A clothier, such as Levi Strauss, that has been around for 150 years is bound to have their share of hits and misses because fashion is terribly fickle and largely unpredictable. But this doesn’t mean you should ignore your target audience. In late 2002, Levi Strauss began a massive marketing push to launch what was being touted as one of the company’s most significant launches in history, Type 1 Jeans. The line unnecessarily went to great lengths to accentuate all those signature design details already long-associated with Levi’s, such as the red tab logo, buttons, rivets, and the two-horse back patch.
To accompany the launch, Levi Strauss spent $2 million on an artsy, misguided Super Bowl commercial that confused viewers. Going against common practice, they placed Type 1 in retailers with inconsistent prices, ranging from $30 at a retailer like JC Penney’s to over $100 at Barney’s, with no discernable difference in quality. Levi Strauss pulled the entire line after less than two years and Type 1 proved to be the proud clothier’s most spectacular flop. How marketing can cause a product to fail? I have discussed in the past many good examples of marketing helped a product to succeed. Apple is the first brand that comes to mind when we talk about marketing. The communication and design of the products has led to its wide spread success and Apple becoming one of the most valuable companies in the world. But what about marketing failures?
For every Apple there are many products that fail due to bad marketing strategies. In this piece I would like to discuss one of them- The TATA Nano. ————————————————- In a recent trip to Sri Lanka, I saw the TATA Nano being used extensively as a Taxi. As I asked around the average Sri Lankan felt that the Nano though a good car did not carry enough prestige to be a passenger car. And this they felt was a result of the positioning taken by the marketing managers of the brand. As I look back at the previous campaigns for the Nano, it suddenly struck me that Nano was a consumer behavior assessment failure.
The brand managers positioned the car as the next upgrade for a family of four with a two wheeler. But every such household had an aspiration to move to something better and not necessarily cheaper. Even if the consumer was in that income bracket, he aspired for something cooler. This point was not taken into consideration while the brand managers were coming up with the positioning. The next campaign focused on the tier 2 cities with bad roads and little or no inclination to move things along. This further hit the car sales. Finally now the Nano has been positioned as a cool car to have fun with.
Also the colors and the powerful AC are being positioned as the differentiators along with the classic adage of better fuel efficiency that has helped its sales. I personally feel that positioning a product or service would be a strong spin off from consumer behavior and without understanding the hopes and aspirations of the masses a product is bound to not have the stickiness factor. TATA Nano was a classic case of a product manager who chooses not to respect the aspirations of his prospective consumers. A famous marketer once told me that “A man buys a car for what he wants to be and buys a house based on what he is”.