The Good and the not so good – Part 2

Contd….Part 2 of  a round-up of some “Inspired” stuff and some which is distinctly average .

Panasonic Toughbook : toughbook.jpgPanasonic might be slipping in the Plasma/ LCD battle but it has the field completely upto itself in the “rugged” notebook market with its TOUGHBOOK range. These are premium priced laptops designed to survive a lots of things (the elements, a 1m fall) . Businesses requiring computing on the move ( eg utilities, oil drillers etc) are the main buyers. Sure the volumes are not as huge as the consumer laptop market but in a highly competitive category this is a profitable niche. They have recently extended the “toughbook” range to the executive laptop market. The extension is a good idea but the sub-branding could have been better and the handle (which I think is core design equity) should have stayed, even if it adds a bit of weight. Within the consumer sector, they should perhaps look at emerging markets with humid and dusty conditions. How about a “tough-mobile” ??  

Diet Coke plus ( launched Oct 2007 in UK) :Can’t give up the habit of 5 a day Diet Coke. Reduce your guilt by having Diet Coke plus, infused with Vitamins (or antioxidants). Add goodness to addiction. This sounds similar to McDonald’s attempt to go healthy with grilled sandwiches and salads. Make the heavy user feel good or less guilty about the habit , drive more consumption amongst occasional drinkers and pull back lapsed users who had health concerns about soda. Haven’t tasted it yet but if it tastes like Diet Coke (which is what the reviews say), it should add some fizz to the sales. The packaging is distinctive, but they miss the trick on pricing again (refer previous post- Strong Brands, Timid pricing). As an aside, contrast the prominence given to the parent brand on the packaging of “Diet Coke Plus” to “Jazz by Diet Pepsi”. Is this Pepsi’s attempt to get hardened Coke loyalists into its fold by downplaying the Pepsi logo on the pack? Maybe they have research which says a large number of Coke users diet-coke-plus.jpg dietpepsijazz.jpgdon’t even look at anything branded Pepsi.  

Burger King : I prefer a BK Whopper to a Big Mac anyday. It is simply a superior product, far more tasty and succulent than McDonalds’ comparable offering.  McDonalds has far greater global reach and BK can never catch up (what a shame). But BK is doing well. Business results in the core US market have been strong with 16 consecutive quarters of growth. The core target audience for the two brands has always been a bit different with BK attracting less children and more adults . With McDonald’s getting distracted with offering discount gourmet coffee, I see more burger lovers talking to the King rather than Ronald the clown.  BK’s marketing has also been sharp over the last 2-3 years (to be expected from a challenger brand) with, www.subservientchicken.com, product(Whopper) creation in “The Apprentice” and more recently the whopperfreakout. Thankfully in Hong Kong the BK franchisee seems to be quite strong as they are located at all the right places, e.g  the airport , the tourist hotspot-Peak.  Long live the King !  

Diesel : They have launched a new fragrance recently. diesel.jpgOne would typically not associate Diesel with fragrances. However with this launch I am sure they have moved up the recall ladder.  Stand-out packaging , communication which breaks category norms in content as well as look and a brilliant launch platform – “Fuel for life, Use with caution”. Sharp, whacky, irreverent and totally on brand.  Builds revenue via a new product line and also strengthens the overall brand cachet. The retail activation (or rather theatre) at the airports was also great. I have never seen something like that for a fragrance launch. Read more about the 360 degree launch here.

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2 responses to “The Good and the not so good – Part 2

  1. “Tough-mobile”? Well, there is one …the Nokia 5140. It’s a rugged handset with a tough rubberised bodywork, it is the ideal handset for building contractors and other manual workers as it sure can take the knocks. I actually threw one across the room, bouncing off the wall before hitting the floor. And it still worked perfectly. Try that with your fancy new Sony Ericsson.

    The 5140 is touted to withstand a fair bit of abuse and survive drops and splashes where other phones might end up damaging their innards. The battery pack rests under an almost watertight flap that helps keep the moisture out. The rubberized body houses quite a potent phone. It’s triband, features a VGA camera with a sequential shot mode, digital compass, flashlight, a thermometer and a decibel level meter, speakerphone and, it has the contractor’s favourite must-have accessory – a FM stereo radio.

    It that’s not tough enough, you can always go for the original “tough-mobile”…. the renowned Motorola brick phone. You can snag yourself a refurbished Motorola DynaTac 8900X. Shops around China are hacking it with new color LCD screen and components. The original weighed a heft one kilogram, making it an effective secondary weapon in the battlefield when you run out of ammunition.

  2. As a woman I find the Panasonic toughbook totally irrelevant for me, the toolbox-like design and the not-so-fancy color keep me wonder if this “thing” is a computer at all!

    BUT, isn’t this what “targeting” is all about? You find a niche of the market and go full on with the niche-offer, for sure this offer will alienate the rest of the other consumers but does it matter? Sometimes we just need to be daring and radical enough to breakthrough the clutter that takes others by surprise.

    p.s. By the way, Sean, I am a loyal Sony Ericsson / Apple user. That probably explains why I hate the tough-mobiles 😉

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