Beena Leji Koshy, Senior GM & Head, Advertising and Brand Development, Bajaj Electricals, talks about challenges in keeping the brand relevant to today's hi-tech generation,the difference between positioning for Morphy Richards and Bajaj and using the digital space to advantage
Q] Bajaj is a heritage brand; what are the key factors that you need to keep in mind in terms of communication to make the brand relevant in today’s time?
The brand is beginning its 75th year - 1938 was when Bajaj Electricals was launched. We have our heritage in lighting. As a brand, we are in the lives of our consumers throughout the day. The challenge is being relevant, unlike a lot of brands and categories that come fairly early in a consumer’s life, our brand comes much later in the consumer’s life. A bulb, light, fan are products you wouldn’t normally buy, and you only buy kitchen appliances when you are setting up a home. So the consumer at this stage already has an understanding and awareness about various brands in the category. Last year, we launched an induction cooker, our research and test market findings showed that for the Indian consumer, time is of essence. Bajaj being the brand it is, the communication cannot be very cold, steely and hi-tech. The fact that the brand belongs to every home, is very important to us as we try to touch an emotional chord through our communication. We try to strike the right balance of technology with heritage values to stay relevant.
Q] What are the challenges that brand Bajaj faces today?
Bajaj was seen as a brand that had been around for many years, to some extent the male target group was more comfortable with it as we also have the auto heritage. But there is a lack of awareness; a lot of consumers are unaware that we are moving from bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to stay relevant. We have also tied up with a lot of international brands. Consumers don’t know that Bajaj is the brand that has a mixer-grinder and it is also the one to light up the Worli sea link. We are not seen as a technology-driven company.
Q] What are the different marketing approaches used for Bajaj and Morphy Richards?
Bajaj’s business segment caters a lot to government tenders; there is the Luminaires division and Engineering & Projects division which take up the whole gamut of work from designing to implementing. This includes street lighting, stadium lighting, special projects like the Bandra- Worli sea link and the Delhi Commonwealth Games. The consumer segment includes Appliances, Fans and Lighting. The tone and manner of all communication is warm, endearing and family-oriented. The target group for Kitchen Appliances is women in the 20-45 year age group, but when it comes to lighting and water-heating, the man takes precedence in purchase decisions. With Morphy Richards, we are very clear that the whole theme is ‘gifting’. The focus of communication is ‘put an end to useless gifting with Morphy Richards’. Keeping this in mind, we advertise during the festive and wedding seasons for the brand. Morphy Richards is more youthful, aspirational and in the modern retail format. Bajaj is endearing, warm and value for money.
Q] Is there a chance of brand Morphy Richards eating into the market share of Bajaj products? How do you deal with it?
I would rather Morphy Richards cannibalize brand Bajaj rather than a Philips. Internally, it is not an issue - customer care is combined, and service centres for both is Bajaj. Only marketing and communication is separate. Both the brands co-exist in harmony.
Q] What is the USP of the brand vis-a-vis competition?
We have a wide range of products catering to every segment. Whether a consumer wants a value-for-money product or an aspirational one, we have a product for each requirement for your home. Also, ours is one of the largest networks of service centres, totalling about 238. This is a great advantage in a country like India, where the consumer will not discard the product once it becomes dysfunctional, but will want to get it repaired.
Q] Looking back, what would you have changed in your marketing strategy?
If we had come up with a hi-tech range of products a couple of years back, it would not take us so many years to catch up. The earlier brand communication for Bajaj had an element of humour in it. We realized when it comes to technology products, humour in a desi form is not always great. The consumer at the end of the day wants to know what the product delivers. So we are changing that now.
Q] How are you making use of the digital medium to connect with consumers? Can you share some examples?
We actually started it on a small scale a couple of years back with Morphy Richards. We took this ‘perfect gifting’ concept to the digital space and highlighted the issue of useless gifting at weddings. We won a gold for this at the IDMA, 2012. For Bajaj fans, we used mediums like cricinfo.com during IPL season with contests for the greatest fan of the day, winning a prize. So we have made use of the digital medium in a very engaging and interactive manner for the last two-three years. We will have a much bigger digital presence in the coming years.
Q] You have products across segments. How do your marketing campaigns differ category-wise? What is the common thread across the marketing campaigns?
Most of the communication happens category-wise, and we try to see to it that the look and feel of the brand is uniform and one does not starkly stand out from the rest. There is no umbrella branding, so it is difficult to have a common thread. When it comes to Morphy Richards, we make sure the look and feel, tone, manner and brand colours are all consistent. Morphy’s communication has a lot of black, silver and red. There is more of the product and less of the human factor. But for Bajaj across categories, the communication has a warmth and endearing factor. Otherwise, the communication is based on the need per category.