Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ultratech Cement : The Engineer's Choice

Brand: Ultratech Cement
Company : Ultratech Cemco ( Aditya Birla Group)
Agency : Leo Burnett

2005 saw one of the high profile brand launches in the country. The launch was significant and different because it was the launch of a cement brand. Another uniqueness was that it was a rebranding exercise. L&T's cement business was acquired by Aditya Birla Group in 2004 for Rs 2200 crore making Grasim the 8th largest cement producer in the world.

Grasim was having cement brands like Birla plus and Birla super in the 150 mn TPA Cement market in India. L&T was a leading brand in the premium segment of the cement market. The acquisition gave Grasim an entry into the premium segment of the market.

L&T cement which enjoyed leadership position in the premium cement market epitomized engineering prowess , technology quality and modernity. This has enabled the brand to command a premium over the other cement brands. Grasim was allowed 8 months to use the L&T brand.

Grasim was faced with a tough task. The time was short and there were two choices, merge the L&T brand with existing Grasim brands or launch a new brand . The company decided on the later and did it with style.

The name Ultratech was chosen after careful marketing research. Since L&T does not mean anything by virtue of the brand name, Grasim wanted the new brandname to portray significant intrinsic value of the brand. Hence the name Ultratech was chosen. Since Grasim didnot want to dilute the premiumness that L&T enjoyed, a high decibel ad blitz was launched to announce that L&T is now Ultratech. The campaigns was backed with direct marketing where the company officials met the 5500 odd stockists and authorised dealers explaining the new brand and company policies.

The campaign had lot of significance.
1. It had to make sure that the new brand did not lose the qualities of L&T
2. The new brand should be able to command the same level of premium of L&T.
3. Time was short
4. It was a risky affair.
Cement is basically viewed as a commodity and the industry is fragmented with around 50 players. So inorder to command a premium, the brand had to show a significant differentiation.

Ultratech was positioned as the ' Engineer's choice" cement emphasizing on the qualities such as Quality, Modernity and technology. The gamble has paid off well for Aditya Birla group and Ultratech was able to carry the legacy of L&T cement.

Ultratech is a classic case of Marketing a commodity.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Parle Digestive Marie : Can u build a brand on Bullshit?

Brand : Parle Digestive Marie
Company : Parle
Agency : Everest

Parle digestive Marie is the new launch by Parle in the 600 crore Marie biscuit segment. The brand is being promoted heavily across the mass media making it one of the high decibel product launches in 2006.

The brand is endorsed by Kajol who according to media reports charges around 80 lakh per endorsement. The brand according to the company is first of its kind in the segment. The product claims to have five times the fiber and low calorie. The campaign is also revolving on this platform. According to the agency the idea of the campaign comes from the insight that " the biscuit is so healthy, it is criminal not to consume this biscuit".

Having raved about the product qualities, let me come to the brand promotion. I feel that the campaign is crap. I may buy the product because the product is good but not because some Anti Marie bureau has ignited the passion in me.

The celebrity endorsement and the crap ad have caught the attention of the market for sure ( may be for the wrong reasons). But where will the brand go from here?. The competition will have their version within no time, so what is the future of Anti-Marie bureau? Did the brand highlighted any significant positioning. ' Yehi Marie Sahi Marie " and the Anti-Marie bureau are self contradictory. Is Digestive Marie not a Marie?

I think the target audience are not kids but adults who are health conscious. And the ads may have amused the TG. But should you promote such a good product with some seriousness?

With the teaser ads and the 60 minutes TVC may have burnt a hole in Parle's pocket and Iam sure that the initial sales will justify the cost. But Parle may have to spent that much money too often to sustain the sales.

Is short termism becoming a disease among brand managers?

No one have ever built a brand over a Bullshit.....

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Palmolive : Palmolive Da Jawab Nahin

Brand : Palmolive
Company: Colgate
Agency : Rediffusion

Palmolive is one of the oldest brands in the country. It was launched in India in 1937. Owned by Colgate- Palmolive ltd, the origin of this soap dates back to 1898 . BJ Johnson company, owned by a person known as Caleb Johnson introduced a soap made from Palm and olive called as Palmolive. The soap was such a huge success that the company changed the name to Palmolive in 1917. It merged with another soap making company Peet Brothers to become Palmolive Peet. It later merged with Colgate in 1928.
Palmolive in India did not have a success story to boast about. Colgate marketed its personal care products like soaps , shampoo and shaving preparation products under the Palmolive brand name.
Palmolive was a reluctant brand which was never a serious player in the Indian personal care market. Although the brand comes from one of the most respected FMCG companies in the world, it never fully realised the potential.

Palmolive soaps were of high quality and competed in the premium segment of the soap market. The cream soap and the nice fragrance were a hit during the eighties and nineties. But some where the brand lost its way. Palmolive was not able to create a meaningful differentiation in the crowded soap category. Facing stiff competition, the brand shed the premium image and went after price discounts and freebies.

Compared to the soaps , Palmolive shaving cream fared well. In the 150 crore shaving preparation market , Palmolive had a share of 21%. Palmolive earlier used Kapil to endorse the shaving cream and the baseline " Palmolive da jawab nahin" is still famous. In the shaving cream market also , the brand is languishing because of lack of support from the company. The shaving preparation category is more functional oriented where what matters most is the product performance. The category is witnessing a sea change with the customer preference shifting from cream to gel and foam. At present, the category is dominated by Gillette.
Of late Colgate is now focusing on personal care with a series of product launches. In 2003 Palmolive launched Aroma variant with extracts from Orchid and jasmine. The product has been well received. In 2004 Palmolive launched a shower gel variant which is a new category . The product is promoted along the baseline " Ignite your senses".

I have been researching this brand but there is very less data available with regard to the campaigns and launches which shows that there is nothing much to write about this . Well for a marketer it is the most pitiable situation when nothing can be written about the brand: be it good or bad.

Palmolive is a brand that is trying to revive itself. But for that the brand should decide on what it want to be? May be the answer is with the customer.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Bajaj Chetak (1972-2005) :RIP

Brand : Bajaj Chetak
Company : Bajaj Auto Ltd

The brand which ruled the Indian roads have been laid to rest. Bajaj has officially stopped the production of Bajaj Chetak from December 2005. The stocks will last may be upto March 2006. The company says that the product no longer have any relevance to the customer. To quote Rajiv bajaj " Any one who clings to the past is a failure".
I owned a Chetak: a gift from my father for having secured admission to MBA program. It was in the year 1996. Later I exchanged it for a bike in 2001. Still Chetak lingers in me ( or rather haunts me) in the form of " Back Pain".
The brand which was launched in 1972 virtually owned the two wheeler segment. If reports are to be believed, Chetak was an unavoidable dowry in 1970's and 80's. It had a waiting period of more than 10 years ( can you believe it ? ) and now here I am after 34 years, writing the epitaph of this brand.
The brand which was named after the legendary stallion of the Rajput king Maharana Pratap, was known for the reliability and sturdiness. The brand thrived during the license raj with virtually no competition. It was during 1990-91 that the brand began the journey to the end.
Bajaj Chetak had a huge brand equity . The brand had the persona of a " work horse". With reasonable price and the low maintenance cost made this product a huge hit among the middle class Indians.
Promoted along the base line " Hamara Bajaj", this was the Indian Family vehicle - a position now owned by Maruthi 800.
But then How can a brand that was so popular and successful fail?
Frankly, I am not sure. But here is what I think about this brand...
The primary reason is that the Brand forgot the customers. Another case of Marketing Myopia. The company failed to understand the changing perception of the customers towards scooters. Rather than looking at the customers, the company focused on influencing Government to block the opening up of economy. Bajaj never did anything with the product. For 40 years Chetak had the same look, same quality and style.
During the mid nineties the company realised lately that the segment has shifted to motorcycles. Scooters were no longer the option. But did the company made a mistake in discarding the scooter segment ? Looking at the way the share prices are going, the market thinks that Bajaj Auto made the right decision. But I think that they made a mistake in leaving the scooter segment completely. Contrary to expectation, the scooter segment has not died. It has only changed.
Chetak lost its identity some where during the nineties. What should be the future of the brand : no body knew. It was only in 2004 that company made any change in Chetak. In 1994 Bajaj introduced Classic another scooter with same style as Chetak, but failed.
Bajaj never was serious about product development. The R&D spent for a long time was a miniscule 1%. The average cycle time for the new product development was 4-5 years compared to 2-3 years of Japanese competitors.
Even after the opening up of economy, the scooter segment did not witness much competition.
The players like Vespa did not had much of success in this segment. Kinetic Honda managed to carve a niche with its gearless scooters. Another segment which was growing was the scooterette segment which was dominated by TVS scooty.
Bajaj never seriously looked at customer perception about Chetak. The product had serious problems like starting trouble and riding comfort. The " Tilting the chetak to the side for starting " was a common joke. Did the company do anything for that ? no
There was nothing wrong with the Promotion. " Hamara Bajaj " and " No one can beat a Bajaj " were famous base lines. There was nothing wrong with distribution and the pricing was very reasonable. The major problem was in the first P : Product.
So without addressing any problems regarding the product , can you expect the customer to buy the product ?
Bajaj was never a leader in technology ( now they are !!!). They never bothered to and paid the price . Had Chetak pioneered Electric start, had it provided more riding comfort, it could have survived.
Somebody have just beat the Bajaj........ the customer!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Rasna : I love U Rasna

Brand : Rasna
Company: Pioma Industries
Agency: Mudra

Rasna is the market leader in the Rs 250 crore Indian Soft drinks concentrate industry. The SDC industry is miniscule compared to the 5000 crore carbonated soft drink industry ( CSD). The powdered softdrink concentrate industry is worth around 90 crore.
Rasna pioneered this category and virtually owns this market with a market share of 93%.
Rasna was launched in 1982 by Pioma Industries Ltd. Rasna positioned its product on the economy platform. The company aims to capture the customer's " every moments of thirst " using Rasna.
Rasna tried to concentrate on three major attributes for establishing itself in the market
1. Economy per glass
2. Taste
3. Children's affinity towards the product.
Rasna always wanted itself to be perceived as a value for money product. The " price advantage " was promoted heavily and customers were given the details of how each glass of rasna will cost compared to other softdrinks. Rasna began with 9 flavours in 1982. The 10th flavour was added in 1987. Rasna was using children in advertising the brand. Like the Johnson's baby, Rasna girl was very popular among the public. Rasna have used the catchy baseline " I love u Rasna " for decades. Even now people remember Rasna Baseline.
Rasna in 2002, decided on a make over. The company no longer wanted to be a kid's drink. It dawned a new look with new logo and a new baseline " Relish a gain" highlighting the economy of using Rasna. Rasna also tried lot of new products and variants. Realising that the market has shifted to "health and natural " proposition, Rasna launched a new product "Juc fit" which is a fruit based health drink. The new Leaf logo also signifies this shift. The logo signifies value for money and health( the company claims).
Rasna also entered the 1000 crore milk foods category with its Shake Up brand which has not been able to make a dent in to the highly competitive market dominated by the likes of Horlicks and Complan.
Rasna also tried to take the competition for Colas by launching "Rasna Cola Cola" and has roped in Hrithik Roshan to endorse the brand.
Now Rasna have in the market a subbrands Juc Up ,Rasna International and Utsav in the Powdered SDC category. In 2005 Rasna has launched a range of traditional refreshers like Nimbu pani and Jaljira under the subbrand " Ghar Ka ".
Rasna recently has been struggling to find its soul. All the way it was promoting itself on economy platform which has become redundant because of the competitive pricing from Carbonated softdrinks. It has also changed the famous " I love you Rasna " campaign to " Relish A Gain " baseline which is little confusing for the customers. Customers still remember the Rasna Girl and "I love U " baseline . I am confused why the company changed such a popular baseline?
Rasna is also trying to move away from children and trying to become everything to every one which is a risky proposition. Although the brand has a generic status in the category , it is witnessing stiff competition from Sunfill from Coke.Rasna is trying to excite the market with new products and variants .
Rasna as a brand has lost its soul, not knowing what it stands for, trying to become everything to everyone. What should a brand do when it is confused about its persona? Simple. Ask the customer.
Its worth remembering that there is a child with in all of us. (don't take it literally)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

WoodLand : Are you a Woodlander?

Brand : WoodLand
Company: Aero Club
Agency : Karishma Advertising

Indian shoe market is one of the most dynamic markets in the world. India's production capacity ( not only kids but shoes also) is second only to China. Although there are different valuations about the Indian Shoe Market. It is estimated to be worth around Rs 11000 crores. Some media reports say that it is worth Rs. 93 billion . Any way it is huge.

The market is traditionally price driven and dominated by the unorganised sector. The organised shoe market is dominated by Bata with a market share of 35-40%

Woodland is an Indian Brand ( and am proud of it ) . Launched in 1992-93, this brand has carved a niche for itself. Like what Allen Solly did with the readymade menswear, Woodland has done it with Indian Footwear. In a market dominated by sports and leather shoes ( read Bata and carona) Woodland created a category for itself.
Woodland never wanted to be an ordinary shoe . According to Mr Harkirat Singh MD , he never wanted this brand to be a mass market brand. So till now this brand is concentrating on the premium end ( above Rs 1500 shoes) of 2000 crore casual shoe segment.
Woodland targets the upmarket segment and is positioning itself as a Rugged high quality premium casual shoe. It can be called as SUV of Indian shoes. The ads are catchy and tempting.
The logo of Woodland was a status symbol during the nineties. The brand is excellent in quality and styling . I think that the brand pioneered Suede and nubuck type leather shoes in India. The brand carefully presented itself as an outdoor/ trekking kind of shoe which captured the imagination of Indian youth.
True to its price, the brand delivered its promise on quality which ensured that the brand is perceived as a value for money brand.
Woodland has extended itself to accessories and apparels. Latest reports suggest that the company is serious about promoting its apparel business which constitutes about 30% to the company revenues. Earlier Woodland tried its hand in the formal shoe category with the brand Woods but it did not make much impact in that market.
The careful branding has helped the brand to garner about 40% of the premium casual shoe market. But this market is witnessing lots of competition with global brands flexing its muscle in India.
Woodland is another example of an Indian Super brand.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Kiwi : Dont Worry,Be Happy

Brand : Kiwi
Company :Sara lee
Agency : Grey worldwide

Kiwi is the challenger brand in the Rs 60 crore shoe care market in India. Kiwi was an active player in the shoe care market from 1994 onwards. The brand is owned by $18 billion Sara Lee corporation. In India, Sara Lee started as a joint venture with TTK corporation. In 2002, it became an independent venture. Now SaraLee has tied up with Godrej to market its products.

The shoe care market in India is small. This market was dominated by Cherry Blossom from Reckitt and Benckiser which earlier had a market share of 80%. Kiwi was the challenger brand and right now it holds a market share of 40 % and Cherry's market share decline to around 50%.
Kiwi has a history that dates back from 1906 when William Ramsay developed an unusually fine boot polish. He put the Brand name as Kiwi since his wife is a native of Newzealand. The brand grew so big that in 1967, the products were used worldwide under the banner Kiwi International. In 1984, it became the part of Sara Lee Corporation.

Shoe polishes are infrequently purchased products with very less involvement from the customer. Cherry Blossom had a generic brand status in the market. Wax polishes constitutes 70% of the market while liquid polish constitutes 20%.

In order to displace the leader, Kiwi banked on Innovation strategy which the market leader failed to anticipate .
Kiwi was the first one to bring International standard Liquid shoe polish in India .It also pioneered the Shoe shine sponge which was a blockbuster. Kiwi was also the first brand to launch Suede and Nubuck range.

These new product launches and careful campaigns helped Kiwi to have a top of the mind recall for the brand. As in the case of Robin Liquid, which failed to respond to Ujala's challenge, Cherry Blossom also failed to respond. While Kiwi talked about quality shoe care, Cherry Blossom was stuck with Poor " Charlie Chaplin look alike " ads.

Most of the new product launches of Kiwi was in line with the changing consumer preferences. When the consumers opted for semi casual Suede and nubuck shoes, Kiwi was quick to launch Shoe care products for that category.
Today in this hectic rush , seldom do we get time to polish our shoes every day. Understanding this Consumer insight, Kiwi launched Express shoe polish which can be used to shine shoes when you are in a rush. These innovations surely helped the brand to create a market for itself.
Sara lee also markets Metal Polishes and Drainer cleaner under Kiwi brand.

The Shoe care market has all the potential to grow since the shoe market is growing ( Derived Demand ?)

Kiwi is a good example of how innovations can help in challenging a market leader.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Vicks: Vicks Ki Goli Lo , Khich Khich Door Karo

Brand : Vicks
Company : P&G
Agency: Ambience

Vicks is a brand that is more than 50 years old. Vicks is a leading brand in the Fast Moving Health goods ( FMHG). FMHG industry in India is worth around 4500 crores. This market is dominated by products like Rubs & Balms, medicated skin treatments,cough syrup and drops, digestives and health supplements.
Vicks Brand was launched in India in 1951 . It was manufactured by Vicks Products Ltd. Later in 1964, Richardson Hindustan Ltd was formed to manufacture the product .In 1985 RHL became the affiliate of P&G. In 1989 RHL became P&G hygiene and health care.

Vicks in India is known for its VapoRub and cough drops. Globally Vicks brand is worth around 3000 crores.

Vicks vaporub is the market leader in this segment with a share of 50%. Vaporub was initially targeted at children but later the company found out that it is used mostly by adults. Vicks Vaporub is positioned along Mother's Love platform . Vaporub pioneered the concept of " Touch therapy" linking it to the rubbing of vaporub on the child's chest. Vaporub advertises itself as having 6 key benefits
1. Clearing blocked nose
2, Cough relief
3. Body ache relief
4. Head ache relief.
5. Relaxing muscle stiffness
6. Easing breathing difficulty.

Vaporub also ranks best among the consumers in the following parameters : Non greasy, Smells better, Long lasting relief. Greasyness was important because Iodex ( a different category product) failed because of greasyness.

The rencent ad campaign also involves " father " in to the picture. The ad shows a father taking care of the child using Vaporub when the mother is away. The smart positioning and campaigns has ensured the brand retaining the top position in the market.

Vicks Cough drop is another blockbuster from the Vicks stable. Vicks commands a generic recall in this category. Using brand imagery and the catchy charachter " Kitch Kitch", Vicks commands a major share in this market. With unique shape and the long lasting positioning "Vicks ki goli lo Kitch Kitch door karo" , Vicks is a super brand in this category .Vicks coughdrops were careful in not messing up "Kitch Kitch" .This has ensured that the brand enjoys excellent recall .The recent campaigns of Vicks-Honey also strengthens the time tested positioning of the brand.

Vicks Action 500 has been in the market for more than 25 years. Launched in 1979 this is the first advertised OTC brand in India. Over these years the brand has carved a position for itself with around 40% market share in the category. This brand which is now relaunched talks about its ability to provide relief from cold related symptoms. This product is in Caplet shape ( capsule shaped tablet) which makes it different from its competitors and reinforces its ability to cure two symptoms of cold : blocked nose and headache .

Vicks Inhaler was launched in 1951 created and own the inhaler category is one of the first products launched in India from Vicks.

Vicks recently ventured in to the 550 crore cough syrup market with its Formula 44 in October 2003. The brand's usp is 8 hours relief from cough. The product is targeted at kids .The insight is that the power of most of the Cough syrups wanes after 5 hours and long lasting relief is the platform that Vicks is banking on for this product.
Vicks is a brand that is enjoying tremendous equity in the market. It has established its trust with thee customers. The FMHG market calls for Umbrella branding since it is difficult and expensive to create trust for individual brands in that category .That is the reason behind Vicks extending its equity across the various categories. Vicks has used careful branding and packaging for promoting the products. The unique shapes of cough drops, inhaler and caplet are examples of using product form as a differentiating factor.
Vicks is a testimony to the marketing genius of P&G

Monday, January 16, 2006

Titan watches : What is your style ?

Brand : Titan
Company : TATA
Agency: O&M

Indian Watch industry is estimated to be around 1600 crores and Titan is riding on top of it with a market share of over 50%.
This is a super brand that has changed the way we look at ( or wear) watches. A marketing success story, Titan is a brand that will be of interest to most of the marketers.

Titan , a brand from TATA was launched in 1987. During that time Indian watch market was dominated by HMT . At that time watches were seldom stylish and was catering to the basic need of knowing the time. Titan changed all that. With its stylish watches and smart advertising ,Titan took the market by storm. Titan infact changed the way watches was manufactured and marketed in India.
HMT , a public sector company seldom bothered to respond.

Titan initially pioneered the concept of " Gifting watches". The ads captured the essence of gifting and along with the trendy music, easily caught the imagination of the market.
Customers who were fed up with ugly time machines welcomed the brand and Titan had a dream run for many years.

Titan faced lot of problems later when the competition began to eat up the lower end of the market. Besides that, there was another problem. The brand was lacking innovation. To be more precise, the customers were bored by Titan.There was nothing new. Gifting proposition was no longer working .

During this period, Titan made a big mistake. It wanted to play the volume game. For that Titan launched another brand Sonata. Sonata was a huge success because it was a cheap product but at the cost of the mother brand Titan. Titan was perceived to be a premium brand but with Sonata ( at that time " Sonata from Titan") endorsed by Titan took away the premium image from the mother brand. It was a big costly mistake.

Titan realised this mistake and took away the Titan brand from Sonata. Now Sonata is endorsed by Tata not Titan.

Titan realising that the market wanted something to be excited about watches began an extensive marketing campaign. Titan carefully segmented the market and developed different subbrands for each segment. Sub brands like Edge, Steel, Dash, Nebula , Classique, Royale, Fast Track , Raga, and the recently launched Wallstreet . By having various products / models and subbrands, Titan was able to create freshness about the brand.

Titan also moved away from gifting . Titan was positioning itself as a fashion accessory rather than a time keeping device.
Titan also found its persona in Aamir. Aamir provided the much needed edge to the brand. Titan was careful in keeping the brand above the celebrity.
The ads were fresh and neatly executed.

Titan also was pushing another strategy . Watches was perceived as a one time buy and consumers seldom owned multiple watches. So Titan pushed the concept of " Matching Watches to Clothes" in the recent commercials.

Since men are becoming more serious customers of fashion accessories, this is strategy that is worth trying out. For Titan, even if the concept fails, It has created the much needed freshness in the brand.
Titan also made its presence in the ladies watch segment. It have a sub brand Raga targeting the upwardly Mobilee ladies in the premium segment.
Titan also relaunched the FastTrack brand of watched aiming the target segment of 18-30 yrs old.
Earlier Fasttrack was targeted at 20-25 year olds and positioned along the line " Cool watches from Titan". Then the company found out that the youth in the age group of 11-20 years account for 42% of watch buying in India. Based on this insight the company relaunched the brand lowering the target segment to 18-30 year olds with the baseline " How many you have?". Again the strategy aimed at promoting the multiple watch owning concept. Fasttrack also launched a range of fashion accessories like Sunglasses trying to be a lifestyle brand.

Indian watch market is clearly segmented and lot of serious players are fighting out in these segments . The lower volume segment has HMT, Sonata , Maxima fighting it out. The mid segment has Titan, Timex etc and the premium segment has Titan ,Citizen etc. The super premium segment is also hotting up with lot of international brands setting shops in India.
Titan has carefully created a market for itself through careful segmentation and branding strategies.It is a brand that showed the world that Indians are good in Branding.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Yezdi (1961-1995) : RIP

Brand: Yezdi
Company: Ideal Jawa India Ltd

A brand that was once the heartthrob of Indian urban Youth is now resting in peace...

A case of marketing myopia...

I am not sure why I chose this brand , may be because of nostalgia. During my school days me and my brother used to argue as to whether Yezdi or Bullet is the best.

This bike was manufactured by Ideal Jawa Ltd with technical collaboration with Jawa of Czechoslovakia. Ideal Jawa started its operations in 1960 .Yezdi ( that time Jawa ) was in Indian roads from 1961. During 1960's Indian roads were ruled by scooters. Bikes were not at all popular due to mechanical issues and low mileage.

During that period , there were only three serious players in the Indian motorcycles market. Bullet, Rajdoot and Ideal Jawa. Rajdoot was popular in rural areas because of sturdy suspension. Bullet and Jawa were popular in the urban market.
Yezdi was targeting the youth with the positioning of " Forever Bike Forever Value" . Since it was a seller's market, what ever that was produced were lapped up by Indian consumers.

1980's saw a sea change in the Indian two wheeler market. Japanese technology entered the Indian market through joint ventures. The market saw lot of new 100 cc bikes which were more fuel efficient and easy to ride.
Ideal Jawa was having a blind eye. It refused to accept the realities. When the consumer attitudes changed, Jawa refused to change . Customers wanted Bikes that offered mileage, style and comfort. Japanese bikes provided all that. This period also showed the shift of Indian consumers from scooters to motorcycles.
Yezdi had serious mechanical issues, especially the starting trouble. One had to pump about 20 times to get that machine started. It had no chance before the peppy new generation Japanese bikes.
Yezdi realised this late and came out with some design changes and new launches like Roadking which had a new styling. But it was too late.
Failing market and labour problems took its toll on Ideal Jawa . Yezdi was laid to rest in 1995. Had Yezdi changed its products in tune with the customer needs, we would have seen a lot of this bike on Indian roads. but alas ....
Once an Icon, Yezdi has now faded in to the annals of history.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Parker : Why use a pen that's not a Parker!

Brand: Parker
Company : Luxor Writing Instruments Ltd
Agency :Lowe
Indian writing instruments industry is worth around 1600 crores . Luxor is a major player in the market with a market share of around 15%.

Parker is a brand that is well established in this market. Parker is manufactured and marketed in India by Luxor Writing Instruments Ltd (LWIL). Parker was launched in India in 1996. Luxor had a joint venture with Gillette which owned the brand at that time. In 2000 Gillette sold the brands to $9 Billion major Newel Rubbermaid. That included the 50:50 joint venture with Luxor. Later the Jains bought the entire stake in the joint venture. Now LWIL have the 100 right to manufacture and market Parker Pens in India.

The writings instruments market can be classified into premium, middle and economy segment. There are many established players in this market like Reynolds, ADD Gel,Todays, Camlin etc.

While the premium segment is dominated by super expensive brands like Mont Blanc , Cartier etc, the economy segment is dominated by local players. All the action is in the middle segment which consists of College students, Executives Businessmen etc.
Parker pen was born in 1888 in Janeswille Wisconsin US. The pen was created by George Safford Parker who was a teacher of telegraphy. He started the business as a source of additional income.
The famous Arrow Clip that is the trademark of Parker was created by Joseph Platt in 1933.
Parker pens have a rich heritage. The treaty of peace ending the 1898 Spanish- American Civil war was inked using Parker pen. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle drafted the stories of Sherlock Holmes using Parket pen. The list contains the Who is Who of American History.

Parker was considered to be a premium brand in India ( before Mont Blanc and Co's landed with rs l lakh and above pens) . The brand had an aspirational value attached to it. Then LWIL decided to shed the premium image to play the volume game.
Earlier Parker was priced above Rs100. Research found that the price put off a large segment of the market. The market was dominated by Reynolds ( again a Rubbermaid brand) marketed by GM Pens. The TG for this segment was the school/ college kids and this segment was growing. Reynolds is leading with a market share of 12% and Luxor umbrella brands are next with 10% market share followed by players like Cello and Todays.

Parker then launched Parker Beta for Rs 50 aiming this segment and play the volume game.

Parker is endorsed by none other than Big B. Some ads are lousy and some very good. I like the ones with the baseline " Why use a pen that's not a Parker" .

Since the lower segments of the pen market lacks brand loyalty, BigB can make a difference . LWIL by using BigB aims to connect and identify with young and old alike.

There are other players like ADD Gel which carved a niche in this crowded market with their Gel pens. Now Gel pen market is worth around 350 crore.

Parker was a brand that had the elegant premium touch to it with its rich tradition and quality. But with the launch of lower priced Parker range, the premium and the exclusivity has been compromised . Now the Parker range is available from Rs 50- 5000. Big B to certain extent salvage the pride of Parker. But when the brand tries to play the volume game, it is difficult to sustain the premium. Thus Parker is losing out the Executive segment where pens are used as Accessory. Its is a void that is waiting for a brand.

As one of my colleague after buying a Parker Beta commented " Parker has become Cheap".

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Sunfeast : Spreading the smile

Brand : Sunfeast
Company : ITC Ltd
Agency " FCB Ulka

Can a cigarette manufacturer succeed in marketing Biscuits? What do management thinkers say about unrelated diversification? Unrelated diversification will succeed if it is based on the core competency of the firm. So What is the core competency of ITC that is being leveraged when it decided to enter the Foods market. ITC relies on three core competencies

1. The depth of distribution

2. Its brand building capabilities.

3. The ability of Quality outsourcing.

Sunfeast has been a success because of these three competencies of ITC. Sunfeast was launched in 2003 was one of the diversification forays of ITC which wanted to establish itself as a serious FMCG player from its position of Tobacco products leader. ITC had the advantage of the well entrenched distribution setup which is matched only by HLL.

Indian biscuit market is estimated to be around 4500 - 5000 crore. The market is dominated by Parle and Britannia. Parle is the volume leader with brands like parle- G, Krackjack and Monaco while Britannia is the value leader with brands like 50: 50, milk bikis, Tiger, Goodday etc. The biscuit market has now moved from the core Glucose base to more value added categories. The key markets are UP, Maharashtra, and Tamilnadu. The percapita consumption of biscuits in India is only 1.2 kg per annum while the percapita consumption is 15 kg p.a in developed nations. While the glucose biscuits are popular in Rural India , Urban market prefer Cream biscuits.

To establish a brand in this tough market was never easy. Sunfeast using heavy promotion and careful brand building have already garnered 10% market share in this market. Sunfeast is positioned as an exciting brand. This platform is supported by a series product launches. Since Biscuits are convenience goods , new tastes and new products are essential to built excitement in the market. Sunfeast have maintained continous series of new launches like Milky Magic, Coconut, strawberry, pineapple cream etc. Recently Sunfeast launched a product for the premium segment named " Dark Fantasy" with chocolate flavour and cool advertisements.

Sunfeast have used the baseline " spread the smile" as the brand essence and the brand is endorsed by Shah Rukh Khan. The use of SRK makes sense since the TG is mainly kids . SRK have the energetic persona that goes well with the brand. The mascot of Sunfeast is the Animated Sun which is the symbol of contentment, satisfaction and Pleasure. This mascot has been well received by the TG. The ad campaigns are catchy and full of colors and excitement. The product is also of very high quality. Thus Sunfeast has managed to get all the winning combinations in the right mix.

Sunfeast is also trying to garner more share in the Marie category which is estimated to be around 600 crore. It launched the Marie with different flavours that has enabled it to gain a strong foothold in that category. To expand the brand in to the snack category Sunfeast has launched Pasta Treat which talks of a healthy snacking option for kids.

Sunfeast also uses lot of Below the line promotions for brand building. It sponsors Sunfeast Open, a recent initiative aiming at the school kids by providing them an opportunity to enhance creativity through painting competitions, " Hara Bano " campaign which set a world record in planting maximum number of saplings etc.

The constant product launches and careful promotions have enabled Sunfeast to move to the top league in the biscuit market with in a span of 3 years. We may see this brand expanding to many categories .Hope they don't mess the brand by extending it to underwears.

Sunfeast : A marketing success story.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Parachute : Branding a commodity.

Brand : Parachute
Company: Marico
Agency:Ambience Publicis

This is a success story of branding of a commodity. Hair oils and its use are deeply ingrained in to the Indian Psyche. This is a 1500 crore industry which is dominated by unbranded oils. The branded category accounts to around 600 crore. The majority of the hair oil segment is occupied by Coconut oil.

This is a market that have very low entry barrier and that is the reason why the market is dominated by unbranded oils. Marico in early 1990's made a bold step in launching a brand in this segment. Paracute manufactured by Bombay Oil Mills was acquired by Marico in 1990's. Marico was a sister concern of Bombay Oil Mills.

Parachute is the market leader in the branded hair oil market with a market share of around 53%. Marico has positioned Parachute in the platform of purity. This focus on purity clearly differentiated the product from the rest of the unbranded oils .The purity was reinforced by careful packaging and communication. The brand was established emphasising Caring and Mother - Daughter relationship.Parachute knew the pulse of the urban market and emphasised that the oil is non greasy and prompted the TG to experience the brand

During the early 2000's the market witnessed a shift. Marico found that the market for hair oil is degrowing, because the consumer preferences are changing. The youth now didnt want to have Oil - on- their hair look. This prompted Marico to look into the Value Added hair Oil market which was dominated by Dabur Vatika. Parchute's mother brand was also facing competition from Nihar of HLL stable.

Marico decided to depend less on the basic Parchute oil and we saw a series of new product launches. Marico launched Parachute with jasmine fragrance which was well received by the market. Also came Parachute Advansed and Parachute Sampoorna. Parachute Advansed account is with McCann while others are handled by Ambience.

2005 saw a Bold ( or foolish) step from Marico . We saw the launch of Parachute Aftershower hair cream. This is the first non oil product from Parachute . Marico roped in Yuvraj as the brand ambassador . The product is positioned as a Non sticky and with Zingy perfume. The product is launched with the base line " style on every day".

People in Marico and Ambience are better marketing minds than me. But I have doubts about this brand extention. Parachute has been a category leader & almost generic to coconut hair oil. Extending this brand to men's toiletories seem totally out of box or should I say out of mind?
As one of my readers pointed out " there are many financial pressures that outsiders cannot understand" . I do agree to that also.

But when a brand known for its coconut oil, targeted at women and positioned along the mother - daughter relationship, extends it to a men's category, will it survive?

Will men accept a feminine brand? If Marico advertises Parachute for men, will women accept that brand?

Then what is parachute? a coconut oil, after shower for men ? hair oil?
The price is attractive , so men may buy it.
I am confused.......... Am I a target consumer?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Amaron : Lasts Long , Really Long . TingTong !

Brand : Amaron
Company :Amara Raja
Agency: O&M

Amaron is a disruptive brand in the automotive segment. Launched in mid 2000 , this brand has created some excitement in the rather dull automotive battery market in India. Amara Raja has been a leading player in the industrial battery segment. In 2000 they forayed in the lucrative Automotive battery market which is predominantly dominated by players like Exide.

Automotive battery market can be categorized into two: OEM and replacement market. OEM segment is dominated by established players while replacement market is dominated by local players and other non branded batteries.

Car Battery replacement is viewed as a grudge purchase by the car owners. No one thinks of battery until it breaks down. This product comes under the category of High Involvement and Low Interest product. We can consider this as a slow moving consumer good .
Amaron wanted to differentiate itself from the existing players in the market. It had to do so because the product category is SMCG with low interest. So the question is how to create that excitement. The Indian automotive battery market is worth around 1200 crore. Organised players constitute 40% of that market.
The first thing the company has done was to create the product differentiation with respect to the product feature. Amaron decided to bringout the Zero maintenance battery into the Indian market ( I think it is the first company to do so). That means that we needn't check for the water level and so on.
Amaron also ensured that the product commands the best quality so that the product can be positioned as a premium brand.

Then came the form differentiation. Conventional batteries were all looking alike with a transparent body and blue/ red top. Amaron decided on a black body with fluorescent green logo splashed over. There was also another reason for the black body. There is a possibility of government regulations stipulating the use of Recycled plastics for battery. Amaron is using such plastics so it need not effect the changes once the regulations are implemented. And since the water level needn't be checked, Black body will have no problem for the customers.

The purpose of using fluorescent green was that since our country is very hot, the color should stay in Promotional materials , hoarding and in the product. So green was chosen.

Then came the differentiation regarding the advertising. Amaron decided that it will do the breakaway advertising. Traditionally conventional battery ads seldom sells battery. It is the sheer distribution and the presence of well established brand name that does the selling.
So Amaron wanted its ads to look different and establish the brand name in this crowded market.
So O&M decided to have a un-battery like campaign for Amaron. For the first time in India "Claymation" ie using clay models + animation was used for advertising .Amaron ads were classic examples of " Clutter busting". The ads were attention grabbing and outright funny. It won many awards for the agency and Amaron grabbed 6% market share in a short span of time. The Amaron Campaign Pandu Mangal has been well received by the public and research shows that Amaron has a top of the mind brand recall . The ads coupled with claymation and hyperbole effectively communicates the positioning of " lasting long" . The jingle "TingTong" has also been a smash hit.
This is a brand that is a classic case of smart marketing and careful differentiation. I hope this brand " Lasts Long, really long" ( I just bought one for my car !) Ting Tong.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Colorplus : Underwear ? ... a rejoinder

In my earlier blogs I have praised Colorplus owners ( Raymonds) for their careful brand strategy and execution. I have in that blog wished that Raymonds will not mess up that brand. Seeing today's newspaper, I got the shock of my life , an ad of Colorplus Underwear. One of the best Brand Extensions I have ever seen in my life !!!

Let us see the rationale behind this wonderful extension. Colorplus is a respected brand in the premium menswear category. Men wear underwear. So men in the premium segment wear Premium Underwear. So why not launch a Premium Underwear ?. And since Colorplus is a premium brand, why not launch a Colorplus underwear?

Will it dilute the mother brand? No yaar, it is premium isn't it? Underwear always add value to the premium image of the brand. Oops !!!
Can it be called a backward integration ? May be a better word will be "undergration".

Well! enough of criticism! I thought I will do some research to find out why such a drastic move from Colorplus.
Hold your breath !
The Indian men's Innerwear market is worth around Rs 2500 crore ( I am also surprised!). The market is dominated by local and regional players. The organized branded innerwear market is estimated to be around Rs 750 crores. The premium innerwear market is worth Rs 120-150 crore.More interestingly this is a market which is witnessing a double digit growth.
No wonder ColorPlus is caught "Pants down"

The men's innerwear market is dominated by VIP with over 20% market share. The brand has been there for long and has established itself across the segments. Recently there has been lot of activity in the premium segment of the market.
2004 saw the launch of Hanes innerwear in the Indian market.Hanes is a 105 years old global brand which is worth around $2.2 Billion. The brand is launched in India by Sara Lee India Ltd. Hanes has targeted itself with "original Tagless Comfort". The emphasis on "Tagless " comes from the global research which showed that 2 out of 3 men are irritated by the tags in the innerwear. The brand is launched in India with some smart advertising from Mccann.
Another major player is the 125 years old global brand Jockey which has around 25% share in the premium segment of the market. This year also saw the Vanheusen brand from Madura Garments "Undergrating "to Underwears

But should you launch such innerwear through an extension?. This is a big market with a potential for a new brand. 2500 crore is a huge market. Why not a new brand exclusively for innerwear like VIP? Why should a Brand like Colorplus be diluted by a half hearted move in a new segment?
See the distribution dilemma that the brand will face .
To have a large market share , the ColorPlus innerwear has to be in all the shops that sell innerwears, that include small textile shops. If the company decides on an intensive distribution, then this premium brand will be visible to the customer in non premium outlets thus diluting the premium image and the exclusivity.
Again if the brand is restricted to select outlets, then the volume will not justify the brand extension, because convenience of purchase is an important criterion in this segment since the value of the product is low.Customers may not travel to a large textile shop to make such a purchase.

Well , If Colorplus is a brand that has been nurtured through careful advertising , this is an extension that could have been avoided.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Maggi : Its different

Brand : Maggi
Company: Nestle
Agency" Publicis

Maggi owned by Nestle is a brand that created a category for itself in the Foods market in India. The brand which is famous for the Noodles has evolved into the umbrella brand for Nestle in the Food segment.

Nestle launched its noodles in the Indian market in the early 1980's. Nestle wanted to explore the potential for such an Instant food among the Indian market. It took several years and lot of money for Nestle to establish( I would say create) its Noodles brand in India . Now it enjoys around 50% market share in this segment which is valued at around 250 crores.

Maggi has faced lot of hurdles in its journey in India. The basic problem the brand faced is the Indian Psyche. Indian Palate is not too adventurous in terms of trying new tastes. That may be the reason why we are still stuck with Idli and Sambhar.
So a new product with a new taste that too from a different culture will have difficulty in appealing to Indian market.

Initially Nestle tried to position the Noodles in the platform of convenience targeting the working women. But it found that the sales are not picking up despite heavy promotion .Research then showed that Kids were the largest consumers of the brand. Realising this, Nestle repositioned the brand towards the kids using sales promotions and smart advertising.
Now Indians are the largest eaters of Maggi Noodles in the world. Maggi Noodles is a marketing success story.

During 1997 Maggi changed its formulation. It was during that time that Indo Nissin - a Japanese company launched its Noodles brand "Top Ramen" with lot of promotion and with SRK endorsing the brand. TopRamen gave Maggi a run for its money. The change in taste of Maggi was a mistake. The consumers rejected the new taste of Maggi. And in 1999 Maggi relaunched Noodles with the original taste. Nestle was ready to accept the consumers verdict and it paid off handsomely. Top Ramen could not sustain the growth it had for long.

Maggi's campaigns were revolved around its "convenience to make and good to eat " qualities. Ready in " 2 minutes " was a proposition that was well received by the market.

In 2005 Nestle made a very smart move. It knew that although kids love noodles, the parents were bothered about the health aspect of Noodles which was made of Maida. Hence Maggi launched Maggi Atta Noodles with the baseline " taste bhi health bhi" .Reports suggest that after 10 months of the launch , the product has been well received by Indian consumers. Maggi noodles is an example of a brand that knows the customer and willing to learn from the mistakes.

Maggi also tried to leverage the success of the Noodles to other food products like sauces , tastemakers , soups etc.
Maggi sauces needs special mention because it is another success story. Maggi have a market share of 45% in the 180crore ketchup market in India. Maggi leveraged the brand equity very effectively. The product quality was good and the communication was excellent. The brand was positioned as a "Different" sauce with the baseline " Its different".

Customers was intrigued as to what is different about the brand and was curious to try the sauce ( may be surprised to find nothing different,but that is marketing honey!). The ads featuring Javed and Pankaj kapoor was superb and funny. It was created by JWT. The new campaigns are handled by Publicis and the baseline has been changed to " enjoy the difference".
There was no need to change the baseline,may be ad agencies have an ego problem in accepting the creativity of another agency. So agencies change the baseline even at the cost of the brand.In this case even though the new baseline " enjoy the difference" was not very different from the old one, was it a change for the sake of change ?
I strongly feel that the brand managers should take the ownership of the brand and the way it is communicated. If it is left to agency alone, every time the agency changes, the communication changes.
Maggi after its long and tough journey is enjoying its well deserved success. Let us wait and watch for more journeys of Maggi.