Multi product strategy – does it Cannibalize or Evangelize a brand?

Baba Ramdev's Patanjali made news last month when he predicted that soon Patanjali will overtake Colgate & Nestle. Here we explore how multi product strategy has helped Patanjali that made Baba Ramdev make the claim!

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Multi product strategy Cannibalize or Evangelize brand?
Multi product strategy Cannibalize or Evangelize brand?

Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali made news last month when he predicted that soon Patanjali will overtake Colgate & Nestle. Here we explore how multi product strategy has helped Patanjali that made Baba Ramdev make the claim!

My roommate has been starting her day with Patanjali‘s Aloe Vera juice from past 6 months. It is followed by warm water and Dabur honey, then Pepsodent toothpaste and Sensodyne toothbrush. Even today her routine hasn’t changed much but the products that she uses now are:

  • Patanjali Aloe Vera juice
  • Warm water with Patanjali honey
  • Patanjali Dant kanti

Additionally, she now uses Patanjali’s shampoo and coconut hair oil and recently got Patanjali wheat flour as our month’s grocery. She said that she anyway had gone to buy the Aloe juice and the other essentials she needed. And then she saw the wheat flour so thought of buying it of Patanjali itself. She knew it would be alright as she has been buying and using Patanjali products for almost a year now!

That’s the advantage of having multiple products under one brand. I have been using product A of brand X, so naturally, the product B, C & D of brand X has to be good and worth my money because the product A that I had used, was not only economical but it fulfilled my requirement!

When Apple launched iPhone we were ready to abandon our Nokia because we have used iMac and iPod. And it was Steve Jobs who had marketed for iPhone.

When Colgate says it’s Charcoal toothpaste is better I am happy to switch my Colgate regular to Charcoal. Why? Because I know Colgate will not lie about my teeth’s health.

With brand loyalty comes the consumer’s trust towards the brand. They know that it won’t play with their health or money. That the brand always has their welfare as main interest.

But that is about us, consumers. How does a brand such as Unilever, P&G, Nescafe, Patanjali deal with their brand management? It is a humongous task to manage one product identity, to manage multiple product would mean that each product would have its own brand management team, right from copywriters to visualizers and executors.

At times, if not done right, multi-product strategy could lead to the cannibalism of the brand. Meaning, the launch of a new product could hamper the sales and hence revenue of your existing product. For ex, when Coke introduced Coke Zero, they were not acquiring new consumers, rather they were replacing the regular Coke drinkers with Coke Zero drinkers. However, if cannibalism is played out strategically, it could help with increasing the revenue of the company. Gillette is a great example of it.

When Gillette launched its Fusion ProGlide in 2010, they leverage their customer base of Mach 3 which has been in market since 2006. The marketing team, in fact, during the launch made a conscious decision to not go after new customers. Instead they focused on getting their old existing customers switch to the new product. This was a smart move and a smart strategy, since Gillette was the #1 razor selling brand in the world. And their strategy was clearly evident in the TV commercials that aired in the UK and North America.

Check out their commercials below:

Here is how the strategy worked in favor of Gillette. Fusion Proglide was actually 40% more expensive than then the Mach 3. And in 2 years it became a billion dollar selling brand. It was the fastest brand in P&G’s history to reach that milestone!

Looking at this example, it is evident that while product strategy needs to be thought of, multi product strategy had to be smartly played to the consumers. It would, in fact, Evangelize the new launched product and in turn the Brand as a whole.

Below are some tips that you can follow while planning marketing strategy globally or locally:

#1: Treat it like an Army operation: Plan ruthlessly

  • Plan the campaign such that you know what is going to happen on Monday 0900 hours
  • Appoint generals and subedars to  carry out the campaign. Both are equally important and necessary
  • Consider time-zones too, if the product is to be marketed globally. Your campaign must sync with the market and the popular language used in the market

#2: Be consistent in all your visuals

Andrew Stanten, President of Altitude Marketing advices to make sure your visual identity is consistent. He further says,

Visual identity is far more than your logo. It entails having a common overarching design (look and feel), style of photography and graphics, consistent logo treatment [and] common colors and fonts

#3: Keep track and logs

If you are launching new product and offering some coupons or offers, keep track of the coupons or offers or campaigns. As Dylan Whitman, cofounder of a digital marketing agency Brand Value Accelerator, puts in

The most important aspect of any campaign, and most especially integrated campaigns, is putting the proper analytics and attribution methods in place to really understand how you’re achieving conversions and/or results

#4: Debriefing is as important briefing

At the end of the campaign always make a consolidated insights reports for a debriefing session. Use analytics from your tracking (in the above step) to make the learning and reports invaluable. Knowing what worked and what not would help with planning a campaign in future.

How has Patanjali evangelized through its multi product (or single brand) strategy:

Traditional marketing says you need to build and nurture a portfolio of brands. Each product needs to be positioned carefully to the targeted audience. But then there are brands who break this dictum.

Richard Branson’s Virgin was present from rails & flights to colas and mobile services. The thought behind this is simple – “if you have heard of me (my brand) and liked it, then you are comfortable buying anything else my brand has to offer!”

There are many other brands and techno-brand too who have followed the suit.

Google with its Google Search, Google Maps, Google Loon.

Apple with its Apple iPhone, Apple iMac.

So essentially Patanjali is not doing anything new with Patanajali honey, Patanjali dant kanti, Patanjali aata. But there is something that they are doing which has made it profitable in just 8 years which took Colgate to achieve in 8 decades.

So what did they do differently?

#1 Content Marketing

Baba Ramdev certainly knows the art of Content Marketing. He never ranted about how Patanjali products are better than everything else. Rather he focused on telling us about the evils of the MNCs and the virtues of made in India products. He told us all MNC are evil and how Patanjali as a viable alternative.

Usually, when we are forced to use a product incessantly, we bias it as overselling. But Ramdev was just creating an environment where the alternative to the ‘evil products’ is a viable option.

#2 Ambassador

What could be better than being an ambassador of your own product? Baba Ramdeve himself endorses Patanjali and makes a claim of using the product. This adds to the credibility as a Brand.

#3 Sizing and seizing an opportunity

When Nestle Maggi went under the fire, Patanjali used the chance to pounce on the childhood, collegehood and lifehood favorite of Indians. With it’s strategic positioning as a positive alternative to the evil MNC, it was easy for Patanjali to convince that Patanjali aata noodles is a viable option instead of Nestle Maggi.

The move sure was a big win and Baba Ramdev’s FMCG empire got even bigger!

#4 Distribution & Partnership

In October, 2015, Patanjali partnered with Kishore Biyani’s Future Group making Patanjali products available as a direct sale in all Future Group outlets. Today you can find these products from retail outlets to Amazon website

Baba Ramdev surely has found a way to evangelize his products through single brand strategy. Let’s just hope he doesn’t fall in the trap like Nestle because if you trust a brand based on one product then it’s quite easy to mistrust the brand with one false step. Like in the case of Nestle Maggi. If Maggi went wrong, it shouldn’t affect other products of Nestle. But unfortunately it did.

So if you are planning to follow the single brand strategy, it would be good time to consider your product management plan again.

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Avani Lalka is an experienced marketer, and a writer in the field of new-age marketing and career development. She writes from her heart to make a difference in the lives of the people that follow her. Currently she is heading Account Based Marketing (ABM) in a popular Pune-based startup. Feel free to connect her as she welcomes new ideas and opportunities. Email: lalka.avani7@gmail.com

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