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The case study analyzes the line of action when a company gears itself to meet the threat of competition.

The company plans to build a customer relationship endeavor which it leverages based on a sales promotion campaign. This case study analyzes the sales promotion program involved and also the intervening marketing communication scenario. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

Full Text (1750 words) Copyright IUP Publications Aug-Nov 2009 [Headnote] The case study analyzes the line of action when a company gears itself to meet the threat of competition. The company plans to build a customer relationship endeavor which it leverages based on a sales promotion campaign. This case study analyzes the sales promotion program involved and also the intervening marketing communication scenario.

Introduction Margabandhu is a sales officer of the Trichy division of Glitz, a company involved in the manufacture of vermicelli (pasta products). Glitz is a Rs. 100 cr company involved in the manufacture of biscuits, wafers, vermicelli and also has backward integration with manufacture and marketing of products like rava and atta. Objective of the Case The main objective of the case is to focus on Margabandhu's line of action for a product whose sale is stable, but he wanted to make the product safer when competition arrived. His plan was to build additional sales by increasing consumption out of his existing product. For this he planned an event management based sales promotion activity from which he wanted to build a customer relationship program. This case study analyzes the sales promotion program involved as also the intervening consumer behavior scenario. Background of the Case Glitz is a market leader and involved in the manufacture and marketing of vermicelli in three variants-short, long and hooks-based on the length and shape of the vermicelli. The tradition of the people in the district (Trichy

district in Tamil Nadu) is that payasam (Vermicelli in Sweetened Milk) and khitchdi (both south Indian dishes) were served in every marriage with lunch and breakfast, respectively and their main ingredient is vermicelli. The cooks of the area were used to Glitz and were intent on using the same. Recently, with the multiplicity of branded vermicelli, mushrooming of retailers and with the entry of big names in self-service supermarkets, the choice of various brands of vermicelli became available. Though the sales of Glitz vermicelli never showed any sign of decline, the management of Glitz did not want to take any chances and asked Margabandhu to plan the sales promotion activities not only to maintain, but also to increase the sale of vermicelli. Introduction to the Product Pasta is dough of flour with a little olive oil for flavoring. It is a complete diet food. Pasta is packed with carbohydrates and a good source of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and iron. Pasta does not have much of calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium. The different types of pasta products include fusilli, macaroni, spaghetti and vermicelli. Vermicelli is used in soups or broken up to prepare sweet dishes. Pasta products, noodles, spaghetti and vermicelli are excellent in nutritional quality and are consumed worldwide. The use of wheat in pasta products is more widespread as these products are easier to prepare and quick to serve. Upon drying, they can be conveniently stored for a relatively long period without deterioration. Customer Identification Margabandhu decided to ensure that when people come to buy vermicelli, they remembered his brand. He decided to plan a sales promotion activity that was effective. He planned to determine who his 'sweet spot' clients were and to deliver specialized services to them. Margabandhu decided to do a market survey. The market was divided into wholesale and retail. The retail market consisted of home segments, where the sale was mostly during festivals. The wholesale segment sale was mostly during the wedding season. Customers were using vermicelli mainly for the preparation of payasam and khichdi. Margabandu found that the sales of vermicelli can be increased in wholesale market, only if cooks can be made to use vermicelli in more number of dishes, rather than in payasam alone. Retail sales can be increased if multiple dishes of vermicelli were cooked at home. Margabandhu, to begin with, planned to develop the wholesale market. He understood that those who buy for occasions, like organizers of marriage were his customers. The organizers are recommended of the specific brand of

each item necessary for making the food by the cooks who in turn act as surrogate buyers. As surrogate buyers, the cooks share a formal relationship, have a high level of accountability and are heterophyllus (being the source of power) to end users. Margabandhu decided to develop an action plan to ensure that no other vermicelli maker could make inroads into his market. He decided that the best way was to employ a single segment concentration whereby, through concentrated marketing, the firm stood to gain a strong knowledge of the segment's needs and planned to achieve a strong market presence. He understood that improving the wholesale market was possible only by targeting cooks. The cooks were already supporting his product in the wholesale route. He had two options. Either, he had to look for more new cooks or to make the existing cooks buy more. Margabandhu planned a highly focused sales promotion program in the Tamil month of 'aadi' when there are usually no functions and most cooks are devoid of work. He got in touch with the various cooks associations of Trichy and arranged a get-together for them. Each cook was allowed to bring along with him his assistant. Brand Fest He took the 120 cooks to the manufacturing plant at Pondicherry in luxury coaches. The confidence of the cooks on the hygiene practices followed in the company certainly increased after they saw the latest hi-tech production process. Margabandhu believed that this experience will have a deep impact on the cooks who would communicate the same to the end consumers. An afternoon stroll on the beach rejuvenated them. The situation was akin to a brand fest. A brand fest is a gathering of users for interacting with one another in the context of learning and using the brand. A huge get-together attended by the top echelon of Glitz was organized in the evening. The senior cooks were honored at the beginning of the meeting for having supported the Glitz brand of vermicelli. They were also given a chance to address the younger members. They talked about the goodness of Glitz vermicelli, its advantage over its competitors and the reasons for using the same. As these were traditional cooks, the guru-shisya concept existed among them and hence, it acted as a sort of a reference group influence. Since the cooks were invited along with their assistants, who would be future cooks, this event provided an avenue to ensure that they also patronized the Glitz brand. Product and Emotional Attachment

The managing director of the company complemented the cooks for their continued patronage all through the years. He also announced educational stipend to children of five different cooks, the names of whom are recommended by the cooks association of Trichy. This certainly stimulated the affective component of cooks. A person high in this component feels proud that he is a 'Glitz vermicelli user' rather than a person who user Glitz vermicelli for one of the side dishes. Margabandhu arranged a grand dinner party. The dinner had 21 different varieties of dishes all made of vermicelli. The names of the dishes are lemon, tamarind, tomato, orange flavors, curd vermicelli, etc., and this was the first time the cooks came to know that these can be made with vermicelli and not rice as the ingredient. This started a discussion among them on additional usage of vermicelli for occasions. This would also mean the end of curd rice and instead the usage of curd vermicelli, which is a necessary closure dish for all functions. Margabandhu was sure that these cooks on returning back to their domicile will talk to others who could not make it about the newness and tasty preparation possible out of the vermicelli. Post Event Follow-Up After dinner, the cooks were provided with a bag containing a recipe book which had the 21 methods for cooking these dishes and much more. He also provided them sample packets of vermicelli which could induce them to try dishes at home. There was also a brand community card for each cook. Cooks having the brand community card could swap 5 kg of empty vermicelli wrappers for 1 kg of the same brand of atta or rava. A consumer who learns that Glitz vermicelli tastes good, presumes that the company's atta, rava and maida also taste good. He has not only succeeded in developing vermicelli, but has also improved the brand as a whole, which includes all thoughts, feelings, images, experiences, beliefs and so on that become associated with the brand, which in sum totalizes the brand knowledge. In particular, he ensured that his brand created a strong, favorable and unique brand association with customers. Customer Relationship Margabandhu followed it up with a "best innovative vermicelli dish" concept once a month. The cooks can collect sample vermicelli packets from their cooks associations office, prepare them and hand them over to the offices on the said date and time. All participating cooks were given a consolation prize and a winner was chosen. He planned to provide the innovative recipe, as also better recipes among them to all brand community card holders for their perusal.

Margabandhu has successfully used a marketer controlled source, i.e., a sales promotion technique in a personalized way so that cooks get emotionally attached to his company's products. His plan was to ensure that Glitz vermicelli becomes a verbally conspicuous product that is interesting. He was able to stimulate enough interest among cooks so that more than one vermicelli dish would be made in functions. This, he presumed, would stimulate consumers to try such dishes at home. His aim was to take advantage of consumers' tendency toward novelty seeking behavior, which leads them to try different recipes, from the same brand of vermicelli. Based on his new experience with cooks and the knowledge of recipes he inculcated based on his association with a best recipe a month program, he decided to provide recipe books of various vermicelli dishes along with every 500 gm and 1,000 gm packet of vermicelli. This he believed would increase the home segment based retail sales of vermicelli.