We are the only company to infuse cartoons into cement advertisements

We are the only company to infuse cartoons into cement advertisements

Gopal Verma, VP Marketing, NCL Industries

BRANDING is what keeps you alive and helps you position yourself properly in the market," says Gopal Verma, Vice President Marketing, NCL Industries. In a chat with ICR, Verma talks about the company's branding strategies and the core concepts behind its TVS on 3D animated dogs. Excerpts from the interview.

How do you look at branding your product to strengthen your market share?
Right from our launch in Andhra Pradesh, we focused on the north coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. Our focus has been mainly the districts in the Godavari basin and we launched our products at the same time. In those days our capacity was low and we were catering to only those five districts. However, gradually we have enhanced our capacity to four million tonne and started spreading across the state of Andhra Pradesh. But as of now I can say in that north coastal region, we are still in the A category; it is there we get over 5 to 15 rupees over any premium brand.

How does branding help your product?
We have adopted a different style of positioning our product. Right from day one, we have focussed on expanding our network. Usually the cement industry operates on one model where manufacturers directly sell to the wholesaler, and then the wholesaler himself sells the products to various retailers. In our case, we don't deal with any wholesalers, except for one or two in Hyderabad. But usually in most of the cases, our dealers are the retailers who sell our product. We think the retailer will have time to talk about the product, its quality and about the strength of the organisation. The wholesaler will literally not have the time to talk. So for establishing our brand even today, we focus on expanding our network which is about 1,285 dealers in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra at the moment. The advantage is that they will have plenty of time to explain our product to the end- user, plus they will also have some sort of influence on the customer. A dealer who is selling hardly a hundred tonnes will know the buyer personally; through his reference alone he will get the business, whereas the wholesaler will sell based on the pricing. Our dealers don't sell based on the pricing, they sell by recommending a product which has benefits.

How do you perceive cement as a brand?
We have a small presence in five districts. The working model or the strategies which have been working for us will now be implemented in the other districts of AP and other neighbouring states. We sell close to 60 per cent in Andhra Pradesh; the other 40 per cent is sold in the neighbouring states. So as of now, our strategy is close to 15 per cent of our output we sell to the institutions where we see project approval. However, pricing is always a key issue. Also, we have expanded our dealer base in the states like Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka; in these markets where we have started exploring the possibility of expanding a bigger network by the end of this financial year 2013-14.

What are the core concepts that you have tried to convey through your TVC of the 3D animated dogs?
Basically a dog means security for the house. We wanted to show that the houses built with Nagarjuna Cement don't require security and the dogs will have a lot of leisure time. Our focus has remained on message oriented cartoons and humorous advertisements cartoons and we are the only company to infuse cartoons into cement advertisements.

How did you go about designing your logo and your tag line?
We have engaged an agency called IPD which does all our campaigns. If you see our logo, we have a mason standing tall. If you need to build a house in a rural area, you do not have sophisticated engineers and architects; all you have is a mason, who is the most reliable person. Thus, our product is recommended by the most reliable people in rural areas. The tagline is 'Nagarjuna Cement Monagadu Cement. 'Monagadu means the person with cementing strength.

How does branding help increase the sales turnover?
The phase before 2011-12 was different because we were obviously short of our installing capacity. Only since 2011-12 are we seeing this abundance. We have the required capacity; we have started looking for the expansion of our market. And we are actually not facing this issue of over- capacity since we have been expanding our markets. We will have to wait for another year to see if it is branding that is helping us or our expansion. As of now, we are focussing on network expansion. This year also, the figure will be much bigger. In total, we have 1, 600 dealers.

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