Evolving with the times

Written by Alokananda Chakraborty | Pritha Mitra Dasgupta | Updated: Feb 26 2008, 07:18am hrs
Guess what makes Madonna hip and relevant almost three decades after she burst into the pop music scene with Everybody Its because shes had a finger firmly on the pulse of the market and just when critics declare her 15 minutes are up, shes launched herself as an entirely new avatar. Though this chameleon characteristic is her trademark, she has never taken her eyes off the competition (remember how she kissed Britney Spears during an MTV awards show under full public glare).

Reinvention. That is her story in brief.

While all the rules of showbiz may not apply perfectly to the world of brands, one theme remains constant: like Madonnas chameleon appeal, a brand has to be a cultural bloodhound always on the scent of the fresh, the cool and the credible (Madonna by Andrew Morton).

One brand that seems to have mastered the art of reinventionthat too in a category that is among the most difficult to crackis Bournvita, which started its lifes journey six decades ago as a taste additive to milk. Today, Bournvita is not just a health drink. Its a quiz show, its a book of knowledge, its a talent hunt, an online game In other words, a lot more than just a taste-enhancer.

Little wonder Bournvita has sustained over time and competition to grow to Rs 100-crore-plus brand today, with over 17% share (the original chocolate Bournvita and 2006 extension Bournvita 5 Star Magic put together) in the brown segment of the health food drink (HFD) market. Here a little clarification might be necessary. The Rs 1,600-crore health food drink market has two constituentsthe white, which has a bigger 55% share (Rs 880 crore), and the brown, which has a smaller 45% share (Rs 720 crore). And Bournvitas journey in this has been extraordinary, to say the least.

Unlike many brands Bournvita is not just a promise, says Santosh

Desai, CEO and MD, Future Brands. Its success lies in the manner in which it has delivered on the promise. The promise of Bournvita is a combination of mind and body and this concept of overall well being of children is at the heart of middle-class aspiration in India. Above all, within this broad promise Bournvita has not been shy about changing its physical form if the times demanded it.

Launched in India in 1948, the emphasis in its early years was on its good taste (taste additive to milk). As consumers became more demanding and new brands came to the market, the brand pitch was modified to include the nutrition aspect (extra nutrition, extra taste). The milk shortage of the 50s and 60s ensured that Bournvita becomes the enduring symbol of mental and physical well being.

Over the next two decades the segment cruised at a growth rate of 10% and many other brands threw their hats into the ring sniffing the opportunity. Stiff competition from brands such as Maltova, Boost (from GlaxoSmithKline), Complan (Heinz) and Nutramul (Amul) urged Bournvita to shift gears and give some serious thought to on-ground activities besides stepping up mainstream advertising. So was born the Bournvita Quiz Contest (1972), an offline event that migrated first to radio and in the nineties, to television. Long before 360-degree communication and activation became buzzwords, Bourvita had been at it, points out Desai.

The brand then spoke directly to mothers harping on good upbringing (Goodness that Grows with You). During the 1980s the brand proposition included the aspect of intelligence and the tagline was revised to Brought Up Right, Bournvita Bright. Later, to widen its appeal, the focus moved to include the wholesome goodness property (Bournvita has proteins, minerals and carbohydrates). Indeed, the 1990s saw many memorable campaigns for Bournvita based on the Tan ki Shakti, Mann ki Shakti platform.

But things took a turn for the worse in the late nineties. Faced with intense competition from Nestles Milo, Bournvita decided to embrace the health platform with gusto. The brand used a clever analogy to communicate the health benefits: two cups of Bournvita everyday for balanced nutrition. The communication deftly used an acronym, RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance), to reinforce the new positioning.

The brand also made clever use of star cricketer of the time, Ajay Jadeja, to appeal to kids. The communication harped also on the taste aspect in its tagline, which went No Bournvita, no milk. There was a reason for putting the spotlight on kids.

Even as the brand was making a point with mothers, the company felt it was not keeping pace with the aspirations of the new age Indian child, now exposed to a host of fast food options and armed with great pester power. Says Manoj Shetty, creative director, Ogilvy & Mather, the agency that has handled the brands communication since 1952, Bournvita commercials were always pitched at mothers, who took the decision of purchasing the product. But times have changed and child-ren take most of the decisions concerning themselves.

This led to the realisation that the brand needs to reinvent itself to maintain a strong connect with kids. With this objective, Bournvita was re-launched with a completely new identity in 2001. In its new avatar, the brand had a bold logo, trendy packaging and better pack graphics. Post relaunch, the brand witnessed high growth rates, bucking the stagnancy in the category and achieved market leadership in the north and the west, which it still maintains. It has become extremely important to appeal to the consumer and not just the buyer. Bournvita isnt getting younger with time, it has just started talking to its primary audience more often, adds Shetty.

But the job wasnt done yet. And it was time to expand the franchise. So in 2006, Bournvita dawned a new look and launched a new variant, Bournvita 5 Star Magic, which was supported by fresh communication. Explains Sanjay Purohit, head of marketing, Cadbury India, One of our key observations was that consumers respond more positively to the names and brands that already exist in their mind space. Our power brand 5 Star was a natural choice when we wanted to add a novel flavour to Bournvita that would translate into identifiable taste with added fun for the consumers.

The new Bournvita jar has an international, trendy and confident look conveyed through its unique shape and the liddescribed variously as sunrise or a bikers helmet among other thingsstands for strength and confidence.

This was followed up with one of its most successful campaigns in recent times dubbed Achievers. The campaign is aimed to drive Bournvita Confidence as an advantage that the Bournvita kid has, using achievers to endorse the claim. This campaign was preceded by a series of three testimonial ads wherein achievers from the Cadbury Bournvita Confidence Champion explained what confidence meant in their lives and hence what Bournvita Confidence was all about. Therefore the tagline Do you have Bournvita Confidence

All the achievers in both the campaigns were from the Cadbury Bournvita Confidence Champion show hosted on Sony in 2006. The campaign is still on air.

Over all these years one notices an implicit continuity and consistency in the brands communication, in the brands overall offering to its consumer, points out Future Brands Desai. It may have changed in its outward appearance and its total portfolio, but its ability to deliver on ground has remained constant. Some achievement for a 60-year old!

So there you go. Either reinvent yourself or fall by the wayside.

Irrespective of the category you operate in.