An analysis of products and services through case studies learning


This is the third article in the series on learning from case studies. Here, the focus is on products and services. The aim is to cover as many examples as possible to illustrate the learning from each single case study. Some references to the earlier two articles are also being made, as applicable.

Introduction

Products and services in India, are very huge. They cut across several industries. However, products that flow out of a grand Vision and a smart strategy are always found to outclass the competitors in terms of performance. Products and services, in this article, are being discussed with specific reference to a) automobile products b) Electronic goods c) FMCG products d) Service sector --hotels, restaurants, theme parks, and allied services and e) Educational services.

Automobile products

Mr V Krishnamoorthy, a brilliant engineer was handpicked by no less a person than the late Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, to head the Public Sector Company called Maruti Udyog. This gentleman brought about a huge revolution by introducing a new small car, with technology from Suzuki Limited, of Japan. The rest is history. The small car, called Maruti 800, which is still around, is a huge case study by itself. This car was an ideal replacement for both the age-old Ambassador and the outdated Fiat. That these two companies had huge labour problems also helped the growth of Maruti. Today, the same company is no more a public sector company, with Suzuki holding the majority share.

It took some more years for new competitors to emerge. The new competitors, like Hyundai and Tata Motors have now cornered some market share from Suzuki, but the Maruti brand name is still a huge hit. The company has more models than any other company, there is a model with each price difference of Rs,30,000 and the service network is a pan-India network. The competitors do not have such a big service network. The successors of Mr V Krishnamoorthy had taken the company to the greatest heights. Similarly, the story of Scorpio, the SUV from the house of Mahindra and Mahindra, was a huge success. It was born out of a six hundred crore rupees investment, that had several risks. Yet, its dynamic Chairman, Anand Mahindra, put in place a very young and dynamic team and executed the project with superb research and development skills. This is the stuff of real legends.

The learner has to adapt to loop learning to understand such dynamics here. Loop learning, as explained in the earlier article on How-to-learn-from-Case-Studies-Part-1-one-of-8.aspx
is a technique meant to study the impact of one major industry on the related industries. In India, the growth of the major automobile companies has also lead to the 7.2 Billion US dollar conglomerate called TVS, growing from strength to strength in South India. For example, Brakes India Private Limited is a sole supplier of entire brake systems for all Maruti cars, anywhere in the world.

Electronic goods

Two multinational companies from South Korea, called LG and Samsung are now dominating the market like never before. There are a few like Panasonic and Philips in televisions. There is Videocon, still struggling in a fiercely competitive market. Yet, how did, Samsung for example, expand its range in televisions and come out with stunning models, to take on its main competitor, Sony from Japan?

The answer: understanding mass markets, giving regular discounts to rope in every single customer, allowing retailers to introduce the zero interest EMI schemes and penetrating the tier 3 towns and villages like never before. These two giants have models that cater to every buyer segment. LG concentrates on the lower middle class and its prices are somewhat lower than Samsung, which concentrates on the middle layer of the middle class and has milked it like never before. The buyers, when they enter any retail showroom, even in the smaller towns, are stumped by the sheer variety available. The EMI options, enable customers to go for newer models, once in six years or even less. Prices are somewhat stable and some price increases, even if made are compensated through discounts.

Samsung is the clear leader in the cell phone industry. Its smartphone range is so huge. The low-cost competitors are not able to sustain the Samsung onslaught. There are a few new competitors but the Samsung model and brand is firmly entrenched in the mind of customers. Samsung is now fairly competitive in the washing machine segment too. The Chinese company, Lenovo, is a big player in the laptop segment. Dell dominates the desktop segment. However, ten years down the line, when cloud computing becomes a norm in India, one does not really know what will happen to the computers and laptops. Still, the way the major brands have managed to build niches for themselves is a huge case study for every single product. The learner has to collect whatever details are available about every single product of a particular industry, like the cell phone industry, compare and contrast different players, listen to the voice of the customer when he or she buys a particular product and so on. Once this is done, the learning will become complete.

FMCG products

The FMCG product industry in India, is huge in size and complexity. It covers soaps and detergents, shampoos, jams, packaged foods, biscuits, cool drinks, and what have you. There are brands everywhere. The brands are not only big but also durable.

Let us take one single case study, that of Hamam. There has been a huge campaign reinforcing the values of Hamam, the bath soap, as a family soap. Of late, there is a campaign suggesting that it is meant for the new brave woman of India. The clever positioning, with health on one hand and the importance of the empowered Indian woman on the other, has worked. This brand is one of the fastest growing brands in India. Ditto for Lifebuoy, a brand that has been successfully marketed for the sportspeople. It also has a focus on anti-bacterial.

Harpic, the big brand, has been cleverly advertised with film stars, showing how effectively it works, involving housewives. This clever involvement of housewives has reinforced the brand among housewives, who have it as a "product of choice". In Marketing management jargon, this is called "top of the mind recall". This product is a huge success.

Even smaller brands like Ujala have made it very big. From the same company, there is one lower priced product called Pril, which is basically a dishwasher bar. This product is favoured by maids, who find it somewhat okay. Many intelligent housewives mix it with Vim, the market leader and the best in class product in this segment.

Cut to a product like pickles. Ruchi was a good brand. It was purchased by the Chennai-based Cavinkare private limited and, through clever advertising, it is a huge brand in South India. There are smaller players like Mambalam Iyers, a brand of pickles from Chennai. There are too many smaller players, even from the cottage industries. The lower cost competitors will always survive in such markets too. If the product is okay, the customers with limited budgets always settle for such simple, but functional, local brands of pickles. Once again, the learner has to take a single product segment, study all data available from various sources and make a big case study. This will enable the learner to concentrate on a single product segment and also know the entire ecosystem concerning such a product segment. This will make the case study learning a huge success.

Hotels, theme parks and allied services

The Taj group of hotels belongs to the Tatas. The Welcome group of hotels belongs to the Indian multinational giant called ITC. Apart from these, there is the Hyatt Regency group and the Oberoi group. All these big brands are five-star hotels, where one does spend upwards of Rs.7000 for a single night's stay. Even in emerging cities like Coimbatore, which is a mini metro, there are three five star hotels which are doing roaring business.

These hotels are case studies by themselves. For, they have provided the same International class experience, right here in India. They have successfully attracted the huge Corporate Sector, which conducts hundreds of Conferences and Seminars on so many topics, throughout the year. The multinational companies are also very active in this area. The learner has to collect data on each hotel, compare and contrast the strategies and then learn the entire whole, as it were. This is itself a big task, but this is exactly how it is being done in the branded B-schools and in the IIMs. There is simply no other alternative. In metros like Chennai, we have huge branded restaurants like Saravana Bhavan, the Sangeethas, the A2B and so on. These brands have grown through systematic innovation in terms of standardization of all dishes, which are their products. The huge variety of dosa items, for example, available in A2B, is food for thought. The TQM practices of the leader, Saravana Bhavan, is a huge case study by itself. The theme parks, like MGM, in Chennai, Essel world in Mumbai, VGP in Chennai and so on, offer ideal weekend entertainment and can help people relax with no worries.

Each of these is a case study by itself. The allied services are specialized services like food courts in major companies in the IT sector, the thematic organic food restaurants which are a huge emerging market, and so on. In fact, the growth rate of new hotels in this segment is so significant that this can indeed become a case study by itself.

Educational services

How is it that the ecosystem of Deemed Universities, which is so huge in India, has only five or six brand names that are world class and are growing day after day? VIT, SRM, Symbiosis, Amity and the Narsee Monjee group stand out. There are slightly lesser known names like the GITAM from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

What makes the difference? Yes, these institutes are costly. However, it is possible to get bank loans to study in these top-notch Universities. What is the difference? High-quality teaching, very good research facilities and excellent infrastructure, including hostels. The placement? One hundred percent placement in most branches of engineering, management and other fields. Parents from all over India flock to these Universities to admit their children, only based on placement records. TCS, CTS, Infosys Technologies, and so on, are regular campus recruitment companies. The manufacturing companies and the auto majors also visit these campuses to select manpower.

A service can become commercially viable only when it offers value for money and is seen by the customer as such. These brands of Deemed Universities have done exactly this and more. Their continuous and relentless focus on cutting-edge research, for example, is a big plus that sets them apart from their competitors. Educational services are not for money making. It is for top quality education in an atmosphere conducive to very good learning. These Deemed Universities are case studies by themselves.

The learner has to collect data from various sources and then make a comparative study of the strengths and weaknesses. Once this is done, a huge amount of fresh perspectives will emerge, making the case studies a very rich source of data. Of course, the case studies are always continuous and open-ended. It is like a journey, without a destination.

Conclusion

Case studies, regarding the aforesaid examples, can be found aplenty from the business magazines in India. They can also be sourced from the internet. Once the data is collected and read as a whole package, the case study will become a perfect vehicle for further learning in a much wider context. Only Indian examples have been mentioned, to make the learning quicker and easy to understand. The learner has to take the initiative and do all the research.


Comments

Author: umesh11 Nov 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 9

A nice collection of case studies to understand the background of some reputed products.

Any company which can maintain the quality of its product and also can advertise it effectively is the gainer in long run. It is only the initial phase and once the product is established in the market the sailing is easier. The entrepreneurs can learn a lot of things from these case studies and imbibe some of the techniques in their endeavours.

Establishing a successful business requires a perfect and perceivable business model. A product should touch the core of people using it. Some of the slogans associated with the products are deeply sitting in the mind of the buyer and he feels about the product in the same way as it was intended by the manufacturer.

For example, Lux beauty shop had always associated with the Bollywood actress on the top of the charts at that particular time. It never broke that linkage and Lux are still one of the top-selling brands in soaps. During that journey of advertising, it took many new names like New Lux, International Lux, Beauty Lux etc but the buyer only remembers the basic name Lux in his mind as it is deeply residing there in his subconsciousness.

There are many such examples where brand names became household names and the product was in fact called with that name. Many people still use the word Surf when they go to purchase detergent powder. Colgate for toothpaste, Lifebuoy for a hygienic wash, Amul for butter etc and many other names are in fact just like the synonym of the product.

So popularising product and services in the households is the main challenge of establishing a brand.



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