Remember those staid print ads featuring a fat woman and her transformation into a lissome lass, thanks to VLCC? & #BANNER1 & #
Well, the advertisements may not have been particularly cerebral, but surely those did not come in the way of making Vandana Luthra and her VLCC brand a household name in India.
VLCC is now one of the major players in slimming, beauty and fitness services across India; its personal care products are also gaining acceptance.
Senior company executives told agencyfaqs! that the company is in the process of shifting gears and propelling itself in a high-growth phase through the launch of new products, re-position existing brands and also extensive marketing in India and abroad. Also on the anvil is a couple of television advertisements featuring the slimming services as well as the beauty products.
Mukesh Luthra, managing director, VLCC group of companies, said, he plans to have a 100 VLCC centres in place by March 2005 across India; VLCC currently has 65 centres. The Luthras also plan to take the VLCC brand abroad. "We'll start off in Dubai...to be followed by Kuwait, UAE, Abu Dhabi etc. We will set up joint ventures in the Middle East region, as that's what the law of the land specifies. The next destination will be London and then, Europe. The first overseas centre should be in place in three-four months' time."
Clearly, the target group for overseas operations will be the non-resident Indian community, who are already aware of the VLCC brand. Company executives agree, but hasten to add, "We will be making simultaneous overtures to foreigners as well."
The group will also rely on the network of CLSA Private Equity, a venture fund which has recently taken a small stake in the group's holding company. "CLSA will be helping us by networking in investee companies. For example, there is one Singapore-based company, which is among the top distributors in South East Asia. CLSA will build a bridge between that company and VLCC."
According to other VLCC sources, there will be other tangible benefits arising out of this tie-up. "CLSA is a part of the recently merged Credit Lyonnais and Swiss Agricole banks; the combined entity is now among the biggest banks in Europe. So, the association with CLSA would provide VLCC with excellent references, financial backgrounds of prospective partners, and also help forge future distributing partnerships." There were also indications that the bank may arrange for a line of credit, if the need arises in future.
As for brand launches and re-positioning of existing brands, company sources say 'Shape Up', the lotion which gets rid of cellulites, is going to be the flagship brand for the personal care division. 'B-Lite', the bust enhancing cream, is also set to witness a major marketing push, sources indicate.
Also, on the cards is the launch of a range of exclusive men's products like a face-wash and others. "Some of the products will be launched by the third or the fourth quarter of 2004-2005. Some are in the developmental stage as well," a source discloses.
"The television advertisements will have celebrities endorsing VLCC products for male and female clientele, while the slimming services ads will feature regular models," Mukesh Luthra explains. "The script has been readied and our advertisement agency JWT is working on the commercials," he adds.
The central theme of the ads will be 'Shaping your confidence', which incidentally is the 'baseline' for the VLCC group. "We won't be focusing on 'a-dark-girl-turning-fair' type of an ad. Instead, we will be talking about the whole transformation in personality and being a confident person," Luthra explains.
Still, the upcoming VLCC advertisements may be similar to the Hindustan Lever's current commercials for Fair & Lovely.
Luthra disclosed that the group has an advertising budget of Rs 10 crore for this year. "Both JWT and Equus, which provides strategic consultancies, help us in our promotions. We do Direct Marketing through mailers to our prospective customers. Thomson Connect, on the other hand, pith in with customer relationship management. After all, the VLCC family has got more than 500,000 members."
VLCC Personal Care produces and markets a range of over 100 ayurvedic/herbal skin-care, body-care, hair-care and foot-care products retailed through 6,000 stores across India.
Thanks to this marketing blitzkrieg, VLCC is betting on a high rate of growth. "We are looking at increasing our 2003-04 turnover of Rs 84 crore to Rs 130 crore by March 2005. Of this, personal products is expected to account for around Rs 13 crore; it was Rs 6.5 crore last year. The balance will come from the VLCC institutes, and also from the slimming and beauty service centres across India."
Going by the fact that the group is planning to tap the markets with an IPO in two-three years' time, VLCC will surely like to either maintain or, if possible, improve its rate of projected growth of 55 per cent. If this has to happen, the personal products category will be the ultimate driver for the brand. Watch this space. © 2004 agencyfaqs!