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Amul seeks to put the ‘Shakti’ back in its health food drink brand

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Amul seeks to put the ‘Shakti’ back in its health food drink brand

Buoyed by existing brands reinforcing their brand promise, more than the entry of new players, competition in the Indian health food drinks (HFD) category has intensified in the last five years. The Rs 1,500 crore HFD market, which comprises white and brown categories, is dominated by Smithkline Beecham Consumer Healthcare’s Horlicks, Heinz’s Complan, Nestle’s Milo, Cadbury’s Bournvita and Amul Shakti.

Brands like Horlicks and Boost have re-branded themselves in the space by changing their structure, packaging and positioning. Market leader Horlicks has changed its positioning and imagery from an old, fuddy-duddy drink to a young, vibrant and delicious drink for the younger generation. The brand had over the years established a perception that it was consumed by the older, sick people and was purchased by the mother for the health concerns of the entire family. The brand never identified itself with children, which was a growing segment, and a highly promising one at that. From a “nourisher of the entire family”, the brand repositioned itself to become “pleasurable nourisher for the entire family”.

Boost, on the other hand, changed its product branding to get closer to its target audience maintaining its positioning and platform of ‘Energy’. With the structural and branding redesign it reinforced its promise of being an energy drink with a sporty and trendy look.

In comparison, Amul Shakti, with perhaps the largest distribution network and a strong heritage, has failed to make much inroad in the HFD category. The white milk food drink, which was launched in 2001, has been plagued by weak product branding and lack of a strong brand promise. The brand has not registered well with its target audience. While its competitors moved from glass bottles to PET and PP bottles, Amul Shakti is still being sold in glass bottles.

However, realising its drawbacks, DMA Branding was approached in 2005 to re-brand Amul Shakti and make it more in sync with the new target audience. It was found that Amul Shakti’s product branding was not appealing and contemporary. The perceptions about the brand were very weak and not in sync with the intended brand personality.

Thus, capturing insights from a qualitative research in multiple cities (markets where Amul Shakti was present and not present) was the first step in the re-branding exercise. These insights helped in understanding the brand in its current avatar and what could be its new face.

Said Rekha Pamani Gulati, CEO, DMA Branding, “Amul Shakti was losing market share in the territories it had a huge presence (white milk food drink) because direct competition in white milk food drink had changed its brand presence / imagery. They had started projecting themselves on a new platform and positioning. Amul Shakti was looking old and outdated. There was no strong promise and nor brand style or vocabulary, that is, communication. Secondly, Amul Shakti was unable to penetrate other markets where brown milk food drinks were very strong because there were better alternatives that were more vibrant, promising, youthful and contemporary.”

Under the rebranding exercise, while the glass bottle was retained, its shape was redesigned to make it look more contemporary. The sleek shape gave the brand a young, energetic and vibrant look. Elements like a glass full of milk, a buoyant feel to the branding and bright colours have been used to revitalise the brand imagery.

Each variant (kesar, almond, malt and chocolate) has been shown in a stylish and composite manner. The category brands have a strong communication at the back of the pack (BOP). For Amul Shakti, the BOP was re-designed to create excitement and reduce clutter.

The brand platform was changed to provide ‘Power’ to the individual. ‘Power’ as a brand promise was unexplored in the category and more relevant with the dual properties of milk and an ingredient like ‘kesar’ in the drink. The brand personality was recreated to appeal to a much larger audience (away from a family drink).

Commenting on the post re-branding exercise effects, Gulati said, “The brand in its new avatar has hit in the market just last month. It is too early to comment on the effect. Although we do have some research to indicate the post re-branding results, but we will have to wait for another couple of months before we disclose concrete results.”


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