Phillips India (GPI), the company which is known for its strong presence in the cigarette segment, is looking at diversifying its activities. GPI owns the popular cigarette brands, Four Square, Red & White and Cavanders.
As part of its diversifying efforts, GPI will enter the Rs 400 crore mint and lozenges market, with a new mint candy called Fundamint. Serum, the marketing and communication services agency set up by Abhinav Dhar and Ajit Hoon (of Dhar & Hoon fame) with Chetan Marwah (former managing director of Tatoo, a San Francisco based brand consultancy, and later chief executive officer of Perspectrum), has been working on conceptualising the brand for a year.
The brand name, Fundamint, seems to be bang on target. The idea was to bring in the fun factor. "The name suggests a new 'funda' in mint. We had shortlisted another brand name, ICandy. But that was dropped because it seemed to have other connotations, which we did not want," says Marwah. Other names Serum played around with were Excite'mint', Cocktail, X-Mint, Tecnicolor, Johnny Mnemonic and X-Factor.
Product shotsMarwah says the concept behind Fundamint was to give the brand a distinctive positioning and brand imagery. The word 'funda' was used to evoke its strongly Indian associations. The Indianised positioning is aimed at telling the consumers that the Indian flavour is the heart of the mint, and no matter how global, fancy and cool an Indian becomes, at the end of the day, he is an Indian.
Marwah reveals, "The concepts for a brand are not looked at as purely creative ideas. Three factors are considered while deciding on the concept for any of our clients: the product experience, brand promise and brand personality. First, the product experience is decided upon to figure out what the consumers want. Brand promise comes next, for clarity on brand positioning. Finally, brand personality becomes significant at the time of brand delivery."
Chetan MarwahAfter being tested in two markets, Ahmedabad and Jaipur, the brand is preparing for a national launch. Industry sources reveal that category players such as ITC Foods' Minto Fresh, and Perfetti's Mentos have ad spends of Rs 15 crore and Rs 10 crore, respectively. GPI is looking at an ad spend upwards of Rs 5 crore for the fiscal for Fundamint.
Serum conducted a research study amongst the people in the test markets. "The results revealed that the primary utility of mint was freshening the mouth and reducing odours. The category is dominated by cool blues and mint greens. Anything apart from that would be an intrusion into the chocolates and candy category. Where the scheme of expectations amongst consumers is narrow, they are definitely open to some experimentation in the category," says Marwah.
For the agency, it has been more of a 'prosumer' approach for the brand. Marwah says, "A consumer articulated brand, Fundamint has significantly taken into account the involvement of the consumer in what the brand should be, how it should look and how it needs to be designed. Consumer evocation has led to whatever you see and will see in the future about the brand, and is the architect of the brand, in the true sense."
"The client wanted to do something different in terms of the product and positioning - it wanted to give an Indian touch to the brand. The farthest most players have gone in bringing an Indian touch to their brands is launching an 'elaichi' flavoured mint. The client wanted to go beyond that and give mint a twist - that's why the 'saunf' flavour," says Marwah.
The brand will be launched initially in two flavours, Double Thanda (double mint) and Saunf Fresh (aniseed).
Talking about launching a new brand in a category which has players who have been around for quite a while, Marwah says, "This category is not a strongly loyalty led one. As it's all about stimulating one's senses, there's always room for more and better players. In this case, the best man wins."