It’s not a freebie, but comes close. A few weeks ago, Asian Paints Ltd released an ad that encouraged consumers to do what was once considered the sole domain of the local painter. They urged consumers to step into a paint store, buy a couple of samples that could be tested on the walls, before zeroing in on a shade they liked. “Try before you buy,” it seemed to say.
This new campaign from Asian Paints marks a new trend among advertisers, who are now looking to attract consumers with try-vertising, or mainstream advertising that encourages them to try the sample or smaller-sized product while also building brand image. Expect more of this cost-effective double hook from advertisers, driven by market clutter and economic volatility.
Test pack: Asian Paints and Garnier Wrinkle Lift face cream launched trial packs.
While the Indian consumer has already had his share of freebies tossed at him, this new trend is a little different. Instead of handing out free samples to consumers, who may or may not buy into the brand at a later stage, the advertiser is now using try-vertising to target consumers who are already sold on the brand and express an inclination to buy it, but need what Anand Halve, co-founder, Chlorophyll Brand and Communications Consultancy Pvt. Ltd, calls the “final reassurance pack”. “You offer the consumer a chance to buy and sample a smaller quantity of the product, a reassurance of sorts that they need this product, before they actually invest in it,” Halve adds.
That’s where try-vertising steps in. L’Oreal India Pvt. Ltd is advertising an 18ml trial pack for Garnier Wrinkle Lift face cream (Rs99) on television. Parachute’s new night therapy cream ad has a number that you can send an SMS to for a free pack. And Reckitt Benckiser (India) Ltd’s Veet hair removal cream recently launched a 25gm trial pack at Rs33 in its brand-building spots. “Our insights reveal that the Indian market is very diverse. There are several segments of the population, some with a limited purchasing power, some with lower usage habits, but all wanting products with more and more quality and performance,” says Dinesh Dayal, chief operating officer, L’Oreal India, on the decision to launch and advertise trial packs, a first for the firm.
Popular coffee chain Starbucks recently introduced a coupon in its brand-building print ads overseas, to encourage consumers to try a new flavour of coffee. What makes such efforts unique is that advertisers are linking the brand message as well as the proposition of a sample or trial pack in the same communication.
“We should see more of this in coming years,” says Arun Iyer, creative director, Lintas India Pvt. Ltd who maintains that in a crowded market, both new and existing brands will have to come up with new propositions and pressure points to make consumers buy into their brands. “You would normally see trial offers with the launch of a new category or a changing format within an existing category,” he says. For example, the agency worked on a “sixer”, or a six-sachet pack for detergent brand Surf Excel. “One for every day of the week,” said the child posing as a doctor, to his mother in the ad. “Tell me how you feel after that.” While the new format was launched to aid convenience rather than trials, the advertisement also worked well in drawing in new consumers, adds Iyer.
“Every marketer looks for the easiest pressure point, the quickest and least troublesome way to evoke the desired response from their consumer,” says Halve. So, unlike a category where conversion from awareness to trial is quick — such as mobile phones—and where launching an ad for a new model is enough to drive a desirable response, categories such as consumer products are likely to need more convincing. While some may launch smaller packs or distribute trial products, experts maintain that many established brands are moving to another level of marketing: encouraging consumers (via strategic try-vertising) to buy trial packs, rather than just handing out free samples.
“Unlike more mature markets, which are used to do-it-yourself kits, Indian consumers are dependent on their painters. So, we wanted to do something that would encourage consumers to actively participate in the whole process, while driving traffic to our Colour World stores,” says K.B.S. Anand, vice-president (sales and marketing), Asian Paints.