Tuesday, May 01, 2007


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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