Archive for March, 2012

Grooming is Booming

In 2005, Emami launched ‘Fair and Handsome’ cream for men – remember the ‘chhup chhup ke’ ads that were based on the insight that many Indian men who wanted to become fairer surreptitiously used their sister or mother’s fairness cream (watch a more recent version of the ad here). At the time, I recall meeting an elderly gentleman who confessed to feeling bewildered with what he saw on TV; “When I was young, men were meant to be MEN; tall, hatte-katte, strong; a hairy chest, biceps and a stubble were something to be proud of; nowadays a hero is not ashamed to wax his chest and lie in a tub full of rose-petals (SRK in a Lux ad), or appear in a fairness ad. Why aren’t men proud to be MANLY and MACHO anymore ?”  

I wonder how the elderly gentleman would react on seeing the plethora of grooming products for men on store shelves today. With the men’s skincare market growing at a little more than twice the rate of that for women’s skin-care products (47% vs. 22% respectively in top cities in 2010), there’s a host of erstwhile women-centric brands vying for their share of the pie; watch John Abraham pitch Garnier products, Shahid with Vaseline, Dhoni batting for NIVEA, or Hrithik with Cinthol. Then there’s Fiama di Wills, Everyuth, Fair and Lovely, Dettol, Parachute, Axe, Wildstone etc., you name the brand and you find it vying for a share of the expanding pie. Put together these brands offer hair  gels and creams, hair colorants, face-washes and scrubs, fairness creams, talcum powders, deodorants, soaps and body washes, and even bleach and waxing strips for men! No wonder some supermarkets now have a separate aisle for men’s grooming products.

Not just in products, the market for men’s grooming services is also growing rapidly. Not only are men visiting beauty salons in greater numbers, but the number of cosmetic surgeries for men is also growing rapidly. The female to male patient ratio for cosmetic treatments such as botox and fillers,  face lifts, chemical peels, chin tucks, tummy tucks, hair transplant, etc. has now become 75:25 (or 70:30, depending on which source you believe), and this ratio is estimated to reach 60:40 in a few years.

Of course, this person spending so much on grooming wants to be well attired too, and looks for high-quality western wear. As Indian women, by contrast, tend to be traditionally dressed on formal occasions, the market for premium western-wear brands is dominated by the male consumer; compared to more developed markets, in India the men’s apparel market constitutes as much as 60% of the total merchandise. For instance, for Italian luxury brand Versace, 80% of the purchases come from men and 20% from women. Premium lifestyle stores that house various luxury brands also report that over 80% of sales come from men. In sectors such as fragrances too, Indian men spend far more than their female counterparts, in contrast to the trend globally.

Metrosexual is Manly indeed!  

If you’d like to know more about the sociocultural changes and the attitudes driving this phenomenon, and which categories / brands are more likely to benefit from it, call us or leave a comment and we’ll get back to you. 


(Note : Sources referred to for this post include ACNielsen reports, Euromonitor reports, news reports and other secondary data sources)



Zenobia Driver

…who fervently wishes that all these appearance conscious guys would teach their uncultured brethren to stop spitting, belching and relieving themselves in public; I’d even pay for their salon treatments then!

March 28, 2012 at 6:15 am 16 comments

Sponsorship – Fit or Misfit?

Event – Avicii concert.

Key sponsor – Gitanjali Group, leading manufacturer and retailer of gold and diamond jewelry.

Tim Bergling a.k.a. Avicii is a 22 year old Swedish DJ and record producer, Grammy nominated and currently ranked 6th on Top 100 DJs list. He plays dance-house music and is best known for ‘Seek Bromance’ and ‘Levels’. Several of his hits have topped the charts across the world.

The Avicii concert in Mumbai was overrun by 15-22 year old school and college going kids (at 28, I felt odd and old there!) – this is Avicii’s core follower group. I understand how Redbull, Absolut, VH1, MTV and even Idea and Central connect with the concert and its core audience, but Gitanjali?

It got me wondering about sponsorships and the importance of getting the connection between the brand and the event right – the brand image, values, the emotional experience, and the match between the audience and the target consumer segment for the brand.

Sponsorship is a means of cultivating the company’s image and credibility, differentiating from competitors, improving associations and relationships with customers and exhibiting services and products by supporting events that are attended by and popular amongst the target segment.  

Certain brands and products/ services have a much wider appeal and can therefore be associated with a variety of events. There are mobile service providers like Airtel who find their target consumer segment everywhere – from world class sporting events like the Formula1 race in India to the north-east Indian Hornbill Rock Festival. Some other examples of apt sponsorships and associations at events include Lakme and Wills Lifestyle tie-ups with fashion weeks. Similar associations of jewelry and liquor brands such as Gitanjali Jewels, Nakshatra, McDowells, Johnny Walker with lifestyle events like derbies and fashion shows are also fitting.  

Because of the relatively shorter life of sponsorships at events – it typically does not work effectively in isolation, it needs to be supported by and be in sync with other marketing activities and communication. Just like in this example – where Gitanjali may be attempting to connect with the youth, but unsuccessfully so, because it was done in isolation – none of its other marketing activities or DTC communication attempts to appeal to this younger age group.

It is vital to evaluate every opportunity against the key objectives of a marketing activity and be able to connect them with the larger picture marketing goals.



Roshni Jhaveri

March 20, 2012 at 7:57 am 2 comments

Why Nuances Matter

The consumer may not always be logical, but understanding his/her thought process is critical to success. Consider an example.



Real Junior juices were launched in 2004 and were targeted at children under six. The juices came in a smaller size (125 ml; the school packs were 200 ml), 2 flavors – Mango and Apple, enriched with calcium, and promised low acidity. The vibrant packs with animated fruit characters were intended to appeal to children by highlighting the taste and nutrition of Real Junior. Despite the different marketing efforts and clear benefits for the children, the brand did not contribute much to the business and was pulled back from the market in 2006.


The reasons :

We think, back in 2004, the market was just not ripe for health foods. It is only recently that this health and wellness foods and beverages market has opened up so much because now people have gotten more aware of health problems and perhaps now would be the right time to launch such a product.

Also, during our research on the connection of health and wellness benefits from various products and formats, when asked about the connections they make of nutrients with their source, the consumers said, “Juice with calcium makes no sense, if a milk-based product made a calcium claim, it would be easier to believe”, “If this product had bananas or milk mentioned in it, it would be easier to associate with the calcium claim, juices are associated with vitamins.” In fact, it was after hearing this that we scoured the market landscape for examples of various products that claimed a health benefit from calcium fortification and found the Dabur Junior Juice example.

Lo and behold! Turned out that the nuance we picked up during the research was something that the brand team figured out in hindsight. Basis Sanjay Sharma, General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Dabur Foods, “The problem with Real Junior at the time of launch was more than one. First, it was promoted as a fruit juice rich in calcium, which did not sell. A fruit juice, is after all, a fruit juice, and branding it calcium-rich did not gel well.” (Source: interview given to Business Standard, in 2007)

There were other reasons for the failure too. Basis Sanjay Sharma, “Moreover, it was made available in tetra packs of 125 ml for Rs.10, because that was the quantity Dabur conceived children would be able to finish in one go. So, although the pack size was smaller, packaging costs did not come down and therefore a lower pricing did not bring in revenues. Moreover, other fruit-juices were also available for the same price and pack size, so people did not find much of a reason to switch to Real Junior.”


Looking ahead:

But the question to ask is whether Indian households are ready to buy separate products for different members of the household or would much rather prefer a common product that meets everyone’s needs.

In a recent study conducted about health foods and beverages, this is what we heard – “Unless there is something really specific in a product that is critical for the children only, we’d much rather buy a product that all the members in the family can consume”, “a common product helps us control our household expenses as well.”

If you look closely at the recent of Dabur Real ads – the key target are the children in the first and the entire family (child, mumma and dadoo) in the second – but the hook/ the first adopter of the product is the child.


So does Dabur really need to segment the market basis age groups or should it stick to its more successful strategy of segmenting basis benefits (Real Juice vs. Real Active)? What do you think? 



Roshni Jhaveri

March 7, 2012 at 6:40 am 4 comments

Masterchef – reflection of reality


I am an ardent fan of the show Masterchef Australia and was most upset when the last season ended. I had been seeing promos of the India and US series of Masterchef which were slotted to start right after the Australia series ended. Although these promos didn’t look as promising as the Australia one – I couldn’t keep myself from watching a few episodes … and I soon realized that each of these shows was a reflection of the social, cultural and economic environments prevalent in each of these countries.

The original version was the British Masterchef. When Masterchef Australia was first launched it was criticized as a huge departure from the original British version due to the change in format and “making it over- the-top by adding more drama and storytelling and a sense of theatre.” If this is what the critics thought of the Australia one, wait till they see the India and USA versions !


Masterchef Australia:

Since the first version of the show to be aired in India was the Australia series – for me that show is the benchmark. Perhaps I have been over-exposed to the zoom-in-zoom-out dha dha dha dhan music of the Indian soaps and reality shows and due to that I found Masterchef Australia to be a refreshing, non- spiteful and constructive competitive show.

The show is a reflection of the cultural diversity in Australia – this is mirrored not only in the ethnic diversity of the participants but also in their cooking styles as well as the challenges and ingredients presented to the contestants. During the course of the show, we saw them using curry powder and preparing “naan-bread”, cooking Greek-Cypriotic dishes, recreating the classic French Duck à l’orange and competing in Spanish-themed invention tests and a Korea-inspired mystery box challenge.

They were also exposed to a much more diverse pantry – and the contestants were well aware of these exotic ingredients and how to use them. The fact that they were aware of such exquisite, exotic and expensive ingredients and had some experience of either having tried them at a restaurant or used them in a recipe at home also echoed their relatively higher standard of living and economic stature.

No doubt that there is drama in the show – but it is all focused around cooking disasters or running low on time or cutting fingers at critical moments or forgetting an ingredient and at most about missing their families and how they need them for inspiration to cook and perform better. But all contestants live cordially, like-a-family and there’s a real bond that comes across. They help each other through tough times, through recipes, sharing ingredients. This is perhaps a reflection of the general social environment of the country – cordial, helpful, friendly and not fiercely competitive.


Masterchef India:

The first thing that jumps out is the differences in the economic and social backgrounds of participants in the Indian series vis-à-vis the Australian. There are challenges each week where the winner takes home Rs.1 lakh – and most often they plan to use this prize money to pay off a loan, to pay for education of their children, to buy a house, for medical needs, etc. In contrast, the prize money won in Australia was always spoken of to be used in pursuit of their culinary dreams – start their café, go to culinary school, etc. It seemed like the primary objective in India was to take home the moolah; making a career in the culinary world seemed secondary.

The contestants’ exposure to various kitchen apparatus and ingredients was also much lower. For one of the challenges, the contestants were taken to Hong Kong and exposed to south-east Asian produce and they each had to be walked through what these were, what it would taste like, what it would add to a recipe in terms of flavor and texture and how it could be cooked. These same ingredients seemed very basic and common in the Australian or USA version, but not so in the Indian one. Similarly they were each given a different cooking apparatus or tools but each one needed to be explained and demonstrated.

Although, compared to the first season the drama was a lot more toned down this time, yet if you compare it to the Australian version, it was overly dramatic. The emotional ranting was almost nauseating. This one episode particularly stood out where not only the contestants got emotional but also the judges touched the feet of the eliminated contestant! Here’s the link if you want to view it. 


Masterchef USA:

The first thing one notices is the excessive and casual use of profanity on the show. Every other sentence has a “beep” in it! Not only amongst contestants but also the judges! It seemed totally reflective of language used during social interactions by a significant (or a certain) section of the population, the kind of drama and language used in other shows, the acceptability of such loose use of obscenities on television. Just watch the first 60 seconds of this clip – there are 4 beeps and 4 other beep-worthy words – all in just one minute !

Also, the competition amongst contestants was fierce. No one was friends with each other, no one helped each other, there was a constant blame game of copying ideas, menus, recipes, etc. Team challenges were highly tense and frosty. There were glacial looks exchanged, people didn’t communicate, some people didn’t speak to each another and no one even claimed responsibility for their faults, they always blamed each other for their failures. The current economic environment, the lack of job security, cut-throat competition in the society was all reflected here.

There was a sort-of lack of respect for the judges even ! In the Indian and Australian version, the judges were looked upon for guidance, advice, mentoring, counseling, etc., whereas in the US version the judges were addressed and treated very casually and callously by the participants and there didn’t seem to be a mentor-mentee or expert-amateur kind of relationship.


Such stark differences in the three shows, in their participants, in the judges, in the formats – and these all seem reflective of their primary audiences and their attitudes and preferences.

Having said all this, it also leads me to wonder what thoughts run through foreigners’ minds about us as a society when they watch saas-bahu weepies on TV. Or ‘Dabangg’ !


Roshni Jhaveri

March 1, 2012 at 7:00 am 3 comments

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