leader's position. Loreal have also used celebrity testimonial ads to boost its image.  Kolestint was wise enough to not to chose high profile celebrities for the testimonial ads because most of the time consumers discount those testimonial ads. The choice of popular cine/television artists like Shruti Seth gave more authenticity to the testimonial ads compared to high profile celebrities. 
In the hair color market, longer lasting colors and noticability are two major attributes that consumers look for. Kolestint has made a major marketing gain by focusing on those two important attributes. The brand has followed up its brand campaigns with a below-the-line activity of running a Switch Event across the markets. Consumers are asked to bring their unused non-Kolestint hair color packet and exchange it with Kolestint hair color. Since hair color products are experiential in nature, getting consumers to try the brand is very essential. These switch events aims at encouraging the users of competing brands to switch to Kolestint.

The premium hair color market is going to witness huge competition in the coming months. The market leader Loreal is not going to wait in the sidelines and will rather fight Kolestint directly . It will be a category worth watching.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Brand Update : Jazz Gets Reasonable

Finally common sense prevails over Honda Jazz. The brand is relaunched with a significant reduction in price marking the end of aggressive market posture by Honda. Honda have a terrific brand equity in the Indian market with its City being one of the most successful product which lead the premium sedan market in India. But with the aggressive product launches from Volkswagen, Toyota and others coupled with Honda's over confidence led to the situation where the brand was dislodged from its market leadership. This over - confidence has blinded the company from understanding the competitive landscape in the market which it operates. Even Honda is not immune to marketing myopia.

This attitude of aggression and over-confidence was evident in the company's attitude towards Jazz. Jazz was launched at a price of Rs 7-9 lakh INR and the attitude was Take It or Leave It. Indian consumers choose to leave the brand and sales floundered. But all through these years, the brand maintained its stance on not reducing its price and depending on the brand's strong image to lure customers towards expensive Jazz.

The sharp decline of the sales of Honda City  in 2011 was a wake up call for Honda. The company realized that a positive brand equity may not guarantee sales. The brand needs to make sense to the customer. It is a surprise that a reputed company like Honda was not able to understand the Psyche of Indian consumer . Honda also failed to see the changes that were happening in the Indian passenger car market. The entry of new players and the shift of consumer interest towards diesel paved the way for the Honda City's dethroning from the leadership position. These factors also made Jazz irrelevant in the Indian market. 

It is in this light that Honda decided to reposition Honda Jazz at the price point. The brand has reduced the price by almost 1.5 Lakh INR and Jazz is now available at price range of 5.5 Lakh to 6.5 Lakh INR . I think this price rationalization is too late too little for Jazz. The market is too negative for a premium priced petrol hatchback. Even at the current reduced price, Jazz is expensive compared to Toyota Liva and even Etios.
Having said that, the brand should be credited with an attempt to create the premium hatchback market in India but the timing was wrong and value proposition of Jazz was not good enough to justify the steep price.
Consumers may adore the brand but to make him purchase , the brand needs to make sense.
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Brand Update : Horlicks Goes Premium With Gold

GSK's megabrand Horlicks has launched a premium variant - Horlicks Gold in select cities. The new variant is priced around 30% premium over the regular Horlicks. The new variant's USP is the presence of double nutrients and a premium looking packaging.According to news reports, Horlicks Gold has better taste and aroma compared to regular one.
Horlicks has been on an extension spree in the last couple of years launching both product-line extensions and brand extensions. The brand touted itself to be a megabrand which endorses a wide range of products across categories. The latest is the foray of Horlicks into Premium Health Drink market.

Infact there is no such category in the Indian market. Most of the brands are priced in similar lines and it is the first time that a brand is aiming to create a premium segment in the Malted Health Drink market. The move also marks a shift in the segmentation strategy of Horlicks. Horlicks has used predominantly Age based segmentation for all its product development . It used gender as a segmentation when it launched Women's Horlicks. Now the brand has used Income as a segmentation variable. Although Age, Gender , Income etc comes under Demographic segmentation, using Income as a segmentation is first in this category of products.

The challenge for this variant is to convince the customer to pay a premium for Horlicks Gold. In the store shelf both Horlicks regular and Horlicks Gold will be dispayed and what will prompt consumer to chose Gold over Regular is the critical question. I don't think that double nutrients or packaging is a strong enough reason for consumers to pay a 30% premium. Does that mean Regular Horlicks is inferior product to Gold ? Is the brand targeting first-time users or expect the regular users to switch to the premium brand ? These questions will be cleared once the brand starts communicating. 

Horlicks is now in a extension trap. The brand in pursuit of market share is using extensions as a strategy . Too many extensions are bound to confuse the customers. As I understand, Horlicks Gold is aimed at the entire family . But this Premium variant so far fails to offer a very powerful differentiation to justify its premiumness over its own Regular variant. That can be a problem for Horlicks. Its too early to make a prediction but in the store both these variants looks the same except for the price. It is now upto the brand communication to do the convincing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Maruti A Star : Stop @ Nothing

Brand : A Star
Company : Maruti Suzuki India Ltd

Brand Analysis Count : # 490

A Star was an ambitious brand for Maruti Suzuki India Ltd ( MSIL). The brand was expected to consolidate the massive leadership position of MSIL in the A2 segment of Indian passenger car market. The brand was also expected to penetrate into the highly lucrative demographic market of young Indians.
Launched in 2008, A Star was a global car made in India. The brand was touted as a World Strategic Model and was the first car to be fitted with the famed KB series engine. The brand was expected to fit in between Zen Estillo and Ritz priced around Rs 3.5 lakh to 4,.5 lakh.A1 and A2 segment ( together called as Small Car Segment ) constitutes around 80% of the Indian passenger car market.

A Star was launched with two objectives - to tap the export market and also to launch a model in the premium A2 segment. The first objective was met through a series of strategic alliances with Nissan and Volkswagen. The grand plans for the Indian market however hit a rough patch over these years with A Star failing to impress the Indian consumer after the initial enthusiasm
The brand started its journey with an aspirational note positioning itself as an aspirational- loaded- young- car for the successful ones.The brand was also a highly eco-friendly car that met the toughest European emission standards. The brand roped in Farhan Akther as the brand ambassador and adopted the tagline " Stop @ Nothing ". Farhan Akthar was reigning hot with his movie Rock On and A Star tried to capitalize on Farhan's image as a cool successful young man.
Watch the ad here : A Star Farhan 
The brand was projecting itself as a sports car for the youth and was one of the first car brands to show car stunts in their campaigns - Watch another ad here

Despite these attempts to position the car for the youth, the sales started sliding and was not meeting the expectation of the company. One of the major complaint about A Star was the space. Although the car was rated high on drive quality, the interiors was totally cramped even had less space than Alto. The back seat virtually was too crampy and as one of the reviewer commented - the car is suited for a bachelor . This single disadvantage threatened the entire life of the brand coupled with the fact that A Star was launched during the beginning of recession. It is an irony that Zen Estillo sold more car than A Star because it was more spacey although less modern.
In 2010, the brand faced another blow interms of a recall because of a fuel leak. The recall dented the image of A star as a unreliable car. 

To counter the sales decline, A Star tried to change the promotional strategy by adopting a functional thrust to the messages than the earlier emotional take. The brand also began to talk about A Star consumer profile inorder to boost it image as a car for youngsters who believe in themselves. Watch the ad here

2010 also saw a slew of product innovations for A Star. The brand launched an automatic version which was very well received by the consumers. Another innovation was the introduction of personalization option for A Star. The brand launched Wrapping kits using which consumers could personalize their car. The kits was pricey at around Rs 16000 which scared many consumers away from that option. 
2011 was the year when the brand got really aggressive and bold . The brand is currently running a campaign which talks about Whakypedia which is A Star's dictionary of commonly used terms like Stepney ,censored  test drive , etc. The brand uses the tagline " New Definitions for New Generations " for this campaign.
The ads definitely bring lot of youthfulness and energy to the brand and after the campaigns, there are lot of  A Stars on the road ( discounts too are a reason). But the brand's product deficiencies cannot be masked by smart campaigns. 
A Star will do well as a first car for youngsters. The brand will fit those customers who cannot afford a Swift or a Ritz but would love to have a reliable car ( predominantly Maruti choosers). Beyond that , A Star will not be able to impress a family man solely because of lack of space. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Brand Update : Hole New Fashion from Polo

The new campaign " Hole New Fashion " is one of the best campaigns I saw in recent times. The communication  once again brought back the humor, excitement and freshness into the brand. Polo has always been an interesting brand. The " Mint with a Hole " virtually made mint candy category very popular in the Indian market.
The brand was on a hiatus after the " what is your hole story " campaign which took a different take on the concept of " Hole ". 
The current campaign introduces four new flavors for Polo - Lime Mojito, Watermelon Sorbet, Peach Schnapps, and Cocoa Mocha. The most interesting factor being that these new variants are positioned as signature flavors which are "designed" by the Goa based Designer Wendell Rodricks. The brand achieved new heights in creativity when it partnered with a designer to launch a Fashion Range. The new range of Polo is known as Signature Flavors and is a classic case of a Celebrity - Brand co-creation.
What is most important in the new campaign is the new thinking that Polo brought in to mint candy. It is a great big idea to see variants as a fashion range and the execution is perfect. According to Economic Times, the flavors was such a big hit that the entire stock was sold out in two weeks in markets where it was introduced. 
Watch the ad here : Polo Signature
The new campaign will significantly help the brand Polo to reinforce its positioning as an off-beat interesting fun loving brand. The epitome of the brand's personality is its ability to think out of box which is conveyed by the tagline " The Mint with a Hole ". The brand tied to maintain its personality in most of the campaigns. The current campaign brings in much needed freshness to the brand in every sense. The new variants will also bring lot of new consumers to the brand . It also gives the existing fans of the brand to indulge more of the brand.
I am not sure whether these signature flavors are limited editions or permanent addition to the product-line. What ever be the life of these variants, it has achieved in elevating the brand to a higher level of positioning.

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Saturday, August 06, 2011

Vi-John : Building Brand on Celebrity Power

Brand : Vi-John
Company : Maja Healthcare (Vi-John Cosmetics)

Brand Analysis Count : # 489

Do you know that Vi-John is the largest selling Shaving cream in India ? I didn't knew that till I saw Shah Rukh Khan spreading this message across the media. The marketing world is full of surprises. Vi-John which is from the house of Maja Healthcare is an interesting brand. There are lot of interesting facts about this brand which has virtually grabbed attention nationally through the endorsement from none other than Shah Rukh Khan.

Vi-John is not a new brand. The brand has been in existence from 1960 and has a strong presence in the rural market.According to certain reports, the brand has around 60% penetration in the rural market. That makes the claim of " largest selling shaving cram " valid.
Vi-John is also known for its innovation in the distribution strategy. Unlike the usual personal selling brands which focus on retail formats, Vi-John tried to innovate on the distribution by pushing it through saloons. The brand also have huge equity in saloons which has helped the brand tremendously. One of the main reason for the success of Vi-John is the keen awareness about the consumer needs. While global giants like Gillette failed to impress the rural consumer, Vi-John understood that rural consumer needs are different and its shaving cream produced more lather, better fragrance ( strength) than the competitors. 

Vi-John is not only into shaving products but a whole range of personal care products. The company has roped in celebrities like Sonali Bendre, Bipasha Basu etc. 
Vi-John has come into limelight with the endorsement from SRK for its shaving cream range. The brand is currently running a commercial featuring SRK.
Watch the ad here : Vi- John 
The advertisement is very basic with the usual stuff like Women , Smooth Shave and Keedanu (Germs). The brand ambassador stresses the fact that Vi-John is the largest selling Indian shaving cream and that adds lot of power into the brand's plan  to enter the national market.
 The brand has moved from its low-key channel based strategy to a highly aggressive celebrity based pull strategy to cater to the larger market. Although this strategy gives immediate results interms of popularity and trials, the sustainability of such a pull strategy will depend on the investment on promotions. These expensive celebrity based pull has a potential of draining valuable resources over-time and the brand hopes that the market returns will justify the investment made on such promotions.
The high profile campaigns how ever fails to give a brand identity to Vi-John. The umbrella brand Vi-John does not have a positioning on its own. The brand neither has a tagline nor a core positioning which could be extended into various product categories. Since Vi-John is an umbrella brand, the company should have tried to develop a positioning for the core-brand and then used various campaign for its products. But instead, the firm tried to promote its shaving products first. The only issue is that people will start perceiving Vi-John as a shaving product brand rather than a personal care brand.
When promoting a brand which endorses multiple product categories, it is essential to develop a brand positioning hierarchy which shows how each of these products will be positioned and how the umbrella brand will be used to promote these products. It will be wise for Vi-John to think of developing a brand personality for its parent brand and then leverage that across its product range.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Brand Update : Mentos needs Mentos

Mentos recently launched a new variant Mentos Watermelon flavor. The brand is currently running a campaign for the new variant. Mentos has been a very interesting brand because of the unique product features and famously humorous campaigns. The tagline " Demaag Ki Batti Jalao " has been one of the most famous taglines in the Indian context .
The new ad somehow was way off the creative standards that the brand had set for itself.The ad features a young man using a watermelon carved as a helmet to evade a traffic police check really tests the common sense of the audience.
Watch the ad here : Mentos Watermelon ad 
The policeman's expression of  " what the hell " sums up the creative execution of the positioning of the brand in this campaign. The protagonist of the ad looks like an idiot wearing that watermelon helmet and the only saving grace being the " yeh Jawani " song.

I used to look forward to Mentos' ads because there was refreshingly new ideas that were being tested in those campaigns. From the campus to the last animated ad, Mentos ads were bang on the positioning of a " refreshing chewy". The current campaign really lacks the standards of the early campaigns.
For a brand like Mentos, each of these ads are important for two reasons - the brand does not have too many campaigns in an year. Typically it is one or two ads. Those ads usually are very good and is often used again and again throughout the year. Second reason is that consumers expect really high quality creatives from this brand which boasts of being a " brilliant " brand. So in this case of watermelon flavor, the agency failed to deliver a quality creative. 
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