Innovating for success: Experts show how

Innovation is most definitely the key – be it at the product level or the marketing level – in giving brands and companies the competitive edge.

e4m by Pallavi Srivastava
Updated: Feb 7, 2011 7:57 AM
Innovating for success: Experts show how


Innovation, be it at the product level or for promotion or consumer engagement, is the key in any brand’s success. And there are three examples to further establish this fact – ITC’s Fiama Di Wills, LG Electronics and NTT DoCoMo.

Fiama Di Wills – Entering the MNC Bastion
Indian brand Fiama Di Wills (from ITC’s stable) made a big bang entry in the highly competitive personal care market, which was largely dominated by MNCs. Sandeep Kaul, CEO, Personal Care Business, ITC Ltd, shared the group’s success story in creating seven to eight brands from scratch in less than a decade, with each of these brands being worth at least Rs 200 crore today.

The session was chaired by Ajay Kakar, Chief Marketing Officer - Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group.

Talking specifically about Fiama Di Wills, Kaul said, “We started our work on the personal care brand in 2002 and we launched the brand in 2007. For the first five years, we simply studied the market, the consumer, and worked on the brand before hitting the market.” He added that the long preparation time helped the company in developing an extensive portfolio for the brand.

He also stressed on the importance of putting the consumers first. “In the first four years, we engaged over 400,000 consumers to co-create the products. We got back to many of them for validation and regress testing of the product,” Kaul added.

According to him, there were five strategic pillars behind Fiama Di Wills’ success: Comprehensive Portfolio, Drive Differentiation, Create Capabilities, Leverage Strengths and Innovation in Consumer Engagement.

“The game is all about preparation and capability building. If that is done, then MNC or no MNC, you will win the consumer’s heart. So, believe in consumers and believe in yourself,” he concluded.

LG Electronics: Rise of a multi-product brand
LG Electronics has created a space for itself in another highly competitive segment – consumer electronics. Today, the company straddles the market across product categories. Speaking during the session, Sandeep Khanna, Vice President, Corporate Marketing, South East Asia, LG Electronics, remarked, “It is very important to take a second opinion apart from your own team’s when it comes to the question of when mother brands work and when they don’t.”

Talking about the rise of LG as a multi-product brand in the consumer durable space, Khanna stressed on the role of innovation in today’s context. He said, “Innovation is one of the most overused words and almost every company today has an innovation agenda. But we at LG look at innovation as an approach.” He further explained how innovation was in the DNA of LG and had its spillover effect over other processes. And it is the cross-functionality of these processes that resulted in competitive advantage for the company.

The 5Ps of innovation mentioned by Khanna are: Process Innovation, Product Innovation, People Innovation, Programme Innovation and Performance Innovation.

Talking about product innovation, Khanna said, “It is all about changing the category paradigms.” He added that when there were multiple products under one brand and it was very important to give the brand a common denominator that was relevant across categories. For example, for LG’s range of products across categories – washing machines, microwaves, air-conditioners, refrigerators and vacuum cleaners – the common platform was the health proposition.

Stating that people Innovation also played a key role in any company’s success, Khanna shared a philosophy of ‘Jeong-do’ management, which means the right way to do things. “There are three key pointers of Jeong-do: transparency, equality and fair competition. We at LG follow Jeong-do in everything we do,” he said.

NTT DoCoMo: Riding the telecom wave
Sharing NTT DoCoMo’s success story in Japan, Takeshi Saito, Senior Director of Strategy Marketing & Director Strategic Corporate Branding, NTT DoCoMo Inc, Japan, said that the company looked to replicating that success in India as well. NTT DoCoMo tied up with Tata Teleservices last year to launch Tata DoCoMo. The company has already been the first to launch 3G services and is also innovating with its services.

With the competition in the Indian telecom market increasing due to the recent introduction of Mobile Number Portability and 3G services, it will be interesting to see who leverages these platforms and leads the market.

Citing the reasons for NTT DoCoMo’s success, Saito said they included constant innovation to meet future needs of customer and building loyalty by providing exceptionally good service support.

Saito, who has served in the company for the last 21 years, has donned various hats in the marketing side. Speaking on the various innovations effected by NTT DoCoMo, he said they included fully animated and decorated email services, mobile wallet, flight bookings and check-ins, GPS enabled restaurant and leisure support, information on events, waterproof mobile handsets and data restoration facilities in case of damage, which had given them an edge over the competition.

He also stressed on the idea of building a strong loyal customer base, which NTT DoCoMo does by providing advanced support in which a personnel is dispatched to user locations within 48 hours to solve any customer issue. This helps the company in building a strong connect with the customers and increases customer loyalty.

Sandeep Kaul, Sandeep Khanna, and Takeshi Saito were speaking at the two-day World Marketing Congress, organised by All India Management Association (AIMA) in Delhi on February 4-5, 2011.

(With inputs from Deepika Bhardwaj)

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