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April 27, 2019

What's in a name - Everything - REMINERO - Purified Bottled Water from HPCL

What’s in a name, everything in marketing, especially brand names. They are the living persona of the products. We swear by them (the brand names) and they add colour and excitement to our life.

Yesterday, I was at a training centre at HPCL, Bangalore and we were served bottled purified water. I took a double turn when I saw the name of the brand. It was “REMINERO”. The name itself was a puzzle, but the name of the manufacturer took my breath away. It was HPCL!!

I often ask my students; would you like to buy a toothpaste named Nirma? Most of them recoil in horror. Some even put up a strange expression as if they had just brushed their teeth with Nirma detergent powder. That is the power of association. Most people might not have noticed but Nirma does have a soap albeit a bath soap called Nima and it comes very close to the word Nirma. Dare I say as close to Nirma as possible but still keeping, a healthy distance.

Similarly, Manikchand Gutkha, famously ventured into atta business and named its brand, what else Manikchand Atta. I am sure most homemakers would not have bought it, atleast initially. A chapatti that gives a healthy high that too laced in nicotine. That would be the mental picture that would have been drawn in the minds of the customers.

The only brand that straddles all the product categories and still does not apparently create any confusion about its core value and promise in the minds of the customers, is TATA. 

Tata is in every imaginable product category, Tata salt, Tata Tele Services, Tata BP Solar, Tata Consultancy services, Tata Steels, Tata Coffee, Tata Chemicals, Tata Sky, and many others. Tata has become synonymous with Indianess and it has become almost like India itself and it permeates itself to any product category. Others are not that lucky.

HPCL entering into purified water business is a puzzle. HPCL is an energy company and it is famous for oil based products like Petrol, diesel, Lubes and LPG.  Why would HPCL want to enter into bottled purified water business? May be it wants to leverage its SCM (Supply Chain Management) muscle and its very impressive retail outlet base.

Having impressive SCM capability and ability to access and control a large base of retail outlets in the form of petrol bunks are definite strengths, but can a public sector giant like HPCL take on nimble, fleet footed, aggressive and hard as nails private players like PEPSICO, Coca-Cola and Parle in a head-on battle. Only time will tell.

And the brand name itself is quite handful, REMINERO. The marketing pundits might have thought that the product sounds like a REMINDER, or RE-MINED or REMAIN from RO process.  Whatever it is, REMINERO is a mouthful and sounds like the name of an Italian man!!! And it is not very easy to pronounce, just like the beauty soap brand of ITC; Fiama di Wills. Fiama Di Wills sounds like the sister of the villainess from the movie 101 Dalmatians, Cruella De Vil. 

April 03, 2019

3M, KFC and HIL, what is in the name - Everything

A key element of Marketing is observation. Why did Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing company become 3M and why did Kentucky Fried Chicken become KFC?
First of all, short names are easy to remember and easy to pronounce and stylish too. But the most important reason was 3M moved away from minerals and mining business and did not want to appear like a laid back mining company.
Similarly, KFC did not want to get tied down to a place Kentucky and did want the customers to even utter that dirty five letter word "Fried" hearing which all its customers recoil in disgust. It is as if they have taken a bath in fried oil. So it is KFC.
Just now Dhoni was out pitching for HIL, earlier called Hyderabad Industries limited. So Dhoni stylishly says HIL and a diehard Hyderabadi like me has a small frown. Yes, I would have been happy if Dhoni had said Hyderabad Industries limited.
But as an afterthought that campaign would be a no brainer. How can Chennai captain pitch for Hyderabad? It would be the ultimate sacrilege! What do you guys say!!!???