Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Honeywell Indoor Air Purifier – Can it stay healthy?

What is in the air? The timing is perfect while I ask this question as Delhi is choking. Pollution in India is snowballing at a faster pace. Even though, Delhi is worse other cities also show poor air quality. Several agencies like Pollution Control Board are concerned on the poor outdoor air quality over the years. People are happy staying indoors to avoid exposure to pollution. But are indoors safe? Our incense sticks? Do they pollute our home? Our cooking? Is it harmful? Our indoor upholstery? Who knows?

But this has been taken as an opportunity by a lot of companies. Already we have international companies like Dyson, Philips, Honeywell, Xiaomi, HUL’s Pureit along local players like Kent, and Bluestar competing for a space in the market. According to a marketing research firm Euromonitor, the sales of air purifiers are roughly Rs. 116 crores in 2017 and expected to grow 14.5% by 2022. Considering the fact that India is home to half of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, I think the figures shown are abysmal.

In marketing terms, I presume this is a classic case of non-existent demand. People are unaware of the product or uninterested in the product. Lack of awareness of indoor pollution is a huge challenge for companies. On browsing through various commercials, I found that the companies have meticulously tried to make their commercials more informative. But then why the market chokes?
The answer for this I feel is that people still perceive air purifier as an aspirational product. There is a confusion between mass and premium positioning. Since there is a presence of inferior players in the market, marketers are skeptical about where to position air purifiers. Another difficulty is that utility cannot be measured normally and so there is no differentiation as such in the product. The emotional appeal i.e. family based appeal has become pretty common and so people don’t find it appealing also.

Honeywell air purifiers, in my opinion, tried to stay unique from the competition. They were successful in understanding the consumer behaviour. For a product like this, an endorsing agency can do wonders. They marketed with certificate of recommendation by the Indian Medical Academy for Preventive Health (IMAPH) which adds to the credibility of the product. Talking about segmentation, it serves both the middle class and elite class of the society. The price range as per their website is between INR 12,290 to 30,990. The pricing is at par with the competition. What distinguishes Honeywell from the competition is the product range they have. No other competitor as of now can match with the variety in the product portfolio.

In communicating with the customer, Honeywell is very cautious in its approach. They portrayed Kareena Kapoor as the brand endorser. The initial advertisements were informative in nature. But the latest commercial took a different route i.e. healthy sleep vs sound sleep,. To me this is a rational thought as poor air always gives you bad sleep. Honeywell stand out from the competition with this healthy note.


I know that these are early days to talk about an industry. My strong contention is that, like air conditioners, air purifiers will also become a necessity in several parts of the country. This will attract more companies into the fray. Can Honeywell be innovative and stay healthy.

Monday, October 1, 2018

SOULFULL – A Balanced Diet

Exactly a year ago, while I was walking through the aisles of a leading supermarket, a salesman approached me with a packet of new breakfast cereal which he said is unique from the competition. I quickly surfed through the packet and returned with my usual comment “Will try next time”. However being a curious marketer, the packet haunted me a lot. Before I left, I went back to him and got one for trial. On a second look at the product, my mind was suspicious about whether this brand will succeed. The shelves of supermarkets today confirms that I was wrong. My son has become a fan of the brand. ‘SOULFULL’ is the brand I was talking about.

Knowing the soul of the consumer is what Soulfull has done. Over the past few years, there is a renewed interest among Indian consumers towards traditional foods. Thanks to the likes of Patanjali, paperboat etc. Soulfull also tried with traditional as well as a healthy formula but with a different category of cereal – Raagi which to me was a risky proposition fared well for them.

Breakfast cereals are not common to us. Kellogs is a household name today with an array of products based on cereals like corn, wheat and Oats. A few others are also there in the approximately ₹26.1 billion Indian breakfast cereal market. Apart from that, the consumer behaviour also have changed drastically over the years. Ready – to – cook breakfast foods which was once evaded is widely accepted nowadays. Although hot cooked breakfast is dominant in the country increased exposure of Indians made cold breakfast also acceptable. I believe this acted as cushion for Soulfull to launch its Raagi based products in the market.

The product portfolio is pretty balanced as it includes Raagi flakes and Bites, Museli (Millet and Desi), Rago(A combination of Raagi and Oats), Oat Millet Meal and Millet Smoothix – an instant drink. They also sell instant dosa mix. The beauty is it serves breakfast, snacks as well as meal which is a unique portfolio by a category creator. The products are rich in nutrition, zero preservatives used and very little water needed for preparation claims the company. I strongly feel that the brand has touched the sweet spot with their product portfolio as of now.

Soulfill is priced at a premium. The price of all their products is ahead of the competition. One argument, I presume is the absence of Raagi based brands in the market. However, can they grab market share and sustain in the market? Even after more than four years of existence in the market they remain as a market niche or at the most a distant challenger.

The market segment they operate is more or less the same as their competitors. The loopies and choco fills are directed towards the kids while all the others like museli, Rago, Oat Millet meal target the urban youth and mothers. The only Point of Difference I feel is that Soulfill is Raagi based while others are not.

Above - the - line promotion is something missing for the brand. Since its inception, the brand was focussed in below - the - line promotion. It helped in enhancing the store presence of the product and initiate a trial but the absence of mass TVCs hinders the growth of the brand. Very recently, a commercial has been screened but it lacks creativity. The script revolves around the age-old monster gimmick to attract the kids. Unfortunately, the creativity punch is missing in way of jingles, or taglines.


In my view the start for Soulfull is perfect, but to sustain is a challenge. They solved the biggest challenge of making raagi delicious and had shown a reasonable presence in the category. Now the stage is set to leapfrog.     

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Go Colors – A Category Creator


Every time my wife goes shopping, she spends a lion’s share of time choosing churidar tops. I have never seen her bothered about the bottom wear. In fact, on enquiring, she said there is no much choice for it. Furthermore, finding the perfect match is really tough. I was wondering why? Legwear as a branded category was absent on those days.

The success of a brand depends on how quick the void is addressed. Gautam Saraogi and Prakash Saraogi were quick to identify the potential in the year 2010 and a brand ‘Go Colors” was born. Go Colors to me is a unique blend of fashion and affordability. I presume, with the wide array of leg wears, the brand offers a perfect match to any top wear you have.

Broadly, the brand caters leg wears to women as well as girls. If we dig deeper, we can find out the beauty of segmentation based on life style, size etc. If we peep into the company website we will be amazed by the choice the brand provides. Go colors offers Leggins, Jeggins, Pallazo and ethnic legwear for women which always reflect their lifestyle. Each of these are further split into specific types like churidars, Harem, Patiala etc. The size chart ensures a better choice of apparel. The myriad of varieties available in an array of 120 colors, makes Go Colors different from the competition.

Understanding the dynamic consumer behaviour is the hall mark of Go Colors. Today, there is a growing interest among women towards physical fitness. One can notice this easily by looking at Indian streets during the early hours of the day. More and more women are engaged in fitness measures like jogging, walking etc. Taking the cue from the market Joggers have been added to the kitty recently. For girls Go Colors offers Leggins, Jeggins, Harem and Pallazo (Read. Choice is limited compared to women which is understandable).

For a new category, pricing is the key determinant for the success. Go Colors ensured affordability with its pricing strategy. A women legwear is priced on an average around INR 500(range between INR300 – INR1000) which is to me a reasonable price point for a middle class homemaker. To satisfy the upper class of customers Go Colors also have apparels above INR 1000. The omnichannel presence of the brand made it easily available to the customers. Go Colors products are available online as well as offline channels. Besides, having an own website, Go Colors is available through leading e-tailers such as Amazon, Flipkart, myntra etc. The company have around 200 exclusive outlets across 43 cities in India and also present in the shelves of retail giants like Reliance Trends, Shoppers Stop, etc.

As a brand enthusiast, I strongly believe Go Colors can improve upon the promotion of the brand. Although few TVCs are shown, the impact is questionable. I think more above the line promotion can be tried to further upscale the brand.


But, I strongly believe that Go Colors can help one master the ‘art of dressing down’ and make the legs happy.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Manyavar - Earning Our Respect

Fashion is a sector which is always mysterious. No one can predict the success of the brands. When Khadi struggled to catch attention, Fab India with similar portfolio was a huge success. The traditional saree is now replaced by the modern churidar and jeans. What puzzles me is the speed at which consumer behaviour changes.  However, the inclination towards modern outfit is dominant among the new generation. This is evident from the extensive use of suits by men as marriage outfit.

Even though embraced well by the younger generation many a time, Suit as a marriage outfit invited irk from the older generation. This resulted in a forced departure from modern attire to traditional attire (Even if forced there exists a vast majority who willingly wear traditional as well as ethnic wears). The difficulty in wearing, is that what stops many to go for traditional ethnic wears. Thus, consumer avoidance of traditional wear is attributed mainly to two reasons – inconvenience and price. What if a brand addresses both?

For the success of any brand, the choice of category is very important. Mostly, brand stays relevant if it creates a category by itself. Manyavar, a brand launched in the year 1999 is now synonymous with wedding wear. The brand journey is quite interesting. The tipping point for me is brand positioning. Largely, ethnic wears are considered as apparel for rich. Manyavar democratized ethnic wear by launching kurta-pajama from Rs 1,000 and sherwanis from Rs 5,000-6,000. This gave the brand the intended acceptance among the consumers.

The flashy segmentation used by the brand is occasion segmentation (even though gender, as well as age segmentation, is present). By adding a wide range of products, Manyavar positioned itself as a Celebration wear brand. The brand now caters to various occasions - from weddings to festivals, Rakhi to Roka. By ensuring a fusion of western and traditional designs, the brand has addressed to the problem of inconvenience. The Manyavar product portfolio includes exquisite Sherwanis, fine Indo Westerns, Royal Band Galas, Jackets, Kurtas and matching accessories for life’s celebrations. Kid’s Ethnic and Fusion wear are also on offer. In tune with the overwhelming success of menswear, they extended recently to women’s segment with the brand ‘Mohey”.



Manyavar caters to the consumers through 400 plus Manyvar exclusive outlets spreading across 6 countries as well as through Multi Brand Outlets. This enhances the brand visibility. The choice of Virat Kohli as the brand ambassador to me is a balanced decision. He can best reflect the brand as Virat can be a synonym to “Earn your Respect”. Another interesting twist which probably an obvious choice is positioning Manyavar and Mohey as complementary brands (see the recent ad below).


So far the journey is smooth. The Indian ethnic wear market is growing with an approximate market of around INR90, 000 crores. Brands like BIBA, TNS etc. are also gaining consumer acceptance and may pose a challenge to Manyavar as well as Mohey. I presume female ethnic wear is more vulnerable to competition than men’s wear. Anyway, I personally feel that Manyavar will remain as an undisputed leader at least for half a decade as the brand DNA itself revolves around innovation.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Rooh Afza - A Seasoned Player


A brand stays relevant for more than a century! Surely it will catch the attention of brand experts. As a curious brand analyst, I also felt excited about the brand. The catch is that no extension has been done as of now. How can a brand survive in a market overpowered by MNC giants with their carbonated and non-carbonated beverages? How can a brand be effective to all changing consumer preferences? The brand Rooh Afza has something to say.

Rooh Afza launched in the year 1907 was the first syrup presented to the people which combined visual beauty with the essence and virtues of other traditional syrups. Its distinctive colour, taste, and fragrance made it unique among the consumers of that time. It was primarily a seasonal product i.e. was extensively used using summer in “sharbat”. Their captive market even today is mostly North India but are now eager to make it a National brand.

Even though using syrup at home was common in those days, it was widely used by sharbat vendors. The syrup formula was available in almost all fruit flavours and also vegetables like palak, pudina and hara ghia. Rooh Afza is the first sharbat for which white bottles of uniform size (750ml.) and almost of the same shape, which was called ‘pole’ bottles, were obtained. This innovation was the hallmark of the success of the brand then. The pricing was higher and so targeted only the upper sections of the society.

As the brand was unique the company spend on promotion was meager earlier. But the advent of competition from MNC giants made them rope in Juhi Chawla to endorse the brand during the early 2000s. They also carried on below the line techniques to maintain connections with resident associations preventing a further dip in volumes. In 2010, Chef Nita Mehta was roped in by Hamdard Laboratories to create new mocktail and dessert recipes for Rooh Afza. As a brand enthusiast, I feel this is the best strategy to reinforce your brand i.e. find new uses for your brand. Rooh Afza managed to have a close association with Ramadan as it was served in all iftar parties (read. Associating religion and brand enhance brand awareness as well as relevance). Rooh Afza was positioned as the healthy alternative as artificial flavours or fats are absent. The commercials talk about freshness and energy which go in line with the USP(Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6DycJ3dJwA).

Given all the positives, I strongly presume that the brand failed in impressing the Gen Y as well as Gen Z as they are the strong market for soft drinks or smoothies. Also, they lagged in markets like Andhra and Tamil Nadu where the summer is long.

Taking the cue from the market, very recently they entered into the estimated Rs 7000 crore ready-to-drink beverage segment with Rooh Afza Fusion. As there is a surge in consumer health consciousness of the consumer, they have retained their health proposition to combat competition. But the major brands Tropicana and Real also use the same proposition which happened to be the point of parity. But the point of difference is the presence of ten different herbs along with fruit juice. The pricing of the product is also on par with the competition. RoohAfza Fusion comes in five flavors, namely Refreshing Lemon, Delicious Orange, Juicy Mango, Exciting Pineapple & Orange and Luscious Litchi.

My take is that they are very late in a market where we already have highly established players. Borrowing the words of David Aaker, in order for a brand to be relevant, they have to create a new category as their extension. In this case, no new category is created. Besides, it is very difficult to shake a category where consumer brand awareness is very high. Since Gen Y and Z are not truly brand loyal Fusion can induce product trial. But can it sustain is often doubtful? Paperboat, for instance, came as a disruptor but I feel they failed in satisfying the mass. They now remain a market niche with a reasonably good fan base. Will fusion be treated as me – Too brand? Anyway an aggressive campaign is missing.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Lenskart.com – With a Clear Vision

It was during my school days, I recognised my difficulty in reading letters written on the blackboard. I was taken to an optometrist and was diagnosed with myopia. I and my mother visited the adjacent optical shop and bought a spectacle as per the prescription (choice is minimum). I was pleased to get my vision clear. But to my embarrassment, everyone started calling me “Soda Glass” seeing the thickness of the glass. The picture is not different even today. However the eyewear industry has evolved over the years. I have discarded my spectacles and now wear a Bausch & Lomb soft contact lens with pride.

As a marketing enthusiast, I was indeed very curious in knowing the consumer behaviour. To me firstly, eyewear market even today is doctor – driven. Consumer seldom takes decision without consulting a doctor. Retailers have resolved this by employing in-house optometrist and through this, I presume the industry developed but with low penetration. Secondly, the stigma towards people wearing a “chashma” (Spectacle) still prevails in the society in general. Thirdly, eyewear is a product by force rather than by choice. Due to this, given a chance people evade wearing specs.

As the consumer evolve industry provide us with enormous opportunity. This cue was taken by the promoters of brand Lenskart.com which disrupted the eyewear industry by leaps and bounds. Lenskart modified the consumer behaviour. Thanks to the technology revolution. Lenskart started in late 2010 was the first homegrown online eyewear marketplace in India. To me, it was a clear clutter breaker. The brand broke the “buyer resistance” by launching free home eye test. The game changer was the 14-day money-back policy which abridged the inhibitions. The whole process of ordering is hassle-free as a Lenskart salesman accompanies the optometrist and helps you in placing the order. Lenskart was also careful in positioning. All their campaigns communicated an aspirational element to spectacles similar to jewelry and made it a fashion statement. Their 3D frame selection was an instant hit.


To make their distribution more perfect, Lenskart started offline stores. Currently, 350 Lenskart offline stores are present in 90 cities which enhances the visibility of the brand. Riding on the trust gained, Lenskart developed their own brands which to me is the most significant decision which will make the brand sustain in the long run. Another tipping point is the value for money pricing. My personal experience is also in the similar line. The website provides catchy discounts which can retain the consumer with the brand. 

What haunts me currently is can we make the consumer brand loyal. My personal experience is that I have changed stores as per convenience while buying eye wears. As of now, Lenskart is pretty safe as the majority of their consumers are brand loyal. But what will happen if competition intensifies?


Anyway, kudos to Lenskart to democratize otherwise a category product to a product of choice.

Monday, November 27, 2017

At 40 "Main Hoon Toofani"



The power of a brand lies in what resides in the minds and hearts of customers. However one can envisage how challenging it is to stay relevant even for the next minute. Then how successful brands survive? Borrowing the words of brand pundits either you reinforce your brand or revitalize it. Over the years numerous brands have undergone this. What if a let alone brand with limited marketing shows a colossal growth?  How good will it be if a company own a Black Swan brand?

For Coca-Cola, it is indeed a blessing in disguise. In a period when consumers turn hostile towards carbonated beverages Thums Up which celebrated its 40th birthday a few days ago is growing strong. What amuses the pundits is the journey of Thums Up without much support from the company. During my B School days and even after that I have read that as a strategy Coca-Cola planned to withdraw the local brands Goldspot, Limca, and Thums Up which they acquired from Ramesh Chauhan in 1993. While GoldSpot and Limca had a sudden death, Thums Up was allowed a slow death. But, till today Coca-Cola was unable to eliminate Thums Up from its portfolio. Currently, the sales revenue of brand Thums Up is between Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 5,500 crore (approx) marching ahead to be a million dollar brand in sales by 2023. What made the Thunder Strong?

Thums Up, since its launch in 1977 had an image of a “Tough Man’s Cola”. This image/positioning ideally mirrored the personality of a consumer in the rural hinterland. The brand was for a matured and tough man with a sense of adventure. Thus the brand differentiated itself from the clutter. Even though several new advertisements were launched during this four decades of existence, the essence of the brand was never compromised. The tagline “Taste The Thunder” explains the identity of the brand which is unique. Even though the investment in marketing is very constrained for the brand, Coca-Cola succeeded in maintaining continuity in the brand meaning thereby reinforcing the brand.      
To unleash the aspirational quotient of the brand, a new positioning “Mein Hum Toofani (Heroic) was launched last year. I should consider this as the first major change happened to the brand in its life. From a “Tough Man’s Cola” Thums Up now caters to a wider spectrum of consumers who like to unleash their heroic spirit. This is a careful preposition leveraging the trust and excitement people express towards the brand. Besides, this seems to be a more compelling Point of Difference the brand delivers.

Another interesting piece in the story is the brand was unbroken by competition.  That’s why it took 40 years for a product innovation to happen under the brand Thums up. To me, Thums Up Charged the new innovation is also aligned perfectly with the brand image and so I hope it will enhance the brand relevance. It is premature to predict the success of the new brand but I feel that Coca-Cola missed a countless opportunity during these years.


Let The Thunder be there for long unleashing the Toofani of the consumers

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Poppins – Truly Eternal But…….

People tend to cherish childhood memories. Old habits live with us all the time even if dormant. Given a chance we do romance with our past. Reading through the pages of an autograph book or a glimpse of an old photo brings in nostalgia and warmth in us. What if when a brand travels with you in all phases of your life without much change in its form? It sounds fantastic.

Poppins popped into the market in the year 1950. Since its inception, it maintained a clear edge over its competitors. The rainbow filled candy (borrowing the words of Parle) was definitely a clutter breaker. A pack of Poppins had 10 candies inside with different colours which attracted kids. Parle with the aggressive promotion was able to register a place in the minds of the consumer. 'Ram & Shyam' comic strips for Poppins which have featured in books like Champak, Chanda Mama, Chacha Choudhary, Amar Chitra Katha, and Tinkle were a massive success.

Over the years, Poppins accompanied consumers in all walks of their life. 10 candies for just INR 20 made it a value – for – money brand that everyone can afford. Since there existed limited competition in those days, the journey was smooth for Poppins. Barring competition from Gems, it was able to position itself as the most sought-after candy among kids. Every brand in order to sustain should evolve. I suspect whether Poppins was late in it. Are the youth of today prefer Poppins?

In 2008, Poppins came with a “for all ages” proposition but lacked persuasion. Gems, the major competitor for Poppins with its value – for – money proposition as well as with eye-catching colours was quick to reposition as a brand for all ages (“Raho Umarless” campaign https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ap5LitH6OJk). The new generation is now attracted towards Gems than Poppins. The sweet candy market today is highly competitive which also restricts the path of Poppins.


I personally believe that Poppins is Truly Eternal, but it needs more nurturing as it is beyond the so-called Product Lifecycle. It still possesses the brand strength to surpass any competition and sustain for more years to come.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Happy Socks – For the Sockaholics

Consumer behaviour quite often puzzle marketers very much. It evolves and evolves even faster than one could imagine. One such category is the life style. The trends and fashion keep on shifting as companies grapple with the change. For instance, if we consider men’s formal attire, the whole idea of formal is transforming and now people use perfect blend of formals and casuals together. A formal shirt with a casual trousers or vice – versa is well accepted. The traditional plain shirts as a symbol of formal attire are now replaced by shirts with stripes or even some designs. A shift in consumer behaviour among men is louder than ever before. The affinity towards colours among men has improved over the years.

Recently, a significant change is visible in the outfit of men. Instead of wearing grey or black socks they are now happy wearing coloured as well as patterned socks. Socks are a sort of liberation for men as they are not exposed. Their need is satisfied without losing their face in front of their peers (read boss or client). They feel relaxed gazing at it besides rejuvenating them (as their personal crave for freedom is fulfilled). This led to a revolution in the sock industry.

Happy Socks was one among the pioneers to articulate this need and they came up with a wide range of coloured socks. They were for the Sockaholics and follows their vision to turn an everyday accessory into a designed colourful item that also spreads happiness. The company succeeded in making socks a fashion statement among men.

Even though, Happy Socks primary target is men, they have socks for women as well as kids in their kitty. The socks are available in different colours and different patterns. Designs in the patterns are very unique for example a cocktail socks have a picture of a cocktail glass, spoon and lemon imprinted on the socks. Likewise, there are socks like Royal Enfield logo socks, Royal Enfield flag socks, arrow and heart socks etc. The price is a touch higher than any branded socks available in the market. A pair of socks is priced at INR 399/- except for Royal Enfield socks which is priced at INR 499. Keeping just two price points limits the complexities in pricing. The product is available in both online and offline stores. As of now no promotional campaign have been initiated by Happy Socks in India which I feel is a lost opportunity as competition has intensified of late in the socks space.




As the buying behaviour shifted big brands like Raymonds are now featuring coloured socks along with their formal suits in their catalogues which typically points to the prospect awaiting. But will this be more than a fad? Can Happy Socks rely only on this? In fact they already moved to underwear products in foreign markets. Will Happy Socks survive in India? Let’s wait and watch.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Banjara’s – Silent but Audible

It is noted that successful brands usually are loud and visible. Be it an MNC company or a home grown company this happens to be an unwritten norm. The companies try out multiple ways to reach out to the customer and stay relevant in the competition. But brand Banjara’s is an exception.  To me it is a brand which discerned the hush means of winning hearts. Vishal Personal Care Pvt. Ltd., a twenty year old company own this promising brand.

Vishal Personal Care at first launched a line of herbal powders in the brand name Banjara’s way back in 1993. Even though the market was not so fascinated with their powders they were able to develop an Ayurveda/ herbal association. There existed a niche market which helped them stay in business for more than a decade. But, the changed conditions forced Banjara’s to grow beyond herbal powders and thus the brand progressed to personal care segment.

In India Ayurveda is now a hot industry. MNC giants like HUL, Colgate – Palmolive to Indian players like Dabur, Patanjali are in the race to gain market share. Entry to such a market is in fact a risky affair. But Banjara’s are slowly matching to the completion through some carefully crafted marketing.

Banjara’s follow a range branding strategy, providing hair oils, herbal hair colours, skin creams, face wash and face packs under the Banjara’s brand. The unique aspect of the brand to me is that they tried to give a different message by withdrawing fairness creams after the initial launch. Brand was audacious to say that beauty is not in skin colour.  

The tipping point to me is pricing of the product. The brand is sold at affordable prices and that’s also the unique selling proposition used by the company. The brand is available in all retail chains as well as online portals like Flipkart, Amazon, Shopclues etc.


A prominent player in South India, Banjar’s recently forayed into other parts of the country. What strategy company adopt will be quite interesting. But for sure they are very silent but extremely audible in the personal care market in India.