Heritage Brands Building and Repositioning Them


Prof. Medha Chintala
Faculty Member
ICFAI School of Marketing Studies
ICFAI University
Hyderabad–500 034

Introduction and Background:

Some brands have managed to enter deep into the cultural fray of Indian households. These are the brands that have withstood the test of time.. Milkmaid, Pear's soap, Mysore Sandal Soap, Colgate Toothpaste, Woodward's Gripe Water, Himalaya Herbal Healthcare, Amrutanjan, Farooqui Manjan, Baygon's Spray, Hawkins Pressure Cooker are symbols of heritage brands of India. Some of these brands are remnants of the Swadeshi culture, carried on as legacy into the Indian heritage.

Consumers constantly seek new products that can add value into their livelihood. They need to be felt that they have made a wise purchase decision. Changing life styles also play a major role in determining the relevance of the product purchase. Consumer's desires are transient and changing with time. These factors pose a major challenge to the marketer to make & sell products and services that benefit the customer. The challenges can be in the form of opportunities as well as challenges in the way businesses are done.

Businesses that have built brands with are resistant to the changes today are seen with brands that have great cultural value. Certain brands that have survived the test of time despite tumultuous changes in the marketing scenario. They have a place into our lives, & surely we all love to have them that way. These traditional brands are cherished, but at the same time go as a matter of fact unnoticed because they have become a part and parcel of our living standards. A few examples of how they are icons into our lives is given below:

A typical household in Tamilnadu, begins the day with the housewife who brews "Bru-filter" coffee, while she pours the prepared coffee into steel tumblers, until the froth levels to the brim, family members gracefully wait to have their morning Bru-Coffee to Jump-start their day.

Similar To the above example of down south, another analogy can be drawn in this context. The feature in the morning of a Gujurati-household is the sight of a couple lightened up on the traditional swing in the verandah sipping morning-tea made out of the brand is very much a common sight. This brand has omnipresence in Gujarat and has carved a place in the hearts of the consumers. That is how a typical day begins with " Wagh Bakri Chai"at most of the Gujarati homes.

When the friendly yellow non-allopathic balm lies at the bedside of a patient struck with viral fever, nobody pays much attention to its brand name is. Any one living in the country for sometimes knows for sure what Amrutanjan stands for. Because the brand has become almost synonymous to a pain balm, which has been silently performing over a century now, and still promises to do so in the future.

Yet another good illustration is the popularity of traditional brands found inside the shelves of Indian Bathrooms. It's a common picture to find Dettol- the antiseptic lotion in lying in many Indian household bathrooms normally a must have for all nicks & cuts, from shaving blades. Also traditional brands of soaps like Lux, Hammam, Rexona compete with one another for space in the bathroom closets, another add-on to this is the famous HLL's soap Brand meant only to wash hands after visiting the loo; Lifebuoy. These are just a few representative examples of the long list of the Heritage Brands.

The strategies that these brands have followed are the lessons that every marketer, associated with the business of branding should know. Our father's generation and our grandparents once upon a time used these brands; and they still continue to be in the top-of-the mind recall, while we make purchase decisions. The reasons for what made the brands to be successfully and consistently, keep on staying in the consideration-set in the minds of the consumer is what makes them to be classified as heritage brands today.

The following article, presents the Heritage Brands mostly in the Indian context. An attempt has been made in the article to describe the various marketing strategies that were adopted to sustain these so called Heritage Brands. A few of the success and failure stories are covered in this article in the following sections.

The Concept of Branding:

The earliest form of branding was felt when the cattle rearers, branded their herds for identification. They branded the cattle for sorting and grading the cattle. This process is sometimes thought to have started the vital tradition of branding today's business world in all spheres of life.

An oversimplified version of marketing is that Marketing is all about making sure that the business knows what customer wants. This process can be divided into two main parts. The first part is tracking what the consumers' want and then manufacturing it. The second part is branding the manufactured goods. While the first part is important, the second part is twice as important than the first part, in terms of criticality and value addition that it provides1.

Branding is the task of owning up all the significant and insignificant functionalities of the product or service. Consequently the decision whether to brand or not to brand is a tough one.

In an interview the Former CEO of Quaker once said-"If this business were split up, I would give you the land and bricks and mortar, and I would take the brands and trademarks, and I would fare better than you (-)

Once the brand comes into existence, it becomes an entity. It has many similarities of a human being, the brand has a personality and an identity of its' own. But the similarities end here, because the brand can never die, unlike humans, it has perpetual existence: can be repositioned and re-launched. A brand possesses, an amazing gift of stretching itself into the time horizon into eternity. P&G believes that well managed brands are not subject to a brand life cycle.

An analysis of branding challenges for heritage brands – the older the brand gets, the more heritage it carries. Brand managers must recognize and leverage that heritage and have to maintain it into the future.

Technological Obsolescence

Owing to the changing lifestyle of consumers; new products are developed and old ones die. The famous Indian brand for "thermos flasks Eagle" is not present much now. Besides, facing competition from new brands such as " Cello" and "Milton". It's also facing competition new products such as Microwave Ovens. The launch of a microwave oven was the perfect solution to the needs of dual-income households, where neither the husband nor the wife has much time for lengthy meal preparation. Some brands obliterate due to technological backlogs while smart ones survive as they constantly aim for better alternatives.

According to the managing Director of Eagle, Nadirshah Padamsee, in an interview with Brand Equity said "the flask market itself doesn't have potential for growth in the future, and might even shrink". Similarly, mobile phone technology got rid of brands, exclusively in the paging business. Changing technologies pose tremendous challenge in terms of opportunities and threats to the marketers. That's why Padamsee says that the company has decided to diversity into other categories like small electrical appliances3.

Godrej started as a locks manufacturing company, by a lock-maker Adi Godrej established in 1897 in India, moved into office equipment like typewriters and also home refrigerators. When typewriters, were invaded by computers, share of Godrej refrigerators by big MNCs like LG and Siemens, Godrej still kept its presence felt due to its strong foot hold in office furniture, and home almarahs- "Godrej store well" and many other operations. Today it is a $1 billion conglomerate with a workforce of 18,000. Inseparable from daily life in India, the Godrej name has been built on a spirit of innovation that has made it one of the country's most remarkable industrial corporations. The brand still suggests something for which it had started and promises to do so in the future as a seal for safety.

Innovators have the highest Market Share.

Sony has been the highest seller for Cam cords, Walkmans, TVs and other electronic equipment, not only in India, but in the whole world, for a long time now. Sony from Japan, is a champion brand builder, with excellency in R&D. The caption reads "It's a Sony" speaks volumes.

Amul dairy - "the taste of India", is a firm example of how a small cooperative unit has set a new business model Innovating with operations and building brands co-operative culture, co-operative networking, market acumen and respect for both producer and the consumer.

Nike another winner in Brand building, which is synonymous to sports shoes in India, product innovation is in-built into their company's heritage. Nike understands customers needs, and consistently converts them into products. In an interview Phil knight, CEO & Chairman of Nike says-

" We used to think everything started in the lab. Now we realize that everything spins off with the consumer. And while technology is still important, the consumer has to lead innovation. We have to innovate for specific reason, and that reason comes from the market. Otherwise, we'll end up making museum pieces"2.

The Ex-Editor in chief, Femina- Satya Saran, in an interview on brand building activity explained that- "Femina doesn't want to produce content for which there are no takers. That would make us like the art specialists who come up with abstract art and try and sell it to people who are least interested."9

Accordingly, Discovering how consumers think about brands and what they want gives them the mileage.

Heritage brand may or may not maintain umbrella brands

They can leverage their Brand names or strategize with separate family names for their products that work towards the company's competitive advantage.

P&G has an array of detergent brands under its patronage, but all have different brands like Crest, Tide, Duncan, Hines, Charmin, and Ariel etc. Even while the market of Ariel fell, the sales of Tide had compensated the net sales of P&G in the detergent segment. Despite the disadvantages & disregarding the cannibalization of brands, this works as an advantage to the parent company. A strategic decision to face external competition does not eat up the company's overall market share.

On the other hand, Sony manufactures and sells, its entire product under one brand name. The products leverage the maximum from the blanket family name. At the same time Sony complements its brand image with zero-defect production. Similarly, Coke also offers, different flavors under the brand name Coke e.g.- Cherry Coke, New Coke or Coke II.

Entry into new Market Segments: heighten life span:

Brands can move into new segments to increase customer base- Heritage brand need to make quick moves to increase their market base. There are success stories and failures to moving into new market segments. The case of Gillette razors moving into the women's fray under Gillette Venus competing with Phillips  "Lady Shave"- to enter the female market segment turned out to be a major success story for entry into new market segments. Gillette's entry into oral care, and focus in Tie-ups is helping in leading its heritage.

So also with Nike entering into shoes for the women segment, the old-aged and other niche groups to increase its market size and customer base. Calcium Sandoz recently launched the new female-version of chewable calcium tablets, tailored to suit female.

HLL's power brand, Fair and lovely's masculine version – Fair and Handsome's launch is yet another, levelheaded struggle to enter the upcoming Indian male cosmetic market.

Overhauling yet retaining Originality and Consistency

Familiarity breeds contentment, but too much of it can vex consumers from nostalgia, because consumers seek novelty.  Old brand needs to be constantly upgraded especially in the case of image brands like Lux beauty baths soap and experimental brands like Fun Theme packs like Essel World etc. Brands carry feelings and Emotional associations with their Brand personalities. But Heritage brands, go one step beyond this, they carry some cultural authority with them. Despite shouldering this responsibility, they have a tough challenge in bringing forth novelty within the brand persona. These strategies have to be carefully planned and managed.

"Lux" – the beauty soap has over the years changed the brand's endorsers in its ads in Indian media- starting right from Hollywood actress to Bollywood film actresses. The advertisements are creating waves using the Bollywood male star Shah Rukh Khan presently endorsing it, to attract female audiences. These marketing efforts are to enhance the brand personality and the feelings associated with it contemporary and up to date.

"Lifebuoy" has upgraded the advertisement and pack design. The advertisement in mass media used to have the most famous jingle- " Tundurusti Kee Raksha Karta Hai Lifebuoy", the ad was very popular and the brand made full mileage out of it. Just as soon as the research proved that the target audience was no longer attracted to the advertisement, due to ad-wear out, the ad was changed. Also a massive program by HLL targeting rural children to keep hands clean was a massive brand-upliftment effort. Including this explicit importance was given to maintain the brand's hygiene associations.

Eveready batteries, would not be what they are today without their new aggressive marketing strategy." Roshan L.Joseph, Director, Eveready Industries India Ltd.

"I have been in this job for 30 years and I can confidently say that the kind of challenges that Eveready has faced, its difficult to find a company that has gone through so much and yet managed to remain on top."

These batteries were used mostly inside torch lights, in the ancient days when electricity was a rare commodity. People placed torches under their pillow and the associated feeling was- "Man's Best Friend". Today batteries are used for many other reasons, than just for torchlight. With savvy marketing, Eveready demonstrates a new Brand Personality and portrays a new look of Youth and Energy. So the punch line- "Give me red"!  and presently the slogan "Next Century of Power"!

All the above illustrations show that Brands are to a great extent trying to update their brand image, and brand personality, without hurting the nostalgic sentiments of loyal customers. It is important that the Brands remain consistent with their personalities, or otherwise they may end up with no brand personality at all. There could also be a chance of loss of clarity in the consumer's mind. Brands have to maintain variations within the consistency limits, or they may have the fear of extinction, due to boredom from-  

They can appeal to more than one Age Cohort or Generation.

Most of the Heritage brands appeal to more than one age group or age cohort, what is used by one generation, had been used by the previous generation and is used presently by the current generation. The best example is Amrutanjan, the pain-balm started in 1893 by Shri Nageswara Rao Pantulu, who advertised it in the magazine "Andhra Patrika" he later started –, was an instant hit among all age groups. In an interview with India Infoline.com, Mr.S.Radhakrishna, Managing Director of Amrutanjan Limited spoke about the history, growth and performance of the company during the years. . It has now become a household product and is considered as a doctor in house. It is growing at the rate of approx. 15% and the company is constantly upgrading technology and the distribution network to cater to the growing market. The brand relies heavily on product and price features, rather than advertising creativity. Amrutanjan stands as a classic example for "Functional heritage brand". A century later, the brand still holds 40% of the entire sales in pain balm, fighting tough battles with MNCs like Vicks. Amrutanjan has had the greater chance to satisfy customers seen as providing superior performance and high value5.

The so-called children's magazine Chandamama, still has great readership because, it infact is read by the entire family, irrespective of any age barriers. Often it is seen that the grandparents, read the stories inside aloud to render morals to their progeny. In fact, in this era of Pokemons and Digimons, Chandamama today is safely anchored by  adding  novel contents which are still in synchrony with originality catching the interest of all ages groups.

Heritage Brands: Command Pioneer advantage: -

Colgate Palmolive the shaving cream commands a little higher price than the other brands in the fray. So also Tanishq brand of TATA commands greater price among branded jewellery. Consumers become less price-sensitive to brands with legacy establishment.

Mr. Piyush Desai, chairman of Wagh Bakri Tea, the biggest brand in Gujarat, said, "We have grown by almost 8%, but smaller packs are also growing. Various promotion offers tempt consumer at times. But switching back is bound to happen with people realizing true quality standards with time."

Being a pioneer gave "Colgate Dental Cream" the advantage of being everything to everybody. It claims successfully to be a germi-check toothpaste, family toothpaste as well as toothpaste that taste good. It is reasonably priced. Its positioning "suraksha chakra" has been consistently maintained. Colgate Tooth Powder has been developed specifically for India. The Tooth Powder gives the brand high awareness in the length and breadth of the country. Colgate was, till recently ranked as the brand with the highest top-mind-awareness among consumers in the country. Pioneer advantage and family habit put together make Colgate a formidable brand. Consumers are willing to pay an extra price, for a trusted dental care.

Important of Consumers Tastes.

The disaster of New Coke gives a moral to the other brands aiming to venture into unwanted zones. When new Coke the sweeter version of coke was launched into the market, the loyal coke customers felt let down and sales dipped to an all time low, owing to the increased sugar contents.

Also when Nirma launched the bath soap with the same brand, the consumers refused to accept the product as it gave feelings of caustic detergent in the new toilet soap developed by the product, a classic example of stereotyping, that worked to the company's disadvantage, and the effect was, non-acceptance of the product.

Similarly when Lux, wanted to enter into the Shampoo category, it developed a black coloured hair shampoo, only to send signals of blackness associated with Indian Hair colour, but unfortunately, the product was not accepted, in spite of heavy product endorsements, by the famous, Bollywood film actress Tabu. The product didn't gather much share of the pockets, from the target segment.

Good brand management results in consumers who have an emotional relationship with the brand. They identify with brand personalities and relate to the values that the brand possesses. When a brand changes the basis of the relationship or does something that is out of sync with its personality, it takes a risk to create dissonance among consumers who relate to the brand (3).

Dalda-vanaspati was a mighty success and ruled the roost during its time. But unfortunately it was the concept of Vanaspati-vegetable based fat, that didn't strike enough chords to the consumers' mind. Today there is no other brand making sales in that category, neither would repositioning nor renovation work, because consumers have sent clear messages, that they don't want to have vanaspati in their foods.

Conclusion: -

Brand is a journey. The path a brand takes is always a bit unknown. This is the key point. We do not always know what lies in the "implicate order". (5)

Great brands tie consumers with emotions. It is crucial that this link be present and underlying all brand building efforts. If brand effort doesn't touch people, emotionally their power to leverage and attraction is nil.

Everything one does to promote the brand needs design consistency. Continuous management of appearance is critical in creating brand equity and leverage. (5) The biggest part of attraction that many people forget is that people need to know you are there! Brand consistency must be seamless and transparent. The effort should be clear.

What makes people desire one thing over another? How does one brand attract people over the other? Anything can be managed as a brand by following simple rules and constantly out performing the other items in the castigatory. This performance doesn't have to be validated only accepted.

Brand Building is a Marathon not a Sprint:

In today's world of possibilities and global exchange, the only thing is brand. Price has been shown to be superfluous in the presence of a strong performing brand. People want dependability a known quality that differentiates itself from the pack of me-toos. Brand building is a constant and continuous journey a long-term approach.

Bibliography :

1. Phillip Kotler- Marketing Mangement- Eleventh Edition-PHI
2. Rajeev Batra, Myers, Aaker- Advertising Management-Fifth Edition- PHI
3. Brand Equity 15 June 2005
4. http://www.agencyfaqs.com/news/stories/2003/11/27/7727.html
5. http://www.indiainfoline.com/lyas/view/0711a.shtml.
6. www.topten.org/content/tt.AF49.htm - 7k
7. www.godrejinds.com/about_us/godrej_group.htm - 29k
8. http://www.exchange4media.com/BrandSpeak/brandspeak.asp?brand_id=12
9. http://www.exchange4media.com/e4m/content/content_101003.asp

Prof. Medha Chintala
Faculty Member
ICFAI School of Marketing Studies
ICFAI University
Hyderabad–500 034

Source: E-mail March 10, 2006


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