Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Of In-sourcing and Out-sourcing

In-sourcing the Advertising

Q: Why are the large advertising agencies in a race to set up smaller outfits that cater to specific clients?

-Prasad M, Rajahmundry.

A: Prasad, the size of business is big enough from these specific clients, and clients, particularly in sensitive
churn areas such as telecom and retail are asking for it. These teams work
solely on one client and become the outsourced advertising wing of the

Watch this trend carefully. This can go only one way. My prognosis is that in the future,
companies will in-source advertising teams into their organizations.
Reliance will have in the future all the advertising team owned by it. So
will HLL maybe. And so will the Future Group!

Data is sensitive and so is insight. Companies will want to preserve this
internally. It is the cutting edge. The only thing that cuts!

Q: What’s this new fad on health that is hitting Indian markets? Is this sustainable?

-Sapna Kulshreshta, Mumbai

A: Sapna, I do not believe this is a fad at all. It is a self-sustainable idea. An idea whose time seems to have come.

Marketers of food and beverage have been plucking the low hanging fruit of consumer expectation, want, need, desire and aspiration for long. India is now entering into Phase 2 of its marketing era.

Phase 1 was really the early years from the Sixties on. The years when India showed a gradual craving for the product and service the whole wide world was consuming. This phase really reached its take-off stage in the early years of the 2000 series. Today, things are taking a wee bit of a turn.

Phase 2 of marketing era in India is just about beginning. 2006 showed the first signs of this trend. Consumers are waking up. Consumers connected to the developed world at large are waking up to concerns of health. Health as represented as offerings in the food and the beverage the consumer consumes. The Maggi ‘Atta’ noodles is here. So is the Amul Probiotic Ice-cream.

New categories are emerging. The sugar substitute has now matured. What used to be a sugar substitute in a small sachet for use in a cup of tea or coffee is now in a large jar for kitchen use. You might as well make even a 'Gajar Ka Halwa' with a branded sugar substitute in a bottle.

The movement is bound to cascade. Consumers are going to question the amount of sugar in a bottled drink, the amount of fat in a cup of cappuccino, and indeed the amount of fat in a portion of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The trans-fats debate in the US is having its own impact in India. Sugar is an issue at debate. Oils of every kind will face scrutiny. So will fats. Every food and beverage player, whether in the product space or service space, will need to re-invent themselves for the future. As margarine rises, butter will face flak! And there will be a margarine in every category of food and beverage, waiting to offer itself as a salvation product or service.

Watch out for more of this, rather than less.

Q: As a practicing manager, I am continually seeing consumers to be less and less loyal. More the variety on offer, more is the propensity to move, even from brands with strong sets of hitherto core consumers. What’s this all about? 'Gyan' please?

-Rohit Bhargava, New Delhi

A: Rohit, let me conceptualize a wee bit on this.

I call it the Love-Hate pendulum. All consumers are essentially promiscuous. Man is promiscuous. Absolute brand loyalty is absolute bullshit. Man is an animal, and all animals are promiscuous. It is a genetic reality. Men and women however fight hard to fight this promiscuous reality. Society, religion, peer pressure, parental pressure and the rest try to prop up man to remain in a state of non-promiscuous behavior. If these pressures were to yield, even for a moment, the natural state would set in. One feels the pull of gravity when it comes to promiscuity. All the time.

As marketers continue to believe in the concept of brand loyalty, I seek answers on the scale of the love-hate pendulum that seems to be the definitive understanding of the real consumer. As the future opens up, and as consumers explore their real selves with that much more reality and connect, the love-hate pendulum as a theory will help deliver a better understanding and solutions for the marketer in a fix over his nano-second consumer switch-offs he faces in the market.

Imagine a pendulum in your mind. At one end of its maximum swing (at 180 degrees) is the point of complete 100% love. At the other end of its maximum swing (at the opposite 180 degrees) is the point of complete 100% Hate.

The pendulum is never to be at a static state, just as the human mind, mood, tone and tenor is never ever still. Till dead! This pendulum is in a forever state of motion. Set the pendulum on its swing at 180 degrees of total 100% love. This is the point you can equate with the point when consumers enter brands totally besotted by the offering.

The pendulum then starts its swing. From 100 love to 90 love and further down. Brand love can never be sustained at 100 love as the pull of gravity will have its sway. From 90 to 80 to less and less, till it crosses the Rubicon of average love to a little hate and then more and more hate. The pendulum then touches the theoretical point of complete hate.

The good news however is that nothing is forever in this space. From complete hate, the pendulum starts to swing back. Now it is a little less hate and less and less. Then begins the love climb. This time however, the love scores you hit is not as strong as when it started. This time round, you will hit a maximum love-score of say 80.

This is a continuous process.

The pace of swing is a different subject altogether. I have studied that in detail and varies from segment to segment and is based on the profile of the consumer, his upbringing, his culture Eastern or Western, and as many as 23 different parameters of definition. In some brand cases, the consumer will get old and die even before he moves too far into the terrain of hate. And brand-marketers mistake this slow pace of movement of the swing to be brand loyalty.

Suffice to rest my case and say that brand loyalty as we understood it in the early days of an Aaker is truly dead. Understand Brand Promiscuity better for your category of panty or powder or perfume, and you will understand what’s happening to your brand sales volumes today better.

And Rohit, relax. You are as promiscuous as your consumer is.

Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.


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