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Innovating Brands: For the 10th anniversary of afaqs!

(September 2009), I put

together brief write-ups on some brands which have been launched over the last
decade n which have tasted success over the last ten years.

1. Swift
The brand added a badly needed touch of flamboyance to the company…

When the snazzy-looking Swift was launched in 2005, it broke quite a few myths.
The first being that the Indian market would not accept a high-priced hatchback.
Secondly, many thought that Maruti Suzuki's conservative styling was one which its
consumers were happy with.

Could a modern and exciting style from the old favourite make any inroads?
However, the new style appealed to the new generation of Indian car buyers and
the Swift quickly became an iconic brand. And, it seems to have replicated its
success in Japan, too.

Maruti Suzuki sold 89,000 units of Swift in 2007-2008. The next year, it touched 1.1
lakh and between April and August 2009, it has already sold 42,000 units. It was a
redefining moment for the industry and Maruti Suzuki as well. First, the A2 market
did not have a A2+ vehicle. But not only did the Swift create a large new A2+
segment, it also created a new image for the company. Later, Maruti would create
another brand based on this platform and similar styling. The Swift Dzire would
prove to be equally successful in the A3 segment.

Taking care of the fuel efficiency factor (the Swift is available in diesel and petrol
variants), Maruti now got talked about for its style too. With no brand ambassador,
it has given stiff competition to the Hyundai Getz, Hyundai i20 and Chevy U-VA.

2. DNA
A new paper, it managed to strike roots in a city that has been dominated
by The Times of India…

With five editions in a span of four years and a circulation of 8.38 lakh copies across
Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Surat, DNA ranks fourth amongst
newspapers in Mumbai (IRS 2009, R1). It, incidentally, is also the fastest-growing
broadsheet daily in the city. According to IRS 2009 R1, it has 13.24 lakh readers in
the city, and registered a growth of 46 per cent in three years.

Prior to 2005, Mumbai was dominated by the 171-year-old heritage of The Times of
India (ToI). Generations grew up reading this newspaper. Yet, the English daily
market catered to only 1.8 million readers in Mumbai - out of the 3.3 million citizens
who could read and speak English. That left a substantial 1.5 million untapped
section that tempted DNA into the city.

DNA's growth strategy has been to develop a pan-India footprint. Its critical success
factors were the ability to unlock a monopoly market condition, break free of the
private treaty/market share/exclusivity contracts of ToI, improve brand salience and
readership per copy, as well as the ability to continuously grow both volume and
yield. Though it obviously wants to be a major national brand, its first objective was
to create a paper for the 'Mumbaikar'.

A joint venture between Dainik Bhaskar and Zee, DNA came in without prior
experience in English Dailies. Moreover, it was pitted against the might and heritage
of the TOI which no paper had managed to make any dent whatsoever, yet.

To create awareness, DNA carried out door-to-door research about reader

preferences on a mammoth scale involving 1,700 market research executives. This
plus a stunning outdoor campaign created a solid base of curiosity. The launch had
Mumbai painted with the colours of DNA and it got off to a roaring start. It brought
3,00,000 subscribers on board on Day 1. As it settled down nicely in Mumbai, DNA
turned its eyes to other markets. It launched the Ahmedabad edition in November
2007. The next year saw launches in Pune, Jaipur and Bengaluru.

The last-named city proved to be the next most important launch for the paper. Stiff
competition was obviously expected from the troika of ToI, the Deccan Herald and
The Hindu. After a ramp-up subscription offer at Rs 301 for a year, and of about five
months for garnering subscribers, on the day of the launch DNA had 1,20,000
subscribed readers, all of whom had paid in advance for the whole year.

3. Bacardi Breezer
The Breezer became a rage on launch and continues to grow quickly…

The Breezer became a rage on launch and continues to grow quickly. This is one
brand launch that went like a breeze right from the word go. Breezer - known as
Bacardi Breezer until last year - was launched in India in August 2002 by Bacardi
Martini India, a 74:26 joint venture between Bacardi and the Karnataka-based
Gemini Distilleries. Bacardi Breezer was considered as one of the most significant
launches in 2002-03 because of the unique space that it created in the Indian
alcohol market.

Breezer is a fruit-flavoured alcoholic beverage (alcobev) with 4.8 per cent alcohol
content (that is similar to beer), a first for India. A unique product, affordability and
a well-defined target audience - combined with a booming economy - paved the
way for the success of this iconic brand.

The brand promise ever since its launch is consistent with the brand tagline, 'Live
Life in Color'. The same promise was executed in Breezer's commercials, outdoor
communication and events. The Breezer ads, in its early years, were a bit over the

Breezer is currently the No 1 player in its category. The main reasons behind that
success are consistency in product quality, launch of new flavours every year and
effective distribution. The launch of the Clear Lemon flavour was in line with the
increasing popularity of white spirits in India. According to a consumer survey,
though Bacardi was primarily associated with colour, younger consumers preferred
something colourless too.

Breezer is available in 50 countries. Some international flavours include Pina

Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri, Pineapple and Raspberry amongst many other exotic
flavours. The UK remains one of the biggest markets for Breezer. After doing a good
job in the US by stimulating a consumer shift from pints of lager and wine, it
stepped into the UK in 1993 positioned as 'a credible alternative to beer'. According
to the company, Breezer sold 5.8 lakh cases in India last year. The brand is growing
around a rate of about 30 per cent per annum.

4. Bingo!
With memorable advertising and tremendous variety, it went head-to-
head against Frito Lay's…

In 2007, the foods division of ITC launched Bingo!, its new snack brand, which
marked the company's foray into the fast-growing branded snacks segment. The
launch of the brand was strategically timed around the Cricket World Cup to
leverage its position as a leisure and cocktail snack to munch while watching a

The launch of the brand was significant in the sense that there was just one player
in this category, albeit a big one - PepsiCo's Frito Lay's. The launch of Bingo! was a
fierce challenge for ITC - it just had to prove itself. And prove it itself, it did.

The interesting offering and its communication by Bingo! laid the ground for the
brand's success. It soon became the second-largest brand after Lay's. Bingo!
launched itself with a portfolio studded with 16 variants - the initial offerings from
Bingo included an array of products in both potato chips and finger snacks.

For potato chips, the flavours had been developed based on very popular
snacks/tastes prevailing across different regions of the country. In the finger snacks
segment, Bingo! was launched with multiple snack formats (in a combination of
shapes and textures).

At the time of ITC's entry into the snacks category, the organised, branded salty
snacks market was estimated to be valued at Rs 1,830 crore (one lakh metric
tonnes per annum, AC Nielsen Retail Audit estimates for January-December 2006).
The growth rate for the packaged salty snacks segment was just over 30 per cent
per annum. The key segments of potato chips and finger snacks were driving the
growth in the organised market with rates better than the category average.
Together these two segments constituted a market of more than Rs 1,000 crore (AC
Nielsen) although market estimates put this figure much higher than this).

The organised category basically comprised of the traditional segment (bhujia,

chanachur), western segment (potato chips, cheese balls) and the newly
established finger snacks segment, an adaptation of traditional offerings to the
western format.

ITC relied strongly on its well laid out retail distribution strength and its insightful
understanding of consumers. The launch of Bingo! represented ITC Foods' fifth
major line of foods business after the staples, biscuits, ready-to-eat and
confectionery businesses.

Bingo claims to have met the company's objective of establishing a youthful and
innovative snack offering. This move was thought to be well-aligned with the
broader corporate philosophy of ITC to grow its non-cigarette businesses.

5. Axe
Countless brands were launched over the decade. Some stood out as
innovative products or were promoted in an intriguing way. Axe is a great
example of advertising making a brand…

In 1999, Hindustan Lever (now Unilever) launched a new brand in the Indian
market, which it labelled as a weapon of seduction. The message struck home and
Axe’s advertising campaigns have been conversation-hoggers ever since.

The advertising invariably features a boy next door and playfully records his
transformation into an irresistible woman-magnet. The brand later branched out as
a range of male grooming products. This includes deodorant sticks, roll-ons, anti-
perspirants, aftershaves and shower gels. According to Unilever, it is now the
world’s most popular male grooming brand.

The company has made it a point of constantly expanding the fragrance range. In
India, it was available till last year in five fragrances - Dimension, Java, Phoenix,
Pulse, Voodoo. But what really makes the brand stand out is its advertising. It
makes consumers smile – and it makes them buy.

It is a measure of the way its communication tests the limits that the brand has won
10 Cannes Lions from across the world so far. According to the company, in
Colombia, for instance, an Axe Patrol – made up of women, naturally – drops in on
bars and night clubs, frisking men and spraying them with Axe.

The Axe range is priced in a band of Rs 135-160 in India. The company also
launched a male deodorant under the Rexona brand, and this is priced lower.
However, Axe primarily has to contend with Set Wet Zatak from Paras

In India the brand made a big splash last year around the launch of Dark
Temptation, a chocolate-based fragrance. The TV commercial had the typical Axe
guy turning into a chocolate man on spraying himself. The rest of the commercial is
about how women want to lick him, get a piece of him. What probably was too
much for the moral brigade was when a women in a bus bends to bite a bit of his
behind. By the time the ad was yanked off the air following an official objection, it
had probably done its job. It returned in an edited version.

India was the first Asian country to get Dark Temptation. It has already been
launched in Europe and Argentina.

6. Bajaj Pulsar
(kicker missing)

The '90s witnessed the birth of an emerging young India - the 'And' generation.
Work hard, study hard 'And' party hard. Western influence 'And' Indian values.
These young Indians' image of themselves was cool, masculine and stylish. In their
minds they were different from the rest, and they wanted to ride a bike that
matched their personality, but all they got were ordinary 100ccs.

In 2001, Bajaj Auto launched a motorcycle with the intention of introducing a new
category and a new dimension in biking - performance - and called it the Pulsar. The
bike was launched in two versions, 150cc and 180cc. The communication for the
product was based around the statements: It's a Boy and Definitely Male.
The runaway success of Pulsar prompted Bajaj to come out with a second-
generation bike from the Pulsar stable. It was launched with DTS-i (digital twin
spark-plug ignition that results in efficient combustion) technology. When the
competition decided to focus on the performance segment, Bajaj decided to make
the war tougher. Out came a slew of launches. The third-gen power machine, the
Pulsar 200 DTS-I, came in 2007. In 2008, Pulsar launched the 220cc version,
focussing on style and innovation. In April 2009, the Pulsar 150cc and 180cc DTS-i
were launched. In June 2009, Pulsar 220cc DTS-i came in, positioned as The Fastest

The 220 DTS-i was launched with a 360-degree campaign. A TVC campaign came on
air within two days of the launch. Then came a digital campaign that involved
sending an SMS to seven lakh bikers and 20 lakh users exposed to WAP advertising.
On the ground, a massive Pulsar camp was taken up across 50 cities, providing free
service to 60,000 Pulsars and showcased the Pulsar 2009 edition. Nearly 38,000
test rides were given, 20,000 enquiries were generated and 3,000 Pulsars edition
were sold.

Apart from all this, Bajaj also tied up with MTV and showcased the Pulsar's stunt
capabilities. All these marketing initiatives paid dividends - the average age of the
Pulsar buyer went down by a year, and the sales almost doubled in the nine months
from January 2009. Today, the three variants of the Pulsar sell 40,000 units per
month. Industry watchers say that Bajaj cannot keep up with the demand - and is
losing out on 5,000 to 10,000 units a month.