Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Focus in Positioning- Case of HFDs in India

Focused positioning is the essence of well planned and though through marketing strategy. If a brand finds a strong, resonating and a well differentiating platform, it should ‘sit’ firmly on it rather than letting others snatch the throne. Maggi understood it quite well in the early stages of its brand life cycle. They occupied the ‘2 minute’ proposition and focused on it, so much so that 2 minutes is now synonymous with Maggi.  

In HFD category, recently Boost took over Complan for the first time in its lifespan. Complan was a very strong brand which had been losing the market share. Complan fell into the trap of ‘doing too many things’ for its consumers. It had a single minded and relevant proposition of ‘gaining height; which appealed to both genders. The tagline ‘I am a Complan boy and I am a Complan girl’ became quite famous among the TG and brand enjoyed high salience and preference. As the market evolved, Complan designed a ‘complicated plan’ instead. The brand kept changing the value proposition, losing brand salience and also a place in consumer’s mind. 
Amitabh Bacchan may work for many other brands but he as an ambassador was simply a misfit with this category. Though he may qualifies on all parameters like credibility, appeal etc but could not resonate with either core or the support TG of Complan. Brand also changed its positioning to nutrition, thus competing with Bournvita and Horlicks. This made the brand lose its differentiation in the market. 
Complan again re-positioned itself on ‘height’ platform but by then Bournvita had started focusing on this proposition as a part of child’s overall development. Complan left its territory in search for larger market share. Getting back their lost throne is not going to be easy for Complan. I feel that brand lacks direction and focus.
Boost on the other hand focused on kids. It was infact the only brand in HFD category that spoke to kids instead of mothers. Boost had been under the shadow of its elder sibling Horlicks, which is a very strong brand of GSK portfolio. However, lately one could see GSK investing in Boost and hence the efforts seemed to be paying off. Changing their positioning and TG would have diluted the brand salience for Boost.

The basic premise lies in the divergence between what is relevant to the mother and the child. Mothers feel that they know the best for their children whereas children feel that they know what they should have. Due to this, it becomes difficult for any brand to find a value proposition that is relevant to both the mother and the child. Therefore the challenge for Boost was to implement its ‘energy and stamina’ positioning in a way that is relevant to both the stakeholders.

Also, focusing on children instead of mothers gave Boost a differential advantage over competition. Children play a role of influencers in decision making and hence with a brand proposition that is relevant to mothers, they can actually change the decision in their favour. Speaking to mothers would make Boost compete head on with Bournvita and Horlicks which may not be a good strategy considering the latter are strong national brands and also lead to cannibalization with their own portfolio brand.

Positioning requires sacrifice. Do not try to be everything to the consumers. You cannot be a mother, a friend, a partner and a sibling all at the same time. Choose one relationship and live that with all honesty.

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