Aditya Birla brand, Kara Skin Wipes is back with its television campaign, second year in a row. The theme, the face (Anushka Sharma), the message, it all stays constant. And yet for a keen observer there are subtle signs of the brand, launched five years back, growing up.
Kara was launched in 2007, mainly for test marketing. The product was then introduced in a few major metros over the next couple of years. But, the pace of activity was stepped up only since 2010, with its biggest push coming in 2011, with its first television campaign.
To recap: it featured Anushka Sharma and Sharman Joshi, albeit separately. It was a series of four commercials, two for women and two for men, mainly to establish that it’s a unisex product. The communication revolved around the brand ambassadors having one-on-one conversations with individuals in different settings and rebuking them for their ‘dirty habits’. Like a lady on the bus sneezing into her handkerchief and using it to clean her face or a man using a handkerchief to dig his nose and then to wipe his face - “dirty habit”.
This year, with just two commercials, the setting has been widened. “We’ve chosen a larger social setting this year with multiple individuals constituting the frame. Even school children have been included to promote the ‘hygiene’ platform of Kara from a young age,” says Mahuya Chaturvedi, global head - branding and communication, Kara Skin Wipes.
Kara wipes, made from viscose staple fibre may have manufacturing backing from its parent company, as Rajeev Gopal, CMO, Birla Cellulose explains. But the challenge is not about putting out a quality product. It runs deeper.
Kara’s biggest challenge is to force a change of habit, deeply entrenched in the Indian psyche. Couple that with a product that is largely use-and-throw as opposed to the use-and-reuse personality type of Indians and you’ve multiplied the issue on hand. And at Rs 30 - 35 for a pack of 10 tissues, it may be affordable to some but an unnecessary expense for a majority. All these factors together should explain the entire category size at a paltry Rs 45 - 50 crore.
To circumvent this habit issue, Kara is exploring some unconventional channels. It has tied up with beauty salons and parlours across cities for promoting the use of Kara Skin Wipes after treatments. “Women today increasingly want their beauticians to use disposable products for hygiene reasons. Kara conducts consumer engagement programs and promotions in beauty salons regularly to promote our products,” says Chaturvedi.
In terms of traditional distribution, Kara is currently available in around 32 cities (mostly metros and tier 1 cities), with the dominant channel in their distribution being modern trade outlets with large shelves.
The brand also plans to build up what it refers to as a “dirty habits portfolio”. Meaning face wipes are just one aspect of hygiene. They are extending the hygiene factor to include hand wipes and baby wipes in the portfolio, over the next few months. But, why wipes, when hand sanitisers are already popular products? Kara’s reasoning: hand sanitisers only clean germs whereas wipes would help remove dirt, grime and dust from the hands. Also, that they are a closer substitute of the all too important hanky can be a bonus.
Kara plans to launch hand wipes in various unit sizes and feels as a product it fits across age groups and genders. The cynics may question how many does one really think will carry bright blue, pink, yellow, green coloured skin wipes’ (or hand wipes) packs in their pocket?