Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Dis-believing India? And Media trends!

Building Incredible India

By Harish Bijoor

Q: The summer months witness several brands of Tourism dominating the advertising-scape. How do brands of Tourism work? Is there a difference from the soap and candy?

-Joy Menon, Kochi

Joy, tourism in any developing country is an upper-end brand. It is a category
that really sits atop the hierarchy of needs.

If you really draw a pyramid, brands of food and beverages would occupy the
lowest rung of the pyramid. Once a society satisfies these needs, you have
the detergents, clothes, personal care and basic cosmetic brands, sitting
just atop this bottom pile of food and beverages.

Just above that pile will sit more higher-end need brands such as brands of
cosmetics and cosmetic wear, perfumes, etc.

And higher than this sit the brands that promote holidays, tourism and such
pursuits as sport and adventure.

Right at the top peak of the pyramid of brands(As I build it conceptually)
would sit brands that help a consumer self-actualize, like yoga, meditation,
spiritual brands and movements such as the Aurobindo movement, Mahesh Yogi,
etc. Brands that seek charity work also sit here.

Tourism is therefore a relatively higher-end brand in the consumer stakes for

As consumer markets mature and as economic affordability of consumer
segments improve, consumers tend to climb the brand mountain higher and

With the current economic prosperity of India at the top end of the market,
there is a great degree of interest in the tourism brand. This is so for
overseas travel and adventure first and then it moves to domestic tourism

The recent world cup Barbados travel package, exciting Australia Tourism
packages , Sri Lanka packages of Rs. 9999 and every other destination of import, whether it be "Surprising Singapore" or "Truly Asia-Malaysia", everyone has played their roles in
upping the image of this segment.

The paradigm shift lies in the fact that Indian consumers are wanting to
travel and spend money. The Indian is willing to spend more money on foreign
shores than Indian. That is a shift. The Indian is suddenly getting
comfortable with dollar denominated rates of expenditure and does not cringe
as much as he used to in the old days. This is another shift.

Tourism brands are built differently, using the fact of higher end want and need coloring this category.

Q: How does one build brand India? There is a lot of talk about it in media.

-Nalini Arya, New Delhi

A: Nalini, Brand India is built in one of two ways. Either you take India Inc together
and brand the effort of India Inc aggressively in the markets of the West. It
is something like what the IT industry said at Davos: India Everywhere. I do
however believe that this is top-down branding.

A more solid way of building Brand India would be by the sheer effort and
merit of a hundred offerings from India. This would be bottom-up branding.

Yoga, TM, Mahesh Yogi, Mahatma Gandhi, Non-violence, IIT, and sundry other
such offerings are items that help such a bottom-up branding of India. When
you aggregate these many offerings, they brand India in a positive manner.

I am for this second manner of branding Brand India.

Q: If there is a big trend in media terms, what is it?

-Sarayu Ghosh, Kolkata

Sarayu, Sarayu, Sarayu! You have given me such an open-ended question, that I can go on and on. And I will.

One big trend that I spot outright is the fact that marketers are believing more and more in the power of below the line media versus the traditional besotted-ness with
Above-the-line mediums.

There is what I call creeping-BTL eating into what would have otherwise been
the rather large share of pie occupied by ATL. You might call this the loss of potential for ATL media. Something that will not be noticed if you look at the ATL media numbers growth.

Let’s back-track. In the early eighties, when color television first made inroads into India, with Mrs. Indira Gandhi literally opening a Low power Transmitter (LPT) and
High Power Transmitter (HPT) every alternate day, ATL advertising led the
way. Marketers plonked their mega-bucks on ATL. The Asiad spurred on the ATL
movement further. The popular soaps of the day helped the movement on with
TRP levels of 'Buniyaad' and 'Humlog' hovering in the dizzy 73 TRP stratosphere. Something unimaginable today, where a TRP of 17 is considered hot.

This continued right up to early years of the 2000 series. Today, things are
however different.

The ATL media is completely splintered with 126 television channels to pick
from as options for viewership. Add another 6 specific programmes on these
126 channels and you have a splintered media that has a very, very fractured
viewership! So fractured that marketers are literally groping in the dark.

Our television viewership data is again one that is up for grabs. My key
criticism on the TAM (Television Audience Monitor) data is that the sample
size of homes tapped is just not representative enough. While the data may
be more representative of viewership patterns in the 8 big cities of India,
I am afraid it is utterly lacking as far as the 52 one million towns of
India is concerned. And let's not talk of the 236 smaller towns and 6, 42,000

India is a complex media market. Further still, India is complex due to its
heterogeneity of peoples. Tracking media viewership reliably is a nightmare.

In the wake of this complexity, advertising delivery is at best a
grope-in-the-dark exercise. With markets getting even more complex and
demanding, ATL is working less and less. Further, there is a degree of
advertising cynicism creeping into the mind set of consumers in the big
cities and towns.

Therefore, over the years, savvy marketers have focused their attention
more and more on BTL. Today, the best marketers have a skew that is 55: 45
ATL to BTL. There are of course maverick examples of 30:70 as well.

BTL has risen in several forms. There is BTL that is complete
trade-leveraged activity. This is where the marketer is greasing the
distribution system and the front-line selling capability of this nation of
12 million plus shop-keepers. A substantial chunk of moneys is going into
discounts, shop-windows and incentivisation schemes of every variety, which
include strategies that create a chain of company reliable outlets, like the
HLL Super-Value stores.

Other BTL forms are the advertising forms below the line. Point of purchase
has emerged big here. Current available data indicates that as much of 76%
of purchase behavior can be swung at the point of purchase in some
categories such as apparel, FMCG and consumer durables. Marketers are
therefore plonking their moneys here as well.

And then there is Out of home media of every kind. A lot of money is going
out into hoardings, and newer forms that are just about emerging such as
street furniture and aero-bridges at airports. Newer forms are slated
to emerge. This industry is slated to hover around the 960 Crore mark as of
now of the 13,500 advertising industry at large.

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

Email: harishbijoor@hotmail.com


Financial Products advertising & "Slow" Manufacturing

Mr & Mrs. Chintamani

By Harish Bijoor

Q: Of late we see a lot of financial products’ advertising taking the consumer route in terms of both creative and strategy. Why?

-Pankaja Kesavan, Hyderabad

A: Pankaja, financial advertising is the last bastion that mass creative led
advertising has invaded to date. It has taken time, but the trajectory of movement has been distinct and sharp.

It had to happen. The financial product has morphed in its appeal today. In
the old days, it was the bank, its fixed deposit that was fixed in every way
of imagery, interest rates and everything else about it, the life insurance
product and the motor insurance product.

The times have however changed and there are a plethora of financial products in the
market today. Yet again, despite the many products around, differentiation
is not as distinct. At large, every offering is quite a commodity. In such
a market, the role of the brand, its distinctive appeal, the image of the
brand, its creation and nurturing, and of course the attendant role of the
advertising agency with its creative team at large, comes into play.

The creative approach to the financial product has started just about three
years ago. You even have icons being created, with the "Mr.Chintamani" and
”Mrs.Chintamani” imagery of ICICI right at the fore.

The financial product today is as much of a soap or a panty-hose on tout. No
differences here. There is the product, and there is the consumer. In
between them is the money of the consumer. The marketer will largely use
everything in his kitty to the benefit of the brand at hand. The advertising
creative is one such tool.

Q: Does Direct marketing mean Database Marketing? Or is there a difference?

- Vijeth PS, Delhi

A: Vijeth, Database marketing is old hat in the advanced consumer markets of the world like the US and several parts of Europe, Canada, and even the South
American continent.

Essentially Database marketing, which is a sharp form of 1:1 marketing, aspires to market to the consumer as per his/her need, actual want, aspiration and demand. It believes in data mining the consumer to depth.

It is all about sensitive marketing.

In markets of the West however, this very tone and tenor of sensitivity has been
lost to date due to the overt use of the tool with insensitivity. Today, database marketing has pretty much of a bad name in these markets.

If used sensitively, it has immense potential in terms of actual delivery to the client who uses it. The future of Marketing surely lies here if use is governed with the sensitivity it deserves.

In the US there are examples of gross errors in the use of DB marketing. This has irritated consumers worldwide. At times even the anecdotal evidence of such errors is enough to give DB marketing a bad name.

Direct marketing is much more than Database Marketing for sure. But this is not understood enough.

Q: Could you classify the 7 P’s in Services Marketing? What is it all about?

-Thayalan P, Madurai

A: Thayalan, I will not step into this acronym game really. With every Management thinker around there is a different set of acronyms and abbreviations that hit the market.

I do believe a marketing person needs to however stay simple and simplify market reality to its core best. If you are to succeed in markets, staying in touch with simple consumers is a must. Simplify more and complicate less.

Therefore, if the several pee’s of marketing are all about the product, price, place, promotion and patience, services marketing demand some more for sure.

In sum, all marketing today is services marketing. The product is not as important as the service. Also, every product will morph into a service dimension at the point of use. Therefore, the ultimate reality of all marketing is services marketing.

The idli at home is a product. The idli at a restaurant is a service. God at home is a product and God at a church is a “service”. The list is endless.

Don’t get led by the acronyms in our marketing lives. Get led by being in touch with simple consumers with simple needs. The consumer is not as complicated as we marketing people make them out to be. They make seemingly complex purchase decisions in nano-seconds. Most of the time they simply don’t give a tad to the Pee’s or Q’s of marketing.

Q: Do we do everything a bit too quickly particularly in our manufacturing processes? The process driven approach is one that is rewarding, but we don’t seem to have much patience here.
T Subramanian, Bangalore

A: Dear TS, you are absolutely right. I do believe we have a problem at hand.

Let me trace this over the decades of production-history that we have established for ourselves in India.

In the beginning, everything was rudimentary. Everything emanated from the rudiments of our manufacturing history, whether it be in metallurgy, tooling or mechanics. Then in came the influence of the western process. In came mechanization. In came the engineering drawing that led everything, in came the chips and in came micro-processor controlled manufacturing. Computer aided design and computer aided manufacturing as well!

Over the years, what has held us in good stead is the process orientation that we have imbibed in our manufacturing culture, throwing up Deming scale organizations and Six-sigma processes as well.

The current issue at hand seems to be one of rushing to supply. There is this big demand out there that needs to be catered to. Many organizations seem to skip the steps here and take those short-cuts to profits! This is the root of the problem for sure.

Out in the advanced markets of the West, there is this new movement that is all about Slow-manufacturing! Slow is a movement in itself. The idea: slow means perfect. Slow means real. Slow means care. Slow means good.

Going slow seems the new mantra. How many of our manufacturing practices and processes can imbibe this into their culture? And will “slow-manufacture” seek out market premiums in the future? I am sure it will!

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

Email: harishbijoor@hotmail.com

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