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Brandwidth 2005: Of the 'Prestige' issue, fashion marketing and the power of insight

28-November-2005
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Brandwidth 2005: Of the 'Prestige' issue, fashion marketing and the power of insight

Proceedings picked up steam at the post-lunch session at Brandwidth 2005 with 'The Prestige Story' presented by Chandru Kalro, EVP, Marketing, TTK Prestige. The brand fitted the theme of 'Extending a brand successfully', given its successful move from the 'pressure cooker' identity to a smart kitchen solutions provider.

Kalro explained that in a product category with penetration level of 90 per cent, it was a struggle for Prestige to grow with cookers alone – especially in a segment with around 250 brands at play. The company, in fact, became a loss-making company after 50 years of existence in 2002. In desperation, he shared, gas stoves and electrical appliances were launched but without much success.

"We were never seen as experts in this space. The market knew that we were not manufacturers of these products. The line extensions didn't do much for us in the first year and we realised that we needed a different solution.," he said.

The turnaround strategy included setting up of its own retail outlets – 68 in number now, in the last 24 months, and now accounting for 10 per cent of the brand's business.

From a turnover of Rs 113.52 crore in 2002-03, the brand has moved up to Rs 189.37 crore in 2004-05. The expectations of growth this year, too, is similar, at 30 per cent. Prestige is today India's largest kitchenware brand, in a market estimated at Rs. 650 crores.

In another initiative, this one focused on rural marketing, it had worked with self help groups in three districts in Andhra Pradesh. While that admittedly hasn't taken off too well, he company had plans of getting into an integrated rural store format soon.

Another brand that has made its mark is Tanishq. With a 40 per cent Y-o-Y growth, giving the pedigreed traditional jewellers in the largely unorganised Indian market – valued at Rs 65,000 crore – it is something to think about. And Anchal Jain, Marketing Manager, Tanishq, gave the audience something to think about with her presentation.

Tracing the transition of the brand from watches to diamond jewellery to the present day status of the jewellery giant from the house of Tatas, she added, "On one end, there was a conflict initially because of the western image. Given the personalised nature of the industry, the market was also unready. The social context and the Indian context were missing. These were issues we addressed."

Working on the purity plank with some hard-hitting creatives, the brand highlighted the prevalent purity levels in the market. The other area that the brand worked, Jain said, was the design and feel, where the 'Indianness' was infused.

With 79 stores in over 50 cities across India, the brand continues to build on its base with initiatives like the 'Paheli' tie-up. Its new creative, 'A new tale of tradition', has also been received positively, she shared.

Even as it plays to the gallery, the brand has been aware and alive to its category. Jain wrapped it up with this comment: "There are rules in the category that we cannot violate. And then there are rules that we have challenged and will keep challenging."

Brandwidth 2005 drew to an insightful close with Hemachandra Javeri, President, Madura Garments, presenting his 'Insights on Fashion Marketing', before Sridhar Ramanujam, CEO, brand-comm ended the day with his talk on 'The power of insight'.

"Fashion is like the fresh flower business. Obsolescence is the biggest enemy. If I remember right, about 75 per cent of the product purchases in the US are at a discount. It's a huge problem," said Javeri.

Viewing fashion as a lifestyle industry, he said, "We see it as fighting for a share of the wallet. Earlier, garments used to have a 65-70 per cent share of the wallet. But this is dropping sharply every year, because as a category we are in the lifestyle space and the competition could be from anything – if you buy a mobile phone for Rs 10,000, you have taken away the opportunity for me sell at least 10 garments."

Underlining that it was a key thing to identify one's position in the fashion lifecycle, he clarified Madura's stand. He explained, "We are not fashion forward. We are in the business of fashion. It is a risk, but one worth taking. If you are at the front end of fashion, you can carry huge risks in taking trends forward. We do engage in fashion innovations and some recent ones have been received very well. But we don't want to be at the front end of fashion."

'Word of mouth' and 'Effect of Sight' were the best representations of what the brand was all about, he said, and he is very much part of the list of CEOs who swear by the significance of retail, for the category.

"Retail is the final link. If the retail is not good, you can be a complete disaster. I believe 12 Nike Towns used to lose $100,000 a year. But they were huge brand accelerators. If you've been there, you'll never buy anything other than Nike. A new store may not make us money as of now, but it's in a way a marketing investment. If you've been there, you'll know what the brand stands for," explained Javeri.

Indian consumers were very receptive to taking Indian fashion cues and adapting them to mainstream fashion, according to Javeri. Citing the example of the 'kurti', he said that the trend was unique to India, and would never have worked in a market like China, where western wear led the way.

On the 'Factory Outlet' phenomena, Javeri expressed the view that it provided the opportunity to address two different sets of customers. He said, "In India, the phenomenon is not new. I look at it as an opportunity to address the value-seeking customer who will never walk into a showroom and buy at full price. Our experience tells us that there are two different sets of customers."

Shridhar Ramanujam brought Brandwidth 2005 to a close with a lively last session. Focusing on the power of insight, he said, "While the iPod is a huge success, the origins of the success story are in Apple's vision expressed in the '70s, of 'Think Different'. All of us are sometimes so full of what we're doing that we sometimes forget to listen to what the consumer is saying." He cited the example of an Intel going to the consumer with advertising when it wasn't necessary to drive home the point.

On the significance of PR, he shared the view that many companies did not realise the importance of the stream. "They used to send the press release to the advertising agency to send out. If the largest advertising agency should be the most successful in PR, then JWT should be the largest PR agency in India. It isn't." Integration and consumer insight, he contended, were the keys to successful brand building.

Brandwidth is a brand-comm event property into its second year now, organised by brand consulting, advertising and public relations firm brand-comm. The day-long event was held on November 26 at Bangalore.

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