Sunday, January 27, 2013

Brand Update : Tata Safari rejuvenates through Storme

Tata Safari  which is in a critical stage of its lifecycle has launched the much awaited Storme recently. The new Storme is a completely updated Safari and is expected to bring back the much desired consumer interest .
Tata Safari which is a true-blood Indian SUV failed to capitalize on its long innings and a hard-core fan following. The brand although came up with some wonderful brand campaigns however failed to address the quality issues that nagged the brand from its earlier days. Safari did not have any big mechanical issues but many customers opined that the brand failed to rise itself to the higher standards of quality that the competitors were delivering. But still there were lovers for the brand because Safari had a character which was unique and appealing to certain customers.

Despite the fact that Safari had a distinct brand character, the marketing minds of Tata Motors failed to address the quality issues which was creating a negative perception among the consumers. The laid-back approach of Tata Motors in addressing the nagging issues of Safari virtually put Safari in  to the sidelines .
Safari also failed to see the changes happening to the SUV market in India. The brand failed to see the rise of more compact SUVs and was less aggressive in addressing competition from Scorpio. The laid-back attitude of the brand owners has virtually made Safari a nominal player in a category which it once pioneered.
Although the brand tried to come out with newer versions, most of the changes were cosmetic rather than a radical one.

The new Safari Storme is reported to be a 100% new vehicle rather than a modified Safari. The entire product has been changed for the better. One can only hope that Storme will change the quality perception that is haunting Tata Motors ever since it ventured in to passenger segment.
What is sad about the new Safari is the promotion. Tata Motors has decided to do away with the " Reclaim Your Life " positioning of Safari. Instead, the brand has the tagline " The Real SUV" which I think has undone what ever brand equity which the earlier campaigns has built.
The new " Real SUV " campaign does not give any power to the brand.The promise should be believed by the consumers. In the new market where all global SUV brands are present, Safari's claim to be the Real SUV is only a joke. I don't understand why and how a brand can just discard a powerful story like " Reclaim your life " .
Watch the new campaign here : Safari Storme
The new tagline is big downer for the brand. The brand suddenly switched to a functional positioning from a highly abstract positioning . This sudden shift may confuse the brand's positioning in future.

Tata Motors should be appreciated for investing in Safari and making it survive for the last 15 years. The brand is now pinning its hope on Storme for delivering results. As a die-hard Safari admirer, I too hope the same.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Brand Update : Vespa slashes prices but is it enough ?

According to newsreports, Vespa has slashed the prices of its newly launched scooter by around Rs 6700. Vespa was launched as a premium scooter which is according to the company is  ageless, iconic and timeless. The arrogance that Vespa globally is considered an icon was reflected in the pricing. Vespa launched its 125 cc scooter with a price of Rs 66,600 which was way above the average category price range of  Rs 40,000-50,000.
One would expect that with high price will come all the high-end features but Vespa decided that the premium is for the brand and nothing else.So what was offered to the Indian market was an ordinary scooter with excellent looks, funky colors and a brand.
Despite the high price and ordinary features, Indian consumers gave a warm response to the offer. Newsreports suggest that Vespa was able to sell around 30,000 odd scooters after the launch.

Then came the price cut. Vespa has cited operational efficiency as a reason for the price decrease. The price cut amounts to around 10% and still the scooter is the most expensive in the market . 
Although I don't disbelieve the clam of operational efficiency for the price-cut, I think there is an inherent confusion in the brand regarding its approach to the Indian market. There are also rumours of a mass-market launch from Vespa  aimed at volume. If that is the case, then how will the brand justify the premium for the current offering which is not feature packed.
India is a market where the utilitarian point of view of consumers are very high. Even if consumers splurge crores of money in luxury , the mental accounting regarding the value proposition is very strong. In this information age, it is surprising that Vespa overlooked the value proposition. 
The current price rationalization is not enough to excite the consumers because the value proposition of competitive offerings are more compelling. Ofcourse there is a niche segment who look for exclusivity but going by the noises made by the brand, it looks at volume rather than niche.
Having said that, the current launch can also be viewed as a test dose ( an expensive one) for gauging consumer response to a Vespa offering . The brand can take solace that consumers have viewed the brand in a positive light and has showed genuine interest in  what is being offered. The positioning based on the brand's iconic global status has also well received. May be the brand will reduce its arrogance and offer a better value proposition in future.

Related story

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Odomos : Play it Safe

Brand : Odomos
Company : Dabur

Brand Analysis Count : 519

Odomos is a 40 year old brand which has a generic status in the mosquito repellent cream market in India. The brand which was originally from Balsara came into Dabur's fold after the acquisition  of Balsara Hygiene Products  in 2005. 
The household insecticide market in India is worth around Rs 1600 crore. The smallest of the segment in this market is the mosquito repellent cream segment which is of size Rs 50 crore. The largest segment of the insecticide market is that of mosquito coil which is worth Rs 900 crore. Odomos has a virtual monopoly in the cream market.

The small size of the mosquito repellent cream market is the problem that the brand faces. The major challenge is to make the segment grow. Having said that, creams have found lukewarm response from the consumer. The major reason being the questions regarding the efficacy and safety of the product which needs to be directly applied to the skin. 

As a consumer , I too had these questions regarding Odomos. But should say from my experience that Odomos is very effective. But mosquitoes are smarter lot and they know to search and bite on places where Odomos cream is not applied. 
Odomos as a brand has  tried to address this safety issue by getting endorsement from medical associations. The brand prominently displays the message of  being "Skin Friendly " in their packs. Another bold step that the brand took was to target kids. The move is risky because parents would think twice before using Odomos regularly on kids because the perceived risk is too high.

Odoms now has product forms of Cream, Lotin and Oil. Odomos mosquito repellent oil was created to target rural market because oil product form has more acceptance in that market. More over oil applies better on the skin and is more effective in the job.

The brand owners have invested consistently on the brand. The distribution reach is very good for this product. Earlier, one inhibiting factor was the price which has now being resolved. Odomos have come out with smaller packs of Rs 5 and Rs 10 which I would say will encourage more buys.
The challenge for the brand is to make consumer consider Odomos as the primary defense option against mosquitoes. The product  is has maximum utility outside the house and that is why the brand is promoting it for kids who wants to play outside. The brand is also trying to promote its safety aspect through a variant Odomos Naturals which contains Aloe Vera. 
As a user of this brand, these questions are still  there regarding safety. Odomos despite running so many campaigns so far has still not convinced me that it is safe for regular use. The dilemma for the brand is that it cannot harp too much that it is safe because consumers then will think that it is mild and hence may not be effective .
In times where mosquitoes are now immune to coils and vaporizers , Odomos has proven to be a best bet for a good night sleep.