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Brand Speak
In today's complex scenario of 360 degree communications , Brands and Brand Building is taking on a new meaning. To be able to get insights into Brands and their Brand building strategies, exchange4media brings the freshest and in depth perspectives from marketing and brand honchos of leading brands in this new section BRANDSPEAK.

"In service industry demystifying each product to the customer and demonstrating real benefits meaningful to him, therefore, assumes greater importance"


Tulsi Mirchandaney is responsible for marketing, research and business development projects at Blue Dart Express Limited. Having joined the company at the time of its aircraft acquisition, she has been responsible for creating, launching and developing cargo products for the express airline and setting up their accounting, sales and operations systems.

She has over 25 years of experience in the international airline industry and holds a postgraduate degree in International Aviation from Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. She discusses the role of advertising, media, branding, and also on the factors that differ one courier service from another.

Where would you say does courier industry stand on life cycle in Indian market? Is it already a mature market?

The courier industry has evolved to extend its services to a larger audience. Whereas it started initially as a service provider for the document and samples demand of industry, it is now viewed as an important part of the supply chain for industries that have a demand for speed, reliability, security and just-in-time distribution needs. However, this market is still in its infancy in India, and is growing.

BS. You said that courier business in India is still in its infancy. Do you
feel that courier companies need to educate the consumers?
What I said is that the courier industry is evolving to expand into critical supply-chain distribution services. The critical supply-chain distribution segment is in its infancy in India. Yes, of course, education is essential -our salespeople are no longer purveyors of services, but consultants for distribution. We work closely with our customers and knowledge needs to be shared to be effectively utilised. Requirements are industry-specific, and we have a parallel technology-development for specific segments.
BS. How is Blue Dart positioned? Are your various services positioned differently?

Blue Dart has the only dedicated logistics infrastructure in the country today to provide a variety of logistics solutions for its customers. We have an aviation system with an in-house ground handling and maintenance capability to provide confirmed uplift. We have invested extensively in technology, currently the most advanced in the he domestic courier industry, for integration, data flow and customer software for greater customer convenience and efficiency. We have stringent security and quality norms, our integrated network has the widest reach and our people are skilled and committed professionals.

Coming to the second part of your question, we offer a range of services: Domestic Priority - a fast reliable service for non-commercial documents and non-documents. Dart Apex to support reliable commercial distribution and supply chain requirements. Dart Surfaceline - a reliable and secure surface option, and an airport to airport option which includes charter of our aircraft for large volumes and urgent shipments.

BS. How is branding for a courier service different from an FMCG?

Ours is a service industry where the service is the brand. The attributes of
the product are not physically apparent. Demystifying each product to the customer and demonstrating, in simple terms, real benefits meaningful to him, therefore, assumes greater importance. This means translating each customer contact point into an experience representative of the brand. People who serve take on the mantle of the brand - as opposed to an FMCG where you would buy your preferred cake of soap regardless of where or how it is served.

BS. How important is advertising for a courier brand?

It is important to build brand awareness, which was the route Blue Dart took in its early years.

BS. What media vehicles are you using to promote Blue Dart? Would there be an increased spend on these media vehicles?

We have a specific target audience, and the rest is more or less extraneous. We have tried to focus on the total customer experience - the brand tangibles such as the retail outlets (service counters), vehicles, signage's, etc, as well as the intangibles at the customer contact point. We believe the personal touch is essential and have strengthened the areas of customer care centres. Our communication vehicle is PR which lends credibility to our voice, and direct mailers, with support from a large sales force across the country to directly engage the customer.

BS. What growth potential do you see in Indian market in recent future?

For Blue Dart the customer is and always has been the prime focus of our endeavors. The package segment has shown strong growths, and this segment is a direct outcome of the airfreight capacity offered by our fleet of 3 aircraft. We have also operated over 145 hours of charters in the past 3 months to cater to our customers' urgent distribution needs. We see an increasing demand for such movement and are upbeat about the opportunities as we are currently the only cargo airline in the country capable of servicing such a demand.

BS. How has the journey been for Blue Dart so far? What are the benefits of your services?

Blue Dart has been focusing on the customers' needs and convenience. In the past year, we have expanded our network in Maharashtra, Orissa and North Bengal, and have moved to a much larger airside warehouse at Delhi to enable us to handle the increasing loads more efficiently. Airlines can now clear their shipments at our warehouse in Delhi. In September 2002 we entered into a sales alliance with global #1, DHL Worldwide Express, to service the international needs of our customers. We have moved to the new ISO9001-2000 standards to which, LRQA has informed us, only 21% of Indian companies have transited till date.

BS. How does your service differ from competition? What added advantages do you provide your clients and what kind of message do you aim to send across?

We say we offer "Solutions for Peace of Mind", and we've built extensively to deliver on our promise. We are the only express cargo airline in the country today focused on handling packages. Our technology support is a continuous in-house development process, and is the most advanced in the domestic courier industry. We deliver door-to-door to over 13,000 locations in the country with an in-house team of experts to handle inter-state regulatory requirements. Our quality levels which are at 99.95% are monitored daily. No one else in the country offers this kind of integrated delivery capability

BS. Blue Dart's Income from operations for the first quarter of the fiscal 2002-2003 had increased by 13.6% as compared to the first quarter of the previous year. You also increased your profit after tax by 20% for the first quarter as compared to the previous year. What would you attribute this growth to?

The performance in the first quarter was attributed to strong growths in the package segment and the healthy load factors on the 3-aircraft system. Blue Dart discerned a demand for quality capacity in the domestic market and set about setting up systems to service this demand. Our customers have responded positively, and our goal is to continue identifying their evolving needs and keep ahead of their expectations.

BS. What kind of growth are you expecting in the year 2003? How would it be different from 2002?

We work towards targeted growths and are on track so far. The results would be made public soon.

BS. What tools do you use to monitor your progress and enhance it?

Quality and Targets, among others, are visible at the field level and monitored daily. This enables appropriate corrections to be made almost immediately.

BS. What role does pricing play in the growth of a courier brand? Does value for money proposition hold true?

The customer will only pay for the value he perceives in your product offering. Blue Dart has set unmatched quality standards and is continuously benchmarking to assure that value delivery.

BS. What kind of e-solutions do you provide your customers?

Our clientele is mainly corporate, and we service a wide range of them. We built e-logistics when we re-launched our website in 2000, and offer a variety of e-solutions. Today, around 58% of our customers in revenue terms actively and effectively use our technology offerings.

BS. Has advent of e-commerce helped the cause of courier companies in India?

Currently this is not a large segment, but it is growing and our systems
to handle this business have been in place since 2000.

BS.s How would you sum up Blue Dart's marketing strategy? Within India and outside?
  Care - Customer Addition, Retention & Empathy.
Interact with Tulsi Mirchandaney on Brand Speak

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