Panasonic Toughbook : Panasonic 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 don’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. One 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.