Saturday, August 30, 2014

Brand funda : Elasticity of Brand

Article Review : What Makes Brands Elastic? The Influence of Brand Concept and Styles of Thinking on Brand Extension Evaluation Journal of Marketing Vol. 74 (May 2010), 80–92 ( Link)

 In this very deeply research article the authors examine why some brands are more elastic than others. Here the authors describe elasticity as the ability of the brand to extend to other categories
  • Research suggest that brand extension success depend very much on the extension fit.That is whether the extensions fit the perception of consumers about the parent brand.
  • The more elastic the brand is when the brand is able to extend itself to distant categories.
  • Early research suggest that the brand's elasticity is dependent on the parent brand's characteristics.If the brand is positioned on prestige, then it is more elastic and can be extended to multiple categories.
  • Functionally positioned brands are less elastic 
This article tries to expand the existing research by saying that while brand's characteristics are important in determining its elasticity, the consumer's style of thinking is also very important determinant in the brand's elasticity. Consumer's thinking styles are classified into Holistic thinking style and Analytical thinking style.

Analytical thinkers focus more on attributes and categories to draw inferences and judgements while holistic thinkers focus on broader connections ( contexts, relationships) between objects. According to the study, brands which have a positioning based on prestige usually have a abstract message which can be transported to multiple categories. Functional brands are at a disadvantage since the functional attributes cannot be moved effectively to distant categories.
The response by the analytical and holistic thinkers to the extension are also significant. Holistic thinkers are able to connect between parent brand and extensions while analytical thinkers will find it difficult to relate parent brand and extensions if they are functionally different.

The study finds that the brand's elasticity is jointly determined by the parent brand's positioning ( prestige vs funtional )  and consumer's style of thinking ( holistic vs analytical)
For prestige brands, analytical and holistic thinkers has similar  response to brand extensions while for functional brands, holistic thinkers had a favorable response towards extensions. The probable reasons can be that when evaluating extensions of functional brands, analytical thinkers focused on functional attributed and their similarities and often found dissimilarities.Another important finding is that prestige brands encouraged holistic thinking in both type of consumers. 

The study also suggest that brand can encourage holistic thinking in consumers through brand architecture. Sub-brands can be used to increase elasticity of functional brands for analytical thinkers.Brands can also bridge the gap for analytical thinkers by elaborate communication about the extension. Marketers has to match the message to the consumer's style of thinking which can make distant extensions receive favorable responses from analytical thinkers.

The article has lot of significance to marketing practice. While conventional marketing wisdom suggest the brands should not extend too far from parent brand, in practice, this may not be possible.The article gives direction for marketers endeavoring such extensions.It is important that marketers understand the consumer characteristics and its impact on the responses to extensions. Prestige brands are difficult to create but it has its advantages when it comes to brand extensions.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Layer'r Shot Deo : Pure Fragrance, Nothing Else

Brand : Layer'r
Company : Adjavis Venture Ltd (AVL)
Brand Analysis Count : # 547

Layer'r was launched in 2013 by AVL which was founded by Mr Devandra Patil. Mr Patil was a co-founder of Paras Pharmaceuticals and later the brothers of Paras decided to start on their own after selling Paras to Reckitt.One of the brothers, Darshan Patel started the Fogg brand under the company Vini Cosmetics which recently became the market leader in the deo category. Devendra Patel entered the deo market with two brands- Layer'r Shot for men and Wottagirl for women.
In the highly cluttered market for deos, the key success factor lies in the differentiation. The market is hotting up with majors like ITC entering the market with its Engage brand which gobbled up around 6% share within a short span of time.
Taking a cue from the success of Fogg, Layer'r has put in some thought with regard to the differentiation. The brand has rightly decided to move away from the " seduction" theme and has gone for some rational approach.
Layer'r differentiation is on the packaging. For the first time in the deo category, the brand has gone in for a transparent packaging. While most of the fragrance products like perfumes comes in transparent bottles, its is the first time that a deo has chosen to be packaged in a clear bottle.
With the USP of transparency, Layer'r has decided to position itself on the bases of " Pure" attribute which is presented in the form of transparent bottle. The brand has adopted the tagline " Pure fragrance , Nothing Else"
Another interesting fact is that the brand calls it a fragrant body spray rather than a deo. Hence the brand is also trying to create a product category different from deo ( in a way) saying that  deo is old style. So the brand is saying to the consumers to ditch the deo and adopt fragrant body spray. Although body spray products are already there in the market, but it is the first time that a brand has pitched itself against the deos.

Along with the packaging, Layer'r has gone in for a celebrity endorsement by the bollywood star Imran Khan. The campaign featuring Imran Khan take a dig at brands like Fogg by saying that  one cannot know what is inside the bottle of deos since you cannot see it.
Watch the campaigns here : Layer'r 1, Layer'r 2
With regard to the USP of the brand, the transparency of the bottle cannot be sustained because anyone can come with a deo in a transparent bottle.
Another differentiator that Layer'r tries to bring is in terms of a  product category of fragrant body spray. But Layer'r is not trying to say why a fragrant body spray is different /better than the usual deo.
The transparent bottle seems to be a good proposition as far as the brand trials are concerned. The added strength of the celebrity endorser will help the brand get trials at the retailer end.
While the competition has almost killed the Axe's positioning of   " seduction" , the Fogg's proposition of  " No gas " bottles has become the next target. New deo brands are now targeting Fogg. Envy brand is already talking about 1000 sprays and now Layer'r talking about transparent perfumes.
Attaining Points of Difference  in the deo market has now become a herculean task for marketers. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Park Avenue Beer Shampoo : Cheers to Man Hair

Brand : Park Avenue Beer Shampoo
Company : JK Helene Curtis
Brand Analysis Count : # 546

Park Avenue is a cash cow in the portfolio of JK Helene Curtis which owns the prestigious apparel brands like Raymonds , Color Plus, Parx etc. This brand has contributed half of the turnover of the apparel business of the company. Later the company decided to extend the brands to categories like men's grooming market.

According to Business Standard, men's grooming market is worth Rs 4000 crore growing at 25-30 % per annum. So for a company like JK Helene Curtis, it makes sense to extend a popular brand to this category. In September 2013, Park Avenue launched Park Avenue Beer shampoo in the Indian market.

According to ET, there is a research backup that beer is good for hair  and if Park Avenue has its way, then the most popular men's drink will find a new place - men's head ( sic).
Watch the launch ad : Park Avenue Beer Shampoo
The ad is clutter breaking and very funny. The ads were able to drive in the USP of the ingredient and isn't boring for repeated exposure. 
In this launch, the brand has done many things right. Firstly the brand has clearly differentiated itself  by its ingredient. Although other shampoo brands can launch their own version of beer shampoo, Park Avenue has virtually owned the ingredient through first mover advantage.The packaging reflects the brand's USP and the packaging is different and very smart. 
The brand has clearly communicated through its ads that men's hair is different and should be treated differently. The message is communicated through the tagline " Cheers to man hair " . The brand emphases Man Hair in the campaign to drive home the message that it needs special treatment.
So in a campaign perspective, Park Avenue has managed to break the clutter and was able to generate interest among the target group.
The challenge for the brand is to induce trial for the brand. The brand's proposition of a beer in a shampoo is intriguing and that may prompt many to try out this brand. 
Park Avenue has put this brand at the upper strata of the category by pricing it at a premium and beer justifies the premium :-)
Unlike the common practice of using celebrity, Park Avenue has gone for an Irish model Andrew Smith as the beer man ( Source ET) . 
Having said these good words, resemblance to the iconic Old Spice Mustafa campaign cannot go unnoticed. 
Last month, the brand launched its follow-up campaign  featuring the beer man. 
Watch the follow up campaign - Beer man
The second campaign however is not as good as the launch ad , may be the brand wants to take the women in the house into confidence because these purchases are often made by women. 
With many brands like Dove, Nivea, Garnier etc focusing their attention to men's grooming category, Park Avenue Beer shampoo has entered into a highly competitive market. It has done it with style . Now what has to be seen is how men reacts to beer in a shampoo .

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

He deodorant : Be Interesting

Brand : He
Company : Emami
Brand Analysis Count : # 545

Another deo hits the market with another big bang celebrity. This time, joining the brand-wagon is Emami with the new deo brand for men - He. He  is sort of interesting brand name which Emami chose to call its deo. Wondering how the company pulled off a generic name since it is very difficult to get trademark approval for generic names.
The Rs 2300 crore deo market is crowded but growing fast to accommodate new players. 
He deo has roped in none other than Hrithik Roshan as its brand ambassador . The brand is currently running its launch campaign in various markets. 
Watch the ad here : He Deo 
He deo wants to position as some thing different from the usual deo positioning of seduction. The ad tries to convey the message of the He deo user as a self assured confident and more importantly " Interesting" personality. 

Its interesting to see that it has become a norm that if one uses Hrithik Roshan , then he needs to perform super-human stunts. We have seen this playing out in ads featuring Hrithik. Here also the ad forces this stereotype on Hrithik. So instead of leaning forward and take his sunglasses, our hero chooses " Performed by experts under strict supervision " stunt to get his glasses - how is that for Being Interesting !
And as usual the ad shows " girls" being impressed . So despite trying very hard, He Deo also succumbs to the " Axe Temptation " .

The brand comes in Citrus, Oriental, Marine, Fougere, Woody and Musk fragrances and has managed to create a difference in its packaging which will help it boost trial at retailer end. With the market creator - Axe being sidelined and Fogg being crowned new leader, brands like He can now hope to be in that throne at some point in time only if it can continue to " Be Interesting " ! 

Friday, August 01, 2014

Marketing for Small Business : Marketing Department vs Marketing Function

In a recent study conducted over several SME s in my state, I found that over 70% of SMEs reported that they have a marketing department. But when enquired about certain critical functions like product development or branding, many reported that these activites are not performed.
It is important for small business to understand that mere existance of marketing deparment is not suffice, what is important is that critical marketing activties are performed. Several small business are still not aware about the importance of  having a systematic process of product development/ improvement,market intelligence , branding ,integrated marketing communication activites in their organisation.  Many business argue that they don't see a place for such activites in the current business set up, which is a myopic view. 
The first step would be to ensure that these activites are discussed at appropriate levels even if the business is small. That would help the firm develop a marketing DNA which would help it when it moves to a bigger league.