Pidilite, which created a market for Fevi kwik beyond hardware stores to general consumers, wants to repeat it with M-seal.

We found that many women carry Fevi kwik in their handbags,” says Nilesh Mazumdar, President – Sales and Marketing (Maintenance Products), Pidilite Industries. The reasons are obvious. One of the most popular applications among consumers for the ‘instant one-drop adhesive' is gluing back sandals and handbags that are coming aprt, according to the company's findings.

Growth in the category, which Fevi kwik ‘more or less defines', has been catalysed by communication about its multiple uses. For the brand whose highest recall is admittedly for its ‘fish' commercial, a series of ads highlighting how a range of high-value products can be instantly glued at just Rs 5 started airing two years ago.

As these ads inform audiences of the product's many uses, they are called ‘infomercials' by the Pidilite marketing team. By the traditional definition, these must be the most creative and interesting infomercials ever made.

Fevi kwik is now one of Pidilite's most recalled brands, according to Mazumdar. The recall scores are ‘comparable' to the iconic ‘generic brand' that symbolises adhesive in Pidilite's portfolio - Fevicol.

The importance of end-consumer adoption is reflected in Fevi kwik's retail expansion – available countrywide and probably among the top five to six brands in terms of reach, claims Mazumdar. Alongside Fevistick glue stick, it presents a compelling proposition for retailers and stationery stores to stock.

“Channel strength for Fevi kwik is very deep, aided by a focused drive over the last three years. Retail presence among kirana stores and others would be far higher than its hardware presence. Penetration would go up to towns with 2,000 to 3,000 population,” he says.

Fevi kwik's growth has come from adoption by end consumers in addition to craftsmen (auto mechanics, mobile repairmen, spectacle repairmen and the like). While individual sales figures are not available for each of the brands, branded adhesives and sealants contributed 49 per cent to net sales of Rs 2,353.5 crore in the financial year 2010-11.

Obviously, Fevicol and Fevi kwik rank high on performance among adhesives and sealants. But there's another brand there waiting to make its mark. On the lines of Fevi kwik, Pidilite wants to grow sealant brand M-seal with multi-utility education and a distribution push. The company bought the adhesive brand from Mahindra in the year 2000.

Sealing it with consumers

Over the years, the brand has evolved from being an industrial sealant product to a consumer product, explains a senior company executive at Pidilite who has seen the brand grow since its early days. Without divulging numbers, he says M-seal would have grown around 20 times since it was bought. Where this growth has come from is different from where most of M-seal's future growth is, in the eyes of the company.

“It started as an industrial product used to fill holes in castings. As industries improved production standards, such usage reduced slightly. In the late Eighties, usage in domestic leakages due to factors like rodents started,” recounts the official.

Even on current sales, 30 to 35 per cent is for industrial usage, making it a significant contributor, says Mazumdar. The company ‘guesstimates' that craftsmen (plumbers and auto mechanics included) would form the largest chunk of consumers, and those buying it for their own homes being the third – but fastest growing.

That's perhaps why Pidilite is test-marketing a variant that does not stick to the hands. That also explains why communication for M-seal Super, a more user-friendly variant and its most recent, spoke about its varied utilities to the home user.

Most of M-seal's retail sales happen at hardware and auto spares stores. In hardware stores, the brand claims close to 100 per cent presence. In industry, from railways to sugar factories, the use is widespread. Initiatives in fishermen's societies reveal that boat leakages can actually be plugged with M-seal. The idea is to move beyond leaks.

“What is happening now with M-seal is not so much a re-positioning as it is communicating other applications. It's much more than a sealant, and we discovered that consumers were already using it in multiple ways,” explains Mazumdar.

To stay in touch, distribution is being ramped up to take the brand within reach of the household consumer. Fevi kwik and Co have established retail presence beyond the ‘trade' stores (such as hardware), but that does not automatically ensure M-seal's entry into kiranas, notes the sales and marketing head.

“It's difficult to put a number as to who is buying it for personal consumption and who is a craftsman, even in hardware stores. But as applications increase, we must be available at the consumer's doorstep. In the typical FMCG distribution chain, M-seal would cover hardly 5 per cent and are working to improve that,” he adds.

For rural markets, there is a separate sales team catering to towns with up to 10,000 population. A wholesale distribution network ensures penetration into even smaller towns. The infomercials route is being engaged all over again. And a new creative for M-seal will be sealed in June.

The culture of ‘do it for me' in home repair, which involved calling the plumber, is moving to ‘do it yourself', says Mazumdar. And that is good news for M-seal. But the end consumer is a segment which Pidilite wants to engage for more reasons.

Car care

Pidilite is also reviving MotoMax, its car care range, starting with Pune. The range was launched four years ago, but there has been no push, admits Mazumdar. That is changing, starting with a pilot under way in Pune. Print and radio advertising have been on to back this phase of growing a category. A city-wise roll-out to make the brand national is on the anvil.

The brand is present across the auto trade, where some of Pidilite's products already have a presence. The challenge now is to create the consumer pull. This range falls under the ‘cleansing' products from Pidilite, where a few more launches are in the pipeline.

“The category has not been established in India. There needs to be awareness among car and bike owners. And like Fevi kwik or M-seal, this is a segment that we have the opportunity to define,” says the spokesperson.

Distribution in this category is still work in progress. But these products, alongside other cleansers, will see Pidilite engage end consumers a lot more.

One hopes the advertising, when it breaks, has the stickiness of Fevicol.

(This article was published on March 28, 2012)
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