Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Changing Face Of FMCG Marketing - Feb 26, 2003 by Mayank Krishna

FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) marketing is no more going to be the same again! The changing consumer mindset thanks to more knowledgeable and discerning customers coupled with changing competition and saturated market is giving a tough time to the FMCG marketers. The changed scenario not only demands a new game plan with a sharp and decisive strategy but also a lot of creativity and insight. Some of the players in Indian FMCG industry have already taken a lead and are smartly moving to chart a success story for their brands. Some brands that reaped magnificent dividend from adopting a new strategy are Fairever, Ujala, Ghadi detergent, Chik, and Dandi namak. If we analyze the success story of these brands, it will be self evident that their marketing strategy is not a jargon filled new model of marketing. It is more of common sense marketing. But then, common sense is not so common!

Razor Sharp Focus
A common thread that binds the strategy adopted by these brands is razor sharp focus. They clearly see their target market. They know their customers well. They are not targeting consumers who already have built-in perceptions. They are reaching out to untapped market within a well known product category. Their primary focus is on millions of lower middle class families in small towns and rural segment. They are doing what legendry management guru C K Prahlad advocates when he says in his published paper, "Raising the Bottom of the Pyramid: Strategies for Sustainable Growth" that the greatest challenge for managers is to visualize an active market when what exists is abject poverty. These successful brands are just doing that- focusing on untapped markets. Take the example of Dandi namak. Who would have advised them to enter the branded salt market when Tata and HLL virtually share the whole market among them? But they entered this category when conventional wisdom said no. And they became a success story overnight. How? The answer is focus. They entered the market not to compete with Tata and HLL, but with the focus to take branded salt to rural and semi-urban areas. With this narrow focus, they not only captured a large rural and semi-urban market but also got some share of the urban market due to rub off effect.

Moreover, these small players fully realize that in today’s world, marketing needs money. So they don’t shy away from investing in marketing. Again take the example of Dandi namak. They splashed out money on their lengthy TV commercials to ensure that the message gets ingrained in the mind of the prospect. Fairever and Ujala adopted the same strategy. Of course they don’t spend as much as the MNCs do but they do spend enough to get attraction. The best part is when they get attention and a little success, MNC Goliaths retaliate back with huge spending and these little Davids piggyback on that!

Communicating 2 Consumers
One of the important aspects of the strategy being adopted is effective communication about product. These wannabe marketers are sending just the right message to the consumers. If the advertisements of these brands are analyzed, it will be evident that they don’t go for blitz but instead try to relate themselves with their target customers. To achieve this object, they are not shying away from being unconventional. Take the case of Dandi namak. The TV advertisement was bland and uninteresting. However, without any glitz, it was able to connect to its target customers because it talked in the language of its target customers. These brands send a powerful message to their target customers that they are made for each other. Dandi namak, Ujala, Ghadi detergent, and Chik, projected that they belonged to the lower middle class! And this worked wonders.

Selecting a narrow terrain to fight!
The stratagem of this new breed of marketing is deciding the opponent to fight! In case of most of these brands, it is seen that they fight their marketing battle by selecting a particular company and in many cases a particular brand, which often is the market leader! Then they deploy their entire marketing arsenal on this selected competitor. Ujala applied this tactic to full advantage against Robin Blue and now it commands nearly three-fourth of the Rs2bn ultra marine blue market, Fairever did the same to Fair & Lovely, Ghadi detergent is doing it now to Nirma and Wheel, and Chik is going shoulder to shoulder with Clinic Plus, the market leader in shampoo. The case of Dandi namak is different only in the sense that it selected its battlefield instead of opponent. The battlefield, rural and semi-urban market, was such that no major marketing war was fought on it before. Even the advertising strategy is designed with an eye on its opponent. This hurts the big companies badly. They wake up from their complacent sleep to realize that they are being brutally attacked. And by the time they retaliate, it’s too late and they only succeed in helping these brands get more attention. HLL realized that it’s brand Fair & Lovely was in danger only after Fairever had garnered a healthy market share within months of its launch. Retaliatory advertising by Fair & Lovely only helped Fairever gain more attention!
The way these homegrown marketers are inducing insomnia to Kotler fed B-school grads is really amazing. By their ability to be flexible, innovative, and being close to their customers, they are conquering Indian market, which many MNCs find a tough nut to crack. The secret of their success is not hard to guess. It is connecting with the heart and soul of India- the lower middle class and the rural consumers. Are the FMCG giants listening?

Classi Article - Brands targeting the bottom of pyramid succeeded

But HLLs and ITC have understood the game plan of these small player and are very cautious on this front.

Once bitten twice shy !!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice site!
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August 16, 2006 8:41 PM  

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