Saturday, February 27, 2010

Brand Update : Maggi

I recently saw an ad featuring Maggi Sauce. The ad was commemorating the 25 year celebration of the Maggi sauce brand. The ad was a collage of all the ads of Maggi Sauces that features Javed Jaffery and Pankaj Kapoor. The duo was instrumental in making the Maggi sauces famous through the intriguing tagline " Its Different".

But the new ad also had a shocker. Maggi Sauces has decided to change the tagline ' Its Different ' to " Make A Difference ". Regular readers of this blog will be knowing that I despise when brands changes their famous tagline. This time also, its true. Maggi over this 25 years has built consistently the tagline " Its different " and the tagline has been very famous. Now how in the world should the brand change its famous tagline ?? Who was bored with the tagline- is it the customers or the ad agency or the brand manager ??

There is a lot of positioning difference between " Its Different " and " Make a difference ". "Its different" is a tagline that directs towards the product characteristics. The brand had earlier changed the tagline " Its different " to " Enjoy the difference " but later reverted back to the classic tagline. The tagline was able to act as a differentiator for the brand without clearly mentioning the difference. But " Make a Difference" is something that is directed away from the brand. I am not sure how the brand is going to communicate the new idea . What I have seen is only a teaser announcing the change of tagline.

What ever said and done, changing a tagline which has become an integral part of the brand and which has become a powerful brand element is not at all a good idea.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Marketing Strategy : For God's Sake, Sell Ethically

Business to consumer selling in India is at cross roads. If the sales professionals and leaders ,who engage in the business to consumer sales, does not change their approach to selling they would be killing one of the most powerful promotional tool.

Last week, my colleague went to take a fixed deposit from India's second largest private sector bank. He talked with the customer service personnel about the deposit, gave the cheque and signed the forms that the personnel asked him to sign. After one week, he received the premium receipt of an Insurance Policy ( from the Bank's Insurance Arm) instead of the FD receipt. Enraged, my friend went to the bank manager and complained about this mis-selling.The event had a happy ending with the bank apologizing for the "error" and assuring that the money will be recovered and put in the FD.

Caveat Emptor or Buyer Beware .

But this is 21st century... it should be Sellers Beware.

It is true that my colleague should have filled up the form himself, made proper checks and ensured that he is sold the right product. But he trusted his bank of 10 years. He trusted that the bankers would do what he had instructed them to do. Every one of us do that.

This scenario is repeated again and again in many banks these days. This over zeal on selling to everyone without understanding customer needs is going to have a very negative effect on the sales profession as such.

10 years back, there was a similar wave of high pressure selling which ranged from vacuum cleaners to books. These poor sales guys roamed around cold calling on customers which prompted very defensive reaction from the customers. Many housing colonies, flats and townships began to impose restrictions on these visiting salesmen and customers began treating these sales guys rudely. The day of foot- in- the- door approach is over.

The same wave is now seen driven by the financial institutions trying to sell anything from mutual funds to insurance products. There is no doubt that these products demand a direct selling approach. But not in the way sales is being done now.

Why direct selling ?

The major purpose of direct selling is that the company is able to convince the customers directly through identification of needs and matching the right kind of products to the identified needs. During the interaction, the sales person needs to identify the needs of the customer, present his product, handle the customer queries and close the sale. How many sales guys we meet ever ask any relevant questions ?

The brunt of the lack of professionalism and empathy displayed by some sections of sales force is faced by the entire sales community. Getting customer appointments has become difficult than ever before. Consumers' trust on sales persons has come down drastically. Objections and rude behavior has increased considerably.

Another trend is to take students as project trainees to sell insurance. These students are absorbed as summer project trainees for three or four months and given the target of selling insurance policies. Neither these poor lads are given product training nor any sales training. These lads end up selling insurance policies to their uncles and aunts and ultimately hating a sales career.

Take the case of banks selling financial products other than banking products. The purpose is to gain the commission from the sales and taking advantage of the captive prospective clients. But the main objective of the bank is to provide banking solutions . Now most private banks has become selling shops. Targets are given to every staff for both insurance and banking products. These staffs are neither trained in those products nor in selling techniques. Recently I had an argument with a banker who proclaimed that ULIPs are always better than Mutual Funds and FDs and called me a fool for choosing a FD ( I answered back with a four letter expletive). If banks try to convert FD to ULIP, it is actually harming the bank rather than helping it.

It is time that these B2C businesses restructure their selling strategies. This may require a culture change also. Focus on high speed growth and short term results will not aid in quality selling. Firms should focus more on quality of sales rather than quantity of sales . The trend to maximize sales numbers rather than on the quality or customer satisfaction should stop. Sales Professionals should focus on long-term customer relationship or atleast match the products with the customer needs.

Selling is a specialized function. It is an important moment of truth for customers. The way a sales person behaves have a great impact on the company image. Not every one in the organization should do sales. These people has to be trained in selling skills and given adequate product knowledge before asking to meet the prospect. But what is happening right now ? In pursuit of blind growth, targets are given to every employee. Then there is this sales jamboree. Running after prospects and suspects, madly trying to force down products .

The outcome is that consumers will become more defensive to sales people. Calls will not be entertained and appointments will not be given to sales force. Sales Professionals may have to work harder even to get an entry. Why mess up a good profession for myopic growth ????

I may sound utopian, but I think it is time that Sales leaders should think hard about their current sales practices. Targets have to be there, pressure needs to be there but selling right product to the right customer should be the priority.

Sell but please sell ethically..

an Ex-Sales Guy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Marketing Strategy : Branding With A Cause

Branding With a Cause

Originally Published here in

Last year, Colgate celebrated October as Oral Health Month. During the month, the company conducted free dental camps across the country in association with Indian Dental Association (IDA). Besides these camps, Colgate conducts regular Oral Hygiene awareness campaigns and oral health educational programs across India. These programs are conducted with the aim of achieving Colgate’s mission of Zero Tooth Decay in the country .

In December 2008, Nokia announced a unique initiative in India called the Take-Back Recycle initiative. Under this campaign, the brand intends to take back used/ damaged mobiles and accessories for recycling purpose. According to the company, consumers are not aware about the possibility of recycling such unused gadgets. These gadgets can create a huge environmental hazard in near future. Nokia, as a market leader is taking the initiative in creating awareness as well as create a green logistics framework to recycle this potential wastes.

There is no doubt that the primary objective of a brand is to make money for its owners. But there are brands which try to see higher level objectives for themselves. Broadly termed as Cause Branding or Cause Related marketing, these initiatives have long term impacts on brands which may not be visible in quantitative terms. Hence for those managers who view their brands’ performance on a quarterly basis will not find this strategy attractive.

Academic research has established that consumers may develop a unique positive association with companies that take efforts which are beyond economic transactions. Our very own Tata brand is proof of such a positive association. Tata brand is built not based on their products but based on their commitment to social responsibilities.

The question for marketers is whether to spend their precious resources on a non-profit cause which may not have a direct impact on profit or sales. In this era where brands are expected to be built in 3 months, this commitment may seem to be extravagant. But it is often forgotten that brands are seldom built over quarterly sales figures. It is built on the mind of the consumers. And consumers love brands which makes a difference to their lives.

Companies are often confused over the extent to which they should involve in cause related marketing. This has resulted in an unfocused erratic approach towards such initiatives. The short –term initiatives often referred to as Cause Marketing and high involvement activities where the firm or brand is highly involved is referred to as Cause Branding.

Cause Branding as a Strategy

There are two approaches to cause- related marketing .Firms can look at a short term association with a cause with minimum involvement. This can be in the form of a donation to a charity work.

HUL conducted such a short-term campaign for its Surf brand ( known as 10/10 contest ) where for a sale of every 1 kg pack, a fixed amount was donated to certain NGOs operating in the area of child-education for the deprived section of the society. These initiatives may give some positive responses to the brand for a short term.

Another approach is to take cause marketing as a long term brand building strategy. Global cosmetic major Avon has been associating with Breast Cancer Awareness programs since 1993. The brand has raised and contributed $500 millions in support for this cause. In India , HUL supports a long – term cause-branding initiative for its Lifebuoy brand ( Lifebuoy Swasthya Chetana) with the objective of spreading the awareness of importance of washing the hands with soap in rural India.

There is a big difference between these two approaches. Brands have a personality; brand is like a living being with a character and personality. The fact is that consumers are looking at a brand in its entirety – as a whole person. Hence it is important for marketers to take a long term view of Cause Related Marketing initiatives. This calls for a dedicated set of resources both money and men for such a venture.

Identifying a Cause

The success of a cause branding initiative depends heavily on the selection of the cause. An arbitrary one-time charity work is not going to give any positive impact on brand in the long term. Hence the selection of the cause will have to be done in the same seriousness as the selection of the positioning strategy.

The cause selected should appeal to the consumers of the brand and the cause should be relevant to the consumers. In the case of Colgate, oral hygiene and health is a cause that is highly relevant and connected to the brand. Hence such causes have more impact on building the brand’s image.

The cause selected should also make a difference in the society. In the long term, the initiative should be able to produce impactful results for the society.


Most of the cause- branding initiatives are done in partnership with NGOs who operate in that domain. It is important to partner with the right organisation for the implementation of the initiative. But often firms outsource the entire work to the NGOs thus effectively distancing themselves from the cause. It is important for a brand to fully involve in the cause. This could be done by encouraging the employees to offer their expertise or by creating a dedicated team of company professionals to monitor the implementation of these initiatives.


It is important for the brand to communicate this initiative through all possible avenues. Colgate runs a series of media campaigns for its Free Dental Camps and is supported by an exhaustive web-based informative page in their website. The Cause-Branding also gives the brand opportunity to experiment with a wide range of media vehicles to promote both the brand and the cause.

Walk the Talk

In this information intensive era, it is important for the brand to be truthful in its intensions while championing for a cause. Cause-Branding is a double-edged weapon. Consumers will evaluate such initiatives thread-bare to see whether the brand is taking them for a ride.

Hence consider cause-branding as an option only if the brand can sustain it till the cause is achieved. A half-hearted cause branding initiative will damage the brand‘s prestige. It is also imperative for the brand to convince the customer that these initiatives are not done for selfish motives alone.

This could be done only if the firm involves itself into the cause rather than just sponsoring it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Brand Update : Titan

Titan Industries has ventured into the prescription eyewear category with the brand Titan Eye+. The launch was pilot tested in 2007 and now is on the advanced stage of national roll out.The Indian prescription eyewear market is worth around Rs 1800 crore and is dominated by the unorganized sector.

Titan Industries is trying to corner a big pie in this huge untapped market. Titan Eye+ is currently running a campaign across the various channels,

Watch the TVC here : Titan Eye+

There is no question about the opportunity that Titan Industries is trying to tap. Organized eye wear market offers excellent potential for a company like Titan. There is a latent need in the consumers for a trust worthy branded outlet.

The question here is whether Titan Industries made a branding mistake in extending Titan brand into this product category. Does this brand extension augur well for the parent brand Titan or will it erode the intrinsic brand value of Titan ?.

I am always wary about brands extending themselves to unrelated categories. How ever large the potential may be, these brand extensions run the risk of diluting the brand value of their parent brand's equity.

Titan Industries had the opportunity to build a new brand in this category. It could have launched Eye+ as the standalone independent brand rather than launching Eye+ as a sub-brand of Titan.

The only one reason for launching Eye+ as a sub-brand of Titan is to gather the initial momentum in terms of acceptance . Eye+ wants to ride on the huge brand equity of Titan. And it will. As a consumer, I will naturally be tempted to opt for a Titan Eye+ showroom rather than a local store. So without spending huge amounts of money, Eye + will quickly gain acceptance in the market.

Another argument in favor of such brand extension is that over a period of time, the sub-brand will gain independence from the parent brand. Like the Fastrack brand which was launched as a sub-brand of Titan now has an independent status. So over a period of time Titan Eye+ will also be a standalone brand.

What about the parent Titan brand ?
Does this brand extension add value to the Titan watch brand ? Does it support the core positioning of Titan ?

Looking at the launch campaign, the ad is neutral in terms of the effect on the parent brand. The agency had tried to put in the " Jingle" of Original Titan brand in the Eye+ ad. The similarity ends there.

Eye+ is being positioned as a style enhancer .The brand follows the basic positioning that wearing Eye+ makes you attractive. Compared to the brand laddering of Titan ( Be More campaign) the positioning of Eye+ is nothing but very very basic. Eye+ has the tagline " Kuch To Hua Hai" meaning " Something (new) has happened to you".

This is the issue with brand extensions. What ever the ad agency do, the extensions seems to drift away from the core positioning of the parent brand. Titan with the endorsement of Aamir is perceived as a premium brand . Eye+ cannot afford to concentrate on the premium positioning as of now since it will repel many consumers and create a negative perception of " over- pricing".

Is it not a better option if Titan Industries launched Eye + as an standalone brand endorsed by Tata rather than Titan ? That would have given Eye+ lot of room for its promotional strategy. It could easily move across various price ranges. More than that , Eye + could afford to have its own positioning rather than being constrained by the parent brand. About the equity, endorsement by Tata could have been equally good in terms of bringing in consumers.

Eye + has lost a chance of creating a place for itself .The brand will have to move through a series of promotional experiments before gaining independence from Titan. With in the constraints of the parent brand, Eye + needs to prove itself successful in order to gain freedom.

Related Brand

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Marketing Strategy : The Art of Brand Laddering

The Art of Brand Laddering

This article was Originally Published Here at

Raymond makes you a Complete Man, Bournvita makes you Confident, Fiama Di Wills makes you Beautiful Today, Tomorrow, Nike asks you to Just Do It and Eating Parle-G makes you a Genius!!!

Welcome to the world of brand laddering. …

Brand laddering off late is the most sought after strategy in the Indian marketing space. Brand laddering involves positioning of a brand from common product attributes to more abstract values or concepts. Its moving from a focus from product attributes to brand benefits.

One of the Indian brands which have successfully undertook brand laddering is Raymond. Raymond’s is now positioned on a more abstract benefit ( Complete Man) rather than the product /functional attributes of clothing like fashion, texture, quality etc.

From product attributes to higher values involves a series of stages. Marketers have to be careful while trying to position their brands on higher abstract concepts.

The first stage of laddering is establishing the brand’s association with product attributes. Attributes are the physical properties of the product that in turn will deliver the desired benefits to the consumer.

When a brand is launched, the focus of the marketer will be to establish the product attributes. The task is to establish category membership and also to achieve parity with competitors on functional performance.

For example, textile brands will be trying to convince the customer about their product properties like texture, colours, quality etc. For a TV marketer, the focus will be on features like clarity, sound quality, technology etc. For example Sony Bravia is now focusing on its 2 million Bravia Pixels for establishing itself as a leader in the emerging LCD TV market. Automotive marketers concentrate on the product features and attributes while launching its brands into the market.

Once these attributes are firmly established in the mind of the consumer, the brand moves into the next step in the laddering process .This stage involves positioning the brand on product benefits. Here the brand moves from a functional focus to the benefit focus. Maggi Noodles had built its brand based on its product qualities like “easy to cook “and taste. Later the brand repositioned itself on the health platform.The latest tagline of Maggi – Taste Bhi, Health Bhi, takes the brand from attributes focus to benefit positioning.

The most critical stage of laddering process is to associate the brand to abstract benefits. Abstract benefits are conceptual benefits which focus on a deeper need of consumers much above the product benefits. Often these abstract benefits are aspirational in nature.

Brands over a period of time try to move from a basic benefit based positioning to a more abstract benefit. While comfort is a benefit, being a complete man is an abstract benefit. Airtel is about Expressing Yourself. This is an abstract benefit that the cellular service provider tries to position itself on. Fair & Lovely when launched concentrated on its functional benefit of “fairness” during its initial stage of brand building. Over a period of time, the brand has laddered up to the abstract concept of confidence and women empowerment.

Abstract benefits helps increase the aspirational value to the brand. It also helps the brand to extend itself into related categories since its positioning is no more conceptual and not limited by any functional attributes of a product.

The final stage in the laddering process is where the brand becomes synonymous with the abstract benefit. This is a level where the brand personifies abstract benefit. Johnson & Johnson is synonymous with mother – child relationship. Over these years, the brand has established itself by positioning on this abstract concept. In theory, this is referred to as Brand Essence.

Brand laddering helps a marketer in many ways. The most important benefit is that abstract attributes gives more flexibility to the brand. It takes the brand away from the most basic attributes so that marketers can experiment with various communication themes. Abstract benefits also give the brand to be more creative in its campaigns. Raymond’s was able to create highly popular campaigns because it focuses on an aspirational benefit of “Completeness”. Raymond’s can create new stories about a complete man which would not have been possible of a brand focusing on functional attributes.

The fundamental objective of brand laddering is to create icons. Iconic brands are that which truly represents or personifies aspirational values. Nike personifies authentic athleticism and Harley Davidson is synonymous with masculinity, free spirit and rebelliousness.

Although laddering is a sexy marketing strategy, it requires certain preparation for successful execution. The laddering will be successful only if the brand is able to establish its association with functional attributes. If a brand tries to ladder up without establishing its functional expertise, consumers may not believe in the brand’s claim. . The highly acclaimed “ Dirt is Good “ campaign of Surf is a successful brand laddering exercise because it was done after establishing its functional expertise. The brand should first establish its Points of Parity (POP) with its competitors in terms of performance. Only then, the laddering will be accepted by the consumers.

Another important condition is the abstract attribute should be relevant to the brand. For example, Nike and Athletics performance go hand in hand. Bournvita and confidence have obvious connection. Dove and Beauty are connected with each other.

Before venturing into a laddering exercise, the marketer has to decide on the brand essence. The abstract benefit should be carefully chosen because there is going to be a long term association often a permanent one.

Usually laddering is done on a benefit derived out if the core brand mantra. Brand mantra is the core DNA of the brand. It is what the brand stands for. And like DNA, brand’s mantra also remains constant. Choosing the right Brand Mantra enables the brand to ladder up effectively.

Even after a successful laddering exercise, a brand should not leave its focus on functional attributes. Sometimes, the brand should do a laddering down exercise to reinforce its association with functional attributes. This could be done by parallel campaigns focusing on functional attributes. This laddering down should be done if there is a change in consumer’s perception or if the competitors launch an innovative feature. In such a scenario, the brand should reinforce its functional expertise to the consumers.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Go Cheese : From 100% Cow's Milk

Brand : Go
Company : Gowardhan Dairy ( Parag Milk Foods)
Ad Agency : Scion Brand Incubation

Brand Analysis Count : 444

GO is the new brand of Cheese from Gowardhan Dairy which is a part of Pune based Parag Milk Foods. Gowardhan Dairy is one of the largest players in the dairy market in India. The company owns India's largest cow farm and also has constructed Asia's largest cheese plant near Pune.

GO cheese brand is the company's venture into the value added product category. The Indian cheese market, although in a nascent market stage ,having a market size of about Rs 2000 crore is dominated by brands like Amul, Britannia, Mother Dairy etc.

GO cheese has entered a market which is growing at around 20% p.a. But the market is dominated by established players on one side while there is a large unorganized market on the other side.
GO Cheese in now running the launch campaign in various channels.
Watch the ad here : Go Cheese

GO cheese is positioned on the basis of the attribute that it is made from 100% cow's milk. The ads are really good and infact I thought GO is an international brand. More than the 100% milk factor, what is more striking about GO cheese is its packaging.

GO cheese has took packaging very seriously and it will be one of the brand elements that is going to help the brand with lot of customer trials. The packaging looks international and the wedge shaped Cheese pack SKU is appealing to kids and will help the brand get lot of customer trials. It is good to see lot of Indian brands utilizing the potential of packaging in their branding efforts.

Besides the smart packaging and interesting communication, GO brand also has a brand mascot - the cow. The mascot ( although the name is not mentioned anywhere) is shown in the pack and reinforces the positioning of 100% cow's milk.

The 100% cow's milk positioning is a good strategy but not new. Infact Amul used the same positioning for its icecream product range. The problem with 100% cow's milk is that competitors can easily copy the USP and hence negate the point of difference created by GO Cheese. If Amul or Britannia starts showing that their cheese is also made from 100 % cow's milk, GO Cheese may lose its USP.

Hence GO Cheese either needs to OWN up this platform or find another USP which could be sustainable over time. GO can only own this positioning through heavy ad spends reinforcing the consumers about their claim. I am not sure whether the brand can spend that much on the promotions . Another way is to create an ingredient brand which can own up the 100 cow's milk proposition . How ever , the brand needs to protect this proposition from the competitors.

There is always a space for new brands in the large untapped Dairy market in India. GO is in the right position to create a space for itself. There are larger issues to consider like the distribution reach and supply chain management. Cheese is a perishable item and needs a very strong supply chain set up if the brand wants to create a national impact.The brand's task will be to get the distribution and logistics correct and ensure enough retail support for the brand. The brand is expected to go on a phased approach while catering to a large market like India. Even Amul is finding it difficult to get its distribution right in many markets. For example, in my city Cochin, Amul dairy product's distribution is erratic with the products not available in many retail outlets. I hope that GO will go after volume only after setting up a strong distribution reach across the markets.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Marketing Strategy : Executing Marketing Strategies

Executing Marketing Strategies

Originally Published in

Although lot of research and writing is being done on formulation of marketing strategies, little has been said about execution of those marketing strategies. Many problems arise when the marketer fail to properly execute strategies in the market place. It is said that 70-80% of new product launches fail in the market. Most of them fail not because of lack of strategies but because of poor implementation.

For example, most of the Customer –Relationship programs fail at the implementation stage where the program gets morphed into a crude form of database marketing.

Poor implementation of marketing strategies can either dilute the effectiveness or can accelerate failure faster. Unlike other functional areas like finance or production, marketing implementation is external in nature. Take the case of advertising or personal selling, the implementation happens outside the organization. The parties involved in the implementation process are also external. Marketing implementation also requires co-ordination with various other functions like production, finance human resources etc. Hence managing implementation becomes both complex and critical.

For example, when the management decides to cut production costs, the implementation remains largely simple because it is internal. But a decision to reduce marketing expenses will have far reaching effects on various stakeholders like channel members, advertising agencies, media, sales personnel and customer.

There are lot of factors that marketers should focus in order to ensure proper implementation. Most often, implementation is confused with control. While control is of utmost importance, it only helps to correct deviations from the standards. Implementation is more than control. Implementation is about skills, communication, teamwork and culture.


Marketers tend to focus on systems and process for effective implementation forgetting the human side of implementation. Process orientation alone is not sufficient in marketing implementation because the implementation environment is dynamic in nature. In order to make perfect execution of marketing strategies, one has to look at the skill set of the managers who are in charge of implementation.

Harvard Business School Professor Thomas V Bonoma in a 1984 Harvard Business Review article ‘Making your marketing strategy work ‘identified four critical skills for effective implementation. They are

Interaction skills : Providing leadership to the team and communicating

Allocation skills: Allocating right resources to the right team at right time.

Monitoring skills: Controlling and monitoring on a continuous basis

Organising.skills: Identifying and organising resources and creating an execution culture.

These human skills are a necessary condition for marketing strategy programs to work. In most of the marketing organizations, the implementation is the responsibility of the middle-level managers. Hence it is important that these managers are having execution skills for implementing the marketing strategy.

While implementing strategies, firm must take an objective view of its implementation capabilities of its managers before venturing into execution. It also has to see whether the managers have the ability and the authority to interact, allocate, monitor and organize the necessary resources to execute.


Most of the implementations fail because of lack of communication between the planners and the implementers. Marketing plan should be treated as an execution manual and the implementers should be able to understand the essence of the strategy.

Lot of miss-selling happen because the sales staffs are not aware of the wider implication of the strategy. For example, if a service firm is moving towards customer orientation, the front-office personnel should be able to understand the relevance of their action in realizing the overall marketing plan. Recently a reputed car dealer was telling me that he knew about the recent price cut through newspaper and not from company sources.

It is also important to encourage communication flow from the external stakeholders like customers and channel partners to the top level executives. Often, these communications do not reach the senior management. Feedback sessions and other communication channels should be tapped in order to make sure that the management gets the real time feedback from the market.

Internal Marketing.

Employees are also a vital element in your implementation plan. In an organization, it is important that the implementation team is also aware about their role in the marketing plan.

This is especially important in the sales management perspective. The quality of customers and the quality of presentation will have a great impact on the success of marketing implementation. The recent sub-prime crisis is a classic example of a failure of proper implementation. While the strategic plan envisages acquisitions of quality assets, the implementation team went after poor quality assets.

Managers must device new communication channels to connect with the internal partners. Companies extensively use internal chat forums and blogs to keep talking to the lower layers of the team.

It is also important to get the commitment of the implementation team for the flawless execution of the marketing strategy. Employees tend to perform better if they realise the relevance of their role in the overall strategic vision of the firm.

Marriott International is famous for its exceptional customer service. The staffs of the hotel called as Marriott Associates represent a remarkable example of commitment and initiative. Once, a very young guest left her favourite Teddy Bear in the hotel while checking out. The staff found the teddy and safely returned it to her home .Although this sounds trivial, it made a big difference to that little guest. This happened because of the commitment of Marriott Associates to take customer service excellence to perfection. No where in the service manual, we could have a process or a budget allocation for such acts. These acts should come from the employees themselves.


It is important to create a culture of execution in the organization. This has to be consciously created and not to be hoped for. For creating a culture, it is important to have the involvement of top management. Execution oriented culture can be developed by encouraging team members to perform without worrying about failure. One of the biggest resistances to change is the fear of failure. This fear causes managers to tread cautiously.

Organizations should encourage the marketing implementers to fearlessly execute their tactics. This could be done by bringing in transparency, encouraging communication and clearly spelling out the deliverables.

Monday, February 15, 2010

FfUuNn : Full Marks + Fun

Brand : FfUuNn
Company : Navneet Publications

Ad Agency : Euro Rscg

Brand Analysis Count : 443

FfUuNn is a brand of non-paper stationery products from the publication major Navneet Publications. Navneet is a well known brand in the publications field. The company which formed in 1959 , soon emerged as a major player in the educational books in the Indian market. Later in 1993,the company diversified into paper stationery market through products like notebooks, long books etc.

Ffunn ( Fun) brand launched in 2006 was Navneet's foray into the non-paper stationery products. The brand has gained lot of ground in the last four years.

The Indian stationery market including notebooks , printer/copier papers, scholastic products like geometry boxes , pencil boxes, erasers etc is worth around Rs 10,000 crores ( source). The notebook/paper stationery market is worth around Rs 4500 crore.

Business line gives another set of numbers for the Indian stationery market as on 2007. According to Business Line , the stationery market can be divided into different categories with the following market sizes -
Files and Folders - Rs 220 crores
Writing Instruments - Rs 1215 crores
Desktop Accessories - Rs 90 crores
Glues, Adhesives, tapes etc - Rs 260 crores
Computer Consumables - Rs 1700 crore
The non-paper stationery market is estimated to be around Rs 1500 crores in 2007.

The non-paper stationery market is dominated by brands like Camlin . Natraj is a famous brand in the pencils segment. It is in this market that Navneet launched the Fun brand.

Although the size of the Indian non-paper stationery market is large. , the per unit sales per consumer will be low. Consumers may not buying a pack of pencils but one or two. Since the per unit price is also low, consumers are not that brand loyal and the key is to have the distribution reach and channel support. Brands like Camlin has a generic status in the various categories within this market.

For a challenger brand like Ffun, the brand must own a larger share of mind in the consumer. The brand should also have a fair share of voice inorder to achieve this share of mind. Navneet was investing heavily in building the brand. The brand broke into the market with some smart campaigns.

The best thing that Navneet has done for the non-paper stationery entry was to create a new brand for the category. Navneet could have chosen to extend the corporate brand ( Navneet) into this market hoping to extract the equity of Navneet. Instead, the company took a bold and wise decision to create a new brand.

The next smart act was the selection of the brand name. Navneet was wise enough to choose a brand name which appeal to the target segment ie kids. To take a name such as " FUN " creates a huge leverage interms of brand promotion and communication. The brand created some uniqueness to the brand by coining the brand name as FfUuNn.

The brand interprets itself as Full Marks + Fun. That explains the rather unique name spelling. By combining two important attributes like Fun and Study, FfuUNn created one of the best positioning platforms in the category. Although it sounds good, integrating the two divergent concepts like Fun and Study is not easy.
Luckily for the brand, the agency created some smart campaigns for FfUuNn and the brand had a very very good start in the market.

Watch the campaigns here : Fun Giraffe Fun Sea

Fun is now category brand of Navneet under which the entire range of stationery products are launched . The brand launched its range of colors, erasers, sharpeners and whole lot of products in the category. Again for colors, the brand came out with some very good commercials. Watch it here : Fun colors 1,Fun colors 2 .

FfUuNn is a good brand with some good brand properties. The communication also supports the brand's core positioning. The brand virtually has all the marketing mixes going right for them . It will be interesting to see how this brand going to shake up the stationery market.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Brand Update : Perk

Perk has gone in for a makeover. Cadbury has launched the new Perk with Glucose Energy. According to the company website, this is the first time that a chocolate brand from the company has come out with glucose energy. The brand is running a campaign announcing its new avatar.

Watch the TVC here : Perk with Glucose Energy

When I first saw the ad, I took it just as another line extension by the brand. But was really surprised at the news report suggesting the new product as a relaunch of the original Perk. Infact DNA reports that the original Perk will be phased out soon ( Source).

The reports are little vague as to whether the Perk with Glucose Energy is the New Avatar of Perk or a line extension.

If the report of relaunch is true then it is a big change for the brand. The entire brand personality is changed and frankly I am upset.

Perk always had a charm and its persona of a bubbly youthful brand was always there since its launch in 1996. Priety Zinta is still remembered along with the brand. But the new face of the Perk is entirely opposite to the brand's current image.

According to the company version, the new Perk is targeting the youth 14-18 year olds which are looking for a snack which is refreshing. The new launch is the result of a study conducted by the company which showed that youth prefers a tasty snack which also refreshed them ( source).

In my personal opinion, the relaunch campaign is a big let down. When I saw it the first time, I mistook it for some telecom ad - with all the usual stuff of a young man doing lots of stuff, trying hard , loved by all etc. But was surprised to find that it was an ad for Perk. Disgusted after finding that it is a relaunch ad.

The new campaign just poured cold water on the entire positioning of the brand. The brand lost is bubbly , cool , irreverent character and instead acquired an uncool, rational , conforming kind of a personality. Today's youth prefers those personalities who takes things easy, without effort accomplishing tasks and enjoying life Bindaass.. But the main character seems to be taking lot of efforts which just killed the brand's established persona.

The brand also has changed the packaging color. The new tagline of Perk is " Sapno se race kar le" roughly translated to " Race with your dreams " which I think may miss the mark with the young crowd. I still miss the magic that this brand brought about in its earlier campaigns. The last campaign of " Take it Lightly " was also a smart move of the brand. But the current relaunch is too off mark.

Having said that Perk has already an established equity which will prompt customers to reach for this brand. The new Perk is priced attractively and the " Glucose " factor will entice many consumers to buy this brand. Despite all these campaign, both Perk and Kitkat were not able to create any significant growth for the wafer based confectionery in the Indian market. This category still remains in the periphery of the larger market of confectioneries

Perk has changed for better or worse, the sales figures will say. But on a branding perspective, the brand just started dying..
Another thought ... what about Ulta Perk ???

All my above criticisms are based on the assumption that Perk has been relaunched and the older Perk is being laid to rest. If the new Perk with Glucose Energy is a line extension and the older Perk is going to remain in the market, then it is just a new product line extension with a lousy campaign.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Brand Update : Alpenliebe

Yet again another subbrand taking a personality on its own. The brand in question is Creamfills Alpenliebe. The brand launched as a subbrand is now famous because of some smart creatives.
Creamfills Alpenliebe was launched in 2006 specifically for the Indian market. The product idea and the brand name was devised in India. The brand became a huge success and is now exported to China , Poland and other countries ( Source).

Creamfills Alpenliebe although a candy is a different product when compared to Alpenliebe. While Alpenliebe is a hard candy, Creamfills comes with a creamy core.

The brand came into limelight with some very smart advertisements. One such campaign I like was the " Daddy Khar Main " ad

Watch the ad here : Creamfills Daddy ad

The ad smartly communicated the core positioning of the brand. Creamfills is positioned as a candy with a " surprise cream core " inside. The ad had the tagline " Kuch Alag Achanak " translated to "Suddenly Something surprising ". The brand uses the " Surprise " angle to convey the creamy core of the product. The ad was a big hit so was the product.

Last year, Creamfills launched another campaign . The ad was one of the best I saw in recent times.

Watch the ad here : Creamfills Lions Ad
Like the earlier ad, the new TVC reinforced the positioning of the brand of the surprise core. The ad seems to be expensive but worth all the money spent on the animation. ( read an interesting story about the tvc here).

What I liked about the ad most is that it is never boring. I have watched it many times but still it is enjoyable and the message is conveyed spot on.This brand is an example of the power of a good idea backed by smart creative execution.

The natural question that comes to my mind is whether Perfetti missed the opportunity to create a new brand rather than launching a sub-brand of Alpenliebe. Creamfills shares most of the brand elements of Alpenliebe like the color of packaging . But the positioning of Creamfills is entirely different from that of Alpenliebe. Although the parent Alpenliebe brand is not going to be significantly affected by this different positioning, I feel that Perfetti could have given Creamfills an independent role rather than being tied up to another brand.

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Friday, February 05, 2010

Brand Update : Cadbury Dairy Milk

Cadbury has launched a new variant of Dairy Milk branded as Dairy Milk Silk. The brand is currently running two TVCs for this variant

Watch the tvc here : Dairy Milk Silk Dance

The brand has been moving away from the celebrity endorsed approach it was following in the last few years. The new campaign is refreshing and brings back the memories of its earlier iconic campaign " Asli Swaad zindagi ka" . I liked the conference one than the dance one.

As I understand , Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk is a smooth and silky version of the original Dairy Milk. The brand is priced at a premium over the Diary Milk which makes it an Upmarket Stretch in marketing terms.

The ads are spot on the brand's core positioning of " enjoying the moments". The agency has conveyed the message in such a captivating manner that many adults who has forgotten about the original brand promise and experience will be attracted back to the brand.
I hope that the brand will scale new positioning heights and it is a learning experience to watch this brand evolving itself.

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Brand Update : Mango Bite

Kaccha Mango Bite is a product line extension of Mango Bite . But over these years, this flavor has caught the fancy of the consumers so much so that almost all the candy makers have introduced the Kaccha Mango ( Raw Mango) flavor in their portfolio.

Parle also may not have thought that this flavor would become a rage. Now the situation is that Kaccha Mango variant is more widely distributed than the original Mango Bite. The the variant has now the status of an independent brand.
The raw mango taste is very unique and different. It is this uniqueness that has created a lot of interest in the consumers especially the kid's mind. Child's mind loves uniqueness and is always looking for new experiments. When all the candies are sweet, a little sour taste gives the much needed break from the usual.
The variant was also promoted extensively by Parle. The brand really owned the taste by a smart positioning . Kaccha Mango Bite is positioned as " Xerox of Raw Mango". It has the tagline " Kaccha Aam ka Xerox " .

I remember two ads which was spot on the positioning.
Watch the ad here : Xerox Ad

By positioning itself as the Xerox copy of Kaccha Mango, the brand literally created a strong position in the consumer's mind. I think that the brand has changed the tagline to " Kaccha Aam ka Copy " because Xerox is a tradename owned by another company.

The success of Kaccha Mango Bite made the competitor entering the fray with their own versions. ITC launched the Natkhat Mango variant and recently the brands like Alpenliebe launched the raw mango flavor.

Kaccha Mango now have a generic status in the market for this flavor. No other brands have so far been able to crack the equity of this variant.

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