Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Brand Update : Can Ambassador be saved ?

Recently the good old Ambassador was in the news that the brand owners - Hindustan Motors is planning to relaunch /rejuvenate this heritage brand. Both the brand and company is in deep crisis with HM posting losses of Rs 43 crore last year and its networth declining by about 50%.

The company plans to relaunch the Amby in a new look and is planning to entrust a design house with the task. The report also suggest that the new Amby will have a retro- look and will be in the price range of Rs 5- Rs 7 Lakhs. The new Amby will be a niche product.

The interesting question is can this brand be saved with the new strategy ?

From the report about the new Amby launch, it will be tough for the brand to regain its lost glory if the brand is going for a niche variant. According to Economic Times, Ambassador sells around 600 units per month in a market of 2 lakh cars/month.

Ambassador is now in a rut which is its own creation. The brand is the classic example of marketing myopia. The company took the customers for granted and refused to change when the entire market changed. The brand did nothing when faced with competition from Tatas and Maruti. Instead of changing its core DNA, the brand relied upon cosmetic changes. When the brand needed a drastic revolutionary change, HM decided to get stuck with the old product.

The current strategy of a niche Amby is again a patch-up . This brand cannot survive on patch-up strategies. I don't think that the core brand Ambassador will revive with the launch of a niche high priced Ambassador. With the brand equity in shambles, how can the brand expect consumers to pay a premium for the new Amby variant ?

The high priced Marquee variant will work for iconic brand which are facing a decline. But Ambassador was not an icon. It was a market leader and consumers bought the car because they did not had a choice. Not because they were a die-hard Amby fan. Hence a high priced niche variant may not revive the sale of Ambassador.

Secondly HM as a company is now relying its future on Ambassador which again is a flawed strategy. A weak brand cannot save a weak company. And a niche variant will at best give some life support and not survival.

Another way to look at the current strategy is the transformation of Amby from a mass market car to a niche product. So instead of trying to sell large volume of Ambassador, the company hopes to sell high-end variant and hence generate more cash. In that perspective, the launch of a high priced Amby make sense. But the question is whether the brand has enough equity to support such a variant. Brands like Beetle and Enfield revived because these brands had strong equity existing in the market even after its previous life. The relaunch re-ignited the existing goodwill . But such a goodwill does not exist for Ambassador. Ambassador is known for its space and rugged nature .The product is also infamous for nagging problems and poor build quality. Still people bought because there was no choice. For such a product, the hope of renewal from a niche product seems too optimistic.

Having said that, Indian market has seen consumers embracing products with exceptional quality and/or utility. So if the new variant is exceptional, there are chances of getting accepted by the market.

Another interesting aspect of this issue is about the reliance of HM on Ambassador brand for its survival. Why didn't it think about an entirely new brand ? The trend in the Indian auto market is that multiple brands from different companies sporting the same engine. The engine becoming commoditized and design gaining prominence. In such a market why not come out with an entirely new brand with a proven engine ? Although building new brand is expensive compared to rejuvenation of old brand, in Amby's case, Ambassador comes with a lot of baggage and perceptions which is difficult to change.

If Ambassador wants to stay relevant as a brand, what it need is disruption. Disruption should happen both internally and externally. The brand should go for radical redesign and more importantly it should disrupt the market. The current price to value proposition of Ambassador is negative compared to the competitors like Indica . So if Amby wants to play the volume game, it needs to offer consumer something they cannot refuse. A diesel car below Rs 4 lakh can ignite interest in the brand but given the cost scenario, such a task is virtually impossible.

HM is again going for short-term strategy in pursuit of long-term results. For Amby, it seems to be the end of road .

Related Brand

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is Social Media a mere extension of traditional media ?

A guest post of mine was published in Indiasocial.in. Indiasocial is a resource- rich site for marketers interesting in social media. Marketers make a big mistake in viewing social media as mere extension of traditional media. But social media needs different learning and approach. Read the full article here .

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Brand Update : Dettol & Lifebuoy Creating Hand Sanitizer Category

Indian market is witnessing the creation of a new category in the hand hygiene segment - hand sanitizer. Although hand sanitizer products were existing in Indian since 2002, this category is witnessing lot of marketing action only in the last couple of years.Two giants in the Indian FMCG market is fighting it out in creating this category - Dettol and Lifebuoy.

Hand Sanitizer is an alternative to soap and used for maintaining hand-hygiene . This product which is available in gel, spray, liquid or foam form can be used directly to the hand and unlike soaps need not be washed away. Just apply the hand sanitizer and leave it like that.

It is not Lifebuoy or Dettol which introduced this product in the Indian market. Godrej Consumer Products Ltd , Himalaya, Paras Pharma etc had introduced this product in the Indian market even as early as 2003. GCPL 's brand Protekt is exported to various countries while Himalaya's brand - Pure Hands is a herbal hand sanitizer. But these brands were not able to create a noise in the market so far when compared to Dettol and Lifebuoy.

Indian Hand Sanitizer market is still nascent with an estimated market size of Rs 20 crore (source) . Marketers believe that this category will grow faster owing to the new breed of infectious diseases.

Hand sanitizers are popular in markets like West and Europe because of the consumer awareness ( fear) about hand hygiene coupled with the convenience of the product. The fact that the product can be used anywhere/anytime makes it a very useful product for those who are too much worried about keeping their hands always germ-free.

The early marketers of hand sanitizers in India tried to cash in on the SARS Virus pandemic which created huge amounts of concern and fear in 2002-2003. But the marketers was not effective in converting the fear into enough sales to create a category. When the SARS fear died out, the hand sanitizer market was also dwarfed.

2009-2010 is witnessing another surge of infectious diseases like H1N1 and host of other diseases which are spread through air/water. Since most of these diseases are infectious and spread through socializing, the scope of a convenient hygiene product again surfaced. The trend shows that this surge and fear will last longer than the earlier SARS episode.

As usual, Dettol and Lifebuoy are pushing this category based on fear. The ads shows the probability of germs affecting the consumer at various public places like shopping malls, public transports etc and then advises on keeping hand sanitizer with them always so that they can protect/sanitize their hands all the time.

The ads does the job of scaring the shit out of the consumers and spreading the fear psychosis of contracting diseases everytime/anytime. But thats the job of marketers isn't it ?

The question is whether consumers will be open to the habit of keeping hand sanitizers in the bag and use it everytime they shake hands or uses a public transport, or uses any commonly uses objects like a door handle ?

To be fair to the marketers, the threat is very real. How many of us are aware of the possibility of contracting disease through a publicly used ' door handle ' of the office toilet ? How about the germs in the currency notes that we use on a daily basis ? How about the Bus ?

Oh God !

But how many of us will take the pain of buying and keeping hand sanitizer and using it again and again for fear of contracting disease ?

Many will buy and use it for sure. Like Handwash category, sanitizers will also find takers who are ultra health conscious. There will be consumers who will be attracted to the product because of the sheer convenience of it. The product will be a boon at places where you don't trust the water or the soap.
Now the brands are focusing on fear to promote the product category but as a consumer I am put off by the fear psychosis that these brands are trying to create. I am conscious of the possibilities of diseases but I chose to be little careless about the stuff rather than carrying a hand sanitizer and using it everytime I shake hands with someone.

Having said that I would have been more comfortable if the brands spent more time talking about convenience of the product . I think it will be convenience that will drive the brand and not fear.

What say ?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Brand Update : Hajmola Repositions as Audio Candy

It has been a while since I updated about Hajmola Digestives. The most significant development happened last year ( 2009) when the brand undertook a major repositioning exercise . The brand started calling itself an Audio Candy.

Hajmola which is a unique digestive tablet is a very powerful brand. This Rs 1 billion brand has been able to stay relevant in the consumer's mind through consistent campaigns and some smart distribution strategies. Hajmola digestive tablet is now selling approximately 2.5 crore tablets daily.
Hajmola is known for its unique taste ( Khatta Meetha taste ) and the taste has been its USP ever since its launch. The unique taste with its digestive properties made it a post-meal habit of many Indian consumers.

While Hajmola tablets are consumed for its utility, candies are a different ball game altogether. Candies are consumed for fun rather than utility. Hence Hajmola candy should be positioned more on the fun side rather than the utility . Hajmola has already established itself on the utility ( digestive ) platform , the challenge was to put fun aspect to it.

Dabur then found a very smart way of putting fun into this digestive. The brand named itself an Audio Candy. The name is derived from the insight that the Zingy Tangy taste of Hajmola in your mouth will be accompanied by a lip-smacking sound. The idea of Audio Candy was born.

The concept of Audio Candy was reinforced by the campaign that followed

Watch the ad here : Hajmola Audio Candy

The idea of Audio Candy is a very smart idea which communicates the positioning of unique taste in a very fun filled manner. The TG - mainly kids will like the concept of the audio candy. And the concept makes the USP of Hajmola difficult to copy. Along with the repositioning , Hajmola also launched a couple of variants like Imli and Kachcha mango which gave more reasons to buy this product.

It is interesting to see the evolution of Hajmola from a functional tablet to a fun filled candy. The brand has successfully extended itself to a larger market but retaining its core strength and not diluting the utility for which it is loved for.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Addiction Body Spray : Lasts Long Really Long

Brand : Addiction Body Spray
Company : Mankind Pharma

Brand Analysis Count : 461

It looks like that Indian marketers will make deodorant/body spray - a commodity. The plethora of the new products that is now flooding the market together with horrible brand campaigns took the charm away from this category.

The latest kid on the block is the Addiction brand from Mankind pharma. Mankind was in recent news for the high profile launch of their condom brand Manforce.

Addiction body spray joins the tribe of brands like Fuel, Denver, Wild Stone taking on the market leader Axe directly by copying its positioning. All these brands have the same positioning, same message and some horrible campaigns to spread the message.

Addiction is no better.

For a change, Addiction brand has roped in the actor Neil Nithin Mukesh as the celebrity endorser . The brand is currently running a campaign featuring the celebrity.

Watch the ad here : Addiction Deo

The campaign talks about the same stuff that of the competing brands. The hunk uses the deo, girls fall for the fragrance,chases the hunk, jealous girlfriend desperately tries to prevent other girls from seducing the hunk...

Yuck !

These ads have become disgusting.

Addiction body spray has taken the attribute of " long lasting fragrance " as the main point of differentiation. The differentiation is meaningful and not many deos have concentrated on that attribute. But " long lasting " is too basic an attribute and can be easily copied by the competitor ( if they really care to). But going by the trend , most of the deo/body spray brands rely on occasional bursts of campaigns and seldom focus on longterm brand building campaigns. What the market will witness will be more hunks and more flesh.

Addiction has taken up the tagline " Lasts long, really long " which is a clean copy of the tagline of Amaron batteries. The creatives should have thought of something better for the brand.

Addiction in their campaign has called itself as a body spray rather than a deo. Deodorant and body sprays serve the same purpose of preventing body odor and smelling good. The basic difference is that Deos are used specifically to prevent body odor hence it is applied directly to the odor producing areas like under-arms . Body Sprays are used for its fragrance . (I am not sure whether Addiction brand is a deodorant body spray or just a perfumed body spray).

I wonder whether Indian consumers need another deo brand like Addiction. Having said that , there is a space for a strong competitor for a brand like Axe. None of these challenger brands have lived up to the hype they created. If you go to any supermarket, you will see the difference. Axe lives up to its position of a market leader with strong visibility in the shelves and these competitors are bundled together and kept aside. It is doubtful that any of these deo brands have managed to create a meaningful differentiation strong enough to compete with Axe.

At the same time, Axe is witnessing an erosion of its core positioning and in future will struggle to excite the consumers with its campaigns. It is a fail-fail situation for the brands in this category.

Addiction could have created an impact if it had tried something different from the theme of seduction. Focusing on a higher aspirational attribute like success, confidence, energy, self esteem etc would have helped the brand break the clutter. Rather than taking the path less traveled, Addiction preferred the path taken by other brands - which will eventually lead this brand to grave.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Brand Update : Mentos Becomes a Chewing Gum

Perfetti van Melle ( PVM) has introduced another product line extension for its highly successful brand Mentos. The launch of Mentos into the Rs 600 crore chewing gum market throws in lot of questions regarding the basic logic of this strategy.

Mentos has been a unique brand in the Indian market. The brand carved out a special place of itself through the product characteristics as well as through some very humorous campaigns. Unlike other candies /chocolates, Mentos was a chewy confectionery which blended the properties of candy and chewing gum together. The product had a sweet crest and a gum like inside. The brand was a welcome break for all those consumers who looked for something new. It also appealed to those consumers who disliked the inconvenience of the chewing gum but would like to have something they can devour for a longer period of time.

Mentos was also popular because of its clutter breaking campaigns. The tagline " Dimaag Ki Batti Jala De " was one of best taglines I have seen in the marketing world. The brand also came out with very cool campaigns which made Mentos a very popular brand.

The launch of Mentos Chewing Gum may be in line with the company's global product strategy. In other markets, PVM have a chewing gum extension for this brand. Having said that I am little skeptical about this extension. Primarily because of the issue of cannibalization.

Mentos will compete with PVM's own brands like Center Fresh and Happy Dent. Center Fresh will be the one who will be facing the competition from Mentos. I don't understand the feasibility or the logic of bringing in one more brand into category where another brand is present.

Another aspect which worries me is the possible dilution of the position of Mentos as a chewy confectionery. One of the key differentiator for Mentos was the swallow-able chewy nature and through the launch of a chewing gum invariably dilutes that position. Now a consumer cannot order Mentos and then just eat it. He may have to check whether it is a chewing gum or the original swallow-able Mentos. Otherwise he will be in trouble .

Now what is Mentos ? a swallow-able chewy or a chewing gum or both ??

In the launch of this variant, PVM has done something which was unthinkable - blatantly importing a television commercial and changing the voice-over and putting it in India.

Watch the launch campaign here : Mentos Chinese

PVM was a poster boy of the Indian advertising world because of the creativity it had extracted from the ad agencies. The ads for Mentos, Happy Dent, Chlor Mint were all glorious examples of creativity. But here the company chose the easy way of copying an ad from other market and pasting it in India. I wonder why PVM did such a sub-standard move for a power brand like Mentos.

The ad itself is disgusting . The ad does not create any sort of rapport/connection with the Indian consumers as such. The brand had moved several notch below the established brand image through this campaign.

The launch of Mentos Chewing gum seems a half-hearted effort of PVM to increase the market share of Mentos. The way the product is launched points to the short-termism winning over the long-term brand building strategy which PVM earlier adopted.

I think that the brand owners did not eat Mentos while thinking about this launch. Eat Mentos and " Dimaag Ki Batti Jalao ".

Related Brand

Friday, August 13, 2010

Marketing Strategy : How to Profile Your Customers

How to Profile Your Customers

Originally published here in Adclubbombay.com

Knowing one’s customer is a prerequisite for successful marketing practice. Customer profiling is the collection valuable information about customers which will help in better targeting and marketing strategies. Although every marketer knows about the importance of customer profiling, it is surprising to see how little effort has been taken in this regard.

The main reason cited by marketers, especially those dealing with FMCG and consumer durable products, for this lack of customer profiling is the sheer size of the customer base. For a mass marketer, profiling the large segment of consumers is not viable economic proposition. The problem starts when marketers see their customers as a large segment and not seeing them as a collection of individuals. It is true that a mass marketer cannot profile individuals but treating the entire segment as one without understanding individual profiles can make decision making less effective.

Profiling helps the marketer in better targeting, better communication and also provides a thorough understanding about his/her buying behaviour. The more information a marketer has about the customer, more efficient will be his marketing activities. Customer profiling can be done at an individual level or at segment level. In practice, most of the mass marketers and B2C marketers tend to profile customers at the segment level and the B2B marketers focus on individual profiling. B2C marketers find it difficult to profile individual customers because of the large number of customers.

Customer profiling starts with the identification of target customers. Before profiling, marketers should have clarity about their prospective customer. This is a critical step for start-ups and those businesses that are entering new markets. The critical question that a marketer should address at this stage is “Who is our customer? “. Many businesses tend to view this question narrowly. It is important for marketers to understand the different customer- roles in a buying situation. For example, in the case of a Television purchase, every member of the family will have a role to play in the whole purchase process.

According to Professor Philip Kotler, there are five customer roles in a purchase process

Initiator – The person who first suggest the idea of buying a product.

Influencer- One who influences the purchase decision through his suggestion or advice.

Decider- Who decides on the purchase and also any purchase decisions like where, what and how to buy.

Buyer – Who makes the actual purchase?

User- The person who consumers or uses the product.

While profiling the customer, it is important to profile those members of the purchasing unit who takes up these roles.

The next step in the profiling process is to decide on the information that is to be collected. Marketers can collect general date like demographic data which are often available in the public domain. These data help in proper segmentation and also in determining the market potential. Along with these data, it is important for marketers to collect personal data about their target customers. These data are difficult to capture and requires investment of people and financial resources. These data involves the media habits, hobbies, psychographics, purchase patterns, attitudes etc. In the book “Customer Equity “ , Robert C Blattberg, Gary Getz & Jacquelyn S Thomas , identifies six major categories of customer profile data. They are

Customer Sales Potential: Refer to the potential sales volume from the customers.

Customer Characteristics: Refers to the data related to customers like demography, income etc

Summary Customer Equity Measures: The value that the customer brings into the company

Organisational charts and Key persons: Applicable to business customers.

Influencers and specifies: The key roles customers play in the buying process.

Customer Attitudes: The qualitative data about the customers.

Once the information requirements are finalized, marketers should decide on the collection of the data. It is very difficult to collect the personal data of the consumers. Hence marketers should adopt data collection techniques which are more qualitative in nature. It is important for marketers to take a long term view about collecting such data because of the cost involved. The data pertaining to the attitudes and purchase patterns should be collected on a continuous basis in order to make it relevant.

Data once collected should be effectively utilized in the decision making process. Technology has enabled companies to collect all sorts of data. Many managers feel overwhelmed by the quantum of information collected. It is important for firms doing customer profiling to have a mechanism to make relevant data available to the decision makers.

In this era of high competition, customer profiling can prove to be the winning edge for marketers. One factor that determines whether a company is customer oriented or not is how the firm effectively uses customer profiling in their decision making process.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Brand Update : SRK Joins Pepsodent in Dishoom Dishoom

It has been a long time since I wrote an update about Pepsodent. Although the brand has been very active in the media with different campaign , there was no clutter-breaking stuff to write about. Some times consistency can be boring.

Ever since the launch in 1993, Pepsodent has been trying hard to break into the stronghold of Colgate in the Rs 3000 crore Indian Oral Care market. Despite being a powerful brand with the powerful backing of HUL, Pepsodent is still hovering at around 13 % marketshare compared to around 52% share of Colgate.
Pepsodent so far has been very consistent with its positioning and differentiation. Although the brand started its journey positioning on Mouth Wash proposition, it quickly identified the flaw in taking that stance. Soon the brand began to take the position of a germ killing toothpaste. It had stuck to the positioning ever since.

The most memorable campaign of Pepsodent so far was the Dishoom Dishoom campaign which catapulted the brand to the position of a worthy competitor of Colgate. HUL has been tweaking the germicheck advantage using various campaigns all these years.The brand also had its range of variants like Pepsodent Complete and also Pepsodent Whitening.

The recent campaigns of Pepsodent was centered around interesting conversations among kids and also between Mother and Child. The brand had earlier tried to attack Colgate directly through ads which highlighted the claim that Pepsodent fights 10 tooth problems compared to competitors' 5 ( watch the ad ). The other campaign highlighted the common fear of mother about her child's dental health.

In 2010, the brand had made a significant investment in bringing Shah Rukh Khan as the brand ambassador for Pepsodent. The brand is running two TVC featuring SRK
Watch : Pepsodent 1

The campaign revolves around the theme of interaction between a Father and Son ( Papa and Pappu) . SRK as father convincing his son about the importance of brushing the teeth with Pepsodent. The ads are quite nicely made .

The question is whether a celebrity like SRK will ad any significant value to the brand as such. SRK is a very powerful celebrity and the impact of such a powerful celebrity endorsement cannot be discounted. Especially kids will be very much influenced by this endorsement and a probable pester-power can spike the sales of the brand in the short-term.

But whether SRK will help the brand scale the next level is debatable. The presence of SRK only makes the campaign more interesting other than that there is nothing significant either in the message or in execution. The impact of SRK 'e endorsements will be more at the store level if HUL is able to use SRK at the POP and store-level promotions.

Despite having a differentiating factor like " Germ Killing Property " it is interesting to note that Pepsodent was not able to pose a significant threat to Colgate. My hypothesis is that although Pepsodent has established a Point of Difference, it has not been able to establish Points of Parity with Colgate. Colgate still has a strong acceptance as a toothpaste that prevents tooth decay and Pepsodent so far has not been able to establish itself in that attribute.

Pepsodent will do well if it could use SRK to establish Points of Parity with Colgate rather than trying to reinforce the already strong Germicheck Point of Difference.

Related Brand

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Marketing Strategy : How to Craft Your Brand's Vision

How to Craft Your Brand's Vision

Originally Published here in Adclubbombay.com

Creating a vision for the brand is the most important primary step in the brand management process. Brand Vision can be defined as the long term strategic position that the brand will take in the market as well as in the consumer mind-space. Brand vision offers a strategic intent which will act as a long term goal for the brand.

Creating brand vision is a strategic process which requires the involvement of top management. The vision dictates the future course of action for the brand with regard to its growth and future course of action.

Most of the time marketers are faced with critical decisions regarding the future growth path for the brand. There is a dilemma whether the brand should be extended to cater to new opportunities in the market or to be focused on the current category. Some times marketers tend to extend the brand too much that the entire brand equity gets diluted. Without the guidance of a clear vision, brands tend to lose focus and extend into unchartered unrelated categories. Lack of vision also creates the problem of discontinuity for the brand’s strategies. There are chances that the brand compromises its equity for the sake of short-term growth unless guided by a long-term vision.

Having a brand vision will help marketers make decisions regarding the growth of the brand. The vision also helps marketers to tap into opportunities which are in line with the vision and reject others that contradict the vision. Vision helps the brand to create a brand charter which will act as a rule book for the managers. It will also help the managers to shape the brand strategies during the time of crisis.

Brand vision also helps to develop consistency with regard to brand communication. The messages derived from the brand vision will be consistent across all media. Even when the advertising & creative agencies change, the brand message will remain constant. In the absence of brand vision, the communication messages will not be connected by a common thread.

Brand vision also motivates the employees to perform better. Employees feel motivated and inspired when they are aware of the brand vision. More importantly, employees should feel that they are contributing to the realization of that vision.

Typically brand vision statements should be simple and easy to remember. The golden rule is that every employee should be able to remember the brand vision especially in the case of a corporate brand or service brand.

While drafting the brand vision, the marketers has to keep the following facts into mind

Think Big

While drafting a brand vision, marketers need to have big plans for the brand. The vision should not restrict to the category or even the industry. Instead the brand vision should aim at addressing some critical issues faced by the consumer. The vision should inspire both the consumers and employees alike.

Encourage growth

Brand vision should encourage the growth of the brand beyond product categories. The marketers should be looking at a 10 year time horizon while drafting the brand vision. The marketers should be asking the following questions while drafting the vision.

  1. In 10 years, what will be the position of the brand in the industry/category?
  2. What is the core need that this brand is going to satisfy?
  3. Is that need sustainable over a period of time?
  4. What needs do this brand satisfy in future?
  5. Will the vision of the brand appeal to the consumers?
  6. Does the brand vision excite the employees?
  7. Does the vision encourage growth and pursuit of opportunities?
  8. Is the vision easy to understand and communicate?

Synergy with corporate strategy

It is important for the brand to maintain synergy with the corporate strategy. That is why the top management should play a key role to in drafting the vision. When the brand’s vision is aligned with corporate vision, a sustained investment and support can be ensured for the brand’s growth.

Customer Focus

Brand visions should be created with customer as the focal point. Many a time brands focus too much on the product rather than the customer need. Having a strong focus on customer will help brands to create visions which are practical. Customers will also be able to relate to the brand vision since the vision is created with the customer in mind.

Periodic Revision

Although brand vision is crafted for a long term, it is important for the marketers to revise the vision from time to time. Brands operate in a dynamic environment. There are chances that the brand’s vision may become irrelevant for the consumers in the changed environment. Hence visions need to be revised in line with the changing consumer environment.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Marketing Q&A : Frame of Reference and Points of Parity

A Marketing Practice reader asks this very pertinent question " What is frame of reference and points of parity and their role in branding ?"

Frame of reference is the framework used by the consumers to make sense of the product in question. Humans understand and remember new things by linking it to existing (known) objects. Frame of reference is that evaluative criterion which is used by consumers to make a better understanding of the product/services. Frame of reference also explains the context in which consumers tend to evaluate /place the product. For example , the frame of reference used to evaluate Frooti is that it is a mango drink. Coca Cola = Cola, Ace = Mini Truck, Dettol = Antiseptic etc. If Frooti launches an Apple Drink, the consumers will find it difficult to accept the product since it is out of the frame of reference used to evaluate/understand Frooti

Since consumers use a frame of reference in understanding a product, the concept has a very important place in the positioning of the product. Positioning is defined as the act of designing the company's offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market ( Kotler). The first task of the marketer is to identify the frame of reference used by the target market in evaluating the product/service. Once the frame of reference is identified, the marketer will position the product in line with the frame of reference. In case of products that lack a frame of reference, marketers should create a frame of reference for the consumers.

The concept of Points of Parity helps marketers to place the product in line with the consumer's frame of reference. Points of parity are those associations that are not necessarily unique to the brand but may in fact be shared with other brands. There are two forms of Points of Parity - Category POP and Competitive POP. Category POP are those associations that consumers view as being necessary to be a legitimate and credible offering with a certain product or service category.Competitive POP are those associations designed to negate competitor's Points of Parity ( Kevin Keller).

In simple terms , when a product is launched, the marketer should tell the customer about the category in which the product belongs ( category POP). This task is important for products which belong to a new category. For example , hand sanitizer is a new category and consumers are not aware of such a category. So when a brand is being launched in such a new category, brand managers should first establish a category POP. For that , the consumers should be made aware of such a category. Right now marketers are using infomercials to educate the consumers about hand sanitizer, its advantages and uses. Once the frame of reference is established ,then the brand should be placed in the category. Usually marketers use packaging, product form and labels to establish category points of parity.

Competitor POP is where marketers tell the consumers that their brand have all the properties/qualities of their competing brands. For example Lifebuoy soap will establish competitive POP with Dettol soap by claiming that it has germ killing qualities and vice versa.

These strategies will fail if the marketers did not understand the frame of reference used by consumers in evaluating the product. This lack of understanding can lead to positioning failures that eventually lead to product failure.