In a bid to understand the slowdown in the soap market and to get a first-hand fix on the consumer psyche, Dorcas Market Makers Ltd - part of the Cholayil Group and marketer of Medimix, Vrinda, Cuticura, Ziva, Tejaswini brands - has launched a new initiative branded Operation Marketstorm. "We want to figure out why there has been a degrowth in the soap market, what is it that the consumers want, how retailers respond to new launches, what works and what does not," VS Pradeep, managing director, Dorcas, told agencyfaqs!.
As part of this exercise, 22 teams comprising 150 people will cover 150 markets across the state of Tamil Nadu, excluding the cities of Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai and Trichy. This exercise, launched on Monday, August 26, will cover an area of 10,000 km in the next one week. While trying to gauge the varying sales patterns of Medimix, the teams plan to concentrate on retail points rather than the wholesale markets. "However, in certain interior rural areas, we are also going to the wholesale markets that cater to the needs of several adjoining villages. The study is for internal consumption and the entire organisation is involved in this initiative," says Pradeep. He adds, "While the main aim is to study Medimix, we also want to look at the way consumers react to various other brands and new launches," says Pradeep.
To widen the scope of its study, the company has come up with a promotional campaign to coincide with this initiative. It has launched a scheme wherein a pack of Cuticura talc is thrown in free with three of its soaps of 75-gm each or two of its soaps of 125-gm each.
Also, the organisation is making its brand visible by stepping up its point-of-purchase presence through more attractive displays. "We want to gather reactions at all fronts and we will use this study to also decide if we should go ahead with some of our planned new launches under the Cuticura brand. If the market is really going through a slump and there are valid reasons for it, then there is no point in going in for a product launch or expansion at this stage. However, if this is not the case then we can work at the real reasons to tackle the situation," he says.
Market observers feel that such an exercise is imperative for marketers looking to pick up cues from the market before brand and expansion plans are put to force, or even otherwise. For instance, CavinKare has a very structured method of seeking feedback from the market. "We have response feedback at two levels. One, where the marketing teams interact with retailers and consumers to gauge response and two, through a structured study with the help of research outfits to check consumer response. And before any new product launch, a dipstick study is carried out to fine-tune the launch," says an official spokesperson from CavinKare.
But this study is unique, insists Suresh Pillai, managing director, Fountainhead Communications, the agency that handles the Medimix brand. "The sheer intensity of
this exercise is different. Here you have all employees - managing director downwards - as part of this learning exercise; they are getting into the field to know things first hand. The entire client servicing team in the agency is on the field," informs Pillai.
Another interesting thing that Pillai points out is that the company has embarked on the Operation Marketstorm when its brand is performing well in an otherwise dull market. According ORG-Marg data quoted by the company, out of the 154 soap brands tracked by the agency, Medimix is the only soap brand to record 8 per cent growth in the last two quarters (that is, January to March and April to June 2002).
Thereafter, armed with the findings of the Tamil Nadu market, the company hopes to storm the Andhra Pradesh market on a similar scale. © 2002 agencyfaqs!