Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Brand Monopoly

Much of management jargon makes way for lucid understanding through real life examples. Especially, the many convoluted terms related to brands/product management strike congruous notes when combined with practical experiences of customers.

How many times have we seen shops with boards displaying – STD, ISD, PCO, XEROX? How many times have we read the following note in application forms – “Please produce attested xerox copies of certificates”? How many times have you and I uttered – “I have to take two xerox copies of this form, I am going to the nearby xerox shop”?

XEROX is the name of a company and photocopy is the name of the process/product we are talking about. I need to submit attested photocopies of the certificate would have been the appropriate way of saying had it not been for the brand monopoly exercised by Xerox. Xerox Corporation headquartered in Connecticut, USA is a global document management company that manufactures and sells black and white printers and photocopy machines/photocopiers. Founded in 1906, Xerox rose to prominence in the year 1959 with the first developed plain paper photocopier named Xerox 914. Thereafter, Xerox has only monopolized the field to elephantine extents that the trademark of this corporation is an acclaimed verb in most dictionaries including the Oxford English Dictionary. Therefore, the next time I/you say, “I xeroxed the document and sent it by post” we justifiably are correct.

How many times have we had a conversation such as below with shop vendors “One litre refined oil tetrapacket, please”, “Please give 1 frooti; in reply, the shopkeeper – “Bottle or tetrapack?” ? Here again, Tetrapak is a multinational food processing and packaging company based in Lund, Sweden. The company founded in 1951, by Ruben Rausing began with a tetrahedral package called Tetra Classic, its inventor being Erik Wallenberg and rose to a universal stature in aseptic food processing and packaging of liquid foods. Rausing improved upon Tetra classic (shaped like a tetrahedron) and created different forms like rectangular cuboid carton (Tetra Brik), wedge like (Tetra Wedge), pouch like (Tetra Fino) and pyramidal (Tetra Prisma). His sons/successors made Tetrapak a ubiquitous name in packaging, a synonym for a carton like package for fluids. And truly, today we hardly bother about the shapes/forms, for us everything is TETRAPAK. Such is their omnipresence in industry that similar products from competing firms are only fondly addressed as Tetrapak by customers world over.

An exceptionally noteworthy example is that of Dalda, how it simply replaced the product name Vanaspati, rather eliminated it completely from the Indian kitchen. There were times when every Indian household provisions/groceries list featured Dalda – 1 Kg; not Vanaspati, just Dalda. The yellow color container with a green palm picture on its body bears a brand that has a tellable story. You may visit - http://www.daldaindia.com/about/history.asp for it or refer to its smaller excerpt stated below.

The name Dalda has Dutch roots and was imported into India for the first time in 1930s by the Dutch company – Dada & Co. The Hindustan Vanaspati Manufacturing Co (Now HLL) wanted to start manufacturing Vanaspati and Dada & Co insisted that its company name be used for the product. Hindustan Lever too wanted to establish its mark and therefore evolved a name Dada with a L (for lever) in between – Dalda that simply rocked South Asia. Dalda is currently owned by Bunge Limited, a big North American oil-producing firm. Today, Dalda India is entrusted with a job of manufacturing & marketing sunflower, soyabean, mustard and groundnut oils but the customer interface with this company largely rests on a single name “Dalda” that implicitly refers to Vanaspati.

Such are cases of brand monopoly that the end customer uses the company/brand name interchangeably with the product only to give bountiful uneasiness to competitors in the same arena.

Well, I still cannot forget those days when chocolate to me meant only Cadburys. “Papa, I want Cadburys”, I would say and happily devour the contents of a purple colored wrapper with the symbol of two glasses of milk on it. Such is the sustained monopoly of this company in chocolates/confectionary industry that it recently filed a patent on the color “Cadbury purple” and christened it as Pantone 2685C at patent office.


Juhi said...

And maggi was synonymous to any kind of noodles when I was a kid.....

CK said...

Hey Divya.. nice post..lots of information, you've done some sound research I can see :). Lots of stuff I dint know really, particularly the Dalda origins. One interesting thing I remember about Dalda on a totally different note. I guess the first ad campaigns of Dalda featured a now frequently seen face on Indian television. She has acted in quite a few serials and movies, typically takes on mom's role for hero/heroines. She became so synonymous with the Dalda ad that to date we dont know her actual name. Everytime we see her on screen at home we just call her Dalda Aunty :)