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Understanding Brand Reinvention – The Iconic Journey Of Godrej Cinthol

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Sunil_Kataria“If you make sure that your brand story is fresh and compelling without losing your core customers, then that is brand reinvention for me” shared Sunil Kataria, the Chief Operating Officer, Sales, Marketing and SAARC, Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GCPL). At the Pitch CMO Summit 2014, among the most esteemed speakers, Mr. Kataria, with an illustrious career in the FMCG industry, unleashed the essentials of brand reinvention by taking the audience through the 62 year young Godrej Cinthol’s iconic journey.

Brand reinvention holds a pivotal role in the long term sustainability of any brand. When brands are created, they have an objective and purpose which were resonant to the environment at that time. As time moves on, the consumers and their behavior change. Hence, a brand too needs to adapt and evolve in order to stay alive in the new environment and remain competent in the market. In the absence of brand reinvention, even the strongest brands have succumbed to death. Kodak, one of the most admirable brands, synonymous with photography, ceased to exist owing to its inability to reinvent the brand. The following factors are leading to the need of quicker reinvention of brands in India, probably every 5-7 years for a brand:-

1) Cultural shifts in the society – The society is undergoing fundamental cultural shifts and the aspirations of the people is getting higher.

2) Frequent up gradation of Technology – The rapidly changing technology landscape also leaves an impact on the behavior of a consumer. Every day, new technologies keep appearing while the old ones getting obsolete.

Keeping the above points in mind, let us look at the various phases through which the brand Godrej Cinthol, has undergone but still enjoys a significant market share in the premium segment.

Phase I (1952-1982) – In this era, advertisements were primarily through the print media. Cinthol was introduced as the first deodorant and complexion soap in India. It was launched as a premium product which targeted youth and was priced higher than its competitors.

Phase II (1985-1995) – In this era, India just started taking off. Thus, Cinthol commercial came to the TV screens and targeted its primary consumers, i.e. active, young and premium segments. In this phase, the reinvention was dominantly in terms of product packaging and the product communication.

During the same period, Alpha male personalities like Vinod Khanna and Imran Khan were signed up by Cinthol for its TV commercials. The ads were shot in English during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s era in order to emphasize the premier image of the brand.

Phase 3 (1995-2007) – In this era, the Cinthol brand was well established as a premium brand in the Indian market. However the size of the premium market was still small while the brand continuously gaining popularity. During this phase, Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan were endorsed by Cinthol as their brand ambassadors. In order to take the brand beyond the premium segment to the masses, Cinthol reinvented the brand again and extended it to another popular variant. The idea was to take the brand to the big mass popular segment – The Family. So, there were two variants of the advertisement running parallel – One for the premium segment and the other for the popular segment.

However, the popular imagery quickly overshadowed the premium imagery. This soon became a reason to worry for the marketing team since Cinthol always had a strong youth and premium connotation attached to it which was fading away as a result of the new strategy. Hence, a rebranding was again necessary to restore the brand image of the previous phase. Hritik Roshan was signed up by Cinthol for its new TV commercial to bring back the youth and premium association.

Thus, since the inception of Cinthol brand till 2011, there had been a total of 3 reinventions and the brand was doing wonderfully well when the company noticed the following key developments taking place in the Indian market ecosystem:-

1) Major society value shift – Indian society was transforming from a victimized and conservative society to an action oriented society with focus on family and career.

2) Emergence of I-Generation – The internet generation was emerging at a very fast pace. The youth was quickly turning into dreamers who will make it big in life.

3) Rise of Digital and Social Media – There was a huge rise of the digital and social media from 2008-2013. Within these 4 years, Facebook acquired 93 million users in India. The number of smartphones increased from nearly none to 80 million.

4) Inter brand valuation – All the Godrej brands were internally valued in 2011 and Cinthol was found to be the most massive brand among the different Godrej brands.

The above mentioned trends were clearly indicating a big change in the ecosystem. In 2011, it led the Cinthol management team to wonder if it was time for a reinvention again. The more important question was not that “where the brand is” but it was “where the brand wants to be”. Hence, Cinthol geared up again for reinventing the product.

Cinthol’s Reinvention post 2011

According to Cinthol’s research, they came up with the following 3 insights:-

1) The youth of today wishes to experience all the shades of life. He wants to learn about the different dimensions of life.

2) The youths of today don’t connect to the celebrities like the youth of 20 years back. They relate to the real side of the celebrities than their on screen side. They are not curious about how the celebrity behaves on screen, but the real life vulnerability of the celebrity.

3) Digital media will not be just a part of the reinventing strategy, but it will be the core of their reinventing strategy.

To incorporate the first insight, Cinthol launched their “Life is Awesome” campaign in 2012. It associated “Alive” with the confidence of today’s youth and “Awesome” with the emerging i-Generation. Bold colors and intense fragrances were introduced into the product. “Being Alive” was associated with the way of life and used to differentiate the brand. The ad contained the bathing experiences of a group of friends to create incredibly alive awareness. To make the campaign popular in digital media, it was promoted on the Blogosphere and people were asked to upload unique bathing moments online.

To incorporate the second insight, Cinthol joined hands with Virat Kohli to appear for their new reinvented avatar in 2013. Virat Kohli was found out by Cinthol to be the most alive personality in 2013. However, the ad was all about the real personality of Virat Kohli. The ad was about what goes on in Virat’s head before he comes out to bat in congruence with the second insight. A teaser of the ad was released on the social media on March 2013 with a hashtag #inVirat’shead. The teaser went viral and featured among the top trends. It was finally followed up with a complete ad on digital media as well as a TV commercial.

As a result of the reinventing efforts, Cinthol got itself digitally connected with the youth. It trended on Twitter for 7 days grabbing the attention of over 7 lakh people and 100 lakh impressions. In a year with 0 average growth rate, Cinthol register a 3 time growth over the previous year.

This journey of reinventing is an everlasting phenomenon for long term brands. “Brands need to be proactive. The reinventing curves have become shorter with an average period of 5-7 years”, added Mr. Kataria. In response to whether celebrity brand ambassadors are the way ahead for a brand, Mr Kataria replied that if the idea to connect with the consumers is strong enough, there is no particular need of celebrities to promote your brand.

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  • There is 1 comment


    • 3 years ago

      Kiran Lund   /   Reply

      sometimes celebrities are important to gain popularity in the brand,as they’ve taken the most popular actors,so that has influenced more than the brand.

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