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.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Racold Water Heaters – Moving an Emotional Way

As on May 2016, the water heater industry in India is valued at Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 crore and is expected to grow to about Rs. 12,000- 15,000 crore in the next five to ten years. Thanks to high disposable income, improved standard of living and rising awareness among consumers regarding benefits of branded water heaters. The gradual inclination of consumer towards electric water heaters is a major shift from traditional water heating methods such as boiling, immersion heating rod and gas water heaters. Since the availability of gas is difficult the gas water heater market is somewhat stagnant. Electric water heaters now rule the industry while solar is gaining momentum. 

Racold, over the years placed itself as an undisputed leader in the water heater industry. Even though the market is in a nascent stage the competition has existed from branded as well as unbranded products. The success of Racold is attributed to their product portfolio. Be it any category of water heater viz. electric storage or instant water heaters, solar water heaters or gas water heaters Racold is present there. The pricing is a bit higher from competition but it provides value for money.

The technology of water heaters is not rocket science. So the brand is positioned in an emotional way rather than rational. The target market as per the company is male, between the ages 24-45, belonging to SEC A and B.  The brand never talks about benefits of the product but benefits of hot water which is really a unique approach to sell. By changing their tag line from ‘Hot Water Specialist’ to ‘Reborn Everyday with a Hot Water’ explains the intent of the brand to develop a close knit relationship with the consumer. 

Their new campaign ‘#PowerOfHotShower’ depicts a clear message in line with their positioning. It is always tough to make a rational product like water heater reach out to consumer and convince them to buy. To me Racold have succeeded in doing so and that helps the brand remain in top.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Alpenliebe Juzt Jelly: Fun with Jelly Bottles

Perfetti Van Melle India over the years have cemented its place in the confectionary market in India. According to a Euromonitor study, Alpenliebe was the most preferred by adults and children, and accounted for a significant value share. The company is illustrious in its innovations in products as well as communication.

Jelly is always a nostalgic category for consumers. Even though Jelly based confectionaries were common in unorganised market it enticed consumer attention after the launch of Boomer Jelly in 2012. Various others chewing gums also started including Jelly as an ingredient. But Perfetti was a category creator. They created Jelly as a category by launching Juzt Jelly in 2012. They still remain on top with around 50% market share in the category. As a Sub brand, Juzt Jelly easily jells with the proposition of Alpenliebe i.e. ‘irresistible’. 

They brand further got extended to Juzt Jelly Fruity Bears which was an innovation of its kind. The prices were fixed at Rs. 10 and Rs. 15, through which the company elevated the jelly category to higher price points. 

Very recently Perfetti launched “Jelly bottles” in cola and mango flavours for its Juzt Jelly brand. Unlike other variants the company claim that they are made of 25% fruit pulp. The new Jelly bottles are attractive double coloured jellies, offering a delicious fruity treat in snacking bags. Pricing is the same as Jelly Bears. 

The recently launched TVC (New TVC) affirms the irresistible proposition of the Alpenliebe brand. Even though they are the undisputed leaders, Perfetti has democratised the Jelly category. Due to this a flurry of jelly products are now available in the market apart from ITC Candyman Jellicious. So sustaining the market share will be a challenge for Perfetti in the long run.