Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Consumer Insight : Insurance is a Subject Matter of Solicitation

If you have seen any advertisement of Insurance products, you may not have missed this disclaimer " Insurance is a subject matter of solicitation ".

As a consumer , this disclaimer/warning is of utmost importance but often ignored.

What is the meaning of the clause " Insurance is a subject matter of solicitation".

The dictionary meaning of solicitation is " Ask For". Hence insurance is a subject that should be asked for . It means that customers have to talk to an adviser who will suggest the right product for your needs. Insurance should not be SOLD but Solicited......

Sounds out of the world isn't it ?

How many of us have asked for Insurance ?

In India, insurance is sold not solicited. Hence this dictum seem totally meaningless OR is it ?

If you read the terms and conditions put forth by Insurance companies, one will find relevance to this dictum.

The above dictum have relevance to consumers because it puts the responsibility for selecting the right product on the consumers than on the company. The website of a leading insurer states " Customer's participation in the insurance products are purely on a voluntary basis ".

As a consumer, the responsibility lies in
Understanding one's insurance needs .
Meet with a trained financial adviser.
Selecting the right product
Signing the contract.

But we know that most of the consumers are not aware about either their needs or the various options available before them. Hence the consumers have to obtain the help from a trained insurance advisor who will " advise " the customers and then help them to select the right product .

In practice, we find that none of the above applies. Insurance advisers take up the role of pure selling machines trying to " close" the sale rather than " advice " the customers. Companies put pressure on their agents to achieve targets often forgoing the basic dictum that drive this business.
While in the developed markets like USA , the actions of financial planners are highly regulated, here the onus is on the customers . CAVAET EMPTOR.... Buyers beware....

Most of the insurance firms also does not practice the dictum iof solicitation in its pure essence. If you have listened to any of the recent " sales talk" of advisers, they pitch the ULIP plans irrespective of whether you like investing in stock market or not.

There is no analysis of one's financial position or insurance needs. ( There are professional financial /insurance advisers who do all the right things but many doesn't) .

It is because of this non-professional selling approach that makes customers run away from an important product like insurance.

If insurance firms practiced what they preached, then insurance would have gained a much higher value as a product. And insurance sales persons would be regarded as a friend rather than a nightmare.

99% of my MBA students hate to get into a job in an insurance company. Much of this hatred happened because we forgot that we should sell the right kind of product to the right kind of consumers. As a customer I believe that insurance is one of the most important products which helps a consumer to be secure. But alas.....

In my experience as a prospective customer, I met only one advisor who professionally and systematically explored my insurance needs. Rest of all were trying to " sell " me insurance.

The million dollar question for an Insurance salesperson is

Will you walk away from a consumer for whom you do not have a right product ? Will you recommend your competitor's product to him if it fits his need ?

Its time for the insurance companies to Walk the Talk.... It is tough... your quarterly results will show negligible growth. But consumers will love you for it.....

Insurance is a subject matter of solicitation.

Marketing Funda : When Teaser Gets Teased

Read my article on Teaser ads published in Adclub Bombay Website here : When teaser gets teased

Monday, December 29, 2008

Zeiss : We Make it Visible

Brand : Zeiss
Company : Carl Zeiss India
Agency : Modern Medtech

Brand Analysis Count : 367

Carl Zeiss is a respectable name in the global lens' market. This decade old German company is named after its founder Carl Zeiss who was an optician. His company first started making lenses for microscopes and later extended his product range to cameras .

The company began its Indian operations in 1998. Although present in different verticals, the brand came into consumer space during 2005.

Carl Zeiss manufactures spectacle lenses under a joint venture with GKB Hi-Tech Lenses which is a home grown company. The spectacle lenses are sold under the brand Zeiss.

Indian spectacle lenses market is worth around $90 million ( Rs 360 Crore). Looking at the population, the potential is huge. But like many other products, this market is also dominated by unorganized sector which accounts for more than 75 % of the sales.

There are only two highly visible brands in the spectacle lenses category. One is the global major Essilor and other is Zeiss.

Zeiss has been trying to build its brand by consistently investing in media campaigns in India. It has been regularly advertising both in visual and print media.

The marketing of spectacle lenses is a difficult task because so far the category is regarded as a commodity. Consumers seldom ask for a specific brand of spectacle lenses since they are not aware of any brands neither they are aware of any specific advantages of using a branded spectacle lens.

So typically a consumer goes to the optician with his prescription and selects his spectacle frame and asks for the price of the lenses and gives the order. No where in the process , he asks for a particular brand for his lenses..
This offer tremendous opportunity for a marketer but it is not an easy task .
Zeiss has been trying to brand the commodity called spectacle lenses. But I am not impressed.

I have been watching the commercials of Zeiss for a while now. Frankly I did not knew that Zeiss was from the house of Carl Zeiss. I have heard about Carl Zeiss since the brand is famous as a camera lens. More over the latest mobiles from Sony and Nokia is now sporting Carl Zeiss lenses. Cameras which have Carl Zeiss lenses are often sold at a premium.

But the positioning strategy if Zeiss spectacle lenses is far from spectacular.

Watch the commercial here : Zeiss Spectacle lenses

The main USP of this brand is that it is branded...... Sounds funny isn't it ?

Zeiss is positioning itself as a spectacle with brand mark. For non-marketers, Brand Mark refers to the logo or symbol that the brand has.

I frankly does not understand the logic behind this positioning. Brand is defined as a name , term, symbol, logo which are used to identify and differentiate a product from the competitors .
But having a brand mark is never a differentiator. You cannot build a brand over its brand mark.....

Zeiss in their ads try to claim that " Brand nahi hai to style nahi " ( means if it is not branded, then it is not stylish ). It is true also. Consumers try to show off their brands. And successful brands are those where consumers are willing to act as living billboards.
Take Levi's or Nike, consumers are willing to show off. But not because they have brand marks.

First the company has to build a brand on certain core values or attributes . Once this is built, consumers will adopt the brand and act as the brand ambassadors. People does not buy Nike because it has the brand mark SWOOSH . But because they love the brand for its values embedded in " Celebrating authentic athleticism ". Consumers evangelize Apple not because of the brand mark but because of the innovation that is personified by the brand.

Here Zeiss has got it all wrong. Having a brand name or a logo is not suffice for consumers to love your brand. Brands should be built on strong attributes ( tangible or intangible). Brands with out brand values is at best a Label.

Zeiss thinks that its major competitors are the unbranded spectacle lenses. Hence the company feels that having a brand mark is the best differentiator. I was surprised to find that globally also the brand is positioned as a spectacle lens with laser marked brand mark.

Essilor has done a better job in promoting its brands like Transitions and Crizal. Consumers understand that these brands are having quality and certain important attributes.

Zeiss is a powerful global brand which has a reputation of being high quality manufacturer. The brand also has a powerful secondary association with the country of origin - Germany.

It should have taken some important attributes and promoted those attributes. Having a brand mark is an advantage but only after the brand is being built. People like others to see that their sunglass is a Ray-Ban because the brand has an image built on style and quality. Hence the Ray-Ban brand mark on the glasses make sense for the consumers.

First the brand has to understand the important attributes that customers look for in a spectacle lens. Then try to understand which are the most critical of those attributes which influences their decisions. Then develop the brand around those critical attributes. I don't think that the current USP of a brand-mark is considered important by consumers and is a sufficient reason for them to pay a premium for the brand.

Zeiss must go back and learn some basic brand building before investing such huge amount on money on meaningless campaigns.

Related Brand

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Brand Update : Bajaj Pulsar

Recently I saw an ad of Bajaj which showed that Bajaj XCD 125 is now in the DTSI Club . The DTSI which stands for Digital Twin Spark Ignition system was a technology patented by Bajaj.

This technology uses twin sparks at either end of the combustion chamber which gives faster combustion compared to the single spark plugs found in conventional engines. This twin sparks increases the power of the engine and offer better performance.

Bajaj did a great marketing move by patenting it and then branding this technology as DTSI. This is a classical case of ingredient branding. The DTSI was featured in the second generation Pulsar which was launched in 2003.

While Pulsar rode the wave in 2001 on the back of excellent styling and mind-blowing positioning , DTSI became the key differentiators for the brand after 2003. Pulsar was perceived to be a mean machine because of DTSI.

Pulsar thus created and ruled the performance bike category in India.

Its natural for any company to think of extracting maximum mileage out of a patented technology. Bajaj did just that by extending the DTSI technology to all its vehicle models including scooters . My doubt is whether Bajaj has commoditized the DTSI technology by extending it too much.

When DTSI was associated with Pulsar, it meant power , efficiency and performance . But what will DTSI mean when it is associated with a small scooter like Bajaj Krystal or a entry level bike like XCD.

Branding an ingredient is the same as branding a product. The consumers should feel that the ingredient brand is different from other ingredients . The concept of positioning also applies to ingredient brands.

In many ways, Bajaj has done correct strategies for DTSI. It patented it, protected it and branded the technology. But where it had failed was that it commoditized the ingredient brand.

Bajaj did not try to give a special personality for DTSI. Remember, DTSI had a strong secondary association with Bajaj Pulsar. Both the brands benefited out of this association. Pulsar used DTSI as a differentiator while DTSI got the performance tag from Pulsar.

But by making this technology available to all other brands without clearly looking at synergy was a big mistake from Bajaj. I have no doubt that the extension of DTSI technology to other brands will greatly help the sales of these brands . XCD will sell more when it has the DTSi technology.

When a measly powered scooter is also powered with DTSI, what is DTSI ? It had lost all its brand values which were power and performance. I don't think that XCD is anywhere near Pulsar in terms of power or performance. So in a way Bajaj has virtually killed this powerful ingredient brand.

The brand which is going to suffer most will be the flagship brand Pulsar. When every other Bajaj brands have DTSI, how is Pulsar different from rest of the crowd ?

The obvious answer will be the design. If it is so, then Pulsar could be beaten by any other bikes which are better designed. Having good looks is good for the brand but cannot be sustained over a period of time because :

Competitors can come with good looking bikes.
Designs can be outdated.

Both these are affecting Pulsar. Too many Pulsars on the road has made this brand dated in terms of looks. But DTSI was a powerful differentiator which cannot be copied since it was patented. But Bajaj , because of greed, faltered with one of the most powerful differentiators at its disposal.

Last month, I read a report saying that the newly launched Yamaha FZ 16 has become the number two brand in the 150 cc segment beating Apache RTR , Hero Honda Hunk and CBZ. In some markets, FZ also has beaten the market leader Pulsar. Without a clear differentiator, Pulsar is now more vulnerable than ever.

Is Bajaj listening ?????

Related Brand


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hyundai Accent : What Dreams Drive

Brand : Accent
Company : Hyundai Motors India
Agency : Innocean

Brand Analysis Count : 366

Accent is one of the highly successful long serving car brand in India. Launched in 1999 , this brand is now on its 10 th year in India. The simple fact that this brand has survived the highly competitive market in India speaks volume about the success of this brand.

Accent, when launched competed with the highly successful Maruti Esteem in luxury sedan market. While Esteem perished, Hyundai Accent is still managing its product lifecycle.

Accent is a brand which has survived only because of the product performance and quality. Frankly there is nothing to write about the marketing or branding strategy for this brand. Accent was a highly performing work-horse which was well designed quality product that offered excellent value for money. The company was able to make enough changes in the price which enabled the brand to ride the PLC effectively.

Accent now belongs to the entry level sedan market. When launched it was a premium car. Accent was an instant success because of its product quality and the rub-off from the success of Santro.

The company managed the product lifecycle of Accent using variants. Hyundai regularly updated Accent by launching different variants in line with the changing consumer expectations. There were four variants for Accent in 2002 which were GLS,GLX,GVS Tornado and Viva.

One of the most successful variants was the Accent Viva. VIVA launched in 2002 was positioned as a sporty sedan. The engine was tweaked to give more power and the variant was styled to give it a sporty look. Accent Viva was priced at a premium and was a successful niche variant.

In 2002 , the company launched the first diesel variant of Accent. The brand was the first one to launch the CRDI Diesel engine . Although the CRDI gained lot of interest, there was lot of problems for the diesel variants. Ultimately the diesel version was phased out in 2007.

Accent started losing in the segment when Ford launched Ikon . Later the segment became crowded with lot of product launches by the competitors.

At the branding front , except for the marketing of Santro, Hyundai in my opinion is a lousy advertiser. I don't remember any highly creative campaigns from them for any of their products be it i10, verna or Terracan. The quality of creatives for Santro also have come down drastically. They have always built their brands on the product performance.

For Accent also I don't remember any highy creative or good campaigns. But I remember some lousy ads of Accent trying to position it as a aspirational product. In those campaigns Accent had the tagline " Respect comes naturally ".

Accent had tried out different taglines during its different stages. The frequent changes in the tagline have really messed up the positioning of the brand. Accent is confused about whether it should focus on performance or image. The taglines of Accents were

Sheer Pleasure
Expect More
The Next Step
The Power to Excite
What dreams drive

Although the taglines were more performance oriented, the ads especially the television commercials was unfocused. The agency failed to understand that the core brand value for Accent was its product performance and value for money proposition.

Even in 2008 , Accent topped the segment in customer satisfaction in a survey done by TNS.

There were many rumors about the phasing out of Accent. But like Maruthi, Hyundai also does not believe in phasing out old brands. Auto analysts was predicting the phase out primarily because the brand was considered dated. It has been around for 10 years and consumers have become bored by the brand.
The rumor was further fueled with the launch of another mid size sedan Verna. In global markets Verna is sold as the new generation Accent . And in USA , Accent ( Verna) is one of the largest selling economy sedan.

With the launch of Verna, Hyundai reduced the number of variants for Accent. Now Accent has only one variant.

But Hyundai had other plans for Accent. In 2008 Accent was launched in CNG version. The CNG version is expected to boost the sagging sales of this brand. The launch also is an indication that Hyundai is not going to phase out this brand. This year, Accent was relaunched as Accent Executive with spruced up interiors.

One of the strong points for Accent is its design. Accent is still looking great. If Hyundai plans to keep this brand alive , it should focus on the design. Accent can ride the PLC by positioning itself as a stylish brand. It should experiment with colors and graphics. The product quality is already established,what the brand needs is excitement.

At this stage of the PLC, Accent will get a boost if the brand is endorsed by a celebrity. A high profile young film star can rejuvenate the brand for sure.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Best Marketing Practice : Be Proactive to Rumours

Yesterday my wife told me about an internal mail she received at her office. It said that Kurkure contains plastic which makes it more crispier than other snack foods . Further Appyfizz contains cancerous substances and if you take Mentos and Pepsi together, you will die.....
So no Kurkure and Appyfizz for our child from now on.

I tried to show my " Professorial " knowledge by telling her that these are baseless rumors and all these products are safe. But she rubbished it aside saying that the mail come from a very trusted friend of her.......

I was little upset by her comments, not that she doesn't trust me but by the fact that such emails and rumors can create lot of issues for the brand. A call to one of my friend in advertising confirmed that these rumors were running around for more than three years.

Although internet offers lot of opportunities for brand promotion, the biggest threat comes in the way of such rumors.
There are two typical responses to such a kind of malicious rumor. Do nothing hoping for this rumor to die a natural death or be proactive and do something about such rumors.

Marketers should take proactive steps in countering such malicious rumors that can later snowball into a viral negative campaign.

When I did a small google search on Kurkure, I was surprised by the results. The first result that came was a Kurkure blog which negated the rumors. More than that there was a paid link to the FAQ site of Kurkure which clarified further than the rumor was baseless.

That is a proactive approach to handling such rumors by Kurkure.

Marketers cannot stop anyone from making such malicious rumors. But they can effectively negate such rumors by acting on it.

Have a website : Its important for brands to have a place for them in the virtual world. Since internet is a media one cannot ignore, it becomes important for the brand to have a site.
Scan the net for such rumors : Marketers should need to scan the negative news that spread across the internet. This should be done on a regular basis.

Negate the rumor using Search engine optimization : The brand should negate the rumor immediately with out waiting for it to spread. Most of the Search Engine Optimizers will help the company to keep their information on top of the search engine listing. My logic is that when a netizen gets a rumor email, he will search for further clarification. If the company is not providing such a clarification then he will take decision based on the judgement. I am sure that those people who forward such malicious email believe that it is true . Otherwise he will not forward it and risk his credibility.

Use Public Relations : The best tool to handle such events is to use the PR department. Use all mass media to convince the customers that the product is safe. Have a permanent link in your website to offer clarification about such reported rumors. If the rumor has snowballed into a big crisis, have your senior executives issue statement clarifying the issue. It it is health related, have doctors endorse your product's safety standards.

Open a channel for customers to contact you : The channel can be either an email or a phone number where the customers can clarify any doubts about the brand.

I know it will be difficult for a brand to react to each and every rumor that does the round. But the effort is well worth it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Brand Update : Kamasutra Condoms

After a long while, Kamasutra has come out with a new campaign. The current campaign is little different from the earlier ones in that the brand has shed the sensual route and has become more subtle.
The last campaign from Kamasutra was revolving around the theme of experimenting which was highlighted by the tagline " who do you want to be tonight ".

The latest ad shows a " button less world' where the guys roaming around with their button-less shirts. The teaser says " get ready to lose your buttons ".

Watch the TVC here : Kamasutra new ad

The brand has the new tagline " Most wanted men ".

This is a serious deviation from the core personality of the brand. KS is always perceived to be an extrovert, on-the face , open and a naughty brand which does not shy away from talking straight.
All through the life of this brand, its known to be controversial, sensual brand. Subtle was never this brand's character . So those who were expecting another set of shocking ads are bound to be disappointed.

The brand has also changed its tagline to " Most wanted men ". This new tagline is also a dampener. The tagline is very similar to that of Moods ( My Man !) . I think that the brand could have chosen some thing different from Mood's tagline.

Its interesting to note that in India, government is taking more initiative in promoting these products rather than the private players. Most of the condom marketers are not aggressive in their spends . One reason is that most of them are minting money by supplying it to the governmental agencies and NGO's . There are also reports that suggest that since government is selling cheap condoms through the same channel, premium condoms are losing the market.

In 2007 , the brand have extended itself to personal care by launching its range of deodorants and aftershaves. So far I have not seen any KS personal care products in super markets. I think it is an opportunity wasted.
KS have an equity which could be easily leveraged by the company in the personal care segment . It would have become a worthy competitor for Axe ,had the company "shamelessly " promoted this brand. How ever the company chose not to aggressively promote the personal care range. It would have filled the gap for a " Adult " personal care brand in the Indian market.

Related Brand


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Moser Baer : Rewriting the Future

Corporate Brand : Moser Baer
Agency : TBWA

Brand Analysis Count : 365

Moser Baer is a leading player in the optical media storage market in India. Not only that ,this Indian company is world's 5th largest manufacturer of Optical storage media. Founded in 1983, this brand has morphed from a business brand to a consumer brand.

Moser Baer started its operations by manufacturing time recorder units in collaboration with Maruzen Corporation of Japan. In 1998, the company diversified into manufacturing of 5.2 inch floppy disk. In 1999 the company went on to manufacturing of CD-ROMs and DVDs.

The Indian optical media industry is estimated to be around Rs 1500 crore. Moser Baer leads the market with a market share of around 40%. The brand is having a global share of around 20% in this industry.

The optical media storage industry is dominated by CD-ROMs. The trend is now moving towards DVD and latest Blu-Ray discs.

The CD/DVD industry is guided by the penetration of the respective disc drives . It is estimated that 75 % of the computers are sold along with the CD Drives and this factor have more impact on the sale of CDs at the consumer end.

If we look at the market evolution of these products, during the formative years, ordinary users never considered the CD drive as a part of the standard PC. CD Drives was considered as a luxury because of the high cost. This has severely restricted the popularity of CDs at the consumer end . CDs during those years was targeting the software segment.

When the CD drive price crashed, it became a part of the standard PC offering which paved the way for the popularity of CDs. Another big market for these products is in the entertainment sector.
Currently the market is moving towards DVD's since the cost of DVD writers/players have come down drastically.

Moser Baer operates in a market which is highly dynamic and volatile.This is a market which is full of disruptive innovations . One can never predict the lifecycle of a product. A small technological innovation can make a product irrelevant. It had happened in the case of Floppy Disks . The MP3 revolution has severely impacted the CD industry aswellas the entire music industry.

Hence to operate in such a volatile environment requires high flexibility in operations and strategy. The simple fact that Moser Baer was able to handle the Floppy to CD transition is a remarkable example of flexible product strategy. It takes corporate vision to identify the changes that are happening in the environment and then take a proactive step in addressing those issues.

It is not easy as we think. Take the example of CD replacing the Floppy Disk. The company has to first identify this as a disruptive innovation . Then they have to forecast the impact of this technology in their business. Then devise the strategy to handle that disruption. The problem here is timing. In technology marketing, timing is the key. We have seen big companies humbled by start-ups ( Microsoft Vs Google ) because the large firms fail to forecast the impact of these changing technologies on their business.

In the case of storage media disruptions are happening on a regular basis. We have seen Floppy Disk getting eliminated by CDs, CDs getting irrelevant by USB Disks, DVDs etc. There is heated argument whether DVD will be replaced by Blue-Ray discs

Look at the removable memory devises or the flask disks, these devices are increasingly making CDs irrelevant. These USB memory disks are portable , reusable and easy to use. These devices are a big competition for CD and DVDs. More over the various online file storing sites and file sharing sites makes life more dangerous for firms like Moser Baer.

So how will a company survive in such a very fluid environment.?

It calls for a very flexible product strategy. Such a strategy allows the managers to experiment and pull the company into different directions. Product Managers will be looking for emerging areas /technologies and will be investing in those new areas. Although this strategy is sexy, it is highly risky. Not all new technologies are disruptive. So it takes lot of wisdom and luck to spot and act on such a technology.

Last two quarters has been very bad for the company owing to the increase in the production cost and decrease in demand due to competition from other categories. One of the raw material for CD/DVDs is polycarbonate which is a byeproduct of oil industry. The rise in oil prices has increased the cost for this raw material.

It is this scenario which may have forced Moser Baer to undertake many related and unrelated diversification. In 2006, the company forayed into entertainment business. The company launched an entertainment division which focused on distribution of movie CD/DVD. The company procured around 10,000 movie titles and aggressively started distribution.

Moser Baer shocked the movie industry by launching movie CDs and DVDs for as low a price as Rs 28 and Rs 34 respectively. At that time, a DVD used to cost minimum Rs 150 and CDs at around Rs 80. The move made lot of sense because the expense for Moser Baer was limited to promotional and distributional expenses.

According to reports, Moser Baer adopted an FMCG model of distribution for these CDs. The reason was to drive the volumes in order to compensate for the low price. The low price of Moser Baer movie CDs was a deadly blow to the pirate- mafia which was a major threat to the entire movie industry.

This move of Moser Baer was complimented by the low priced DVD players that entered the Indian market. The price of a branded DVD player came to the level of 2000-5000 which enabled many households to own one.

Another diversification of Moser Baer was into the Rs 12000 crore PC peripheral market which include products like CD/DVD drives , hard disks, speakers etc. Moser Baer expects to corner 20 % of this lucrative market .
In the business market, Moser Baer has diversified into manufacturing of photo-voltaic cells which is used in harnessing solar energy.

A major unrelated diversification for this brand was into the consumer durables in 2008. Moser Baer entered the consumer durable space with a high decibel launch of LCD televisions and DVD players.

Watch the tvc here : Moser Baer

Although the corporate tagline for Moser Baer is " Rewriting the Future " , the company decided to have a seperate tagline " Ultra Life " for its consumer durable venture. The brand is projecting itself as the advanced fururistic technology brand. For the movie CD venture, the brand has another tagline " Hello Happiness ".

In a branding perspective, the same brand has three different positioning strategy in three different categories. Theoritically this will result in brand dilution.

I seriously doubt the logic behind Moser Baer entering a space where it has virtually no standing . It does not have the brand equity nor the marketing strength to fight the competition. In this space it will be fighting all the major consumer durable brands of the world like Sony, Philips, LG, Samsung, Onida, Panasonic and what not.

Moser Baer may be a well known brand in the CD category but it is a zero in the consumer durable space. The only advantage for the brand is the brand familiarity. Consumers have seen this brand but that is not sufficient to counter the competition of established brands like Sony.

Moser Baer is trying to fight the war using price as a proposition. The price of LCD TV is much lower than the established players. Hence the price + brand familiarity may give some head start for the brand.

Another serious issue for the brand will be the time and energy needed for Moser Baer to establish itself in the consumer durable space. The company may have to devote considerable resources , both money and managerial time ,to be successful as a consumer durable major. This will seriously impact the investment needed in its core business. In this period, when cash is the king, the brand may have to spend judiciously .

Moser Baer has also launched products like USB disks in order to pre-empt the competition from that category which makes more sense than the consumer durable venture. It could have spent more energy on establishing itself in the USB media space and even launch products similar to ipods.
It makes more sense if Moser Baer concentrated on Memory ,Storage and even PC peripherals space rather than spent valuable resources on highly competitive market like consumer durables

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bosch : Invented for Life

Corporate Brand : Bosch
Agency : Saatchi & Saatchi

Brand Analysis Count : 364

Have you ever thought about the brand of wipers you have in your car? Ever thought about the brand of spark-plug of your bike ? How many of us have insisted to the mechanic that we need a specific brand of spark-plug or a wiper ?

Compare that to a consumer insisting on Pentium Core Duo for his computers.

Welcome to the world of ingredient branding.

Bosch want to be the Intel in the auto world or I would rephrase it to Bosch has the potential to be the Intel of Automotive industry.

Bosch is world's largest auto-component manufacturer with more than 275 subsidiary companies spread across the globe.Bosch has a history dating back to 1886 when Robert Bosch founded the company which was known as Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.

The company came to India in 1951 as Motor Industries Company Ltd ( MICO) . The company established itself as a leader in spark-plugs . Infact MICO was almost generic to spark-plugs. At the not-so visible engineering industy, Bosch is famous of its motors, power tools, braking systems, etc.

Bosch India has operations in for verticals
Automobile components
Industrial technicals
Consumer goods and
Engineering and IT services.

In 2008 the company decided to rebrand its entire operations in India under the name Bosch .
Under this rebranding exercise , the company is currently running a heavy campaign across various media.
Watch the TVC here : Bosch

Before rebranding , MICO also invested heavily in building its brand presence across the country. Most of us are familiar with these names although we are not quite directly in touch with the products.

There are two markets for most of Bosch's products ( automotive) - Institutional and After market .
The institutional segment consists of the OEM segment where the consumers use Bosch products as a part of the standard equipment. The after market segment consists of the replacement of the worn-out products .

Bosch have a strong foundation in the OEM segment and has relationship with most of the major automotive companies in India. The brand was in news recently for collaboration with Tata Motors for the Nano project.
In the replacement market, the consumers leave the decision of spare parts to the workshops and the marketing is done through the distributors and dealers.

Bosch is a brand known for its engineering excellence and innovation. According to Superbrands.org, Bosch registers 2750 patents every year. The company is famous for its inventions like
Diesel fuel injection
Power tools
Bosch Traction control
Electronic stability program etc.

Infact the Bosch founder Robert Bosch was the first to introduce the eight hour work schedule long before it became a norm.
Another interesting fact about the company is that 92 % of Bosch is owned by a charity foundation and most of the profits are ploughed back to the company for growth and expansion. It is one of those rare private companies which are owned by a charitable foundation.

Bosch is a brand founded on innovation . The core brand value is innovation and engineering excellence. In 2004 , the brand acquired the tagline " Invented for Life " . The brand has lived up to its promise of innovation.

Another interesting fact which I discovered during my study on this brand was about Blaupunkt. Blaupunkt is a brand owned by Bosch ( I never knew that ! ). In 1929 Bosch launched the first car stereo radio system which created the way for the world famous Blaupunkt brand.

Bosch's branding initiative come under the ingredient branding. This is a special case of co-branding where we brand ingredients, components or parts which are contained within other branded products ( Kevin Lane Keller ) .

Although the current brand campaign by Bosch is driven by the rebranding exercise, I see an opportunity for Bosch to create an identity in the consumer's mind also. From my personal experience, my wiper for my car was not working properly and I changed it twice but still it shows problems. After seeing the ad, I am going to ask my mechanic to put Bosch wipers.

Although this may be a one-off case, it shows an opportunity for the brand in the after market. Battery marketers like Exide , Ameron etc had built the brand slowly using consumer targeted campaigns. Now consumers have started insisting on these battery brands.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Brand Update : Tata Indicom

Tata Indicom is currently running a new brand campaign extending the concept of " Listen to your heart " ( suno dil i awaaz " ) positioning. The new positioning is being reinforced using several tvcs featuring various celebrities . The brand has roped in Himesh Reshammiya, Karan Johar, Lalit Modi, Prachi Desai, Irfan and Yusuf Pathans as the brand ambassadors.

The ads shows these self-made successful persons talking about how they listen to their heart and achieved their dreams. All these personalities chose their profession based on their interest often defying the advice of their relatives and friends. The brand is celebrating their success.
This is classic case of brand laddering is supported by a 360 degree campaign by Tata Indicom including events, outdoors and conventional media vehicles.

After some rustic campaigns using Kajol and Ajay Devgan, the brand has finally found its core positioning platform.
I liked the slogan and the execution of the repositioning exercise. But somehow I fail to see a strong connect between the current positioning and the product. When Airtel talks about " expressing yourself " , its easy for us to connect to their core service.

But it is little difficult " listen to your heart " and Tata Indicom service. Hence the brand should have first established the connection between the current positioning and the brand.
According to the reports, the brand 's core idea is to empower people to listen to your heart. But where will the product fit in ?
Is it that you listen to your heart using Indicom
Those who use Indicom are the ones who have listened to their hearts ?

May be the brand is using the second proposition. Tata Indicom in a sense is trying to create the brand personality using these celebrities.

But I still feel the disconnect ..........

What do you think ?

Related Brand
Tata Indicom

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Marketing in Recession

In my earlier post , I had pointed out some strategies for marketers to counter the recession. I think that Indian firms have realized that there is going to be a significant slowdown in the coming quarter.

Auto companies have taken a proactive step by reducing the prices. Most of the auto giants like Maruthi, Hyundai, Tata etc have reduced their prices by a significant amount. This move was further aided by the Central Government reducing the excise duty. These companies hope that the price reduction may boost sales.

But there is a limit to what a marketer can do inorder to tackle the slowdown. The marketer have limited option of reducing prices , increasing promotions etc . But these actions will not be sufficient to tackle the systemic issues that created this meltdown.

I am not an economist and hence I may not be able to give a detailed economic view of the current crisis. For that you may check out Harvard University Professor Greg Mankiw 's blog ( warning : its full of economics ) or IIM A Professor Jayanth Varma's blog ( warning : its full of finance ).

I am presenting my view about the larger issues that both the industry and the policy makers should be addressing. I am talking not as a marketing academic but as a middleclass consumer.

The current crisis that we face in India is different from that of USA. We currently do not have the sub-prime crisis . Although there is a real estate bubble, our banking system is sufficiently protected ( I hope so !) . But we face the ripple effect from the global crisis.

Indian Government has been proactive in its steps to ensure liquidity and providing confidence to the consumers and industries. To that extent, things are moving in the right direction.

I think that we have failed to understand the real issue behind this slowdown. The real problem is the slowing down of consumer demand and not the liquidity. Many marketers are pressuring governments to allow liberal credit to the consumers. That means banks will be offering easy credit to consumers which will then boost demand.

It will be suicidal to boost demand using cheap credit. The US market suffered because most of the growth was based on cheap credit.

I think that the consumer demand is going to go down more rapidly in 2009, because of the negative news spreading ( that includes this post also). If you examine the reason behind the eroding consumer confidence , there is only one - Job security.

When people lose jobs, they stop spending ( common sense). When the news of lay offs spreads, everyone stops spending and starts saving. The more the job losses, the more the fall in demand.When demand drops, companies cut jobs.....This is a vicious cycle

So when firms cut jobs, they are contributing to the bigger mess. This problem has a bigger magnitude in Indian context. Unlike USA, we don't have social security and most of the companies also doesn't provide one.

When Barack Obama talked about protecting US jobs and creating new jobs, I think he is moving in the right direction to tackle the fundamental issues.In India also , Prime Minister had made an appeal to corporates not to cut jobs ( there are political reasons for that since elections are around the corner).

It is time for the government to think about a broader social security plan in India. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is one of such initiative but not enough. I am not sure whether government is in a position to create a social security system , but some thinking has to be done in this direction.

Instead of social security , India have a provident fund system which has been made mandatory by law to certain class of employees. When economy was in a boisterous mood, we do not think about any of these things. Concepts like long-term growth, life long employment, loyalty all became old fashioned. I think this is the time where we have to revisit those old values.

Consumers tend to spend lavishly when he feels secure. Jobs offer him security. India saw a consumer boom when there was plenty of jobs. When the jobs started losing, demand also came down.

Any move to ensure easy credit without creating stable jobs will have serious repercussions. It would take an effort from both the employees and owners to start building a new culture .

I don't know whether this post make any economic sense ?... What do you think ?

Related Post

Marketing During Recession

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tempo Traveller : Quality is the Key

Brand : Traveller
Company : Force Motors

Brand Analysis Count : 363

In 1983 the Firodia group entered into a collaboration with Diamler Chrysler for the production and use of OM616 engine for their vehicles in India. This was the beginning of the successful LCV manufacturer Bajaj Tempo.

In 1987 the Bajaj Tempo launched Tempo Traveller in the Indian market. The product powered by the famed Mercedes engine created a new experience in the commercial passenger vehicle segment.

Bajaj Tempo is a serious player in the LCV market in India with a series of products like the Tempo Trax, Matador etc. But among these products, Tempo Traveller has a special place.

In 2005, Bajaj Tempo went in for a Corporate rebranding .The company adopted the name Force Motors .

Tempo Traveller belongs to the LCV category which are essentially vehicles used for commercial purposes like passenger carriers , goods carriers etc. Tata Motors rule this market .

In the passenger carrier segment, Tempo Traveller occupies a niche. It belongs to the premium range of people movers . Tempo Traveller holds more than 80% share in its niche. It had virtually no competitors till Tata launched its LCV passenger carrier Winger. The total passenger LCV market is around 15000 units.

Tempo Traveller although popular in the people - mover segment, has its presence in the goods carrier segment also. The brand is also a major player in the ambulance segment.

Since this brand is in the B2B space, there is little promotional activity in the advertising front. For Tempo Traveller, the brand has immense visibility because it was existing in the market for two decades. The brand also has a reputation for its quality, ruggedness and reliability.

In 2005, Tempo Traveller also had to rebrand itself. Tempo is a brand name owned by Daimler Chrysler. Hence Daimler wanted Force to drop the term 'Tempo 'from the brand name. Hence now Tempo Traveller is known as Traveller. But for the customers, still the brand is known as Tempo Traveller.

Although the brand is having huge equity, there were concerns over the outdated engine and the looks for the brand. There was a feeling that the product was dated. Hence Force motors recently did an extensive make over for the product. The entire look of the vehicle was changed and the company introduced the latest CRDI engine from Mercedes for the latest version.

The new look and the updated engine for Traveller is expected to take the brand to new levels of growth. Traveller is a brand that was built solely on performance.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Brand Update : Complan

Complan has never been an aggressive player compared to the market leader Horlicks . This explains the reason why such a powerful brand is languishing in a distant position of 15% market share compared to the 60 % share of Horlicks.

While Horlicks has been breaking new grounds with a series of variants aiming at the entire family segment, Complan was lying low all these years. The major happening for this brand in 2008 was the launch of the new flavor Kesari Badam . In the promotional front, the brand was in a low key mode continuing with the extension of its earlier campaign focusing on EXTRA growth.

Today's newspaper had a stunner ad from this brand. It was a front page solus advertisement in the Malayalam Daily with a direct comparative ad targeting Horlicks.

What was striking in that ad was that Complan has put a direct comparison with Horlicks by showing Horlicks brand on the ad and then comparing the various attributes. I have seen such explicit comparative ads in automobile sector . In most of the comparative ads, the name of competing brands will not be directly mentioned to avoid litigation. The ads will either use letters or dummies for comparison.

The ad copy asks the readers to chose between the " low cost health drink " and " Complete Growth " . Then the ad talks about why Complan is better than Horlicks by comparing both in the parameters like
Main Ingredients
Protien Content
protien Quality
Number of nutrients .

The ad also reinforces the new positioning " Grow Twice Faster ".

Complan is also running a TVC around the same theme. The TVC is almost a Cut- Copy of the Horlicks' earlier campaign of " Taller, Sharper, Stronger ". The ad shows the before-after results of two samples and claim that Complan users grow two times more than the non-users.

I was wondering why this sudden provocation. A google search indicated that Horlicks has been running a campaign digging at Complan's main attribute of ' 23 vital nutrients '. I have not seen that ad of Horlicks.

The ad spoke of the high price of Complan and was claiming that Horlicks had more than 23 nutrients but costs less than Complan.

Complan had challenged this in Mumbai High Court but the ruling was not in their favor. Hence the brand has taken the war into the public.

Price always have been the weak point of Complan. Those who has used this brand know that its good but was terribly expensive compared to the other highly advertised brands. More over the brand was a little confused regarding its positioning and communication. However, the current spat has bought some life into this brand. It will be interesting to see how Horlicks reacts to this direct attack.

Related Brand



Friday, December 05, 2008

Brand Update : Setwet Zatak

Paras Pharma has been promoting its deo brand Zatak aggressively during the last two years. Its campaign featuring foreign models have been popular among the target segments. Moreover Paras has been able to give an international look for this Indian brands.

Last month Zatak has released a new television commercial which is a spoof of the popular Axe commercials. The ad has generated lot of media interests with various business portals discussing this move.

The ad shows a skinny man literally using the axe ( not the deo but the real one) in a movement that is the same as that in the Axe commercials.Then two girls walks towards him and the man thinks that they are coming for him but they walk past him towards another hunk ( the Zatak guy).

Watch the commercial here : Zatak Spoof

Although many reports suggest that Zatak is taking on the competition head on with Axe, I have a different view. Zatak is a small brand compared to Axe. Paras also has limited resources to fight the mighty giant HUL.So this strategy is aimed to gain more eyeballs at the expense of the big boy Axe.

I don't think that Paras is aiming to dethrone Axe from its leadership position not in the near future.

What could be the options available for a challenger brand in a category which is dominated by a big company ?

One option is to start small and carve a small market without directly competing with the leader or to attack players of its own size or local and regional players.

Another option is to go in for the frontal attack which is a high risk, high pay-off strategy. This strategy will work effectively if the current leader is not serving the customer segment properly . ( source - Philip Kotler's Marketing Management )

Zatak has chosen to attack Axe directly . Although it is a high risk strategy , for a brand like Zatak, it has some advantages.

This strategy reinforces the positioning of the brand . If you look closely , Zatak is having the same positioning as Axe. i.e Girls Chasing Boys.

Zatak has been driving this positioning using its various commercials. The current campaign is pitching the brand opposite to Axe and hence conveying to the customers that Zatak is the alternative to Axe.

Deodorant is a category where customers are loyal but willing to experiment. Since the investment is low, customers tend to try in new fragrances and brands. But most of the customers have their favorite brands and fragrances.
In the market Axe has been dominating and there are virtually no strong alternative for Axe except may be the Cinthol brand which was relaunched using Hrithik.
So by attacking Axe directly, Zatak is putting itself into a position alongside Axe. So even if it does not become number 1 it can be a successful number II
Justify Full
Now the risk is with regard to HUL's response to this spoof. Afaqs report says that HUL currently is not planning to retaliate. But it will definitely watching the moves of Zatak. Zatak should also be careful not to take these spoofs too far with follow ups. Too much spoofs can give a perception that Zatak cannot exist on its own.

Related Brand

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Group 4 Securicor : Private Security

Corporate Brand : G4S ( Group 4 Securicor)

Brand Analysis Count : 362

26 November 2008 was a day that has changed the life of an Indian forever. When 10 terrorists terrorized our financial capital , killing hundreds of innocent citizens , millions were watching those horror moments on television. An average Indian, suddenly was stripped of the false sense of security that he had.

The very fact that Indian security establishments was clueless about the entire event came as a rude shock. The fact that these terrorist held Mumbai siege for three days also throw light on the efficiency of our counter -terrorist mechanisms.

After seeing all these , I feel unsecure as a citizen. I am not sure how our policemen is going to protect us with his cane Lathi against the ultramodern Kalashnikovs.

As per the news reports, Mumbai terror attacks has left corporates scrambling for security cover. This is boom time for the private security agencies in India.

Indian security services business is huge . According to various business papers, the size of the market for Private security services is around Rs 22,000 crores growing at 25 %. Most of this market is unorganized and the organized security services market is estimated to be in the range of Rs 10,000 crores.

Group 4 Securicor ( G4S) is the market leader in India. Most of you may have seen the security guards from G4S manning the numerous ATM machines across the length and breadth of the country.
G4S is a global firm. and is the World's largest provider of private security services.

According to Wikipedia,the origin of this company is dated back to 1901 in Copenhagen. The company was called as Falck and was founded by Marius Hogrefe .
Group 4 was a security company founded in Belgium. In 2000 both these firms merged together to form Group4Falck.
Securicor was another firm founded in London by the Philip -Sorenson family. At that time the company was known as Securitas International. Later there was a split in the family business which gave rise to two companies Securicor and Securitas. The Securitas went on to form another company which is called Group4Securitas.

In 2004 , Securicor merged with Group4Falck to form Group4Securicor.

The Indian arm of G4S was formed in 1989. The company is the largest private security services company with operation in almost all states. Although the visible part of the businesses are the private security guards we see in companies and ATMs, the services offered by private security firms are vast.

Listing below are some of the services provided by these firms :

Cash Services : Includes cash processing, transportation, retail cash management, ATM guarding valuable escort services and treasury management.

Manned Security : Mobile petrol, VIP security ,Reception, Quick response ,detective services ,route vehicle controls, company security etc.

Security Systems : Alarm services, electronic security, fire alarms, perimeter protection etc
Other security consultation : Risk assessment, training etc

( source : G4S website)

Yesterday there was a news in CNBC talking about the increased demand for private security in the wake of the Mumbai terror strike. The increase in enquiries for private security was in the range of 5 times the average rate. According the Tops Security Services, the enquiries have increased from 50 enquiries per day to 400 enquiries per day after the Mumbai terror attacks.

Although the market is attractive, it is not without problems. The private security services is a human resource intensive business. The security agencies rely on Ex-military personnel for their staffing requirements. Now there is a trend of recruiting ordinary people and provide them training and then employing them as guards.

The major criticism against these firms are their treatment towards these employees. There are reports that the employees are given a raw deal with negligible pay and no employee benefits. The staffs of these firms are largely non-unionized and hence had to suffer the poor wage and lack of benefits.

The silver lining is the emergence of professional firms like G4S, Tops Security and Lancers which takes the employee welfare seriously . Even big firms like GMR group has ventured into the security business. These players are expected to professionalize this emerging industry.

The private security business is regulated by the Indian Private Agencies Act (2005) which has laid down certain conditions and parameters for regulation of this business. This act ensures that only players with sufficient infrastructure will be able to start this business. The act also restricts the entry of foreign firms to this industry.

Another issue that is facing these private security firms is the ability of the guards to face terror strikes like the Mumbai attack. Indian laws prevent the private security staff to be armed with sophisticated weapons. So most of these guards are armed with sticks while the new generation thieves and terrorists are armed to teeth with AK 56 rifles and grenades.

Seldom we see the ads of these security firms. These firms operate in a B2B environment and rely on references and direct marketing. In any high-contact service businesses, the employees form an important part in the marketing. For these service firms, the employees form the brand. Hence much care is taken on the grooming of these employees. Even the uniform of these guards create an impression about the security service firms. Most of the security service firms make sure that these guards are well trained and groomed.

These private security firms can play a big role in the internal security infrastructure in India. We have to take some lessons from the West where these security firms are closely associated with the Government security agencies in providing security cover to major commercial centers. There are instances where USA Government rely on firms like the Blackwater Group to provide security to vital installations in Iraq.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Carona : RIP 1953-2003

Brand : Carona
Company : Carona Ltd

Brand Analysis Count : 361

Carona was a heritage brand of India which was once the second largest footwear company in India. The brand is now no more. Carona is one of those brands which could not withstand the competition which came after 1991.

Carona was a brand which thrived during the license raj. The brand thrived along with Bata. Infact Carona was fighting head on with the market leader Bata. In my home town , Carona store was just opposite to the Bata store. There were only two choices for quality footwear Bata and Carona.

Carona in a way imitated Bata in every possible manner . The shops and the products were extremely similar. When Bata launches one style, Carona quickly followed suit. Both Bata and Carona was instrumental in popularising canvas shoes in India. These shoes was a rage among kids at that time .

In 1992, Carona tried to tap the premium segment by launching the German sports shoe brand Puma in the Indian market. This was to counter the popular Power , Northstar and Hush Puppies brand from Bata.

Carona made a big mistake while launching Puma. The company felt that the Indian consumers will fall for the global brand . The Puma brand was priced above Rs 600. At that time the Bata brands like Power and Northstar was retailing in the range of Rs 200 -300. Puma was a big flop in the Indian market because of wrong pricing. The joint agreement was revoked by Puma in 1998.

The environment changed drastically during late 90's with the market opening up. All the footwear companies faced the issue of tough competition and increased costs. The cost was primarily attributed to the heavy workforce that these companies had.

New brands like Liberty, Action, Lakhani etc began to corner the market with new designs and fashion. Foreign brands like Nike ,Reebok and Adidas began to market aggressively which further worsened the position of Carona.

Both Bata and Carona went in for big trouble those days. Bata had the backing of their foreign parent which helped them sail through the restructuring exercise. Carona did not had that luxury.Bata was able to sustain itself by launching new models at affordable price ranges. But Carona was not able to excite the market with new launches. Both Bata and Carona had its own showrooms which became expensive to maintain. .Carona went in to BIFR fold in 1998.

In 2003, BIFR recommended closing down of Carona. BIFR noted that Carona Management did not have the will or the capacity to sustain the company. Carona went into eternal sleep in 2003. Carona was a brand that failed because of mismanagement. Somewhere the company lost its control over the costs. It failed to understand the competition and respond to it.