HP GAS and JWT's 'Ji Haan' strategy

Since mid-2002, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) has been providing its discerning customers with a range of new exciting, value added services designed to create a purposeful relationship with them. The launch of HP GAS as a brand was the beginning of a new chapter in the LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) trade in the Indian petroleum industry. HPCL wanted to obtain an advantage in the market, post deregulation; and strive to make the proposition ever exciting and refreshing.

Differentiation strategy:

As part of HPCL's strategic marketing initiative that sought to break out of traditional LPG business, the company attempted to establish 'HP GAS' as a distinct and unique LPG brand across the country. The company has endeavoured to increase consumer focus; penetrate untapped rural markets - all the efforts being consolidated towards building a stronger brand image. Partnering the company was India's premier advertising agency JWT India.

The branding concept for HP GAS was developed after an exhaustive research that encompassed collating feedback from various external research and focus group discussions in key markets across the country.

To understand consumer needs on a continuous basis, a consumer satisfaction research was undertaken which enabled the company to launch its latest offerings. The research covered 494 distributors spread across 21 states covering a sample size of more than 15,000.

An extraordinary amount of effort went into creation of this new brand keeping in mind the needs of the users as well as non users and the customer preferences before finalising the offering.

The newly created distinct set of value added offerings range from services tailor made for consumer convenience - delivery of refills within 24 hours; extended delivery timings - 8 am to 8 pm all seven days a week; efficient and expert services - installation of a new connection within 24 hours; and single point contact for refill booking, customer service inquiries and emergency services; four-digit single number 1716 across the country for safety and convenience of HP GAS' valued consumers.

The entire communication was launched with a specially designed pneumonic of an 'animated' cylinder proclaiming 'Ji Haan' reinforcing a strong positive service orientation.

The phased roll out of 'Ji Haan' initially covered 258 distributorships in the cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune. The new initiative ‘Ji Haan’ consumer campaign was extended to 690 markets covering 17 states.

HPCL is one of the first oil companies to computerise the entire distributor network to provide value added services to consumers such as refill booking through IVRS, Internet amongst others. Special training module termed as "Millennium Distributor" has been rolled out and more than 1,000 distributors covered for re-orientation of their mindset to meet challenges of competitive scenario.

As far as HPCL is concerned, "safety" comes first. The HP Suraksha LPG hose was launched as an example of the company's commitment to safety.

As the urban domestic market is fast nearing saturation, HPCL has started focussing on rural markets - which the company's team feels would be the engines for future growth. HPCL is operating two skid mounted filling plants exclusively for rural areas and has introduced the 5 Kg cylinders. It has also played a leading role in providing LPG connections under Deepam scheme in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

HPCL is equally concerned about protecting the environment and the campaign communicated these aspects. The company embarked on an ambitious plan of creating infrastructure for dispensing LPG as auto fuel. It is in the process of setting up 30 more stations within this financial year. HPCL is also facilitating conversion of the vehicles at its outlets in Mumbai through an approved agency.

HP GAS customer sops:

In July 2003, HP Gas launched the HP Home Perk programme - first ever loyalty programme for LPG consumers in the country; enhanced medical insurance upto Rs 15 lakh (Rs 1.5 million); and empowered customers across the country by giving them the option of weighing the cylinder at their door steps. These services will enable more than 18 million customers serviced through a network of 1,900 distributors to enjoy a hassle free experience.

“The new value added services are tremendously beneficial and are among the many initiatives that we have lined up for our customers,” said HPCL marketing director NK Puri adding,“Our consumer research has shown that customers have vital concerns such as the correct weight of cylinders and safety which precedes amongst other key findings which are becoming predominantly significant. Through these new consumer initiatives and our enduring customer friendly approach, we endeavour to raise the level of service we offer our consumers.”

Weight campaign – 15,000 HP GAS delivery boys across the country carry portable weighing scales (both electronic and mechanical), which gives the customer the option of cross checking the weight of the gas at their door step. Research has highlighted the fact that almost one third of the customers are apprehensive of the weight of gas in the cylinders and this initiative will reassure consumers of the exact weight of HP gas cylinders, thus empowering customers and ensuring they receive what they are entitled too.

A still from the HP GAS TV commercial advocating the promise of accurate weight of the cylinder

This promise was demonstrated by a TV commercial (TVC) which drew parallels with the commonly faced problem - Indian housewives being duped by inaccurate weighing machines used by unscrupulous raddiwallas (paper merchants and newsprint traders collecting old newspapers and magazines from Indian households). The TVC shows a housewife (played by TV artiste Gautami of Zee TV's Lipstick fame) and her maid (TV and film actress Divya Dutta) outsmart two wily raddiwallas who con them with the help of a HP GAS delivery boy carrying accurate portable weights.

Loyalty programme – A customer can call the HP help line ‘1716’ and become a member of ‘HP Home Perks’ loyalty programme without any membership fee. Through this programme, members can purchase a range of household goods at attractive discounts ranging from 40 to 50 per cent at the HP Home Bazaar and accumulate loyalty points redeemable against products.

Among various incentives offered is an opportunity to be eligible for a pyramid of prizes amounting to Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million) through a mega draw on various regular promotions. The programme was introduced in Mumbai and will be subsequently rolled out to other cities in a phased manner.

Medical Insurance – Reinforcing its focus on customers, HP GAS has broken away from the traditional insurance policy and has come out with an enhanced umbrella insurance policy covering all consumers and third parties. This includes compensation of Rs 100,000 in case of demise; Rs 25,000 towards loss of property; and Rs 15 lakh (Rs 1.5 million) towards individual medical expenses in case of injuries due to an accident with an LPG cylinder.

HP Gas Rasoi Ghar - HP GAS has attempted to make its environment friendly fuel available to the underprivileged section, who are unable to bear the high one time deposit, and recurring cost of refills. HP GAS introduced Rasoi Ghar the concept of community kitchen. Nearly, 350 Rasoi Ghars are currently operational and benefit more than 6,500 families by providing a common cooking platform in villages, where users pay on the basis of the time utilised for cooking. This initiative is a step towards improving the quality of life in this cross section of society.

HPCL LPG Strategic Business Unit head and general manager SV Sahni says: “The HP gas customer is progressive and conscious of their wants. To cater to these discerning customers, we are constantly trying to improvise on our services to offer a hassle free experience and our strategy fills in this need gap. All our initiatives have addressed consumer insight findings and we are confident that we will be a step ahead in delivering quality service to our customers.”

India's premier ad agency JWT's take on the strategy -

Ramnik Chhabra - JWT's senior account management and planning director on the HPCL Gas campaign

After many years of an oligopolistic marketplace, the domestic LPG segment was finally opened to private players around five years back.

However, it was still not a level playing field. That's because the government LPG players like HP GAS, Bharatgas and Indane still had the advantage of government subsidies in terms of pricing. This coupled with their advantage of reach made the government LPG manufacturers the preferred choice.

Things were soon to change! With government subsidies being withdrawn, service delivery and brand image would be the key drivers for brand consideration.

Hence the need for HP GAS to take the lead in building a relevant and impactful brand position.

Communication strategy

The communication target audience straddled many different target audiences:

* Current HP GAS users: prevent switching and use more LPG in lieu of kerosene;

* Non-LPG users - make them positively pre-disposed towards LPG and bring HP Gas into their consideration set;

* Rural - target rural areas where there is little/no penetration of LPG as a cooking medium; and where cheap and easily available fuels like wood and coal were easily available.

Key insight

Research conducted among housewives threw up an interesting insight.

* The household manager performs many tasks. She receives help from other family members/hired help for most of these tasks.

* However the cooking task is something that she handles on her own.

* 72 per cent are responsible for cooking and cook themselves.

* And 54 per cent don't receive any help in cooking.

Brand position

* Given the fact that the housewife has no help in the kitchen the aim of the brand was to position itself as her "expert helper" in the kitchen.

* A helper who provides efficient service; someone who is accessible and reliable.


This was supported by the service delivery of:

* Immediate new gas connection;

* Refills in 24 hours;

* 8 am to 8 pm booking and delivery service;

* Guarantee of right weight.

Creative execution

The position of the "expert helper" was brought alive in the brand mnemonic and the brand statement: "Ji Haan"

Each creative execution made an specific service come alive and linked it back to the brand position.

The above pictures are stills from the HP GAS TVCs that were aired on prominent TV channels since the campaign was mass-oriented. The TVCs espoused the brand's core promise of guaranteed delivery within 24 hours, cylinders with accurate weights and impeccable service standards.


* 8 per cent top of mind ad recall - the fourth highest among all categories. Competitive brands like Bharatgas and Indane at 0.1 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively.

* Category aided recall at 35 per cent - four times higher than closest competitor.

* From an unclear personification, HP GAS has moved to being identified with a "well behaved, responsible, high profile, kind at heart person".

The exercise also improved the HP GAS brand recall from 17th position to 4th position (TOM Ad Recall) and gained a strong association with reliability and quick service.

Source( Millennium Woman study; HP Gas Brand Track 2003).

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