Its the product, stupid!

Calling it a disappointment would be an understatement. Haier's latest 'You inspire us' jingle driven TV commercial that features something on lines of the non-rock movie, 'Rock on', is a sore to the eyes. Of course, Haier's objective was to get the jangling jingle to remain in our long term memory via the act of cognitive itch. I must say they have succeeded, but have they a communicated the brand in a manner, to build equity? I think not. I also think this is because the guys who came up with communique fundamentally misunderstand the way durables are bought.

But first tings first. I am a Haier admirer. Its been my favourite case study that I take to class. Zhang Ruimin's turnaround of a refrigerator company into China's most admired business firm is the stuff of legend. Also, Haier was the first home appliance brand in the world to sponsor the NBA.

Haier's entry into India was but natural. Yet what Haier's got wrong is the way they've communicated the brand in India. Durable buy is high involvement buy. Two factors precede every other when it comes to a choice of durable brand, for consumers. Product quality (perceptions) and price. Building a brand would therefore mean focusing on communicating the product sans the price, considering we're talking a lifestyle brand. Of course, this isn't easy knowing the factors of differentiation in this category is minimal. Yet focusing on product design and its aesthetically functional capabilities is I believe the way to go. Lifting a durable from its mundane form into one that's aesthetics driven doesn't mean taking it into jingle territory, instead is about going the 'Apple-lifestyle' way. And remember that can't come at higher prices.

Haier's a great company and is here to stay. But staying also means communicating right. For its sake I hope Haier won't be about a jingle, but a sophisticated lifestyle product at a superb price. For that's what will bring the moolah in.

For sure, in India.


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