BRAND CULTURE

By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Jan 29 - Feb 04, 2001

The process of globalization is demolishing the physical boundaries of the markets and fuelling competition. Now brands, result-oriented strategies and efficient customer relationship management play important role in achieving an edge over competitors.

The charisma of brands cannot be undermined. Some of the brands have become, more or less, generic names. These include Fridge, Xerox, Insta, Dalda, Surf and Lifebouy. People use these brand names whenever they wish to refer to the actual product even if it carries a different name. The word Fridge has become a synonymous for refrigerator, Xerox for photocopy, Insta for cellular phone, Dalda for vanaspati ghee, Surf for washing powder and Lifebouy for carbolic soap.

The brand names assure the users of certain quality standards and consistency of quality. At the same time brand loyalty generates repeated sales for the brand owners. The confidence level is often to the extent that consumers even do not know the name of manufacturer or the country where these products have been manufactured.

Pakistan cannot remain immune to the process of globalization. While it has to open the domestic market for the overseas suppliers, Pakistani manufacturers not only have to face the competition in the local market but also compete in the international markets. The biggest challenge is for textiles and clothing sector which has been surviving due to quota regime. Some of the Pakistani brands from the sector, i.e. Bonanza and ChenOne have become known in global markets and many more names are passing through the process of recognition. Therefore, by following the foot prints of the leaders, other can also let the world known about their products.

Exploring the influence of branding in various industries is very interesting story. While most of the marketeers accept the importance of brands in case of consumables and durables, even agricultural inputs are being sold with brand names. The two examples are Engro and Kissan urea. As a majority equity participant in FFC-Jordan, Fauji Fertilizer preferred to use Kissan name due to its widespread brand loyalty.

In the consumer market the strength of brand names like Surf, Dalda, Robin Blue are the stalwarts. In urban areas and in case of brand-loyal customers the insistence of a consumer to buy a product is understandable. However, in rural areas where people cannot read names, they identify the products by logos. Some of these brands are often considered as generic names. This kind of brand loyalty or association has been developed due to extensive and intensive promotion by the companies. The impact of brand influence can also be gauged by lubricants buying habit of drivers. Now they insist of a brand rather than compromising on unbranded lubricant.

As regards consumer durables, some of the brand names have been imprinted in the memories of users. These are Philips, IBM, Intel, Sony and Waves. Consumers consider these names as industry bench mark. Interestingly, Intel was initially a microprocessor manufacturing company but the name Intel was, and still, considered to be the bench mark for evaluating the performance of a computer. The other interesting example is Sony. They are the pioneer of flat screen technology. Wega is their flat screen model but when people go to purchase a television, they insist on Sony although they mean a flat screen model produced by the Sony company.

TeeJays was a pioneer of branding in ready made garments. While it has not been able to get wide recognition at local and domestic level, some other manufacturers have attained such recognition. Two such names are Bonanza and ChenOne. While Bonanza became known due to its massive marketing and promotion, ChenOne has become a pick of those who love to buy world known brands. The manufacturers of ChenOne based their marketing strategy on four Ps, product, price, promotion and placement.

They realized the importance of product and produced items which were, in way, inferior to the some of the world leading brands. They also priced the products accordingly and used massive advertising to let the buyers know about the products. However, they were very choosy about placement. They decided to sell the product from their own outlets which are located in the areas where the residents have the corresponding purchasing power. Lately the ChenOne products have been made available in the Middle East market. To conclude, it is enough to say that unless local manufacturers establish the credibility of their products by branding them they may not be able to compete in the local market and maintain their share in the global markets.