Totem's segmentation game

Roll the totem. Nope, I’m not talking about the movie ‘Inception’.

Totem is a very unique brand. When the whole world was branding pens as niche brands, sophisticated brands and more, Totem came up with a different positioning. They called in for commodity mode. Effectively focused on utility.

I haven’t seen any TV Commercials of this pen but they are stocked and heavily sold in various markets across India, especially as office stationary, hotel banquet halls,amongcollege students, etc. Not to forget their price advantage, they are sold at Rs.3, virtually creating a new segment.

Quickly measuring their success factors:

  • Value For Money/ Commodity model
  • Utility focused
  • Awesome segmentation
Adding to the woes, the competitors in the Rs.10 category have serious quality issues. Most of the pens smudge, many are notergonomic.

What’s more? Totem has not invested in any brand building activities. Till now,being commodity focused has yielded dividends but the company will be losing a big opportunity if they are not able to capitalize on the current demand. Since consumers just see it as commodity, the new market entrants can use it to advantage.

It is absolutely a segmentation and economics game that the company has played. You need to know perfectly as to what market you cater and then build your base there.

Brands like Natraj, Cello, etc are capitalizing on their brand’s awareness to make their way into this high volume category and for Totem, its losing an opportunity to build a brand.

Utility brands, your game is still on. Go Fish!


A cult marketing person with an uncanny knack for Strategy and Brand Management. He is proficient at Management Information Systems, Matrix formulation and Analytics, Strategic Business Planning, Consulting and Client/ Vendor Relationship Management. Authored the fiction book “The Group of Fools”, published in the year 2011 and many more on the way!!!

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