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ITC to launch a host of new personal care products soon - 23 Feb 2008

Soaps, shampoos, shower gels - personal care products is one of the toughest categories to sell and one of the biggest categories to advertise. But when you are backed by the might of Rs 12,700 crore ITC, things should be easier.

So, has it been an easy ride for Fiama Di Wills, the personal care brand under which several new launches have been happening since September 2007? Sandeep Kaul who heads this business for ITC answers.

Q: How is Fiama Di Wills doing? September 2007, after about five years or so for planning, we have this in the market, how do you evaluate and how it’s fairing six months down?

A: We were in process of developing this whole proposition of which Fiama Di Wills is a premium brand. We were on it for almost five years before launching and now we have shampoos, soaps, shower gels and the conditioner now rolled out nationally. It’s been a fantastic response.

A great satisfaction to us is that the development that we have done over these five years - understanding the consumer, being able to tailor our products and our message sharply to then needs of tour consumer - is working out. We are doing very well and we are very satisfied with the brand’s progress so far.

Q: Is it too early to ask you to give us a sense of the size of the business?

A: Yes it’s very early considering that some of the products have launched just a few weeks back. But we continue to measure a lot of metrics and a lot of indicators, it’s gone down beautifully with the consumers, a lot of acceptance and trial.

Q: Fiama DI Wills, lets start up the name. Why the name and what does it connote for the brand?

A: The name has been created fundamentally looking at the aspect of soft feminity and a feeling of joy, comfort and beauty.

Q: It’s not alien to the Indian town?

A: We don’t think so. We’ve researched it extensively and it’s very well accepted by the consumers.

Q: Are you at the local chemist or grocer store? You’re not seeing it as a problem?

A: No, it’s not a problem at all.

Q: There is brand, and then you have Vivel Di Wills, again all the names seem difficult?

A: The names are created to stand for certain brand values. The process of creation of the name goes through a fairly long and detailed exercise and evaluation. The brand Vivel Di Wills that you mentioned, is another brand that we have launched which caters to another target segment. It’s the latest, just a few days old, so the portfolio is growing with every passing month.

Q: So all the concern about the name should be thrown out of the window?

A: It has been developed with a certain amount of care, and we aren’t picking up any information that gives us any concern.

Q: Since September 2007, when you started with the shampoos, and then you went to shower gels, conditioners, soaps for Fiama, and now Vivel, what’s the distinction between Fiama and Vivel?

A: Fiama is the value proposition which is designed on gentle and effective care, with the benefit of nature and science. The brand Vivel Di Wills is based on certain understanding and provision of an emotional benefit of a confident young women.

Q: Is there a price difference in terms of positioning?

A: Yes, there is price and positioning difference. Fiama is priced higher than Vivel. We have two ranges under the brand Vivel, there’s Vivel Di Wills which has two variants of soap. Then there’s Vivel bu itself which four more variants of soap. Between the two there are six variants of soaps which are in the market at the moment.

Q: Tell us how this works, going to the market finally, and the way the product that has been staggered under the Fiama brand, and then the Vivel brand. You also have Superia?

A: It’s a portfolio wherein we have identified differentiated benefits. We are able to organize a product portfolio under these three central value propositions.

Q: Strategically, the effort has been to ensure that you have three different price points and a whole bunch of products under each of these brands pretty quickly, isn’t it?

A: Yes, the idea is to get into the market with a full portfolio of offers as rapidly This is obviously based on the fact that we have been doing very focused development since the last five years.

Q: When you look at this personal care category, how do you evaluate or how do you say the rollout has been as compared to the other precedents? Unusually fast?

A: I wouldn’t know about the precedent, but we are trying to offer as many products as we can, as quickly as possible, to as many consumers where we have been able to find unique propositions that we can offer to our consumers. So it’s really consumer driven that we were able to segment the market and identify unique value propositions that we could position our brands on, this our strategy.  

Q: Is it inevitable that you can’t do with a celebrity in this category?

A: Not really, in fact for our first phase of shampoo advetising, we haven’t used any celebrities.

Q: Why did you feel the need for this one?

A: In this case, we thought the personality of Deepika Padukone fitted the brand personality that we were communicating with this skin soap very well. It was a very good natural fit for the personality and the personality of the brand to come together. So it was an opportunity that we thought would be great for the brand.

Q: You mentioned the shampoo advertising, and for a brand launch from the house of ITC, we were a bit surprised by the advertising because we thought that it wasn’t the ‘hey look at me, I’m a new brand, you must look at me’ type that we thought it should have been. How do you react to that?

A: The communication strategy for the brand has been designed keeping in mind the importance of communicating the benefit, both the emotional benefit as well as the product benefit. The creative strategy, the tone and form, in our opinion, does justice to being able to communicate this point of view to the consumer in a meaningful fashion, that they are able to comprehend and understand the message.

Q: You don’t think it’s slightly conventional, old fashioned. Today, it looks like an old, established P&G advertising and P&G is going completely the other way, or trying very hard to?

A: Our objectives are to create communications which enable us to deliver the brand message and the brand promise effectively. Whichever be the style and format that’s required to communicate that, we will follow that. We don’t have any complaints so far.  

Q: Is it early to ask you when the next launch will be?

A: it will be very shortly. We will be putting in more products in the markets very soon.