Faced with increased competition in the industry, Engro Fertilisers launched a nationwide product campaign in the third week of May in order to boost awareness of their products and increase market penetration in Punjab.
In 2016, Pakistan’s fertiliser industry posted a growth of 13.8% compared to 4.6% in 2015, with production rising to six million tons against a demand of nearly 5.6 million tons – thus resulting in an inventory build-up (source: State Bank Report, 2016). However, despite this growth, sales volumes at Engro were 12% lower in 2016 compared to 2015 and according to Asim Butt, VP Marketing, Engro Fertilisers, the reason underlying this is the intense competition among fertiliser producers, due to improved gas availability and the smooth supply of imported Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
The fertiliser category (source: Pakistan JCR-VIS Report, 2016) primarily consists of urea and di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) – and although nine producers operate in Pakistan, the dominant players are Fauji Fertiliser (49% urea and 70% DAP) and Engro (30% urea and 24% DAP).
According to Butt, given the current excess in supply and the fierce competition, “Engro launched this campaign to expand our market share by creating a preference for the brand.”
The campaign promotes four products: Engro Urea (one of Pakistan’s first branded urea product containing nitrogen, which is also exported), Engro DAP (imported and marketed by the company since 1996), Engro NP and Engro Zarkhez (the only branded fertiliser in Pakistan containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium). Butt says the reason for highlighting these products is because they are the basic revenue earners. With a sack of urea costing approximately Rs 1,300 and a sack of DAP Rs 2,500, fertiliser products are relatively expensive; moreover, they are not impulse purchases. Furthermore, as an essential input for agricultural production, it is the quality that determines a farmer’s choice.
According to a market survey undertaken by Engro, the brand has high market share in Sindh compared to Fauji; in Punjab, the situation is reversed, where Engro’s presence is small, perhaps due to the fact that the company has no manufacturing facilities in place there. However, given that Sindh accounts for 20% of Pakistan’s overall fertiliser consumption and Punjab 65%, there is a clear need for Engro to boost their presence – and given the existing surplus in production, now was the time to try and make inroads in Punjab.
The way to expand a brand’s market, says Butt, is to concentrate on those aspects that are of concern to farmers. For this purpose, Engro conducted research in different villages, including Nankana, Gujranwala and Sheikhpura.
Engro’s campaign is a 360-degree one and includes print, TV, radio, social media and OOH. He says the reason for advertising in the English language print media (Business Recorder and Dawn) is to create awareness among landlords, government officials and other stakeholders about the company’s recent initiatives, which include various projects in liaison with the government and the export and import of urea and DAP. As for social media, he says most farmers in the rural market have mobile phones, especially the younger farmers and the brand wanted to target this new generation of progressive farmers.
Elaborating on the brand objectives of the campaign, Rabiya Hamid, Creative Group Head, Ogilvy and Mather (Engro’s creative agency) says that “the brand wants to create a sense of relatability among farmers”. The idea was to depict farmers as heroes by acknowledging the effort and hard work they put in to bring forth the best crop for the Pakistani consumer.
To achieve this Engro moved to an aspirational form of advertising – hence the tagline ‘heeray jesay kissan ki shaan’, which projects farmers’ resilience in pulling through hardships and shine (like diamonds) – diamonds are considered a valuable commodity. Directed by Shahbaz Sumar and shot in Punjab, the TVC revolves around a farmer who works day and night, yet due to adverse circumstances, he almost gives up, but then bounces back to start again with renewed vigour.
According to Hamid, “the life of a farmer is difficult and the hardships he goes through are beyond the imagination of most people. Yet, every human being has a threshold and there comes a time when one wants to say ‘enough is enough’. However, despite adversities, farmers never flinch and we did our best to reflect this in the commercial.”
Looking at the industry as a whole, analysts say there are a number of challenges that need to be addressed. Among them is the fact that this year’s budget did not provide any new support schemes and subsidies for farmers. In their opinion, although government policies have played a part in reviving the agriculture sector, to secure consistent growth among farmers there is a need to introduce new schemes and subsidies on fertilisers to further spur progress. Given the high level of inventory, the government has, they concede, permitted the export of urea to ease the oversupply situation; however, the unexpected change in global prices has made it difficult for fertiliser producers to export their surplus. They conclude that growth in the industry is only possible when both manufacturers and government work together in collaboration and that it is vital for farmers to know their future revenues in order to be able to make informed investment decisions.