Friday, July 30, 2010
When Brand Happened to be a Synonym for Product Category
When I was 9 years old, I used to come across a small cottage in my locality where I always found some people reading something during the morning hours and also in the evening hours. One day I, impatiently, asked my brother, “whose house is this? And why do some people always gather here?" He said, "This is not anyone's house. This is a library managed by the municipal corporation, where people come to read “Samaj." I understood what he said, though you must be curious to know what Samaj is. It is a very popular Oriya newspaper which gained so much popularity at a point of time that it became a synonym for Oriya newspaper. Means people in that library used to read 10 to 12 newspapers including Samaj.
When i was 10 years old, once my mother gave me 2 rupees and asked me to bring surf powder from a nearby general store. I went with the money, and asked the shopkeeper to give me surf powder. He took the two coins from me, but instead of surf, he packed some amount of Nirma washing powder and gave it to me. I was hesitant to ask for a clarification. So I came back to my mother, and gave her the packet. She found the Nirma powder when she opened the packet. I thought she would blast at me as I got the wrong brand. But on the contrary, she said, "now, you can go to play. I will start washing your clothes." But I had to tell her the truth. I said, "mother, actually the shopkeeper gave me Nirma powder instead of surf powder." she said, "you don't know?! Every washing powder is called surf powder."
Similarly, there were many other products which gained so much popularity that they became synonyms for their respective product categories. For example, Xerox stood for all photocopy machines, Hero Honda for bikes, Nirma for detergent cakes, Bajaj for scooters. But that was long time (nearly two decades) back. Now-a-days, we hardly find any brand surpassing all the rest of the brands of a product category in popularity in such a drastic way that it can stand for the whole category. Means, now every low cost car is not 'Nano' for us, every mobile phone is not 'Nokia', and every toothpaste is not 'Colgate'.
Maybe this is because of the extensive marketing measures taken by every single product, covering all the possible mediums - print, outdoor, TV, radio, internet, mobile phone. none of the brands leaves any stone unturned to make it to the top, trying to reach every single potential customer. Good for them, but bad for us (consumers). Now, we have to pay much more than the actual production cost for every product. And end of the day, it is our pockets which are lightened to meet the cost of the extensive promotional measures they take to introduce us with the benefits of the products.