Sunday, December 26, 2010

Brand Update : Nano is the Key to Happiness

Its almost two years since the launch of Tata Nano. A lot has happened over these years. The much hyped & much criticized small car has hit the road and is running through its worst nightmare- sluggish sales.

When Ratan Tata announced the launch of Nano, the media went gaga over the product and the realization of dream of a common man's car. Globally Nano became a big news because of its unbelievable price tag of Rs 1 lakh. More over Tata was able to give a great looking car at a very cheap price.

In my earlier posts, I predicted that Nano will create record interms of sales. I believed that consumers will lap up such a well designed economical car. Nano will create history... but my predictions failed miserably. In November, Tata Motors was able to sell only 500 of Nano cars.

The problem for the brand started when reports of the car getting fire began spreading. Just after the launch, a few Nano cars got fire and the pictures of Nano on flames splashed across the media. Consumers began to seriously worry about the safety of Nano.

To counter this negative publicity , Tata Motors began serious efforts to restore faith in the brand. The company initiated a recall program where the existing Nano cars were fitted with additional safety features. Along with that, Nano was further tested for safety by engineers from Tata Motors as well as from Jaguar.

These measures ,to a certain extent, contained the damage of Nano's brand image. Further to the safety issue, the brand also faced the issue where consumers at the lower-income strata was declined loan by banks and financial institutions for buying Nano. Although the auto loans were always a risky liability for the financial institutions and loan-denial is not anything new in this industry, this issue was again highlighted across the media as a specific issue pertaining to Nano.

So the brand is now facing an issue which is highly perceptual. And a negative perception for a brand in the introductory stage of PLC can be fatal.

To tide over the issue regarding the trust + safety, Tata Motors introduced a four year/60000km warranty for the Nano. The warranty is an assurance from the brand aimed to build trust in the brand.

Along with these measures, Nano also launched its first television commercial this month.

Watch the ad here : Tata Nano TVC

The new ad projects the positives of the car and positions the brand as " Key to Happiness". The brand has adopted the tagline " Khushiyon ke Chaabi ".

What the brand needs is to restore confidence of consumers in the brand. The picture of Nano in flames is still embedded in the consumer's mind. It should be erased if the brand wants to see the sales figures upward. For that it should get as many Tata Nano on the road as possible. The more cars on the road will instill confidence in the consumers to buy this brand. For that the brand should go to any extent.

It is not that I am not aware of the negatives of Nano. But Nano is a genuine marketing effort to satisfy a gap in the market. As a marketer, this is a brand I don't want to see failing in the market.

Related Brand

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Marketing Strategy : The Basics of Internal Marketing

According to Berry and Parasuraman (Marketing Services: Competing through quality), Internal marketing is attracting , developing, motivating, and retaining qualified employees through job-products that satisfy their needs. It is the philosophy of treating employees as customers.

Although the concept of internal marketing seems like another version of human resource management, there is much more than just attracting and retaining good employees. According to Professor Philip Kotler, marketing activities within the company is equally important as marketing activities outside the company.

According to Kotler, there are two perspectives to internal marketing. One perspective is the coordination within the marketing department. The various marketing functions like sales , advertising, product development etc should act as a single unit focusing on delivering the best to the customer. The second perspective is the interaction between the various functions like Production, Finance , HR etc. Internal marketing’s role is to ensure that the entire organization is able to come together for a common business objective.

While many literature focus on the usefulness of internal marketing on the marketing function, internal marketing have a strong strategic importance which is often overlooked.


There are many advantages of internal marketing. These advantages vary with the nature of the business that firms are in. Internal marketing has a strong impact on the customer satisfaction in service industries. In most of the service businesses, the consumption of the service product happens at the service factory. Research has proved that the way in which the employees are treated have a direct impact on the way customers are treated.

There are businesses which are human resource oriented like software firms which will find internal marketing a very powerful tool for marketing as well as strategy. Such marketing programs targeting the employees will have strong effect on the overall efficiency of the employees.

The internal marketing initiatives will also have a ripple effect on the ability of the organization to attract and retain the employees. In this highly networked world, internal marketing can generate very high positive word of mouth publicity about the working environment in the company which can attract new talents to the organization.

Firms venturing into Internal Marketing have to look at the concept at different levels. There has to be emphasis on key focal points like branding, communication, training, motivation and transparency.

Internal Branding

With regard to branding, Internal Marketing is closely linked to corporate branding. Corporate brand has more relevance in internally than a product brand. Employees should be thrilled by the corporate brand rather than the product brand. Hence marketing communication targeting employees should be aimed at building corporate brand equity rather than product brand equity. Brands like Infosys, TCS, Unilever etc not only attract prospective clients but also new talents to the company. Working for a reputed corporate brand is a powerful non-monetary reward for the employees.

Internal Communication

Firms venturing into internal marketing should create a robust internal communication infrastructure which is a vital pre-requisite to any such program. Free flow of relevant information within the organization is very vital in this context. The success of the internal marketing program lies in the employees being able to internalize the brand promise, company values and develop customer orientation.

For example, the employee in the finance department should understand the implication of fast payment/bill processing on the overall business of the firm. Materials department should understand the importance of efficient procurement on the overall business strategy of the firm. The understanding of cross linkage of various departments and its impact on the customer will be the biggest takeaway of a successful internal marketing program.

Organizational Culture

Another important prerequisite of a successful internal marketing program is the internalizing of organizational culture among the employees. Firms like Marriott, Apple, Microsoft, Infosys, TCS, GE thrive because the employees are torch bearers of the organizational culture. Such internalization will happen only through a robust internal marketing program. For example, in Infosys, founders like Narayana Murthy , Nandan Nilekeni had the wisdom to understand the importance of developing a highly ethical , performance oriented culture. These organizations have a strong internal structure that is responsible for teaching this culture to the employees.

Top Management Responsibility

In most of the organizations, the task of internal marketing is not clearly defined. Most often this function is handled by the Human Resource Department. The thinking is that HR department is best suited for dealing with employees in matters regarding motivation, training and development etc. Like product marketing, internal marketing is also a very important function to be left to any functional department. In my personal opinion, top management is responsible for internal marketing. Firms like GE, Zappos, Google ,3M has CEOs taking the full responsibility of internal marketing.

In this highly competitive environment, internal marketing is a tool that can differentiate an organization from its peers. It is time for organization to understand its importance and start investing in it.

Originally Published in

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Crocodile : Will It Realize Its Potential ?

Brand : Crocodile
Company : SP Garments ( Crocodile International Pvt Ltd)

Brand Analysis Count : 468

Crocodile is a brand from Singapore based Crocodile International Pvt Ltd ( CIPL) . The brand came to Indian in 1998 as a JV between Shivram Associates and CIPL. Within a span of three years, the brand gained much attention in the Indian market.

Crocodile as a global brand had its origin in 1949 in Singapore . The brand later became very popular across Asia as an affordable fashionwear for men. The brand is also famous for the controversy and long legal battles for the logo with the iconic French brand Lacoste.
Crocodile's brand logo has much resemblance with the logo of the French casual wear brand Lacoste. Both the brands has crocodile as the logo. Although there is some difference in the logo, for a consumer both the logo looks the same. In Lacoste logo, the crocodile is right facing while in Crocodile brand - it is left facing. Both the crocs are in green color and is strikingly similar for a casual observer.This has caused a very long legal battle in markets like Hongkong and China.

Later in 2003, both the brands went for an out of court settlement where Crocodile agreed to make some changes with regard to the logo.
The new Crocodile logo has the tail more vertical, the color of the croc is grey and the croc has scales and bigger eyes.

Controversies apart, the brand had a good initial run in the Indian market. The brand was priced at a premium but the international image , the resemblance with Lacoste and some heavy media campaigns took the brand to a level of high popularity. It is interesting to note that the brand owners had registered for Crocodile trademark as early as 1950s but the brand actually entered the market only in 1998.

The brand initially launched its range of innerwears and I still remember the TVC where girls at a pool party ogles the hunk wearing Crocodile inners and the TVC ends with girls saying " There is a crocodile in your pants ". The brand later added its entire range of casual wears in its promotions.

Another striking branding strategy of Crocodile was its merchandising . The brand had lot of Single Brand Outlet in upmarket malls which increased brand visibility to a large extent. Although the price was at a premium, it was affordable.

Despite these positives, the brand struggled to make profit. In 2006, the brand changed owners and Coimbatore based SP Garments bought the stake of Shivram Associates . Ever since SP Garmets took over, the brand has been on a restructuring exercise. According to news reports, many unviable stores has been closed and the new owners are looking at Company Owned Outlets to promote the brand.

The brand was initially targeting men of the age 30 +. The current strategy is to target much younger consumers from age 20 +. The brand will be positioned as a young fashionwear which is affordable and has an international legacy.
The brand is yet to launch a media campaign and hence cannot comment much on the positioning strategy.

Crocodile brand has lot of positives on its side. The brand has a good recall in the market. The brand name Crocodile has a charm factor in it.The logo similarity with Lacoste is a definite advantage and there is still a gap for an affordable casual wear brand in the Indian market. But one of the mistakes that the International brands do in the Indian market is to price themselves out of the game. Crocodile has a huge potential if it plays the afford-ability game rather than try to cash in on its faded international image.
Crocodile will be an interesting brand to watch for.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Marketing Strategy : Unleash Your Innovation Engine

Indian companies are not well known for innovation. In comparison with the global counterparts, Indian firms have so far shied away from investing in innovation. That is the reason why India cannot boast of an iPod or a Google. It is not because India is lacking in brilliant minds. Indians are an inevitable part of the R&D initiatives of most of the global firms. Infact most of the global firms have their R&D centres in India to take advantage of the human potential available.

Despite having brilliant minds, it is highly disheartening to see Indian firms lagging behind product innovations. One of the primary reasons is the reluctance of Indian corporate heads to invest in creating an innovation culture. When Indian firms begin to invest in creating an innovation culture, markets witness the launch of products like Nano, Tata Ace or a Mahindra Scorpio.

One of the primary requisite of creating an innovation culture in an organisation is the top management involvement. Any breakthrough innovation can happen only if there is a strong commitment from the senior leadership of the company. Senior managers should be able to instil a sense of ownership in the mind of the employees if they want to create an innovation culture. The leadership should take care to erase the fear of failure which is most detrimental to the creation of a culture that promotes open innovation.

Managers must also remove the myth that innovation is always expensive. We are living in an era where most of the brilliant dollar ideas are created by people working with very limited financial resources. When organizations embrace an innovation culture, the cost of creating innovations begins to reduce drastically.

There are three critical investments that companies need to make in their quest for creating an innovation engine. The first investment is in the culture, second investment is people and the third investment is in the time.

Creating an innovation culture is the primary requisite for all firms aiming to build their business on innovation. This is perhaps the most difficult investment to make. Once the innovation becomes a part of the culture, it can be further strengthened using processes. For example in 3M, 25% -30% of the revenue should come from new products introduced within five years. To facilitate this process, technical employees are allowed to spend 15% of their time on projects of their choice.

Another vital investment is on the people. Management must understand that it is people who drive innovation. How ever robust be the process, without highly motivated people, process may achieve little. Firms focusing on innovation undoubtedly take care in selecting and retaining highly motivated employees. The new kids on the block like Twitter, Facebook is attracting bright talents because of their unique approach to work. Google has become one of the most preferred places to work because of their penchant for creating a unique work environment.

Another vital investment that firms have to make is with respect to time. Creating an innovation culture cannot happen overnight. This is a long process and each firm should discover their own DNA of innovation. Time is the investment that the leadership has to make if they want to build the innovation culture into their organizations. Innovation cannot be initially managed over quarters. The management should first establish an innovation budget and encourage the employees to invest that budget into product development or improvement. It will be easy if these budgets are initially spent on product improvements rather than breakthrough products or new products. Once the entire team begin to understand the seriousness of the innovation drive, more and more serious innovations will follow.

It is important for the senior management to tolerate failure. It is impossible to innovate without tolerating failure. And the fear of financial loss is the greatest inhibition for firms venturing into creating an innovation based business model. An open communication channel between the innovation leaders and the senior management is a necessity to avoid such financial loses. Managers should be encouraged to speak their mind about the viability of a particular idea or a project.

Originally Published in

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Brand Update : Alpenliebe is no longer a candy its also an Eclair

Alpenliebe, the flagship candy brand from Perfetti VanMelle (PVM) recently launched Alpenliebe Eclairs.The brand which pioneered candy ( more specifically deposited candy) segment in India is no longer a candy brand.

PVM has been experimenting with Alpenliebe for a while now. Ever since the launch in 1995, the brand saw may product-line extensions and campaigns.
The brand over these years launched lollipops, different flavors of Alpenliebe and also extensions like Creamfills and Mangofillz Alpenliebe. Consumers willingly accepted these variants making Alpenliebe market leader in the segment.

Along with the extensions, PVM extended the equity of the brand to other confectionery segments through secondary associations. The brand launched Chocoliebe in the eclair category drawing equity from Alpenliebe.

The brand also saw some clutter -breaking campaigns in its life so far. The brand was launched with the positioning - Simply Irresistible. The brand used the messages like " Jee Lal Chahe ,Raha na Jaye " and finally to " Lalach Aha Laplap".

The brand then introduced Kajol as the brand ambassador and along with the animated alligator - Mr Munch began promoting Alpenliebe aggressively. In 2010, the brand launched another clutter-breaking campaign which saw Kajol doing a role reversal of sorts. The ad featured a theme where the role of human and monkey were reversed . Kajol took the role of a monkey and Madaari ( master) was a monkey ( detailed plot here)

Watch the campaign here : Role reversal

The latest move of Alpenliebe to launch eclairs was a complete surprise. First thing is that the launch of Alpenliebe eclairs completely changed the character of the brand. The brand now is no longer a candy. In a branding perspective, this is significant. It is just like Horlicks launching noodles. Horlicks no longer is an energy drink. So Alpenliebe has become a brand that endorses many confectionery products including eclairs, sugar filled candy, cream filled candy and lollipops.

Secondly, the brand now competes with Chocoliebe which is the eclair brand from the same company. So higher chance of cannibalization happening for PVM.

Although the core Alpenliebe brand has been consistent with the positioning of " Irresistible Taste", the product-line extensions were having different positioning. For example -
Lollipop has the tagline " Lagay Raho"
Creamfills has the tagline " Kuch Alagh"
Mangofills has the tagline " Mango ka Tinku".

This shows that Alpenliebe is not maintaining a consistency in the core positioning. For an umbrella brand, consistency of core brand message " Simply Irresistible " is vital and this message should run through all the campaigns of the extensions.

Eclairs however has maintained the irresistible taste as the positioning. But the launch campaign is horrible.
Watch it here : Alpenliebe Eclairs
I feel that the ad agency was told to create a funny commercial and they tried and failed miserably. Alpenliebe Eclairs has the tagline " Chocolatey Laila " which I think is a tagline that may not have much life in it.

Having said that, there is a business logic behind the launch of eclairs. Confectionery marketers are faced with the issue of consumer price- fixation. The market is highly price conscious. Candies are now priced at 50 paise and all efforts of marketers to make consumers pay more has failed. Alpenliebe Eclairs is an attempt by PVM to trade-up the pricing ladder. The Rs 1 eclair will add more profitability to Alpenliebe portfolio and eclair is a high growth category in this industry.

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Brand Update : Sunfeast enters noodles segment with Yippee

Sunfeast is on its way to become a megabrand. This challenger biscuit brand launched in 2003, within a span of 7 years, has presence in categories like biscuits,pasta and now in noodles. Sunfeast made its first brand extension in 2005 when it launched Sunfeast Pasta Treat and created the pasta category in the Indian market.

In September 2010 , the brand launched its noodles brand extension- Sunfeast Yippee. Indian noodles segment has now become a huge market worth Rs 1200 crore . Maggi is the market leader with a whopping 70% market share ( Business Standard). A huge market with one major market leader is definitely an attractive one. That is one of the reason why so many players have recently launched their brand in this segment.

Sunfeast ( ITC) is a worthy player to take on the might of Maggi. ITC is a company that is not averse to taking risk and have a huge cash reserve to fight a marketing war with Nestle.
The Sunfeast brand already has built up sufficient equity in the biscuit business with its high profile campaigns featuring Shah Rukh Khan . The brand also occupied good shelf space in most of the large retail formats . Another aspect of the brand was its penchant for launching a series of new products and flavors which helped gain lot of consumer liking in the biscuit business.

Looking at the strategy behind extending the biscuit brand into noodles, there are pros and cons that has to be noted. The major advantage for ITC in extending the Sunfeast brand is that it may have saved lot of money through this extension. Building a brand in a sensitive category like food will take lot of investment and time. Since Sunfeast is already in food business, it makes economic sense to launch noodles under this brand.

The disadvantage is the dilution of the equity of the brand in its core business- biscuits. Sunfeast is not now a biscuit brand but an umbrella brand endorsing many food items. Hence the personality of the brand has changed . This change has happened from 2005 itself when the brand launched the Pasta Treat.

In the branding of noodles, Sunfeast has adopted an endorsing structure where Sunfeast brand will endorse the Noodle brand "Yippee " . The look of the brand says that it is going to be positioned as a happy, vibrant, fun loving brand. I am yet to see any campaigns for this brand in any of the channels. Retail shops are displaying the brand with some POP promotions but not much on the message side.

Picture courtesy and an interesting take on the brand by Karthik - here

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Marketing Strategy : 10 Questions About Your Brand

Marketers are faced with a highly challenging task of balancing short-term and long-term strategies for the brand. In a highly competitive market, marketers often get deluged in activities which are tactical in nature. In doing so, brands may lose focus on pursuing its vision.

There are many reasons behind the manic run behind short-term gains for the brand. The major culprit is in trying to manage the brand from quarter to quarter. Pressured to show positive growth in every quarter, managers are seldom given time to analyze the long term implications of their marketing activities.

At some point in time marketers need to pause and take stock of the brand’s path to future. Great brands are never built in 3 months. It takes years of focused work and investments. Although marketers are willing to invest now, they expect a positive ROI within a short span of time.

Whether the brand is new or old, marketers need to periodically assess and evaluate the path towards the future. The following questions will help the brand managers to check whether the brand is treading in the right direction.

1. What is your brand vision?

It is critical for brands to have a long term game plan. The plan will help serve as a guideline that will help future managers to devise action plans and continue in the right direction.

2. What needs of customers that your brands satisfy?

Marketers must be able to clearly articulate the customer needs and wants that the brands aim to satisfy. These needs and wants may change over time; hence marketers need to periodically review whether the brand is currently relevant in the customer’s life. The brand should also be able to appeal to the new demands of the consumers. Regular evaluation of this parameter will keep the brand in tune with the changing consumer mindset.

3. What is your brand’s core strength?

Brands needs to have a “ WoW” factor if it is aiming for long run profitability. Marketers needs to constantly search for the “WoW “factor and keep inventing more and more of these “ WoW” factors.

4. What values does the brand represent?

Brand values represent the core foundation upon which brand strategies are made. According to Professor Kevin Lane Keller, Brand Values are those set of abstract associations that characterize the 5 to 10 most important aspects or dimensions of a brand. Brand values serve as the basis for brand positioning. Marketers have to identify and internalize these core values and periodically check whether the brand is aligned to these values.

5. Will the customers relate to those brand values?

Not only that the marketers should identify brand values, they need to check whether those brand values are relevant to consumer’s life. Sometimes consumers may not relate to the brand’s core mantra. It is in this situation where the brand may feel disconnected with its target audiences. Periodical review of the brand’s connection with the target market is critical to long-term survival.

6. Is the brand relevant to a customer’s life?

Successful brands stay relevant in the consumer’s life. Marketers should be able gauge whether the brand is relevant to the customer. Managers should constantly keep in touch with the customers to understand how the brand is helping them in their life.

7. Is the brand’s promise sustainable over time?

Markets are dynamic and consumer taste and preferences change drastically over time. Hence while developing the brand’s core mantra or promise, managers should also devise a process to determine whether the brand’s promise is sustainable over time. The brand also needs to evaluate its promise in comparison with its competitors.

8. Is your brand flexible?

There will be situations where the brand may have to reinvent itself. New opportunities may force the brand to venture into related as well as unrelated categories. Marketers should build some amount of flexibility in the brand architecture so that it is possible for the brand to venture into other categories.

9. Does the brand create excitement in the market?

Iconic brands are exciting. These iconic brands not only excite the customers but also the employees. A crucial question in the brand’s quest for excellence is whether the brand is able to create a sustainable level of excitement in the market. Creating excitement in the market is not easy and it cannot be done overnight. Marketers need to invest a lot if they want to create a high level of excitement in the market.

10. Is your brand engaging the customers?

The final question for the managers is about customer engagement. We are living in the experience economy. Consumers pay for experiences rather than for products. To understand the customer’s expectations and deliver those experiences, brands needs to constantly engage the consumers. Technology has enabled marketers to directly interact with the customers in multiple platforms. Managers should check regularly whether the brand is engaging with the customers through the various available platforms.

Originally Published in

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Brand Update : No Idea then Get Idea !

There are times when a campaign thrills you with its simplicity and creativity. Idea's new campaign on number portability was one such thrilling moment.

Mobile number portability ( MNP) is on the verge of becoming a reality. It means that a consumer can switch their mobile service provider while retaining their number for a fee.The allowing of MNP will take away one of the most important switching cost as far as a consumer is concerned. Many consumers ( like me) had grudgingly stayed with a subscriber just for the sake of retaining the mobile number for the fear of losing contact with old friends and acquaintances. When MNP becomes a reality, that fear will go and consumers will be free to switch service providers.

For the service provider, MNP is both a challenge and an opportunity. Challenge because they cannot take a consumer ( subscriber) for granted. Consumers often are lazy and have inertia in terms of taking pains to switch service brands. One has to be too pissed off to take the trouble of moving to a different service provider and then messaging all contacts about the new contact number. This switching cost over the period of time has been lightened with the popularity of dual SIM phones and most of the subscribers are now open to carrying multiple phones with them.

It is in the light of these developments that Idea decided to take on MNP through their latest campaign - No Idea,Get Idea.
The ad uses the most commonly used slang - No Idea to drive home their point. It is an example of sheer brilliant creative which hits you right on target.

The campaign focuses on instances where non- Idea subscribers gets pissed off with their mobile service providers. They encounter network issues, over charging instances and bad consumer services and when Abhishek Bachchan asks them for the reason why they are being mistreated, they responds in the typical slang - No Idea. Abhishek Bachchan pitches with the punchline " Get Idea ". Simple but brilliant.

Watch the campaigns here :

It is clear that Idea has done some research on the burning problems that consumer's face with regard to mobile services. Network coverage , customer service and billing issues feature prominent among the key reasons for customer churn and complaints.

One will know which brand will gain more with MNP only after it is implemented but Idea decided to use this for yet another brilliant campaign. This preemptive campaign puts Idea in a advantageous position against competition. Now competitors will find it difficult to crate campaigns on these features and negate this first -mover advantage of Idea.

Another interesting thing I noticed about the campaign was that " Get Idea " term may have came late to the creative directors because if you notice the ads, Abhishek Bachchan says " Thats What " (not Get Idea) when the other character says " No Idea ". I think that " Get Idea" punchline was later incorporated into the ads.

Idea brand is on a roll . Aditya Birla Group should be applauded for the investment it is making on the brand. Telecom services over a period of time will become commoditized interms of tariff plans and other features.Once consumers are free to chose without switching costs, brand will play a big role in customer acquisition and retention.
A nice take on the current campaign from an adman - Bhatnaturally

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Van Heusen : Evolve Yourself

Brand : Van Heusen
Company : Madura Garments ( Aditya Birla Nuvo)
Ad Agency : JWT India

Brand Analysis Count : #467

Van Heusen is one of the largest apparel brand in India. The brand which came to India in 1990 is on the verge of a new growth trajectory. The exciting new path for the brand is built on the rich heritage that this brand carries.

Van Heusen is a truly global brand. The brand has a rich heritage with a history dating back to 1881. The brand journey started in USA in 1881 when Moses Philip and his wife began selling hand-sewed shirts to local miners of Pennsylvania in a push cart. Later Philips and his son moved to Newyork and began selling shirts.

In 1910 John M Van Heusen from Holland found a unique process of fusing cloth on a curve thus created a comfortable self-folding collar. John Van Heusen and Philips' son Seymour Philips met in US and Philips-Van Heusen Company was created. The company also got a patent for the collar in 1919. ( source : Super Brands)

From there, the brand went on to become the largest selling shirt brand in USA. Now Philips-Van Heusen (PVH) which owns the brand worldwide is an apparel giant which owns iconic brands like Arrow, Van Heusen, Tommy Hilfinger and Calvin Klein.

This iconic brand was brought to India by Madura Garments. Madura Garments hold the right to market this brand in India. When Aditya Birla group acquired Madura Garments, the right moved to AB Group.

Van Heusen was a pioneer in the development of executive -wear segment in India. The brand positioned itself as one for the upwardly mobile executives. The brand positioned itself on the platform of Powerful + Fashionable executive formal wear. The brand introduced the concept of " Power Dressing " implying that the brand users are those who occupy the powerful places in the corporate world.

Along with the aspirational positioning , the brand appealed to the consumers by focusing on fashion.Fashion and Formal wear are seemingly opposite attributes and it is difficult to convince consumers that a brand can have these opposite attributes co-exist. Van Heusen was successful in doing that. The best way to impress the fashion conscious consumer is to innovate. Globally Van Heusen is known for its innovation in their clothing. The brand came out with concepts of Ice Touch, Dura Press etc which reinforced the positioning of Van Heusen as a fashionable executive wear.
The brand endorses the core values of modern, fashionable updated, minimalism and timelessness. The brand targets 25-45 year olds who are in the middle-upper class executives who have a penchant for understated fashion.

The brand captured the attention of Indian corporate through is heavy brand promotion and rich heritage. Van Heusen is now a Rs 400 crore brand with strong presence across the country. The brand which initially promoted itself using the tagline " Power Dressing " evolved over a period of time. The tagline was changed to " Power . Evolved " which communicated that the brand user has arrived to a position of power. Now the brand is sporting the tagline " Evolve Everyday". The brand also successfully ventured into women-wear.

The highly competitive Indian executive wear industry has prompted the brand to devise new ways of growth. The brand launched its range of casual wear under the brand VDot and has now roped in Actor John Abraham as the brand ambassador. ( VDot will be dealt in detail in a future post).

The strong point of Van Heusen is its ability to lead the market with its fashionable range. The high quality , never compromising premiumness ( exclusivity) and understated image has contributed a lot to the growth of this brand. The campaigns of Van Heusen (except for the early ones on Power Dressing) were never clutter-breaking but was enough for the discerning customers to patronize the brand.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Marketing Strategy : Harnessing the Power of Brand Elements

American Marketing Association defines brand as a name, term, sign, symbol or design or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competition. According to Professor Kevin Lane Keller, Brand Elements are trademark-able devices that serve to identify and differentiate the brand. The most common brand elements are brand names, logos, symbols, characters, spokespeople, slogan, jingle, imagery, packages, colour, imagery, signage etc.

It is important for marketers to realize the potential of using all the brand elements while endeavouring to build a brand. Most marketers tend to concentrate their resources only on brand names and logos and thus losing an opportunity to create and develop other brand elements which can act as a powerful differentiator. Successful brands take advantage of all their brand elements there by creating various points of impact in the mind of the consumer.

Take the case of Absolut Vodka. This is a brand which used its simple trademarked Vodka bottle as a powerful brand element. Through consistent campaigns, the Absolut Vodka bottle was developed as a powerful differentiator for the brand. The trademarked bottle has become the most remembered and visible brand element for Absolut creating a distinct identity for the brand. The brand created lot of awareness, loyalty and consumer interest through the clever use of the vodka bottle in all of their campaigns.

Marketers should be able to identify unique brand elements that can break the clutter and create an impression. While most of the brands chose to invest in common obvious brand elements like the name, logo etc, it would be wise to look for something different. A classic example of that can be seen in the branding of Vanish – which is the stain removing detergent brand of Reckitt & Benckiser. The brand used colour Pink as the main brand element. Vanish uses the tagline “Trust Pink, Forget Stains “to promote the brand element. Vanish product is not pink in colour but the brand comes in a pink pack. The use of the “Pink” colour as the brand element acted as a powerful differentiator for Vanish. The association with Pink also increased the brand awareness and brand recognition in a highly cluttered detergent market

Another important criterion for effective use of brand element is that it should be easy to memorize. The brand elements should be easy to remember and recall. The consumer should be able to remember the brand element and the element should aid in the recall of the brand during the time of purchase.

Intel’s famous tagline “Intel Inside” is one such brand element which is easy to memorize and recall. The brand used this tagline and its logo very effectively in their promotions. ‘Intel Inside ‘tagline together the logo became a powerful brand element that created lot of brand recall and identity. Intel is also one brand that used its jingle (melody) as a powerful element. The five note melody has now become an indispensable part of the Intel branding. Intel carefully developed these brand elements through a 3 second animated jingle ( known as a signature Id, audio visual logo) which consisted displaying the logo and the five- note melody after every Intel ads ( Source – Intel Website). Over a period of time, these brand elements became so powerful that consumers will recall the brand once this melody is played.

The brand elements thus created should be protected by the brand owners. Trademarked brand elements become powerful differentiators over time. Since these brand elements are protected, there need not be any fear about competitors copying those elements.

Marketers should try to identify all possible opportunities to create brand elements. And while communicating the brand’s message, all these brand elements should be present in the communication. For example, Idea Cellular uses a wide range of brand elements in its communication. The brand uses its signature Yellow Colour, Taglines and slogans, brand ambassador and its signature melody in all their multimedia campaigns. All these brand elements have become popular over these years that consumers are now recognizing Idea Cellular when they see or hear any of these brand elements.

Having a basket of strong brand elements also helps in tapping in the various promotional mixes more effectively. For example a popular character or a mascot can open up opportunities of promotion through merchandising. A popular jingle or a melody can help to promote the brand through radio, TV or even mobiles. So it is the job of the marketer to constantly look for creating new brand elements and thus giving new promotional opportunities for the brand.

Brand elements have lot of strategic importance in branding. Marketers should take responsibility in identifying, creating and developing unique brand elements. Once created, these elements provide the brand with a powerful identity at a time when features and attributes are increasingly becoming commoditized.

Originally published here at

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Brand Update : Ceat wants you to be Idiot Safe

Ceat went in for a major rebranding exercise in 2008 when it changed its logo, the mascot and the famous tagline " Born Tough". I was very critical about the whole rebranding exercise especially the decision to discard the Rhino (mascot) and the tagline. The logic for the rebranding was to make the brand contemporary and relevant to the new generation consumers.

Although the company spent some money on rebranding campaign in 2008, it again went in on a silent mode for almost two years . There was virtually no campaign for Ceat in this period. Recently the brand has started making some noise in the media with a series of brand campaigns.

The current campaign for Ceat is for its bike tyres. The campaign is dubbed " Be Idiot Safe ". The campaign runs on the theme that ' Roads are full of idiots and be idiot-safe with Ceat Tyres".

Watch the ad here : Be Idiot Safe

The ads are currently focusing on the " better road grip " feature of Ceat bike tyres. Road grip is an important ,relevant feature as far as tyres are concerned and Ceat has tried to own up that feature.

Along with the 'Be Idiot Safe " television campaign, the brand has tried to take up this idea into the internet by launching the brand site "". The brand tried to engage users by inviting interesting videos about those idiots on the road. Users can upload the videos about rash driving and careless road habits onto the sites. The brand expects that these funny videos will be viral and increase the brand's visibility on the web. I am not sure whether the site had managed to sustain interest among the netizens.

Another interesting aspect of Ceat's brand strategy is that it chose to have different theme for its different product-lines. While " Be idiot-safe " theme is for bike tyres, the brand have a different theme for its SUV product range. For the SUV range, the brand has adopted the tagline " Takes the wild out of wilderness ".

That means Ceat will have separate positioning for its various products. In branding perspective, that is not a good strategy. The multiple positioning can dilute the core brand's positioning unless there is a common thread passing through the various positioning campaigns. MRF uses multiple positioning campaigns for its various products but these product lines have sub-brands. In the case of Ceat, there is no sub-brands but only product descriptors .

It would work well if Ceat can think of a core brand positioning for the brand - CEAT. This core brand positioning will be reflect what the brand CEAT stands for. Then use sub-brands for its product-lines like SUV, bike tyres, car tyres etc .The brand can then use different positioning campaigns for the sub-brands. The sub-brand's positioning should be in line with the core brand's positioning but the sub-brands will have freedom to chose its own relevant themes.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Marketing Strategy : Where is Marketing in Your Strategy ?

It is interesting to see how many companies realize the importance of marketing in their corporate strategy framework. Most firms have realized the importance of marketing as an important function in their organizational framework, but marketing has not yet being considered as an important part of the corporate strategy.

Marketing concept evolved through various stages. The first stage was where the firms believed that consumers want inexpensive products that satisfied their needs and wants. The emphasis during this stage was on mass production and focus was on efficiency and low cost. ((kotler, p. (2008). Marketing management. delhi: prentice hall.)

The next stage of the evolution was when firms realized that consumers are not just looking for low cost solutions to their needs but are also attracted to product features and new product innovations. During this stage, firms competed with each other in developing new product features and solutions.

Soon firms realized that mere product innovations and features are not going to lure consumers into purchase. Consumers needed to be persuaded to buy products. During this stage, firms focused on increasing their ability to sell the products in the market. This stage saw lot of investment in building sales departments and channel management functions.

Despite the success of the concept based on the emphasis on selling, firms found a gap in the consumer needs and the product being sold. Increased competition created a need in the firms to look at consumers for fresh ideas. Firms realized that they should be more consumer focused rather than focused on selling products. Firms also realized that it has the ability to shape consumer behaviour and create new wants. Rather than focusing on selling and producing, companies began to listen to consumers and adopt strategies that shaped new consumer behaviour and trends. Products became only a tool to realize firm’s objective. Consumer became the focal point of all activities. It was the beginning of the marketing.

From a function focused on moving the product from the warehouses to consumer, marketing has come a long way. It now occupies a significant position in a firms’ organizational structure. But it is time to reinvent marketing.

Although leaders of businesses emphasis on the importance of marketing in their organizations, the concept of marketing is constrained by the functional status bestowed upon it. Marketing is still considered as a function rather than a strategy. And by giving a functional status, the scope of marketing is severely blocked from realizing its full potential. It is time for firms to realize that business in marketing.

Marketing is not a function but a strategy. This is a matter that has to be dealt with at the board level. While financial performance and analysis is given huge importance in the annual report of publically listed firms, it is interesting to see how little information and analysis is given on the marketing side. I would like to suggest that firm’s should show courage to put their marketing strategy to scrutiny at the highest level.

The advantages of taking marketing strategy at the board level will have lot of advantages. For example take the case of a brand extension. Should this decision be taken at the board level or should it be dealt at the functional level. Is brand extension a corporate strategy or a functional strategy? In most of the firms, these decisions are taken at the functional level and seldom discussed threadbare at the board level unless it require huge capital expenditure. And it is often found that brands lose because of meaningless extensions resulting in a direct impact on its financial performance.

Take the example of positioning. Is positioning of a brand discussed at the board level or decided at the functional level. Should the decision of positioning /repositioning discussed at the board? If business is marketing, then the decision on positioning should be discussed at the highest governing body because the success of the product largely hinges on the effectiveness of positioning. When positioning strategy is discussed at the highest level, it becomes business strategy and not just another element of the functional strategy.

When a firm takes such a serious view of marketing, then branding becomes focused. Positioning becomes consistent, Managers think twice before venturing into meaningless extensions. Brand strategy will not be outsourced to advertising agencies. Consumers will be handled with care. Complaints will be seriously dealt with and monitored at the highest level of management hierarchy.

In highly successful companies, marketing is handled by CEOs. Brands like Apple, Microsoft, Harley Davidson thrive because they are looked after by the CEOs. When CEOs become marketing evangelists, marketing will achieve its true potential.

Originally published here in

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Fryums : Eat Smart

Brand : Fryums
Company : TTK

Brand Analysis Count : 466

Fryums is a very interesting brand. Infact how many of us know that it is a brand ? Recently when two of my students visited my home, my wife served them a bowl of Fryums which invoked a sense of nostalgia and we discussed about this Indian snack which failed to fight the invasion of Lays.
Fryums was launched by TTK in 1990. This ready-to-cook Indian snack quickly gained popularity in the Indian market . The brand became so popular that soon consumers began to use the brand name as the generic name for such snacks.

Sometimes too much popularity can be bad for the brand. When brand names become generic, marketers should worry because there is a chance that they will lose the brand. The same happened with Fryums. Consumers started to refer to Fryums as a generic name for all such ready-to-fry snacks. Soon competitors also started using the term Fryums in their packs.

When consumers started using Fryums as generic name, retailers too made use of that opportunity to push the similar product that offered better margins. Soon Fryums became more of a commodity than a differentiated , protected brand.

Along with this unique problem came the competition from Lays. Fryums was not able to counter the competition from Lays. Lays were more up-market, aspirational, convenience and had more perceived quality than Fryums. The fact that one needs to fry this product in oil before use also made it less appealing to the younger generation .

From a generic brand , Fryums fell into oblivion. The brand soon went off the shelves or became one among the many " Fryums " at the stores. The company also was clueless about the future of this ' famous' brand.
However in 2000-2001, the brand went in for a makeover. Fryums was rebranded as Fryums Yummies and the brand had a new logo and even a mascot. In the new avataar, TTK tried to rev up the brand's fortune by launching it in new flavors and also in new product forms. But even this rebranding did not work in the favor of Fryums. The problem was that the brand did not have enough steam to fight the competitors.

Fryums 's issues highlight the need for marketers to fiercely protect their brands from becoming generic. The brand should pursue and protect itself from being used as a verb or as a category identifier. Once the brand become generic, there are chances that legally it cannot be protected by the owners. This fate happened with the likes of Aspirin.

There is future ahead for Fryums. The brand needs to reinvent itself and position itself as a healthy alternative to existing snackfoods. The brand is cholesterol free and contains no MSG or trans fats. The new flavors + new brand campaign can raise the interest about this Indian snackfood in the market.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Marketing Strategy : How to Create a Category

When Tata Motors launched its sub 1tonne commercial goods carrier- Tata Ace in 2005, it created a huge change in the small commercial vehicle segment in India. After five years, Ace is ruling the new category of mini trucks in the Indian market.

India is witnessing a huge surge in the creation of new categories. As the market grows, marketers find new ways of identifying and satisfying needs and wants. With increased competition, marketers often look for creation of new categories where they can avail better share of revenue and profits.

The recent high profile launch of iPad by Apple Inc has put a spotlight on the strategy of creating and owning new categories. Burdened with competition from across the globe, category creation is the magic pill that marketers now look forward to for survival.

Need Gap and Price Gap

When attempting to create a category, marketers broadly look at two approaches – need based and price based. In the need based category creation, marketers look for unmet needs and wants. Sugar Free is the brand of artificial sweeteners which pioneered this category in India. The brand identified the need for such artificial sweeteners in the emerging health conscious Indian market and tapped it quite successfully.

Another broad approach is to look for price gaps in the existing category and carve out a new category based on the price factor. Tata Nano is expected to carve a new sub-category on its own at the bottom of the pyramid with its 1 lakh price tag.

Bundling Multiple Uses

Marketers also try to create new category by bundling multiple uses. While lot of debates are going on about the future of the Ipad, it is interesting to see the attempt to create a new category by Apple through this product. Apple Inc is trying to create a new category by combining multiple uses together in a single product. iPad can act as a eBook reader, play music, surf the internet, play games and perform office related tasks. Marketers can think about creating a new category of products that performs multiple tasks thus solving multiple needs of the consumers.

Emulating successful brands

Mahindra recently launched a new commercial minitruck- Gio which emulates the success of Tata Ace. Gio is a sub 0.5 Tonne goods carrier aimed at creating a new category of compact mini truck in the Indian market. Mahindra Gio is expected to carve a significant customer base out of the existing commercial three wheeler segments. Gio shows that marketers can create new categories by emulating successful marketing practices from other categories.

Break- Away Positioning

Marketers can also look for new category ideas from existing categories. When Swatch was launched in Switzerland in 1983, the watch market was categorized on the basis of price. Watches were perceived to be a functional product and were segmented as premium, mid-range, and low price range. Swatch created a new category within the industry by positioning itself as a lifestyle product rather than a functional product. Swatch adopted the strategy of break-away positioning where the new category is created by breaking away from an existing category Swatch was positioned as a fashion accessory by careful design of marketing mix elements which created an iconic status for the brand.

Think Beyond Products

In order to create a new category, marketers should be able to think beyond products. The focus should be on ideas rather than the physical products. The ideas will later transform itself to products. But to get the right kind of ideas, marketers should be able to understand the life of a consumer. Consumers may not always be in a position to give new product ideas to a marketer. But an observation into the life of a consumer will throw a million insights which can later be transformed to practical product ideas.

Look at the consumers

Consumers are always looking for ways to improve their lives. Some of their needs are hidden or even latent. By closely interacting and observing the consumer , marketers will be in a position to create newer product categories and thereby becoming more relevant in the life of the consumers. For example, Indian computer market is witnessing a shift towards laptops and netbooks. This shift has created a need for a mobile internet service which can enable the consumer to surf the net on the move. This need has enabled companies like Reliance Mobile and Tata Indicom to come out with a new sub-category of internet broadband datacards. The increased health consciousness of Indian consumers has created a huge new category of functional foods and healthy snacks. These new categories are being created only through careful observation of consumer needs and trends.

Consumers are constantly looking for ways to make their life better. There are immense opportunities for new categories that can make the life of consumers a lot easier. Marketers should be willing to experiment new products and categories inorder to cash in the abundant opportunities before them.

Originally Published here at

Monday, November 01, 2010

Crusoe : Who Are You Inside ?

Brand : Crusoe
Company : Jagannath Textiles Company
Ad Agency : Black Swan Life

Brand Analysis Count # 465

It feels good when an Indian brand attempts something ambitious with careful thought and matches it with smart execution. One brand that caught my attention recently was Crusoe.

Crusoe is a premium inner wear brand from Coimbatore based Jagannath Textiles Company. The brand was soft-launched in South India on January 2010 and is slated for a national launch.

Jagannath Textiles Company is a Rs 300 crore company specializing in manufacture of quality yarn. The company later moved over to value added products like home-textiles and apparels.

Crusoe is the company's offering in the mid-premium segment of the highly competitive Rs 1600 crore Indian organized innerwear market. The brand will be fighting for its pie with a host of brands like VIP, Rupa, Amul Macho, Jockey etc.

Crusoe is positioned differently from the rest of the crowd. The brand chose to appeal to a higher level attribute from the launch phase itself ( Laddering ). The brand is calling itself an " Innerwear for Inner-Self ". Crusoe has adopted the tagline " Who are you Inside ? " which is a question that the brand asks its TG.

The brand website - crusoeworld gives the following insights into the tagline :-

Clothes don't just cover you up,
Clothes are a cover up.
Most of the times, it's how
you want the world to see you.
At other times , it's how the world sees you.
But underneath all those layers,
When you are in your bare essentials,
When all you have to impress is you ,
Ask yourself one question.
Who are you inside ?

The concept of ' Innerself ' ' True Self ' & ' Breaking Free ' etc is not a new idea. Many brands have dabbled with the theme before. Crusoe has executed the concept very well and related that to the product - innerwear. The brand is running a series ( 8 nos) of print ads featuring the theme. The brand has also invested in OOH media . The theme also distantly resembles one of campaigns of Kamasutra condoms ( What do you want to be tonight ! ). But the brand scores in the execution and the ads are striking.

Crusoe has three product line extensions - Base, Nxt, and Xtreme each catering to different price points. Xtreme is the premium line in the range of Rs 350 +.

Crusoe directly competes with premium brands like Jockey , Hanes etc . While Jockey talks about fun, Crusoe takes the opposite pole of serious contemplation. That was a smart marketing move on the part of Crusoe to think differently from the rest of the crowd. The mass market segment of the innerwear market is still stuck with humor and sex. Crusoe is a welcome relief.

As a customer, I am impressed with the thoughtful process that the brand has undertaken for their campaigns. The brand has to tread the thin line between aggression and profitability. To make a serious dent in the market, these start-up brands have to invest heavily in brand promotion as well as channel penetration. Experts tell that channels ( distribution) decide the fate of the brand in the innerwear segment.

Crusoe is an interesting brand to watch out for. If the brand is able to consistently invest in distribution and continue its current promotions, we will see the emergence of a powerful Indian innerwear brand.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Brand Update : Amul Macho Repositions with Saif Ali Khan

In a significant move, Amul Macho brand has repositioned itself. This season, the brand shed its raunchy image and moved into the ordinary . The brand also roped in Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan as the brand ambassador. Amul Macho is currently running the campaign with the new brand ambassador.

Watch the ad here : Amul Macho
In the current repositioning exercise, the brand dropped the earlier theme of " sexy " and moved into a theme that talks about brand personality. Along with the repositioning, Amul Macho also changed its tagline " Ye To Bada Toing hain " to " Bede Aaram se ".

According to news reports the brand wants to be perceived as cool and more sophisticated. The earlier campaign projected the brand as raw sexy one and now the brand logically wants to be more urban/upmarket while appealing to the mass market.

The new tagline implies that the brand user is one who get things done effortlessly. The ad tries desperately to convey the message of effortlessness rather unsuccessfully. The concept of effortlessness is highly attractive to men but in this case the brand failed to convey the promise effectively to the audience. The tagline " Bede Aaram Se " talks about comfort as well as effortlessness but how ever the poor execution of the positioning concept made the tagline look very old and familiar.

Amul Macho is one of the fastest growing innerwear brand in India. The brand currently has a turnover of over Rs 355 crore.

While the earlier campaigns ( although of poor taste and raunchy) helped Amul Macho to break the clutter. But the current one places the brand right inside the crowd of other innerwear brands . Brands like Lux, Rupa etc also uses celebrity endorsers and with the current repostioning, Amul Macho made itself undifferentiated with the rest of the crowd.

Very few brands were able to successfully integrate itself the concept of effortlessness . Although everyone likes the concept it is very difficult for a brand to project that as a brand promise in a convincing manner. It will take a real big idea to really drive that promise into the consumer's mind. Amul Macho may have to try little more harder to reach that place.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Brand Update : Horlicks Becomes A Megabrand !

This had to happen.

Horlicks officially has become a mega-brand. Mega-brands are those brands which have their presence across various product-lines and categories. There will be a wide range of products under the same brand name across multiple product categories.

GSK has recently launched the first integrated brand campaign for Horlicks which positions the brand as a Mega-brand endorsing products across categories like beverages, biscuits , snack bars,etc

This is the first time that the brand brings all the various extensions under the same campaign. Horlicks as the umbrella brand retains the classic tagline " The Great Family Nourisher ".

Along with the new campaign, the brand also has redesigned the critical brand elements like the Logo and the Packaging. The brand had made some changes with regard to the logo color and made the logo + color scheme standard across all extensions. The brand also made the packaging standard for all its beverages viz Horlicks Lite, Women's Horlicks , standard Horlicks etc.

The official acknowledgement of Horlicks as a mega-brand in a way clears the ambiguity regarding the future of the Horlicks brand. In recent blog posts, I had criticized the brand for their aggressive brand extensions. In this one move, Horlicks has given an answer to the critic in me . Horlicks is no longer a health-drink brand. It is a mega-brand which has interest in foods,beverages, snack-bars and all the future opportunities that arise in the market ( whether you like it or not).

This move thus gives lot of clarity to the brand managers. The brand has boldly made a decision whether it is right or wrong. The brand can aggressively pursue any opportunity in the market because that is what is implied in this strategic move of making Horlicks -a mega brand.

Horlicks is now a Rs 1500 crore brand. The brand is having around 52% share in the health food drinks category ( which is estimated to be Rs 2000 crore). The brand also has presence in biscuits ( total market size - Rs 11000 crore) and in snack-bar ( total mkt size -Rs 250 cr0re).

With the new brand architecture , Horlicks is looking at a larger market which comprises of all kinds of health foods and packaged/branded beverages which is having a total market size of over Rs 100,000 crore ( Source : Campaign India). So one should be prepared to see the launch of products like Horlicks Icecreams, Horlicks Oats etc in future.

On the brighter side, the repositioning of Horlicks as a mega-brand will rationalize the marketing cost for GSK. Although there will be individual brand communications for categories, the brand can now put more money on pushing the core brand which will inturn help all products under the umbrella.

But as major critics of such branding like Alries would point out, Horlicks has now lost its identity. Now consumers will find it difficult to assign a unique position for Horlicks. This dilution can be an opportunity for specialized products which can threaten the strongholds of Horlicks which is the health-food-drink. A focused health food drink brand can now challenge Horlicks's position but the fact is that there is none so far. Complan too has launched products outside the HFD category.

As a keen observer of marketing I feel that the move of making Horlicks is the biggest risk taken by this brand. The brand has moved into the current architecture when competition has become tough in the health-drink category. It will be worthwhile to watch the future of this mega-brand.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Marketing Strategy : Celebrating the WoW Moments

Seldom does brands hit upon wonderful ideas that capture the attention of the consumers. During the last IPL season, Vodafone hit upon such a wonderful advertising idea – The ZooZoo. Those white cute characters quickly captured the imagination of India. ZooZoos were all around the media with rave reviews, blogs and viral videos. The entire marketing community was watching how the brand will handle the unprecedented success of the ZooZoos.

Vodafone themselves was surprised at the success of ZooZoo and it took a while for the company to wake up to the idea of capitalizing the success of ZooZoo by launching merchandises, games, contests and social media engagement. To take the popularity to ZooZoo to the next level, the brand also launched a campaign asking the public to contribute to the advertising campaigns by suggesting ideas.

It is important for the brands to capitalize every such wow factors to the maximum. The big ideas can come in the form of a tagline, a celebrity, a brand mascot, a product feature or an advertising idea. Once that big idea becomes highly accepted by the consumers, it is important for the brand to take it to the next level of engagement.

Take the example of the MRF‘s association with Sachin Tendulkar and cricket. The association started off as a brand endorsement. MRF’s logo on Sachin’s bat got the brand so much visibility that cricket fans began to ask for MRF bats at sports shops. MRF later launched its cricket kits to cash on the popularity. To celebrate the brand’s association with cricket, MRF also ventured into launching MRF pace foundation which has become a vital talent school for pace bowlers. All these engagements involved investments that could not be recovered on a short-term. MRF also involved seriously into racing sports which had a direct connection with the brand’s offering. MRF began to celebrate its involvement in rallies thereby reinforcing the brand’s credibility as a modern, tough tire brand. In all these activities, the brand involved 100% and the investments was not blinded by a quest for short-term sales spurts.

It was a wow- moment for Nike when it chose the tagline “Just Do It”. Customers loved the tagline and Nike did not waste a moment in celebrating the tagline. The tagline became an integral factor in the success of Nike brand. In the Indian context, Idea Cellular Ltd hit upon a hit tagline “ An Idea can Change Your Life ”. The brand also signed up Abhishek Bachchan as the brand ambassador. The brand celebrated these two big ideas together with huge success.

Marketers should look for signs of success of their big and small ideas. There is a huge potential for celebration when consumers start talking about those WoW moments. When consumer starts talking about the brand, marketers should take the cue and take the engagement to the next level.

Have a plan to celebrate.

In this highly competitive world, time is a precious resource. The brand should celebrate its ideas before the euphoria dies down. More time the marketer spent contemplating on the planning phase, the less effective the engagement. There has to be a plan to systematically enhance the engagement with the consumers in the event of such a wow-moment.

Celebrating the brand’s wow moments can have lot of positive rub-offs. It can create an engagement with the consumers. Take the case of ZooZoo. These characters created lot of engagement with the brand and the public (consumers and non-consumers of Vodafone). The ZooZoo fan page in Facebook has more than 3.30 lakh fans. Through these, the brand is able to connect with a larger base of existing and potential consumers who hold a positive frame of mind towards the brand or its campaigns.

Use all the marketing opportunities.

We are living in a highly networked world that offers many opportunities to engage with the consumers. Indian marketers are slow in adapting to newer ways of connecting to the consumers. Once Vodafone figured out the celebrating ZooZoo, it went on an overdrive using all the media opportunities. Vodafone is now using social media like Facebook, Orkut etc to create more engagement with the consumers. It also sells ZooZoo merchandise through select outlets. There are also contests and games which consumers can play in the social media that created lot of consumer engagement.

Celebration is an investment.

In an era of spreadsheets,ROIs and quarterly reports it is difficult for marketers to quickly quantify the returns for such a celebration. Hence it would be prudent for marketers should consider such marketing activities as a long-term investment. Although there may not be an immediate spike in the sales, one should be able to see the long-term equity that such a celebration can deliver to the brand.

Link the celebration to the brand.

While there are a lot of advantages in celebrating the wow- moments, marketers should have clarity in linking the celebration to the brand’s big picture. Brand needs to benefit from the celebration either in terms of better visibility, market share, loyalty or engagement with the consumers. Periodic reviews and assessment will help marketers to justify further investments in celebrating brand’s small and big successes.

Originally Published here in