Friday, April 30, 2010

Brand Update : LMN - Changing Brand Positioning

After the high profile launch last year, the brand is back with the latest campaign this summer. And sorry to state that it is a big let down from the last year's campaign. The new series of ads now running in the channels features two African Natives as the protagonists. The entire campaign revolves round the antics and comedy of these thirsty guys in search of water.

The brand had come out with a critically acclaimed launch ad last summer. LMN quickly captured the viewer's attention with its smart tagline " Emergency Lemon Refresher". The ads were based on the insight that people will have a 'shrinking feeling' when dehydrated.

The new campaign has changed the " Emergency Lemon Refresher" to " Thirsty - Lemon ". The new campaign seems to establish a strong association between the brand , thirst & lemon. The thinking is very good but the execution is nothing but miserable. I think the brand lost track while attempting to be Funny.

Watch the ad here : LMN new Ad

This summer is witnessing lot of competition between lemon based drinks. Nimbooz, Minute Maid, etc are running campaign aimed at creating association between " Home made Lemon Juice " and the brands. To be fair with LMN, the brand is trying a new path of relating Lemon + LMN + Thirst which is more powerful than competitor's pitch on home-made lemonade.

LMN has a strong brand name, and with initial brand familiarity has already established, it could have milked the initial tagline a little bit more than suddenly changing the entire brand theme.

The current ads does not establish the brand and the ad theme. There is no connection between the two characters, thirst,LMN and positioning. I personally think that LMN does not need campaigns to establish association with Lemon because the name itself does that job.

If the brand's aim is to just create some noise, any ad would serve the purpose .

Related Brand

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

DelMonte Sauce : Taste Like Never Before

Brand : Del Monte
Company : FieldFresh Foods
Agency : Contract Advertising

Brand Analysis Count #451

Del Monte brand is making lot of noise across various channels as well as marketing blogs these days. The brand is in news because of the launch of its range of sauces in the Indian market.

Delmonte sauces launched recently is bought to India by FieldFresh Foods Ltd which is a joint venture between Bharti Group and Philippines based Delmonte Pacific. The JV was formed in 2007 and the Del Monte products were available in select cities. I presume the company has decided to launch the products nationwide in 2010.

Del Monte is a global brand with a rich heritage of over 118 years. The Del Monte brand architecture itself is very confusing with different brand owners/licensees across the globe. The brand Delmonte is originally owned by US based Del Monte Foods and licensed to other firms across the globe. The detailed brand ownership details can be accessed here ( Wiki). FieldFresh Foods have the JV with Del Monte Pacific which has the Del Monte brand license for this part of the world.

FieldFresh Foods has launched a series of food products under the Del Monte brand name. The product range include Packed Fruits, Fruit Drinks, Ketchup and Sauces, Olives, Pasta and corn. I presume this is the first time that Del Monte brand has been promoted heavily in the media.

FieldFresh has launched two sauce brands under the Del Monte brand - Twango and Zingo. Twango is a fruit based sauce and Zingo is the traditional eastern style sauce with garlic, ginger etc. The brand is running the launch campaign for these products across various channels.

Watch the TVC here : Del Monte Sauce

The sauce product range has taken the tagline : Taste Like Never Before. The brand has taken the taste as the USP. Delmonte is promising refreshing new tastes for its range of sauces. The launch ad is at best amusing with the brand using hyperbole to drive home the taste USP. The histrionics of the lady in the ad and the theme has nothing new to talk about. I wonder why the brand chose to use one of the most common themes for the first major brand campaign. The Indian Ketchup/Sauce market is worth around Rs 220 crore and is dominated by Maggi.

Another interesting fact is that the company decided to focus on the Umbrella brand Del Monte instead of the sub-brands Twango and Zingo. Most of the viewers may have missed those sub-brands in the ads. It is very difficult of build and sustain individual brands in the foods business. Hence umbrella branding is the only sustainable economical branding solution. The company may use Point of Purchase promotions for pushing the sub-brands.

Although Del Monte has used " Taste Like Never Before" tagline, it may be used only for the sauce product line. As far as the umbrella brand Del Monte is considered, the brand mark resembles a Quality Seal rather than a Logo. Hence Del Monte does not really need a tagline for itself.

Del Monte will be an interesting brand to watch because it has the backing of two big companies - Bharti and Del Monte. It will be tough for these brands to break the stronghold of established brands like Maggi, Heinz ,Kissan etc. Distribution and retailer support hold the key for any such brands in cracking the Indian market. Bharti which has big plans to establish retail chain may be looking for pushing the brands through its own stores in future.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Marketing Strategy : The Difficult Task of Differentiation

The Difficult Task Of Differentiation

Originally Published here in

Marketers are a worried lot. The market is flooded with similar products and offerings which has created a huge clutter of brands and products. The situation is worse in markets where the entry barriers are low. Added to this is the entry of private labels by retail giants to cash in on the consumption opportunity.

Take the case of the soft drinks market in India. The market is flooded with desi and foreign brands with similar flavours and product properties. This summer is witnessing fights over mango and lemon flavours. The brands are segmenting and micro-segmenting the market with every possible variable.

For a marketer, this situation has multiplied his marketing expenditure. The focus is on outsmarting the competition by grabbing more share of voice. To standout from the crowd, marketers are using every tricks of trade. Instead of one celebrity, now a team of celebrities are endorsing brands. Consumers, on the other hand, are overwhelmed by this plethora of brands. Instead of simplifying the purchasing process, brands are now confusing consumers by choices.

For brands, the abundance of choices creates a huge problem of differentiation. Differentiation based on product features has become a difficult task with competitors taking no time in copying /adopting that feature. Differentiations based on incremental product improvements /features have become difficult to develop and sustain in the market.

In an era where companies expect brands to be successful with in three months (quarter) and brand managers being evaluated on their quarterly performance, creating sustainable long-term differentiation strategies are not in vogue.

The current economic situation has now forced many marketers to rationalize their portfolio and cut the flab. It is time for Indian marketers to go back to the basics of creating sustainable differentiation strategies for their brands.

Invest in R&D

India is a R&D and product development hub for most of the MNCs but seldom Indian marketers were able to create breakthrough products for the Indian market. Tata Nano has shown the world what Indian minds can do when inspired. A project which was labelled ‘ Impossible’ by many analyst is now a reality. Nano is a lesson to all marketers. This product was created from a need and backed by conviction and support from the top management.

It is not easy and the Nano example shows the myriad of issues one can face when venturing into creating something original. But the effort is well worth the results. The market is moving in a direction where only those brands will succeed who can innovate.

Protect the Differentiation

An important determinant of a successful differentiation is the brand’s ability to protect the differentiation. Patented features are powerful differentiators. But it is very expensive and time consuming process to patent features. In the case of FMCG products like soaps , such kind of patents are not a viable proposition.

Smart brands use ingredient branding to protect their key differentiators. Ingredient branding is where a particular product feature or an ingredient is branded by the company. There are two kinds of ingredient brands.

One type is where the ingredient is owned by another company. Intel is a pioneer in ingredient branding. Intel has built ingredient brands like Pentium, Celeron, Atom etc .These are not standalone products but ingredient of computers. By creating powerful ingredient brands, Intel has successfully created a space for itself in the consumer’s mind.

Another type of ingredient branding is where the feature/ingredient is owned by the company itself.Bajaj has a powerful ingredient brand DTSI ( which is also a patented technology) which it now uses for all of its two wheeler brands.

The ingredient branding strategy helps firms protect their critical innovations or even benefits. These ingredient brands can be copyrighted which will prevent competitors from copying these innovations.

Connect to a Relevant Need

Creating a sustainable differentiation is possible only when brands become customer focused. Most differentiations that we see in the market are product oriented. When products become standardised, it is important for marketers to create differentiation focusing on consumer needs.

Brand laddering is a strategy that can be used by marketers to create differentiation on a need rather than on a product feature. Raymonds is a brand that has created a space for itself by effectively laddering up to a customer need ( Complete Man). The benefit of such a strategy is that competitors will find it difficult to copy the differentiation since it is based on an intangible attribute. The brand has created a unique powerful image which is sustainable over time.

It is also important for the differentiation to be relevant to the consumers. When connecting to a need, marketers should ensure that the need is highly relevant and will fill in a very important gap in his life.

Long Term Vision through Brand Charter

Brands will take time to establish and marketers should be able to give some breathing space for the brand to discover itself and connect to the consumer. It is important for marketers to create a brand charter which will spell out the long term vision for the brands, its differentiation and positioning platforms, guidelines and strategies.

Such a brand charter will guide the future brand managers to create tactics which are in line with the overall brand vision. If a brand chose to create intangible differentiation opportunities, there has to be a consistency in the brand’s positioning and differentiation strategies. Brand Charter will help bring consistency which will inturn facilitate create a sustainable differentiation.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

K Series Engines : Leaner Meaner Fitter

Brand : K Series
Company : Maruti Suzuki

Brand Analysis Count #450

Marketing Practice Blog has reached another milestone of 450 brand analysis. Let me take this opportunity to thank my readers whose constant feedback was a source of inspiration for me. The next obvious target is 500.

I am happy to mark this achievement with a very interesting brand - K Series Engines from Maruti Suzuki.

K Series is a classic example of Ingredient Branding. Professor Kevin Lane Keller defines Ingredient Branding as a special case of Co-Branding which involves creating brand equity for materials, components or parts that are necessarily contained within other branded products.

Although Professor Keller defines Ingredient Brands as a brand from one company which is an ingredient/component in a host brand from another company.But recent marketing practices has shown that ingredient branding can be done by the host company itself .
So ingredient brands can originate from the same company or from different companies. For example HP computers powered by Pentium Microprocessors is where ingredient brand Pentium is owned by a different company ( Intel) . Hence it is a case of co-branding.

In this case of K series, the ingredient brand is owned by the company itself. So theoretically it cannot be termed as a case of Co-branding.

K Series was launched in 2008 . The launch was to counter the much touted Kappa engine to be launched by Hyundai. K series engines also conformed to the tougher emission norms that came into force from April 2010.

Branding engines is not new in the Indian market. Bajaj Auto was a pioneer in branding its DTSI technology and reaped tremendous benefits in terms of differentiation. Maruti is trying to replicate Bajaj's success in the four wheeler market.

K series has been a success and the company has produced more than 3 lakh units in 18 months time. K Series engine is fitted in the new generation models like Swift, Swift Dzire, Ritz ,A star and new Wagon R. The first model to come out with this engine was A Star.

K Series engine is claiming to be more fuel efficient offering better control and ride quality. Maruti has invested some amount of money for the promotion of this ingredient brand. This is rather unique marketing practice seen in India because most of the other car makers having ingredient brands does not resort to exclusive ingredient brand promotion. There will be mention of the engine in the product ad but no campaigns exclusively for the engine.

The brand was launched with the ad featuring the marathon runner. Watch the ad here : K Series ad.

The ads could have been much better and more creatively done. The campaign lacks the " Aha " factor and only helps to create a brand awareness .How ever the company needs to be applauded for this type of branding. K series has adopted the tagline " Leaner, Meaner, Fitter" which sums up the brand promise.

The reason for Maruti going for ingredient branding is simple. Engines are now largely becoming commoditised. Now we see same engine in different car brands from different makers. For example, some models of Tata Motors, Fiat, Swift carry the same engine. When engines become a commodity, marketers have to look for other powerful differentiators. Hence ingredient branding comes to help. Ingredient brands are protected by the firm and creates its own identity in the mind of the customers. So K Series engines provide the much needed sustainable differentiation for Maruti.

According to reports, Maruti is planning to have K series engines for all its models. When the competition in the market has increased substantially for Maruti, such smart moves will help retain its leadership position in the Indian market.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Marketing Strategy : The Art of Story Telling

The Art of Story Telling

Originally published here at

Branding is the art of story telling. Successful brands are those who tell stories that catch the imagination of the consumers. More compelling the story is- the more customers will love the brand.

Lux for the past 75 years has been telling the story of Bollywood beauties. Dettol has been telling stories of fighting germs and Johnson & Johnson continue telling stories about the love between mother and child.

Story telling is a difficult task and that explain the reason why many brands fail to succeed in the market. Story telling is different from advertising. Advertising helps communicate the stories to the audience but brands have to first build a compelling story.

Take the case of Santoor. This is one of the first brands to tell a story of a beautiful mother mistakenly identified as a young girl because of her younger looking skin. The theme has been consistently reinforced by the brand through various advertisements. The story was compelling, realistic and easy to understand.

Brand stories are not a standalone complete story. The brand story does not have an ending. It is evolving and continuing.


Stories should have a compelling theme. In order for the story to be compelling, then the theme should be powerful and relevant to the consumers. In the case of Santoor, the story theme was based on the consumer insight that beauty is often associated with younger looking skin. The entire brand story was based on this premise. Axe deo brand has been telling stories of how women chase men who are using Axe. Men like the theme of getting chased by women. Axe was told a compelling story of how ordinary men got chased by beautiful women.


Stories should be relevant to the audience (consumers). Marketing Guru Seth Godin in his book “All Marketers are Liars “, talks about the importance of understanding consumer’s world view. He argues that only those stories will be successful which are relevant to the consumers’ world view.

Brands must know their audience before telling stories. They have to understand the audience’s world view in order to create a relevant theme. It is one reason behind the huge success of “slice of life “commercials. Consumers are able to instantly link to the theme because it is something that they can relate to.


Brand stories are continuous. Hence the stories need to be consistent with the same set of characters reinforcing the basic theme. Brand stories can be imagined as a large collection of highly related stories woven with a common thread. Hence it is important for the story teller to have the bigger picture while telling their stories. When the stories deviate from the common thread, consumers get disconnected.

Onida was telling a compelling story of envy with the central character of devil. The story was liked by the consumer and a brand was built. But later the brand deviated from the theme, characters were changed, devil was taken off and soon consumers felt disconnected with the stories.

Often we see brand stories change for no reason. When advertising agencies change, brand stories also change. Once the common thread is lost, consumers tend to forget the story.

It is also important to be fresh while consistent. Adults are easy bored by repetition. So brand managers should ensure that there is freshness in the stories that is being told. These stories should evolve from the big picture. Airtel is a classic case where the brand is able to create freshness with consistency. The brand’s core theme of Expressing Oneself is being reinforced through ads which are fresh and attractive.

Connect with the consumers

Successful stories are those which become close to the consumers. The audience should involve with the stories and should own up the theme. Successful movies are those where the audience become a part of the story. They cry and laugh with the characters and are a part of them during the movies. Successful brands are those where the consumers become the part of the story. The more involvement the consumers are, the more iconic the brand becomes. Apple and Harley Davidson are brands which told compelling stories. These brands became iconic because consumers became the part of the story theme.

Brands are trying to tell stories through different media and platforms. The powerful stories are usually told by consumers to consumers. It is very difficult to make a consumer tell a brand story to another. The story should be simple, uncomplicated and personal.

It is a True Story

Brand stories are true stories and it is not fictional. Consumers understand brand stories through experience. He uses all the sense to understand the stories told by the brand. Marketers often think that consumers will buy the story told through advertisements. Hence the focus was more on building a fantasy which is far from reality. What is often forgotten is that the consumers tend to validate the story through experience. If there is a mismatch between the story and the experience, the brand will not be trusted again.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Brand Update : Accenture

After the high profile Tiger Woods controversy, Accenture was quick to distance itself from the celebrity who was the virtual face of the brand. Accenture as a brand was in a tough spot because it was strongly associated itself with Tiger Woods and suddenly the brand was put in a position to disown its own brand image.
I could imagine the plight of the agency and the brand manager to come out with a new set of campaign without undoing all the equity and brand position that has been built over these years. Since their consulting business is not depended on advertising , they could breathe easy. If it was a consumer business , Accenture would have been in a soup.

The brand has started a new series of campaigns with a new set of brand ambassadors - the animals. Seems that Accenture has decided to depend on animals since there is no risk of them getting into any controversy. The brand is running a TVC featuring an elephant while the magazine ad features a type of Chameleon.

The ads were far far below the standard of the erstwhile ads featuring Tiger Woods. I feel that the brand could have continued using human beings ( models) as the protagonists rather than switching suddenly to animals. Since Accenture's core strength is People, ads featuring animals may not do well to reinforce the core positioning of the brand. The brand could also take the risk of taking multiple celebrities for the campaigns rather than shying away altogether from celebrities.

The Accenture brand saga throws in some important lessons. The importance of De-Risking the brand's associations. Accenture as a brand has put in lot of investment in Tiger Woods without de-risking. Ideally it would have either used more than one celebrity or could have run parallel campaigns with the same positioning but using a different creative platform. I had raised the same issue of risk in my analysis of Katrina endorsing Slice. Brands cannot escape from secondary associations. These associations can be on features,celebrities, countries etc. It is important for brand managers to have a clear understanding on these associations and how it is affecting consumer perceptions. It also pays to de-risk the brand from certain strong associations so that the brand may not land up in trouble.

Brand Update

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Danone Choco + Milk : Chocolate Smoothie

Brand : Choco + Milk
Company : Danone
Ad Agency : Rediffusion Y&R

Brand Analysis Count :449

Danone is a world leader in dairy products. This Paris based $16 bn giant was present in India as a stakeholder in Britannia Industries Ltd since 1993. By 2006, problems surfaced between Danone and the Wadia group which later culminated in Danone exiting Britannia.

This year saw Danone venturing on its own into the lucrative Indian market. Danone has launched Choco + Milk brand in the Indian market .The company is currently testing this milk beverage brand in certain Indian markets before the national launch.

The milk based beverages market in India is still in a nascent stage and is pegged at around Rs 200 crore. Experts predicts a growth in this segment because of inherent qualities associated with milk products. The total dairy market in India is estimated to be Rs 2,30000 crore.

Choco plus milk is a flavored milk beverage which will be competing with brands like Amul Kool , Nestle Milkmaid Funshake and Horlicks Chill Doodh.
Chocoplus Milk is currently running its launch campaign in certain channels. Watch the ad here

Chocoplus is focused on the health + taste aspect of the product. The brand is calling itself a Chocolate Smoothie and not as a milk drink . The brand features a protagonist Raghu as the brand advocate.As the launch strategy , the brand is running an SMS campaign along with the brand website - The brand has the tagline " Its not a drink, its chocolate smoothie". The brand is priced at Rs 15 for 200 ml.

The positioning of the brand is nothing much to talk about. Every brand now is talking about health and taste. The only difference that Chocoplus has done is to call itself a Chocolate Smoothie.
In such kind of products, taste has lot of importance . Kids needs to hook up to the brand and chocolate flavor rules the taste attribute. Another critical factor is the brand recall. Most of the existing milk beverages are not aggressive enough in this front. Kids needs to be constantly bombarded with brand messages . The usual strategy of retail visibility and dependence on spontaneous purchase may not be sustainable in the long term .Without building a strong brand pull, these products will be at the mercy of the retailers.

The value added milk beverages has a potential in the Indian market. Milk has lot of positive associations with health and nutrition. Mothers would like their children to take milk based beverages rather than soft drinks. But it is the pricing that is restricting the growth of this market to a certain extent. Rs 15 for a pack makes such beverages a luxury rather than a regular product purchase. These brands needs to make consumers stock these products at home. The brand needs to experiment with product packaging and SKUs to find the right mix.

On the promotion side also, milk based beverages are not aggressive enough. Since these brands target kids (except Amul Kool) sales promotions have lot of strategic importance. But seldom have I seen a good sales promotional campaign for such a product.

Danone is a global force to reckon with. The company has deep pockets and the capacity to shake up Indian market. It will be interesting to see how the company will build this brand in Indian market.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Brand Update : Knorr

Knorr recently launched another product line extension - Soupy Noodles. The brand is currently running the campaign featuring its brand ambassador Kajol. Soupy Noodles combines both the properties of soup and noodles. The brand is promoting this variant as a new category to be carved out of Noodles .

Knorr brand was doing well in the market after the company shed all the unwarranted product extensions and concentrated on soup category alone. Knorr retained its lost brand equity and is currently the market leader in the soup market in India.Knorr later extended itself into ready to cook range to expand the portfolio.

The launch of soupy noodles can be looked upon as just another interesting variant of soup product line or as a planned foray into Noodles segment. If the soupy noodles remain as a variant in the soup product line, the brand has done the right move in creating excitement in the market. Soupy Noodles will be attractive to the kids who has now the option of best of both worlds. Having said that Soupy noodles is not entirely an innovation since a similar version called Curry Noodles exists in the market.

The second scenario is where Soupy Noodles is a first step of Knorr into extending itself into noodles. If that is the case, then Knorr has not learned from its previous mistakes. Extension of Knorr brand to noodles will make the brand lose its generic status on the soup category. Of course the brand can point out the case of Maggi extending itself to various other categories. But Knorr had a bad history of extension failures and brand name confusion unlike Maggi.

I think soon Maggi will also launch its version of soupy noodles. If the taste is good, Indian market will see the emergence of a new category of soup + noodles.

Related Brand

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Marketing Strategy : How to Brand a Commodity

How to Brand a Commodity

First published here at

We are living in an era where brands are becoming commodities and commodities increasingly being branded. Commodity can be broadly defined as those products which are undifferentiated and consumers buy these products on the basis of the price. Price is the most critical factor that determines the choice of purchase of commodities.

Many product categories are becoming commoditized owing to the huge number of products that enter the market and the inability of marketers to find meaningful differentiation. Consumers do not see much difference between the products/brands and make their choice based on price. Marketers worried about this trend increasingly concentrate on cutting costs and selling products at the lowest possible price and thus effectively making the product a commodity. While marketers should prevent products becoming commodities, increasingly companies are looking towards branding product categories which was usually considered as commodities.

Indian market has witnessed lot of success stories of marketers successfully branding commodities like salt, atta etc.

Moving away from Price

One of the major challenges for marketers trying to brand commodities is to move away from price based competition. It is not easy to convince the customers to make choices independent of price while buying a commodity. The task for the marketers is to show more value that will justify the premium paid.

Tata Salt was a pioneer in branding salt. Tata had the backing of a strong brand name. Besides taking advantage of the strong brand equity, Tata Salt was one of the first iodised salt brands and the iodine content proved to be a great value addition. The launch of Tata Salt coincided with the Government of India’s initiative to promote iodised salt. Tata Salt positioned itself on the basis of purity and trust. Another player in the branded salt market Captain Cook tried to add value by promoting its Free Flow feature. The strong promotional campaigns and the very relevant value additions shifted the focus of consumers away from the price.


The most important determinant of a successful commodity branding is the differentiation. The marketer has to establish a very strong meaningful and relevant differentiation to the commodity if he wants to develop a brand in that space. Creating a successful differentiation is not easy in commodity marketing. There is a strong constraint of cost while searching for a meaningful differentiation. The brand will be targeting a price sensitive customer who may not be willing to pay a high price for a differentiated commodity.

Most of the marketers try to use Quality as the key differentiator. Quality is a strong differentiator but the brand has to establish a significant difference between the existing product and the brand to convince the customer about the quality. Parry’s sugar is India’s first branded sugar. The brand is trying to differentiate on the basis of purity and is positioned as a refined pure sugar.


The brands in the commodity space may have to grab a major share of voice for establishing itself in the category. The brands which have been successful in the commodity space have invested heavily in branding and promotion. Once the brand is established, the promotional spends can be rationalized.

While branding commodities, marketers have to use the various brand elements to the maximum. The colour, brand name, logo, mascots have significant impact on the consumer’s perception about the brand.

Packaging also plays a significant role in successful commodity branding. Brands like Pillsbury, Aashirvaad have caught the consumer’s attention through careful packaging. Parachute which has created a brand in the coconut oil category has put in lot of investment in packaging and brand promotion.

Celebrities also play an important role in building a brand in the commodity space. The use of celebrities creates an immediate impact on the consumers during the initial phase of branding. The disadvantage is that the use of celebrities can push up the cost for the marketers. BPCL used Narain Karthikeyan and MS Dhoni to endorse its Speed range of Premium petrol.

Brands should be innovative while entering the commodity space. Nightingale is a highly successful brand in the highly fragmented Notebook/Diary category.The brand was built on innovation. Nightingale introduced theme based notebooks and Diaries which became an instant hit. Parryware changed the entire sanitary industry with the concept of Glamourooms.

Branding a commodity is not an easy task. Marketers have a better chance of success in this market only if they are able to create a meaningful differentiation for their offerings.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Brand Update : Bajaj XCD RIP ( 2007-2010)

According to Economic Times, Bajaj has stopped the production of XCD 125 and XCD 135. The brand which was touted to give Hero Honda Splendour a run for money has become a part of history. In my analysis of the brand, I had opined about the positioning problem faced by XCD.

I feel that the brand established wrong sets of parity with Pulsar and the total confusion resulting in the focus on the cubic capacity rather than the brand benefits resulted in the death of this brand. Bajaj later diluted the core positioning of the brand by launching a 125 version of Platina which again cannibalized XCD.

The list of failed brands in the Bajaj's portfolio is increasing every year. The ET article also cites the imminent death of Platina in the future.

I cannot understand where Bajaj Auto is running so fast. The company in a race to overtake Hero Honda in volume sales is killing itself. The rapid launch of new products and product failures are going to hurt the company in future. Now will an XCD/Caliber/Wind customer try their hand on any new Bajaj two wheelers ? How will we ever know when company will stop producing that brand.

XCD could have survived if the company gave time for the brand to settle down, rectified its flaws and invested in the brand. Out of the 2 years that the brand had, the investment on the brand may have stopped after one year.

Bajaj is still putting lot of stake in anchoring their products on the CC( Cubic capacity). My personal opinion is that for a customer CC is irrelevant. They will buy good products and not CC. Too much focus on CC has created lot of problems for Bajaj two wheeler brands.

Related Brand
Bajaj XCD

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Marketing Strategy : The Logic of Brand Extensions

The Logic of Brand Extensions

Originally Published Here at

Brand extension is a strategy where the company uses an existing brand name to launch products in the existing or new category. This brand extension strategy is often the most used growth strategy for brands by marketers. The popularity of this strategy has given rise to a host of discussion among the academic and professional community about the efficacy of brand extensions.

Why Marketers go after brand extensions?

Exploiting existing brand’s equity

Brand extensions often are perceived to be a less risky strategy for launching new products. The logic behind using the existing brand name for new products is to exploit the brand equity of the existing brand. Recently Sundrop which is a famous sunflower oil brand launched Sundrop Peanut Butter. The use of the prominent brand in the new product is expected to trigger trial usage by the consumers of the parent brand.

Costs of launching brand extensions are low

Compared to launching new brands, brand extensions are perceived to be less costly to launch. The reason is that both the channel members and the consumers are familiar with the brand. Hence the extensions are tapping on the existing awareness of the brand. The marketers can thus use their budget to increase the trial usage rather than spend money on creating brand awareness. In one way using existing brand names helps marketers to skip one step in their brand building process.


Brand extensions also prompt marketers to explore new categories for the brand. Since the cost of launching brand extensions are lower compared to a new one motivate the marketers to leverage the existing brand’s equity into new categories.


Brand extensions also expand the scope of the brand. Ponds, which started off as a cold cream, is now an umbrella brand that endorses a wide range of beauty products. Dettol which is a highly successful antiseptic lotion brand has now a basket of products ranging from soaps to plasters. The brand extensions increase the scope and turnover of the brand and thus give more revenue to the firm.

Brand Extensions have its own set of negatives. Brand extensions are based on some assumptions which if gone wrong can affect the parent brand’s equity.

One assumption in brand extension is that consumers like the brand hence will like all the products endorsed by the brand irrespective of the categories. The second assumption is that the parent brand’s equity can be leveraged across various categories. Hence brand extensions will have similar positive equity as the original brand.

Critics argue that brand extensions will dilute the original brand’s equity. Sometimes there is a proliferation of extensions that dilute the parent brand’s positioning. So when a soap brand extends itself into shampoo, the core identity of the brand as soap is now irrelevant. If not clearly defined, the parent brand may lose its product associations in the consumer’s mind.

Another danger in brand extensions is the positioning confusion. For brands which are extending to related-categories are better off in positioning because the brand can continue with the same positioning when extending to related categories. But when the brand is moving to unrelated categories, the same positioning may not work in the new category. A change in the positioning for brand extensions will have adverse impact on the original brand’s position.

However, brand extension is an invaluable strategic tool for marketers looking for expanding the scope of the brand. Marketers have to get their basics right before embarking on the extension strategy.

To Extend or Not to Extend

This may sound too basic a question but every marketer should ask this question about the brand.

“Whether this brand should be extended in future?”

The future of the brand lies in this question. For a new brand, the decision to extend or not to extend in future will have its implication in the selection of brand name and positioning. A brand name which is highly associated with a product feature or category will have limited scope for future extensions. The positioning strategy will also have to be crafted in a manner which will facilitate future brand extensions. For an existing brand, this question will bring about a need for a change in the current positioning strategy.

Have a Vision

The most important task for a marketer looking for brand extension is to have a vision for the brand. Brand extensions as a short-term marketing strategy will be damaging for the parent brand. The development of a long term vision starts with the critical questions as to whether the brand should be extended or not. Once the marketer has decided on the extension, he has to chart a growth path for the brand. The vision involves deciding whether the parent brand should be used as an umbrella brand or as an endorser. Should the brand be used for unrelated extensions or limited to a category?

The careful planning of the brand’s future will eliminate lot of confusion in terms of positioning, category decisions etc.

Line Logic

Marketers should be clear about the impact of a line or brand extension on the product line of the company. Authors John Quelch and David Kenny in an Harvard Business Review article – Extend Profits Not Product-lines suggest that the company sales officers should take a line logic test where they should be able to explain in one sentence, the strategic role played by each SKU (stock keeping units) in the product line .The consumer should also be able to understand the how these extensions fits his/her needs.


The biggest threat of brand extension is the possible loss of focus on the parent brand because of extensions. Brand Extensions are opportunities for growth. While extending, marketers should not forget that the extensions are based on the equity of the original brand. Any change in the marketing mix strategy of the extensions will have an effect on the parent brand. This strong relationship between the extensions and parent brand should be taken into consideration during every brand promotions.

Lost Opportunity

Every brand extension is lost opportunity to build a new brand. While extensions take away lot of pressure from the marketers, one should have a clear understanding about the potential loss of an opportunity to build a new brand.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Brand Update : Slice

This season, Slice has come out with another campaign further reinforcing the highly successful positioning of ' Pure Mango Pleasure '. Slice has found a perfect match in the brand ambassador Katrina Kaif and the ad agency has extracted maximum from the celebrity.

Watch the ad here : Slice

I am not a spoil sport but when the celebrity and the brand gel too much the inevitable question arises as to " What Next". When I raised this question in one of the forums, lot of my ex-students asked me this very important question " Why should you ask What Next ?" . If things are working perfectly fine, why be a cynic ? There will be many other celebrities who will be taking place of Katrina . Frankly I did not have answers for that .

When we look at branding as a long term strategy, it is important to look at all brand associations on a long term perspective. Slice had hit upon a terrific idea of " Pure mango pleasure " and Aamsutra concept. The brand also found a perfect match in Katrina Kaif. There is an intense chemistry between the positioning concept and the celebrity now. It reminds me of the Accenture - Tiger Woods relationship.Accenture consciously built that singular pivotal association with Tiger Woods that landed up in trouble. Now Accenture had to break the earlier association built over a number of years and getting some equally good creative campaign for the brand is not going to be easy.

The lesson is that brands must have a plan to take the concept forward independently. I assume that marketers at Pepsi may have thought about it. Marketers should feel jittery when there is too much association with any celebrity for that matter. Be it Akshay Kumar for Thums Up or Katrina for Slice.

For now, Slice is on a roll. Insiders say that the brand has grown more than 300% in Kerala alone in the last quarter.
Great Going

Related Post

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Wipro Smartlite : Savings Account

Brand : Wipro Smartlite
Company : Wipro
Ad Agency : Orchard Advertising

Brand Analysis Count # 448

Wipro Smartlite is an interesting brand. Interesting because of the patience with which the company is nurturing the brand and also for the consistency of positioning which is now a rare feature in the current Indian marketing world.

Wipro Smartlite was launched in 2001 marking the foray of Wipro Lighting division into the CFL market. After 9 years, Smartlite is India's fifth largest CFL brand. The Indian CFL market is estimated to be around Rs 700 crore and is expected to grow fast because of the current trend towards energy efficient products. The lighting market is dominated by the incandescent bulbs which sells around 90-95 crore units every year.

The CFL market was growing slowly because of the significant price differential compared to incandescent bulbs. While the ordinary bulb costs Rs 10-15, CFL used to cost between Rs 110-115. This huge price differential made CFL to be considered as a luxury rather than a value for money product.

The entire CFL market become the center of focus in the last couple of years due to strong campaign from Government and NGOs. Despite the higher cost, CFL is considered to reduce the electricity consumption to a large extent thereby provide continuous savings . Such campaigns increased the awareness of utility of CFL among the general public.

Wipro Smartlite has positioned itself on the savings platform. The brand has adopted the tagline " Savings Account of your house " and uses the benefits like (a) Saves 40% electricity (b) lasts longer (c) better lighting ,to reinforce the positioning . The brand has roped in celebrities like Paresh Rawal and Jayaram in its campaigns.

Watch the campaign here : Wipro Smartlite

The CFL market faces the issue of cheap imports from China. The market is full of cheap low quality China CFLs which are sold at a ridiculously low prices. The margins of these China CFLs are so high that retailers push these products to the consumers.

The next few years will witness a tremendous growth in the CFL market in India. Consumers are becoming more conscious about energy saving products and are convinced about the value proposition of CFL. The high profile promotions of players like Wipro, Philips, CG , Havells etc will further expand the market for CFL.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Marketing Strategy : After Marketing

What Will You Do After Marketing

Originally published here at

Marketing in conventional sense has been defined as the process where organizations and individuals satisfy their needs and wants by creating and exchanging offerings of value. After -Marketing is a term that denotes the activities that a firm undertakes after the sale is completed.

Usually after-marketing activities are broadly understood as after-sales service. After-Marketing is more than the service support that is given after-sales. In the case of a product that needs service support like automobiles or in the business marketing, after sales service is a relevant and forms a major component of After-Marketing.

But in the case of a product like soap, there is no scope for after-sales service but there is a scope for after-marketing activities. While traditional marketing emphasis on activities till the sale is done, after-marketing strategies starts after the sales are made. These activities will take the simple transaction of buying and selling to the next level of relationship marketing. A relationship between the buyer and seller will depend a lot on what the seller does after the order is signed.

While After-Sales Service activities are applicable to products and services that require service support, After-Marketing is applicable for all products and services.

Define the After-Marketing Activities

The first step in After-Marketing is the recognition of the fact that sale is not the end of the relationship but a beginning of a relationship. And relationship is more than repeat purchases. In the case of business to business relationship, the after-marketing activities are marked by continuous follow-up by the sales department. In the case of a consumer product which requires service support like a TV or an automobile, the after-marketing activities include the product service support given by the company. In these cases, after –marketing activities are clearly defined and obvious.

For a product like soap or a shampoo, there is no scope for after-sales support. Hence the marketer has to define the concept of after-marketing. This includes what the brand should do after the selling is done and also what it expects the consumer to do after he has bought the product.

Sunsilk expects its consumers to visit their website and participate in discussions and exchange their ideas with the company. The brand has a clear understanding about what it expects the consumers to do after they have used /interacted with the brand. Sunsilk through its website also offers much information to the consumers about hair-care and solving hair-related problems. Thus there is a continuous connection with consumers over and above the transaction of buying a shampoo. This is a planned process that includes investment of resources on the part of the brand to connect with the consumers.

Take Initiative to Connect

After-Marketing activities can be of two types – Active and Passive. Active after-marketing involves reaching out to the consumers and encouraging consumers to interact with the company. Fastrack brand has a presence across various social marketing sites like Twitter through which the brand tries to connect with its existing and potential consumers.

Recently Dettol ran a high profile advertising campaign asking their existing consumers to narrate the various purposes for which they use Dettol. Consumers use Dettol for disinfecting floor, wash the wounds, disinfect the diapers, use it during bathing etc. These insights helped Dettol to run a campaign highlighting the multiple uses of Dettol.

Passive activities are where the brand expects consumers to initiate a connection. Having a toll free number printed on the back of the pack is a passive after-marketing activity while running a contest for consumers to call the company and suggest ideas is an active effort.

After-marketing activities also is aimed at providing a complete experience to the consumers about the product. The success of a product lies in how well the consumer is able to derive maximum from the product. So the marketer should ensure that the consumer use the product completely and thus gains maximum utility from the product.

Take the example of a mobile phone. Now mobile phones are loaded with applications and features and it is often found that consumer seldom uses the many applications in their phones. Unless the consumer fully uses the features, a complete product experience cannot be guaranteed. After-Marketing activities can be planned to equip the consumer to fully use their product. Easy to read manuals, education of consumers by the sales people on the features, web based support etc can be initiated so that the consumer gains the maximum usage from the product.

After –Marketing is not trying to sell more. The frequent SMS’ that is sent to the subscribers by the cellular service providers announcing various offers and schemes often creates irritation because the intention is to sell more. The timely delivery of bills, reminders,acknowledgement of payment received act as good after-marketing activities because the intention is to help the consumer.

Create Loyalty by Sharing

Consumers want solutions not products and marketers have to rise above the products to solve the consumer’s problems. A soap marketer can be a solution provider for hygiene /skin care related problems by sharing information about hygiene and skin care. A toothpaste marketer can be a solution provider of dental related issues and problems through information sharing. Colgate through its website is offering lot of information about dental care and dental hygiene.

In this era where competitors can copy every possible product/service features, after-marketing activities provide an opportunity to create a meaningful differentiation for the marketers. Although these activities require investment of resources , in the long term ,after-marketing activities will define the extent of consumer loyalty commanded by the brand.