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When we think of cement and the cement industry, it doesn't exactly make our pulse race and our eyes widen in excitement. As a category, cement has always kept a low profile, though perhaps involuntarily so. It is a functional necessity in our everyday life. Involvement in the product and the category has been essentially non-existent for the end consumer — the homebuilder. He has thought it more prudent to let the engineer and the contractor figure out the cement bit of his house while he takes part in the more glamorous aspect of interior design. So the cement category as a whole was never much in the limelight. And white cement got off to an even slower start.

This is till Birla White decided to change the rules of the whole category.

The birth of an idea
Birla White had comfortably been the leader in the white cement category for quite some time. The market was present but was growing at a slow pace. The brand was also expanding its market by exporting to several countries including the UAE, Australia, Doha-Qatar, South Africa and Sri Lanka.

However being part of the visionary Aditya Birla Group it wanted to consolidate its position and give direction to the category.

A cement is a cement is a cement right?

How do you get your end consumers to get more involved in something as basic as cement? How do you make sure that the architects and the interior designers ask specifically for your brand of white cement and actually get peeved if they don't get it?

You position it as a design tool that can bring to life any design that you imagine. You position it as a décor accessory rather than a building block of the house. You get into the architects mind at the drawing board stage. Thus evolved the "My kind of Design" campaign. The old but trusted tagline of 'The whitest white cement' was pushed into the background. Birla White aspired to be much more than merely cement, it aspired to be the complete designer tool.

The 'My kind of design' campaign
The 'My kind of design' catch line was based on extensive research that revealed that people have lots of individualistic designs and ideas in their heads that they do not express fully. They are stuck with the tried and tested popular finishes for their walls and floorings but are craving that little extra. Birla White wanted to satisfy this craving. The aim was to get these people involved and actually get them to ask for their dream designs and ideal homes.

They changed the whole paradigm of communication that was associated with the cement category. A new television campaign and a new press campaign were made the precursors to bring in this change.

Changing the rules
Traditionally, players in this category used to advertise the basic utilities of white cement like cement wash and floorings. But Birla White came up with a design-oriented campaign. The campaign talks about the whole gamut of design solutions and applications possible through white cement.

White cement companies also preferred product-based print ads in home décor magazines aimed at architects and people connected with the construction industry. The Birla White campaign spoke directly to people dreaming of doing up their homes, with lines such as 'You have an interior designer within you. Be kind enough to show this ad to her' and 'The problem with dream homes is their location. They remain in your dreams.'

From helping homeowners make decisions on the finish of their walls to a specialised team of applicators to make their designs come alive, the Birla White team has developed a whole range of specialised designer products like GRC and textured finishes to further whet the imagination.

The product portfolio
Birla White boasts of a portfolio ranging from the most basic of wall finishes to the most intricate of claddings. The biggest advantage Birla White offers is that its products are cement-based. This makes them last much longer than other finishing alternatives like paint.

Birla White offers at the basic level cement wash and cement paint applications. Also offered are end products like 'Wallcare' putty and 'Textura' textured wall finish. Made with Birla White, the whitest white cement, they are not only aesthetically superior but also because of their endurance are great value-for-money propositions. To give your walls a more unique look, there are also rugged exterior finishes like Stone Crete, Tyrolean and Grit wash that sparkle in the sun like Starlite. For your walls there are textured finishes and an array of wall tiles. Then there is glass fibre reinforced concrete or GRC, which allows you to replicate the most complex of architectural structures and styles. You may just want a 18th century sprinkler on your front lawns. You need to just think of it and its made at the factory and delivered to your doorstop.

For floorings, Birla White offers a whole host of options, from mosaic tiles to amazing terrazzo designs. Especially significant is Terrazzo, which allows you to create your dream designs on the floor. If you want to go with a marble floor, a slurry of Birla White under the marble can do wonders.

'Our kind of results'
Post-campaign research results have shown that there has been a more appreciable difference created in the minds of consumers and architects between Birla White and its competition. People clearly associate Birla White with design connotations. In other historic parameters that used to be important like whiteness and strength, research revealed that perceptually the other competitive brands are at par with Birla White. The only clear differentiator that came out was the design connotations.

The rub-off effect of the new positioning has strongly affected the performance of the more utilitarian and basic applications of white cement like cement wash and as an underlay for marble. The premium that is being associated with Birla White because of this campaign has seen sales in these applications pickup considerably.

The white cement category has grown by 11 per cent over the last year, while Birla White clocked a growth rate of 14 per cent. And this being just the first phase of the repositioning exercise.

Piggybacking on Birla White, white cement has traversed the journey from being a mere stopgap measure to a design tool.

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