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And now, it’s ladies specials...

business Updated: Feb 21, 2008 20:51 IST
Saurabh Turakhia
Saurabh Turakhia
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

For long, health foods and their advertising have targeted mothers of youth and children on the plank of nutritional importance in the growing-up years. Now, it’s the mothers themselves and in a larger framework, women, who are being targeted, on the same plank of nutritional importance. A full-circle shift indeed from products in their advertising showing women as super caretakers of their families’ health, to showing women needing to be taken care of. <b1>

Dabur Chyawanprash, after introducing Chyawan Junior for kids, has now extended its “Zaroorat Hai” tagline to “Sabko zaroorat hai”, through which it includes women as potential consumers. Horlicks, from Glaxo SmithKline, has also extended to a women’s variant, with the advertising highlighting the need for special nutrients for good health.

KK Rajesh, executive vice president, Dabur India Ltd., explains, “As health needs vary across age groups, Dabur Chyawanprash becomes relevant for kids for immunity and for adults for providing strength and stamina. This approach of addressing distinct health needs of different segments is what we call the relevance strategy. The strategy also revolves around consumer insight that when it comes to taking care of health on a day-to-day basis, people are more concerned about their loved ones than themselves.”

While the first Dabur Chyawanprash ad had brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan as sutradhar, highlighting the importance of the product for children, the recent ad reprimands the husband and kid for ignoring the hardships a wife/mother faces throughout the day. Rajesh adds, “With the mother’s need for stamina and health being recognised as well, this communication takes the leap forward to Sabko Zaroorat Hai.”

Santosh Desai, MD and CEO, Future Brands is, however, not sure whether the marketers are getting their extension strategies right. Quoting some successful examples of product extension to the fairer sex, he says, “Citibank had introduced a special card for women, which was a genuine proposition. The gearless ‘Scooty’ also appealed to women as there was a real benefit. But the Chyawanprash market is saturated – it has actually de-grown last year. Marketers have taken the easiest route of tokenism: if women are shown consuming Chyawanprash or Horlicks, the offtake will increase.”

Shubhajit Sen, VP marketing, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare India, doesn’t necessarily agree, feeling that there is actually a need.

“The number of working women has more than doubled over the past few years. Despite this, 90 per cent of the house work still needs to be done by them. This puts extreme stress on the working woman. The housewife may not be so stressed out, but the problems of anemia are equally severe for both sets. Nutritional supplements help since there are many gaps in nutrients in the typical diet of Indian women.”

On the opportunity for Horlicks with adult consumers, the company’s research shows that while two-thirds of the brand’s sales are to households with children in the 4-14 years age band for whose nutritional needs the brand is seen as appropriate, adults hesitate to consume it because of added sugar. So Horlicks launched sugar and cholestrol-free Horlicks Lite in 2005. The women’s extension, it feels, is another genuine opportunity.

Dabur, which claims market leadership in the Rs 300 crore Chyawanprash market with a 60 per cent-plus share, also feels that its women’s extension is a valid proposition. Rajesh explains, “People generally tend to believe that a woman’s life is easy at home, while the truth is that the housewife’s job is never done. With this commercial, we try to establish that even a homemaker goes through an equally demanding day, and cannot do without Dabur Chyawanprash.”

Could this be the start of a trend where more brands will extend themselves to address women in order to garner more growth or break open this consumer category with special propositions? Desai feels that more such moves cannot be ruled out for other product categories. He says brands make such moves in mature, stabilised or infancy markets. “Chyawanprash and white beverages are examples of mature categories. Meow 104.8 FM, an FM station dedicated to women, is an example of a category in the infancy stage.”

Harish Bijoor, CEO of Harish Bijoor Consults, has an interesting view: “Volumes are absolutely niche. Nevertheless, the image shares these extending brands enjoy are good. This is differentiation at play. This is edgy buzzy stuff. And women love it! Never mind they may not buy it. They love the fact that some companies are out to pamper them.” So the next challenge for marketers could be to convert the ‘pampered’ feel good to purchase commitment. This buzzy space could indeed get busy.