American Standard challenges industry norms with its differentiated ad campaign
Making yet another bold and different move to disrupt advertising norms in the sanitary ware category, American Standard (a part of Lixil) launched its brand campaign that is breaking the marketing category code, conversing with consumers like no brand ever has in this industry ever.
Priced in the mass premium segment and offering a wide range of ceramics and fittings products, American Standard has been one of the fastest growing major brands in India ever since Lixil took over three years ago. The secret of its success has been by constantly disrupting established norms in this undifferentiated category. “This category has not evolved with the times’, says Shubhajit Sen, Head of Strategy, Asia-Pacific. “At best, brands focus on building premium imagery and amorphous design differentiation. There is no consumer-centricity at all; and consumers have no way to tell between high and low performing products. That’s why deep discounts rule the market, eroding category value for everyone. With American Standard, we want to change the narrative in this industry”.
American Standard has already started doing things differently. It has aggressively build a distribution network - penetrating 175 towns with 400+ stores in just 3-4 months - the fastest ramp up in this industry. It has introduced a slew of products with features and functionality uncommon in India, like integrated shower-toilets and automated bidets that Lixil calls ‘spalet’; blue-tooth enabled shower systems and other superior functional products.
But the biggest disruption yet has been in its translation of the overall business strategy to its communication strategy as seen in its latest campaign. Explaining the thought behind the campaign, Aparna Deshmukh, Senior Director Marketing, Lixil South Asia, said, “We want to appeal to upmarket, modern, young urban families. We know that decision making has become more democratised in these families and relationships within the family members have become more friendly, equal and with a lightness of touch. We wanted to appeal to these sensibilities, but marry these insights with the core message of superior functional performance of our products”.
The communications strategy is visible in American Standard’s new campaign. It has developed a creative property of an American Standard family - a young, contemporary, premium family that visually holds the campaign together. The 4 TV executions show the family in different situations that explains the functional superiority of American Standard products in a very engaging, humorous manner that is fresh in this industry.
The campaign includes a national Front-page jacket print ad, 4 TV executions, outdoors and a strong digital push. The TV campaign includes all major national channels with a particular focus on news channels as well as regional channels. The outdoor campaign is over indexed to tier 1 and tier 2 towns to drive incremental reach. “We wanted to create an engaging, approachable and premium brand imagery that drives consumer awareness, store traffic and sales. Judging by the response we have already got, with retail sales climbing over 100% in a category that is growing at 10%, we think we have succeeded.” says Aparna Deshmukh.
The freshness of approach goes beyond traditional media. For the first time in the industry, American Standard has tied up with Mompresso, a leading blogging site for young mothers where core brand messages of health and hygiene are communicated in an appropriate context. Another first in the industry, American Standard has deployed hundreds of handheld devices at the store level. The devices help the consumer navigate the product portfolio, choose products and place orders at the store. Explaining the rationale, Aparna Deshmukh added, “The choices available in this category can be overwhelming for consumers. We have developed a simple tool for consumers to narrow down their choice by design and budget preference. Our tests show this adds real value at the last mile for our shoppers.”