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!