HIMALAYA HERBAL TOOTHPASTE: CATEGORY AND BRAND INVOLVEMENT IN AN EMERGING MARKET
Dr. S. Ramesh Kumar and Nitya Guruvayurappan wrote this case solely to provide material for class discussion. The authors do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a managerial situation. The authors may have disguised certain names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality. Richard Ivey School of Business Foundation prohibits any form of reproduction, storage or transmission without its written permission. Reproduction of this material is not covered under authorization by any reproduction rights organization. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, contact Ivey Publishing, Richard Ivey School of Business Foundation, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 3K7; phone (519) 661-3208; fax (519) 661-3882; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright © 2012, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore and Richard Ivey School of Business Foundation Version: 2012-01-30
Ramesh Kumar had been teaching for the last twenty-five years, after spending a few years in the corporate sector. In addition to the satisfaction involved in the profession, he found that teaching presented many exciting opportunities to link concepts with practice. In January 2011, an executive of the Himalaya Drug Company attended his training program, and a discussion sparked off some interesting thoughts. Himalaya was a brand that had herbal offerings in health supplements and personal care products. The use of herbal remedies and products had been an integral part of Indian culture, and Himalaya’s unique proposition was the scientific rigor associated with the testing of its herbal offerings. Historically, the brand had not advertised like a typical health care company; however, to build market share in the highly competitive personal care market, it had begun to advertise its face wash and toothpaste brands. Its offerings were exported to several countries, and the brand had a positive perception among consumers (www.himalayahealthcare.com). Kumar was curious to find out whether consumers were really loyal to the brands in this category. He was interested in the toothpaste category, and Himalaya had herbal offerings in the retail and prescriptive segments. Were consumers involved in the category? Did they remember the functional brand benefits? Were consumers buying brands due to the social benefits reflected in the ads? Did consumers continue to buy particular brands without switching, due to inertia? Were consumers interested in herbal offerings? How should Himalaya be perceived by consumers? This medley of issues presented yet another opportunity to an academic to conceptualize the situation, one that was perhaps unique to the Indian context. The concept of product involvement differentiated consumer segments based on the degrees of personal interest expressed by consumers with regard to specific products and services. High-involvement categories required consumers to be involved in extensive buying behavior that led to one or more of the following aspects: risk reduction, enhancement of self-image, and a greater degree of gratification in having achieved an optimal choice after examining the various alternatives in the category. Lowinvolvement categories were those that were bought in a routine manner by the consumer, with a degree of personal interest that was lower than that associated with the high-involvement categories. Marketers
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always had to face competitive challenges in enhancing the degree of involvement even in lowinvolvement categories through appropriate branding initiatives. The toothpaste category was one such category in the Indian context. ORAL CARE INDUSTRY
The fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) category was broadly split into household care, personal care,...