BK Singh Group Head - Marketing and Corporate Communications, Dalmia Bharat Group
Dalmia Bharat Cement, the third largest cement manufacturer in the industry, believes in the principle of offering 360 degree coverage - right from creating awareness at the point of purchase to building strong brand identity and preference at the consumer level.
¨We extensively cover the rural segments to build awareness among construction workers and future consumers. In the process also building confidence with the trade segment,¨ says BK Singh, Group Head - Marketing and Corporate Communications, Dalmia Bharat Group, in an exclusive tete-a-tete with the ICR team. He discusses about their extensive marketing plans.
What is the thought process behind the preparation of your media plan?
Dalmia Bharat Cement is the third largest cement manufacturer in the industry, with strong market presence in South, East and North East. With the establishment of a plant in Belgaum, we are now entering the Maharashtra market and consolidating our position in the north Karnataka market. This commenced with the launch of our brand Dalmia Ultra at Pune on July 2, 2015. Dalmia Ultra is a premium proposition that we offer to the market. We have a well-crafted creative to support this proposition. Media plan is created to carry the message to all the key target audience. It is a balanced spread of premium spots in regional GEC and news channels and also in the top publications in the print media.
What are the challenges that you foresee in the market and how have you factored them in your marketing strategy?
The Maharashtra market has strong presence of established players. For Dalmia, the key challenge is to win the confidence of the trade and establish the premium position of our brand in the consumer mind. Positioning the Dalmia Ultra with its solid consumer proposition, strong visibility for the brand and continuous engagement with the trade are the key factors that will help us in countering the challenge of incumbent players in this journey.
Soaring raw material prices have forced cement price to rise higher. How can one entice consumers to shell out extra for your product?
The cost of cement in the total cost of construction of a house or building is small. Hence any change in prices would have less impact on the total construction cost. Our Dalmia Ultra with its unique HALC proposition delivers higher value to the customers which more than offset any such changes compared to other brands.
What is your strategy for trade and non-trade business?
Both segments are important and are complementary. Yes, different strategies are adopted for trade (retail) and non-trade (institutional sales). For non-trade, it is mainly one-to-one interaction specific to influencers and customers in providing solutions and enhance their business. In case of trade, awareness creation and relationship building activities include mason meets, naka meets and counter meets.. This strategy helps in increasing word-of-mouth publicity and help build wide coverage, and availability of the brand..
Cement is seen more as a commodity rather than as a specialised product. In such a scenario, how do you create brand differentiation and stand apart from the rest? This is natural and may be similar industries like paints and sanitary-ware have already moved quite significantly in this journey. As a consumer gains greater awareness and perceives differentiation, he/she starts participating higher in the buying process, appreciates the benefits, value proposition of products and other aspects of the brand promise. Thus brands with clear benefit and value would definitely make more sense to the end consumer. Thus the task is to target consumers more in future and move from the current push to pull strategy. At Dalmia Cement, our differentiation is built on the Dalmia Ultra´s unique composition called HALC - Higher Alite & lower Celite. This HALC acts as a differentiator to build a strong consumer proposition of ´Concrete ko bannaye andar se strong, Deewaron ko banaaye bahar se smooth´. We would be continuously communicating this proposition to all the key stakeholders like masons, contractors, architects, consultants, engineers besides the end consumers.
How do you reach construction professionals at different levels, ranging from civil engineers and consultants to contractors and masons?
We have different programmes for each segment of influencers like engineers meet, contractors meets and mason meets. We interact and communicate about the use of cement in making structures strong and durable. We also talk about our special application cement like railway sleeper cement, oil-well cement and air strip cement.
Please share segment-wise break-up of revenue from your products?
We mirror the industry; with about one-third in OPC and two-third in PPC.
What are your current marketing plans for promoting your product?
Our marketing plans have a 360 degree coverage right from creating awareness at the point of purchase to building strong brand identity and preference at the consumer level. We extensively cover the rural segments to build awareness among construction workers and future consumers. In the process also building confidence with the trade segment.
Which is a better strategy - distributing through few large dealers or routing it via an extensive network of small dealer outlets?
This depends on the state of the brand. In the early phase of entering a market, the idea is to push the product to get maximum trials in a short span of time. Hence, one uses big wholesalers or big dealers´ existing network. In course of time, the brand builds a large base of network and awareness level of customers goes up. Then the objective is to be present in maximum number of markets or outlets, closer to the customer including smaller outlets nearest to the consumption sites.
Quality perception of cement varies from customer to customer. How do you factor this in your marketing plans?
Quality is dependent on what value a brand delivers to the end consumer. Hence clarity of the unique value proposition of the brand helps in defining the appropriate specs and hence expected quality of the product. Post that is establishing a robust QC system in place.
Other than price and quality, which other factors influence buying decisions?
Some of the other factors which influence buying decisions are: