In the late nineties, AKAI gave scores of TV manufacturers a good run for their monies. So much so that AKAI forced other television marketers into the discount game. While AKAI's sales skyrocketed, marketing heads of other organisations went into a tizzy devising moves and counter moves. In the meanwhile, the AKAI brand had arrived, pushing other brands into a reactive mode.
Ironically, that very strategy ended up making AKAI synonymous with discounting. It is time for AKAI to reinvent itself.
To this end, the company is looking to overhaul its entire advertising strategy and as a first step, it has gone ahead and invited four agencies - Publicis India, Metaphor, iB&W Communication, and defending agency Overture Communications - to pitch for the Rs 25-crore business. The media duties, however, remain with Crossway Communications.
"The brief for the prospective agencies is simple," explains Basant Pande, chief executive officer, AKAI. "Here is a brand, which has been vandalised by its previous owners, brought into some credibility in the last two years with an increasing of its market share from as low as 0.3 per cent in April 1998 to 5.5 per cent currently. Now the task is how can we package a better deal, so that the value aspect that we offer comes out as a 'badge'. If we were to take one stance - like LG has taken health and Samsung Digital - it would be value (as opposed discounting)." In the same breath Pande admits, "iB&W, has been doing a commendable job till now. It has helped us establish the Black Belt sub-brand, which has sold about one lakh units nationally."
The cues on how to reposition the brand came from the findings of a recent survey done by the company targeting 15,000 AKAI customers and about 200 of its business partners (dealers) in nine cities. It appeared that consumers purchased AKAI primarily because they got great offers, exchange deals, or simply a fantastic price. "Interestingly, more than 80 per cent of the buyers were surprised by the quality of the product. They were thrilled about the features, the three-year warranty etc, which convinced them about the longevity of the product," adds Pande.
The conclusion was the product delivered more than what it was perceived to be. And this is what AKAI wants to correct now. "We have sold about 2.5 million units in the country already. That is, almost one product sold every minute for the last eight years, (taking a 12 hour day factor). Now we want to convey the pride of ownership when buying an AKAI, and convince prospective buyers that buying an AKAI is the 'sensible choice of sensible people'," remarks Pande.
Alongside, AKAI plans to push its entire product range - which includes refrigerators, which were launched last Onam in Kerala - in the A2, B1 and B2 markets in a phased manner. Currently, it has three models of refrigerators. The chief vehicle for its communication would be television. Next year, the company hopes to foray into air-conditioners followed by microwave ovens.
Such plans obviously spell good news for the future agency. The company is clear its relationship with the agency will be fee based. The decision on the agency will be taken by the weekend. © 2002 agencyfaqs!