Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Brand Update : Santoor

This season, Santoor has launched another brand extension - Santoor Deodorant. The brand now has a wide range of products under its brand portfolio. Now Santoor has soap, talc, face wash and now deodorant.
The brand is slowly but steadily moving in the direction of becoming a personal care brand rather than a soap brand. This 600+ crore brand was on a roll last year becoming one of the largest selling soap brands in India. The brand consistently invested in brand building and never shied away from spending in advertising.
The new extension is to cash in on the opportunity for a deo brand for ladies. Although there are many deo brands for the female segment, the market is growing and opportunity exists for new brands also.

I raise the issue of brand dilution when ever I see brand extensions. Although I am a critic of brand extensions, this strategy is inevitable for many reasons. In the case of Santoor, these extensions are a part of Wipro's strategy to make Santoor a family brand for personal care products. Brands like Pond's , Lakme , Vaseline have successfully metamorphosed into Family Brands.

The talking point about Santoor is the positioning. For over 25 years, the brand has been talking about the concept of " For a Younger Looking Skin". All the campaigns were reinforcing that message consistently and powerfully. When the brand moved into talcum powder, it had to deviate from "younger looking" to "freshness". In the case of deo also, the brand is talking about freshness.

Now if Santoor aspire to be an umbrella brand , it may have to dilute or change the core brand positioning of " Younger looking skin " and include brand value like Freshness . This is relevant for products like Deo and Talc . For other products like facewash or creams , the classic positioning will work for the brand.

Another factor is that Santoor soap derives its strength from Turmeric and Sandal . The brand even derives the name from these two ingredients. The positioning also derives strength from these two ingredients. Now when the brand expands its product portfolio, it has to look beyond these two ingredients. Hence if at all the brand wants to expand its horizon, it may have to find other sources of strength.

Related Post

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Brand Update : Rin Vs Tide Round II

After the high profile direct attack on Tide, Rin has entered the second stage of its aggressive marketing campaign. The brand has started a new campaign called the Rin 1 crore Challenge. The brand is running a commercial featuring the challenge.

This time, Rin has refrained from directly naming Tide . The brand is using the traditional format of masking the competitor in this challenge campaign. The brand has announced Rs 1 crore prize money if any other detergent can prove that it provides more whiteness than Rin ( conditions will definitely apply).

The new ad strikingly resembles the Rs 1 crore purity challenge campaign of HUL's Pureit brand. Pureit's successful campaign may have prompted Rin to copy the campaign format.

The new campaign is aimed at reinforcing the positioning of Rin as "The detergent that provides the best whitening of clothes". By offering a staggering amount, it is conveying the confidence about the brand promise. It is courageous on the part of the brand to make such a move.

Another striking factor about the new campaign is the new brand ambassador for Rin. No its not Amitabh Bachchan . Rin has roped in Kajol as the new brand ambassador. HUL has really flexed its marketing muscle fully. Kajol gives the campaign some amount of authenticity and attraction to the viewers. I doubt whether such challenge campaigns evoke customer participation but it gives opportunity for marketers to advertise and organize events for brand promotion.

It is nice to see the HUL reviving its competitive spirit. HUL is a marketing machine which went into slumber in the last few years. This is a company that has the best marketing minds of India. Good to see these minds back in action.

Somebody wake up P&G....

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Brand Update : Getz RIP (2004-2010)

Another brand is going to be laid to rest. According to news reports, Hyundai has decided to phase out Getz with in two months. The brand is already offered at steep discounts in dealerships across the country.

Getz was the first luxury hatch back to be launched in India. The brand in a way was far ahead of its time. It was launched in a market predominantly oriented towards sedans. The failure of Getz was because of two reasons :
a. Value Proposition
b. Positioning

The failure of Getz and success of Swift are two sides of the same coin. Both brands belong to the same segment and almost in the same price band. But while Swift rocked the market, Getz had to bite the dust.

Getz when launched in the market was very aggressively priced. Infact the brand was priced at par with sedans like Ford Ikon and Indigo. Indian consumers were not able to understand the value proposition of a high priced Getz. The brand also was not able to tell the consumer as to why they should chose Getz compared to a Sedan. The problem with such a high pricing strategy is that it creates an impression in the consumer's mind which will be difficult to change. Theoretically this is called narrow positioning.

When Maruti launched Swift, Getz suffered because consumers perceived Swift to be a better value for money car compared to Getz. The reason is that consumers know that Maruti cars are less costly to maintain than Hyundai cars. Swift was bigger, sporty and competitively priced which put Getz in a very tough situation.

The campaigns for Getz was also way off the mark. The brand never had a clear positioning . When it was launched, there was no USP or differentiation. The brand started talking about fun then moved to space. So it lacked a clear brand identity which further accelerated the decline .

In marketing terms, we say that brand should offer some compelling reasons to customers to buy. Getz was not able to give any such compelling reasons. The brand had lot of design similarity with Zen which defied its pitch on premiumness. Swift had a radical design which created a newness to the brand.Getz did not have such a "wow" factor.

The recent launch of Hyundai i20 was the final nail in the coffin for Getz. i20 has more chance of survival because the segment of premium hatchback has now developed. Consumers are now aware of this segment and there is genuine consumer interest in this segment.

Getz could have reaped the benefit of the segment it had created , had it offered itself at the price range of Rs 3.5 - 4 lakh. ( I know it is easy to sit in my chair and suggest the pricing strategies). That price range could have done wonders for this brand.

Related Brand

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Marketing Strategy : The PR Factor

The PR Factor

Originally Published Here in Adclubbombay.com

In marketing theory and practice, Public Relations have often been a neglected child. Even in the companies’ promotional mix, Public Relations have been given less focus and importance. But in this period of resource constraint, Public Relations have assumed importance that no marketer can afford to ignore.

Traditionally Public Relations department were more concerned with managing media than anything else. This function was characterised by the mundane job of preparing and releasing the press releases and maintaining vital contacts with the media. With the advent of consumerism, corporate began to take serious note of managing the noise about the company and the brand in the media space. Public Relations then assumed the role of crisis management and were put into action whenever such a negative vibes began to surface.

PR never acquired the status of a long term strategic tool for brand promotion. Despite the advantages, marketers were clue-less about using PR as a permanent promotional tool. The fundamental reason is that the power of PR lies in the media. It is a tough task to get the brand /company featured in a newspaper. And it will be a near impossible goal to regularly feature in the media. So virtually marketers believed themselves as powerless in managing their voice in the media space.

But not anymore..

The increasing penetration of internet and the evolution of social media have thrown open new set of opportunities for managing public relations. For that, marketers have to redefine the concept of public relations in the new digital world.

Redefining Public Relations

As the term implies, Public Relations is managing relationship with public. But marketers so far have tried to define Public Relations as managing media. When we redefine PR as managing relationship with public, it is no longer dependent on the media. Media becomes one of the many tools that can be used to reach out to the public.

Why PR was highly dependent on traditional media was because there was no other viable alternative channel to reach the public. Hence traditional media assumed significance as the sole aggregator and distributor of information to the public. Since the audience relied heavily on traditional media, the responsibility of media also increased. All these made the media very powerful. Marketers then tried to manage media so that their message could be given prominence. And now PR has assumed the status of a mere press –releasing mechanism. Companies began to rely on external PR agencies that had the right contacts with the media to get their releases published.

By defining PR as media management is stripping this powerful tool and relegating PR to a necessary evil rather than a strategic tool. When PR is defined as a tool for managing relationship with Public, it acquires strategic importance.

Reaching out to Public

The fundamental objective of PR is to build and manage relationship with the stakeholders. Traditional PR tools like press releases, lobbying, inviting journalists to the factory, press meets etc are all passive actions surrendering the power of information to the traditional media. The assumption is that without media, information flow to the public cannot happen. This assumption has prevented many marketers in identifying and investing in new methods of reaching out to the public.

The internet has opened up a new media which could be effectively used by the marketer to reach out to the public. While television and newspapers are the most effective media to reach masses, marketers have to create new channels and mediums through which they could communicate to the public.

PR is not free.

PR is often defined as a non-paid form of communication and this view of PR has prompted marketers to ignore investing in building PR assets. In a rush to get the ‘free publicity’, marketers tend to spend huge amount of money on short-term publicity stunts that may not have much effect on the brand equity.

Marketer should start to think about investing in Public Relations. Investing means that marketers should be able to built and manage new channels for communicating with the stakeholders. These include creating dedicated PR personnel, toll free numbers, well designed websites and more importantly a long term strategy.

Have a story to tell

PR is about relationships and brands have to first take the initiative in reaching out to the public. Having a toll free number or a website is not enough for a consumer to get in touch with the company. This is where the long term strategy comes into play.

Both the public and the media are fond of stories. Brands need to tell touching stories if it wants to catch the fancy of the media and public. Brands like Apple, Harley Davidson are powerful storytellers and both media and the public are hungry for more stories. Hence the starting point of any PR activity is to create stories. Create a powerful story and media will love you for it.

Harnessing Social Media

Social media has assumed lot of significance in recent times. Marketers are still clueless on ways to use this powerful media to their advantage. Social media have also tilted the power balance of traditional media. Now there is a true democratization of information and media no longer commands the power it had a decade ago.

The challenge is to use the social media for maintaining public relations. Marketers have to be self-less in dealing with social media. Hence candid sharing of information and thoughts can be facilitated through this media which has the power to generate very valuable word-of –mouth publicity.

Be a good citizen

While venturing into PR, it is important for marketers to be good corporate citizens. Brands which strive for good causes have always been the darlings of media and the public. So while creating powerful stories, marketers should pitch for that story which strikes a chord with the public.

Infosys has built its brand not by spending huge money on advertising .It became the media’s darling because it represented a story, it is a good citizen and the management invested in managing the relationship.

Monday, March 22, 2010

25 Best Indian Brand Slogans

This is my pick of 25 best Indian Slogans

1. Pepsi : Yehi hain Right Choice Baby
2. Thums Up : Taste The Thunder
3. Surf : Daag Acche hain
4. Tata Safari : Reclaim Your Life
5. Asian Paints : Har Khar Kuchch Kahta hein
6. Air Deccan : Simplifly
7. Rasna : I love you Rasna
8.Frooti : Fresh N Juicy / Why Grow Up
9.Coca Cola : Thanda Matlab Coca Cola
10. Raymond's : The Complete Man
11. Bajaj Pulsar : Definitely Male
12. Dairy Milk : Swad Zindagi Ka
13. Peter England : The Honest Shirt
14.Bingo : No Confusion, Great Combination
15. Boost : Boost is the secret of our energy
16 Polo : The mint with a hole
17. Lifebuoy : Thandurusti hain vaham
18. Ceat : Born Tough
19.MRF : Tyres With Muscle
20.Havelles RCB : Shock Laga Kya
21.Idea : An Idea can Change your life
22. Hutch : Where ever you go , our network follows
23. Maggi : Taste Bhi, Health Bhi ( Ketchup : Its Different)
24. Onida : Neighbor's Envy , Owner's Pride
25. Kingfisher : The King of Good Times

*The list is random and not ranked according to my liking

I may have missed some good ones. Please share your list of best Indian brand slogans.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Marketing Strategy : Going Back to Basics

Going Back to Basics

Originally Published here in Adclubbombay.com

In the 1973 classic text, “Management: Tasks, Responsibilities & Practices”, Peter Drucker asks firms to answer five very pertinent questions.

What is our business?

Who is our customer?

What is of value to the customer?

What will our business be?

What should our business be?

Even after 36 years, these simple questions are of profound importance to marketers who are facing one of the toughest times since Great Depression. These questions are more relevant today than ever before. During the period of exuberance, firms tend to forget to answer these key questions and land up in a trouble of their own making. Firms forget value, customers and commonsense when faced with unprecedented growth. This over confidence resulted in inflated prices, aggressive expansions and unrelated diversifications. It is time for marketers to revisit these basics and set their focus on consumer.

Defining the business

One of the fundamental questions that marketers should ask themselves is to clearly define the business. While defining the business, one has to be careful about setting the scope of the business. Too narrow a scope can severely limit the growth of the business. Too broad a definition can cause confusion.

If a marketer narrowly limits the definition of his business by focusing on the product, he will find himself in a state of marketing myopia – a term popularised by Harvard Professor Theodore Levitt. A myopic organization defines its business narrowly which blurs the organizations ability to spot competition from other categories. Further, myopia limits the marketer’s ability to change itself according to changing consumer preferences.

When a marketer becomes too focused on his product, he fails to understand the competition from different types of products satisfying the same consumer need. Although this may sound very simple and obvious, many large organizations and brands have suffered out of this myopia. For example, Scooters which once ruled the Indian market suffered near –death stage due to competition from a different product category of motorcycles. IPod has now occupied the position once owned by Walkman. Ujala redefined the cloth whitener category with a different product form.

The key to a proper business definition is to take the focus away from product and focus on consumer. Marketers must define the business around the customer. The focus should be on the customer rather than the product. Once the organisation redefines itself making the customer as its centre, a world of opportunities will be thrown open.

Too broad a definition blurs the focus of the firm. It is where the firm must be able to understand the consumer it serves. Apple Computers were able to leap forward with its products like Iphone and IPod because it understood the consumers and never restricted itself to be a computer manufacturer.

Understanding the Consumer.

In the highly insightful book “ What the customer wants you to know “ Dr Ramcharan states an important rule – “ The more you know about your customer, the better you and your company will be at identifying and devising products and services that will help address them “

Marketers should be able to collect all the information about the consumers and their buying behaviours. One of the key strength of Hindustan Unilever Ltd is their enormous knowledge about the Indian consumer psyche. This has enabled them to create new products and new business models which are very much in line with consumer’s needs and wants.

Who buys the product and why he buys the product are the two important questions that a marketer should be able to answer.

Consumers buy solutions and not products. Value has been the keyword for success in Indian market. Products that do not have an intrinsic value will not survive in the market. The crisis that most firms now face is a result of the failure of firms to keep their products with in the value expectation of the consumer. When the consumer confidence dips, he turns to those products that offer value. Even in times of recession, consumer needs are not exhausted. He just postpones the decision to indulge till the confidence is back.

The future of business

Predicting the future of business is often the most difficult tasks for a marketer. And marketers have to make decisions regarding the future course of actions.

To predict and determine the future of a business should be based on the firm understanding of the consumer. According to Peter Drucker, this task of making judgements about future should start with a demographic analysis. Demographic analysis is the study of the population and the trends.

Indian market is also witnessing a demographic shift with the younger consumers now becoming the major consuming segment. Those brands which foresee such a demographic shift would be ready with new products and strategies targeting the young consumers.

This calls for massive investment in developing knowledge about customers and their behaviour. Many Indian advertising agencies have realised this need and created specialized departments and Chief Knowledge Officers who are in charge of creation and dissemination of knowledge.

The market environment is in a state of constant changes. Take the case of media. Five years back, very few predicted the explosion of social media in India. Blogging was unheard and Orkut and Facebook was not in vogue, no one was Twittering. Even now Indian marketers are clueless on how to understand the social media and take advantage of the popularity of orkut and facebook.

This is the right time to go back to basics, redefine the business and make the entire business operations centred on the consumer. There will be pain in the process but it will be worth the effort.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Micromax : Nothing Like Anything

Corporate Brand : Micromax
Ad Agency : Lowe Lintas

Brand Analysis Count #447

Micromax is a challenger brand in the highly competitive mobile handset market. This Indian firm is shaking up the market dominated by MNCs. Micromax was founded in 1991 by Rajesh Agarwal . Micromax in its original avatar was a distributor of computer hardwares. In 1998, three more people Sumit Arora, Rahul Sharma and Vikas Jain joined Micromax as co-founders.The company branched out from a mere distributor to a marketer of telecommunication equipments.

It was in 2008 that Micromax ventured into the mobile handset market. The brand wanted to create a base before taking on the large players . Hence as a go-to- market strategy, Micromax concentrated on the rural market first. It was a different move altogether since most of the marketers tend to concentrate on the urban markets then move to the rural markets.

Micromax launched its first phone in the rural market with a very unique USP- 30 days battery standby time. The brand was launched from a consumer insight that most of the rural households do not get enough electricity to recharge phones on a daily basis . Hence a phone with a 30 day battery standby would be a worthwhile differentiation. The first product was a big success. The first product Micromax X1i priced at Rs 2150 was lapped up by rural market.

The success of X1i enthused the company to go aggressively into the market. But tapping the rural market is not an easy task. There is severe logistics pressure in servicing these markets. One of the first things that Micromax did was to establish the distribution network . According to a report in Forbes India ( March 5,2010), Micromax created a distribution network comprising of 34 super distributors, 450 distributors and around 55,000 retailers. The brand could also take advantage of the inroads made by other brands into advantage.

One of the highlight of their distribution strategy was that Micromax managed to make these dealers pay in advance by offering them more margins. Marketers will vouch that the most difficult part in managing distribution is the payment collection part. According to the news report, Micromax managed this hurdle through this strategy of more margins for advance payment. It is not a new strategy to offer such kind of discounts for advance payments (cash discounts), but to make a retailer accept such an offer is indeed a remarkable feat (if the Forbes report is true).

Unlike many challenger brands, Micromax was careful in its product strategy. Although all Micromax products were towards the lower end of the pricing spectrum, the brand was focusing on adding more features at a reasonable price . The focus was more on value than price. What I have noticed while going through their product range was that there was some USP in their products which offered more value. I think , that value orientation with a clear differentiation was a significant factor that aided the significant growth of this brand in Indian market.

The company in their website claims to have invested heavily in the product development. The brand boast of launching many firsts in the market like
30 day battery life
Affordable QWERTY phones
Affordable Double Sim etc

Besides the focus on product development, Micromax has invested heavily in brand building. The brand is one of the big spenders in the current IPL. Micromax has centered much of its brand building exercise around cricket. It was one of the principal sponsors of the South Africa VS India ODI series in 2010.

Most of the brand promotion for Macromax is centered around products. I havn't seen a corporate brand building campaign from Micromax. The ads are for individual products highlighting the product features and USPs.

Micromax has the tagline " Nothing Like Anything " which initially appeared confusing to me. Perhaps the brand wants to convey that every product from Micromax has something unique. It is not just like any other product.( I need to have more clarification on this regard).

The brand's promotions , although heavy, is a big let down. Some of the campaigns are good but most are below par. For example , the Micromax Facebook ad was outright disgusting. Most of the campaigns like Gravity, MTV , EEZPad was very ordinary basic ads. There was no brand building theme behind those ads. They talked about the product and that is it. I feel a visible lack of creativity behind those ads.

In a big marketing move, Micromax roped in the Bollywood Action hero Akshay Kumar as the brand ambassador. This move is going to boost the brand recall of Micromax to new heights. Akshay Kumar has strong equity both in urban and rural markets. The association with such a big star will also have a positive impact on the image of Micromax. The brand can now overcome the perception of a low price product.
But the first campaign featuring Akshay Kumar was nothing but pure noise. I couldn't believe that Lowe Lintas could come out with such a pathetic ad. Watch it here.

The new Gamolution handset was supposed to be a game changer for Micromax. But the campaign was a big let down. With a star like Akshay, the brand could have done much much more rather than some funny noises and acrobatics. I think the agency was stuck in a stereotype as to how to use Akshay Kumar.

The new game handset uses the motion- sensor technology with bluetooth ( as I understand). So one can play games using the computer and handset. I don't think that the ads were in anyway doing justice to the brand's intention. Motion Sensor games are not new to the Indian markets but playing games on a PC using mobile is something new. I am not sure whether the ad essentially communicated the innovation.

A very poorly made ad like this will do more harm to the image of Micromax. The brand may get lot of eyeballs due to the ' noise ' and celebrity power, but a low quality ad will reflect in the image perception of Micromax. A lot of my students said to me " Have you seen that Akshay ad, its crap !!" . Micromax has lot of powerful positives that many consumers doesn't know. I came to know more about this brand only after I digged for information to write this post.

There is a risk of the brand perceived not as an aspirational brand but a ordinary price warrior if it does not focus on the quality of the communication.

Micromax now have a wonderful chance of moving up the ladder. With a good product range, reasonable pricing base and a high profile celebrity, the brand could have positioned itself as an aspirational brand. Instead of also ran ads that lack any brand vision, Micromax would do well if it could bring in some class in their campaigns.

The brand should also move from a product oriented ad campaign to a brand building mode. Micromax as a brand should be developed focusing on the core brand values like innovation and value orientation. When the product range widens, it may not be practical to sustain individual campaigns. So it is time for Micromax to position the Family Brand and develop a brand identity.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Brand Update : Lux

Lux has a new endorser. True to the brand's heritage of being endorsed by the reigning queens of Bollywood, the brand has roped in Katrina Kaif as the new Lux girl.
The brand is currently running the campaign featuring Katrina across the channels for its new Purple Lotus cream variant.
Watch the ad here : Katrina Lux ad.

What is interesting is the change in the tagline of the Lux brand over the last few campaigns. Ever since the brand discarded its classic tagline of " Filmi Sitaroan ka saundarya sabun" , Lux has not been able to find a fitting tagline. The brand later adopted the taglines " Celebrating Beauty " and then later to " Why worry about beauty " . The last campaign had the simple voice over like " Lux with Beauty Oils ". The brand this time has further reinforced the USP of the brand as " Soap with cream and beauty oils".

This time Lux has used a new positioning " kaliyon se Thwecha ke liye" translated to " Skin as soft as budding/blossoming flowers ". While Lux with beauty oils is a more rational feature oriented pitching, the brand is also talking about the brand promise of a " Softer looking Skin". It is good the see Lux settling with its USP and positioning.

But the gain of Lux has resulted in a loss for another brand Dyna. Dyna which is the soap brand from Anchor Group was banking on Katrina Kaif for building the brand. The entire Dyna brand was heavily depended on Katrina rather than its positioning or differentiation. With Katrina ending the association with Dyna, it will be interesting to see the future of Dyna brand.

Related Brand

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Marketing Strategy : How to Create Consumer Centric Innovations

How to Create Consumer Centric Innovations

Originally Published here at Adclubbombay.com

What can you do with a boring product like a dishwash bar? Can you bring excitement into it? Is it possible to make innovations to a product like dishwash bar? A look at Vim, the market leader in the dishwash bar category, will give valuable insights on making innovations which are meaningful for a consumer. Vim have a plastic coating which prevents the bar from getting soggy because of its constant contact with water. This simple coating gives the product long life and thus adding more value to the product.

Innovation is considered to be a key factor that will ensure the future of a company. Companies like Gillette (now a part of P&G), 3 M, Google, and Apple have their entire organization focused on innovation. Successful firms have developed a culture of innovation which becomes the part of the DNA of the entire organisation.

In future, India is believed to have potential to lead the world in product innovations. The fact that many global IT firms have their product development centres in India is a proof of the growing stature of India as a global innovation hub.

Indian marketers are also not far behind. Indian companies have been able to provide breakthrough marketing practices that acts as a model for emulation for their western counterparts. Notable in these innovations are the e-chaupal (ITC) and Project Shakthi (HUL), GCMMF etc.

Although we have seen a significant rise of product innovations in India, we are yet to create an innovation culture in Organizations. The level of investment in research and development in Indian companies are yet to reach global standards. The fact that we don’t have an Indian equivalent of a 3M or a Google is a reminder of the enormous task before us.

In this era of global competition, marketers cannot afford to be complacent. This is a market where categories are becoming irrelevant. Mobile phones are competing with cameras and computers. Two wheelers are competing with cars and airplanes competing with railways. Marketers cannot afford to be myopic to competition. Now firms have to run faster in order to survive.

When markets become too fluid, organizations should be investing in creating products for the future. Organizations need to understand the changing consumer mindset and also the changes that are happening across various markets.

There are three approaches to innovation. One approach is to strive for a pure innovation which results in an entirely new product. The second approach is to innovate incrementally and continuously. The third approach is to innovate on building efficiency in operations. What HUL did for VIM was an innovation which was an incremental innovation. The company created a new method of tapping rural market through Project Shakthi which was a process innovation.

Innovation doesn’t always means that the company should come out with an entirely new feature or a product. Innovation also can be in the form of imitation. Professor Theodore Levitt calls it Innovative Imitation. Innovative imitation is where the firm tries to bring in innovations that are happening in other industries to their field. Vim recently relaunched itself with anti-bacterial property which was an innovative imitation of its nearest competitor.

Continuous and constant innovation strategy is going to be the key for organisational success in future. But in order to succeed, these innovations should be customer centric.

Innovations should be visible and should be authentic for a consumer. The period where a marketer can get away with “New and Improved “label is over. The challenge for the marketer is to make the process of improving their offerings continuously.

The best way for getting new ideas is from the consumer. A consumer may not be able to give a list of new product ideas. But by observing his life, the marketer can get lot of ideas for improving the product and also new products.

Have a plan for innovation

The first step in creating an innovative culture is to have a plan for innovation. Large or small, firms need to have a plan of innovation. There has to be people who should be responsible for innovation and most importantly there has to be a budget for innovations.

Celebrate Failures

While Google, 3M and Apple are celebrated for their innovations, the long lists of the failures encountered by these companies are often forgotten. Not every new product ideas are well received by consumers. When encountered by failures, firms must not penalise the innovator but should be doing a thorough analysis of reasons for failure.

Make the customer the centre of innovation process

In the highly insightful book “The Game Changer”, the authors Ram Charan and A.G.Lafley describes how P&G made their innovations customer- centric. In the book, the authors narrates an example where the product development team for a new heart-burn medicine created a life sized cardboard cut-out of a consumer which they named Joanne. They put this cut-out in a chair in their conference room. In all the meetings discussing the new product’s launch, there will be the presence of this hypothetical customer. The team used this hypothetical customer to focus their discussions on those ideas that will have a meaningful impact on the consumer.

By looking at how a customer uses the products and how the product impacts his life gives valuable inputs for future innovations.

Brands can innovate in product form by launching the product in new shapes and sizes. The shampoo category witnessed explosive growth after the product being introduced in sachets. The simple innovation in packaging made the product category affordable to millions of Indian consumers.

Products also innovates itself by making it easier for consumers to use the product. For example TVS recently provided balancing side-tyres to its Scooty which enables the users (Girls) to learn to ride scooter on their own.

Brands can innovate by making it easier for consumers to store the product .Bru recently added a flavour lock ( plastic clip) which kept the coffee powder fresh and eliminated the need to transfer it to a container.

Products also can innovate by satisfying problems faced by consumers. Asian paints launched samplers which helped the consumer to test the colours before purchasing it. Nightingale popularised un-dated diaries which gave this product an unlimited shelf-life.

Whether big or small, innovations will be successful only if it made some impact on consumer’s life. The most important decision that a marketer should do is to make customer the centre of his innovation strategy.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Hippo : Fights Hunger

Brand : Hippo
Company : Parle Agro
Ad Agency : Creativeland Asia

Brand Analysis Count # 446

Another brand has entered into the highly competitive snack- food market. The brand Hippo was nationally launched recently by Parle Agro. The Indian branded snack-food market is worth Rs 6500 crore has now become a battle ground of titans.

Indian snack-food market growing at 25% p.a is witnessing marketing fight worth watching. The players are trying every tricks of the trade. This intense marketing competition has expanded the market and also created new segments. One such new segment is the healthy snack segment.

Marketers were aware of the gradual trend among consumers towards healthy foods. Although this trend is limited to certain sections of society, marketers are calculating that healthy snack-foods will become a mainstay category in the snack-food market. Infact Ms Indra Nooyi of Pepsico had openly stated her vision of Pepsico leading the healthy food movement.

The healthy snack segment in the Indian Snack market has got a big boost in recent times with the launch of Aliva brand by Pepsico and Monaco Smart Chips by Parle. Earlier, Lays tried its hand by launching a low-calorie version to counter Bingo's claim of 'baked not fried 'proposition. The high profile campaign of Monaco Smart Chips featuring Aamir Khan put the spotlight on the healthy angle of snacks.

Hippo calls itself " Delicious Baked Munchies ". This baked wheat based munchy is neither a potato chips nor a biscuit, but something in between ( source Business India). The munchies are available in Pizza flavor,Chinese Manchurian, Hot N Sweet, Thai Chilly , Yoghurt Mint Chutney and Indian Chatpatta. The brand is priced at Rs 10 per pack.

Hippo is currently running its launch campaign across channels.
Watch the ad here : Hippo

Hippo has tried to position itself differently from the rest of the brands. While the other snack brands have positioned itself on product properties, Hippo brand tried to take the generic need platform.
For example :
Lays is positioned as a convenient snack,
Bingo on the different tastes,
Aliva also on health + taste
Monaco Smart Chips on health ( baked ).

Hippo is being positioned as a hunger- killer. The brand wants to be a guilt-free snack for hunger moments. The brand is banking on two properties - made from wheat and free of MSG & GMO to prove its healthy snack claim.

The brand also chose a different way to communicating its positioning to the consumer . The brand is trying to tell a story. The story is based on the premise that ' Hunger is the root cause of all evil. So the brand motto is ' fight hunger, fight evil'. The brand has adopted the mascot Hippo who is in the forefront of eliminating hunger and thus eliminating evil. Hippo has the tagline " Hippo Fights Hunger ".

Although the brand has tried to tell a story and successfully created an initial hype, I have serious reservations about the differentiation of the brand. The brand has taken the " Hunger" platform, but how is it different from other snack-foods that offer same qualities ? How is Hippo different from a Bingo or Monaco Smart Chips ? .

I feel a lack of uniqueness in the brand. The problem of lack of differentiation will come into forefront when the initial consumer interest dies down. Without a clear USP, the brand needs to constantly stay on top of the Share of Noise to drive the sales. If you observe the campaigns of Parle Agro brands, the company adopts a " On/Off " kind of advertising strategy. Sometimes there are lot of ads, and sometimes, there is no sign of any brand communication. In a category like Snacks such intermittent burst of ads may not work. One needs to have a steady continuous stream of campaigns ( ATL and BTL) to drive the sales.

From the first campaign, I don't see any attempt from the brand to create a differentiation. What the brand had tried to do was to establish brand familiarity which it had done successfully. But the brand needs to find a meaningful differentiation if it wants to survive for the long term. The brand can develop its positioning further using its core brand promise of " Guilt-free snack for hunger moments ".

One of the most striking aspect about this brand is the packaging. The company has put in lot of work behind making the packaging stand out in stores. Since the purchase of snacks are highly spontaneous, the packaging offers immense strategic importance. Hippo has really differentiated itself from the rest of the crowd in the packaging front.

Another aspect of the brand is its emphasis on ' After-Marketing". After- Marketing is what the brand does after it has sold itself to the consumer. Like Appy Fizz, Hippo has cleverly used the packaging to engage the consumers after the purchase. The pack contains interesting information and one-liners which takes the brand-consumer conversations beyond advertising .

As a new product launch, Hippo has done all the right marketing moves. The brand has a catchy name , good product qualities, excellent packaging, nice pricing, distribution reach etc. It has also created right kind of noise in the media during the launch. The real test is after the initial euphoria. The brand is fighting players with deep pockets. It will be interesting to watch how Hippo takes on the giants.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Brand Update : Rin Vs Tide , The Strategy

According to latest news report, the Calcutta High Court has restrained HUL from airing the controversial campaign against Tide. HUL has been given 72 hours to comply with the order ( Source)

The high decibel comparative ad of Rin generated huge buzz in the market. The direct comparative campaign evoked mixed reaction across the media. That single controversial ad generated crores worth of buzz about the brands in question.

The current high profile aggressive stand of Rin has a background story. There was a proxy war going on between Rin and Tide since December 2009. During December, P&G launched the low priced variant of Tide branded Tide Naturals. Tide Naturals was priced significantly lower to the Rin. Tide Naturals was launched at Rs 50 per Kg , Rs 10 for 200 gms and Rs 20 for400 gms. Rin was priced at Rs 70 per Kg at that time.

The reduced price of the Tide variant was an immediate threat to Rin. Since Tide already has an established brand equity, Rin was bound to face the heat. Although HUL had another low priced brand Wheel priced at Rs 32/Kg, Tide was not in the same category of Wheel.

Rin had to cut the price to resist the market share erosion. As discussed elsewhere in the blog, HUL was facing a steady erosion in the market share in most of the categories. In the detergent category itself, the brand faced a market share fall of 2.5% in December 2009. With P&G starting a price war, HUL had to react and it did by cutting the price of Rin by 30% to Rs 50 per Kg. ( Source ) .

HUL also reacted to the Tide Natural's price war in a ' Guerrilla Marketing ' way. It took P&G to the court regarding the Tide Natural's advertisement. The contention was that Tide Naturals was giving the impression to the consumers that it contained natural ingredients like Sandal. The court ordered P&G to modify the campaign and P&G had to admit that Tide Naturals did not contain any Natural ingredients. ( another example of a brand swaying over to unethical marketing practices).

While P&G opened a war in the price front, HUL retaliated by opening two war fronts. One was the direct comparative ad and other through the court order asking P&G to modify Tide Naturals Ad and to admit that Tide Naturals is not ' Natural'.

I think that it was Rin which won the Round 1 of this war. It generated enough Buzz about the brand with all the media talking about the campaign. Rin was also able to neutralize the aggression of P&G to certain extent.

Tide chose not to respond because further fuel to the fight can highlight the fact that Tide Naturals does not contain any 'Natural Ingredients " which may negatively affect the brand's standing in the consumer's mind. So it is better to play the role of a " poor" victim at this point of time.

P&G can celebrate because of the free advertisement it got for Tide Naturals because of the comparative ad of Rin.

It is interesting to see the academic angle of this concept called Comparative advertising. From my little digging of information, it was evident that the academic research is also clueless about the effectiveness of comparative advertising. There are enough evidence to prove that comparative ads work better than non-comparative ads and vice versa. So academicians are as clueless as the practitioners in this regard.

According to academic literature, Comparative ads are those ads which involves directly or indirectly naming competitors in an ad and comparing one or more attributes in an advertising medium ( Alan T. Shao, Yeqing Bao, and Elizabeth Gray,Comparative Advertising Effectiveness:A Cross-Cultural Study Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, Fall 2004)

There are two broad types of comparative ads. One is the Direct comparative ads which compares the competitor in more than one attribute. The second type is the Indirect comparative ad which projects the brand as the Leading Brand rather than comparing on certain attributes.

In the marketing world ( globally) comparative ads are commonly used across categories. Some of the relevant observations regarding comparative ads are given below.

  • Comparative ads are perceived to be beneficial to the consumers since more information is provided to him by the competitors. Comparative ads are encouraged in certain markets like USA by the regulators because it increases transparency and provides more information to consumers.

  • The comparative ads generally result in counter arguments which often creates such a noise that it discounts the original argument/information. Consumers tend to discount the claims by both the competing brand because of the arguments.

  • Comparative advertising strategy is more effective for smaller brands rather than established large brands. By challenging a larger brand through comparative ad , the small brands tend to derive more acceptance and awareness than the larger brand.

  • Comparative ads are found to be more effective for categories where consumers tend to use their analytical mind. Comparative ads tend to fail where consumers use imagery while evaluating the brands. For example, products like automobiles use comparative ads extensively and with effectiveness.
  • There are also studies which shows that male consumers are more attracted towards comparative ads compared to female consumers.

Although Indian marketing world have seen lot of comparative ads, the current Rin Vs Tide is a rare case of direct comparative ad where the brand has taken the competitor brand's name and challenging it head on. That is the main reason behind the media noise about the campaign.

P&G India always was a laid back competitor in the FMCG market . Despite having the product portfolio and market strength , it never realized its potential. The company was happy with their minuscule market share in the various categories in the FMCG business . I am not sure whether P&G will react aggressively to the current HUL onslaught and if at all they did ,will it sustain the fight for long.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Marketing Strategy : Building Brand Tribes

Building Brand Tribes

Originally Published Here at Adclubbombay.com

Tribe (noun): Group of people living together under a chief.

Brand Tribe: Group of Customers living together with a brand.

Renowned marketing guru Seth Godin in his latest book Tribes inspires every individual to become a leader of a tribe. In this must read book, he exhorts that every individual has an opportunity to become a leader and start a movement. Internet has enabled and empowered individuals with the opportunity to connect with millions of people across the world who shares the same vision.

The same opportunity is available to brands. An opportunity to build a tribe – a group of faithful followers who will nurture the brand’s vision and takes the brand to a whole new level of existence.

If we look at the global branding scenario, despite the millions of dollars spent on advertising and brand promotion, only a handful of brands can boast about building a tribe. Harley Davidson, Apple, Linux, Google, to name a few.

The situation is dismal in the Indian brand word. How many of Indian brands command a faithful following of customers. How many Indian brands have been able to generate the enthusiasm displayed by an Apple customer? Hardly any …

Compared to other markets, we don’t see any big queues in front of shops for getting the product during brand launches, no euphoria during customer meets and virtually no consumer evangelists spending his energy on his favourite brands.

Indian marketers are to blame for this scenario. Why Indian consumers are not emotionally attached to brands is because Indian brands always preferred to keep themselves away from the consumers. By and large, Indian brands preferred not to interact directly with the consumers. Except for some half-hearted efforts, largely there is no emotional chord developed between consumers and brands.

Developing a brand community needs a dedicated whole hearted effort from the brand to reach out to the consumers. Building brand communities means that consumers are emotionally attached towards the brand.

Brand User ----------> Brand Loyalist--------> Brand Advocate ------> Brand Evangelist

From an ordinary user of the product, the brand should be able to inspire the consumer to become an evangelist for the brand. While a brand advocate will recommend the brand to his friends, an evangelist will put his energy, time and reputation to promote the brand.

Professor Kevin Lane Keller uses the term Brand Resonance to explain this phenomenon. A brand is said to achieve resonance when the customers feel that they are in-sync with the brand. The customer willingly spent his time and energy to collect and share information about the brand. The highest level of brand resonance is where the consumers actively engage in activities beyond buying and using the product.

Not every brand may be able to achieve a resonance with consumers but all brands have the opportunity to build a community. Building a community around the brand is the first step towards building resonance. In India, Sunsilk successfully created a community around it using the website Sunsilk Gang of Girls.

Youth brands like Fastrack have been using the social networking sites to promote a meaningful interaction with the consumers.

One of the most successful brand communities ever created in marketing history is the Harley Owner’s Group (HOG) which was formed in 1983. HOG is a company sponsored community with over a million active members now has become the biggest strength of this brand.

The benefits of such a community are far fetched. Research has proved that while loyal customers buy more of the brand and members of brand communities not only buys more but also encourages others to become the brand followers.

Brand communities are also a valuable source of information for marketers. The members willingly share their experiences of using the product and can suggest valuable modification to the product. Communities are sounding board for suggestions and issues faced by the consumers.

Communities also can be a vital resource to tap for potential new product ideas. These are the consumers who would like the brand to play an important role in their lives. Hence they will be able to give you a lot of ideas which can later be used to develop new products.

Researches have proved that members of brand community members adopt new products from the brand faster than ordinary consumers. Apple consumer evangelists are in the forefront in adopting and later promoting the new products like IPod and IPhone. This offers a tremendous advantage for the company because there exist an enthusiastic Tribe willing to grab and use any new product from the company.

Building a brand community is never an easy task. This requires lot of investment and initiative from the company to build and sustain a community.

Understand the Consumer

Before building brand communities, a very thorough understanding of consumer is necessary. This deep understanding will be critical in designing the community, the theme, the mission and the critical events that will take the communities forward.

Invest and involve

More than the financial investment, brand marketers should be able to own up the responsibilities of nurturing the brand community. This is too important an activity to be outsourced. In the case of Harley Owner’s Group, there is a separate division in the company that has the responsibility of nurturing the community. Harley Davidson also ensures that the Senior Executives of the company participates in the community activities. It is important for the marketers to understand the role the company has to play in communities.

Successful communities are those which are driven by the members. Marketers have to play the role of facilitators and catalysts to ensure that the community is sustained and is moving in the right direction.

Build Relationship

Brand communities are not only about building relationship between the brand and the consumers. A brand community becomes successful only if there is a scope of developing a relationship between consumers. Most brand sponsored communities revolve around sharing information between consumer and the brand.

Hence there has to be an opportunity between consumers to meet, share ideas and build a bond between themselves. This will be the most difficult part for the brands taking up a community building activity. So the marketers have to device ways to promote kinship among members. Events, brand rituals, memorabilia, collectibles, blogs, forums, partying are ways to enhance the bonding between the community members.

Build a Story

Every community has a story. It is the story that will inspire consumers to join the community. The powerful the story is, the more powerful will be the bonding between the community members. Hence the marketers should be able to go deep into their target segment to craft the story that they will be passionate about. Harley Owner’s Group website reveals the story behind the group; the group wants the Harley Davidson Dream - a way of life.

Building Community is like building the family; the brand should take the leader’s responsibility in bringing the family closer and the members should be given the opportunity to develop a bond with each other to sustain the community.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

McVitie's : Taste Ki Nayi Language

Brand : McVitie's
Company : United Biscuits

Brand Analysis Count # 445

Another global brand has come to India. United Biscuits which is World's third largest biscuit manufacturer has launched its flagship brand McVities in India recently. United Biscuits is a $1.6 bn giant which has brands like BN, McVities, Jacob's, Phileas Fogg, Hula Hoops etc. United biscuits has already acquired a manufacturing facility in Himachal Pradesh .

McVitie's is a whole wheat based digestive biscuits. The brand is currently running its launch campaign in various channels.

Watch the launch ad here : McVities

United Biscuits has entered a highly fragmented fiercely competitive Indian market. The biscuits market in India is around Rs 6000 crore with major players like Britannia, Parle , ITC, Unibic etc fighting for the share. Along with these players, there is also a fair share of competition from private labels and local players..

McVities has a rich heritage. The origin of the brand dates back to 1892. The brand derived its name from the original owners McVities & Price Ltd.

The first product to be launched in India by the brand is McVitie's Digestive. Infact McVitie's digestive is worlds first digestive biscuit ( source) created in 1892.

McVitie's is positioned as a healthy biscuit . Worldwide, the brand is positioned based on its " Whole grain " content. Globally, the brand has the slogan " Whole Wheat At Its Heart".

Regarding the launch campaign, I feel that the ad was not able to do justice to the brand. I came to know about this only after some desktop research for this blog. For an ordinary consumer, the advertisement conveys nothing much about the rich legacy of this global brand.

McVitie's positioning in India is based on two attributes . It focuses on Health ( whole grain) and Taste. The brand has adopted the tagline " Taste Ki Nayi Language " translated to " The new language of taste ".

In my personal opinion, the ad was poorly made. The concept of people speaking caves as maves, thank you as Mhank you , Wow as Mow etc after eating McVitie's was little overboard and out of woods. I feel a total disconnect between the brand and the current communication. The segmentation and targeting of the brand is also unclear. The products like Digestive biscuits will not appeal to all customers. The brand may be thinking that taking a positioning platform like taste will bring in all customer.

The brand wanted to bring in some humor in the ad but failed miserably. At the end of it, the launch ad was a very hastily made poor one which failed to do justice to this global brand. Regarding the positioning, McVitie's choice of taste as the major platform is also flawed. I don't think that taste can act as a powerful differentiator for McVities. All brands talk about taste at one time or the other. The powerful differentiator for McVities would have been its global image and the quality factor which made it one of the most respected brands in Britain. The brand could have projected itself as the REAL Digestive biscuit which invented this product category. The packaging mentions the brand as " The Original " , the brand should have focused on that.

Having said that, the critical factors for success in this business is the distribution reach and the shelf space. Since biscuits is largely a spontaneous purchase, retailer support is the key. McVetie's has the back of a global major. So marketing support may not be an issue. But it will take a long time for the company to reach to the nook and corner of the market. It will be interesting to see the subsequent launches of United Biscuits also into the Indian market.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Brand Update : Rin Vs Tide

Rin Strikes Again. But for the better or worse ?

Last day, I saw the latest ad for Rin , a comparative ad directly against the competitor Tide. It was a shocker.

Watch the ad here : Rin Vs Tide

This is the first time that HUL has directly compared Tide with Rin. The ad even have the tagline " Rin offers better whiteness than Tide".

According to ET, P&G has took HUL to court over this ad. The ad was timed to coincide with the long weekend so that HUL could play the ad before the Court hearing.

HUL is currently under severe pressure from its aggressive competitors. The market share of most of HUL brands has come down drastically over the last few years. The brands are facing pressure at all price points. Along with the domestic pressure, HUL is facing the heat from the parent Unilever. The Indian operations is under direct scrutiny by the Unilever CEO Paul Polman.

Last year, HUL tried to restructure its brand portfolio and increased the adspend on most of the core brands. But it could not arrest the decline of the shares of some key brands to the competitors like P&G , Godrej and ITC.

This desperation has clearly manifested in the latest ad for Rin. What on earth do a brand like Rin get into a direct comparative spat with its competitor. The ET report mentions that the ad was created because HUL executives feel that Tide is slowly neutralizing the whiteness (point of difference) USP of Rin. Hence Rin is trying to tell the consumers that it has more whitening property than Tide using a direct comparison.

In my personal opinion, Rin chose a wrong way of telling its superiority to the consumer . Last time I saw a direct comparative ad war was between Horlicks and Complan. Horlicks started the direct comparative ad and got a very very aggressive reply from Complan. The current status is that Horlicks stopped the comparative ad and Complan is continuing its aggression against Horlicks. It was an unnecessary move from Horlicks which woke up a laid-back competitor like Complan. I think that in that ad war, Complan won over Horlicks ( not in sales terms but in share of noise ).

The same thing is going to happen with Rin. It is going to lose this war primarily because there was no need for a direct comparison with Tide atleast in the ads. . If you observe the ad, 22 seconds of the 30 second ad is dedicated to Tide alone. That means in around 75% of the time, the ad talks about Tide. Interestingly the ad even mentions the USP of Tide as " It has fragrance and has whitening property". Then the rest of the 8 seconds talks about Rin. So if HUL has blasted some 30 lakh in the current promo, 22.5 lakh of it was spent on promoting Tide. Why should you ever mention your competitor in your ads ???

Watching the ad, one homemaker commented " I never knew Tide and Rin was from the same company, otherwise how can they show these two brands together in the same ad ? " .

The current campaign lacks any long term objectives. The brand is chosing a short-term path when the issue was a long-term competitive threat.Instead of spending such money on this crap ad, HUL could have run some serious sales promotional campaigns which could have prompted consumers to opt for Rin . It could have filled the retail outlets with Rin POPs. It could have run retailer campaigns to fill the shelves with Rin rather than Tide. HUL still has a huge distribution reach and strength compared to P&G, it could have won the war hands down had it capitalized on the retailer support alone. If Rin was too worried, it could have bought back Big B as the brand ambassador which could have added punch to the tagline " Chamakte Rahna".

Now the outcome of the ad war will be that HUL will be retrained by ASCII or the Court from further playing the ad . It means that Rin had adapted an unethical means against the competitor which will cause an unwarranted blemish on the brand reputation. Second outcome is that it will encourage Tide to be more aggressive in the market. Tide now has been officially and publically acknowledged as the competitor for Rin. Third outcome is that an ad war will start which will benefit the respective advertising agencies and the media.

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