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Kartik Raina

Chief Operating Officer | 10 Jul 2003

"The basic philosophy of 'Vardaan' is that it can deliver the same level of satisfaction and pleasure that a person gets from a normal bidi but without the ill effects of tobacco."

In Brand Speak, this time Kartik Raina, Chief Operating Officer, Dalmia Consumer Care speaks to exchange4media's Nikhil Gupta about company's new product 'Vardaan', its positioning, market insights and how he plans to use the media to reach the target audience.

Q. . Dalmia Consumer Care recently launched a tobacco-less bidi 'Vardaan.' How big do you think is the market in India?

If you look the tobacco smoking market, the total market is divided among two products, there are cigarettes and there are bidi's. In volume terms, about 108 billion bidi's are sold in India every year. Looking at the size of the population, much larger proportion of the people consume bidi's. Figures suggest that roughly, 1 5 Crore bidis are smoked every hour, in this country. So, it is a huge market, and our product 'Vardaan' the tobacco less bidi is clearly aimed at the current smoker of bidi, we are not looking at non-smokers.

Q. Tobacco-less bidi is a new concept altogether. What is the positioning of the 'Vardaan' in the Indian markets?

Vardaan's basic positioning is that it is meant to deliver safer alternative to the current bidi smoker. If we try and look into the reasons that today why people smoke a bidi, they smoke because they get some level of satisfaction and pleasure out of smoking. This satisfaction and pleasure can be broken into three elements. First is the physical experience, which is the shape of the bidi, its mouthfeel, how long does it takes to finish, what is the feeling of the smoke once it enters the system, how harsh is it on the throat, and so on. Second, is the psychological part of it, if you ask somebody to smoke a cigarette in a dark room, he wont enjoy it because they like to see the smoke. So, there are some psychological elements connected to this. A lot of these psychological benefits are exploited when you get into the business of brand building. The third is the element is the Physiological element, which is what it does when it enters the body. Smoking of tobacco causes cancer, and there is a whole list of harmful substances, which cause about 25% of the diseases indirectly linked with tobacco.

The basic philosophy of Vardaan, is that it can deliver the same level of satisfaction and pleasure that a person gets from a normal bidi but without the ill effects of tobacco. That is why the tagline of Vardaan reads, "Dam wahi par dosh nahi."

Q. Since, the existing tobacco bidi's in the market have like 501 Pataka and 502. What was the reason behind choosing the name 'Vardaan'?

The idea was that the brand name should carry the personality, the character of the brand, and that's why the name Vardaan was chosen. Also, what we wanted was a name that meant the same in all the 9 languages of the regional markets, we are going to enter into. And, we wanted to get away from this number game( ie. 501, 502 bidi's).

Q. What are the components of the marketing and advertising activities that is going on for the product Vardaan?

Whatever promotional activity we are and we will be doing, it will be broken into two parts. Firstly, there will be an element of brand building, here we will be using the traditional media. Luckily, there is no tobacco in Vardaan, so we can use regular media. There will be very very strong focus on localization of the brand and apart from local marketing activities we will be doing advertising in local languages. But the entire emotional surround will be that of a bidi. Thus, the kind of models who will be used in the advertising campaigns, would not necessarily be a bidi user, but rugged and down to earth character, a kind of person a bidi user aspires to be.

Secondly, we will always talk about the core character of the brand -it does not contains tobacco and it's a safer alternative to bidi smoking. To that extent, some of the communication will also be informative in nature. It will inform the person firstly, about the ills of tobacco smoking and secondly that there is an alternative available, which is 'Vardaan.'

Q. You did a lot of research before launching this new tobacco-less product in the Indian market. Where did the people put 'Health' in the order of concern?

Prior to the launch, market research showed that people accepted 'Health' as a differentiator, but 'Health' as a sole objective to buy a product 'No'. Qualitative analysis revealed the way a typical tobacco smoker thinks-- he thinks that the diseases are for other smokers and not for him. But on doing some probing, we found that at the back of their minds they are always aware that it is not good for them. So, if not by first communication, if not by second communication, if not by third, then somewhere down the line they will realize that 'yes' tobacco smoking is harmful for them. Issue is not whether the product concept will be accepted or not, the issue is when it will be accepted.

Q. Vardaan will be pitted against the competition, the tobacco based bidi's, which are advertised heavily in the print media. What will be your strategy of using the media vehicles?

I think print will be the most important medium for us, there is no doubt about it. But when we talk about print we should be aware that this particular audience is primarily belongs to daily newspaper readers category. And most of them tend to read the vernacular press rather than the mainstream English language newspapers.

Q. For local level marketing are you working along with Non Governmental Organization's as well?

We are working not only with NGOs but with a lot of doctors and we are participating in Cancer camps. When we launched in Durgapur in West Bengal, we were involved with Cancer camps in the entire district. Thereby conveying to our audience, "Tobacco kills but Vardaan saves."

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