Thursday, January 19, 2012

Best of the marketing lessons 2011.

By Non Marketing springs......

The following is an article from The Hindu Business Line.

Harish Bhat, chief operating officer – watches and accessories, Titan Industries, writes that non-marketers have taught some of the best marketing lessons this year.

Excellent marketing lessons normally come to us from the pioneering work done by brands, consumer companies, advertising agencies and academics. The year 2011 has however been quite different in this regard, because some of the best lessons in branding and marketing this year have emerged from people and institutions which have no direct connect with selling products or services to consumers. Instead, diverse groups such as social organisations, people's movements, movies and quiz shows have, either by design or by impulse, delivered powerful and relevant learnings that marketers would do well to take heed of.

So read on, for an overview of the really hot marketing gurus of 2011, and the lessons they have taught us.

Anna Hazare – a remarkably consistent and iconic brand

At the start of 2011, Anna Hazare was little known outside his home state of Maharashtra. At the end of the year, he has emerged as one of the country's most iconic people brands. If a national consumer survey were to be conducted today, the top-of-mind awareness of Brand Anna Hazare would perhaps be far ahead of leading consumer brands such as Colgate, Dettol, Samsung and Titan.

There are many branding lessons here. First, Brand Anna Hazare has a simple proposition which can be instantly understood by every Indian: a Lokpal, who serves as a strong anti-corruption agency. Second, this proposition taps into a deep consumer insight, which is the average Indian's mounting anger against corruption. Third, the brand has remained absolutely true to this simple proposition throughout its life-cycle, not budging even an inch despite various temptations to do so.

Even the marketing methodology being adopted by the brand – an elderly Anna fasting in public, and using these fasts to generate wide awareness, appeal and urgency - has been remarkably consistent. How many marketers possess the wisdom and discipline to keep the propositions of their brands so simple, and so consistent?

Kaun Banega Crorepati – reach out to the heartland

The latest season of the quiz show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), screened on television in 2011, has achieved unparalleled success.

An amazing number of 25 million people watched the final episodes of
KBC Season 5 screened in November 2011, which is an all-time record. KBC reinvented itself this year, with the theme Koi Insaan Chhota Nahin Hota (No one is unimportant or small). In doing so, it reached out magnificently to the heartland of India, with a power which became unstoppable. Contestants were specifically chosen from the hinterland of India, from sections of society not normally associated with the intellectual pastime of quizzing.

The winner of the grand prize of Rs 5 crore, Sushil Kumar, is a lower middle-class computer operator from Motihari, a small town in the Champaran district of Bihar. Other notable winners included Aparna Malikar, a 27-year-old widow from Vara Kawatha in Maharashtra's Yavatmal district. Watching these ordinary Indians (
aam aadmi) become really special (khaas aadmi) in the able and graceful presence of quizmaster Amitabh Bachchan transformed a quiz show into an intensely emotional and empowering voyage for millions of viewers across the country. The phenomenal success of KBC this year holds two essential lessons for Indian marketers. First, if you want to build a really big and iconic brand in India, you have to necessarily reach out to millions of consumers who live in the heartland and interiors of our country, because that is where the massive population and purchasing power resides. Second, to achieve phenomenal success in India, brands need to develop strong emotive appeal. Indian consumers, fed on a staple diet of Bollywood and Tellywood tearjerkers, are always moved by relevant emotion and rarely by rational appeal alone.

Arab Spring – unleash the power of digital media

Arab Spring, the umbrella name given to people protest movements which swept through Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere in West Asia during 2011, has brought home to marketing professionals a lesson which is becoming exponentially important with every passing year: the huge power of digital media. These revolutions, which successfully dislodged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Tunisian leader Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, relied almost entirely on the Internet, social media and technologies such as Twitter, Twitpic, Facebook and YouTube to rapidly garner public acceptance and accelerate the pace of social protest. Calls to rally, and appeals for dissension and protest, went out on Facebook and Twitter.

Organisers used Twitter to provide minute-by-minute instructions on where to gather, in large cities such as Cairo and Alexandria, effectively outmanoeuvring the police and intelligence agencies. Digital media also served an entirely different purpose in the Arab Spring, helping information and visual evidence of the mass demonstrations to escape these countries through YouTube and Twitter.

As a result, the western world, including the US, could not downplay the impact of these protests, and had to eventually shift its stance and accept the change of regimes in these countries.

If social movements in West Asia can use digital media so well, why should Indian brands lag behind, particularly when the population of consumers addicted to such new-age media is growing so dramatically? India now has more than 100 million Internet users and 40 million mobile Internet users. By 2013, just two years from today, India will have the third largest online population in the world. The simple marketing lesson from this year's Arab Spring: Digital media is far more powerful than we thought it to be, and brands which find the best ways to leverage it will be big winners in the future.

ZNMD – get rid of your brand's deepest fears

For me, this year's best Bollywood movie was Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD), starring Katrina Kaif, Farhan Akhtar and Hrithik Roshan. The theme of this delicious movie, which centres on challenging your deepest fears and getting rid of them, holds a strong and relevant lesson for marketing professionals.

Successful marketers and companies have become too fearful of change, and hesitate to undertake bold reinventions of their brands and offerings. A deep-rooted fear whispers to us: Why touch a cash cow when it is yielding a good harvest of milk, and the Indian market is growing as well? Therefore, iconic brands remain stuck in the past, with the same old themes, products, packaging, communication, media choices and overall identity, or at best some incremental variations in these elements.

To illustrate this point, when did you last see a dramatic or compelling change from the status quo in your favourite brand of toothpaste, soap or biscuits? Indian consumers are changing fast, society and its mores are changing faster, and several well-known brands are, therefore, sadly ageing and falling well behind.

Marketers should pick up a lesson from
ZNMD, cast their fears and conservatism aside, and plan to inject fresh bold breakthroughs and ideas into their brands, in the new year.

Great brands build strong appeal by being at the vanguard of consumer and social change, rather than playing a slow or patchy catch-up game.

As we move into a new and challenging season in 2012, here's a toast to all of us who are engaged in the business of marketing. May the really hot lessons from the marketing gurus of 2011 be fresh in our minds, may our creative juices flow, may we seize all the opportunities ahead of us, and may our brands succeed beyond our wildest dreams!

(Harish Bhat is Chief Operating Officer – Watches and Accessories, Titan Industries. These are his personal views.)

Courtesy: The Hindu Business Line

Friday, February 11, 2011

Live the game - Key to overcome provenance paradox

Last afternoon I heard something. Something that went like "Rave in Customers". Yeah, now I'm getting it back. I was in my class listening to my faculty and he was talking about the present concept that is being used to retain customers. Interesting one right? Retaining them by letting them be a fan of your brand. This is probably the concept available to the world and this is what is used by many to retain their catch.
I've always felt that it wasn't enough. Fan, Big Fan.... true, all these work as long as your products are good. What if there is a shift in expectations. What about the next generation? What would we do about the other people who are yet to like our product. Employ another strategy? No...
This is good, but not enough. Remember reading my post...

"k-NO-w Marketing. "Let the world market your product" ;)"

Seeding with customer evangelism is the way forward.
The world is fast evolving and people expect brands to be exiting. Even a small slip on top could peel once reputation down at a pace faster than one could ever imagine. Peoples perception about brands and the fan culture is like a paper cup filled will water boiling by its brim. They are exiting, bubbling, they make a lot of noise, but by the end of the day if the water is not special, they get wet, soaked and let go the brand. Of course there are a few brand loyalists who stick on to the brand for ever. No denial of that fact. But, that isn't enough.
Seeding with customer evangelism lets the brand loyalist to get connected to the brand, the organizations work, culture, dynamics and helps them to not just to believe but also to relate and have a strong faith in the brand. They are the assets of the organization, in future corporate brands will no longer go on valuing companies by their tangible assets or work force. It would be on the basis of the customer evangelists who will love to brand and grand with them.
Love is unconditional, Like the love for the game, so is the love for a product. It so happens that, despite the loss of one favorite team, one enjoys the game throughly "If" the GAME was interesting. Here the love for the game gift wraps the love for the team. This is an essential attribute of a brand. As the Customer evangelists are in line with the makers of the product and the brand, this characteristic of the brand would leave no void in the minds of all who could relate to it. The number of people who would relate to it and be a part of branding it will increase with time. This will help brands overcome the provenance paradox. This is not just a solution to the champagne effect, but the way to ensure that ones product becomes the worlds favorite brand. Keep thinking, until next time :)

Friday, December 31, 2010

The brand called LIFE - Happy New Year !!!

Oh she was great. I had a wonderful time with her when she was around the last time, the year before and the year before. She has always made sure that there was something unique and nice for me to be busy with all through the years.
Thinking about the goodies that I have received from her makes me wonder if I had returned her due by the least, utilizing them to my fullest. There it is, in one little corner of my heart, trying to hide the shiny nameplate hung around its neck embossed "Guilt". In a few hours she'll be here to meet me, greet me, and shower me with all the beautiful things in life.

What am I going to tell her? Is it right on my part to let the best things that life has to offer us go in vain? So what are the best things in life? Is it the brands that we look out for?

For all the brand loyal pals. Have we been loyal enough to get the best out of the brand that has been around us since the time of our first and fondest of memories? The Brand "ME". Your Personal brand called "Life". Isn't it the best brand one could sport? The brand we could proudly own. For a brand to sell, one has to truly believe in the brand. The interesting thing about this brand is its close integration with one's self that we truly forget to appreciate the very existence of it as a brand. Every person whom we look up to in life, even if it is the one who stares at you every time you look at a mirror, have grown to stunning heights only because they paid due care and attention to their true brand - Life. We are not who we are but what others perceive us to be is one school of thought. I am what I think what I am, is another. The seed I have recognized and have decided to gift my readers is "embrace life - Live, love and care for your brand called life".
I suppose we know what to look out for when we want the best of the things.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention more about the beautiful one. I hope I'll make the best out of everything she gifts. With arms wide open and lots to share I look forward to her.
She is the New Year. I wish all a very happy new year. We may talk resolutions and sometimes even thing about it, a week into the year. But, Lets us remember these words "The Brand called Life". Wishing all again, a very happy and prosperous new year!!! :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Brand Forward - Harvard Ad

The power of words backed by a green maze;
The reach of its light leaves aspirants in amaze...

Flipping the pages of HBR I kept asking myself "What Next". It took a few moments for me to realize that I was no longer doing that act. My finger wasn't even willing to point towards the corner of this page. I was gazing at this picture as the stocks would graze the pastures.
I just liked the way the sentence is smoothened to funnel out the brand.
You face increasingly critical challenges
in an unprecedented global economy.

You convene with powers
from around the world.
Your network grows.
Management becomes leadership.

You return ready to take your
organization where it needs to go.

The Next Level


A short ode that address the present need of an aspirant, takes him through his dreams, the ones that he had imagines, the way he had imagined, and seeds the urge in the soil of desires and sprinkles it with belief that the fruit of his peach tree could be a tasty orange if he dreams for it.
The use of the words "Next level" is a hammering addition to wanting mind.
A clear demarcation of the dreams from the present and a strengthening assurance that the best key to the door is within reach. The Enlarged font illudes the mind of its closeness and best fit among the rest. I'm not sure if I liked the ad for the love of the brand or for the simple beauty that the ad manages to flaunt to the captivated eyes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

k-NO-w Marketing. "Let the world market your product" ;)

Inception... Is it possible ? - Yes.
It is not the movie that I'm talking about. It is life. Everything, that one claims to be his own, in terms of the choices, desires, aspirations are all seeds. Seeds that were sown knowingly or accidentally by another set of individuals. Are you the one to decide the colour of your clothes?the brands that you sport? Do you really think that you make all your choices? Are your decisions really yours? Think...
Isn't that the one your pal or may be your envy next door took. Or is it, the decision of a wise guy who sits behind a glass plate enjoying the interesting patterns that get created as his 'At Pars' derive pleasure by claiming the crown of "Ignorance" spelt "Self Driven". Seth Godin say that for a product to win, it should be remarkable. It simply means that the product must be worth making a remark. A remark that drives a story. A story that you want to hear and tail that tale to your friends and them to their friends.
When you buy a woodland shoe, is it just to sole your need for a shoe. No. You need a story, a story to talk and a story that you want your friends to talk about even without initiating it. You don't use it. You Flaunt It.
Why bore(dom) me ?
Before a product is marketed, the marketer must focus on its need. Is the customer ever going to think about it? For a product to stay in the market, it must have a pressing need and must be reinvented to a better present. People long for special things. So, make your offering special. Gift them a chance to talk about it. They will be glad to market it on your behalf, one after another.
Love to see it be loved.
For your product to be marketed that way, you must love your product. If you don't believe in your product, and love it, why would they?
Love your product, but don't be blinded by its functional beauty, for all this beauty is admired only if the customer really cares about it. Only if there is a need.
Choose people who are already interested.
If the product is great and if it has a story that aids me to relate, emote and talk about. I love it.
If the story allows the listener to heart the need in its simple essence, an inception has been made. Now, you know what the listener longs to hear. Decipher why the customer will like your product. Find the missing link. Showcase it bright in the light that he likes. You haven't marketed your product to the world. But, you have created your customer evangelists, or even better.
Watch the words spread faster than ever, be amazed by the way the world lives by your product. Do pitch in at calculated intervals; after all you are the marketer. Soon everyone will love and rhyme your story.
Oh my god... Did you see that? That product is so cool. I saw my friend using it yesterday and I bought it and it is very very good. Did you know that... ;)

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Passing Cloud

It was a fine afternoon that gave me a memory that will stay with me far better than I had ever imagined. I remember walking past an auto with divided opinions over hiring one. I had finally made my choice and that proved to be a worthy one. I had decided to be on my own, walking down the street on foot. Despite me taking the decision to walk, I had a constant urge to turn around and look for an auto coming by my way. But I continued marching.
And soon I was able to hear a subtle noise of continual taps and hushes from behind. To my surprise I could see the sky pouring down only a few meters away (10-15m). I couldn't believe the beauty that I was unfolding right in front of me. I looked around my feet and then up the sky only to find what the weather man would say a clear sky. I looked back at the marvel and I could see people running towards me like they were chased by the magnified toys of Steven Spielberg Inc.
I could hear a few hailing "Hey, the rain is chasing us". I was amused by the happenings of the minute, if i could say, it was fast. Just when the realization struck that I was the next in line to be greeted by the goddess of the sky. A shop and its more essential front shade caught my attention. As I took my first step towards it, I was blessed. In another few seconds the path was clear, and she had travelled the distance that I see and perhaps a lot more.
It was "The perfect passing cloud". I hired an auto for my way back home wondering "could this be the reason why I didn't hire the first auto?"... An experience that was worth it all... :)

Diwali Day - Sweets, Celebrations and Happiness

On the 8th of november I type these into my laptop as the bottom right corner on my screen reads 05:07. I've just reached my room and the climate here is soothing me to bed with every minute.
But this time, I believe that I'd win over my laziness.
Today also happen to be the 115th anniversary of the discovery of X-rays. This must be a happening month. 5th of this month was diwali, one of the most important festival of the Hindus. Diwali or deepavali (Row of lamps), the festival of lights, according to Hindu belief is celebrated to mark the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya from his exile after vanquishing demon king Ravana. It is celebrated on the new moon day of the tamil month "Ipassi".
Its strong association with crackers has taken it to the next level where everyone celebrates and light up the night sky with beautiful colours. I was at my home to celebrate diwali with my parents. With sweets and celebration the day turned out to be a memorable one. It was made all the more memorable when my enthusiastic self forced everyone to wait and watch me taking photographs of the sweet box at various angles, just to get the perfect picture for my blog :P . Finally I managed to put the compilation for display as a single picture. I'm glad if it did make a few mouths water. Talking about water, I've noticed that most of the diwali days come in line with showers from the kind sky. A time when people are badly in need of a dry weather to enjoy the fireworks to the fullest.I wonder what exactly the reason behind this is. Does the excessive cracker dust play a role in the weather change along with the usual participants? Another interesting part is the fact that TV channels air special shows and movies on the day of diwali. When 3/4th of the festive community is out busy turning crackers to smoke, dust and papers and of course "awesome fireworks and colours" the rest are lured towards the television only to enjoy the brilliantly picturised specials that are aired, along with a monotonous 'crac brac pat tap bang' noise of the crackers. The patience of the viewers is tested to the highest possible extent.
Ah, I've finally managed to brush aside the "later" factor and have blogged. Cheers. Have a great day!!! :)