The failure of Onida has been eminent for a long time when the Onida monster stopped amazing us all! But, once the monster was very popular among the masses, skyrocketing the sales of Onida.
In 1994, my father bought an Onida colour TV and we were amazed to see the unique alien thing! I was a bit afraid though as I remembered the Devil popping up in the advertisements, and I won’t deny, I often had the premonitions that the Devil would jump right in front of my TV screen, just like Betal. A decade passed, and he bought another TV, and that was Sony. Two years back, I was dwindling between the various TV brands before opting for the new Sony LED. Where is Onida? Is the Devil too weak to arouse the fellow neighbour’s envy?
In 1981, the MIRC Electronics was established in Andheri, Mumbai and in 1982 the Onida TV was launched in the consumer durable sector. The homegrown electronic brand was able to earn the love and trust of the now-older generation. All the 90s kids, including me, remember the green Devil with two horns inspiring the consumers to purchase the product from the market and value the owner’s pride. The tagline “Neighbour’s Envy. Owner’s Pride” worked well among the Indian masses which shot up the sales drastically. Thus making Onida the most successful brand in the country.
In 1998, G. Sundar became the new CEO of the company, and over 450,000 Onida TV sets were sold, which was almost double the previous year. But, since the dawning of the century, the brand started to drift away from the much-cherished limelight. Since its inception until 1998, the company did a commendable business. The official mascot of the green Devil, targeting, promotions, marketing everything was on point. But after 1998, the company abandoned this popular mascot. It cited the reason that the Devil no longer seemed relevant to contemporary minds. With the departure of the Devil, MIRC Electronics experienced a massive eclipse on its business growth, harnessing the failure of Onida.
From 1998 to 2003, the MIRC Electronics worked with Ogilvy and Mather, an ad agency. And the Devil vanished from the visual promotions. But, again in 2004, the company shifted from OM to Rediffusion. The Devil was brought back, but it did not do any good.
As per the then Vice President of Sales and Marketing of the company, Vivek Sharma “At that point (2004), Onida was largely a TV and DVD brand, but the (re-launched) devil failed to connect with consumers.” Then once more the Devil is launched by the company with new taglines “Nothing but the truth”, this time the Devil is handsome, with horns, tails and nails.
The Devil tried to engage the viewers with witty one-liners and comments. But by 2007, the market had already welcomed the new entrants and electronic giants like Videocon, LG etc. Brand promotions and brand positioning were shifting constantly. Sometimes with Devil, then a happy couple, but none of them grabbed the attention of the evolving consumers. In the 1990s, the TV was more of a status symbol. But by the end of the decade, everything went topsy-turvy. Onida could not find suitable brand promotions strategies to give a tough competition to the foreign players. And, this contributed to the failure of Onida.
Digitization, Automation, Evolving technologies, new players like SONY, LG, Samsung, new age consumer demands etc have all contributed to the failure of this once-upon-a-time popular brand. Even though the new Devil is more humanized, does not propagate any negative emotion like its predecessors, wears Prada and lives in a palatial and cosy décor, the contemporary user is looking at its competitors when it comes to consumer durables. The numbers have declined, hinting at a major financial crisis looming large on the company. The four major reasons contributing to its downfall are brought forth in the following lines.
Firstly, the frequent change in brand positioning and advertising hampered the business and the failure of Onida was eminent. MIRC Electronics are experimenting with various ad agencies and all of them are positioning the brand at their own will. The advertisement of the product must be owned by the company itself, not the ad agencies.
With changing years, the ad agencies are modifying the visuals and this has dethroned the position of the brand. When O&M took the brand from the Avenues, the Devil and the first tagline was chopped off. When the ad agency was changed from O&M to Rediffusion, the Devil was reincarnated in a different avatar. The shuffling between the ad agencies and the brand marketing strategies has harmed the product’s performance in the market.
Amidst all the shuffling and experimentation between ad agencies, the brand essence is lost completely. In regard to the advertising, Onida has committed another blunder, that is not to collaborate with celebrities for brand endorsements, unlike its immediate competitors like Videocon (Amitabh Bacchan), Samsung (Amir Khan), LG (Abhishek Bacchan) etc.
Secondly, the communication barrier between the brand and the evolving Millenials has jeopardized the growth of the brand. Onida could easily connect to the mass of 1980s and 1990s, but those consumers have grown old. Onida, unable to cope up with the changing tides, failed to connect to the evolving new age digitized consumers. The Devil could do nothing to grab the much-needed attention, let us see if God can help the sinking ship!
Thirdly, just like in Kodak and Nokia, internal turbulence and organizational miscommunication play a pivotal role in grounding the business. The owners of the company, Gulu and Somu Mirchandani and their brother in law Vijay Mansukhani had a rift among themselves regarding the ownership of Onida. When the brand was trying hard to re-emerge with the branding of the new Devil, the internal turmoil surfaced. Thus ultimately harming the company at large.
Last but not the least, the quality positioning of the foreign brands have dazzled the Indian consumers. Thus drifting away from this domestic brand. Onida had hardly any chance to stand against the branding of Sony Bravia with its updated technology and AI-enabled user interface. Not only brand positioning but also brand visibility is an essential part. This another crucial reason behind the failure of Onida as the company ignored this aspect altogether. Brands like LG and Videocon are associated with cricket, due to their live events and sponsorship. On the other hand, the name Onida sparks two pictures in our minds, one is that of Devil and the second one is that of a happy couple.
Onida has fallen from high in recent years, but it has also given us some valuable lessons to learn and to avoid similar mistakes.
- Ownership lies with the company and not ad agency: Add agencies aid in building brand marketing strategies, but the product ownership lies with the company. With changing ad agencies, the image of the brand is also changing, making the viewers confused. The shuffling ad agencies harmed the brand positioning, and it must be avoided at all costs.
- Celebrity endorsements and sponsorship create brand visibility: Who is the face of Onida? The Devil? An ordinary happy couple? Or a budding newcomer in Bollywood? In order to influence the mass to buy the product, the company needs a celebrity face, a face that is known to all. Onida did not take up this strategy, keeping the growth at stake.
- Family Feud is detrimental: Nothing is worse than a family feud interfering in business. It is one of the major reasons that contributed to the failure of Onida. The volatile positioning of the brand is coupled with the rift between the two brothers and their brother in law. There is a popular ideology that doing business with family members can give rise to confusion and turbulence. It is better to separate business and personal relationships. Not everyone can manage both at one go!
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