Thursday, October 18, 2007


Clutter Marketing

The Experiential Buzz

By Harish Bijoor

Q: Why the buzz about experiential branding? Is it all about making brands intrusive?

-Sutapa Ganguly, Kolkata

Sutapa, experiential branding is the future, if not the near-present. Every brand across every category has to consider an experiential link with its set of consumers current and potential.

I do strongly believe that every product needs to morph and become a service. When it does this, true-value is unlocked.

I recently presented a paper on this subject at the London World Thought Leaders Forum. The paper focuses on 26 different category of exports from India, 19 commodity categories from China and Vietnam, and 42 categories of possible commodity exports from the US (which is a laggard in this arena today). Every one of these commodities has the potential of becoming a service.

Look at it this way. Tea cannot be a product forever. It has to become a “Cha Bar”. Coffee has to become a Café. Even milk tomorrow ill have “Milk bars” where you will sip milk and pay Rs.80 for a tall chilled value-added glass! When you worship God at home, God is a product. When you worship God at a church or a temple, it is called a “service”!

Everything has to morph from a product to a service. And when it does, this is where the experiential element of a brand comes forth. And for this experience the consumer is willing to pay a premium. A cup of coffee at home will cost you all of Rs.2. The same cup at a Café will cost you Rs.40!

Consumers in all markets are looking for experiential branding. As the outdoor lifestyle increase, you will see more of these!

Q: Walk into any small store and there is tremendous clutter around. You need to be a veteran at the store to know what is where. Nothing stands out. How does one make sense here? What needs to be done?

-Jayesh Bhatnagar, Mumbai

Jayesh, yes, clutter is a way of life in the 'kirana'. The role of creative display and merchandising is a science more and more people need to focus upon for impact.

This is where I have a complaint. Advertising people are just too focused on above the line media and everything that goes into it. Just no one, no one senior enough focuses on below-the-line. I do believe it is all about money!

This needs to change. We need more exciting thinkers thinking out innovative ways of standing out at the vast number of retail outlets in the country.

The focus of advertising people and indeed every marketing man woman and child should be on below the line for sure. And rustic below the line. Not just below the line being designed for the 176 malls in the country, but below-the-line solutions devised for the 17.2 million retail outlets in the country.

Ours is a nation of shop-keepers. Small shop-keepers! Let’s focus on them.

Aggregation of business in this country is going to be a much more slow-paced process than what we have seen elsewhere in the world.

Q: When it comes to luxury brands, which are the categories that have a future in India?

-Mekhala Kumaran, Bangalore

Mekhala here is a small list. Auto. Foods and beverages. Perfumes. Mobile phones. Apparel. Durables.

Of all these I am
particularly excited about the opportunity in the realm of the mobile phone.
This is one piece of equipment that is with you 24 X 7. It is kept on by most
all of 24 hours. It says closest to you, right next to your heart, or close
to your groin (depending where you keep your phone). This is one piece of
equipment everyone notices on you in nano-seconds. Many make opinions about
your personality through the mobile you use.

The luxury category of the mobile phone is therefore exciting. Vertu has a
great future in India.

Q: Is there a need for the marketing strategy in the domestic versus the global market to be different at all?

-Gopinath VS, Chennai

Gopi, very different needs and therefore very different solutions to attempt.

Branding is today a contextual science. Contextuality defines a success. It is important to remember that the consumer is clonal no longer. Every marketing economy is a unique representation. In this unique representation it is important to customize and be what the market wants and not what you as a global brand wants to be.

The Indian brand with global ambitions needs to understand this truth better than the global brand with India ambitions has understood it in the past. Most global brands that have made an India-foray have understood this basic a-clonal fact of markets, particularly in their South-east Asia forays after spending a whole lot of time, money and effort down the drain of the great Indian marketplace.

Q: Why is Indian advertising not working as efficiently as it must?

-A Shankaran, New Delhi

Shankaran, why Indian advertising? World advertising is equally in a bit of a tizzy about what works and what does not.

It is simply this. Indian advertising has taken it a bit too far. The creative license has been used a bit much even. It is time to sit back and think.

Advertising must respect the consumer and his sensitivities. It is time to sit up and say that the consumer is not a moron. Here are some examples. We have a television set that is really healthy to watch as it emits Bio-rays! We had and hopefully still don’t have this tooth-paste that has Oxygen in it. What next? Nitrogen? Or better still Helium so that the toothpaste floats in the 'loo'! We have an honest shirt. And we have lots more.

As advertising traverses the creative route from the sublime to the ridiculous, advertising will be laughed at, enjoyed, rewarded with plaques and metals of every kind, platinum, gold, silver and bronze included! This advertising will not necessarily be rewarded by the consumer in terms of long-term brand equity measures that translate affection into purchase and purchase into repeat franchise.

I do believe integrity needs to seep back into the advertising creative. I do believe every creative needs to go through the scanner of an ombudsman within the ad-agency who sits up and says, “Hey guys, this is a bit much!”

Continued exposure to advertising that has taken too much of a creative license will spawn a generation of consumers who will not trust anything that is said in advertising anymore.

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


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