Today, India’s consumer durables market is heavily dominated by Korean chaebols – LG and Samsung, with other giants like Sony, Panasonic, Voltas etc trying to carve out their own share of the pie. From TVs to Refrigerators, ACs to Washing Machines, the Indian consumer’s appetite and need for these products has grown with the increase in spending power, especially in the middle class.
However, as I was watching the recent commercials of these players, I realized that the market was not always like this. I got reminded of one old brand which almost single-handedly kickstarted the consumer durables segment in India in the 80s and 90s, with a campaign that was truly unconventional, especially for the times. I am talking about Onida and its unforgettable Onida Devil campaign. This is the campaign I want to dissect today in an attempt to know what worked best for them and why.
First, a quick reminder of the campaign. Remember them?? The different ‘avatars’ of the devil?
First, let’s roll back the years a little and picture the on-ground scenario –
- License Raj affecting free availability, and increasing the required effort to procure a TV.
- TVs placed in the category of ‘luxury’ items, and not under the ‘needs’ head, given the low penetration of cable TV and any non-doordarshan channels being telecast.
So, the campaign had the aim to address two key barriers – People don’t ‘want’ a TV, and they think the efforts required to get the right TV is a bit too much! What did the campaign achieve?
1) Aspiration : Putting TV in the category of ‘Neighbor’s envy, Owner’s pride‘ (the campaign positioning), helped bring TVs into the consumer mindset as something which is aspirational. Every man wants his neighbor to be jealous of him! This positioning helped define TV as a symbol of prosperity which every man wants to showcase/
This positioning also helped make the efforts/cash spent to purchase a TV ‘worth it‘ since it makes the neighbor go green with envy.
2) Unconventional : In a true ‘purple cow’ moment, the campaign was absolutely unorthodox – in the era of feel-good and simple campaigns, this was an ad where the devil is literally the protagonist, cashing in on one of the seven cardinal sins – envy. Breakthrough !!
3) Marketing 3.0 : In one of the earliest examples of what is now known as Marketing 3.0, the campaign didn’t talk about the product technical specifications, and instead put an emotional connect on owning the product. This, in a time zone when the Philips and BPLs of the world were trying to harp on sound and picture qualities was quite a risky move that proved to be a masterstroke. Why? – Because true ‘consumer-driven business’ era had not settled in till then, consumer electronics were bought more on the ‘feel’ of it, and less on the product technical quality, which most of the prospective buyers didn’t understand!
This is why I believe that the campaign is among the finest ever created in India, credited for almost single-handedly taking Onida share from 5-6% of the market to 19-20%, in a span of about 10 years. Kudos to the team!
The manufacturers have long moved past the campaign, primarily because the above ‘objectives’ of the campaign no longer exist : TV is almost a must in every household that can afford it, it is very freely available, consumers are more involved with the purchase process, understanding and reviewing technical specs.