When advertisements must build categories

When advertisements must build categories

Mumbai: In an age when categories are converging or changing rapidly, should advertising build categories before brands?

“If the brand is either dominant in the category (40% plus market share) or is the “creator" of the category, then advertising must be directed towards building the category. This is even more advantageous in high-growth categories such as personal computers, mobile phones or mobile networks, digital cameras, etc.," says K.B.S. Anand, head, vice-president, sales and marketing, Asian Paints Ltd.

Anand says brands such as Apex for exterior emulsions created the category, and continue to be dominant. Other examples include Cherry Blossom shoe polish, Johnson baby products,?Dettol antiseptic, Rasna, Maggi 2-minute noodles.

Sometimes, the category may die, but intelligent marketers ensure the brand lives on by extending it to other categories, as in the case of Bajaj Auto Ltd’s switch from scooters to motorcycles and IBM Corp.’s switch from mainframes to PCs to services.

Brands which died with the category include Snowcem in exterior cement paint, Bajaj Scooter-Vespa (however, the Bajaj brand lived on with the motorcycle), Luna Moped, and Remington typewriters.

Advertising should look at category building when there is no competition in the category; when it is the market leader, or when the penetration of the category is next to nothing in a market.

This approach can also be used when there is negative sentiment in the market due to a crisis that has destroyed equity, says Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

As clear market leader, with no competition, Nestle’s Milkmaid built the condensed milk category in India. This continued for decades till Amul’s Mithai Mate came by. Again, Woodward’s Gripe water built the anti-colic solution market in India.

“Brand valuation in categories totally owned are the highest for the owner of the category. Board game Monopoly owns the category, just as Scrabble owns the word games category. Valuation of these brands is the highest in their category," says Bijoor.

Advertising must link the category totally to one’s brand image and colour, and everything that you wish to keep as long-term memory tags in the consumers’ minds. Never invest to help create someone else’s market, he adds.

The good news is, when you own a category, you alienate every other competitor, existing or new. You build barriers to entry which are rock solid.