Seeking escape from the cost down trap
Since the introduction of its first aluminum wheelchair in 1987, Karma Medical Products has built a reputation for innovation and quality. The company is widely recognized for its research and development, manufacturing and distribution, and is a brand leader in the wheelchair industry.
By 2008 and 2009, however, strong competition from new entrants was forcing Karma to reduce its own production costs, inadvertently threatening the reputation for quality it had already established in the market. Seeking a solution to this problem, and to ensure the brand retained its market-leading reputation, Karma approached DDG in 2010 to undertake an audit of the brand.
Uncovering Karma’s unique and true value in the market
During the global brand audit, DDG discovered that most consumers were uninformed, worse yet misinformed, when selecting a wheelchair. Many consumers were making choices based on price and color preference, rather than choosing a wheelchair suited to the user’s particular needs. Similarly, many medical professionals interviewed as part of the audit were unable to provide accurate or informed recommendations on which wheelchairs were right for individuals. As a wheelchair designer and manufacturer with significant R&D capabilities, Karma possessed an abundance of experience and knowledge on the subject. As DDG discovered through analysis, this knowledge was Karma’s primary value to the marketplace, and an ideal differentiator for the brand.
DDG recommended that the concept of ‘FIT’ become the centre-point of Karma’s new brand strategy, later developed into ‘Karma Fit’. The core message behind ‘Karma Fit’ is helping users, and the families and caregivers who often make purchases on their behalf, understand how to select the right wheelchair. This new positioning also served as a catalyst for the company, inspiring new marketing and business development efforts, while also providing a springboard for DDG’s development of a fresh new visual identity and communications system. The concept of ‘Fit’ led to a host of new strategic actions that helped grow the business.
A catalyst for new action and business growth
In 2011, DDG helped Karma kickstart the process of training doctors, nurses, therapists, and resellers in an effort to familiarize them with the new ‘Karma Fit’ concept and to educate them in helping consumers purchase the right wheelchair for their needs. The communications strategy focused on delivering Karma’s core belief that ‘a better wheelchair offers a better fit’.
The rebrand project represented a critical milestone for Karma, bringing renewed focus, confidence, and ultimately global expansion as a leading wheelchair brand. Following DDG’s completion of the rebrand project, Karma successfully overcame strong price competition in Taiwan to increase sales by an impressive 20%, enabling the brand to maintain its market leading position.
Over a span of only two years, and inspired by the Karma Fit concept, the brand also claimed more than 70% of the high-end wheelchair market in China. The company further gained an edge over competitors by becoming one of the first to enter India, capturing more than four-fifths of India’s high-end wheelchair market.