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Showing posts from August, 2016

What is 7 lakh rupees vs. damage to the Ford brand?

Here's what a Ford Ecosport customer had to go through servicing her subcompact crossover SUV at at an authorized Ford Service Center. Here's what Ford India did to arrest a situation that was going downhill.

Smart move, Ford India!

You realize 7 lakh rupees is nothing compared to the brand value of Ford. Damage the brand, and your revenues and profits go downhill. Keep it intact at a cost of Rs. 7 lakh, and you keep future consumer patronage intact. This particular incident hits home for us as my wife drives a Ford Figo.

Wise move, Ford India. Along with the EcoSport customer who seems happy with your response, we too are relieved. You see, our Figo service date is around the corner.

ITC-Ashirwad's wickedly clever marketing ways

Its one thing to position a brand well. Its another to reposition competition in minds of target consumers, and then position a brand accordingly. The latter is wickedly clever marketing!

So when Ashirwad (ITC) uses the TOI front page to ask, 'Are you sure your ghee is pure cow ghee?', it first sows the seeds of doubt in the minds of consumers about their current ghee-brand patronage. Further copy in the ITC-Ashirwad Ad proclaims 'Ashirwad Svasti' ghee to be pure cow ghee; 'made from pure cow's milk'. Meaning not from 'impure cow milk'. Now you know who they are referring to with the impure bit, don't you?!

Smart brands are those that can occupy a distinct space in the minds of their target consumers. Wickedly smart ones are those that take a swipe at competition along the way, relegating them to unwanted spaces in the minds of consumers.

ITC, you wicked clever thing!

The Brand Equity reason behind Maggi's comeback

I am ecstatic Maggi is back with bang! In fact I had more than year ago cautioned on the Maggi-bashing some were doing. To know Maggi now enjoys a market share of 57 percent is gratifying. Goes to show how strong the brand is.

Goes also to show why brand building is the key to long term market sustainability. When you build a brand, you invest in intangible equity that will serve you well in the long run. Consumers flocking back to Maggi is a testament to the equity the brand enjoys with its target set of consumers. If you were to run a survey on Maggi in India, you'll find the brand doing great on all the four dimensions of brand equity as conceptualized by Aaker, namely, brand loyalty, brand awareness, brand associations, and perceived quality.

The Maggi lesson is one every business must learn. That to stay put in a competitive marketplace, you have to invest in building a brand.

Go Maggi!

Why Consumerism is way better than Spirituality

When you pander to 'spiritual pursuits', I guess you do yourself a world of good. When you indulge as a consumer, you go one up on spirituality. You satiate your needs and wants, plus you sustain the lives of those whose products and services you buy!


Admit it, consumerism benefits you and others, whereas payoffs from spirituality are selfishly limited only to you. Many a times we are made to feel guilty about our consumerist ways. Take my advice; don't pay heed to such naivete. Every time you buy, you do others a world of good. In fact your patronage as a consumer is your respectful consideration of the value created by another for you. When you part with your hard-earned money to buy, you revere the work of your other fellow beings. You give them an income that sustains their lives, when you part with yours! Could there be any greater service than that?!

Take my advice. Dump the body circus and shake yourself off the cross-legged trance. Go buy!

Dove & what convoluted Marketing looks like

'Chubby cheeks, rosy lips....There is more than one kind of beautiful.....Let's break the rules of beauty...#Change the rhyme....'

Joking or serious, Dove/HUL?

Let me get this right. You sell stuff that 'moisturizes', 'nourishes'...etc, right? You think that works with consumers 'cos they are worried the chemicals in most body/skin/hair care products cause dryness? You believe Dove is the answer to their worries 'cos all your products 'moisturize', 'nourish', and so on? If I am right, what is 'breaking the rules of beauty' about? Plus, why encourage such behavior? Common sense tells you if people are happy with their bodies the way they are, why would they need Dove?

Dove's campaign about 'changing the rules' is a classic case of 'convoluted Marketing'. In trying to appear socially conscious the brand dabbles in nonsensical communiques (so what if the Olympics are on) that have nothing to do with who they…

Why its daft for Baba Ramdev & Patanjali to go anti-MNC

Though some experts think Baba Ramdev's doing the smart positioning move with Patanjali's anti-MNC stance, I am convinced its as daft as it can get.

Here's why.

To get positioning right, a brand's gotta occupy a 'distinct' space in the mind of its target consumers. Plus the space it latches on to needs to be 'relevant'. With its jingoist anti-MNC stance, Patanjali sure is conjuring up a 'distinct' image. The problem starts with the 'relevance' parameter. Patanjali with its body bars, instant food, and other stuff wants to make it big with the middle income masses in India. The question is, does jingoism matter to them? Or does such a positioning stance only matter to the 'right wing'?

If Patanjali's target group is the 'right wing', the nationalist blah-blah is near perfect. Not so for the rest. When it comes to the centrist masses, taking the anti-MNC route is a losing proposition 'cos the the former don't c…

Why Marketing loves a pot-smoking, partying Michael Phelps more

When Michael Phelps won his first slew of Olympics Golds he turned a hero with an array of fans. Then he spiraled downwards. Blame it on pot, and the party. The snickers grew louder, and some brands pulled out. Then the magic started. The 'waterman' pulled himself out of the hole with supreme effort. Pretty soon, the Golds were back. In Rio.

Michael Phelps has now moved on to legend. In the process he's become a godsend to Marketing.

People love heroes. They worship legends. To go legend you have to do the impossible and yet be vulnerable and therefore relatable. A Gold-winning Michael Phelps is aspirational. A redeemed Michel Phelps who gets on up after a bad fall, and triumphs is both inspirational and relatable. Why? 'Cos people love and connect to those who fall, get up, and smash on to glory. That story is far more appealing than the one about success without any hint of failure.

A pot-smoking, partying, crashing, redeeming, and winning Michael Phelps is perfect …

Da da ding Nike & the battle for our minds

Jaden woke up on his own this morning. Early too. That's 'cos he's got a field trip he's going to from school. He was all excited last evening. Thinking about the trip all evening meant his brain primed him to wake his body up. Jaden's body did the bidding of his mind eliminating the need for his father to do the wakey routine.

Everything that happens to us in body begins in the head. In fact, our bodies willingly heed the machinations of our mind. Now that's true with Marketing too. Brands first prise into consumer heads with their compelling communiques and subdue minds. The subsequent patronage sees bodies falling in line to the bidding of primed consumer minds. The exhilaration that grips our bodies when our feet sport Nikes for example, is an outcome of our subdued-believing minds. Its now wonder Ries and Trout called it a 'battle for our minds'.

Da, da, ding, folks! Up and bow to the marketer. Just do it!

Who's the real culprit in Kaali-Peeli & Uber-Ola war?

Back in May, Scroll, a regulation loving publication ran a story with the headline,
'Unfair competition? How Uber and Ola are killing livelihoods of Mumbai's auto and taxi drivers'. I chanced upon the article while searching for a story on Kaali-Peeli taxis hitting back at App based competition with discounted fares.

I wish the guys at Scroll knew who the real culprit always is when it comes to killing of livelihoods. So everybody, here's the bare naked truth! Its consumers! Consumers are who snatch away livelihoods of business owners by refusing to extend their patronage. Don't blame competition. Blame consumers. When consumers use Ola and Uber to call for taxis, they deny Kaali-Peelis their livelihoods. Of course, the million dollar question is, what can the Kaali-Peelis do? Simple. Earn back consumer patronage. Create better value for those who keep them in business in comparison to competition!

So here's the market wisdom all businesses must heed. Consumers…

The error-prone KFC & why machines are the future

Our kids are why we went to KFC. The food and service was bad as it could get. The wrap was tasteless. The kids complained about chicken popcorn. It was soggy, tasteless, and color looked it was dead for hours. The Virgin Mojito-no ice first came as a Cola, and then as a VM with ice.

It was a mess, and its to easy to see why.

Its the people, stupid! Unlike machines, humans in a system are error prone. To eliminate human errors you have clamp down with a standard operating procedure that is near perfect. Then you have to ensure there is a regimented following of set procedures. Of course, even then you can't completely eliminate human errors. So its never going to be perfect. If you want perfection, eliminate people. I know its getting close to that.

Will I prefer a totally automated KFC in the future? Frankly, I don't know.

In Business & Society, there are only 'Absolutes', no 'Relatives'!

Brooklyn's steely li'l face seems to suggest she's just about okay with what Alphy's packed for her short break. Then she demands to know more. What is Jaden getting in his pack, and why? Plus she checks if she can pick her choice for short break. If she can't, why not?

In purchase scenarios, consumers too go through the same motions. Before every buy they demand to know, or check as much as possible what other buyers are getting. They also see what other brands are offering so they can make the 'best' choice possible. In marketing lingo we call that an attempt to 'maximize on value'. Value assessments in social and business arenas are almost always relative. Never absolute. To keep li'l Brookie satisfied we gotta keep in mind what we do for her brother.

Now you know why parenting is such a great teacher!

If Donald Trump loses, a Brand fails, & an Academic can't deliver, who is to blame?

Frankly I am amused when I hear Sean Hannity say the blame for a Trump loss should be heaped on Cruz and others. Sean's got it dead wrong. If Trump loses, it will be Trump who is to blame. In fact if Trump loses, it will be the Icarus Paradox rearing up all over again!

Its the weak who point fingers at others. Agreed, there may have been the external enablers, but failures ultimately must be pinned on those who make the decisions. For example, instead of gunning after Cruz, Trump can focus on his real opponent. If he doesn't and it costs him, its squarely his fault. In the marketplace, if a brand can't exact consumer patronage, blame the marketer and every other business function responsible for the brand. Now I am not shunning failure, I am only 'justly' pinning the blame. All marketer mishaps are in the end failures of marketing decision making. In theory we'd say the marketer messed up on decisions taken on the marketing mix variables. Either they got the p…

Sub-culture, Language, & Cohort formation

Just recently I was among a large gathering, listening to a set of speakers. One of the invited speakers broke 'language convention' to speak in his mother-tongue. No sooner had he uttered his first word, a substantial chunk of the audience broke into raucous cheers. Sitting beside I deduced the claps and whistles were from those in the crowd that shared the same 'mother tongue' with the speaker.

Take note.

Identities in India borrow from sub-cultural variables that include shared languages. As a result when people hear someone speak the same 'local' language as they do, they unconsciously form a bond. The affinity they experience is almost automatic. Its important to recognize sub-cultures in India contribute to a sense of cohort-hood. Part of that banding together happens due to a shared language. To get a targeted sub-cultural cohort to connect with your brands you have to pander to their sub-cultural identities. Meaning among others, your brands must speak…

Jaden's Roblox woes & limits of Parenting & Marketing

Last evening, Jaden tells me his Roblox account has been hacked. He is distraught. He tells me he's lost all his robux (Roblox money) and has been shut out from his account. He says he suspects a particular Roblox inhabitant. 
I can see the emotion welling up.
My rational brain is screaming loud that I should tell Jaden his ordeal is nothing compared to what people in a marooned Bangalore are currently going through .Of course, I don't pay heed. I know I must handle this with 'empathy' and a sense of 'balance'. Now this is parenting territory like no other. I must be able to tell Jaden its alright without coming across as a Dad who doesn't care. Plus I must also be able to help him get a perspective, so he knows his problems aren't as pressing as what others may be going through. Its important to know empathy isn't an ownership of others' problem. Its seeing the problem with sufficient insight and with a sense of balance. The latter is what we …

Yes Bank and the Power of Digital Banking 2.0

The most consumer friendly banks in the world use digital and mobile platforms in markedly different ways. The key difference is in the way they leverage the power of digital and present their banking and financial services to target consumers. The best banks know digital is about empowering consumers and so they build their virtual propositions with the consumer as the pivot. It’s not just banks, but even the Indian government that’s aggressively pursuing digital platforms in the banking and financial space. One of their initiatives, christened ‘Unified Payment Interface’ is an attempt at digitizing the transfer and receipt of money, and ensuring the same is available to poor and disadvantaged in the country.
In India, Yes Bank is zooming up and ahead in engaging with digital consumers. Visit their site and you see right on the home page the emphasis is on consumers. Do a comparison across banks in India on their digital avatars, and you’ll see why Yes Bank is cruising ahead. What’s …