As the marketing scenario rapidly shifts to accommodate trends and customer preferences, cement companies need to reinvent their branding strategies. With the onslaught of digital marketing, especially social media, the branding exercise has taken on a new avatar. We unravel the nuances of branding, advertising and marketing communications for cement companies as each one vies for their share of the customer’s attention, and get experts to share their winning strategies with us.
How does one create loyalty for the product they have on offer? How do they communicate about what their product is all about? How do they stand apart from the clutter in the market? The answer to all these questions is branding.
A branding strategy by definition is a long-term plan to achieve a series of long-term plans to achieve a series of goals that ultimately result in the identification and preference of the brand by consumers. This strategy encompasses the brand’s mission, its promises to its customers, and how these are communicated to send the right message to the right audience.
Any product or commodity needs a branding strategy because branding promotes recognition. A good branding strategy helps build a loyal customer base, sets your product offering apart from competition and allows you to build a standard communication across all channels with a vision and mission in mind and connect emotionally with your customers.
“Although going against the tide of producing easily marketable cement, JSW Cement has chosen the less travelled path by producing cement, which is least harmful to the environment, hence, this makes us the leading producer of green /sustainable cement in India. This feat is achieved by using raw materials like slag and having efficient processes, which reduces carbon emissions by one-third of world industry average,” says Gurminder Singh, Head – Branding, JSW Cement.
“Promoting sustainable living coupled with the unmatched physical strengths of slag cement forms the basis of our branding strategy. We promote this through – TVC, giving sustainable gifts, using eco-friendly raw materials etc.,” he adds.
Changing the marketing game
Cement is a commodity widely used across the globe and there are many cement players in India as well. Branding allows them to stand apart from the competition and get a hold on the market share with its various efforts, like production, distribution, marketing etc. According to Statista reports in FY2020, Ultratech Cement held the highest market share in India with 31 per cent of the total market. Followed by Ambuja Cement with 21 per cent market share, ACC Limited with 12 per cent market share and so on.
Agnes Rozario, Manager – Brand and Customer Excellence, AKB Group says, “Building a brand in the cement industry is multidimensional but not bewildering. The Indian subcontinent has seen some very well-known brands crafting remarkable campaigns to make a mark in customers’ minds and all of them indulged in the product, service innovation and customer excellence. As we focus on the current scenario, householders account for almost a larger part of cement consumers, very evidently pointing out that this industry in India has become a brand-conscious segment with a constant need to brand the cement. Brands like JK Cement, UltraTech Cement and ACC deployed 360-degree consumer benefit-based positioning strategies for but not limited to OOH, print media, electronic ads, etc. We witnessed brands using humour (The Great Khali ad of Ambuja Cement), onboard celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan and Sourav Ganguly to amplify their personal brand in building awareness for the company’s USPs.”
“With a plethora of multi-channel brand activities taking place, we feel that players in the Indian Cement industry are breaking the ceiling of traditional brand marketing and adapting new viewpoints. To cement brand value in the market, consistency and the ability to vary has been the key for any successful player today,” she adds.
A November 2021 report by EPRA International Journal of Research and Development (IJRD), states that the cement industry is required to operate in a social and environment that needs to handle a market of continuous changing customers’ product preferences. The production and marketing development becomes a major activity for the cement industry of these companies. The marketing environment in the industry is competitive and dynamic and slowly all the companies are adopting new age, digital based and unique marketing strategies to be in competition in the Indian cement market not only for survival
but also for growth and development in the cement industry.
A study conducted by Dr Pawan Kumar Dubey, Dr Umesh Kumar and Dr Arivend concludes that cement companies are well aware of the importance of focusing customers. Cement companies are willing to cater new customer segments. It shows the level of competition among the existing cement companies in the market. Any company offers a product or service in the market immediately introduced by its competitors in the market. It can be inferred that the cement industry is highly competitive.
The results also show that technology plays an important role in the growth of the cement industry. Companies have to be ready for the change in the technology to utilise this opportunity. It is required for cement companies to keep the same pace in the change in the technology within the company to contribute to the industry as a whole. They must also check about the benefits they are getting from this contribution and act accordingly.
Cement organisations are moving digital, especially in the post pandemic era. They are launching campaigns to connect with consumers of the younger age group too. Companies are touching upon issues that matter to the environment and other important issues through their digital campaigns. In January 2022, Ambuja Cement and ACC limited launched their first corporate campaign #ChangeTheStory that highlights the plastic removal efforts of the cement majors in the country. The #ChangeTheStory campaign expects to elevate the narrative around sustainability challenges with a sense of urgency by showcasing technology-backed solutions that offer effective and measurable outcomes. This campaign aims to rewrite the problems of the present and create solutions that will benefit the future of society.
Another top cement brand JK Cement launched its digital-first campaign, WallMax, to reiterate its position as the No.1 Wall Putty brand in India. The brand has adopted a 360-degree route to amplify the message, commencing with a series of quirky and intent-driven films on social media. The campaign conveys the message that attaining the No.1 position gives a proud feeling but it comes with the responsibility to create a difference in the lives of the customers.
“Social media and digital marketing have picked up a lot in recent times. We are a young brand and right from the beginning we have been active on social media platforms and digital channels. We are working hard on these mediums and have been doing a lot of campaigns like People of Wonder, Stories of Wonder etc. where we engage our network, architects, contractors, masons and everyone involved with the brand,” says Siddharth Singhvi, Associate Vice President – Business Excellence, Wonder Cement.
“One of the biggest activation campaigns we did was in 2015. We thought of doing a customer activation through cricket and named it ‘Saath Saath Cricket Mahotsav’. At that time, we involved more than two lakh people on the ground directly and they played with us. Multiply that with their family members coming to see the matches, so all in all we touched about 2.5 to 3 crore people across Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. This was a path breaking campaign, one of a kind campaign done by a cement player,” he added.
Branding has always been a vital part of business, but it may be more important now than ever before. With social media, consumers get exposed to new brands every day. This can be great for consumers who have plenty of options and are able to do research to find the best one, but it makes it harder for businesses.
Branding helps the company build trust with its customers by communicating its mission and creating a promise of delivery quality. It helps create advertising for your product and build a connection with your customers and gain their loyalty. Branding is giving your product and organisation a personality, a voice, identity and positioning in the market.
KEC International bags orders worth Rs. 12.33 billion
Secures an order to build India’s first 765 kV Digital Substation
KEC International, an RPG Group Company, has secured new orders of Rs. 12.33 billion across its various businesses:
The business has secured orders for T&D projects in India, Middle East and Americas: 765 kV Digital GIS Substation order in India, from Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCIL), supply of towers in Middle East, secured by subsidiary in UAE, supply of towers, hardware and poles in Americas, secured by the company’s subsidiary, SAE Towers.
The business has secured orders for infra works in the paints and metals & mining segments; laying of cross-country pipeline and associated works and various types of cables in India and overseas.
Mr. Vimal Kejriwal, MD & CEO, KEC International commented, “We are pleased with the new order wins, especially the prestigious order from PGCIL, to build India’s first 765 kV Digital substation. Our Civil business continues to strengthen and diversify its presence in the industrial segment with the addition of a very reputed client. We are also encouraged by the order in the Oil and Gas Pipelines, which further enhances the business’ order book.”
Ambuja Cements’ Q2CY22 revenue up 15%
The total expenses were at Rs 7,276.72 crore, up 33.09% in Q2 of 2022
Ambuja Cements, one of the leading cement players, reported a 25.46% fall in consolidated net profit at Rs 865.44 crore for the June 2022 quarter due to rising fuel prices and related inflationary impacts. The company, which follows the January-December financial year, had clocked a net profit of Rs 1,161.16 crore in the year-ago quarter.
However, its revenue from operations was up 15.11% to Rs 8,032.88 crore during the quarter as compared to Rs 6,978.24 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous financial year. Ambuja Cements’ total expenses were at Rs 7,276.72 crore, up 33.09% in Q2 of 2022 from Rs 5,467.33 crore a year ago.
The consolidated result of Ambuja Cements also includes the financial performance of its step-down firm ACC. On a standalone basis, Ambuja Cements reported an increase of 44.92% in its net profit to Rs 1,047.90 crore as against Rs 723.08 crore in the corresponding quarter last year. Its standalone revenue from operations was Rs 3,993.45 crore, up 18.45 per cent in April-June quarter as against Rs 3,371.18 crore a year ago.
Bekabadcement becomes infrastructure project partner
In a key project, to be financed by the Asian Development Bank, to build a 350km international transport corridor connecting Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan-based Bekabadcement, part of United Cement Group (UGC) Holding, has become a partner. The company’s products are well known domestically for their use in the construction of major infrastructure facilities, such as the construction of transport corridors and modernisation of irrigation systems in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as the rebuilding of the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.