Tupperware to increase sales force; thinks out of box

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One of the popular direct selling companies providing premium food-storage containers in India, Tupperware, in a marked departure from its print-led marketing strategy launched a new campaign ‘She Can, You Can’, its first ever television commercial in 16 years of existence in India.

Breaking the mould
Interestingly, the latest marketing initiative, which also marks the brand’s foray into television advertisements, has more of a ‘corporate social responsibility’ tone, with its message of women empowerment rather than the regular product and feature-led marketing.

Anshu Bagai, Marketing Director, Tupperware India

Anshu Bagai, Marketing Director, Tupperware India

The new campaign is based on the Tupperware’s vision to enlighten, educate, and empower women across the globe by citing success stories of young women achievers from different walks of life.

According to Anshu Bagai, Marketing Director, Tupperware India, with the brand and product well established in India, one aspect of the brand, which was never highlighted, was its CSR initiative, which in essence is inbuilt into its brand ethos and business model.

Besides adding a human touch to the brand, the new campaign is also a means of increasing its sales force. With an all-women sales force, Tupperware has helped to build the entrepreneurial skills of Indian homemakers. And through the new campaign, the company expects to motivate more such women to join its network.

“There are two aspects to brand Tupperware. On one hand, we have innovative kitchen solutions and for that you have seen a lot of creative campaigns from Tupperware over the last couple of years. The other part of Tupperware is women empowerment. We have an all-women sales force where a lot of they come from a very simple background but go on to achieve big things in life. They not only earn money which helps them to support their families, but the exposure they get when they join Tupperware makes them far more confident individuals. It is this that we are celebrating in this campaign.” says Bagai.

Abraham Koshy

Abraham Koshy, Professor of Marketing, Indian Institute of Management- Ahmedabad

According to Abraham Koshy, Professor of Marketing, Indian Institute of Management- Ahmadabad, the first ever television commercial will facilitate the sales team in having a better interaction with the customers, since it will increase brand awareness and the interest of people.

Adapting global business model to local needs
The global food-storage container maker and distributer set foot in India in 1996 and over the years evolved to become a ‘top of mind’ brand for many Indian households. It is a premium kitchen ware brand primarily targeting the urban SEC A and B women. Though it has continued with its global positioning here in India, it has massively localised its product portfolio, price, and distribution strategy to suit the Indian market. Pitch explores how Tupperware has weaved its success story in India in these 16 years.

According to Bagai, the biggest challenge to the company was to change its perceived image of a good quality but an expensive brand in order to gain inroads into the middle class Indian consumer households. In the last five years, Tupperware claims to have broken through this initial barrier with its product localisation to appeal to the local terrain and cooking habits. While some of its India innovations include the classic ‘roti keeper’ and the masala box, the company also launched bottles using the blow moulding technique, a cheaper substitute to the premium production process it follows so as to lower production costs and penetrate into the price sensitive consumer segment. The product is one of its best selling offerings in India now. Also, as opposed to its subtly coloured product range globally, Tupperware has made ‘bright colours’ a part of its brand personality in India and prints all its products here with Indian thematic designs.

“Earlier, Indians were fond of foreign brands, but now they want products that are customised and which fit into their lifestyle. Our international product range looks very different and a lot of localisation has gone into this brand for India,” comments Bagai.

This strategy seems to have worked well for Tupperware in establishing its foothold and creating a brand recall.

Another issue that Tupperware faced was with respect to the inherent nature of its operations. Being a direct selling company, it relies on its sales force to generate orders which were proving to be a difficult proposition owing to the tendency among Indians to buy products based on the touch and feel factor and overall visibility. The brand thus embarked on a brand and access strategy for the Indian market, which has been its core marketing and communication focus.

The new ‘She Can, You Can’ campaign is the first such initiative by Tupperware, which has over the years relied heavily on the print medium to drive sales. As a marketing strategy, it chooses a category which is at the top of the consumers mind during a specific time period and runs it across newspapers for a month. It also uses BTL activities such as displays and kiosks in organised retail outlets and malls to provide the required touch and feel to customers through demonstrations and interactions, which also helps to increase its visibility.

The last two years have also seen a shift in its marketing focus. From products and technical aspect the brand has moved towards establishing a more emotional connect. This explains the new positioning of the kitchenware brand as ‘Seal Love, Open Freshness’.

Besides leveraging print and on ground activations, Tupperware also organises nutrition workshops for school children and has tie-ups with Bollywood movies through which the brand runs joint TVC’s and product placements before the movie release. This helps in reaching out to the masses.

He also adds that while the print campaigns will continue being the company’s prime marketing medium, the ‘She Can, You Can’ campaign will continue simultaneously. Tupperware has been organising events wherein women are invited to share stories and motivate others to join the brand’s sales force. It also has plans of culminating all the stories into a book by the year-end.

Fun selling
One of the companies’ core distribution strength has been its  ‘Tupperware Parties’. These gatherings increase its sales force efficiency and solves the ‘touch and feel’ problem through easy demonstrations besides resulting in other consumer engagement activities like sharing of recipes, cooking advice and health tips among Indian housewives.
The brand also maintains a loyal consumer base with its lifetime guarantee with which consumers can exchange products with a manufacturing defect throughout the life of the product.

According to Professor Koshy, the adaption of the international portfolio to suit Indian cooking conditions as well as its network marketing are the key strong points of Tupperware’s presence in India. However, he has reservations with respect to the distribution reach of the company. “I am not sure if the network concept has been fully leveraged by the brand and whether it has been successful in penetrating into smaller towns and cities,” he opines.

Having a presence in 60 towns and cities across the country, Bagai does not see any immediate plans of venturing into the rural hinterlands. The company also refused to divulge any growth or sales figures.

Brand extension
In order to differentiate from the increasing number of look-alikes in the market as well as to tap the growing class of urban elite, Tupperware launched a new, imported product range called Ultimo last year, which essentially targets the A plus category consumers. It has also roped into chef Kunal Kapoor as the brand ambassador for this premium range.
With this, Tupperware now has presence in different product categories, with prices ranging from as low as Rs 190 for the blow moulded bottles to around Rs 9,000 for the Ultimo range. “To succeed in a market like India, you need to be present in different price points. There is someone who is just entering the middle class, others who are shifting from traditional metal food containers to plastic wear, and there is the elite customer who wants high quality. We need to cater to all of them,” says Bagai.

This move by the company falls in line with its larger objective of becoming a culinary brand apart from being a container company.

From adapting to local conditions and evolving its marketing and distribution strategies to extending the product portfolio to cater to all consumer segments and even contributing towards women empowerment, Tupperware has charted a unique and successful business model in India without losing focus on its core brand identity.

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