By Dipali Banka
To figure among the top three consumer durable brands in the country, Kamal Nandi, Executive VP, Sales & Marketing, Godrej Appliances drives the brand by redefining technology and keeping it relevant for young target group.
What is your marketing approach? Where do you stand in terms of marketing plans?
We are a 113-year-old brand, with a good six decades in the appliance business pitted against multinationals. It is important that we build differentiation in our products which basically fits Indian habits and lifestyle. Being an Indian company, if you are able to do that, your connect and preference by the consumer goes up. That can be seen in the type of innovations and introductions that we have been launching in our products from time to time. Recently, we launched a refrigerator that can play music. There was a need for such a product and since we launched it, we have got a huge acceptance not only from consumers but also from the media. Most publications have written about this product.
As a brand, our proposition has been consistently evolving. In 2006, we launched the Eon range from the proposition of ‘stylish outside and smart inside’. We have recently evolved our proposition to ‘designed by curiosity’, basically to say that we are curious to know consumer problems and designing solutions for them.
What is your media mix usually like? How has it shifted over the years?
Earlier, we were largely into print. From there, we moved into electronic and print and now we are shifting towards digital and social media. Our spend on experiential marketing is also going up.
Godrej is fundamentally known as a refrigerator brand. How are you trying to build consumer association for your other products?
We have been a refrigerator company for six decades, but we have been a consumer durables player over the last decade. Obviously, the refrigerator recall is highest among consumers, and that is why we have gone ahead and started communicating upfront that we go beyond refrigerators. If you see the latest advertisement that we ran this summer, we talked about being the best in refrigerators but in the background, we are actually bringing in washing machines, air-conditioners, etc. We are telling the consumer we understand that we are known for refrigerators, but there are a host of other good products that we offer too. That has really helped to communicate our larger product basket.
You have launched televisions under the Godrej brand but in a phased manner. What is your key USP there? How do you plan to tackle big brands already present in the category?
We have launched a full range in televisions right from colour TVs to LEDs and LCDs. In the television space, there are multinationals like LG, Samsung, Sony and Indian players like Videocon, Onida, etc. The industry has been there for a long time but penetration levels are around 36-40 per cent, not 60-65 per cent to indicate a mature market. So there is a huge gap in the penetration level. A key factor in the industry is people upgrading from CTVs to LEDs and LCDs. So we thought television would be an interesting market for us to enter. We started in a phased manner because it is a big industry and we wanted to ensure every step was right. We offered differentiated technology right from the beginning. Most of the technology offered in the category is that which is available in Korea or Japan. In India, the core problem consumers face is distorted picture and noise quality from cable networks. We have launched a technology called ‘ifix’ which actually works to remove these distortions to give a clear picture. That is very relevant to the Indian consumer and it does not happen in any other market like Korea or Japan. This technology got huge acceptance, which encouraged us to move to phase two. Now, we are into phase three of our television launch with presence in seven states of the country.
By when will you have a pan-India presence with TVs? What is your communication plan?
It will take two years for us to be present pan- India. It is a huge category with large volumes and any wrong step will be a hindrance not only for our television product, but also products in other categories. We are concentrating on local communication at the moment.
There are reports that you plan to enter the water purifiers business.
That project is under study. We believe water purifiers are the next big business in India, but we are currently at a phase of understanding this market and so the product will take some time.
You have some big activities on the social media platform. How do these initiatives help the brand? How do they make money for you?
These activities build a connect with younger consumers and drive preferences for the brand. That’s how it benefits our business.
What would be the size of the appliance market in the country and your share in it?
The appliance and television industry is roughly about Rs 36,000 crore. In that, our turnover is about Rs 2,000 crore. About 60 per cent of our turnover comes from refrigerators, 18 per cent from air-conditioners, 12 per cent from washing machines and 8 per cent from microwaves and CTVs.
What do you think is the next big opportunity in the category?
Two big categories are emerging. One is airconditioners - if you look at a household, it has a potential for one refrigerator but possibly three air-conditioners. So air-conditioners as a category will be the future of the appliance business. The second one for us is going to be the television space. There is a big opportunity for us to grow there as almost 50 per cent of the total durables market of Rs 36,000 crore comes from CTVs.
What’s the opportunity or challenge in marketing a century-old brand?
The biggest opportunity is that you enjoy the trust of consumers for the brand and your credibility is pretty high. The biggest challenge of being a 113-year-old brand is that your association is generally with the grandfather, grandmother or father in a family. When you talk to a consumer, he will say that this is my father’s or my grandfather’s brand and I am trying to experiment with other brands. So our biggest challenge is to connect with the current generation. We did a brand rejuvenation exercise in 2008, which actually made it much more vibrant and youthful. We have a lot of activity in the virtual world. We are the only brand in the industry to launch a game show of our own at national and regional levels. That is an effort get closer to our TG. For most of our commercials, we have brought down our TG profile from the 45-35 age group to 35-25. We intend to take it to 30-20 as that is where the majority of consumption is happening.
One learns more from failures than successes. Can you share any such phase or incident in your brand marketing that helped you learn and reach a higher pedestal?
In the early 90s, Godrej used to enjoy a high market share as the economy had not opened up. Once things changed, multinational brands came in and our market share started dwindling. We lost our leadership position. In 2006, post the launch of Eon, a premium brand offering, we started gaining back our market share and moved up the ladder. We are at Number 3 position now.
Do you think there is space for a mass premium brand?
Consumers’ behaviour is driven a lot by aspirations and a premium brand definitely builds aspirations. We believe that the superiority a premium brand offers flows down to other products of the brand. When you are communicating a premium brand, as a customer I might aspire for it, but I may not buy it because of budget constraints. However, I may buy other products from the same company because of my belief and aspiration for this brand. So building a premium brand helps.