Friday, December 26, 2008

Books on India

I have been planning a lot of books from office to home for the last couple of months, so the books have started piling up at home too. Just saw the pile and was trying to make some sense of it.

One set of books are the ones on India. The interest was triggered by Nadan Nilekani's - Imagining India, and so I have picked up Ramachandra Guha India After Gandhi(yet to read), India the emerging giant - Arvind Panagariya (again very densely written by the renowned economist, so will need quite an effort to read it), and trying to revisit Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Celebrity Endorsments Moving beyond the Obvious

I have been generally very critical of the approach taken by marketers in India towards using celebrities. Most of them end up using them as an easy-unimaginative option to promote their product, and so you would find Amitabh Batchan endorsing cement, emani creams,chocolates and what not.....

But I can see a subtle change happening in the arena of celebrity endorsements and product placements and thought it is worth writing about. The way samsung mobile is trying to align with Aamir Khan in many other activities is making me feel they are able to leverage Aamir Khan brand much better than anyone else has done in the past. The fact that they have launched a limited edition Ghjani Mobile to coincide with the launch of the movie is something worth noticing. And as far as Aamir and his marketing skills go it would need another full post.....

And the issue of product placement is also something which is coming to age in India. In the latest SRK movie, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi... and found SRK using an i10 in the movie and he has been a brand ambassador for Hyundai almost since they came to India. And similarly I remember that KBC had to shift the computers that they 
were using in the programme from Lenovo to Compaq when SRK became the new host. So that way things are improving 

But then people like  Martin Lindstrom have used advanced brain scanning techniques to study the response of consumers towards product placement and branding and has brought out the fact that mere product placement does not help and it is how well it is integrated into the theme of the movie or programme is what makes it memorable. There are many more insights in his highly recommended book buy.ology.

But I see this as a positive trend, trying to leverage the presence of the celebrity across the movies and programs he is into..

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Shake-Shake in Indian Market

I was observing two ads in the TV which were emphasising the shaking and mixing of products by consumers  . One is the shake fries by Mc Donalds and the latest flavours introduced by Lays chips wherein they have also included a pack of Sauce with the chips. The consumer in the both the cases is expected to tear the sauce or masala and pour it on and shake.

The idea maybe is to introduce some excitement in a category like fries, but also driven by the observation that many of us do eat chips with Sauce. Aim would be to increase consumer's involvement with the product......

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Twitter is active

Had started with twitter sme time back, but then forgot. But now onwards plan to keep it updated. Put a link on the blog too..

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rural and Urban Multinational Linkage

When we talk about rural markets we tend to see it as something which is too far and disconnected from our normal day-to-day activities, but as consumers of many products and services the linkage with rural is much closer than we realise. 

When we buy agricultural commodities like wheat and rice some of us might think about its rural linkage , but for retailers the procurement network in rural becomes  very critical if they have to ensure consistent quality at reasonable prices.

But what I am trying to say is that the linkage is much closer. A good example of this is the french fries that you eat in any of the 132 Mc Donald's restaurants across the country. Most of us would agree to the fact they tend to be much crispier than whatever we eat in some other restaurant  or prepared at home. And world wide it is a proposition to which they stick to . This is ensured through an efficient supply network in place of right kind of potatoes. For which they have to get these specific varieties of potatoes grown(usually exclusively from Mc Donald's) and then transported through a cold chain. The same applies to other ingredients which go into making a burger. 

But this in turn has also restricted the speed at which they been able to expand their operations in India, as they have to have the cold chain and procurement network in place before they start their restaurants.

Many more instances of how a efficient back end rural linkage is essential to ensure a consistent offering for the urban consumer. Be it how Pepsi went in for contract farming in Punjab for tomato's and potatoes or the echoupal model providing the linkage to the foods division of ITC.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Forgotten Mascots

I was trying to list the brand mascots which have disappeared from the Indian market. The sad part is that they had a very good recall among consumers, but unfortunately they were discontinued by the companies. The logic given is by doing so they would make the brands more contemporary, but then the question is have they been able to create some thing comparable?
I could remember only three of these lost mascots,
1. Asian Paints - Gattu
2. Kelvinator - Penguin

3. Air India's Maharaja...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Market Update 6.12.08

A rather long update, because it was long due....

Economic Times Brand Equity covered,
How should Indian Brands react to the slow down, no better time than this for Indian brands to invest in Brand building , more on this, link

Interview with Muktesh Pant of YUM!, sharing his marketing insights from his stints at Unilever, Pepsico and Reebok, link

Logo change by Indian companies, trying to decipher the logic behind why so many Indian companies have opted for a change of logo, link

Slow-down and Ad expenditure, link

Emotions and Branding , link

Buiness Standard Strategist,
The cola war detailed out with the latest on Pepsi Slim Can versus Coke express, link
Dabur acquistion of Fem and the proposed restructuring of the brand management structure, link

Pepsi Versus ITC in the snack market, link

Brand Endorsments the focus shifting more to bollywood from cricket, link

Diageo India story, link

The stories covered in Catalyst over the last few weeks,
The turnaround story of Whirlpool India, the launch of Genius the direct cool refrigerator and problems at attrition, competition and dealer level, more on the story, Link

The latest issue talks about the effort being put by our public sector banks for a makeover, insights from their current campaigns, link

The issue of how brand valuation is ignored in India, link

Harish Bijoor in his regular column answers questions, on slow down and impact on retailing, and issues of re-branding, link

Why oriflame is not worried about recession, interview with the COO of the company, link

FM radio as a ad medium, and how it is coming to age in the country, and the impact of the entry of RAM (Radio Audience Measurment) in increasing accountability, link

I will try and cover marketing stories from business today also, earlier use to be avaialble only to subscribers, now is open access, link

Couple of issues back the cover story was on India's Best Marketers, they have had this regular feature for some years now, and the issue is full of marketing news in India, must read, just a sample from the list of best marketers, Airtel, Axis Bank, Cafe Coffee day, Lalit Modi..... More on the story link

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Book Recommendation!!!

Been quite some time since I have updated my book list, will do it across the week...but thought of sharing a book which am halfway thru and felt should be on the 'must read' list. Talks about the India and ideas for the new century, lot of insights for any one wanting to understand India better...

As with any good launch the book has a companion website and blog,

Sunday, November 30, 2008

More 'Made for India' .....

Recently came across an interesting news item in ET, the caption of the article itself is self explanatory- Barbie, now a Bhartiya naari!

The wikipideia link provides a lot of info on the brand, the history the contervorsies that it has been through... link

There are many seperate website links on the company site for barbie doll,

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mumbai Terror Attack

Have been glued to the TV for the last two days keeping myself updated. 

Found it difficult not to comment on the issue I think I along with the whole nation is shaken and will hopefully not forget this incident. 

I was just thinking how the earlier Fidayeen attacked were over in shorter time, like attack on Red Fort and Parliament , primarily they had targeted places which were protected, where they got a bullet in return. Now if some one wants to attack citizens , go shooting on roads and cafes on people who cannot fight back , take them hostages ....

On many visits to Railways Stations in our Metros I have thought about how difficult it is to protect these places, but I think we will have to develop some solution to the problems...

One thing which is clearly coming out this attack on Mumbai is that , now they want to hit the Indian economy. I think it is wake up call for the nation as a whole to get ready for major changes in the way the country is governed and secured.....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Slowdown and Corporate response

Was going through the news of last week or so to come up with the usual market update, and saw a common thread running through most of the news items, and its was about how companies are coming up with strategies to counter slowdown so thought will try to link them up....

The car firms are trying their best to counter the slowdown through a slew of measures, first is launching a series of new models to generate sales, Maruti Suzuki has started this with the launch of A Star, Xylo soon, link

And as I had written my earlier post also, rural focus is improving, as can be seen from the special focus that Maruti is giving to markets in rural Uttar Pradesh, link

And slow down has also spiked the sale of gift cars, to read more on this unique market of used gift cars read more link

And many of the auto, consumer durable and auto companies are targeting government employees who have recently got a pay hike. The pay revision along with the arrears make them a attractive market especially looking at the market conditions, link

Retailers are coming up with innovative strategies to beat the slowdown, from restructuring their existing operations to going slow on expansion , in addition to coming up with innovative schemes to push the consumers, link

This is in addition to the revenue sharing model which has talked about for some time now, link

The usual quota of market update covering the major newspapers will come tomorrow....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rural Markets are Shinning Again!!!!!

No one needs to keep emphasising that in India rural markets costitute a huge untapped opportunity, but unfortunatley it seldom gets the attention it deserves, or for that matter the consistent attention...marketers either make half-hearted attempts or the intiatives are more part of thier CSR work.
But one time when the markets gets serious attention is when the urban markets slow down and companies are hard pressed for growth, it is then that they start brushing the dust over thier rural marketing files,  as seems to be happening now.  

Coca Cola India has drawn up a fresh startegy to tap rural market. In the past too the company has tried to tap the rural opportunity by introducing coke at Rs five price point. This time around the strategy revolves around a retailer training programme for smaller grocery stores in tier II & III towns, and stepping up distribution of specific products in smaller towns, and increasing focus on marketing and operations focus for these markets. Link

Another company which is planning make good the shaort fall of growth targets through the rural areas is Maruti Suzuki. The company is focusing on these markets with it's entry-level cars. It is using a combination of large sales team and special discounts to attarct rural consumers. The two specific intiatives from Maruti for rural markets are the Resident Dealer Sales Execuitves which they are planning to appoint and 'ghar ghar mein Maruti' campaign. The focus of the Resident Dealer Sales Execuitves scheme is to use a local resident to push the sales of cars, and 'ghar ghar mein Maruti' focuses on targetting opinion leaders who would influnece the sales in the village. Link
It is very easy to criticise the short-term approach followed by companies when it comes to rural markets, but the when one sees the difficulties which exist  in making the rural markets a sustianble source of growth one is willing to empathise with them. But then there is also a need to keep the focus on these intitiaves even when the urabn growth bounces back......

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Made for India" Tag ..2

Continuing on the same theme of my previous post, other companies which have developed products exclusively for Indian markets,

FritoLay's - When it initially introduced it's international range of products and flavors in the Indian market it faced a lot of resistance from consumers. Infact it was Haldrirams which beat it the game very easily and it was not untill they came up with Indian flavors and variants that they could succeed. No guesses on their most successful 'made for India' product - Kurkure . The com
pany developed the product exclusively for Indian markets after studying the snack consumption habits and preferences of consumers.

HUL-This could easily be ranked among the most famous examples of achieving success through this strategy - the sucess of wheel . Though it will not fit into the traditional sense of designing a product for a market because HUL was forced to develop this flanker brand to counter the attack by Nirma. But even then it was a product they developed exclusively for the Indian market and went on to become  a huge success, today the Brand contributes to almost half of the turnover in their laundry business. And it has been extended to other developing markets also.

Gillette - In India Gillette  had to develop a product exclusively for Indian consumers based on usage habits. The fact that many of their twin blades were not doing well in Indian markets made the company think on the possible reasons and they observed that most of us do not use running water while shaving , reason primarily being shortage of water or running water. And when the twin blades were used in mugs it lead to the problems of hair getting stuck in between them, So the company when was developing a exclusive product for Indian market came up with the idea of creating a pushing mechanism which could be used to push the hair out called 'push-clean, anti-clogging'. The product which they developed exclusively for Indian market was Vector Plus, for which they made unpreicdented amount of investment into R&D, product development and marketing. 

I will try to add to this list later as when I remember more examples, but will look forward to addition to it by readers too....

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Made for India" Tag 1

"Made for India" is increasingly becoming a coveted tag these days. This is a far cry from the early days of liberalisation when many companies came in with their older (often discontinued ) models with a misplaced confidence that Indian consumers were just waiting to lap it up . But a rude shock awaited them with them the harsh truth that Indian consumers were as discerning as their counterparts in the other parts of the world . Even luxury brands like Merc have learnt their lessons and today their product portfolio has their latest offering, learning from their hard experience of consumer rejecting the initial model which was being used mostly as a taxi in New york, though it will be a long time before they start thinking about making cars for specifically Indians.

This interest of developing products specifically for Indian market has been around for some years now, though with the global financial turmoil we might be one of those few countries with any growth left. One company which has done this seriously is and achieved substantial success in India is Nokia. Nokia 1100 was one of its first mobiles to designed exclusively for Indian markets. The torch light , unique grip were introduced specifically to cater to the specific needs of Indian consumers, weather and usage. The latest is the proposed introduction of ' Nokia Life Tools' service would be an additional service with focus on e-mail, agriculture and education which would enhance its standing in the Indian market.

Coming back to automobiles, we have been waiting for a long time for the Toyota Indian car, but the company is taking its own time to come up with it. Latest is MUL which says it will come up with a its first made in India car by 2010-11 and ford has also been planning to come up with a small car for both Indian as well as export markets. And Nano has brought a lot of interest in low cost cars and many companies want to develop such cars for the Indian market.

We have come a full circle of days when people spoke about only global products to localisation to developing products exclusively for a market, in the next part we will look at a few more examples of MNCs which had to develop products exclusively for Indian markets...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

An interesting product ...

I saw this ad in business today and could'nt ressit sharing it with my readers. Made me think on how much has been done in a seemingly basic product....

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Market Update 8.11.08

An update on what is happening in the Indian marketplace thru newspapers articles,

Starting with the coverage of Strategist,

The main story was on the analysis of the low cost airlines concept and how in five years the low cost model seems to have come unstuck in India, link

A good write-up on reality and reality plus, link

Brandequity had more than it's usual share of good articles,

Indygenous, a column which used to be fairly regular some time back made a re-entry with the story of the 300 crore Indian brand SpyKar. Gives us a very good insight on how a brand was built from ground on, Link

Talk with william lauder, CEO of $8 Billion premium cosmetic business, link

Then there is also PDAs are struggling to make a come back, link

Business Line Catalyst,

A detailed interview with Nitin Paranjpe, CEO and MD of HUL, where he shares how the company is faring and the growth in urban and rural markets and much more, link

His take on the food portfolio of the company, link and the logic behind the power brand strategy, link

Lessons from wine marketing by Harish Bhat, link

Other news

There has been a lot of coverage on dell in India, the business today story on how the fortunes of the company have been on an upswing in India, link. The economic times also had a few write-ups on the company, link1, link2

Nokia and more emerging market handsets, link

Samsung into mass customization mode in India, link

Mobile marketing and emergence in India, Link

Dabur ties-up with Dhoni, link

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Death of a Product - Maruti 800?

There is ample literature on how a product needs to be killed.There are prescriptions available on how the issue of retiring a product has to be carefully done keeping in mind the consumers who would still be using the product.

One product in India, about which we have been hearing the eminent death for a very long time is the ubiquitous Maruti 800. When Maruti Alto was launched, it was said to be a replacement for 800 and every one started saying it is time to be say goodbye to it. But then it was not withdrawn though even the company might have initially thought of it as a replacement for the aging 800. And the decision of not withdrawing it proved right as both Alto and 800 did very well in the market. Today i saw one more news item which said that phase-out of the model was more or less certain, link.

There are many reasons why 800 still continues to sell, it is still the cheapest car which can be bought in India and the company has made the investments long back and has recovered the money long back and thus continuing the production till the die lasts makes sense for the company. And in a country like India having presence in all possible price points make sense for a company and that too if the price point is the lowest in the market.

Though one does get a feeling that it maybe a time to say bye to a model which has sold 27,50,000+ since launch, as it is driven by the new emission norms which would come to force in the coming days, but then you never know......

Friday, October 10, 2008

All-Women Car

Whenever i see products like a All Women Car, An exclusive shampoo for men..., it makes me think are we pushing things a little too far, though some of my reader have disagreed with me when I had written earlier on men's shampoo issue, but the proposed launch of All Women Car has again raked-up the issue in my mind....

A excerpt from the article "The car, with electronic parking aids and a jack making it easier to change a wheel, will be painted in soft "feminine" colours and include interior design features aimed specifically at women,"

To read more on the All-Women car, link

The company - Iran Khodro

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gujarat and Nano: Sucessful marketing of state

West Bengal's loss has been Gujarat's gain. This success of Gujarat in bagging the nano project can be seen as a case of successful marketing , marketing of a state as a attractive investment destination.

Personally for me who was in Gujarat for five years it is very apparent why they should be able to do that. The reason quoted in the press is the speed with which the state machinery could work. I can relate this to my personal experience of having dealt with the official machinery in Gujarat. I came from my home state with a learning license and wanted a permanent license. From my past experience with RTO offices I knew the job would not be an easy one. But I was in for a pleasant surprise. I walked into the RTO office in Anand a small town in Gujarat and met with a PRO officer ( I have not seen him in my state, infact it is difficult to meet any one there!!!!)who expedited the process and by the end of the day I had my driving test and the photo-driving license issued. Now this was without the help of any agents or giving any extra money. If this could happen to a normal citizen , I can imagine the response of the official machinery to the Tata project.

Though people like Narendra Modi would like corner all the credit, but I feel due credit should also go to the earlier Chief Ministers and people of the state. Even a person like Dr Kurien who has spent more than 60 years in Gujarat says the people of the state have accepted him more than maybe even his own state people would have (he is basically from Kerala). But what Narendra Modi has succeeded in doing is giving that state the image of being aggressive in attracting investors as was done by people like Chandrababu Naidu and S M Krishna for Andhra and Karnataka some years back.....

Hopefully with all this we should be able to see nano on the streets soon....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Presentations and Marketing

My today's post is something which one cannot claim to be directly linked to marketing, but in reality is a skill which every successful marketer has picked up ( could be trial and error or design)..the skill of making presentations and connecting...

Marketing and communicating are intrinsically linked and a significant part of a marketer job is communication and  presentation which would mean ppts for most of us, become a significant mode of communication . Seth Godin's writing on making effective presentations have been a source of inspiration for me and , one of his older posts which actually made me to think seriously about the issues was 'Really Bad Powerpoint'which I would still recommend to any one who wants to rethink the way he or she makes a presentation. His latest post on the issue of presentation talks about '9 steps to powerpoint magic' again reinforces the message ....

My interest in presentation has taken me to many blogs, websites and books which talk about the skill of presentations, will try and share a few of them...

Presentation Zen , book as well as blog, highly recommended

Made to Stick, not exactly of presentation skills but throws up many ideas which could be used by a presenter

Slideology, a new resource which i have recently come across...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Indian Marketing Sucess Stories Series- Intro

When we talk about success stories or cases studies, we have always been fed with examples of what happened in the developed market context. But one feels that the success stories at home have not been appreciated and documented well enough. As an attempt in this direction I thought an attempt could be made to try and trace out marketing success stories of companies and brands in India, without limiting myself to Indian companies only.
On various success stories which can possibly be traced out . am making a tentative list which hopefully would keep growing
1. Nirma
2. Marketing of Kerala as a Tourism Destination
3. Nokia
4. HUL and various brands- Lifebouy, Fair&Lovely
5. Tata- Indica
6. Peter England
7. Marico - Parachute & Safola
8. Britannia Tiger
9. Thumps Up
10. Cavin Kare
11. Haldirams
12. MTR
13. Waghbakri Tea
14. Mahindra and Mahindra Scorpio
Looking forward to suggestions from readers to this list

Friday, October 3, 2008

More on Festival Season

To add more on the upcoming festive season I visited a few websites of companies which have a lot of business linked to festival season and saw Haldiram's site to be done very well. Infact at the bottom of the page there is a dial which has all the months and festivals linked, one click on a particular month would show all the festivals in the month and their gift packs...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Festive Season Starts.....

The month from September onwards marks the start of festival season in most of the states across the country, starting with Onam and Ganesha Festival running up to Christmas in December. This is one part of year which many companies look forward to with a lot of interest, TV, Automobile, Real Estate.....Actually not just interest for many of these companies their overall sales growth is dependant of their performance in these crucial months..

Last year the outlook was less complicated, with a very positive growth forecast for the economy and the stock market not yo-yoing as it is doing this year( though even with the lowered growth expectations this year, we would be among the fastest growing economies in the world).

On the positive side we have all the major festivals falling in the same month of October, Dusherra, Diwali, Id..... and then with the pay commission arrears being given government employees would mean increased disposable income. Many companies like Maruti Suzuki have developed specific promotions to attract these 5.5 million government employees,link. But this all is happening at the back drop of US financial market crisis and the fear of a global slowdown and consumer durable companies facing raising input costs and pressure on margins......

From a observer's perspective it becomes a good time to watch and look for the promotional strategies that various companies come up with to woo the consumers. Though really good innovative promotions have been missing and all one sees is companies beating the 'old dead horse' of scratch card in one form or the other,
hopefully this festival season we might see some change ....
Checking the net on festivals in India I came across a site which has made a list of festivals in India
The site has made a month wise list and three months have 16 festivals a month, more than one every alternate day.. obviously the site mentions only the major festivals , because if one were to make an attempt to list out all festivals in India, I don't know how long the list would go.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Customer Value....Not just Creating but Emphasising it's Delivery

We have all heard about the importance of creating and delivering customer value, but equally important but often ignored is the importance of communicating the value being delivered.

Often when the marketer is not able to communicate effectively and emphasise the value he is delivering the customer ignores the extra value which is being delivered to him. When the emphasis is there it would lead more satisfaction and loyalty. Example-the other day at a retail store after the purchasing was done the retailer while writing the bill wrote both the mrp of the product and then in front of he wrote the discount and calculated the total bill. This way he is able to emphasize the discounts that he is giving to the customer, which one would have easy not noticed had he not written them separately.

Though this is not some thing new, we keep seeing the original price being striked-off and then the lower price being written, and discounters like Big Bazaar at the end of the bills have an additional heading total savings during this visit.....
Even more interesting was the experience shared by Consultant Harish Bijoor. He said they were given a task of designing fog free glasses by a top hotel chain, and after some trail and error they came up with a cost effective solution of putting bulbs behind the mirrors of the bathroom to prevent them from fogging. But surprisingly very few of the customer's perceived the value being given and the effort was not acknowledged, and the issue was back to the consultant's drawing board. Then they came up with the alternative of keeping the bulbs only behind that area of the mirror where the face would get reflected. End result was that there was lot of positive customer feedback appreciating the non-fogging mirrors, because now the mirrors fogged in places other than where face would get reflected.
This again reinforces the point that not just creation and delivery of value by communicating or rather emphasising the value...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Men Care Products ...Placement Issues

'Men Care' as a category has seen a lot of activity in the last few years and it would not be wrong to say that the category was born with the introduction of Fair and handsome by Emani, till then some companies had a few products here and there for men, but now one can see many other cosmetic companies coming up with exclusive products for men.

Nivea fairness cream for men, Garnier Hair colour for men is an addition to the list.
The introduction of these products is driven by the insight that men have anyway been using the fairness creams, with HUL estimating that 20% of consumers for fair and lovely are men and Cavin Kare estimates this figure to be 27% for their brand Fairever...

But looking at the overall marketing approach for these products , one also needs to think about the placement aspect for these products, one obvious place would be the men's shaving products and accessories section. But they also have been given prominent placement in cosmetic shops, the traditional stronghold for cosmetic companies, but another reason why these products are stocked and displayed prominently in cosmetic stores could be that they are being bought by wives for their husbands......

Friday, September 26, 2008

Counterfeits from FMCG.... to Mobiles

Cheap imitations of popular FMCG brands in rural India is a problem which is quite well recognised, but the urabn markets are also not much better of. Many companies have countered this problem through innovative packaging to make imitation more difficult. The estimated market for such products is in excess of Rs 25 Billion.

But the news that fake handsets are posing a threat to mobile players is what took me by surprise. The number of fake handsets sold is put at a million. Translating to a loss of close to a billion dollars to the mobile companies. Link

We have always had a grey market where you could go and pick up a smuggled Walkman or a mobile, in the pre-lib days but then fake mobile being sold in such a huge numbers...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Interbrand Ranking of Brands 2008

The yearly interbrand brand ranking is some thing which many marketers look forward to. I had covered the ranking last year too, link to my post on 2007 ranking , link
and a related post on ranking of brands in India , link.

The 2008 ranking is out, and as usual the list has its share of surprises....

But no suprises for the top slot coke, which has been there for the last eight year, the Olympic sponsorship is supposed to have helped...

The surprise came at number 2 and 3, IBM overtaking Microsoft ... and the entry of Google into the top 10 for the first time.........
I have put up the top 10 list and the list of biggest gainers and losers in this year's ranking for quick reference and people wanting more can follow the links given below

business week has a full section on the story, link

and of course on the interbrand site one can find a lot of stuff from the methodology to the previous year rankings, Link

Google Mobile Vs iPhone

A month back we had the official launch of iphone in India, now we have google which has come with a new mobile against iPhone. A lot of buzz in the market so thought will highlight the lauch...

The official sit has a lot of details about the product,

Hopefully whenever it come to India the reception would be better than one which iPhone got....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Low Priced Product - Impact on a Company

The introduction of a low-priced product into the product portfolio of a company can have many implications. Many a times it can change a company in many fundametal ways. As a premium high priced product's a company can afford to ignore many retailer while distributing and communicate to a select group of customers, but when such a company is forced to introduce a low priced masss product, then....

One company which has gone through this sort of a fundametal shift is Britannia Industries. A premium biscuit and cookie seller till the launch of Tiger biscuits. Tiger was launched in 1997 and marked a shift in the overall distribution and marketing focus of the company because tiger was pitched against Parle-G Glucose biscuits , the Rs 40 per kg mass biscuits.

In the pre-tiger era there use to a gap between supply demand for britannia biscuits, and the company had a laid-back approach towards distribution and in tier-II cities in the coutry a situation of non-avalibility of Britannia biscuits was not a very uncommon . The launch of tiger changed all this, the company was forced to think, act and distribute like a mass marketer and they ended up developing specific models for distributing Tiger in rural markets across the coutry....

And the introduction of the Rs1 Sachets of Tiger meant that the company had to even place the product in Tea shops and other smaller shops where it would be cosumed with tea....

Today Tiger brand is a Rs 650 Crore plus brand in the market and the comapny itself has trasformed itself from distribution power house.....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Market Update 17.09.08

A delayed update on what all has come in the print media on happenings in the Indian market,,

Starting with Brand Equity,

This weeks lead story was on the space behind the check out counter of a retailer, which has been empasised by many others, link
And then on the end of Deccan Brand, link

And Idea generation in Indian Ad industry, examples of where many ideas of famous campaigns had come, link

Coke's tie-up with the next bond movie, link

Strategist had a good story on how Max life Insurance is moving beyond the typical campaign of security and life to the concpet of desiring more, a refreshing change, but other insurance comepanies have already been doing that, link

Brand Line of Business Line,

"Rubber Brand" story on brand extensions, link

Harish Bijoor's Column, Link

Other Stories,
Retailer's pulling out of malls, link
Luxury branding , link1, link2
ESPN's $975m deal fro T20, Link
Car Sales for August, link
Indigo Most Preffered LCC, Link
Loyalty does not always mean profitability, link
Nokia and N96 Launch, link
Lenovo and India, Link
FMCG Companies using IT, link

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Marketing Condom....

Most of us think of marketing in the context of soaps , toothpaste ...and so on, but the concept has much wider applications, when this idea was first mooted by Kotler and Levy in the late 60's it met with a lot of resistance, but then over the years the idea has been very well accepted,......

A recent exmaple of how various elements of marketing have been put to use to promote the usage of condom has attracted a lot of attention. The mass media campaign of BBC World Service Trust in its last phase has introduced a mobile ring tone, " condom a cappella" which has become a instant hit not only in India but world wide. The ad associated with the campaign

A visit to the website gives a good overview of the overall campaign. This I think is a very good example of the varied application of marketing ....

More of the story, Link

Monday, August 25, 2008

Axe Chocolate-man Ad Banned

I & B Ministry has banned the "chocolate man" ad for Axe. The ad has been regarded as "indecent, Vulgar and repulsive". Though I am not a great fan of the earlier ads of Axe, but I don't find this particular ad to be in any way more or less repulsive than the earlier ads.....

Ended up digging youtube to find the "chocolate man" ad

At times banning the ad has the opposite effect, people would seek out and see the ad just to find out why it was banned and in effect attracts more eye balls,,,,

Sunday, August 24, 2008

iPhone launch and Endorsements for Olympians

Last week I had written about the launch of iPhone in India and the prospects of the Beijing medal winners getting the attention of corporates, after that we had many articles written about both of these ,so thought will compile them ,

iPhone launch didn't receive the same reception as it did in the US, though it is not a fair comparison , but even then the response was very poor with less than ten people waiting to buy the phone on the event of the launch. The reasons are many , one is that the price is quite high, at Rs 31,000 it is pretty expensive and the novelty associated with the product is no longer there as many people have either used or seen the product ( the segment which can afford that expensive a phone)...and this has given clues to the other mobile marketers on the right price needed to attract Indian consumer,

Links, High price takes the shine off Apple's iPhone launch,
iPhone still an Indian Dream
Nokia,Samsung plan cheaper touch phones,

Olympic Medals winners are being valued at a combined worth of Rs 2.5 crore, Hopefully this would actually translate into some endorsement money for these players... and also a interesting link on how Advertisers failed to capitalize on the Olympic fever

Links, Admen Eye Olympian Opportunity
Bindra and Vijender may become new brand icons
Olympics: Advertisers miss to rake in moolah

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Retail Options !!!!

Just thought of sharing this photo of a spices retailer on his moped

Friday, August 22, 2008

Brand Ambassadors beyond Cricket and Bollywood??

In India it seems only two things have mass appeal, cricket and bollywood. The sort of
mass appeal which makes it useful for marketers to promote their brands.

And at a time when we are celebrating the three medal haul in the Beijing Olympics, it is time to rethink whether there is any chance for any other sports person to get any substantial endorsements. Today there is a lot of hype on the amount of endorsements which Ahinav Bindra might be able to garner. It is being said that he might be able to get upto Rs 2 Crore in endorsements.

But what does history tell us about these sort of things. The last Olympic Silver Medalist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore found it difficult to get any substantial endorsements can recall his appearance in Indian Army ads, which he must have done anyway, he himself being an army guy. Two other examples are Vishwanthan Anand endorsing AMD, and Sania Mirza in a few ads.

Why is that is corporate India not willing to experiment with new sports persons? It should help them to break the clutter in the endorsements world where one celebrity endorses many brands…

But then we also need to understand the psyche of a typical Indian consumer, who has been feed only a regular diet of cricket and almost no other sport …..

But the question is will Abhinav Bindra be getting endorsements till the next Olympics??

Links on Ahinav Bindra’s endorsements, link1, Link2

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Market Update 22.08.08

The regular update on the happenings in the Indian market as sen through the various newsapapers in the country...

Starting with the stories covered in strategist,

An interview with Bernd Schmitt of the EX Group on how Indian Companies have to move beyond traditional marketing to suceed in the market, link

Update on the dynamics of the Indian mobile market, link and one on the airline industry, link

Godrej Hair Dye market , Link

The difficulty of maintaing low price points , link

Coverage in Brand Equity,

Apple iphone's Launch , Link

MTV India's MD and EVP on the changes in content consumption, link

Jack Trout on differentiation, link

Marketing of Indian Freedom Struggle, link


Impact of Slowdown, link

General Mill's Icecream Brands entry into India, Link

Harish Bijoor in his regular column on Sales offers and many others, link

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

15 August Special Sales ...

Marketers across the world are always keen on creating more occasions and opportunities for increasing their sales. They all become occasions when the consumer would spend more, buy new durables or buy gifts .Even in India we can see the impact of that influence in the last few years. One new occasion which have been accepted by many is the Valentines day.

In India one need not actually design new occasions for creating spending opportunity, we are a land of festivals, in some areas of the country people have a festival every forthnight ...... and if the promotions of a marketer actually gels in then it is more accepted by the consumer. Onnam in Kerala is one of the good examples where this sort of match has been achieved. Markers have started looking at even Raksha Bandhan as one more marketing opportunity..

August 15 th is currently being seen as a discounting opportunity.... many retailers organize special sale for three days 15, 16, 17 August. Probably Big Bazaar was one of the first retailers to organize the a special sale during this time , and the special sale was great sucess. Now many other retailers have followed them and also organize special during the occasion....

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Collecting Customer Information

There are many ways to collect data directly from customers.....

According to Paco Underhill's "Science of Shopping" one needs to observe the behavior of customer's very closely to understand thier buying bahviour. In a similar vein one also needs to know when can he be approached to collect information.

Best place would be one, where he is forced to stay on because of compulsion, say waiting in a queue for billing ,

or the next place is in an airport waiting , after the security check.....

I observed the kiosks put up in Delhi Airport put up to collect customer satisfaction and other information. Though they are there at many locations in the airport but the one in the after security check area attracted me because i had a lot of free time with me,,,,

But obviously there are problems with this method of attracting customers as it would end up in self selection error , people like me using the facility .....

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pay Commission Bonanza for employees and implications for marketers

Spiraling inflation......

Auto sales down ..........

Growth rate might slow down.....

After a series of bad news now we have a good news, from marketers perspective, the government yesterday approved the 6th pay commission report, Link

Which essentially means Rs 12561crores ($2.9 Billion) for year 2008/9 plus Rs 18060 crores into the hands of over 50 lakh government employees.

And a large proportion of this money would be spent in purchase of big ticket items, consumer durables, cars, property....

Many companies have been eying this surplus which would be there in the hands of 50 lakh consumers.....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Featured in All Top India

My blog is featured in all top India, link

The site aggregates, collecting stories from websites and blogs across the world.

A one point access to many relevant sites and blogs............

Visit , All Top India

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Packaging Changes

Packaging is I think one of my favorite P, and have written on it earlier also, link

On how it can be a source of innovation, size related issues, the utility it can provide....

But I have also observed the number of changes which companies keep doing with their packaging. As a consumer we start associating the packing and color with the brand itself. So how good is to change the packing and color, .. of your brand..

There are many examples, but a few of the recent ones include, the packaging change of Cadbury's 5Star. These changes force the consumer to spend more time spent on buying the product (and that too in a category which is more of an impulse purchase purchase) as one has to ensure that he is not buying any new variant of 5Star, and thus increases the opportunity for a competitor to gain the attention of you customer...

The latest change which I saw was the packaging of "Britannia Cakes". Earlier we use to have a packaging which was half transparent. Now the latest one is fully opaque and it has visuals of cake on it.

I don't think it's packaging had changed quite a long time, but then making a cake packing non-transparent very little sense , one i have to read the favor, if it is chocolate or fruit or which ever, which earlier i could just see through...

And in things like cake I would like to see if they look fresh and are not broken, rather than relying on the picture on the pack....

Change in packaging and other brand symbols are needed when one is thinking about rejuvenating a brand, but then the basics should remain in place, especially the utility it can provide, visibility as in the case of Britannia Cakes...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Samsung Caputring the Moment and also.............

I saw this ad today morning in TOI(sports section), thought of sharing it , shows the importance of timing and knowing what is appropriate for your brand, and making yourself relevant to your consumers ......

Lost Skill of Listening to your Customers

When we talk about new product ideas , listening to your customer is said to be one of the best sources ....

I was sitting in a consumer durables shop discussing the pros and cons of buying a water purifier, when a customer came in and asked for a water cooler (the picture on the right). After a lot of discussion on various options and prices, he decided to buy a Voltas Cooler.

Then he asked if was there a option of having a purifier combined with a water cooler, I thought it be very logical, some company must have such a product. The dealer responded saying , the manufacturers of both these products are different companies, so what you can do is buy two of them separately and combine them.....

This conversation would have slipped out of mind had it not been for another customer who came in after ten minutes and asked the for the same combination, Purifier+Cooler?

I thought it could not be a coincidence that two people were asking for the same combination. I felt this was a new product idea combining two products purifier and a water cooler. But neither the cooler manufacturers nor the purifiers, have developed such a product yet.

Are we listening to the customer. I had heard in a few companies where the managers were forced to make one market atleast once a month so that they remained in touch with ground realities and also know the pulse of the customer....

Is the customer asking for a lot , I don't think, what he is asking for is "Pure Cold Water" , and we still believe to see the situation in a compartmentalized way..???

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Customer Loyalty Schemes

Walk into any retailer and you would find them trying to sell loyalty cards, whether it is 'Club West' from Westside or the 'Green Card' of Pantaloons, or 'First Citizen' from Shoppers Stop or Landmark's Fellowship Card...... the list is a long one even without getting into the offers made by service industry, be it airlines, or clubs...

The idea behind these loyalty cards is that you are able to retain your customers and make them buy more and more from your shop and so on ............

But does this happen in reality...

I doubt, and most of us in India would agree based on our experiences especially with the new organized retailers,

I will relate my personal experince ........

I buy books at Landmark and last year was given a landmark fellowship card, and was promised many things.... so as a loyal customer kept clocking my loyalty points on the card and as I would buy many books, the people there also agreed to give a small additional discount over and above the points on the loyalty card....

Then suddenly one day I am told that the loyalty programme has changed or rather improved and there would be a new card issued to me. I asked whether the earlier schemes were still on, the answer at the desk was no no... they have been improved.

But then when I went to the counter with my books, the response was that if you take your regular discount (very small amount) you will not be able to get your points added to the loyalty card, and when asked why, he says orders from top.....

About details of the advantages of new schemes some lame explanation that additional points for a purchase of certain quantity and so on....

I felt that the company could have communicated to me in detail , they have my personal email id and they do send communication on certain events which happen but ....... the feeling that the company was designing new schemes to prevent a regular customer from getting any additional benefit..

Now some of you might feel that I am asking for more, but If I were to go to my regular book shop (old shop) and buy books from him , he would gladly give me three times the discount Landmark gives me, but then at times variety and new arrivals are better at landmark....

My point is that now when I walk into Landmark I am dissatisfied customer because of their botched up loyalty programme...waiting for Crosswords to come to town or start ordering books from the old book shop.....

Loyalty programmes can work as double edged sword for a marketer, if used wisely can result in customer retention, otherwise would make an otherwise loyal customer into a dissatisfied one...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

iphone in the Indian Market

Apple's iPhone will be available in India from August 22nd onwards, through Airtel and Vodaphone, Link

That is making the market leader Nokia jittery, link

It would be interesting to observe how Indian Consumers would react to iphone....

Free Web Hit Counter Coupon Code