Marketing review news
03 April 2004

P&G slashes Pantene prices
Procter & Gamble (P&G) India has slashed the price of its Pantene shampoo by 16 per cent. With this cut, a 100 ml pack will now cost Rs 51, while a 200 ml pack will come for Rs 98. P&G also launched Pantene hair fall control, which claims to reduce hair fall owing to breakage by up to 50 per cent within two months of use.

Pantene's price cut seems to be a direct response to rival Hindustan Lever slashing prices of its Sunsilk and Clinic shampoos by 50 per cent. Sunsilk also has a variant, which highlights the benefit of reduced hair fall due to breakage.

P&G's other brands — Head & Shoulders and Rejoice, have not seen any price reduction.

Times group to launch new TV channels
Bennett Coleman and Co Ltd, publishers of the well-known Times of India group of publications is planning to enter the television business with three channels, which include an entertainment channel, a religious-cum-spiritual channel and a business news channel. The entertainment channel is likely to go on air first.

Media industry sources say the entertainment channel is expected to be titled Zoom and will focus on events, music, fashion and lifestyle. The company will finalise the details in the next two to three weeks and the first channel is expected to go live sometime around July.

The last to be launched will be the business news channel and it is not yet clear whether Bennett Coleman will have an international tie-up for it.

Planet M to expand
Music retail chain, Planet M, plans to open 30 more outlets in the next six to eight months. The chain currently has 48 stores. A majority of the new stores will be what the organisation calls 'satellites' or shop-in-shops.

According to the company, Planet M has been doing well despite a depressed music industry with prices of cassettes, CDs and DVDs falling, since the store has been compensated by an increase in sales volumes.

Mutual funds turn to branding
Mutual funds are reinventing themselves. The main reason is that most funds have achieved extremely low penetration despite achieving record growth in the past one year.

Statistically, only about one per cent of household investors look at mutual funds as an investment option. These funds feel it is time to broadbase their communication with the public. Thus many of them are getting into serious brand-building.

In the last one year, the marketing spend by mutual funds has grown by more than 30 per cent per fund house and the industry spent more than Rs 175 crore in 2003-04 a rise from the Rs 135 crore spent the previous year.

Elections give news channels a reprieve
News channels have got a reprieve from having to declare a new equity structure due to the forthcoming elections. The last date for news channels to declare an altered equity structure as per the government's new guidelines was April 1. Even though a substantial number of news channels have failed to do so, they have been allowed to carry on operations till a new government takes over. News channels are not allowed to give a MNC partner more than 26 per cent equity holding as per revised guidelines issued by the government last year.

Sources in the ministry say any decision on this matter could acquire a political hue, so it is better to defer the decision till the elections are over.

Zee News, CNBC TV 18 as well as listed companies like Aaj Tak have applied to the government for infusing foreign institutional investment into the company and a number of smaller companies like Sab TV, Jain TV and some regional channels have applied for permission to uplink.

Shaz & Waz become a brand
The Shaz & Waz Show of Ravi Shastri (Shaz) and Wasim Akram (Waz), on the ESPN Star Sports channel during the Indian cricket team's tour of Australia in January this year, has become so popular that the channel and the cricketers are drawing up plans to come out with Shaz & Waz merchandise. Consumers may soon get Shaz &Waz sports accessories.

While the channel is cagey about divulging details, Shastri and Akram feel they have struck a chord with the audience for ESPN Star Sports to take the merchandising gamble.

Future possibilities also include the two former cricketers coming together in commercials as Shaz & Waz while ESPN Star Sports has decided to make Shaz & Waz a regular feature of cricket coverage on its sports channels.

Rediffusion finds Close-Up ad plagiarized
Late last year, Rediffusion DYR ran a campaign for Colgate Dental Cream, which said that a perfect figure had to be complemented by a perfect set of 32 teeth. The figures ran horizontally 36-24-36-32. The ad was inserted in women's magazines Femina, catering to a select audience.

Last month Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) ran an ad for Hindustan Lever's Close-Up with a similar basic theme — a perfect set of teeth with a perfect figure, but this time the figures ran from the bottom to the top. This ad appeared in the Mumbai edition of the Asian Age.

Though the O&M claims that its pure coincidence Rediffusion, the agency that came out with the concept first, says it will be unable to run its own ad now since it would seem like a copy. Rediffussion is planning to move ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India), the apex body for advertising professionals while O&M says it would reply appropriately to ASCI.

ITC to sell LPG in its e-choupals
ITC is entering into a tie up with Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) to sell cooking gas through its e-choupal network in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

ITC officials said the company is expanding its product range available on the e-choupal network and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) will now be included.

As the urban market gets saturated the rural market is becoming the new battleground for LPG players and BPCL is using the tie-up to expand its rural reach.

LPG sales, dominated by the public sector, grew by 11 per cent this fiscal, with the rural market contributing significantly to new connections. BPCL's sales, however, grew by 15 per cent in 2003-04. The company has 25.6 per cent market share in the segment.

Liril in new Orange Fresh variant
Hindustan Lever's toilet soap brand Liril is changing colours yet again — from lime green to orange — with a new offering, Liril Orange Fresh on its way.

The price however remains unchanged at Rs 16 for a 75 gm pack.

In April 2002, Liril changed its colour for the first time from lime green to Icy Cool Mint variant containing menthol.

Market observers say, Liril's market shares have been on the decline for a while and HLL has been trying to revive the brand with new variants. With the orange fresh variant, HLL expects to open up a new segment under the 'freshness' category.

Compiled by Mohini Bhatnagar

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