Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Brand Update : Fastrack Gets Provocative

Fastrack ,the most successful youth brand of India has started getting provocative. In a strategy emulating the likes of United Colors of Benetton , FCUK etc, the brand has embraced a double-edged sword inorder to keep connected to the fickle Indian young consumers. 
Fastrack is one of those few brands which could break into the young consumer's minds. Over these years, the brand was able to position itself as a young, vibrant, brand and through very smart campaigns has created as space for itself. 
The brand evolved from a sub-brand to a powerful independent brand through some smart product strategies ( design + affordability + promotion) and clever advertising. 
Now it seems, the brand is entering the next phase of its evolution. From a watch brand, Fastrack has grown to become an umbrella brand endorsing products from watches to tees.

The current campaign which is more of a digital campaign is provocative at its best. The brand is now starting to walk through the thin-line separating decency and the other-side. Many brands especially those who target the youngsters are tempted to be provocative with a dash of erotica/nudity. Lot of researches has been done on the effectiveness of such provocative ads. Research says that provocative ads drives its power from three factors (a) Shock Value (b) Ambiguity (c) Transgression  to some cultural taboo  ( Pope Voges & Brown, Journal of Marketing) . The ads which aims to be provocative needs to shock people so that attention is taken. The ads should be ambiguous confusing the audience as to the real meaning of the ad, so that they discuss it longer and finally the ads should break some rules or taboo. In all these counts, the Fastrack campaign scores brownie points.

The real question is the advantage of getting provocative. Earlier researches categorically stated that provocative ads although has an effect on the audience's attention towards the campaign creates a negative impact on the brand image. But recent researches tend to be gentle in criticizing such ads since there is a marked shift in the audience culture. But researchers were not able to clearly measure the impact of such ads on the overall brand image.
So here Fastrack is taking a risk. The short-term benefit is the attention that these ads will shower on the brand but the risk is whether the brand gets trapped in these type of ads and finally ruining its image.
Its for sure that the youngsters will find no issues with the current campaign and that is what the brand also wants.
What do you think ?

Related Brand
Fastrack : How Many You Have

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fogg Deo : No Gas , Only Deo

Brand : Fogg Deo
Company : Vini Cosmetics

Brand Analysis Count : # 507

It is raining deodorants in the Indian market. The new player in the Rs 1000 crore cluttered market is the brand Fogg from Vini Cosmetics Ltd. The brand is running its launch campaign in various media. The highly cluttered Deo market is full of brands which promotes themselves as a tool to attract girls. The quality of the ads has become so pathetic and stereotyped that many brands project themselves as aphrodisiacs. A hunk, swimming pool, foreign girls in minimal clothes, the guy sprays the deo and all girls ran towards him. This is the theme of almost 85 % of the ad. 

It is in this scenario that the launch of Fogg becomes relevant. The refreshing fact is that unlike the other deos, the brand chose not to focus on girls. Thank god for that. 
So instead of focusing on attraction, the brand focused on something very interesting - quantity of deo or in broader terms Value. 

Watch the ad here : Fogg

The brand is trying to change the category play by breaking the sterotype built around deos. The brand rightly identified that the so called functional benefit of the deos has been commoditized and trivialized by other brands that no one believes any of the claims. Hence the brand wants to differentiate by focusing on the value part of the product. The brand claims that it has more deos hence more value for money. The brand tries to convey this value proposition by  (a) suggesting that other deo brands has more gas than actual deo by demonstration (b) by guaranteeing 800 sprays for a bottle. It has to be noted that the brand is priced at the premium end of the market.
The question is whether the differentiation is sustainable and relevant. As a consumer, I feel that 800 spray guarantee is interesting but that may not be the reason for me to purchase this brand. Secondly the other brands can easily catch up with the proposition.
To be fair to the brand, Fogg needs to be appreciated for thinking beyond the usual crap. The pitch on the value part will shakeup the market since the brand is putting a blame on the rest of the players. Now the competing brands will be watching the consumer reaction to this move by Fogg. The only issue is the price of the brand. At Rs 170, Fogg is pricey and it may need much more compelling reason for the consumers to bite the bait.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Brand Update : Cadbury Eclairs Moves Up the Value Chain

2011 was an eventful year for Cadbury's Eclairs. The year saw the brand trying to move up the value chain by launching a new variant Cadbury Rich Brownie Eclairs. The move is significant because the brand has done an upward line stretch since the new variant is priced at Rs 2/-.

Cadbury's Rich Brownie variant is a significant move in the Rs 950 crore candy market where the most popular price point is Rs 1/- and  50 paise. The marketers were reeling under margin pressure because of a rise in the input costs at one hand and the price sensitive consumers at the other end. The problem was aggravated by the price competition from Nestle and local brands. Cadbury's still hold market leadership in value terms in this market while losing out the volume leadership to Nestle.

2011 also saw some changes in the positioning of Cadbury's Eclairs. The brand which earlier had the positioning of Doob le Zara ( which meant- immerse in taste) changed the tagline to "Get Lost".

Watch the ad here : Get Lost 
Cadbury's launched the Rich variant with the positioning of Chocolate Fountain. The brand adapted this from the earlier campaigns of Cadbury's Dairy Milk Eclairs' Chocolate Bomb ads. Instead of the heads exploding as bombs, in the Rich variant's ads, the heads explodes into fountains.

Watch the ad here : Cadbury's Rich Eclairs

Since the brand is priced high, the target market for this variant is older customers- the teens and youngsters.

While the new variant is banking on the chocolate fountain, the original Cadbury's Eclairs is experimenting with the " Lost in Taste " proposition. The creative brains finally came up with the tagline " Get Lost". For the first time , a brand is telling the customers to " Get Lost ".  May be the creative guys told the client  to " Get Lost " and client mistook it for the tagline and approved it !
The new tagline is far below the average creative standards for the reason that another brand from the same company i.e 5 Star is having the same positioning. It is common sense that it is not advisable for two brands from the same company to have same positioning. Positioning has to be unique and should not be shared unless it is a branded house. The entire campaign has a negative tone coupled with the tagline which itself is negative.
According to newsreports, the Rich Brownie variant wants to create a space for itself in the market which will convince the customer to pay higher price for the new variant.
Although nobody will have any doubts regarding the quality of these products, the campaigns for these two variants does not match the brand's real worth. Cadbury's have always known for its breakthrough campaigns. The recent ads for Silk, Shots , CDM all were of high quality creative executions. However, the ads for the eclairs does not match the standards of its siblings. What difference is there between the Chocolate Bomb and Chocolate Fountain  ? What difference is there between 5 Star and Get Lost campaigns ? Rather these come across as lazy cut-copy works.

Related Brand
Cadbury Eclairs

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Marketing Funda : Determinants of Brand Extension Success

Professor Franziska Volckener and Professor Henrik Sattler of Institute of Marketing and Retailing, University of Hamburg, published a very insightful article  titled Drivers of Brand Extension Success in Journal of Marketing in 2006 which spoke about critical success factors that drive brand extension success. The authors through extensive empirical research distilled five factors that determine whether a brand extension will succeed in the market place. 
The study which was conducted in German FMCG industry gives valuable insights for marketing managers across the world.
The five factors that determine the success of brand extensions are as follows

1. Fit between parent brand and brand extension : Whether the extension is in line with the parent brand's positioning and consumer perception
2. Parent-brand conviction : The brand equity of parent brand , the trust of consumers on the parent brand's quality are critical factor that help extension success.
3. Parent-brand experience : The previous experience of the consumer towards the parent brand will affect the consumer's response to the extension
4. Retailer acceptance of brand extension : Retailers play an important role in the brand extension's success.
5. Marketing support : The investment in brand promotion also has a strong role to play in the success of the brand extension.

My Two Cents : The above cited research throws important light into the critical determinants of brand extension acceptance by consumers. Marketers should view these factors holistically because all these factors collectively contribute to the success of extensions. These factors like parent-brand experience and parent-brand conviction take time to develop. Hence haste in extending a brand without these factors can be risky.
 While I am personally critical of brand extensions, market pressures and opportunities make brand extensions a vital element in the marketing strategy . The research of Professors Volkener and Sattler is very relevant in this context.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Force One : Be The Force

Brand : Force One
Company : Force Motors

Brand Analysis Count : # 506

Force Motors which is well known for its commercial vehicles like Tempo Travellor, Trekker etc has made a significant entry into the SUV market in India. The company recently launched an SUV Force One in the Indian market.
Indian SUV market is now appearing lucrative to auto majors. Indian car market is skewed to small cars. The market is dominated by small cars. SUVs were a niche. But recent trend is that consumers are purchasing more SUVs despite the poor infrastructure conditions and rising fuel prices. According to newsreports, 324000 SUVs were sold in India during 2010-2011. The growth of SUVs were infact more than the car segment. 

The Indian SUV market is dominated by Mahindra with its flagship brand Scorpio. Toyota Fortuner is the second largest brand but dominates the premium segment of the SUV market. The market has witnessed a slew of launches from all major brands in the world.Hence the launch of  a brand in this segment is very risky and difficult. Force One has took this challenge seriously and has done some serious homework before going for the launch.

Force Motors took a very smart step  by collaborating with Mercedes Benz for the engine of Force One. The company has already understood the benefits of tying up with a brand like Mercedes before in the success of its Traveller. So by sourcing the most critical element of the car from World's most respect company, Force One has almost negated the risk of Engine complaints and the Mercedes engine will give confidence to consumers about this newcomer's claims.
Second smart move was the design part. Indian SUV consumers like big mean machines. Frustrated by poor roads and rash and arrogant driving of larger vehicles like trucks and buses, most Indian consumers love to have a large vehicle to tame the arrogant truck and bus drivers. Hence Force One deliberately designed itself to look larger and meaner. 
The third and most important move was the promotion part. The brand almost shocked the entire auto world by roping Amithabh Bachchan as the brand ambassador. The brand knew that it is fighting with large and powerful brands like Scorpio, Fortuner, Safari etc and needs a trump card to get even with these established  brands. The roping in of Big B was a masterstroke and has given a terrific boost to the launch.
The fourth factor was the price. Force One has priced itself at around Rs 10 lakh. I am not sure about the effectiveness of the pricing strategy because it seems little pricey compared to Indian counterparts but not that much as compared to foreign brands. But my gut feeling is that it has not hit the sweet spot in the pricing and would have excited the market had it started of with a price of Rs 8 lakh. However, the Mercedes engine may be the reason for this confident pricing of Force One. It is to see whether Indian consumer is willing to pay that much for a new Indian SUV.
With Bachchan as the brand ambassador, one would wonder how the brand is going to structure its message. Force One had to convey a feel of ruggedness and premiumness inorder to gain consumer interest. The presence of Big B will assure eye-balls but if the communication is not right, people are going criticize the effort.
In the advertising front, the approach of Force One was surprising. I expected something that would project an international look and feel , something of the sort of a Reid and Taylor campaign highlighting the brand ambassador. But Force One took a very different route.
Watch the campaign here : Force one Kids, Force One Clean

The ads are very Indian and focuses on one aspect- Force. The brand has adopted the tagline " Be The Force " . In the ad, Big B says "India mein sirf Force hi Chalta Hai " meaning " In India only Force will work " . This message really strikes a chord with the consumers mind since everyone have felt this at some point in his life in India. 
With regard to the brand promotion, it is interesting to observe that the brand deliberately chose not to project itself as a premium. The brand I think is targeting those consumers who are pissed off by Indian roads. The brand is talking to the prospective sedan buyers and telling them that only a beast will survive in Indian roads.
The brand has started on a rugged communication route hence it has virtually closed its doors on premiumness. Infact this soundness of this strategy is validated by the launch campaign of Mahindra's X500 which calls itself a Cheetah. The brand has chosen  " Powerful " as its USP and uses the analogy of " Force " to communicate its positioning. The role of the ads for automobiles serve as a bait for the consumers for a test drive. No on buys a car just because of the ads. The product will sell itself if it excites the consumers and the influencers. 
Force Motors is a new entrant to the passenger segment. Like its peers Tata Motors and Mahindra, Force will also be perceived as a commercial vehicle manufacturer and the lack of expertise in the passenger car market will be the Achilles' heel for this company.Product Quality and quality  of its after-sales service is going to be very critical in the success of this brand. The brand has got its basics correct. This will be an interesting story to watch.  

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Brand Update : Katrina is the new face of Titan Raaga

Titan Raga has got a new face in Katrina Kaif. In continuation with its celebrity endorsement centered brand strategy, Titan signed the reigning Bollywood Diva Katrina Kaif as the brand ambassador for its sub-brand Raaga. The brand is currently running the campaign featuring the brand ambassador.

Watch the ad here : Katrina Titan Raaga

Titan Raaga which was born in 1992 was able to carve out a space for itself in the Indian watch industry. The brand is targeting the Sec A/B segment with a value proposition combining elegance and quality. 

Regarding the brand communication, there is nothing great about the new advertisement. The ad follows the standard theme and except for a small glimpse of the brand, celebrity rules the entire campaign. The ads featuring Katrina also sports a tagline  " Stay New " . 
 The brand has fallen into the celebrity trap where celebrity gains more importance than the brand. Remember that in most of the Titan ads featuring Aamir Khan , the brand was carefully placed with equal importance as the celebrity. 

Another interesting factor I noticed in the new ad was the absence of any mention of the sub-brand Raaga except for the half-a-second glimpse of the watch. Infact I mistook the campaign for the parent brand. This is another classic case where the agency underplayed the brand in favor of the celebrity. Further there is not much connect between the sub-brand and the theme of the ad. May be the brand is trying to economize by promoting the umbrella brand Titan rather than Titan Raaga. 
Even in the print ads, there is no mention about the sub-brand. This may be a part of the strategy where the Above-The- Line campaigns will be for the parent brand Titan and the Raaga will be relegated to a sub-brand visible only in the product. More clarity will come only after the rolling out of further campaigns.

Does it make a big difference ? 

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