Saturday, November 28, 2020

Nature Protect : Harness the super power of nature

Brand: Nature Protect
Company: Hindustan Unilever
Brand Analysis Count: #601

After a long time, the market is witnessing a brand launch from HUL. So far, HUL has been playing around with its existing power-brands through brand and line extensions. However, HUL is facing this pandemic rather aggressively with a new brand- Nature Protect. 
The COVID-19 pandemic had a different kind of effect on businesses. While most businesses faced a serious existential crisis, some category showed strength and resilience. One category which had the most advantage during the pandemic was products related to hygiene. Hygiene products raced to take advantage of consumer fear and products were tagged with germ-killing propositions across product-ranges. 

HUL found this time to be ripe for a product launch. Nature Protect, as the brand name suggests, is in the "natural" space of the market. The brand is in the hygiene category with products such as surface disinfectants, sanitizer wipes, vegetable wash etc. 
The basic promise of Nature Protect is its natural ingredients and the USP is the neem content. Nature Protect is heavily banking on the efficacy of the neem ingredient as the selling point. While HUL has similar natural/ayurvedic brand like Ayush, that brand has not taken off as expected. Ayush is now pitched as a fighter brand against Patanjali and the likes. Nature Protect is expected to boost HUL's brand portfolio in the naturals space where there are strong consumer interest and future potential. 
Another advantage of having a natural-based brand is the Unilever's fight with Dettol dominated hygiene category of disinfectants and related products. So far, Unilever has not been able to fight Dettol which is slowly expanding its product range. Lifebuoy is fighting it in multiple categories and Nature Protect is expected to open another flank in the fight for supremacy in this category. 
Nature Protect will help HUL to further expand the hygiene category especially appealing to consumers who are worried about chemical-based hygiene products. Right now, the HUL has been covering the hygiene market with brand extensions and now it has created a focal brand for all products in this category. That gives a lot of freedom for the brand managers to explore new emerging categories like vegetable-wash, laundry sanitizer, sanitizer wipes etc. 
The launch ad ( in my opinion) is a disappointment for such a high-profile launch. There is a trend of using kids in all things related to germs. Nothing worthwhile in the ad to write about. The brand name in a typical textbook-style conveys the brand promise. The USP of neem ingredient is relevant but can be copied by the competitor and thus negate the point-of-difference. 
Although HUL is known for its marketing finesse, it has a tendency to abandon their brands after the initial hype. Hope that will not happen with Nature Protect. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

TT Asafoetida : A Heritage Brand Celebrating 125 years.

 Brand: Tasty Tasty Asafoetida
Company: Mahesh Value Group

Brand Analysis Count: # 600

The trigger to this post is a television ad of TT perungayam ( Asafoetida) I saw recently. A quick search found something interesting and new to me so thought of putting this as my 600th brand analysis. The most interesting fact about this brand is history. This brand born in 1895 is celebrating 125 years of existence and it is something to be celebrated. In this ever-changing world, how many brands, big or small can boast of such a history? 
This brand is not from a glamorous industry but from a commodity - common asafoetida which is an integral ingredient of South Indian cuisine. This brand may have survived this long because of this close connection with culture. In marketing, we learn about the interaction of culture with the choice of products. Most likely, these brands have become an integral part of the kitchen. 
It is not that the brands selling these products are not promoted. Brands like TT, LG are promoting heavily in their respective regional markets. In fact, a search for asafoetida ads can throw up a lot of brand advertisements in this category. Another interesting information was regarding the brand name TT stands for Tasty Tasty. 
Although TT as a brand is famous for asafoetida, it had launched brand extensions like appalam ( pappad) and also into the highly competitive spice masala market.
To commemorate the 125 years, the brand has recently upped its promotions across various channels. The brand is focusing on the health benefits of asafoetida as its USP. As we know about the commodities, its very difficult to find and establish a sustainable point-of-difference since the characteristics or benefits are common for all marketers of these commodities. However, TT is trying to own the health benefits platform through its claim that the product is made from the natural first extract of the latex from the plant. 
These brands will remain as long as there is a major shift in consumer preference from traditional food choices. Some brands are blended deeply with the culture which is often enduring. The challenge comes when these ingredients become a part of a package and customers need not buy these ingredients separately. Till that time, these brands will be around.
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Friday, November 20, 2020

Zed Black : Prayers Will Be Answered

Brand: Zed Black
Company: Mysore Deep  Perfumery House
Brand Analysis Count: #599

Zed Black is an unusual name for an agarbatti and perhaps that has contributed to this brand's success. Zed Black is the brand of premium agarbattis from Mysore Deep Perfumery House ( MDPH) which is an Indore based company. The location of the firm is relevant because it is reported that the agarbatti market is usually dominated by Karnataka based brands. 
Zed Black was launched in 2000 aimed at creating a space in a market dominated by numerous players both in the organized and unorganised sector. The overall market for agarbatti in India is estimated to be around Rs 2000 crore. 
What made me look at this brand were two things - the brand name and the brand ambassador. Zed Black is a name one would not associate with a traditional product like agarbatti. I searched for the story behind the brand name but no avail. However, in an interview with the directors of the company, they mention that the founder wanted a unique English name for the product that will catch the fancy of the consumer and help the brand stand out from the rest. Most of the agarbatti brands are connected with tradition or god's name. Of course, there are exceptions like the market leader Cycle Agarbatti. The founder wanted to have a name that would also showcase the premium image of the brand. Hence the brand name was chosen. 
MDPH knew that agarbatti was chosen based on the perfume. Consumers smelled the pack before purchasing and often sticked to a brand he liked. Rightly so, the founder travelled across the market to gauge the consumer's tastes and also in search of perfumes that could hook the consumers to the brand. The focus on perfume helped Zed Black gain consumer acceptance quickly.

In 2017, Zed Black roped in Dhoni as the brand ambassador. The company uses a traditional tagline " Prayers will be answered" for the promotions. In regional markets, the brand uses regional celebrities. While the perfume acts as a powerful cue for purchase, the brand drives the consumers towards trying the brand. In that aspect, MDPH has cracked the code for a category like incense sticks which are very cluttered. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Brand Update : SugarFree launches chocolates under D'Lite brand

SugarFree, the market leader in the Rs 350 crore Indian artificial sweetener market has recently launched a brand extension much to the delight of calorie-conscious and diabetic patients in the form of dark chocolates. India which is considered to be the diabetic capital of the world is yet to see a boom in the artificial sweetener category and sweets made up of artificial sweeteners. This is largely due to lack of awareness and fear of risks in consuming such products. 

However slowly and steadily, the market is warming up to such alternatives to non-sugar delicacies. To take advantage of such potential, most of the confectionery brand has one or two variants in the sugar-free category. For example, Amul has one variant of sugar-free dark chocolate but is rarely available in offline stores.

Zydus Wellness, the owner of SugarFree is sensing such an opportunity and with a brand which has a strong generic name and market leadership, it would not be wise not to take advantage. The company has chosen to launch its range of dark chocolates under the sub-brand D'Lite. D'Lite is not a new brand, earlier, SugarFree had attempted to launch a range of beverages such as fruit punch under this brand name. 

In the new avatar, D'Lite will be initially a digital-focused brand with the product available in online stores such as Amazon, BigBasket etc. The sugar-free chocolates come in four variants - Dark Rich Cocoa, Dark Zesty Orange, Dark Hazelnut flavour with roasted almonds, and Dark Crispy Quinoa with roasted almonds. All these have 50% cocoa content. The sugar-substitute is maltitol. 

The brand is positioned as a premium healthy alternative for calorie-conscious consumers. Priced at Rs 99 for 40g, the brand is a premium offering. The packaging is excellent and reflects the premiumness of the range. The brand has a soft-launch and I think it is promoted initially through digital platforms. The brand is promoted with the hashtag #Twogood. 

I strongly feel that the market for such products has huge potential. The one factor that prevents growth is the negative feedback from a key influencer - doctors. Most of the doctors whom I talked to have expressed a negative opinion about the artificial sweeteners. Except for Stevia, all sugar substitutes carry some form of side-effects is usually what doctors say. It would take some persuasion from these marketers to change that influencer- narrative. However, for a consumer, these products are welcome alternatives to sugar and help keep check of sugar-cravings. 

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Friday, November 13, 2020

Brand Update : Ceat Urges You Not To Be A Dummy

 Ceat tyres is one of the most visible brands during IPL 2020. As the main sponsor and through a very clutter-breaking campaign featuring Aamir Khan, the brand, in my opinion, reaped a lot of eyeballs during this IPL season.

Other than the fact that IPL, especially during this pandemic, was a welcome relief to a lot of viewers in terms of entertainment value, Ceat was successful in milking the investment of being a main sponsor through a very clever campaign featuring Aamir Khan. Usually, when you are onboarding a celebrity of the calibre of Aamir Khan, the challenge is to use his persona effectively, reduce the chance of eclipsing the brand in the campaign and make the ad interesting. Ceat was successful in all these counts.

The IPL campaign was for SecuraDrive sub-brand of tyres and the focus was on safety. Over these years, Ceat was trying to own the platform of secure driving for its range of tyres. This campaign also is in the same line. The choice of the brand name SecuraDrive also conveys the brand's intended purpose. 

What makes the campaign interesting is how the celebrity was treated in the ad. Here Aamir is a car crash test dummy which in itself is a novel idea. The fact that this dummy is afraid of his life is another twist. This campaign is also a classic example of anthropomorphism in advertising. The concept of giving human-like characteristics to non-human entities is called anthropomorphism. The two campaign is spot on in conveying the brand's message to the viewers.  Good Job. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Brand Update : Pond's Brings Back" Googly Woogly Wooksh" Jingle

 In the run-up to the winter season, Pond's has brought back its famous jingle ' Googly Woogly Wooksh" in an emotional pitch featuring a grandfather ailing from memory loss and his beloved granddaughter. The ad touches upon an emotional chord in the viewer at the same time cleverly delivers the core message of the brand in a beautiful way. Pond's always communicated its value proposition of " smooth skin". 

The popular jingle " Googly Woogly Woosh" was first launched in 2009 campaign was the brand's way of communicating the brand's value proposition of soft skin. The brand used the campaign in multiple ways using celebrities and the like. Later, Pond's began aggressive extensions and no longer the brand was focusing on just cold-creams and skin related products. At one time Pond's even launched men's personal care products.  This probably made the jingle out place in the brand's campaigns. I would even say that Pond's was a kind of under-promoted by HUL in the last few years compared to other brands from the company's portfolio. 
The new campaign is well executed and again reminds marketers not to discard their proven brand elements just for the sake of change. 
Related Brand Post

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Brand Update : TVS Apache reaps the benefit of racer sharp focus

 This October, Apache which is the indigenous performance bike from TVS reached a milestone of 40 lakh sales. Although this figure may be dwarfed by the sales of the likes of Bajaj which sells more than 1 lakh bikes a month while Hero sells around 3-4 lakhs two-wheelers in a month. However, as a student of marketing, the story of Apache is of persistence and continuous improvement that made this performance bike reach such a good sales milestone. 

Launched in 2006, the brand had a good start with its launch of 150 cc bike but later dwarfed by the competition which created multiple segments and dominated those segments in the higher cc performance bike market. In the game of volume sales, it is often easy to get deluded by the race for volume which has seen a lot of good brands biting the dust, TVS kept its patience and incrementally upgraded this brand with new variants and performance improvements. More importantly in the branding perspective, Apache kept its focus on the Racing DNA which forms that backbone of its promotions. The brand took a giant leap when it entered the 250-350 cc segment in 2017 with its RR 310. The tie-up with BMW helped with a refresh on the brand's pitching as a performance-oriented bike. 

In my personal opinion, one of the factors that inhibited the brand's large scale user adoption was the style. The brand had a particular stance which was either liked or hated. With the brand offering no variety in styling, the brand limited its sales to hard-core fans. In the new avatar, Apache comes with different variants, the brand began to appeal to a broader set of consumers. In a way, Apache had missed the bus in the premium performance bikes but the slew of launches in the recent years are helping Apache to break into the performance segment. 

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Brand Update : Kent transforms to a multi-product brand

 Kent or rather Kent RO System is known for its RO based water purifiers but not anymore. From 2016 onwards, the brand has been on its way to becoming a consumer durable brand. Slowly and steadily, the brand has been launching products in the small appliances category leveraging on the success of its water purifier product range. Kent RO based water purifier was launched in 1999 challenging the UV based water purifier products which were ruling the market. Although expensive compared to UV based purifiers, RO based purifiers slowly gained acceptance due to its superior purifying ability and also backed by powerful promotions from the brand owners.

Now Kent has a number of product lines which are very diverse. The product line consists of water purifiers, vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, water softeners, kitchen appliances, security camera systems, and attendance systems. Kent brand is built on the positioning platform of purity. The founder of the company, Mr Mahesh Gupta calls the company's core as House of Purity. While the initial launches were in line with the " House of Purity" platform, later the firm began to launch unrelated extensions like a security camera and niche small appliances. 

Mr Mahesh Gupta in an interview talks about the logic of concentrating on niche product categories. One advantage of niche is that there is not much competition. The niche products also will help Kent to display its innovative side to the consumers. If the brand is able to come out with innovative products, it will enhance the brand image and thus help brand launch mainstream products in the future. 

As with all brand extensions, Kent also faces the problem of equity stretch. When a brand launches its extensions, the new products rely heavily on the parent brand's equity. Unrelated products create a lot of pressure on the core brand equity because there will be a disconnect between the core brand's positioning and the unrelated product's positioning. The solution is to identify a core brand positioning which allows for multiple brand extensions across diverse categories. For example, House of Purity positioning of Kent may not support a product like a mixer grinder of a camera security systems. 

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Hygienix : Be Super Safe

 Brand: Hygienix
Company: Wipro Consumer Care

Brand Analysis Count: #598

When the coronavirus pandemic struck India this year, during the initial days, there was a huge scarcity of sanitizers in the market. The sanitizer category was nascent at that time with only a few players like Lifebuoy and Godrej Protekt and the product stocks were minimum in the stores. The market size at that time was around Rs 10 crore. The scenario changed drastically after March with the panic over the pandemic grew, so as the demand for products like sanitizers. The market grew four times during the pandemic with around 152 manufacturers producing the product. 

There was a scramble among firms to cash in on this new opportunity. Firms across industries as varied as paints, industrial manufacturers like paint thinners, SMEs all rushed to fill the gap in the market. Not to be left behind, FMCG firms either launched product extensions or new brands into the growing market of personal hygiene fuelled by the pandemic.  One such launch is the new brand Hygienix by Wipro Consumer Care. Wipro had powerful brands like Santoor, Chandrika, Yardley etc which had their own extensions of hygiene products like sanitizers.

Along with these extensions, the company found a space for a pure hygiene brand which can compete with brands like Dettol and Savlon. The brands like Santoor and Chandrika are primarily beauty products and it is risky to stretch the positioning to hygiene.
Hygienix is a brand acquired by Wipro when it bought Philippine's firm Splash Corporation in April 2019. I think Wipro is lucky in the sense that the timing of the purchase was spot on and the pandemic gave the brand a headstart in the market. 
Hygienix is launched with the obvious brand promise of germ protection. The brand as usual promises to kill all but the lone survivor of the germs. What is striking about the brand is the white and blue brand colours in the packaging which gives it a clean mild look. Hygienix launched a range of hygiene products like sanitizers, soaps, handwash, cleaning wipes etc. The brand name also gives the company leverage to launch further hygiene-related products in future. 
Established brands like Lifebuoy, Dettol and Savlon have one more competitor to live with.