What is the difference between ignorance and apathy?
"I don't know, and I don't care."
" Consumer goods heavyweight Hindustan Lever (HLL) has pulled out its ayurvedic brand - Lever Ayush - from the traditional retail channel following a recent brand review. The existing inventory of the brand has been largely exhausted through `buy one, get one free' promotions during the recent months. Launched in '02 to take on competitors like Dabur, Himalaya Drug Company and Ayur in the growing ayurvedic and herbal segment, the brand did not catch the fancy of consumers.The Lever Ayush range included shampoo, hair oil, cough syrup and Headache Roll On. . The company had tied up with the Coimbatore-based Kerala Arya Vaidya Pharmacy to provide technical know-how and authenticity Ayush needs, given that HLL did not have any background in ayurvedic products. HLL hoped that the brand would be able to cash in on the double-digit growth rate recorded by the Rs 2,000-crore Indian healthcare market.Analysts say that the company did not handle the launch very efficiently. HLL had planned to promote Ayush on three fronts - increasing penetration through home-to-home sampling, foraying into several new ayurvedic segments and making it one of the most visible brands on the advertising front.The company had targeted annual sales of Rs 200 crore in 2-3 years since its launch in '00. However, according to market estimates, HLL's turnover is not more than Rs 30 crore. The 'push' route of direct selling rather than the `pull' one, which would call for more advertising spends. The company has cleared the existing inventory in the market through promotional offers and now Ayush will no longer be there in the super store shelves."
I had been wondering in the last one month or so ,ever since I saw the new Clinic plus ayurvedic (with good advertising ,i must admit but not so good a product), what is Lever up to?.Through out the world Lever is known for its confusion, mainly a result of brand acquisitions and take overs, which in turn is a Lever tool for killing competition.
Lever does strange things ,and with celebration- from the Two chairmen system to the brand profligacy, and late realisation of it and power branding and later the withdrawal of powerbranding and...the list is endless .They have in long years of existence created many brands- best ones, good ones and poor me too's.....Lintas ,their Inhouse ad agency (which later got its independence) had a big role to play in whatever Lever has done in the past.They almost single handedly cluttered the FMCG market and then started crying "clutter clutter".It is rather, to quote James B.Twitchell, a doctor complaining about how 'frantic' a patient is, after he has shot him full of adrenaline.
No doubt Lever has been the Joan De Arc in the struggle between Commodification and Marketing , between 'use value vs concoted value' ,as John Reed has put it but that doesnt justify the confusion which Lever seems to be perpetually in.....Ayush (the nashak, rakshak ,poshak ) series was a wonderful extention, which was amazingly Indian, had the authentic ayurveda tag(which people beleived because of the Kerala ayurvedic pharmacy association),and most importantly was not a me too idea..With the new variant from Clinic plus( ayurvedic+ clinic plus is a misnomer for me and i see a withdrawal very soon) Ayush looks irrelevent. but the fact is that the new variant is a step to phase out Ayush.. then why Ayush came into life in the first place? Why not a clinic plus variant then?
And what is Chlorophyll Brand & Communications Consultancy Private Limited saying? Werent they not in complete charge? Who mislead.. the researchers? Or was it that Lever got carried away with the common marketing mistake that the product is the hero and the 'best product wins' and thereby ignoring the plain fact that there are no best products ,only illusions?
The rise and fall of Ayush pains me as a classic case of differentiate and die.....
Footnote: Genuine ignorance is... profitable because it is likely to be accompanied by humility, curiosity, and open mindedness; whereas ability to repeat catch-phrases, cant terms, familiar propositions, gives the conceit of learning and coats the mind with varnish waterproof to new ideas. ~John Dewey