Lakme: Nailing down a value proposition

By , agencyfaqs! | In | May 19, 2003
Lakme employs a consumer insight based on well-groomed nails to communicate both its new range, as well as a value-add in the form of a new formulation

A self-service snack bar at what appears to be a busy mall, or maybe a multiplex. People are milling around the counter, waving their hands to get the attention of the lone attendant manning the bar. As notes are thrust under his nose and orders are placed, the harried but courteous attendant rushes from one customer to the next in a valiant bid to keep pace.

Suddenly, the attendant stops in his tracks, does a double-take and stares in the direction of the crowd.

Far back in the crowd, a pair of slender and well-manicured hands has been raised high in the air. The hands start making a series of gestures, and the sight of this exotic semaphore arrests the attendant. As he stares openmouthed, the restive crowd also turns to see the charade getting enacted. The hands trace out a cup of coffee. The attendant gets the message, smiles and places a cup of coffee on a tray. Next, the hands demand a swirl. The attendant fetches one, no longer mindful of those people closer to the counter… As the hands place orders, the voiceover talks about the benefits of Lakme's new True Wear Nail Color with 'Color Lock technology' - which helps nails 'get noticed'.

Much to the exasperation of the crowd, the attendant, bearing a tray loaded with snacks, presses towards the girl who so successfully caught his attention. The Lakme girl, though a mite bashful, takes the interlude in her stride - almost as if it was to be expected. 'Talk with your hands,' the voiceover signs-off.

The idea behind this piece of communication - created by Lakme agency Publicis Ambience - is to communicate the introduction of the True Wear Nail Color range. Or rather, to communicate the range as well as a value-add in the form of Color Lock technology. "The basic purpose of the ad is to let consumers know that Lakme now has a product with superior formulation," explains Anurita Malik Ghoshal, client servicing director, Publicis Ambience. "The biggest problem with nail enamel is that it fades and loses its freshness beyond a point in time. But Lakme now has 'nail binders' in its nail enamel, which essentially holds the colour molecules in the enamel tighter. This technology, called Color Lock, helps Lakme's enamels stay fresh longer, and is at the core of the new True Wear range."

Color Lock, quite clearly, is the value-add that Lakme is banking on. And the reason for this is rooted in market reality and a significant shift in consumer preference. A flashback to year 2000 shows that Lakme had a market share of 13 to 15 per cent in nail enamels. (For the record, roughly 70 per cent of this market is with the unorganized/grey market.) Fast-forward to 2002-03, and Lakme's share is down to some 8-9 per cent - although offshoot and mass-based brand Elle 18 commands 16 to 18 per cent of the Rs 130-crore market. Which means Levers continues to lead among the organized players. Revlon and Maybelline together have a share of 6 to 7 per cent.

"It was around 2000 that MNC brands such as Revlon and Maybelline started introducing value-added propositions to the nail enamel market," reveals Ghoshal. "And with more and more value-adds coming in, shade and range ceased to the sole USPs in the category. Products with value-adds have been growing ever since, which means consumers (at least those in the premium segment) are looking for more than shade and range. Lakme has lost share to value-added enamels." It is not as if Lakme never had a value-add. It did, at least in nomenclature - 'Long-stay nail enamel'. But, as Yvonne Sheikhawat, creative director, Publicis Ambience, points out, it was not a benefit exclusive to Lakme. "It was something every brand laid claim to," she says. "Plus, long-stay is not a defense against fading. There had to be something that Lakme could own which gave the consumer a good reason to buy." So Color Lock.

Interestingly, the communication idea that the agency has used to sell the benefit of Color Lock is based on an insight gleaned out of consumer research. "Research showed that bad nails are a cause of acute embarrassment for women," says Ghoshal. "There is a tendency to hide chipped or broken nails. On the other hand, when women have well groomed nails, they like flaunting them. We employed this insight along with the Indian habit of using our hands to express ourselves to communicate the benefit of Color Lock."

"It's all about the confidence that comes from having a nice set of nails," Sheikhawat takes up. "Here's a woman who is willing to display her hands and even use them as a language or a medium to communicate. She does this only because she knows she can command people's attention." She adds that the creative interpretation of the thought required a relevant situation where speech was not possible. "We talk with our hands in a lot of ways, but to dramatize this, we had to look for a situation where the hands doing the talking was not supported by voice." Also, it had to be an everyday situation so that it looked plausible. The agency finally chose a snack bar situation, "as those who get served the first at snack bars are always the ones who manage grabbing attention the first. It was a natural situation which we dramatized extensively," Sheikhawat says.

"The fact that hands and nails are attention-grabbers comes across clearly," says Ghoshal. "The benefit of colour staying true is also being communicated, as is the confidence that comes from well-groomed hands. The biggest advantage is that we are also communicating colours and range, so while these will attract the younger consumer, the value-add of Color Lock will attract the slightly older consumer."

Agency : Publicis Ambience

The Team :

Account Planning : Nisha Singhania

Agency Film Coordination : Harish Tripathi

Creative : Yvonne Sheikhawat, Rossane Singh

Servicing : Anurita Malik Ghoshal, Jyoti Arora

Filmmaker : Namita Roy Ghose, Subir Chatterjee

Production House : White Light Moving Picture Company

Model : Shivani Kapoor, Vicky Torani

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