The Best Touch Point for marketing Fabric Conditioners in India

For those who missed the first part regarding the Best Marketing Touch Points in India, please read here. The question is – in a country like India where the penetration level of Fabric Conditioners is almost insignificant, how do we leverage some of the most suitable touch points so as to interact with the consumers in a meaningful way and thereby drive trial (which is the first requirement if we were to start building a sizable market).

Ok now let’s start from the basics of Segmentation and Targeting for a typical Fabric Conditioner Brand. For a category like Fabric Conditioners that serves a purpose that is not deemed an exact necessity for most of the Indian Population, segmenting the market in terms of affordability and perceived relevance of such a product becomes imperative. Hence let’s use the SEC (Socio Economic Classification) segmentation for the sake of simplicity.

Now, given the price range of the Fabric Conditioner (which is greater than that of an equal quantity of a decent detergent) and its perceived need, we would obviously target the class of consumers who fall under SEC A1, A2 and B1. In very simplistic terms, these class of consumers belong to the Upper Middle Class and the Upper Class of the Indian Market. Let’s see what are their common characteristics that are relevant to us.

There are a minimum of around 14-15 million households of this class in India.  They own washing machines and although washing clothes per se is not a very high involvement process for them, they value fabric care for the longevity of their clothes and linen (as this class of consumers invest on expensive and branded apparels and home linen). In most cases, the homemaker of the household is the decision maker while buying products of this category. While they travel by air, they also take to train and bus travel for short to medium haul destinations (in some cases they take to train travel for long haul destinations too). As they can afford and prefer hassle free travel, they take to AC Bus and AC Train travel whenever they travel by road and rail.

While some of those who travel by the AC class in trains are single travelers who travel on business, a significant chunk of the passengers are families on a vacation visiting their near and dear. For them travel becomes an ‘annual ritual’ and hence they willingly take the pain to travel for over 6-18 hrs on an average by train (any longer, I think chances are that they can prefer a flight over train). In a country like India where we have major festivals, marriages and events throughout the year, we find the AC Compartments of the trains filled to capacity throughout the year. And given this travel time, in most cases these passengers find themselves having a lot of time to kill and hence their span of attention can be quite longer than that when they are at home or work.

Now, hang on. I have just one more thing to bring into picture to build a complete case for one of the best touch points for our Fabric Conditioner. What is the inevitable thing that greets the passengers in an AC Compartment? Something that they make sure is in order as soon as they alight their compartments, something that they are genuinely bothered about, something that they interact with for a decent period of time throughout their journey. We are talking about the bedsheets and the napkin set (commonly called as the bedding set) that is wrapped in a brown piece of paper – neatly washed and pressed and given for the passenger’s use during the journey in a typical AC compartment of the Indian Railways.

During the journey, passengers use the ‘bedding set’ that he/she gets for various purposes – as a bed sheet over the berth, as a blanket for some warmth, as a curtain or may be even as a shawl for some. Their interaction with the set starts right from the stage when they open the paper wrapping in which the set is packed in to the time they leave. Before they open it, chances are that they even notice the printing over the paper wrapping (which normally is blank or in some cases, has the contact details of the ombudsman in case of any complaints over the hygiene of the ‘bedding set’). This is because of the greater attention span that they typically have during the course of the journey as stated above.

So now we have a touch point that works for us just the way we – as marketers of our Fabric Conditioner, want it to be:

  • First thing is that this touch point is all about laundry – the bed sheets and the napkin have to be clean and neat. After all we are all about laundry
  • Further, any visible improvement in terms of the softness and fragrance of this bedding set is bound to be noticed by the passenger – given the high interaction time with this set
  • Things like a comfortable sleep, a cozy bed, a clean piece of napkin, a warm blanket, a fragrant pillow are all deeply appreciated by any Indian passenger – who is used to experiencing many types of inconveniences during his/her journey. Hence this touch point is bound to have a very high impact on our target consumers
  • Added to that I would also assume that most of the passengers travelling by this class are educated and hence can read. This means that any message or piece of communication that is placed along with this set is bound to be read or at least noticed, given their very co-operative attention span during the course of the journey. (compare this with the efficacy of a typical magazine ad that we might otherwise use to reach them)
  • For most Indians, any remarkable thing that happens during a journey doesn’t tend to be forgotten very soon

So you have everything in place in this touch point -to start with, we have exactly the kind of consumers we want to reach, interacting with our touch point, the setting is extremely relevant given the role that laundry plays here, it is a means with which a consumer is bound to interact with for long periods of time and it has the potential to create memorable interactions and experiences with the brand.

So how do we go about it? I would say that we have a very wide scope to harness this touch point. The following are some of the ideas that I could think of:

  • As the most basic means, have your Ad on the wrapping of the bedding set. It is bound to be noticed – all the while they are used to tearing apart the brown paper wrapping to get their bedsheets out. Anything colorful and with a message is bound to attract attention
  • In fact, have the bedsheets and the napkins treated with the fabric conditioner – and advertise the same as loudly as you can on the wrapping and pamphlets placed in the wrapping. That way your consumers can experience first hand, any the softness and the fragrance that your product can bring to fabrics with no risk or effort from their side. (Risks like Quality Assurance and Consistency are to be addressed for this. But this would be a very high impact means for reach)
  • Have a pamphlet that clearly and attractively explains the benefits of using a fabric conditioner and obviously, say why you are the best. People are sometimes bored to death in journeys, they would almost get your message by heart (!)
  • Don’t leave it at that. It’s not all. In fact this is just the starting point. Have a call-to-action mechanism in the form of a coupon or a free sample of a sachet of your conditioner. That is sure to drive trial to start with

Now compare the efficacy of this touch point with the conventional ones that we use to reach our target group for fabric conditioners. Instead of investing on expensive TVCs aired on National Channels with pan Indian reach with no certainty of appealing to the right group at the right time and right place and not to forget the costs of preview tests and the post view research for each of these Ads, doesn’t it make sense to invest in such a touch point?

As the first leg, how about starting with just the Rajadhanis? They connect the capital city Delhi with important destinations – most of them are metros, 1 tier or at least 2 tier cities. Let this be done say, for just a month. We presently have 18 pairs of Rajadhanis – running from 2 times a week to daily. Now count the number of unique journeys, the number of trains, the number of compartments, the number of seats. You get an idea of its incredible reach. And we are talking just one month!

Long Live Indian Railways.

Disclaimer: As I said in my previous post, I do not have any business interests in the marketing of fabric conditioners and these are just for my ideation purposes. This is free advice – use it or leave it. But as I always say – please feel free to criticize it 🙂


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