Aishwarya Ramesh

Keep it cool while cooking…

Crompton’s new age ad features a doting husband cooking in the kitchen for his wife. The ad itself isn’t revolutionary in its depiction of gender equality, but the product being advertised for, solves a problem that many individuals face while attempting to prepare a meal in the kitchen. Crompton’s new Air Buddy fan is designed especially for the kitchen so that the person cooking receives adequate air flow without disturbing the flames of the stove.

The campaign has been conceptualised by Schbang, a marketing solutions agency. Saumil Mehta, vice-president, Solutions, Schbang, says, “Crompton Air Buddy is a very unique product born out of a core consumer insight and need. When we delved deep into our TG we realised that there is a need gap when it comes to switching a fan on when cooking in the kitchen. Popular wisdom and habit dictates "Gas on = Fan Off". Crompton picked up on this insight and tailor-made a solution to enhance the consumers' cooking experience while in the kitchen.

Over a call, Rohit Malkani, vice president, marketing, Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals, explained the innovation in detail. He mentions that earlier, fans mainly focussed on creating good airflow and circulation in any given room, “This fan, however, exists in the market to deliver what we call a narrow, personalised and soft airflow. When it comes to the form factor, it is shaped like a tower which gives you narrow air flow, so it stays focussed. It doesn’t blast air at you. Air that is coming out of the fan can be directed in a certain way and not affect the gas that is turned on or the masala and spices kept on the counter. It keeps you comfortable in a situation where currently there is no other solution in the market.”

Rohit Malkani
Rohit Malkani

He also shares that during the consumer testing phase, the device was given to a set of ten households and he noted how each household found a different use for the fan, including placing it in the pooja room of the house so that it doesn’t affect lit candles or diyas.

He admits that developing the kitchen fan took time and that it comes with its own set of challenges. “Every kitchen has a fan but its rarely ever used. When cooking traditional Indian food, you have to use the gas connection or fire for a longer period of time and whenever this is happening, the kitchen fan is always off! Another common behaviour we came across was that food was prepped (cleaning the vegetables, chopping, etc) outside the kitchen,” Malkani reveals.

Elaborating on the challenges faced as a marketer in this category, Malkani says, “Typically the penetration of ceiling fans as a product is about 95 per cent of urban households in India. The growth in our category is not going to come from higher penetration so a category like ours will have much lower penetration compared to fans, of course. Our research revealed that there are certain inconveniences when it comes to ceiling fans, such as dust gathering on the blades and a tedious cleaning process. It’s not an easy task, you need to climb up and do it and most of the time, the dust ends up falling on you.” He mentions that it was on this basis that the company introduced a range of anti-dust fans that are less prone to accumulating less dust.

When asked about the TG, he quickly says, “Anybody who cooks.” As far as the gender ratio goes, it is roughly a 70:30 ratio, with women being the majority of the target group and men comprising the rest of the TG. He also mentions, the nature of the product is such that it takes time to create awareness and prompt adoption across the country.

“The product is available across retail channels as well but Amazon ends up doing more than 40 per cent of their annual business during the festive season so that’s why we wanted to utilise this channel. Also, if you look at buying fans offline, most fan stores are conventional electric and hardware stores. In a city like Mumbai, they’re mostly found near railway stations. It’s actually hard to shop with your family there and this affects the product experience,” says Malkani.

“Digital played an important role in the mix,” says Mehta, “right from creating awareness amongst our TG by reaching out to the right audience on YouTube — people looking for recipe videos, re-marketing with the relevant product benefits and finally closing the loop by leading the TG back to e-commerce platforms for conversion. The results have been quite promising with 5.7 million impressions delivered, 4 per cent CTR and more than one lakh clicks to e-commerce in just 5 days.”

To review the innovation, we spoke to Ajay Ravindran from VMLY&R India and asked — if this fan is such a simple solution, why wasn't it thought of before? He replies that innovation — for a long time — has been associated with engineering and not experience.

“If we track innovation in the category for the past two decades, there was a phase of performance Innovation. For instance, We all remember those PSPO ads from our childhood…” he reminisces.

He remembers the phase of aesthetic innovation, when fans looked modern, even futuristic. “Then we have the attempt to inject features of ACs into fans — remote control, humidity control, etc. All of these come from making existing products better, not from building products ground up from a human need or use case,” Ravindran mentions.

“From this perspective, the Crompton Air Buddy Kitchen Fan is different. I would call it an 'experience innovation'. It identifies a use case, empathises with the user, identifies a pain point and designs a solution around it. It’s a new consciousness around innovation that is just beginning to sink in now. That is why such a thing hasn’t happened before, and it is nice to see it beginning now,” says Ravindran.

When asked about the competitive edge that this innovation gives Crompton, Ravindran says, “The fan category is cluttered with a lot of strong, but parity brands, right now,” adding, “and most new products are quickly copied. Innovation is being pushed on multiple fronts. There will soon be smart fans, which would be voice controlled via Alexa or Google Home, for instance. Building an edge would require a smorgasbord of innovations, and a brand strategy to build a reputation for it. It will be built in the long haul.”

Agency credentials:

· Creative Team: Mayanka Goel, Disha Daswani

· Account Management & Planning Team: Saumil Mehta, Dhruv Rajput, Atharv Singh

· Production House: Schbang Motion Pictures

· Producer: Abhimanyu Balasubramaniyam

· Director: Nilay Singh