Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cosmetic Changes in a Product

Direct consumer contact through setting-up small exclusive stalls in front of malls is an idea which is picking up in the country. In the last few months I have seen many of them in front of the various malls which i have visited across the country. Yesterday I did decide to go into a stall/ exhibition organized by Godrej for the home appliances division. Actually this was my second visit in the first visit none of the people in the stall had any interest in speaking to me , but this time atleast on of the sales guys came up to me to show the appliances. The exhibition as specifically to promote the "Eon" range of home appliances. I was shown all the variety which was there, my interest was in the "Eon" fridge range. My first question - as would be of any consumer was 'what is new in this fridge versus the old versions you have?'. I was told that it had more vents than the older fridge so provided better cooling, for second advantage was i was shown some clips which were put on the freezer, and was told that they could be used to hang poly-packs. The third was that in the frisge there was more space for bottles and one could store 2.5 liter bottles. The seperators were made of plastic and warranty and other stuff. I was expeting the saleman to come up with some thing more about the product, when he brought out a book and asked me to give my name and address.I gave hime my card and went on to watch the movie which was about to start.

But later on reflecting on the experience two things struck me as odd, one was a minor one, on the use of having such stalls in the first place, when you don't have staff or have staff which is inadequately trained to explain the benefits of a new product to a consumer.I though with all the money going in for creating a sub-brand Godrej must be having some thing up its sleeve to corner more market share, I decided to a Google to find out about the product features, and all the information I could get was what the salesman had told me at the stall.I went to the company website to find out more about the new range , but there also couldn't get any additional information. This brings us to the second and more important point, do companies like Godrej expect to attract customers through such cosmetic changes to a product. For me as a consumer I couldn't see even a single compelling reason why I should go and buy the 'Eon" range.

PS: When i opened one of the refrigerators in the stall i found it was stuffed with promotional material, of which i was not given any. How much would it cost for the company to keep the fridge running during the time the stall, runs, and give a chance to the consumer to experience the product in its running condition.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Brand Similarity

Most of our efforts in marketing are directed towards creating and building a brand, through which our customers are able to recognize us and patronize us. And over a period of time we hope to be able to capitalize on the equity we have created through brand extensions. But this was all very true some ten years back, today things are changing very fast, in terms of the media, technology, new product development, competitive initiatives, which are all leading to a scenario of 'brand similarity'.

When with in a product category brands become similar, there is nothing on which a consumer can differentiate them, part from price. I was thinking about the categories in which brands have become similar, but initially found it very difficult, as a marketer it was difficult to for me to believe that brands could be similar, sort of an oxymoron.

But after some thinking i did come up with some examples , but more of them were in the commodity nature,,,,,the context of brand similarity or dissimilarity is the impact that sales promotion would have one the long-terms sales of a brand. In a category were brand dissimilarity exists promotions might have an longer-term impact than in categories where brands are more similar.

Then on a single day i got two good examples, and one from personal experience and other one from the newspaper. First the personal example, I have been planning to purchase a 240 liter two door fridge for quite some time now. And after many days of procrastinating i walked into a consumer durables shop near-by and started my inquiry. A very good salesman from the shop came and showed the various models which were available. Hew showed me three brands Godrej, LG, and some of brand. I asked him the price he said 12990/- for all the three brands. If I wanted a metallic finish i had to pay 1000/- more. I took some literature and came back to the office. I wanted to buy a fridge but was not sure of which brand, all the brand were similar to my mind. I am yet to decide on which one to buy. I read a similar experience of a business standard columnist in choosing between a WagonR and Zen Estilo....

Life for the average marketer is only going to become tougher...............

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