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Amul is the brand name for milk-based products manufactured by Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation – a state level apex body of milk cooperatives in Gujarat started in 1946. Its major functions involve collection of milk from farmers, procuring and processing the milk and most importantly, marketing of milk and milk products. Amul is synonymous with White Revolution, instrumental in making India world’s largest milk producer India. Its product range includes milk powders, milk, butter, ghee, cheese, curd, chocolate, ice cream, cream, shrikhand, paneer, gulab jamuns, basundi, Nutramul brand and others.
PART I – DEFINING BRAND IDENTITY OF AMUL USING KAPFERER’S MODEL
According to Kapferer, more than the concepts of brand image and positioning, brand identity is more important. It is an identity which the brand defines for it self. The identity of a brand is important to ensure durability of the brand and make it more coherent and realistic.
There are 6 aspects to brand identity which are addressed by Kapferer’s Prism –
Physique – Refers to physical features which generate instant recall and awareness
Personality – A characterisation of the brand, providing it qualities and mannerisms of a human being to explain its products and services
Culture – Values that inspire the brand and are reflected in its products and its communication
Relationship – The brand in a way represents the transactions and exchanges that take place between people and forge a bond between them
Reflection – The brand builds an image of the user/buyer that it is addressing – the image as a result of brand usage by the customer
Self-Image – The consumer of the brand makes an image of himself as a result of the usage of the brand
Kapferer’s Prism for Amul –
Physique – The connotations associated with Amul with respect to this aspect are the unique taste of its milk products, the “utterly, butterly” Amul girl and the butter.
Personality – The connotations associated with Amul with respect to this aspect are the facts that it is a completely Indian product, traditional and innovative, simple yet honest – someone who will never cheat the consumer and only take what is its due
Culture – The connotations associated with Amul with respect to this aspect are that there is a co-operative culture with emphasis on sharing and being socially responsible
Relationship – The connotations associated with Amul with respect to this aspect is reliability which consumers perceive on basis of product experience. Another feature that is associated with this aspect is being sociable – Amul is a part of the consumers’ social lives as experienced by the extensive use of Amul products
Reflection – The connotations associated with Amul with respect to this aspect is the feeling of care and concern for loved ones and also, a deep respect and orientation for values.
Self-Image – The connotations associated with Amul with respect to this aspect include being fun-loving, a proud Indian, who at the same time, believes in quality and is a firm believer in values.
PART II – CHARTING THE PRODUCT LIFE-CYCLE OF AMUL
Amul is the brand representation for Gujarat Cooperative Milk Federation – formed in 1946 to give farmers their due and protect them from unscrupulous middlemen. Apart from collecting milk, Amul had to find ways to make efficient use of the surplus milk it had which gave rise to launch and marketing of milk-derived products, starting with butter
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Launched in 1955, butter was one of the first milk products offered by Amul which also helped it to beat its rival, Polson Dairy. The same year, it launched ghee and skimmed milk powder which also garnered success. In 1959, came processed cheese from its stable followed by cheese powder in 1970’s which by 80’s, had become popular
Economic reforms of 1990 brought lifestyle changes and changes in tastes. The management of GCMMF thus, wanted to go with the trends. Thus, there was emphasis on higher quality and diversification of product portfolio. An increase in milk production meant that an increase in consumption base of milk -based products was important to make its products more regular in the households.
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In 1996, an IMRB survey for GCMMF showed that the consumers wanted that Amul should come out with the following products – ice cream, curd, paneer3, cheese, and condensed milk. Thus, the next few years were focused on these
In 1997, Positioned as the ‘Real Ice-cream,’ Amul Ice cream was one of the few milk-based ice creams in the market. Branded yoghurt got a start in India for the first time, when Amul came out with Masti Dahi in 1999.
In January 2000, Amul launched “Amul Taaza” – non sweetened, low fat, carton milk which served functional and lifestyle purposes. In November same year, came mozzarella cheese which had use in pizzas.
2001 saw Amul tie-up with Tata Coffee for instant coffee distribution in July while in August, they entered ready-to-eat segment with parathas, cheeseburgers and sandwiches under Snowcap brand which also had ketchup. Soon, Snowcap came out with pizzas in flavours like tomato-onion-capsicum, fruit pizza (pineapple-topped), mushroom and ‘Jain pizzas'(pizzas without onion or garlic). Amul also entered the domain of soups called ‘Masti’ in tetra packs with flavours like Hot ‘n’ Sour and Tomato.
In 2003, Amul discontinued its flavoured milk brand Shakti and launched Amul Kool instead in an attempt to target the youth with its cool and trendy positioning but with a nutritional base
In 2007, bottled water segment caught Amul’s attention and it looked to launch Narmada Neer brand of water, in the aftermath of its failed attempt earlier to market Jaldhara brand of bottled water of NDDB.
In July 2008, bakery segment became the next area to venture in with the plans of GCMMF to manufacture biscuits and cakes
In February 2010, GCMMF declared plans to launch a tea brand having already sold it to their milk producers at concessional rates. In July same year, came the plans to market a milk-based sports drink called ‘Stamina’ which would compete directly with Gatorade and is aimed at sports professionals
More recently, Amul has announced plans to launch pro-biotic lassi by the coming summer season in major metros of India having already test marketed it in Ahmedabad.
PART III – THE CHANGES IN COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES OF AMUL OVER THE YEARS
The crux of all promotional strategies used by Amul is the concept of rotation. With every new product that Amul comes out with every 3-4 years, a new promotional campaign for the same is launched which helps it to stay in touch with its customers. Since Amul markets a wide range of milk-based beverages and products, it aims to move the consumers through this value chain from loose milk to better quality products with Amul providing those to the consumer
The communication strategy follows a pattern of “umbrella branding” which means that Amul became the common name for most of its products and the promotional campaigns also tend to focus on the same aspect
Amul’s main strategy has always been to advertise the Amul brand and not the products as such. The communication of Amul dates back to 1966 when Sylvester Da Cunha got the account for Amul butter as before that, the advertisements were corporate in nature and quite boring. Sylvester, along with designer Eustace Fernandez, gave birth to the famous Amul moppet which since then has become the symbol for Amul.
The utterly, butterly campaign began with hoardings and bus panels as media vehicles as with limited resources, that was the only possible option and also provided a much better frequency to the campaign.
In its early years, Amul continued to advertise through billboards for its butter but in the late 90’s, it came to realise that its image was not as savvy as its competitors and its forays in chocolates was taking a beating against rivals like Cadbury’s and thus, it looked to other media like TV – soon leading to its all-pervasive “Taste of India” campaign which linked to its inherent Indianness and also became an underlying, consistent theme for its future communication strategies. In 2000, Amul got into other strategies of brand-building when it sponsored a nation-wide contest to find Amul Butter girl and Amul Cheese boy through its program “Surabhi”
All these efforts, coupled with Amul’s outstanding product quality and distribution network, meant that with just an ad budget spend of 1% of its revenues, it was able to gain significant mileage and visibility. But with passing time, came up concerns that with respect to increasing competition from players like Brittania, Nestle and others, Amul was compromising on its visibility and its effectiveness was now restricted to point-to purchase advertising.
Therefore, in the last 3-4 years, Amul has gone all out in its communication strategies. In places like Delhi and Chennai where they can’t put up hoardings, they are moving their topical advertisements to print.
Amul is also looking to actively use digital media to its advantage with its venture into virtual world Second Life in form of virtual parlours where it intends to showcase its earlier ads and even replicate its co-operative model. Its below-the-line activities, in form of Amul Vidya Shree awards to school students and Amul Food festival are already going strong
In TV, Amul is going in a completely new form as it looks to attract the youth actively to its products and has thus, rolled out campaigns like ‘Hey Dude Where’s The Dudh?’ and ‘Chill Your Dill’. But amongst all this, the legendary Amul moppet will continues to hold its place as it still has legacy value for Amul and a symbol despite its efforts to woo the younger generation. With the Amul topicals continuing to draw its inspiration from contemporary events, it continues to maintain its status and relevance amongst every age group of consumers
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