Marketing review

13 Sep 2007


Something for luxury retailers to aspire to: Selfridges creates "The Wonder Room"
Tourists visiting London can place an almost century-old shopper''s paradise on their itinerary. Launching "The Wonder Room", the venerable Selfridges has now created what the company claims to be London''s ultimate jewellery, watches and luxury gift destination, on the ground floor of its Oxford Street.

The biggest in-store project the retailer has undertaken yet, The Wonder Room covers 19,000 sq ft of retail space, at a project cost of around £10 million. It will offer customers a unique mix of products, in an imaginative setting that will highlight the scale, magnificence and character of the original neo-classical hall.

World-class luxury brands, some new to Selfridges, like Hermes and Tiffany & Co. and Chanel are housed in an "arcade" of boutiques that run the perimeter of the room.

A wine juke box
In May 2007, The Wonder Bar was opened as a new wine and champagne destination for anything from a bottle for supper to stocking a cellar that opened ahead of the entire The Wonder Room.

In The Wonder Bar, situated on a mezzanine, customers are able to relax, watch others and taste an unprecedented choice of fine wines supplied by the latest technology - a wine "jukebox".

And that''s not all…it has 20 restaurants, bars and cafés, as well as a fantastic Food Hall, home to the famous "most expensive sandwich in the world".

According to The Wonder Room''s chief executive, Paul Kelly, "This spectacular development has positioned us on the world retail stage as the top luxury destination for UK and international customers."

Alannah Weston, creative director, says, "This extraordinary, vibrant new space with its unique product mix will create a charismatic shopping experience, whether you buy a single glass of wine or a dazzling diamond necklace."

Eric Parry Architects are the retailer''s partner for the restoration of the exteriors of the landmark building that houses The Wonder Room.

Not only do the windows on Oxford Street opened to the street allowing views and daylight into the store, new awnings and beautifully crated metalwork also restore grace and elegance to the windows and entrance.

One of the world''s prime shopping venues, Selfridges & Co was opened for business in March1909 by Gordon Selfridge, an entrepreneur and retail innovator from Chicago. It is the biggest store on Oxford Street, London, covering 6,50,000 square feet of retail space, with a treasure trove of contrasts that make it an inspiring place to shop. As visitors would probably testify, it''s hard to imagine anything more luxurious.

Sahara forays into the luxury holiday business
New Delhi:
The upwardly mobile now have another holiday option. The Sahara India Pariwar has announced its entry into the Rs65,000 crore luxury holiday business, and is planning for revenue targets of Rs100 crore within the next three years.

Branded as Paradiso, the company will provide high-end customised luxury holidays, which will fall into the price band of Rs14,400 to Rs18,40,000 per night.

Paradiso CEO Romi Datta is optimistic of achieving revenue targets of Rs100 crore within the coming three years. He said that the company has tie-ups with 165 luxury properties across, Italy, France, Scotland, Ireland and the UK.

The domestic travel market is pegged at $450 million, and is estimated to grow at 20 per cent. It is expected to tally around 80 lakh outbound travellers by 2008.

According to the company, of the eight million "rich" Indians who fall into the target income segment of Rs30-40 lakh per annum, only about one million are supposed to have spent on luxury travel in 2006.

The company estimates that this would triple in the coming three years, for which Paradiso will need a focussed approach to address the needs of brand conscious Indians.

The company''s marketing strategy covers partnerships and tie-ups with wealth management by the banks, one-on-one relationship management with its target customer segment, along with high-end advertisements. The company would initially operate the travel business from Delhi and Mumbai, and expand its base to cover Bangalore and Chennai in about six months.

Mary Kay to invest $20 million in its Indian entry
New Delhi:
US-based global direct-selling cosmetic major Mary Kay Inc has announced its plans to enter India, with an investment of $20 million over the next five years.

The direct-selling major will operate via its Indian subsidiary, Mary Kay Cosmetics India Pvt Ltd., and will use its investment to set up centres, develop its product portfolio, and train beauty consultants.

Mary Kay''s introduction to the Indian market is marked by the launch of a product line of around 60 products, designed specifically for the Indian market. The company plans to expand the portfolio shortly. It has also set up a beauty centre in Delhi to train consultants.

According to KK Chua, president, Aasia-Pacific, Mary Kay, the company will invest $6-$7 million in its first year of operation.

UK''s Ultra Motor - Hero Honda to sell electric bikes through Reliance retail outlets
UK-based Ultra Motor Company has announced the signing a distribution agreement with Reliance Retail to market its electric battery-powered two-wheelers, which were launched recently in association with Indian partner Hero Cycles Ltd.

Reliance Retail is exclusively manage the sales of ''Ultra Powered'' light electric vehicles (LEVs).

Distributing its offering through Reliance Retail will allow Ultra Motor to go beyond traditional dealer outlets, foraying into organised retail. The collaboration with Hero Cycles will assist the company to provide after-sales service and marketing.

Ultra Motor''s product range comprises seven models of LEVs, which includes electric bicycles and scooters co-branded as "Hero Electric" and driven by "Ultra Powered" technology.

E-bikes are priced between Rs14,300 and Rs19,500, while e-scooters range from Rs22,500 to Rs28,000.

The company claims that the LEVs run at a tenth of the running cost of a conventional petrol vehicle, and have maintenance costs 30 per cent lower than a conventional motorcycle. Depending on the model, an Ultra Powered LEV can travel between 45 km and 70 km on a single charge.

Nivea launches Visage skincare range
In its latest product expansion, Nivea India has launched the Nivea Visage, a range of products comprising cleansers, toners and moisturisers.

According to Kai Boris Bendix, managing director, Nivea India, "The Nivea Visage range of face care products comes with the promise of giving back to your skin what the city takes out due to the daily grind."

The near future will see Nivea bring in new skin care ranges in the anti-aging and whitening segments.

Nivea Visage is currently the largest sub-brand of Nivea. Almost 20 per cent of the brand''s turnover accrues from this sub-brand, which is marketed across 60 countries.

Apollo teams with Deccan Aviation to offer air ambulance service
Apollo Hospitals Enterprises has found a compatriot in Deccan Aviation, with both partnering in a new heli-ambulance service plan. The duo are hoping to rope in medical insurance companies to drive up the market for the services.

According to Sangita Reddy, executive director, operations, Apollo Hospitals, and Capt. G.R. Gopinath, executive chairman, Deccan Aviation, a number of emergency cases need immediate airlifting for timely medical attention. With helicopter services being expensive, health insurance companies are the ones who can make it affordable by offering it as part of their policies. Sources indicate that talks are on with 3-4 insurance companies, and the concept could be a reality soon, pending approval of the insurance regulator.

Presently, an airlift can cost the patient Rs1-2 lakhs, or Rs75,000 an hour, depending on the distance that needs to be covered. The Apollo group has made 400 emergency air-lifts in the past two-and-a-half years. If insurance were to cover this facility, the cost could drop to more affordable levels. Another potential area for the service could be corporate tie ups with insurance companies. Present need for the service is estimated at about 10 cases per day, according to Reddy.

Deccan Aviation is a decade old chartered helicopter operator, with a fleet of 10 helicopters and two small planes stationed at Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Ranchi, Surat and Katra in Jammu & Kashmir. Apollo will offer Deccan Aviation''s helicopters at its centres in Bangalore, Delhi, Bhubaneswar and Kolkata, where it has either roof helipads or landing facilities.

The heli-ambulance, part of Apollo Emergency Specialists 1066, will be available within half an hour of call, and will include onboard life support systems, and trained paramedics during flight, according to Dr Umapathy Panyala, COO, New Apollo.

Creating the landing facility would be another onus on hospitals, he said.

Blue Dart launches Surfaceline; plans expansion to around 17,500 locations
New Delhi:
domestic logistics company, Blue Dart Express has launched its ground- based express service ''Surfaceline'' and will expand its presence to another 2,900 locations to its existing 14,600.

Additionally, the company is planning 58 more warehouses across India by 2010, and proposes to augment its workforce while simultaneously adding over a million square feet of warehousing space.

According to Anil Khanna, managing director, tier II and III cities offer untapped potential to Surfaceline, on account of the growing affluence of consumers in these areas. Also, the emergence of special economic zones (SEZs) and IT Parks across different parts of the country will add to the total market opportunity for Surfaceline.

The company plans to invest Rs1,000 crore over an estimated six to eight years for developing its air infrastructure, aircraft and ramping up ground infrastructure facilities.

Funding for these plans would be derived from internal accruals, though budgetary estimates were yet to be determined.

Mudra DDB bags VW India account
Mudra DDB has been entrusted with the brand strategy and creative responsibilities for Volkswagen in India.

Commencing its Indian passenger car business with the launch of the Passat, Andreas Prinz, managing director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars India, said that the launch was one of the most significant events for Volkswagen, and the company was excited about being in the Indian market.

He further added that Volkswagen had built its reputation for excellence over decades, which extends to the company''s communications as well, and hence VW India is confident that Mudra DDB is the right partner to establish the VW brand in India, especially with the link into our global advertising network with DDB.

Future Media signs ad-deal with Inox multiplexes
Kishore Biyani''s Future Group media arm Future Media has acquired the on-screen media rights for all Inox Leisure multiplexes in India, for the next two-and-a-half years.

Sources indicate that five companies were in the fray for the media rights of Inox. The deal mandates that any advertiser wanting to use the Inox screens must necessarily be routed through Future Media.

According to Partho Dasgupta, CEO, Future Media, the company owns rights to media properties such as televisions (Future TV is transmitted from Mumbai to all its stores across the country), visual spaces, radio (Future Radio) and a print property called My World, which is a monthly magazine circulated among Big Bazaar consumers.

It also owns the rights to ad spaces within the Future Group retail formats, and provides brands with opportunities to reach their target consumers in the ambience of consumption, be it at malls, airports, or cafeterias. This deal marks its foray into the multiplex space as well.

Presently, Inox operates 18 multiplexes, comprising 62 screens across 15 cities. It registers around 75,000 footfalls a day.

According to Alok Tandon, COO Inox Leisure Ltd., the deal will also cover Inox''s upcoming multiplexes, and will fetch Inox an assured minimum level of income, beyond which revenues will be shared Future Media.

Future Media India Ltd is a part of the Future Group, which owns multiple retail formats such as Pantaloons, Big Bazaar, Food Bazaar, Central and HomeTown. The company is headquartered at Mumbai, and operates around 4 million sq.ft of retail space, with over 400 stores across 40 cities in the country. Footfalls, as estimated by the company, are around 20 crore this year.

Electrotherm launches a new battery-powered two-wheeler
Electrotherm (India) Ltd, a pioneer in battery-powered two-wheelers in the country, has introduced a new model called YoSpeed, India''s first vehicle in the 750-watt category approved by the Automotive Regulatory Authority of India (ARAI).

Bollywood actor Gulshan Grover launched the two-wheeler. He also features in the TV commercial for the product, which has been filmed by Sanjay Gadhvi, director of Bollywood blockbuster Dhoom-2.

The two-wheeler runs on a 33AH battery, and has a 750 watts motor, which allows it to carry two persons. It can run for 500 km at the comparative cost of one litre of petrol (Rs50), according to Shailesh Bhandari, managing director, Electrotherm.

YoSpeed is available for Rs35,466 (ex-showroom Ahmedabad), and has a maximum speed of 45 kmph for a single rider. It will be marketed across the country through the company''s 200 exclusive showrooms. The bike will compete with the regular petrol-run two-wheelers in the 75cc - 100cc segment. Owners will need to obtain a licence and registration from the RTO.

According to the company, the bike has an indigenisation level of 85 per cent. Its battery weighs 41kgs, and is chargeable in six to eight hours with a power consumption of 1.6 units. On a single charge, it can carry one person for a distance of 80km, and two persons for 65km.

Indus Elec-Trans, a division of Electrotherm, had launched battery powered two-wheelers last year, under the brand name "Yobykes". These are manufactured at its Kutch plant, which has an installed capacity of 2.88 lakh vehicles per annum.

Honda Siel launches a new variant of its City
New Delhi:
Honda Siel introduced a new variant of erstwhile class-leading sedan Honda City at a starting price of Rs6.80 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). The City''s class leading position has been threatened with the recent launch of Maruti''s SX4.

The new City comes for a Rs3,000 premium across all its variants. Presently, the City is marketed in the price range of Rs6.77 lakh to Rs8 lakh.

Launched to commemorate 10 years of Honda cars in India, the new variant has been launced as the 10th Anniversary Edition of the Honda City ZX. The City ZX V-TEC now comes loaded with a host of safety and luxury features, such as a G-Con body, ABS, SRS Airbags and plush leather interiors. The car comes in two new colours.

All Honda cars are E-10 compliant, i.e. capable of using the 10 per cent ethanol-blended fuel, which the Government of India is considering to implement in near future.

According to Masahiro Takedagawa, president and CEO, Honda Siel Cars India Ltd., to prepare for its second phase of growth, the company will be expanding its production and dealer capacities, as well as augmenting its product portfolio and extend its presence into second tier towns and cities.

Outlining $the company''s strategy, he said that Honda is committed to aligning our business objectives to the basic humanitarian values, and will focus on three basic principles - Safety, Environment and Energy Conservation.

Each variant of the City comes with new features in the 10th Anniversary Edition, which include:

  • EXi Onwards - MP3 CD AM/FM stereo with 4 speakers; new key design, new design steering, accessory socket, central door lock switch, thicker chrome rings and white rear lens.
  • GXi onwards - front fog lamps, side step garnish, 2 keyless entry remote transmitters, new design combi meter and new 1-Din MP3 CD AM/FM stereo with 4 speakers.
  • VTEC Onwards - Superior 2-Din MP3 CD AM/ FM stereo with 4 Speakers; premium dark woody panel, trunk spoiler as standard dealer fitment. Leather upholstery, ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), Dual SRS airbags for driver & front passenger. The VTEC will also be available without leather upholstery, ABS & SRS Airbags

Swaraj Mazda plans to launch trucks next year
Having announced its tie-up with Japan''s Isuzu Motors for manufacturing buses, Swaraj Mazda has now unveiled plans to launch trucks next year.

According to Yash Mahajan, managing director, Swaraj Mazda, the company will come out with trucks as well, but will presently focus on chassis for bus applications for the upper end segment.

The first phase will seethe company emphasise its presence in the ultra-luxury buses segment, while in second phase it would include economy class buses in its manufacturing line-up. The third phase will see it make ordinary buses.

According to Mahajan, the company has received expressions of interest from about 80 customers across the country for its ultra-luxury buses, which will have a seating capacity of 40. The company plans to manufacture 100 buses this year.

Isuzu has partnered with Swaraj Mazda, and the venture will see an infusion of Rs300 crore for the setting up of two manufacturing units in Punjab. The first will produce Isuzu vehicles, and will have a capacity of 12,000 units per annum, while the second plant will manufacture bus bodies with a capacity of 7,000 units per annum.

The company plans to borrow Rs180 crore from banks, and raise Rs120 crore through a rights issue. Under the arrangement, Isuzu would supply engines and transmissions for this project, while 45 per cent of the components would be sourced locally.

Real estate and Telecom lead on Ad spend between 2000 - 2006
New Delhi:
According to an ASSOCHAM study, real estate and telecom sectors witnessed the highest increase in advertisement spend proportionate to sales, between financial year 2000 and 2006.

The real estate sector, including construction, along with telecom firms increased their advertising budgets as a ratio of their sales by an annual 36 per cent and 21 per cent respectively, during the period covered by the study.

Other big spenders on advertising are white goods manufacturers, followed by liquor companies, and passenger and multi-utility vehicles manufacturers.

The highest rise among these three categories was tallied up by white goods producers who aggregated a 20 per cent increase in ad spend, followed by the 10 per cent growth of ad spends by the liquor industry and 9.5 per cent by passenger car manufacturers.

Kerala Tourism to launch budget hotel brand "Tamarind Easy Hotels"
State government-owned Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) has plans to launch a budget hotel brand.

The company''s budget brand, Tamarind Easy Hotels, aim to provide guests with modern facilities at affordable rates, according to company officials. The creation of a distinct budget hotel brand is part of the company''s efforts to improve its offering.

The chain will initially comprise eight budget properties operated by KTDC under the ''Yatri Nivas'' name, which will be upgraded and brought under the umbrella of the new brand. These include properties at Kannur, Thrissur, Mannarkad, Guruvayur, Alappuzha, Changanacherry and Kollam.

Additionally, the company is looking at setting up seven new properties under the budget hotel brand in other locations across Kerala.

Bajaj launches XCD 125; priced at Rs 41,000
: Over the weekend, Bajaj Auto unveiled the XCD 125cc motorcycle with the DTS-Si engine, its latest offering in the motorcycle segment, which was previously referred to as "Exceed".

Priced at Rs41,000, ex-showroom (Pune), the new motorcycle is available across all Bajaj dealerships. The company is targeting sales of 20,000 units in the first month (September ''07), to be followed by another 50,000 units in October ''07, and 70,000 units in November ''07, according to Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Auto.

The XCD 125 is manufactured at the company''s Waluj factory, at Aurangabad.

This motorcycle is targeting the needs of the 100cc customer, essentially covering mileage or kilometres per litre of petrol. It comes with features generally seen in 150cc motorcycles. The model replaces the Bajaj Discover 110cc and the 125cc. The Discover 135cc continues to retail at Bajaj''s dealerships.

The motorcycle is seen to create a niche that will cater to various segments in the future, without cannibalising the ''Bajaj Pulsar'' platform.

The offering comes at a time when the 125cc and 150cc segment is showing a growth of around 16 per cent, while the 100cc segment has witnessed a drop of almost 20 percent this quarter.

According to Amit Nandi, GM-marketing, Bajaj Auto, the company has budgeted around Rs11 crore for media promotions for the new model.

A push for Corolla sales
Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd is hoping to get its largely stagnant sales numbers for its Toyota Corolla model moving this calendar year via internet marketing and festive schemes, along with a launch of a special limited edition.

The Japanese car major, which is present in India thorough its joint venture company with the Kirloskar group, is expecting to push the Corolla''s sales to 8,000 units this year, as compared with 7,000 last year.

For some time now, sales of the Corolla have been more or less stagnant, even as competitor Honda''s Civic and City models, which are part of the same segment, have seen healthy sales.

According to B Ashish Kumar, general manager, Toyota Kirloskar Motors'' marketing division, value additions and attractive offers have assisted the company to push up sales of the Corolla. According to him, the limited edition of the Corolla received a huge response from the market, with the company selling 300 Corollas since the launch of the program in June 2007. What is interesting is that half of these sales, i.e. around 150 cars were sold via internet marketing.

The company is also planning a festive season campaign to further boost sales of all its models.

Kumar said Toyota''s vehicle sales this year would be led by Innova, which will grow to 45,000 units this year from 40,400 units last year. For its Camry model, the company expects the car to overshoot the targeted 1,000 units, and attain 20 per cent higher volumes at 1,200 units this year, as compared to 700 units last year.

Dabur''s health and beauty stores to market beauty related services
Dabur India''s retail operations now plan to include some beauty and health services as well, drawing from market demand for services of competition such as Marico''s Kaya Skin Clinics.

Under the company''s H&B Stores brand, beauty related services would be offered on a similar concept.

The services would include services such as whitening and facials, along with the regular manicures and pedicures. Being a value for money brand, the company is not expected to charge a premium for its services, and customers can expect these as affordable services.

The non-premium pricing is also likely to have a bearing on the success of the venture, given that the company plans to market these services to customers in smaller cities.

Dabur India is also expected to market its services in the future under separate brand. Based on Dabur''s ayurvedic product portfolio, the retail stores would also sell pharmacy services.

The company plans to launch four to six stores over the year in Delhi and the NCR region, to be followed by its pan-India expansion of 40 stores in 2008-09. The stores would come in three sizes of 6,000 sq ft, 3,000 sq ft and 1,500 sq ft.

The retail endeavour has seen an investment of around Rs140 crore. H&B Stores Ltd is a subsidiary of Dabur India, which expects to break even by 2010. The company is said to be estimating sales at between Rs18,000 and Rs20,000 per sq ft.

Leo Burnett is Bacardi''s new brand manager
Bacardi Martini India has decided on Leo Burnett as the agency to manage its brands, which include the entire brand portfolio comprising Bacardi White Rum, Bacardi Dark Rum, Grey Goose Vodka, Bombay Sapphire Gin and Dewar''s scotch, along with the premium Vodka, Eristoff.

Bacardi''s account size is estimated at Rs45 crore, and was previously handled by Rediffusion DY&R.

Bacardi''s premium vodka Eristoff is presently being test-marketed in Bangalore, with the national rollout expected soon.

According to Mahesh Madhvan, CEO Bacardi Martini India, the country is a very important market for the company, which plans to scale up its investments in India over the next two-year period.

TeamLease plans to train manpower for retail
Staffing services leader TeamLease has partnered with Manipal Universal Learning to launch a two-month training programme aimed at the retail sector.

The residential programme is slated to run initially in Bangalore and tier-II towns in Karnataka. Candidates for the programme are sourced by TeamLease, and are moved to Bangalore for residential training after the initial assessment is compeleted.

The minimum qualification required for the programme is higher secondary level of education. The programme costs Rs13,000, and is designed for front-end sales related job profiles.

According to Rajesh A.R., vice-president, TeamLease, candidates would be assured of a placement on completion of the course, and the fee would be refunded by TeamLease if they are unable to place the candidate upon completion of the program.

However, given that major retail chains are actively seeking the services of staffing service companies to provide manpower to their outlets, this scenario would be rare, if not totally unlikely. Demand for frontline sales staff in the retail industry is estimated at about 2.1 lakh associates. This programme is designed to bridge the gap between skilled and semi-skilled manpower, while catering to the huge demand in the retail sector.

Volvo may drive in Japanese, Chinese big truck brands to India
New Delhi:
Swedish commercial vehicle maker Volvo is evaluating options to expand its Indian operations, including joint venture options with local players, or the acquisition of an existing truck manufacturing facility to drive in its recently acquired Japanese and Chinese truck brands here.

Volvo plans to become a significant player in the two-lakh unit heavy-duty truck market, according to managing director Eric Leblanc. The Swedish company is reported to be in talks with various parties for joint ventures, alliances or even acquisitions for expanding its trucks business in India.

In August, it had made known its intentions its intention to secure a strategic partner to enter into the high-volume, light commercial vehicle (LCV) business in India.

It is also toying with the idea of bringing in the two acquired brands - Nissan Diesel from Japan and DongFeng from China. Volvo at present sells off-road 25-49 tonne trucks, in a niche of about 1,000 units per year in the 16 - 49 tonne market of two lakh units per annum.

The Swedish company is keen to expand its presence in India in the commercial vehicles and the passenger car segments.

In August it announced its plans to introduce two premium passenger car models, the S80 sedan and the sport-utility vehicle XC90 by next month through its subsidiary, Volvo Cars India. Both models will be available in petrol and diesel variants, with a 3.2-litre and 4.4-litre engine for the petrol variant, and a 2.5-litre engine in the diesel variant.

Reliance launches Blackberry
ADAG group company Reliance Communications is now the first CDMA telecom service provider in India to launch the push mail smart phone from Canada- based company Research in Motion (RIM), the Blackberry.

According to company president and CEO enterprise Prakash Bajpai, the company is also the first in India to launch the Blackberry 8830 World Edition phone, which provides interoperability on both CDMA and GSM networks. This is widely seen as an essential convenience for international roaming.

The company, at a later stage, plans to provide other applications such as online stock trading, Blackberry for pre-paid, Bloomberg Professional services which is a global service of data, news and analytics, in addition to email.

GSM network operators Airtel and Hutch are the other players offering Blackberry services in India.

Reliance launched four Blackberry handset models - the Blackberry Pearl and Curve for GSM subscribers, the Blackberry 8703e for CDMA subscribers, and the Blackberry 8830 World Edition, which works on both CDMA as well as GSM networks.

Bajpai said that world over, the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) for smart phones was eight to ten times higher than regular phones, and estimated it to be in the range of Rs2,000-3,000 for India.

The company plans to tap its enterprise customer base of 6,20,000 which for the Blackberry. For small and medium enterprises, Reliance plans to offer the added facility of a hosted Blackberry Enterprise Server with no upfront software costs, deployment overheads or ongoing IT support costs.

It also plans to offer shared servers for small enterprise customers, which will lower total cost of ownership and offer scalability and security features.

According to Research in Motion (RIM) Asia Pacific vice president Norm Lo, Blackberry has been witnessing double digit growth in the Indian market. Blackberry phones facilitate email and messaging, web browsing and access to PowerPoint presentations, multimedia files and critical company information in a secure manner.

TV 18 Rebranded: now called Network 18
For TV18, it was a case of having a finger in every pie. News channels, web portals, film production, even a shopping network. To unify its diverse ventures, the network has decided to rebrand itself as Network 18.

As part of the rebranding exercise, Network 18 unveiled its new logo with a brand new look on Sunday. Raghav Bahl, managing director at Network 18, said, "The commonality has to be there."

According to Haresh Chawla, CEO Network 18, "There is a logo that defines the brand of products that you have been using."

A premier channel in business news, a plethora of web portals, a shopping network and a giant leap into the entertainment sector, content has been the pivotal success factor for the company, which has been everywhere except print and radio, as of now.

With a resolve to enable, empower and entertain, and with a mantra of ''18 till I die'', Network 18 is pitched as a one stop shop for news, views and quality products.

Technology companies go below-the-line to market their wares
Learning from innovative marketing strategies of fast-moving consumer goods and youth marketing brands, technology companies too have discovered below-the-line marketing strategies.

The favourite place for youth brands are malls and retail outlets, while tech companies find their target audience at airports.

Webex, the Bangalore-based provider of technology solutions for online meetings and conferences, has set up an interactive kiosk inside the Bangalore airport''s waiting lounge, in the area ahead of security clearance. With fliers waiting to board the aircraft, the waiting time is optimised to experience a demo of Webex''s product offerings. The Delhi and Mumbai airports too will soon see these kiosks.

According to Kiran Dhar, managing director, Webex, the airport waiting lounge serves as ''catchments'' with frequent business travellers, which is the company''s target audience. Footfalls at the Bangalore airport peak during the 6 to 9 am and 4 to 9 pm timeslots, with 5,000 people transiting through the lounge. With 40-50 per cent of this group being business travellers, the airport provides a captive audience comprising direct access to decision makers and company directors.

Delivering the message is the second-level clincher. Webex''s kiosks convey that with its Web conference solution, they don''t really need to travel or be physically present at meetings. Webex''s solutions assist in cutting travel-time and consequential productivity improvements.

According to Dhar, Webex has received around 600 legitimate registrations at its kiosk at the Bangalore airport.

Similarly, APC-MGE, the UPS (critical power backup) and cooling services for IT equipments, had also set up kiosks at the Bangalore and Mumbai airports a while back.

Pankaj Sharma, country general manager, APC-MGE, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh region, is of the opinion that these kiosks are effective tools for brand building, as opposed to product sales.

APC-MGE''s products include extended run time battery for laptops, mobile power pack for mobile phones and ipods that allow travellers to power their devices during travel, travel mouse, and biometric devices.

In the lap of luxury: Volvo enters India with two cars
New Delhi:
Swedish car major Volvo Car Corporation has entered India with two flagship products, the S80 sedan and the XC90 sports utility vehicle (SUV), with starting prices of Rs38 lakh, and Rs45 lakh respectively.

The company has introduced two petrol (3.2litre and 4.4litre) and one diesel engine (2.5litre) variant in both the models.

According to Paul de Voijs, managing director, Volvo Car India, the company is very excited about India as a market for its luxury cars, and expects it to grow exponentially in the next couple of years.

He said the company plans to commence its Indian operations with a dealership each in Chandigarh, Mumbai and Delhi, and would later scale up its dealer network to nine by end 2008. Volvo will import its products as completely built units (CBUs) from its manufacturing plant in Sweden.

The S80 sedan petrol variant is to be priced at Rs38 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), with the diesel variant cheaper by Rs1 lakh. The petrol version of the XC90 will cost Rs46 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), with the diesel version a lakh cheaper at Rs45 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).

The S80 sedan would see competition in the form of BMW''s 5-series, whose price ranges from Rs37-Rs42 lakh, and the SUV XC90 will compete with the Audi Q7, the BMW X5 and the Mercedes M Class, in the Rs60 lakh plus category.

Volvo passenger car business is owned by US-based auto major Ford Motor Co.

Apple trims iPhone''s price, unveils a revamped iPod with some iPhone''s features
San Francisco:
Apple has shaved the price of its hot-selling iPhone, while simultaneously unveiling a touch-screen iPod. This is timed to coincide with the year-end holiday shopping season.

The new iPod caters to of consumers who didn''t want new mobile phones, but desired other features of the product.

Apple''s tweaking of the iPod saw the company add video, memory and some other coveted features, while keeping prices constant, if now down.

Among other add-ins, the iPod also has Apple''s famous Safari web browser, along with a built-in wireless antenna, which lets users connect directly to the Internet at Wi-Fi ''hot spots'', eliminating the need for carrying around laptops.

The 8GB iPod Touch is priced at $299, with the 16GB costing $399.

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