Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Can categories last longer than brands?

There are four possibilities that the marketing person can explore within this terrain. 

One is the building of the narrow brand. If you own the Lexus, build the Lexus brand. This is what I call narrow-spectrum branding.

Second is building the mother brand for the company that owns it. If you are a Bru, you build the mother brand that can hold out as an umbrella for a number of Bru offerings.

Third is building the company brand. If you are in the automotive category and you are a Ford, build the Ford brand name. All brand outfits will figure under the House of Ford name. Build equity into the name that is literally forever. The Fiesta may come and go as a consumer flavour of the years, but the Ford name is forever. Therefore, whatever you invest in the Ford name in building the corporate name is a forever-investment.

The fourth is building of the category as a whole. This is best done when there is either no competition in the category at all, or you are the market leader. Also best done when you have a concept that is totally new, or when the penetration of the category you wish to dominate is next to nothing in a market. This can also be used when there is a crisis in the market or when there is negative sentiment in the market due to a crisis that has destroyed equity.

The fourth route has been experimented with many a time. Here are some examples.

Milkmaid used it in India in building the category of condensed milk. The company was the clear market leader with literally no competition to boot. This continued for decades till the first Mithai Mate came by.

Woodward’s Gripe water did this to build the anti-colic solution market in India. A whole generation respected the anti-colic campaign. Particularly troubled mothers, who still swear by Woodward’s even today, when their children are all of 50 years old!

The cola category in the country could have used it, if only the cola majors could get together legally and otherwise. The sugar industry, the coconut oil industry, the cashewnut trade and many others are examples that can actually use this to advantage. 

Harish Bijoor
Brand consultant

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