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October 7, 2009

HORN ...OK ...Please!

It’s ubiquitous and yet one of the most inexplicable taglines in all of Indian communication. Virtually every truck (recommend that you read Sri Lal More Pictures
Shukla’s ‘Raag Darbari’ for perhaps the best description ever of an Indian truck) that rumbles across the country carries ‘Horn OK Please’. Yet no one seems to have a clue as to why, when or how truckers decided to brand their fume bellowing monsters with this line.

Even stranger is the fact that very few truckers or cleaners are likely to be conversant with English. Still no matter where they hail from — Punjab or Pondicherry — they stick to the branding code. We will never know what was going through the mind of the anonymous copywriter who wrote this enduring tagline.

But what we do know is that he/she manage to forge an enduring emotional connection with the target audience — the sort that commercial marketers would crave for.

A connection so strong that logic and powerpoints (not to mention articles such as this one) can neither decode nor wish away. Had this been put into research by a truck manufacturer, in all probability he would have been told that it is rubbish, means absolutely nothing and will never work.

There are numerous other such ‘unofficial’ taglines, which fly in the face of convention and Kotler, anyone of which could have been used as the column title. However, few bring a smile to your lips after all these the way Horn OK Please does, few have such a curious syntax and well this is the phrase that I like best, and as the writer I get to choose.

As for the column itself it will focus on the oddities related to all elements that go into the task of brand-building — be it by large marketers or unorganised efforts — and consumerism in India. It might occasionally stray from the defined brief, and when that happens just think of it as brand extension, no matter how tenuous the link is. If you don’t like it then just ignore it and if you do then ‘Horn OK Please’.

Up in smoke

Few brands in India have, over the last two decades, demonstrated the power of a brand as the cigarette brand, Marlboro. For years, paanwalahs across the country (in an era when there were no cell-phones or
internet) charged the same price for a packet of Marlboro (the smuggled version, since it was not legally available). The pricing that the paanwallahs arrived at was not based on a simple conversion of the dollar/pound price plus (adding the cost of procurement through smuggling.

Instead the brand was typically pegged to the most expensive Indian brand and retailed at a Rs 10 mark up to it. After every Budget when Indian cigarette brands hiked prices, Marlboro prices were recalibrated by the paanwallahs to ensure that the premium for the brand remained (even though it being a smuggled commodity, the budget had no impact on the brand.)

Strangely enough, in the last year or so ever since the brand has been legally retailed, this price premium has totally disappeared. Today it costs just Rs 2 more than a packet of Gold Flake, Rs 4 less than a pack of Classic Milds (at a single-stick level it’s five bucks for all these three brands) and Rs 10 less than a packet of Benson & Hedges (all prices are MRP in Mumbai).

Even more intriguing is the fact that while the ‘Made In India’ Marlboro pack retails at Rs 90, the smuggled ones are priced at a discount. It’s not easy to explain the transition. Perhaps the brand was far more aspirational when it was less freely available. Perhaps over the years with far more people travelling abroad far more regularly, a brand like Davidoff, which is largely of the smuggled variety, has managed to reposition Marlboro into the mass-market cigarette that it is globally, even in India.

Perhaps the MNC never really fathom e d this parallel brand valuation that it enjoyed. Perhaps it is a conscious strategy by the marketer to gain a wider audience. Whatever the reasons, one of the best demonstrations of brand equity for the last two decades by an iconic brand nurtured by unconventional brand guardians (local paanwallahs) has now finally come to an end.

Onida - The devil going to hell...!

According to a report in Economic Times, Onida has decided to send its iconic mascot- The Devil to Hell. According to the report, the brand feels that Devil is no longer attractive to the consumers and hence the decision to remove it. The report further says that the brand is working on a new mascot.

The report gave me a sense of Deja_vu. This is not the first time that Mirc Electronics ( brand owners) has scrapped the Devil.
In1998, Onida withdrew the mascot citing the same reasons that they have given now. The explanation given in 1998 was that Indian consumers no longer find Devil, who symbolizes Envy, relevant. So they scrapped the famous tagline " Neighbour's Envy, Owner's Pride "
together with the Devil. But ever since it changed the tagline and mascot, Onida never found a powerful positioning .

After six years of drifting around, Onida brought back the Devil with much fanfare in 2004. Media and brand enthusiasts welcomed the move and eagerly awaited the Devil in a changed modern avataar. But the comeback was damp squib. The brand suffered heavily due to ownership issues within the company. There was no brand promotion or new product launches worth talking about since 2004. If at all there were launches, promotions were not sufficient enough.

Now in 2009, Onida is redoing its old strategy.

Onida is facing a marketing problem and not a branding problem. Everything is fine with the brand. People recognize the brand, love its mascot. The issue is on a larger perspective. It needs to concentrate on its entire marketing mix not just the brand elements. Changing the devil and bringing in a new mascot is not going to do any good to Onida.

The Economic Times report suggest that Onida is changing its brand elements because of competition from Korean brands like LG and Samsung. These Korean majors has built its position in Indian market riding on Product strategy rather than on heavy duty brand promotions. Their products were good, reasonably priced and well promoted. In the case of LG and Samsung, nobody really cares about the tagline. For them , the product speaks for itself.

Onida failed because its products failed. I was a die hard Onida fan . I loved my Onida KY Thunder Television. But after that there was nothing remarkable about Onida. No high technology products came from this brand.Onida became successful because the Devil was backed by products that really created envy in others. Now there is nothing to envy about Onida. Last year, I bought an Onida DVD player which boasts about playing scratched DVDs but the product failed miserably.

Now in the consumer durable space, brands are coming out with new advanced products on a monthly basis. Technology keeps changing and most brands are moving with break-neck speed to catch up with consumer expectations. In the case of Television, flat is now old and brands are talking about plasma, LCD etc. What is Onida doing in this space ?

Onida is now in one of the most difficult times. The brand needs to come out with a product that will change the game. Changing the mascot is secondary at this point of time.
Onida has launched its new campaign after putting the devil to rest. The campaign is aimed at repositioning and rejuvenating the brand. The brand is trying for a comeback after years of uncertainty which made this (once) iconic brand lose its share in the market.

Watch the new campaign here : Onida new campaign

In my last post on Onida, I commented that Onida's real problem is not branding but marketing. The brand desperately needed break-through products and embrace new technologies. If the new ads are any indication, the brand is moving in the right direction. The brand is trying to launch products with new features, which is the right thing to do .

Regarding the brand campaign, Onida now has a new tagline- " Tum Ko Dekha to ye design aya" meaning " Designed with you in mind ". The brand replaced the iconic devil with a new-age couple as the protagonists.

Onida is now repositioning on the basis of " Customer Oriented Design". The brand is saying that its products are designed with the new-age customer in mind. The new tagline has nothing new in it and "customer-oriented" design positioning is used by many brands before. In comparison with the classic "Neighbor's envy , Owner's Pride", the new campaign falls short of expectation. ( Another viewpoint here)

In the consumer durable space, it is the product features that attract the buyers not the ads. If Onida can give technologically advanced products at reasonable price, consumers will definitely try it out. But there are issues in such a product oriented strategy. Most of the new features can be copied easily by the competitors unless otherwise protected by patents. When Onida launches a DVD player which plays micro-sd cards, other players are bound to follow. It is in this scenario that branding becomes important. Onida needs to convince the consumers that its products are better designed and technologically superior. It is about managing perception .Features can be copied by competitors easily but changing perception is a difficult task.

Onida needs to work hard on creating and nurturing new perceptions about itself in the mind of the consumers. Long way to go for this brand......

Unwanted-72 : Bring Your Lost Moments Back

I-pill now have a competition. Mankind Pharma . Mankind Pharma was established in 1995 and has its presence in antibiotics, ED , Gastro, Antifungal Cardio segments. The company has forayed into the OTC segment with a range of products from sanitary napkins to emergency pills.

Unwanted-72 is a morning-after pill. This emergency contraceptive pill is directly competing with the market leader i-pill from Cipla. I pill is the first OTC emergency contraceptive pill in India. These pills were allowed to market through OTC in 2005.

Unlike other contraceptive pills, emergency contraceptive pills are not a family planning tool. These pills are used to prevent unwanted pregnancy arising out of various situations like unexpected and unprotected intercourse.

I-pill has stirred up the market with a high profile, highly controversial ad campaign. The market has reacted quite positively to the product ever since.
As usual, the moral police of India has been creating lot of noise decrying this product as an anti-moral product. The noise made by these hypocrites have only helped increase the popularity of morning-after pills.

According to a report in Economic Times, 78% of pregnancies in India are unplanned and 5% are unwanted.There are about 1 million unsafe abortions in the country every year. Hence these pills offer a safe way to avoid pregnancy and abortion.

Critics say that the popularity of such emergency contraceptives will give wrong message to youngsters especially teens. These pills often acts as a confidence booster for these youngsters to go wild. These theories are based on the assumption that Indian Youth are the epitome of high moral values...
Another criticism about these products is that the marketers often suppress the information regarding side-effects of these pills.

Coming back to the brand, Mankind has been aggressive in tapping the emerging OTC product market in India. The company has been promoting its Sugar- substitute brand Kalorie 1 heavily using Wasim Akram as the brand ambassador.

Unwanted-72 has an interesting brand name. I was surprised at the brand name when I saw this brand's commercial . First I thought it was naive on the part of the company to name a contraceptive brand as Unwanted -72. The name sounded very amateurish and too theoretical. I thought i-pill was a stylish name compared to unwanted-72.

But later on further thinking, i found lot of logic in using such a brand name. According to text books, brand names have to be simple , easy to understand and remember and should be able to convey the purpose of the brand. If you look at theory , Unwanted-72 is an ideal brand name.

Unwanted denotes Unwanted Pregnancy
72 denotes the hours within which this pill has to be consumed after the intercourse.

So Unwanted-72 makes sense

or does it ?????

Well ... for a lady who is so tense and worried about a possibility of an unwanted pregnancy , does the brand name matters ?

Even if you put the brand name as After-Screwed - Up Pill, consumers will buy it provided it is effective..

My personal opinion is that the brand name is too amateurish .Parents will have tough time explaining it to a kid who sees the ad and asks about the product. In the company point of view , the brand name is so simple and direct, that every one can understand what the product is.If you are targeting a mass market, such a simple brand name is very advantageous

Quick Gun Murugan: The Good The Bad The Idli

Quick Gun Murugan could claim many records. For example, the first film with a vegetarian cowboy. Or the Bollywood film with the most happily
voluptuous heroine in the last three decades (Rambha’s first item number is a bitch slap to size zero appeal).

Or the first Tamil-English crossover hit (though it’s hard to say what language the film is really in since subtitles and spoken words sometimes happily go their own way, and it was also filmed with Hindi and Telugu versions). Or the most eye-poppingly colourful Indian film ever, thanks to the saturated colours and hyper-real detailing carried over from its origins on Channel [V] – a comic book film, as its director Shashank Ghosh describes it happily.

But one record that is may also have is for being the first promotional film to become a feature film. The only vague parallel might be with the UK’s Nick Park whose clay animation short film Creature Comforts became a popular series of ads, and then a TV series, as well as inspiring his Wallace & Gromit films. With Park too there were doubts about whether what worked in the short time spans of promo films could carry over to feature film length, but the Wallace & Gromit feature won an Oscar.

Quick Gun Murugan might not be quite at that level (though it would probably be a better choice than whatever stitched-up critics’ choice is sent as the Indian representative). But when some critics cribbed that it drags in the second half, there was a palpable sense of them groping for things to say about a film of a kind they didn’t know how to pigeonhole.

At around 90 minutes the film is tighter than almost any Bollywood film. In fact – another record – it is probably the only Indian film where the international edit is even longer. “We felt we had to explain things a bit for foreign audiences,” says Ghosh. Since the film features gangsters named the Mullagapodi boys and bombs planted in Mumbai’s dabba service for terrorist-cum-dosa-promotion purposes, he’s probably right about that.

Despite this inventiveness , considerably polished production (the film is a testament to the higher production standards brought into Bollywood by ad film directors ) and a truly amazing title performance by Dr.Rajendra, who has to manage the difficult task of spoofing the stereotypes of the South Indian film world he comes from, while still keeping his character convincing enough to believe in, its still not clear if the film will be a success.

Thanks to the knock-on effects of the film strike, it’s been launched amid a glut of other films, on perhaps fewer screens than it deserves, and it’s possible that audiences too might simply not know how to handle such a genre bending film.

This is one reason why it took so long to make. Rajesh Devraj, the writer who dreamed up the Quick Gun Murugan character at Channel V, wrote the script almost 10 years back. Ghosh has known Devraj from their days in Hindustan Thompson Associates and then Channel V, and has had a relationship with him as close and contentious as any long term married couple. But underlying it is a respect for Devraj’s creative abilities strong enough for him to play executor to Devraj’s ideator, so he shopped the script around to Bollywood producers. And always got the same reaction: “They would laugh and laugh when they read it, but then say, ‘nahi, nahi, it won’t work.”

It was the same problem as the critics; everyone could recognise the comedy, but didn’t know how to classify it, and in a business like Bollywood
where people must gamble crores on hunches, that’s deadly. Perhaps the best advice Ghosh got was from Ram Gopal Varma: “He told me not to make this as my first film.” Varma’s point perhaps was that so much would have to go from Ghosh to make the film it would probably be unviable, and it would be best to cut his chops on something else first. Ghosh took the advice and made Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II, another madcap, but less radical film. It wasn’t a great box-office success, but got attention, and gave Ghosh the confidence to make Quick Gun Murugan, and enough credibility for the producers to gamble on him this time.

Despite having to undergo this protracted genesis, Ghosh is no critic of Bollywood’s ways of working. “It’s essentially an insane business model, and yet you have people willing to take risks and work with huge dedication and professionalism towards the creation of a film,” he says. He draws an unfavourable contrast with advertising where he points out that no one will work without immediate and considerable payment, and where the default position is not to take risks.

“When I moved to TV I went from an environment where people didn’t do things, to one where everyone just did, at once and all the time!” At Channel V, Ghosh says, “we were client, creative and producer all at once. It was hugely exciting and hugely scary, because suddenly you were responsible . In advertising you never take responsibility .”

Ghosh does credit his advertising years with one benefit: “You learn to listen. As a creative you are supposed to be talk to the final consumer , but first you have to listen to client, servicing, account planning...” Many creatives simply rebel, but Ghosh, who’s rather more thoughtful than his extrovert demeanour suggests, acknowledges value in those other voices.

When he went to TV he took a classic Account Planning learning of the importance of focusing on a consumer group like SEC A rather than “the sort of guys you hang around with at Toto’s pub.” Except that instead of calling it SEC A he called it “The Legend of Tinku Bansal” and put up a detailed note on who Tinku Bansal was: “the sort of guy who used M-C /B-C in every sentence , except when his mother is around, and who sells toilets in Karol Bagh and has his shirt open to his waist...”

Tinku Bansal was the person for who Ghosh, Devraj and the rest of that inspired Channel V crowd created characters like Udham Singh and Quick Gun Murugan. And if enough Tinku Bansals watch Quick Gun Murugan, then Ghosh and Devraj will have delivered. Even if the film is not a box office hit, it has all the potential to become a cult classic, which will show returns over time and different formats. Ghosh grimaces at talk going around of a sequel called The Good, The Bad and The Idli; what’s more likely in the near future is the gaming version he’s working on, and the comics that Devraj has already started creating.

There’s also a range of merchandising ready, and any marketing manager with sense must surely be racing to be the first to tie the “Mind It” man to their brand. Because for all their mixed feelings about advertising, this is what Devraj and Ghosh have pulled off – far more than any recent Bollywood film, except perhaps the Munnabhai series, in Quick Gun Murugan they have developed a brand character with the look, the line and the legs to carry campaigns in ways which most ad creatives can only dream. Forget the Oscars or Filmfare awards, it’s the ad awards and, more important, the ad budgets, at which this vegetarian cowboy should aim.

Goodbye Mr Loyalty: Is brand loyalty dead?

The consumer is an infidel. Marketers might take a stronger exception, to this rather strong statement. But the truth, not sugar coated, is out in the open. Scan any market and you will observe that consumers follow loyalty only in the breach, be it in fashion, technology, durables and even careers. We say what we say because loyalty, or the lack of it, goes beyond brand loyalty to a larger societal shift in the way consumers view loyalty, and disloyalty. Staying loyal to your employer, career, or for that matter... relationship is no longer sacrosanct.

That possibly explains entrepreneurs spotting business opportunities and the rise of portals like second shaadi, second career and so on. Speak to the so called ‘disloyal’ consumer and you are likely to spot a sentiment that says “Loyalty , what’s that?” or “Oh, you are so old-fashioned” . That disloyalty-is-cool is also being reflected in the advertising of these times. The Airtel Digital TV commercial featuring Saif Ali Khan ditching his childhood sweetheart in a nano-second is just one illustration. On YouTube only a minor part of the comments on the ad actually express anguish over the fact that Saif changes his mind after one fleeting glance and opts for Kareena Kapoor. (The majority are more interested in details like the singer of the ad jingle or how the jilted model looks better than Kareena Kapoor.) However, there are still some pockets where you will continue to see some semblance of loyalty.

But these are the exceptions where consumers are forced to stay in a relationship with a brand because of the associated problems in changing service providers — for a gas connection, electricity supply or staying with the same telecom services provider to hold on to the phone number. Marketers do not buy these arguments very easily . For them loyalty is anything but dead. “How else do you explain Nokia’s dominant market share in cellphones,” asks D Shivakumar, managing director, Nokia. Others like Sanjay Purohit, director-marketing , Cadbury agrees that “experimentation is now a part of life for consumers who are forever seeking variety” but does not see it as a problem that’s going out of hand.

However, there is a mounting stack of evidence to suggest that few companies are prepared to tackle the evolving consumer. A study by ClozR, ad agency Dentsu’s customer relationship and loyalty division suggests that only 60% of companies even have a stated plan of dealing with customers. Worse, most managers have discounted the accuracy of their customer contact information, with estimates varying from as low as 40% to 55%.
Sandeep Goyal, chairman , Dentsu says that loyalty, if any exists today, is by default as the choice consumers make when all other factors are constant.

According to social scientist Shiv Viswanathan, the loyalty quotient is defined by the community you belong to, the status you have, the friendships you make and above all the memories that connect these worlds. He says, “The loyalty quotient has gone beyond the patriotism of the thing, to loyalty to an ecology.” But this ecology is fragile. For instance, see how the concept of friendship has evolved. Earlier people had a few “thick and fast friends” . Today, friendships are defined by the number of connections on your social network. The more friends, the better is your social status . It’s widely accepted that these friends are not forever . One bad experience and the relationship is finished for good. Ditto with brands. “There are too many of them in the market and the relationships between consumers and brands are not as thick as it would be in the past,” says Ashish Misra, chief strategist and business head of Mudra’s brand strategy division Water.

Brand marketers however disagree that consumers today are outright flirts, or even that they look at all brands with the same pair of lens. You will always have a few good friends and similarly a few close brands, is their argument. But even in this set of beliefs the tenets of loyalty are being redefined. For the traditional concept of brand loyalty as we knew it — consumers staying loyal to a single brand in a given category at any point of time — is on the verge of extinction. “Even if consumers switch between brands, they will always switch within a given consideration set,” reasons Shivakumar. And belonging to that consideration set can vary depending on what category one belongs to. If the ability to innovate ensures your entry into the consideration set in the case of mobile handsets, it is “the loyalty towards the country of origin is high in automobiles ,” as Neeraj Garg, director, Volkswagen puts it. In the spirits business , consumers choose their brand and even variety of spirits according to occasion , companions and the time of the day they are consumed, says Amrit Thomas, EVP, marketing, United Spirits.

For example , the same consumer might order for white spirits when they are in the company of females, but order whisky when they are in an all male group. Similarly , the same consumer might consume chilled beer in the comfort of home on a sunny afternoon. If that was bad enough, the brands consumed on each of these opportunities could belong to different companies. But if you thought this type of behaviour was typically male, Nadia Chauhan, joint managing director, Parle Agro shatters that perception. “Let’s be warned.

Women in metros are slowly imbibing qualities that we’ve always associated with men,” she says and adds that this is seen even in their relationship with brands. “They experiment, they flirt and they change their minds as often as their male counterparts do. Considering that these are women with money to spend, marketers have taken notice of this trend of disloyal women consumers.”

Battle of the sexes aside, the behaviour according to advertising veteran Anand Halve, has a lot to do with the change in emotions. “Earlier consumers had a loyalty equation based on the emotion that ‘you have done so much for me over the years’ . Now the ‘what have you done for me lately’ question often surfaces.” That question has become a nagging one, even in categories once considered to be having the highest loyalty quotients - foods and skin care for example. To ensure that such consumers do not desert your brand in droves, it is necessary to ensure that there are enough safeguards in place. “You have to protect yourself against the next big innovation,” says Shivakumar of Nokia. The handset maker does so by launching one new handset model every two weeks and is also graduating into services in a big way. Cadbury’s on its part says Purohit offers what consumers want — variety. In the UK for instance, Dairy Milk the company’s mother brand has 27 variants.

But chlorophyll’s Halve warns that in catering to the consumer’s quest for variety you could run the risk of over-innovating . “You can innovate your way to hell.” According to Dentsu’s Goyal that’s one lesson brands could learn from those who breathe the L word everyday — the loyalty programme managers. In the past, loyalty programmes would send you brochures offering discounts on everything from delivering bouquets to buying chocolates, irrespective of whether it was an airline or a department store. “Loyalty itself got commoditised. Only when you stay relevant to your primary category does the value of loyalty go up,” he says and adds that companies are learning from their mistakes. But as Viswanathan says, what is loyalty today, might not be loyalty tomorrow .

“The loyalty quotient is a circle of memory. They are not numbers which provide an index of loyalty but a polysemic notion where a thing is tied to ideas like friendship, joy, everydayness and their beauty,” he says. Probably, loyalty is due for rebirth. Another day, another time, and another form. Science Of The Times The trouble with concepts like loyalty is that they float happily about reality and yet seem to define the real for people who make decisions around markets. Taken seriously loyalty quotients like the word mid-life crisis, say too much and too little. Taken playfully, it shows connections that we may not otherwise think about. For example, brand loyalty is a bit like a love affair. As a philosopher once said, the thing about love is the amount of tension it can stand. To love a product is not like loving a human being. But when a product is treated like a human being, brand loyalty is born. The irony is, instead of loyalty being defined by patriotism or ethnicity, it is defined by brand loyalty. What I mean by this is that the loyalty quotient is contoured. The community you belong, the status you have, the friendships you make but above all the memories that connect these worlds define a loyalty quotient.

Fair & Lovely : Chand ka Tukda

Fair & Lovely ( FAL) is the brand that revolutionized the Indian Skin care industry. This brand is World's first and largest Fairness cream brand with a presence in 40 countries and a value of around Rs. 6 billionIndian skin care market was dominated by conventional beauty care products like Bezan,Multani Mitti etc. FAL changed all that. Launched in 1975, FAL is the product born in the Unilever research center. In 1988 the brand went international. FAL commands a market share of over 70% in the Rs 1000 crore fairness market in India.FAL virtually created and owned this category for long. In the fairness market, FAL enjoyed monopoly till Cavin Kare entered this lucrative segment with Fairever. The success of Fairever prompted many players like Godrej to tap the market.

FAL sustained the pressure from the competitor by careful branding and new product launches. The brand never failed to emulate and learn from the competitor .When Fairever launched the ayurvedic variant, FAL launched a much better variant. Then came the competition from Ozone Ayurvedics with their brand No Marks trying to carve a niche. HLL countered with FAL Antimarks and launched a controversial comparative ad that took the steam out of No Marks.

When Fair ever launched the soap, FAL also responded with soap. FAL never allowed the competitors to gain an upper hand in the market which it created. FAL achieved such tremendous success because of careful branding and ad campaigns. Initially HLL to do some ugly talking about fairness. Some of the ads were controversial because of gender inequality and stuff like that. It was necessary at that period because the category was new and the brand should first talk about the need to be fairer.

Now the brand has laddered up to more aspirational values like "Transformation of Women" The insigh
t is that the transformation will be more than skin deep. The ads showing a girl achieving the ambition of being a cricket commentator ( a male bastion) were very much effective in connecting with the TG.
HLL has also extended the brand to more aspirational values by launching Fair& Lovely foundation that works for Women Empowerment achievement and Transformation which are the qualities for which FAL stands for. FAL have also launched a premium subbrand Perfect Radiance to tap the premium segment of the market. Fair & Lovely was able to dominate the fairness market because of careful marketing and is a showcase of the marketing genius of HLL.

ZEN .....bye ! bye !

One of most popular Indian auto brands has been laid to rest. Maruti Zen is dead. On August 25, Maruti announced the launch of new Estilo. The Zen brand name has been taken off. Now there is only Maruti Estilo.

It is a sad moment for all brand enthusiasts. Zen was a wonderful brand. A brand which personified sportiness and performance. The old Zen owners s
till swear by the brand . The jelly bean shape, roomy interiors and the peppy performance gave Zen an unique identity.It was surprising to see Maruti messing up this wonderful brand and finally killing it .Zen Estilo was launched in December 2006. The car is a refurbished version of an outdated Japanese car MR Wagon.
The entire product was different from the old Zen. Maruti chose to use Zen as the primary brand and Estilo as the subbrand for the new product. The strategy was to retain the brand equity of Zen to drive the sales of the new product. But the strategy backfired.In a way killing the Zen brand will be good for Estilo. For Estilo, association with Zen was a liability. Interms of style or performance, older Zen and Zen Estilo was miles apart. Those who checked out Zen Estilo expecting the same performance and sportiness of old Zen were visibly disappointed.

Estilo was a different car with a different brand personality. Launching Estilo as Zen Estilo actually created a negative impact for the car because Estilo was more of a style oriented girlish car compared to the sporty Zen. Now Estilo is an independent brand and can develop its own persona. The new Estilo comes with a new look and a new K-Series engine.It is sad that a wonderful brand like Zen was being killed without being fully utilized .