Serving old wine in a new-ish bottle is an often-used strategy that brands resort to, to remain relevant to the ever changing consumer base. The brand's fear of missing out, eventually results in such attempts which takes different shapes in the longer or shorter run. Advertising and packaging can only do so much for a brand like Mazza; there are always other factors at play.
Nonetheless, Mazza has undergone a face-lift of sorts. Initially, Mazaa's packaging was yellow; now, it has donned a new, more colorful avatar decked out in 'Sunset Red Orange' hues.
Originally a curation by UK based brand design agency - Taxi Studio (which collaborated with Carlsberg on a major global rebranding last year), the revamped Maaza bottles and tetra packs have been made available in markets since March.
In the minute-long TVC crafted by Leo Burnett, actor Aditi Rao Hydari is seen grooving to an A.R. Rahman track while sipping on Maaza from a revamped bottle.
Let's talk figures; a quick recap to September 2017 highlights Parle Agro-owned Frooti that went through a bold makeover which proved successful for the brand. From 17.6 per cent in the March quarter of 2015, Frooti increased its value market share to 23.1 per cent in the April-June quarter of 2017, according to industry sources citing Nielsen numbers. So, with regard to Maaza's new look, we'll just have to wait and watch how it affects its market standing.
But keeping that in mind, we spoke to Alex Robertson, executive creative director, Landor, a global brand consulting and design firm, for a more design-specific review.
He says, "When comparing Maaza's revamped packaging to where it was a week ago, one can see certain key differences. The bright gradient infuses a degree of dynamism while strengthening the appetite appeal and on-shelf standout. However, the change predominantly serves in optimising the efficacy of the packaging in driving consumer choice."
The youth consumer of tomorrow is a new generation (Gen Z) with a new aesthetic. Robertson shares his opinion about whether or not Maaza felt they were losing relevance or if this was a pre-emptive measure to future-proof, saying, "My guess is that this refresh helps renew Maaza's connect with young India."
While discussing the brand's decision of hiring an independent foreign agency like Taxi Studio to (quite literally) give this effort shape, he points out, "The future is glocal. Young Indians are as international as they are desi (and they value brands that offer them both). To that end, having a global outlook and frame of reference can work to the advantage of any agency designing in the Indian market. Assuming that the team at Taxi Studio were thoroughly immersed in the Indian market and the concepts were tested and iterated in collaboration with local consumers, their added perspective could be valuable.
Before signing off, Robertson adds, "The change is incremental - one wonders if their global POV was leveraged to the fullest."
Shifting back to the ad narrative - hasn't the instant 'refreshment mantra' already ended up as a "go-to" theme in the segment and isn't it being ridiculously repetitive now?
According to Shekhar Badve, director-strategy and marketing, Lokus Design, freshness is still a lingering expectation, but not necessarily the only one. Working on popular expectation, though an overused one, creates essential penetration and numbers.
The overall look, colours and patterns are more cued towards the young adults who are essentially the decision makers and can drive sales directly, unlike kids who may or may not be the sales TG.
But, will it offer Maaza a new lease on life rather than a significant shift in the brand compass?
Badve doesn't think so as the changeover is mild and may achieve some immediate results, but any longer-term advantage seems like a far cry.
We can't help but wonder what could possibly have triggered the brand to refresh the old Maaza packaging and its overall appeal at this juncture (apart from being seasonal of course).
Although the newer version's 'Sunset Red Orange' doesn't connote 'mango' nor does it look refreshing, this will be somewhat differentiated amongst other mango drink brands. However, it may lose on its mango association, which is also Badve's opinion.
On hiring a foreign agency like Taxi Studio, Badve shares, "The approach could have been to get something totally different. Taxi Studio is not from the context; hence, they might be able to give something out of the box. They don't have the dogma or have to worry about stereotypes."
However, he maintains that at times, it is faddish as many Indian design companies are doing some great work too.
Neha Tulsian, founder, NH1 Designs is of the opinion that a refreshed product, packaging and story aren't a bad idea, provided it's done well. "There's also the question of taste, whether the distribution has been upgraded etc.," she points out.
She also states that the greater challenge is for the international agency to understand the pulse of the Indian target audience. She also wonders if it's really about whether they should take up a "foreign" (many Indian agencies are now serving "international markets" as well) agency or not.
But isn't it more about what expertise the agency brings to the table that will help to create a differentiator?
When Maaza started sporting a silver label a few years ago, a curious Ashwini Deshpande, co-founder and director, Elephant Design, took note as she thought it was quite a departure from the category. "Now that we are comparing the before and after design, I am unable to perceive any significant difference in shape. The label, forming a shape of a mango with a few drips, was part of the previous design as well," she states.
However, she believes the flow is easier on the eye now and adds, "With the logo going larger and the leaf becoming more natural, the new label design definitely has fresher and more natural cues. With the amplified logo and luscious red-orange hues, Maaza's new visual identity system certainly has better visibility and presence. So it will give the brand far better shelf presence."
Deshpande would like to believe that Coca Cola found the best fit for their requirements.
About the agency, she echoes Robertson's thoughts saying, "It really shouldn't matter where the agency comes from as long as they have put in adequate time and effort to understand the market dynamics and consumer aspirations."
Leading an Indian Design agency herself, Deshpande believes there is room for anyone willing to invest in local understanding as unlike many developed markets that seem to have saturated, India is a growing, thriving market.
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