Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Brand Update : Tata Nano

After a long and treacherous journey, Tata Motors have finally launched Tata Nano. No other product had such an excitement in the Indian market as Nano. And no other product had to face those hardships that this brand had to face.

Although the brand has been officially launched, consumers may not be able to get hold of Nano anytime soon. The first car is expected to be delivered only in June and the company will be able to meet the entire consumer demand only in a phased manner.

Nano now comes in three variant. The basic version is the One Lakh car and there are two upgrades. The basic version will cost around Rs 1,30000 on Road and the premium version will cost around Rs 1,80,000.

Nano is a special brand. It is a brand that symbolises an entrepreneurial dream. It is also a brand that symbolises determination , hardwork and innovation.

With the launch, Nano also have its tagline " Now You Can " derived from the famous campaign of Barack Obama. The new tagline symbolises the brand's promise of an affordable car for the masses.

Nano also gives a very valuable lesson to the marketers. It shows that low cost does not necessarily mean a 'cheap ' car. Nano suprised many with its stylish look, spacious interiors and a good quality drive. All these comes with a very low cost.

Usually when we think about a low-cost product that is targeting the lower rung of the consuming class, the focus is more on functionality and compromises. The resultant product is a poorly designed functional product with rugged look and zero aesthetics.

Professor CK Prahlad famously remarked in the book " Fortune at the Bottom of Pyramid " that the consumers at the bottom of pyramid wants an affordable product and not a cheap low quality product.

Many Indian consumers irrespective of social class is going to buy this car because it is a very good looking , highly functional car and not because it is a cheap car.

Tata Nano also gives the marketer a golden key to tide over the recession. Come out with a product that catches the imagination of the consumers.

Related Brand
Tata Nano

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Brand Update : Bournvita

Cadbury's has launched a brand extension for Bournvita - Bournvita li'l Champs. The new extension is targeting the little kids aged 2-5yrs. The brand is competing with Junior Horlicks in this segment.

It seems Bournvita has taken this new extension seriously. The brand is on a high gear and has roped in the tennis sensation Sania Mirza to endorse this product.

The Television Commercial is right now on air in most of the channels : Watch it here

I think the brand has jumped into this segment for two main reasons. The first being the potential of the market. The current lifestyle and the family profile has increased the need perception for health supplements/ drinks for the little ones. Mothers are always worried about the food intake of the kids and it is a universal phenomenon that during this age, kids hate food.

Hence it is easy to attract mothers towards such products that promises well being for their little one. Another reason is that there is only one major player in this category. Hence there is room for Bournvita to explore this market already created by Junior Horlicks.

Bournvita Li'l Champs is touting on its nutritional content and its 5 Star taste to catch the target segment. The packaging is refreshingly new and attractive. The brand is promising the mothers to make their kids champions like its brand ambassador.

There is a difference in the positioning of Junior Horlicks and Li'l Champs. The Junior Horlicks has positioned on the functional benefit while Li'l Champs is riding on the a higher platform of emotional benefit. How ever since both these parent brands are well established, there is enough room for growth without eating to each other's shares.

Like Junior Horlicks, Li'L Champs will also ride on the equity of the parent brand.

Related Brand

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Macroman : Excitingly Male

Brand : Macroman
Company : Rupa & Co

Brand Analysis Count : 389

Recently I was virtually stunned by a huge billboard featuring the bollywood hunk Hrithik Roshan endorsing an Innerwear brand. The brand was Macroman. Macroman is from the hosiery major Rupa &Co which is famous for the brands like Frontline and Euro and
also famous for the tagline " Ye Aaram Ki Mamla Hain ".

Although innerwear brands has been using celebrities like Salman,Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Deol etc, this Hrithik ad was different because Hrithik was an unlikely candidate for an Innerwear brand.

Reports say that Hrithik was initially not very keen on endorsing an innerwear brand . The company put an offer that was too good for him to refuse ( some say it was Rs 10 crore for two year contract).

Macroman was not a new brand. The brand was existing as a sub-brand of Rupa . Initially the brand was only one product ie briefs, till 2000.Later the brandline was extended to include vests also. In 2007, the brand was lifted from a sub-brand to a standalone primary brand.

Macroman shot into limelight in 2007 when the company decided to promote this brand as a premium innerwear brand. The brand had a phased relaunch across India and the use of Hrithik got the brand a huge mileage interms of media publicity.Hrithik endorses Macroman M series which was created as a line extension of Macroman brand.

Macroman has chose not to adopt the Rupa's positioning based on comfort. Infact the brand is conscious not to even mention that it is from the product line of Rupa because it wanted to create a premium image.

Macroman has adopted a tagline " Excitingly Male " and " Live like a Macroman " .Although the company had paid through the nose to get Hrithik, unlike Salman and Sanjay Dutt, Hrithik will give a touch of class to the brand because of his young age and the charisma.

The premium segment of the innerwear market is witnessing huge competition with all major readymade brands extending itself to innerwears. Brands like Color plus and VanHeusen have launched their innerwears and there is the presence of a strong market leader VIP. Hence the challenges for Macroman is huge.
Watch the TVC here : Macroman

It is reported that the contract with Hrithik is for two years from 2007 and the brand has not created a huge buzz across the market. In my state of Kerala, I havn't seen any promotional activity of this brand except the hoarding which I saw the last day.

Time will not wait for any brand. Macroman had a prize catch celebrity which could gel well with the brand's positioning as a premium innerwear. The only thing that Macroman has to do is to capitalize on the hype before it is too late.
Related brand


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Brand Update : Perk

Perk has got a new brand ambassador in the upcoming bollywood actress Genelia. When ever the brand has a celebrity, the agency is in a state of utter confusion as to where the celebrity and the brand will fit in. The eternal question of whether the celebrity or the brand should get the maximum focus still not yet found by those creative hotshots. 

In a hurry to tap the maximum out of a celebrity's persona, the brand is shoved into the periphery. What ultimately comes out will be something like the new ad for Perk. 

The ad goes like this, Genelia and her friends are in a deep forest ( Lost it seems )
 and they find a odd looking guy selling Tie inside the forest. Later the group finds a Party going on in the middle of the forest. But they are not allowed inside because they don't have a tie ( dress code).  Dejected, the group goes back and takes rest , then Genelia sees the Perk and uski demag ki bathi jala and she and her friends use the Perk wrapper to make the tie...

Whew... I hated writing the above  script because video was not available. 
In the whole 60 sec ad, there is a  single shot of Perk. Rest is all bullshit. At the end of the ad, there is the brand's tagline " Take it lightly " which  does not hold any  connection with the whole plot. 

Remember this is a brand which shot into limelight using Priety Zinta very effectively. The brand itself is showing how to use a celebrity effectively and also how to mess up the brand running after a celebrity. While trying to use Genelia's charm and youthful look, the brand was totally forgotten. The plot is totally  out of sync with the brand's positioning. 

Perk also soft launched its variant Perk Poppers which is a product similar to Munch Popchocs.

Related Brand

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Marketing To Indian Youth : Celebrities and Millenials

Indian marketers has been an addict of celebrities. From salt to automobiles, celebrity endorsements has been one of the most used marketing strategies in the Indian market . In a recent article in Economic Times, a survey was quoted which would give marketers a second thought about their obsession with celebrities. 

The survey was conducted by The Futures Company of the WPP - Kantar Group. The survey was conducted across 18 countries that represent 80% of the world GDP. The Indian sample contained 700 individuals from 14 urban centers, metros and Tier1 cities ( ET March 16, 2009).

The survey results indicated a segment of 16-25 affluent youngsters which are referred as Millenials. The Millenials are upper class youngsters who form an important part of the high spending consumer segment across the globe. This highly connected youngsters represents the hip-hop generation who are not averse to spending on themselves.

The report reveals some important characteristics of this Millenials. These segment are not apologetic about spending on themselves. They think that they have a primary responsibility towards themselves and allots some time and money on themselves. Indian millenials also would prefer to be with the crowd but would like to stand out.  They would like to try out new things and experiences.
Indian millenials also exhibited attachments to family and community. They feel very much connected to parents and peers. The  young consumers are also attached to local community, culture and traditions.

The interesting part is the attitude of these segment towards celebrities. These consumers doesn't see celebrities as real or authentic. But these youngsters are influenced by real life heroes as their role model. For marketers, this is  bad news. It is true that most of the celebrity endorsements are aimed at the sticky factor - making the consumers watch the ad rather than promoting authenticity. But the over use of celebrities has made them a commodity. One of the reasons for this distrust is that these consumers are highly informed and they know that using celebrities is a strategy and has nothing to do with the authenticity. For the less fortunate Indian youth , celebrities hold some amount of influence either in purchase or in brand recall. 

Read the full article here : Celebrites not so hot with Gen- Y

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Brand Update : Dettol

Dettol celebrated its 75 years of existence in 2008. This highly popular antiseptic brand has come a long way since 1933. After a plethora of extensions and experiments, this brand is still ruling the Indian market as the most preferred antiseptic lotion and also as a premium soap.

The brand celebrated its 75 years by reinforcing the germ killing positioning and the tagline " Be 100% sure ". The brand is currently running a campaign highlighting the efficiency and the multi-uses of the product.

In marketing theory , it is taught that one of the strategy for a brand which has reached the maturity stage of PLC is to find new uses for the product. The Dettol brand is currently in the process of discovering those new uses for the product. When the consumer uses the product for different purposes, the sales naturally increases.

A classic case that is used in most marketing textbook is that of the Baking Soda brand Arms & Hammer. The brand found that consumers use baking soda as a refrigerator deodorant. Arms & Hammer ran a series of promotions to encourage consumers to place an open box of Arms & Hammer in their fridge. The brand later extended itself into various products like toothpaste and antiperspirant . ( Marketing Management, Kotler, Keller 13ed)

The best way to find the new uses for the product is to ask the consumers. Dettol did just that. It ran a series of promotions asking consumers to tell the company , how they used Dettol.

Watch the commercial here : Dettol new uses
The brand asked the consumers to contact them and tell the company on the multiple uses of the product and thus gained lot of insights into the various uses of the brand.

The brand later came out with a series of campaign highlighting the various uses of this antiseptic. Dettol now taken the platform of a multi-use antiseptic which can be used during bath, to clean wounds, to sterilize clothes, floor etc.

Although homemakers has been using Dettol for all these, the company has now taken these uses as a part of the core product. The brand is trying to break the image of Dettol as an antiseptic which is used for cleaning wounds.
Along with this initiative, the brand also reinforced its commitment towards hygiene. The brand has selected hygiene as the core brand value and theme which it will fight for.

In 2008, the brand conducted a study which showed that 78% of frequently touched surfaces in a household is highly contaminated. The brand then conducted a series of awareness campaign to promote better hygiene using Dettol.

Using hygiene as the major theme, Dettol is trying to increase the usage of the product among the households. Because of the excellent brand equity, Dettol is in a position to ride this wave.

Regarding the distribution, recently I wanted to buy this brand from my nearest grocery store but was surprised to find that the product was not stocked there. He told me that Dettol is available only in medical shops. A major super market is also not stocking this brand. I am not sure whether Dettol has stopped selling through OTC . If it is so, then the brand is in for trouble.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Slice : Aamsutra

Brand : Slice
Company : Pepsico
Agency : JWT

Brand Analysis Count : 388

Slice is the fruit drink brand from the Pepsi stable. Slice was launched in India in 1994. But even after 15 years, the brand has not been able to make a mark in the Indian market. The product was good, had the backing of world's best marketing company but could not become the market leader in the segment.

Slice was a neglected brand in Pepsi's portfolio. These Cola majors are too centered on their flagship cola brands that they fail to cash in on the opportunities for other brands. Indian consumers love mango drinks but Pepsi was too engrossed with Pepsi Cola that they forgot to put their resources behind this brand.

Slice was originally launched as a mango drink. But over time, the brand lost its focus and introduced many flavors. In 2002, Slice was launched in multiple flavors. This extensions cost the brand dearly. While the competitors Maaza and Frooti concentrated on the mango flavor, Slice tried to become an umbrella brand for all fruit based drink in the Pepsi's portfolio.

It could have become an umbrella brand had Pepsi invested in the brand. But the promotional investment behind the brand was never consistent.According to Afaqs, there was no ad support for the brand from 2002 to 2006. The brand went into obscurity during these period.

It was in 2006 that Pepsi began to seriously look at Slice. But by that time Maaza had established itself in the market along with the market leader Frooti.

Slice never had a proper consistent positioning. While Frooti and Maaza positioned itself on the Real Mango Flavor platform, Slice was a confused brand. In 2006, the brand took the positioning of a provider of simple joy platform. The tagline was " Simple Joy ka Raas " . But there also the brand did not catch the imagination of the consumer.

Slice was relaunched in 2008 in a new avataar. Atlast, Slice anchored itself as a mango drink. The brand launched a very smart campaign - Aamsutra .
The campaign was a real clutter breaker. The brand wanted to position itself on the basis of exprience or pleasure of having a mango drink. The brand took the attribute of Pleasure, Sensuality and Indulgence as the core brand attribute that delivers that Experience.

Slice also roped in the Bollywood Diva Katrina Kaif as the brand ambassador. The brand launched its first Aamsutra campaign during the summer of 2008

Watch the TVC here : Slice Aamsutra 1

I think that the Aamsutra campaign shook the brand from its inertia. There was lot of noise about the campaign and I think the brand sales also benefitted from the noise.
This summer of 2009 saw Slice launching the next edition of the Aamsutra campaign.

Watch the 2009 campaign here : Slice Aamsutra 2

The Slice story shows the power of the Big Idea. A brand will thrive when it gets that " Aha " or the " Wow" factor. Aamsutra is a definite WOW factor for this brand .

It is also interesting to see that this summer all the mango drinks marketer has chosen to target the younger generation ( 25 + ) rather than kids. Maaza in particular chose to put a much older character in their recent advertisement. Frooti also is now focusing on the youth. This may open the door for a brand to target specifically Kids while other brands fight it out for the younger gen.

Personally speaking , I liked the Aamsutra concept and also the way it was executed. The ad was able to completely use the brand ambassador's charm and looks . The only doubt is whether the brand is looking at a more mature audience rather than a younger segment.

Aamsutra as the name suggests has a very sensual connotation. The brand will be moving in a thin line between sensuality and sexuality. Too much sensuality makes the ads less veiwable while too less becomes a bore. But the current campaign effectively manages to deliver the right kind of message. It is also a significantly different positioning from its competitors hence manages to get and hold eyeballs. It will be interesting to see how Slice will be able to extend its new found formula.....

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Nilon's Pickles : Taste that Lingers

Brand : Nilon's Pickles
Company : Nilon's Enterprises Pvt Ltd
Agency : Mudra

Brand Analysis Count : 387

Nilon's Pickles is making waves in the ad world. The brand is a classic example which shows the power of good creative execution.Nilon's pickles is from the company Nilon's Enterprises Pvt Ltd which has been in this business since 1962. The company claims to be the largest manufacturer of pickles and tooty-frooty in India.

Nilon's Pickles caught the attention of advertising world because of its new commercial which is making rounds across channels in India

Watch the TVC here : Nilon's Pickles

The ad created by Mudra takes a leaf out of Kentucky Fried Chicken's Finger Licking Good positioning. ( frankly Mudra has taken the whole Tree rather than a leaf !!!).

The campaign revolves around a young chap's unusually long index finger. The plot reveals that the guy had been an addict of Nilon's pickles from childhood itself and the constant licking of the finger made it unusually long.

The advertising fraternity is on two sides regarding this campaign. One set argues this as a copycat while another set sees no harm in " Adapting " the idea.

Afaqs has an interesting piece on this campaign. Read it here

The ad has a strong resemblance to KFC ads - there is no doubt about that.

But what was interesting to me was the basic strategy behind this campaign. It is highly appreciative for a company like Nilon's to attempt to create a national brand in this category. Not many brands have succeeded in creating a national foothold in this category. Brands like Maggi is trying hard to create one.

According to Afaqs , the pickles market in India is worth around Rs 1500 crore of which organized market is around Rs 400 crore. The market is highly fragmented and is dominated by local players.

The major challenge with creating a national brand for pickles is to manage varied taste preference of consumers across markets. If you take the South Indian market, the taste preference for pickles are entirely different to that of North . Even in South India, the taste preference varies across different states. Even for a mango pickle, taste preferences vary across states.

So it is almost an impossible task for a marketer to have a common product that satisfies all consumers. This is where the local players have an advantage. They can afford to create specific product that cater to the specific consumer group they serve.

Another challenge for marketers is the consumer behavior for this category. Usually consumers are hooked to a particular brand of pickles because of the taste . Once the consumer likes the taste, he continues with a particular brand till he come across a better taste. Hence the challenge for any new marketer for pickles is to make the consumer " try out " the brand first.

Most of the local marketers use samples to hook the consumer. Home makers happily serve the sample packs of pickles that come with magazines and once the family gives a vote, the brand purchase is made.

Retailers also play a significant role in promoting brands. Since this is a low involvement product, consumers will try out new pickles if prompted by retailers and advertisements. Local players pamper the retailers with margins and thus gain more retailer space and push.

Pickles also have the seasonality issue for pickles made of seasonal fruits/vegetables. Hence managing the seasonality and inventory also creates a headache for the marketers. The growing health concerns regarding the oily nature of this category also is a threat to marketers.

It is in this context that Nilon's brand building efforts looks interesting. The brand has rightly took taste as the key positioning platform. And although a copy, Finger Licking sounds a too good proposition to ignore. The brand has taken up the tagline " Juba se dil me uthar jaye " which translates to " taste that will sink from tougue to heart"

Another interesting strategy adopted by Nilon's is the focus on the younger generation for this category. I have seldom seen a traditional product like Pickle using Gen Next as the main character in the ads. I don't think that the new generation will stop using pickles. The habit of using pickles will move through mothers to kids and so on. But trying to make this category " cool " among the new generation is a very good marketing move. The shift also provides a refreshing feeling about the category.

Having a nice catchy advertisement is not a panacea for all marketing problems. Nilon's has been working on distribution strength across various markets. The new campaign will definitely give the brand a fair share of consumer trials. The success will ultimately depend on whether the brand keeps the promise of finger licking taste...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Marketing Funda : REAPS Model

REAPS model of needs was proposed by Indian Brand Guru Jagdeep Kapoor of Samsika Marketing Consultants.

REAPS stands for
R - Rational Need
E - Emotional Need
A - Aspirational Need
P - Physical Need
S - Spiritual Need

REAPS Model may sound too simple and obvious . Nothing New about it - was my first impression when I read about it. But on contemplation, this simple model is of immense use for marketers.

What REAPS Model does is that it helps you to understand the various needs of a consumer and then the marketer will be able to rate the brand on these needs.The brand will also then be able to position itself on the most dominant need of the target market. A successful brand should be able to engage all these needs of the consumer.

REAPS Model has its root in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory and other motivational theories but what has appealed to me is the simplicity and the practical nature of this model.
The task of the marketer is to understand the dominant need category to which the target segment belong and then create a product /communication for them.

Another important factor to understand is that a consumer will have multiple needs at a point of time. Hence while creating a product, the marketer has to make sure that the product appeal to all these need levels. Brands which have iconic status appeal to all these need levels of the consumer.

For example a brand like Apple, appeals to the rational needs through its product features, appeals to the emotional need of the consumers through its positioning, is aspirational because of the brand , appeals to the physical needs through design and connects to the consumer at a higher level of bonding with the consumer.
According to Wharton , Nokia is a brand which addressed all these needs successfully and hence was able to rule the Indian market . Read the article here : Wharton on REAPS

REAPS is a simple tool which can be used by marketers working on a new product design. The idea and the prototypes can be rated on these needs to see whether it makes sense to go ahead.This tool also helps marketer to periodically review their brand on these needs to see whether the brand is still relevant to consumer.

It is also encouraging to see proprietary models being developed by Indian marketers.
Kudos to Mr Jagdeep Kapoor.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Duckback : Another Name for Quality

Brand : Duckback
Company : Bengal Waterproof Ltd

Brand Analysis Count : 386

Duckback is a heritage brand. The brand have a rich history dating back to 75 years. Duckback is a brand owned by Bengal Waterproof Ltd ( BWL). BWL is a pioneer in water proofing products in India. The company, which was founded by Mr Surendra Mohan Bose in 1920, is best known for its Duckback brand of rainwears.

Duckback brand evokes a nostalgia in me because it was an aspirational brand for me during my school days. But since Duckback was a premium rainwear, I had to settle with the local look alike.

As a brand, Duckback had huge brand equity. It was synonymous with quality raincoats. The brand had a strong association with quality and consumers were willing to pay a premium for the quality offered by Duckback.

But in the marketing front, Duckback was a laidback marketer. The brand spent very little on the promotions front. In an interveiw published in the Business Line, the company officials admitted that the brand was an arm chair marketer since demand always exceeded supply.

Rainwear market is a highly fragmented one and is dominated by local players. Duckback is the one of the few raincoat brands in the organized segment . I don't really remember any famous rainwear brands other than Duckback.

Duckback as a brand faces the issue of seasonality. These products are sold only during rainy seasons.Hence managing seasonality is a big issue for companies selling these kind of products.

Duckback infact have a very diversified portfolio. The brand have a product range of over 62 products ranging from rainwear, boots,boats, tents,baby mats, medical beds , school bags ,luggages etc. The brand is also a supplier to defence forces. So the brand has managed the seasonality issue through a diversified portfolio.

But Duckback is predominantly known to the consumer world for its raincoats and school bags. Although the brand is known for its quality products, it had done little to develop the rainwear category as such. If you look at this rainwear category, we still see those poorly designed stale raincoats . In the developed markets, rainwear is a designer category which is positioned as part of one's wardrobe. Hence companies come out with well designed raincoats and bags which often is considered as style statement.

But in India, Raincoat is not considered as a part of your wardrobe. You will have a raincoat, if you ride a bike. But if you travel by bus or when you walk, raincoat is not at all considered. I have seen in the west, people wearing raincoats while walking in the rain. So in a sense, there has been no attempt to expand the user base of this product . The marketers so far has been concentrating on the bike commuters for selling this category.

If you look at an ordinary commuter in a bus or train, it is a nightmare to travel during rainy season. Umbrellas help but not much to protect your clothes and especially if you travel by bus, you will be drenched after the travel. I have always thought of using a raincoat while traveling in rain ( walk or bus) because it is so convenient but did not dared to use because it was not common for a person to use a raincoat while walking. I feel that there is a hidden need for smart rainwears targeting those people who travel in local transport and also for those who prefer to walk.

In the branding front also, Duckback never capitalized on the tremendous equity it had. Duckback could easily projected itself as a " Offroader " brand like Woodlands. But it never invested in building it as an umbrella brand .

Duckback still have a huge potential both as an umbrella brand for rainwear products and also as a rugged offraod brand. The only thing the brand should do is to invest in building the brand.

Ad courtsey : Cutting the Chai

Related Brand

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Marketing To Indian Youth : Youth Demographics

This is the demographics of Indian youth as per the census 2001.
According to news reports, the Youth Population to the total population is 41.05% as per the census 2001.

Many interesting statistics regarding Youth demographics are available in the website : Youthportal.gov.in

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Brand Update : Bru

Bru has recently launched a new television campaign in line with its positioning of " Happiness Begins with Bru".

Watch the commercial here : Bru

This is one of the best commercial I have seen in recent times. Why I liked this TVC is the touching slice of life theme which is derived from careful consumer observation.

The new commercial projects Bru as the " Mood Maker ". The brand has the tagline " A little Bru makes your mood brighter ".

The ad shows the tired homemaker giving the Bru Coffee to her husband ( as usual the relaxed laid back one) and after taking a sip, the hubby was lifted to such a blissful mood that he slowly massages his tired wife's feet.

In my own experience, I think that men usually are less empathetic to homemaker's problems. While I expect everything to be perfectly done by my wife, often I forget the fact that she is also very much tired as I am. And men's love towards their betterhalf is always governed by his moods.

So the sudden empathetic reaction by the husband in the commercial effectively captures the goodness of Bru and it is right on target. It is also a break from the usual stereotypes of homemakers and strongly connects with the new generation women.

Kudos to the marketing team.

Related Brand

Friday, March 06, 2009

Best Marketing Practice : The Death of a Salesman

"Sir, I don't want to be in sales " :- This is a common statement made by most of the MBA students during the placement season. Sales Jobs are counted as the last desperate option by most of the management students. Recession or not, Sales Jobs were never in vogue.

That is one side of the story.

Yesterday I went to a new generation bank. Suddenly I was surrounded by a couple of staffs asking me whether I would be interested in starting an SIP. I said I need time to think about it but the staffs keep on pressurizing even stooping down to plain begging.

Sales Function is now passing through one of the worst phase since its evolution. Marketers are responsible for this downfall of one of the most critical functions of a company. Sales is the point where the company meets its customers. It is the ultimate moment of truth for any firm. But it is sad that this function has stooped down to a point of no return.

In office and public forums, complaints are galore about the high pressure selling tactics unprofessionally implemented by firms. Call center executives calling up prospects and just blurting out their sales talks without even seeking permission. Insurance Executives trying to sell products that consumer doesn't need. All these have created so much irritation among consumers that it is now difficult for a sales person to get even an appointment.

Consumers have become more offensive than defensive . Historically consumers hate being sold . Now they have taken up arms against the salesperson's high pressure sales appoach.

It is a truth that organizations cannot survive without Selling Function. It is also true that sometimes consumers have to be persuaded to buy products. Sales Managers have to realize that things are getting out of their hands.

It is time to go back to the basics.

Have you ever met a sales guy who have asked relevant questions before making his sales presentation ?
Have you ever met a sales person who refused to sell a product because he thinks it will not match your requirement ?

Have you ever met a sales person who suggest competitor's product because it suits you better ?

Have you ever sat through a sales talk and actually liked the talk?

These situations have become rare. Because firms doesn't have a plan for the customers. Sales professionals are too much bothered about numbers that they don't spent a time thinking about their customers. Understanding consumers is the last thing in the mind of the salespeople.
Just by changing the designation to Relationship Manager will not create relationships. It needs to be ingrained in the sales person's attitude and approach.

It all boils down to developing an ethical sales culture in organizations. It takes lot of courage to resist selling wrong products to wrong consumers. It takes lot of pain to think long term and suffer short term loss of sales. It takes lot of investment to create a customer and retain him compared to selling and forgetting .

The era of foot-in-the- door sales approach is over. Consumers have more information than the sales professionals. They are acutely aware of the positives and negatives of offers. Hence it is time we move to the real spirit of sales.

Let marketers take a vow not to mis-sell. Let us try understand the consumer and then offer solutions. Let the sales persons be given the courage of losing a sale and gaining a consumer. Let us view consumers as humans than sales figures.Let us first take permission and then sell.
Let the sales professional be evaluated on qualitative terms more than plain figures. Let the organizations have the courage to think beyong quarterly sales figures.

The ultimate success of sales function is where consumers call up the company to fix appoinment with the sales professionals. Can you ever dream of such a situation ?

Let us try to sell well and sell good.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Brand Update : Coca Cola

Coca Cola has launched their new campaign in India recently. The new campaign features the brand ambassador Gautam Gambhir and comes with a new positioning.

Watch the new TVC here : Coca Cola

The new campaign is a part of the global communication campaign initiated by Coca Cola known as Open Happiness.The Open Happiness campaign is an extension of the Coke Side of Life campaign of last year. Open Happiness campaign is based on the notion that Coke brings happiness to life. The brand tries to communicate the idea of " Enjoying life's simple pleasures".

In the press release, Coke says that " Central to Open Happiness is the notion of enjoying an ice cold coke and taking a small break from the day to connect with others ".
See the press release here : Open Happiness Campaign

The big idea behind this platform is that Coca Cola offers fun and refreshment whenever you need it.

India is also a market where the company has extended the Open Happiness Communication platform.The latest campaign is the first one on this positioning platform.

And a totally disappointing one. The agency has done total injustice to the wonderful idea that Open Happiness envisages.

Instead of connecting Coke with Happiness , the new ad puts Coke in a dangerous position. The central theme of the new ad is that " Coke ke sath Dost free " means " A friend free with Coke ".

The ad shows Gautam helping out the owner of an deserted store by putting a display that " You get a friend free with Coke " and people starts showing up because of the free offer !!!!

I am not being cynical or critical but here are my concerns about the current theme.

In my little understanding about the Indian youth psyche , the new generation youngsters spent lot of time hanging out with their friends. The new gen likes to have lot of friends and is also influenced heavily by their peers.

And having no friends is UNCOOL. Here Coke is somehow telling the consumers that the users of Coke are those who are in desperate need of friends . And the concept of " Free Dost with Coke" is discounting the value of both Friends and Coke. Why should you give something free ( even symbolic) with Coke. And will you accept a " Free " friend ? And the characters depicted in the ads look like lonely desperate guys searching for friends which is also UNCOOL as far as the younger generation is concerned.

The Indian version of Open Happiness platform has failed to understand the essence of this positioning and miserably failed to connect the concept of happiness and Coke.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Nilkamal Plastics : Creating Value Through Convenience

Corporate Brand : Nilkamal
Agency : Triton

Brand Analysis Count : 385

Nilkamal is a company that successfully branded a commodity. Nilkamal is the market leader in the plastic molded furniture segment in India. The brand has a long history dating back to 1934. The company was founded by Mr Vrajlal Parekh. Mr Vrajlal Parekh started manufacturing metal buttons from his small factory. In 1950, he started producing plastic products and the company was called Standard Plastics. Nilkamal Plastics was born in 1956 and became and independent company in 1981.

The Indian home furniture market is huge with a market size of around Rs 14000 crores. Majority of the market is in the unorganized sector. Nilkamal operates in the moulded furniture market which is around Rs 950 crores. According to reports , 40% of which is in the unorganized sector.
Nilkamal is known for its plastic chairs . But the company is also a major player in manufacturing crates which are used for commercial purposes.

Nilkamal is a brand that popularised the use of plastic chairs at homes . Earlier households used to purchase only wooden /steel furnitures. But Nilkamal was able to break that mindset . Nilkamal did this by creating good designs and also taking care of the quality factor.

Households earlier was averse to plastic chairs because it looked ugly and was not perceived to be strong. Nilkamal changed that perception by introducing well designed chairs .This was backed by heavy promotions using various media.

In a market which was dominated by unorganized players, the brand building gave Nilkamal more mileage and also premium prices.The success of Nilkamal prompted many players to enter the segment. Since the designs could be easily copied, it was difficult for Nilkamal to sustain the growth momentum. Nilkamal is the market leader in the segment with a share of over 37%.But the market for moulded furnitures has become stagnant.

In 2005, the brand moved from molded furniture to home solutions. The brand introduced knocked down furniture and also sofa sets , dining tables ,baby chairs which became popular. The brand was slowly moving towards becoming a lifestyle furniture player.

The company also introduced a new range of office furniture brand Novella. During this time, the brand ventured into retail business by launching large retail format under the brand name @home. These retail outlets showcased the new range of home solutions from the company.

Recently the brand also launched a range of plastic Cupboards and cabinets branded as Freedom.
Nikamal is a brand that is heavily associated with plastic furniture. The brand has a high credibility among the consumers. The major problem faced by the brand is that plastic is associated with cheap furniture and this has prevented the penetration of this product category into high -margin household furniture segment.

But I think there is a huge potential for Nilkamal in developing itself to a highly creative furniture company. As a consumer, I have often found branded furniture to be terribly overpriced for the quality it delivers.Branded wooden furniture are out of reach for many middle class customers. Plastic furnitures lack the glamour and home makers tried to avoid these products. Hence there is a huge potential for affordable designer furniture. Currently this market is being captured by cheap imports from China. There is a flood of imported furniture which looks good and priced affordably.

Nilkamal have the brand equity to tap this potential. Although it is heavily associated with plastics, it could leverage that equity in creating an affordable range of home solutions to the Indian middle class.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Brand Update : Horlicks NutriBar

Horlicks has launched a new product - Horlicks Nutribar. The Horlicks brand has gone in for a category extension with this launch. The earlier category extension for Horlicks was into buscuits.
Nutribar is a cereal bar which contains cereals and multi-grains.Nutribar does not belong to the confectionery segment ( chocolates) but belong to an emerging category called functional foods.

Functional foods are those health foods like energy drinks ,cereals and cereal bars which contains health promoting ingredients. These products are also known as nutriceauticals.
The market for functional foods in India is estimated to be around Rs 1700 crores and is growing very fast.

Nutribar is being launched now as an extension of Horlicks. I am considering this product as a category extension because this brand is heavily supported and endorsed by Horlicks brand. So Horlicks has become the endorser brand for Nutribar. This is essential because the product is trying to create a new category.

Once the Nutribar brand becomes popular, the company may make it an individual brand without being endorsed by Horlicks. Now NutriBar is the primary brand and Horlicks is the endorser brand.

Nutribar is being positioned as a healthy solution to hunger. The brand is targeting the health conscious young generation. Reports suggest that this is a product specifically made for Indian market.
The brand is currently running a television commercial : Watch it here
Nutribar contains wheat, rice, oats and honey . The brand is claiming to have 11 nutrients and offers a convenient healthy snack.
Globally , functional foods have become a high growth market because of the health and convenience factors. India too has seen following such a trend.
It is interesting to see how Nutribar will be able to create and rule this category. It all depends on the support and investment that the company puts in behind this brand.

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