Marketing review news
20 August 2004

VSNL to launch low-priced broadband service
Tata group company, VSNL, is planning to expand its internet and broadband business aggressively. It is making large investments to launch its broadband services at tariffs comparable to dial-up accounts. The company is also extending its reach to over 100 cities.

The broadband services will be launched in eight cities initially for as low as Rs389 for a connection that offers 200 megabits download or 20 hours of surfing, one of the cheapest in the market.

A majority of VSNL's investments are being utilised to ramp up its broadband network. VSNL currently has 30,000 broadband customers and eight lakh dial-up users. The broadband connection will be built into VSNL's `Total Internet' package, which would allow its dial-up subscribers to access broadband services.

VSNL plans to launch broadband services in four metro cities and Bangalore and Pune this year.

Nissan enters the Indian market with X-Trail
Nissan Motor has launched its sports utility vehicle, X-Trail, in India in two grades — Comfort with an ex-showroom price in Chennai of Rs 21.08 lakh and Elegance priced at Rs 24.14 lakh.

According to the company the future strategy of the company would depend on the success of the SUV in India, having chalked worldwide sales of 140,000 in 2003.

The X-Trail would be imported as completely built units from Nissan's plant in at a 104 per cent import duty. The X-Trail comes with a 2.2-litre common rail diesel engine and six-speed manual transmission.

Cola prices rise marginally
Cola makers, Coca Cola India and PepsiCo, have in a concerted move effected a marginal increase in prices of colas in select areas of the country. The prices of both the 200 ml and 300 ml pack of Coke and Pepsi have increased by Re1 and PepsiCo is said to be contemplating implementing a further hike in in the price of its 300ml pack.

Pepsi says it was not getting any incremental penetration by continuing at lower price points and was subsidizing those consumers who could afford to pay more for the drink.

Coca Cola says the price cut was anyway for a specified period to increase penetration. The difference in pricing would further differentiate the 200ml and 300ml-pack sizes in the consumer's mind and the value each pack size delivers, thereby altering the ratio in which each contributes to total sales.

The two companies have increased prices in the major cities just now leaving the rural and small towns untouched for the moment.

Cavinkare to launch Meera hair oil nationally
Cavinkare is planning to go national with its Meera Herbal Hair Oil. The nationwide launch will be backed by a Rs10-crore campaign spread over a nine-month period.

The company feels it would be easy to market the brand in the north since it perceives the brand to have a pan Indian identity.

The company has launched another variant of Meera hair oil that contains coconut oil with hibiscus, amla, henna, khus khus and fenugreek.

Each bottle has a visibly suspended porous cylinder containing these ingredients and the oil derives its nourishing properties on a continuous basis.

The company is also looking at distributing the oil in beauty salons.

Value-added oils constitute 50 per cent of the Rs1,800 hair oil market and have a growth rate of 11 per cent, while the hair oils had a growth rate of 4 per cent.

Pepsi to test market Gatorade
PepsiCo is planning to test market its $2-billion energy sports-drink brand Gatorade and expanding the non-carbonated beverages portfolio by launching bottled ice tea.

According to the company, Gatorade would be available in non-returnable bottles of half-a-litre, instead of the 200ml and 300ml glass bottles meant for soft drinks.

Gatorade, said to be scientifically formulated to replace fluids and electrolytes and provide energy to enhance athletic performance, will be initially imported into India. The company will use the distribution channel of juice brand Tropicana for Gatorade, sources said. It could be priced around Rs40 per litre.

PepsiCo is also planning to get into bottling and marketing Lipton ice tea next year.

At present, Lipton ice tea is being sold in cartons but PepsiCo plans to bottle the beverage in several pack sizes, including 200ml and 300ml glass bottles as well as PET bottles across the country, using the existing bottling facilities of fruit drink, Slice.

Earlier this year, HLL and PepsiCo formed an alliance to distribute Lipton ready-to-drink (RTD) tea and tea-based hot beverages in India. Industry sources said apart from ice tea, PepsiCo is also looking at a slew of products, including green tea, herbal tea and diet tea.

Aaj Tak signs pact with SET MAX for cricket updates
News channel AaJ Tak has signed a pact with general entertainment channel SET MAX for the forthcoming Videocon Cup-Super Challenge 2004 whereby MAX will provide access to its commentators and other panellists to Aaj Tak for its half-hour cricket capsule, Runbhoomi.

India, Pakistan and Australia compete with each other in the tournament in the Netherlands.

Price war in prepaid cards
Bharti's Airtel brand has responded to Reliance Infocomm's massive price cut in its prepaid card by a similar price cut. AirTel has announced the launch of pre-paid starter kit for Rs199. With this launch, AirTel has lowered the entry cost into the category by 33 per cent from the existing Rs299 to Rs199.

In addition, new AirTel pre-paid users will get free airtime worth Rs50 on the first recharge. The recharge will, however, have to be for a minimum of Rs324 and will have to be availed within a period of 96 hours of purchase.

Reliance Infocomm announced 60 per cent reduction in the pre-paid segment dropping mobile-to-mobile call charges to 99 paise from Rs2.49 a minute, making it the cheapest pre-paid option in the market.

Betty Crocker desserts mixes launched in India
General Mills, the US-based foods company has launched the Betty Crocker range of dessert mixes in India. These include Devil's Food Cake Mix, Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix, Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix and an all-purpose baking mix called Bisquick.

The Betty Crocker desserts range is being sourced from the General Mills plant at Nasik, Maharashtra, which also manufactures the base for Betty Crocker mixes sold in the UK and parts of Europe.

General Mills India's product range includes the Pillsbury brand of atta, cake mixes, custard, semiya and pizza and the Green Giant brand of canned corn and speciality vegetables.

Platinum Guild to strengthen marketing in India
Platinum Guild International, the jewellery marketing division of the global platinum industry, has received a fillip by the reduction in customs duty on platinum and is planning to further strengthen and expand marketing activities in India.

The company's marketing strategies include monitoring customer attitudes, generating awareness and promoting desire in customers' mind for platinum in the growing Indian market.

PGI, which started Indian operations in 2000, has 192 authorised retailers spread across 32 cities in India.

Compiled by Mohini Bhatnagar

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