Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Nano's Nano Marketing

There's no TV spot for the Nano, apparently.

Radio spots, hoardings, pop-ups on websites (why?!), Nano Chat-rooms and other "new initiatives". Using Tata's already extant platforms, such as Croma and Westside, and other such measures. The emphasis, it would seem, is to create a nano-campaign for the Nano.

All well and good. Why restrict this to the Nano only though?

If you have the ability to think and execute differently - then why not do it for every launch?

Different may well be difficult, but different is fun. More importantly, consumers are likely to remember the different.

Because most importantly, different is different.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Marketing a browser...

... is not an easy job.

Not when you have 1.5% of the market, and 60% of enterprises around the world continue to use Internet Explorer 6, which is like using a Model T on today's roads.

Google Chrome is, of course, Google's browser. It's light, it's fast, and it has features that have made me a fan. But I'm in a minority,as I mentioned earlier.

So how does Google address the problem? It invites people to do weird stuff with Chrome. I won't explain the experiments themselves, but if you have a look-see, you'll see that they're pretty much pointless. They look pretty, and they make you go "wow!", but they don't do anything.

For the moment though, the "doing" is not the point. The point is two-fold - it's to get the nerds to do stuff that looks cool, so that they get used to the browser and it's capabilities. Second, it's for us to go look at the cool stuff and go "ooh!"... and maybe download Chrome.

If something useful comes out of this, hey, it's a useful by-product.

Given Google's money-power, it can keep this funded for a long time - and it's a nice, off-beat way to market.

Hopefully, it'll work as well. I'll be keeping an eye on it for sure.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Times, They're A-Changing

And how.

I got hold of this report through this link - and there's some surprises hidden in there.

I'm not quite sure how much importance one should attach to surveys - this fear is fueled by watching people fill in surveys (and I've been guilty of some... imaginative responses myself) - but for what it's worth, marketing departments the world over seem to think it's not quite so bad after all.

Apparently firms are ok with marketing departments continuing to do more work. There's more accountability, and there's a renewed interest in tracking and measurement. But overall, not so bad.

Of course, there's the fear of cutbacks in terms of budgets and people, but so what else is new?

Which, in my opinion, makes sense.
Anytime is a good time to market.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Surprise, surprise

Guess who's the biggest player in the Indian tech market?

And if you guessed anything other than IBM, you'd be wrong. According to a recent report, which Steve makes mention of over on his blog, IBM beat out it's closest rival Wipro -again.

Steve mentions possible reasons for this, including IBM's wide R&D base and a scalability factor.

I'm not too much of an expert in this field, so I wouldn't really know - but I find it telling that Infy and TCS didn't even warrant a mention.

My basic problem - if our primary advantage is cost (and when I say our, I mean Indian firms), and if that is a huge success abroad - then all the more so here, in India! No?

And if not, why not?

Friday, March 27, 2009

How Long Is Your Search?

According to a recent report published online, search terms that include 8 words increased by as much as 20%. Search for terms that are not more than two words, on the other hand, declined over that period.

Apparently, this points towards growing sophistication of web users.

I'm not sure I buy into that completely. I don't know where I rank on the sophistication scale, but I usually get what I want with a couple of words typed into Google. I rarely enter more terms unless I'm pasting something to search - say, a quote.

Still, an interesting insight.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Clear Hai?

Yesterday's post got me thinking about other beverages.
And Sprite in particular. Harish over at Marketing Practice had put up a post sometime back about Sprite, and I think I agree with him. Sprite's consistent positioning as a no-nonsense drink has won over quite a few customers.
Today, if I want a fizzy, lemon-based drink, I think Sprite.
Only when I get a response to the effect that Sprite is not available... "7Up chalega kya?", is when I think of the alternatives. And I don't mind 7Up either. The taste (in my view) is not too different, and I'm OK either ways.
But Sprite is top in my mind - and millions others, perhaps.
What should 7Up do?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Please go have a look

I urge you - don't miss it for the world.

Click here.

The Magic of Branding

Here's something I was thinking about yesterday.

What are the first three words that you think of when you think...

  1. Pepsi
  2. Thums Up
  3. Coke
Here's my list of answers:

  1. More, Young, Cool
  2. Action, Akshay Kumar, Strong
  3. Bacardi, Aamir Khan... I don't know
Pepsi, on this admittedly unscientific test, managed to get three words that defined Pepsi's brand. Thums Up managed two, if you are willing to associate "action" with Thums Up. I am, because I think that's what drives their brand-building to a large extent.

Coke, in my mind, is associated with Bacardi, and it's brand ambassador. There's not a single word I could think of quickly enough to associate with the brand.
Now, as I type this, I remember the word "enjoy". But that's too little, too late, no?

And here's the worst part - I like the taste of Coke the best!

Is Coca-Cola India missing something here?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I wish I could tell a story as well as this. Original link here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

In Keeping With The Theme

Have a dekko here.

What the man says is true. Unprecedented times. Unknown parameters. Changing rules. We don't even know if we're playing the same game.

But always and everywhere, what you have inside of you remains the same. And no matter what the scene is like outside, all you have to do is get out there and do your stuff.

Well go on. Do it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Genius of Schumpeter - Part III

Behind every idea in every firm, the man says, is an entrepreneur.

He might not be in charge of the firm, and he might not be the head honcho. But he's the man with the plan.

And it is this "entrepreneurial class" as he calls it, that runs the economy.

In other words, entrepreneurs keep the economic engine running - with their ideas.

What's your idea?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Genius of Schumpeter - Part II

Here's another one that'll rock your boat - it certainly made me think!

A firm comes into existence on the basis of an idea. It remains in existence until the idea is relevant. After that, it has to either find a new idea, or cease to exist.

Think about it - Coca-Cola's idea was (and is) to provide refreshing beverages.

It is not (it was) to provide fizzy, carbonated, sugar-full drinks . So when Coke figured out that this was not was being demanded, it changed it's idea. Leading to other, more healthy drinks.

Coke changed it's idea, and succeeded.

What's your idea? Is it relevant?

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Genius of Schumpeter - Part I

Not too many people in marketing will know of Joseph Schumpeter.

He was an economist, and a very good one at that. He's best know for his pioneering theory that business cycles are caused by innovation, rather than by nerdy economic factors - and he came up with this way back in the 1930's.

While that may involve a wee bit o' paraphrasing, it certainly captures the gist of his position - entrepreneurs cause business cycles. His position was that what we would call a recession would actually be a launchpad for entrepreneurs to come up with new ideas - which would otherwise have not received widespread attention.

There's a whole host of economic jargon that rumbles on for 900+ pages, which we shall ignore for the nonce. We will, however, cover more of his ideas in the days to come - for the moment, think this one through:

Entrepreneurs cause business cycles through creative destruction.

If that isn't incentive to go out there and do stuff, I don't know what is.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Money For Nothing...

I don't know much, I have to confess, about diamonds. I got married recently, and I shall no doubt have plenty of opportunity to learn in the near future, but for the moment, I am a comparative novice.

But you have, perhaps, heard of yellow diamonds? Or brown diamonds?

If, on the other hand, you have heard only of normal diamonds, champagne diamonds and cognac diamonds - put it down to marketing. Back in the '80's, yellow and brown diamonds were produced in plenty, particularly in Australian mines. They were not too much in demand though, mostly because the colour wans't too much to look at.

Until, that is, the diamond mining companies had the brainwave of announcing design competitions around brown / yellow diamonds. Also, these diamonds were now referred to as champagne / cognac diamonds, as opposed to the erstwhile, and boring, yellow / brown.

The result? A surge in demand for these diamonds - which today form a not insubstiantial chunk of any diamond manufacturer's portfolio.

Do you have any yellow / brown diamonds in your product portfolio?
What are you doing about it?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Test for the day

Take a couple of minutes off, and think this one through:

Describe yourself in three words (professionally speaking) - and not more than three words.

My list, for example - research, communication, presentation.

I like spending all day looking up stuff in libraries and on the net. I love writing, and I love the fact that people like what I read. I think I do a good job of making my case known to people. That's me, professionally speaking, right there.

What's your list? Does your list describe your current job?

Would you want to change your list - or your job?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Share of Which Wallet?

Is your wallet still made of leather?

I don't mean to imply that you'd go in for a cheap plastic wallet - times are bad, but not quite so bad. I certainly do mean to imply though, that you will eventually go in for a wallet that you are already carrying around - it's merely going through an identity crisis at the moment.

Your cellphone is the wallet of the future. It is also your cellphone, your laptop, your TV, your MP3 player and a primary means of identification - but for the moment, let's focus on the wallet.

Most cell-phone networks in India allow you to pay your phone bills through your cellphone - either through SMS, or through an online payment system. It's only a matter of time before you can use the phone to pay bills of all kinds, no matter where you are.

And having facilitated transfer of money to your billers, why not the rest of the universe? And if you can transfer money - why maintain a one way street? How about being able to have money transferred to your phone? Why not, in other words, make your phone your wallet?

Apart from making the rear pocket on your trousers rather redundant, a wallet-phone has loads and loads of implications. Imagine, for example, having a little chip embedded in the skin of your phone. This little chip stores your license, your PAN card, your voter ID and your credit cards. So instead of handing over your credit card at the end of a meal in a restaurant, you simply authorize payments over a simple Bluetooth transfer.

There are downsides, of course, including figuring out data security - but a simple biometric scanner - say, fingerprint identification, shouldn't cost too much if widespread implementation follows.

The most obvious implication* - every transaction is recorded. Every single one. Eventually, even buying paan from a neighbourhood vendor might be logged. Now, privacy issues will almost certainly mean that you might not be able to access this information at an individual level.

But even if you are able to access it at an aggregate level, you have access to data like you never did before.

Basic demographics, basic geo-spatial data, basic transaction values (ticket-size), time of the day transactions and a whole host of other metrics spring up for you. Spring up for you irrespective of which business you are in.

How do you plan to use it?

* There are other implications, such as the change in your marketing strategies in this brave new world, but we'll cover that in the next post.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Marketing The Mini-bazaar

Continuing on the theme I discussed in the last post – how would you go about marketing something as out of the way as a supermarket that isn’t there?
The assumptions first – this kind of model is built to exploit economies of scale – you’re talking about something that will really work at a pan-national level. Whether it makes sense to go in for a franchise model or not is something that we’ll leave aside for the moment. Our challenge is simply this – what would you do if you were in charge of the marketing required for getting this off the ground?
Ignore the obvious big spending – that’s a given. What if you had to come up with five whacky ideas that had not been tried before?
For what they’re worth – here are my ideas:
1.       Tie up with people who already do home-delivery of one sort or the other. So send in flyers via dhobis, pizza delivery guys, raddiwalas.
2.       Keep the flyers simple! Don’t try and print an entire catalogue – keep the message really, really simple. The actucal catalogue can be on the web – the flyer should simply mention the website, the number, and an invitation to use either one. That’s it.
3.       Sponsor local events – organise cricket tournaments in local catchments – gully cricket rules. Sponsor local religious festivals and the likes.
4.       Keep the time required for delivery fixed – vary everything else. So small tempos might make sense in large cities, but moped / cycles might be more optimal in smaller centres. Go with what makes sense – keep the service standard uniform.
5.       Explore options of coupon-based delivery for obvious essentials. So how about a daily morning round with bread, milk and eggs – delivered as per coupons left outside the door. Similarly, rounds in the evening with pre-cut vegetables, Maggi packets and the like. Delivery rounds of cold drinks timed for half time during cricket games? The more your touch-points, the more your recall. The more innovative your service, the better your recall.
What might your ideas be?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Turning Retail On It's Head

The travails of Subhiksha  have got me thinking recently. Organised retail, I think it is fair to say, has not quite taken off in India the way it was envisaged.

Retail giants the world over aren't exactly beating down the gates trying to get into this space, and the local players have been feeling the heat in recent months as well. Bharti's foray hasn't made much waves, Reliance has had more than it's fair share of problems, and Subhiksha, as I mentioned earlier - well, it's not a pretty story.

Most of the problems stem from what is now assumed to be an incorrect business model. Rentals in major cities across India mean that margins are wafer thin. Other input costs can be managed, apparently - but the rate of return on this business is negligible given your rentals.

The kind of scale that a hypermarket needs to succeed can only be obtained in urban sectors, of course - leaving organized retail a veritable non-starter - in retrospect, unfortunately. These business models were at the very edge at the best of times, and the recent recession has been the last nail in their coffins.

So here's a contrarian thought - I don't think organized retail is a bad idea in itself, and especially so for the Indian market. There exist innumerable inefficiencies that can be far better managed by a centralized distribution model, and there are certainly economies of scale to be exploited.

So where is the problem? To my mind, in two places.

One, and I can personally attest to this, is the sheer inconvenience of having to go to the supermarket. The drive through the congested streets, the inevitable crowds at the place, the long line at the checkout - it simply isn't worth it. Whatever savings I generate because of the (somewhat) lower prices are far outpaced by the feeling of sheer exhaustion. And anyways - why go through all that trouble when the neighborhood bania will give you everything you want - home delivered?

Second, and I've already pointed this out - given the real estate bubble that had formed in this country, setting up operations at scales necessitated by a hypermarket was always going to be an inexpensive proposition. Too many business models would have been focussed on generating so much revenue per customer - and once that metric didn't live up to it's expectations, the whole thing came crashing down.

Try this on for size then - turn these problems into advantages, why don't you?

Why shouldn't organized retailers use their expertise to get a world class supply chain in place, all over the country? A hub-and-spoke model with a centralized location for the country, and mini-hub-and-spoke models in each city. The end-nodes for these models are not hypermarkets though. They're not big shops, they're not shops at all.

They're local warehouses in suburbs all over the city.

Think about it - your retail operation does not have a front end at all. You simply have large warehouses staffed by local manpower (which is really and truly cheap, especially as a replacement for high rentals), who stand ready to deliver goods straight to home. There's call centers (perhaps on a city basis), there's an efficient delivery system (off the top of my head, small Bajaj tempos should do just perfectly), there's a one hour self imposed limit for time required for delivery - and you're ready to go.

There's no rental cost, there's plenty of scope for optimization of inventory at each stage, and the scope for incremental improvement is virtually limitless.

Well - why not?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Welcome To DM Horizons

DM Horizons was born about a year ago, in a more private avatar. It was a small fortnightly write-up that was circulated via e-mail in the company that I used to work for. The intention was to spread information about new and emerging trends in Direct Marketing.

I have quit the firm since then, and am dabbling in a few things at the moment, apart from doing my PhD. Consider yourselves warned - there might creep in an added degree of abstruseness as time goes by!

About DM Horizons, though - eventually it metamorphosed into doing write-ups about marketing in general - there were pieces written on old and established practices, pieces on strategies that I thought would make sense from a marketing perspective, and other such... focussed ramblings, if you will.

The intention is pretty much the same for these pages - I'll be writing about any topic that I think is in some way related to marketing. I want to do this primarily because I firmly believe that writing - with a reasonably regular frequency - about any topic increases your need to read up more about it. Which is a good thing, from my perspective.

What is in it for you? You, hopefully, get to learn something new - or at least a new perspective on an old topic. If you would care to get a discussion going on and around the topic - well, thanks! That'd be just great.

I hope to post on a somewhat regular basis - certainly more frequently than a fortnightly basis.