Friday, April 23, 2010

The new Wagon R

Maruti and the Indian market go a long way! From the time being Indian market's monopolist to vying for the market share with all the big guns, Maruti has come a long way. Traditionalists still give it a thumbs-up (did some one say oldies?)

Wagon R has been the darling of the masses - for no reason it is the 2nd best selling car in India. However, everyone keep saying that the design could be a lot better. Not so flashy not so elegant, the Wagon R still sold. But, 6 years is a long time and Maruti decided to come up with a variant.

I'm not an expert on cars which meant I badly needed one - to get an opinion. The one I spoke to was very impressed by the new variant. He opined that Maruti addressed what it had to in the old model - front end looks!

With its competitors Santro, Figo, Beat in the range 3.4 L to 3.6 L, Maruti priced Wagon R between 3.28 - 3.8 for the variants. Maruti is expecting its blue-eyed boy to give it an edge over the competition. Will it?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's my fortune to see this pioneer in person. It's my misfortune to see him leave all of us in tears.

For all those who viewed marketing and products as only a strata-specific activity, Prahalad was a refreshing change. Coming up with his radical but inspiring view that there indeed is fortune at the bottom of the pyramid, Prahalad made all the marketers sit up and notice.

If there is a change not just in the strategy but also in the balance sheets of HUL (and many others) they got to thank this visionary. No words would be enough to revisit the legendary that is Prahalad.

It certainly is a huge loss to all the marketers around the world. Let's all pray for his soul. Of course, I bet he must now be sitting with the TOP management to improve the living out there. We miss you Sir!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Indian market and the lemon juice

When was it that Parle Agro decided to come up with LMN? At that time, when it wanted to make its mark in the Indian beverages market. Surprisingly, that was one untapped segment. No one thought of it before!

Lemon juice is tailor-made for Indian environment. that ends up with a lovely chilled glass of lemon juice. And it is in-house which makes it sweeter than ever. Even now, when I have a glass of lemon juice, it reminds me of my childhood, cricket and lovely little home!

This is what caught up with the biggies. After LMN, it is the turn of Nimbooz and Minute Maid. The usual bragging in the ad world kept aside, both are trying to vouch for greater attention. And having tasted all the three products (LMN, Nimbooz and Minute Maid) apart from talking to people who have been drinking them, there seems to be some interesting observations which might help the strategists.

For starters, every one is wondering why it took so long for the companies to eye this segment. Was it because this was supposed to be an in-house drink? Was it because there are apprehensions on the market perception? Whatever it is, these are uncalled for; at least going by the receptions from my sample.

Then of course is a bigger question from all of them. Why are they coming up with pet bottles and not the economically viable 1 or 1.5 ltr bottles? Simple...companies would like to test the waters before they get knee deep. It always is good if you can come out unscratched in case of adversity. To put simple, cut your losses and don't commit early. (Yeah, the same mistake committed by poor Shoaib with Ayesha...ahem..ahem)

Surprisingly enough, going by the perception and the reception, I strongly believe there is enough mandate to go for bigger bottles. Again, Parle took the first step...but who will be the last one standing?

Thursday, April 8, 2010


If you have the same bug like me, you should be following ads as closely as I do. There is a growing trend of companies making lofty claims and comparing competitors. What baffles me is that the claims have more often been sky-rocketing.

It was long time ago that HUL came up with its so-called brain food Amaze.

The packaging itself boasts that this is a brain food that gives 33% key brain nutrients children need. Is it? of course, since there is scientific evidence! How different is it from the Rin Vs Tide claims where the comparison was done on the basis of whiteness? Not very...since this is a fact that cannot be understood or validated by a substantial chunk of consumers.

Recently, there was a notice to HUL from Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on the basis of compliance to rules. HUL is planning to change the labelling of Kissan Amaze to make sure it is not in the bad books of FSSAI.

How is its impact going to be? It's a trade secret that Amaze hasn't been doing well. There were rumors that HUL was trying to revitalize the brand. This could be a blessing in disguise because this provides a chance for rebranding the product. Companies generally get emotionally involved with the brands - more so with the failed brands, and tend to take time in taking them off.

Will this mean the end of the road for Amaze? I doubt. HUL might use this to their advantage by reinventing the brand. The million dollar question is will they be able to? This may well be like the classic case of Kelloggs which had to create a new segment and then promote its brand. Is the Indian consumer ready for brain food?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Moving away from the roots?

Western India Palm Refined sounds a bell? Not really? Does WIPRO mean anything to you? Yes, WIPRO is an acronym for the same. Recently, Wipro decided to exit the Vanaspathi and the babycare business.

It truly is a move away from the roots, isn't it? Someone who has started in the Vanaspathi segment and diversified to become a potent force in, well, whichever segment it ventured to. However, it has to be noted that no decision in business is to be emotional and only sense is what prevails.

So, what makes WIPRO take this decision? The actual share of these two businesses is pegged at around 3% of the overall revenues of Wipro consumer care revenues. There are many problems in the Vanaspathi segment what with the adulterated market, health conscious people and the lower appeal among the urban consumers. In the baby care segment, it is an open secret that Johnson & Johnson is the leader by a long way. It controls more than 90% of the market in this segment. Moreover, there is very less brand appeal for "Softbrand" - Wipro's brand in this market.

Looking at all these factors, it seems to be a well-thought business decision from Wipro. After all, what is more important is your bottom line!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Come out of the clutches

It always is a pain to commute on a bike. Though am not the correct person to comment (I've always been a free-rider aka pillion for most of my life), there certainly is an equal amount of risk involved along with the joy. There have been attempts to make it more friendly with automatic scooters, mopeds etc. However, the consumer behavior is something which plays a major role here. Who would want to drive a gear-less scooter considered more feminine? How many of you have seen a guy driving a Scooty pep?

But, there has always been something that is behind your mind when you drive through the rush streets...clutch, gear, clutch-gear change....isn't it all cumbersome? Can I not take all these off and still retain the basic features of a bike? Yes, says TVS with its new bike Jive

Jive is the latest entrant into the 110 CC bike middle-income target, but with a change. Jive has auto-clutch mechanism featuring an innovative patent-pending technology. Then there are the usuals that come with a bike and TVS has done well to retain all of them.

Hero Honda Street came flashing to my mind hearing about Jive. Being someone who drove Street for a good 2 years, I always felt it is a bike suited for the Indian market. However, because of the wrong packaging (yeah, it looked a moped than a bike) and the not-so-good marketing, Street went out of the market as soon as it came.

Will Jive drastically change the market? Tough but not impossible. Shrewd marketing and positioning can do wonders for the brand. However, there are certain things that might prove obstacles to them.
For one, the bike doesn't look stylish enough to attract the masses. TVS could be factoring on the comfort and ease factors but will they be enough to drive sales?
More importantly, customers in this segment look at the sales and the resale value of the bikes. Splendor has always been the darling of the masses because of the resale record of Hero Honda. Will this stop Jive from claiming the market position?

It still is early to comment on the success or otherwise of Jive. But, what it triggered is a frenzy activity in the market. We could be in for a revolutionary market changing concept. Jive along!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What an Idea sirji

It indeed is no exaggeration to say that Abhishek is actually abhi shake. His ubiquitous presence in Idea has been an idea in itself. Be it wielding power as a village head ordering everyone to chuck out names or donnign the role of a doctor asking people to walk the talk, the junior B has done it all for Idea.

The revolutionary theme off-late has been the effort to step up green ways. It indeed is a social theme linked to the commercial aspects...well, subtly. What you see is what you see AB Jr. smartly manning the role of a tree and pushing all of us towards using the phone instead of a paper.

Smart..very smart. No where is ita direct brand awareness programme. In fact, Idea is not promoting Idea at all. It actually is promoting the 'green idea' but subtly says that this is its Idea. Result? You get so reached upon by the novelty and the generosity of the idea that you end up remembering the brand more than ever!

It indeed is what an idea sir ji...all of its ads were; the 'walk and talk' ad changed the perception. Remember, people actually walked prior to that ad as well. But now, when you see someone walking while talking, you can't stop yourself saying walk and talk. As they say, it is a master stroke...a candid master stroke

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ad-war is here again!

The heroics of Sachin not withstanding, the last week was a pleasant surprise for me. After a long time, we got to see an ad-war. Of course, the Nutralie-Amul and the others were trying to heat up the scene but what better than the two best FMCG companies jostling for attention in ads.

It would be difficult to recreate the ad here (you need to understand and appreciate my limited expertise at translation) but it goes something like this...a proud woman flaunting her Tide gets her ego busted with another woman showcasing the seemingly-better credentials of Rin . The whole point of the exercise is to establish that Rin is much better at providing whiteness to clothes than Tide.

Before we look at the nuances, is it permitted? It certainly is, if you are not leaving ambiguous things at the disposal of the consumer by comparison. To put more simply, 'whiteness' isn't a criterion that is universal or easy to comprehend. This might put a spanner in the work of HUL.

But why the fuss? Well, it is common knowledge that FMCG companies wouldn't like to lose share. Especially in these times, when value is the new volume. Emphasize better value and retain your customers, if not poach your competitors'. More over, there isn't a doubt in the marketing circles that Tide is making Rin run all the way for every inch of its share with its variants.

What will happen next? HUL is running a slippery ground with the inadvertent usage of 'whiteness'. If P&G takes up the issue with the Advertising Council of India, HUL might face the ignominy of reneging its claims. Then of course is the legal angle which could well be the way for P&G.

However, there is an interesting catch in this. If HUL has at least been partially successful in its ad, will this be the advent of a new ad war? Are we going to see the breach of new records ala Sachin? I can't wait to see...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The taste of India

The little girl with the red dots...the yellow colored thing that spawns water in the mouth and tickles our taste buds...and the humorous one liners...yes, the real taste of India...AMUL.

Generations of youngsters like me (of course, am still young...) have grown up along with the polka dotted girl and the jingle of Amul. The taste of India is in fact the toast of our generation. The engagement model that Amul has adopted is impeccable and talks to every one. The print ads, the bill boards, the television ads...what not, everything is a master piece; a lesson in teaching brand engagement.

I still remember my early college days when I used to rush towards the lone bill board near my house to check the latest riddle from Amul's stable. And then I run around telling each of my friends to do the same. Whenever we happen to pass by that junction, I make it a point to ask everyone to enjoy the message. Unknowingly, I became a part of the publicity bandwagon of Amul...the customer engagement worked wonders for Amul's word-of-mouth publicity.

And the best part of all this is, at no point of time will you feel that this is a brand advertisement. The messages are so relevant and so in-the-time that it hits on your face. And behind all this, Amul makes its way to your dining table and the taste of India becomes the toast of your home!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The pyramid and its dynamics

I love pyramids...They are a wonderful portrayal of how life is; busy at the bottom lonely at the top. The various spectra of earnings and livings are beautifully signified by one Dr. C.K. Prahalad which of course became our bible!

And how! Everyone started looking at the actual untapped market at the BOP (bottom of the pyramid). It may not make sense to a BMW or a Toyota but it definitely makes sense to a HUL or a Godrej to tap the markets. If not with a specialized product definitely with a modified version.

Look at Godrej now. They wanted the Vinod khanna-era-stuck Cinthol's image to be modified. went the old Cinthol and in came the new re-branded Hrithik's Cinthol. Did they gain mileage? Well, a little. They at least got eye balls and got the minds tickling with the whole exercise. (They got me hooked too, thanks to Hrithik!)

But what did they realise now? That the too-costly-for-rural Cinthol soap might not make it to the bottom of the pyramid. So in comes the new lesser price models. A recent report states that Godrej is looking at penetrating the market with Rs. 5 and Rs. 10 packets to tap the huge market.

Is it going to work? If the conventional wisdom is anything to go by, Cinthol has a decent shot at the market. It isn't rocket science to tap the rural market. You just need to be approachable - on all 4Ps. Get your product in a feasible model reaching every nook and corner (you are targeting) and then make it affordable.

Cinthol might not receive an instant thumbs up from the market. It would take probably little longer before the market embraces Godrej. And if it does, they might try the same technique on other products. However, beware of competition...ITC already has the strength of its operational backbone and might use it (which they are actually doing) to push its products.

But one thing is sure...the next few months are going to be wonderful for the market. Let's sit back and enjoy

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Royal way to earn!

It will not be long before cricket fans will forget the adage...answer your critics on the cricket field! IPL has become the new rocking star on the horizon and how!!! Those who get to play even a small part keep flaunting IPL on their resumes(remember Kalyan Krishna from AP who played in Deccan Chargers?? forget it...I guess he must have lost count of that as well!) And those who are shunned quickly do the forgiving act! (Kamran Akmal has forgiven IPL for the snub and is ready to play IPL IV...aah, so many thanks Mr. Akmal for 'dropping' this hint)

But look at it from behind the scenes. Right from the drum rolls till now, Rajasthan Royals have went about their PR in the best way possible! Answer your critics with the moolah. Give them 100 rupees to spend on players, they will spend 10 rupees and give the rest as credit to SRK. Then they spend the interest on their PR.

Look at their marketing strategy! Who would have thought about the global consortium. What are you achieving by this? Nothing but money! I mean, who cares if Cobras would be Royals tomorrow or Hampshire would be Royals the day after. All that matters for the administrators is money. And how to get it? Just make sure you get an innovative way of marketing!

Not to say that they are doing badly on the field (in fact far away from that...they are doing real good. Consider my poor friend SRK; he just keeps beaten everywhere - on the posters, on the ground, off the ground....) but kudos to them now everyone is looking at marketing their global team consortia and eating into our pockets...after all Answer your critics with marketing!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Okay...I just got out of my extra-long hibernation flexing my muscles to write something. And what better than my usual favorite SRK!

Why on earth would you want to tickle the tiger when you can't tame it? Well...the perennial question that has no answer but what fascinates me more is why people keep asking What is all this fuss about? Excuse don't understand what this fuss is about???

There are two types of decisions that we take in our life:
  1. Decisions related to money (Which job to take, Which restaurant to take your date to, etc). These are what I call Economic decisions
  2. Decisions related to your emotions (Whom to marry, Which team to support, etc) These are what I call Emotional decisions
There, however, is a considerable overlap of some of these decisions. If you ask Preity which team she would support in IPL III, you wouldn't hear Deccan Chargers! More than the emotion it is the economics that determine her decision in this.

As I see it, this overlap is growing by the day. There are more decisions that are being determined by a combination of factors...which movie to go (am a fan of Aamir but SRK movie comes cheap), which team to support (my heart is with India but I bet on South Africa!)... These are what I call the new trend decisions.

I label them Economotion decisions...welcome to the world of Economics and Emotion in no particular order. Most of the new-world decisions are, if you ask me, economotive decisions. SRK wouldn't mind an extra dose of publicity for his movie, even if it comes from the Thackerays. And Thackerays know where to pinch SRK to get their message through.

Don't mix politics and arts....don't mix politics and sports....we keep hearing them often, ain't it? Conventional wisdom says that we should not mix these. But Economotion wisdom says that we should! After all, if IPL doesn't snub Pakistan players, will they get the emotional message? If his movies are not blocked, will SRK get the Thackerays' message?

Sorry Mr. Gandhi (now don't ask if it is talking about our dear old Mahatma) but this is not the age of Satyagraha. These are the days of your anger on the economics...hail the new order!