Saturday, December 01, 2007


Packaging Right

The Marketing Pipe-dream?

By Harish Bijoor

What is an audio logo? And how/where is it used?

-Leanne P, New Delhi

A: Leanne, logos can be of many kinds. First of all there is the visual logo. This is the logo we are most used to. We see every brand worth its iodized salt using it. The Nike logo and so also the logo of Mercedes Benz are known the world over through a visual identification cue. Does not matter if you are literate or not, you still understand the logo, just as long as you have with you the ability and wherewithal to see.

And then there is the audio-visual logo, which all of us are familiar with. If you grew up with Doordarshan, as I did, in the old days, the Doordarshan audio-visual logo with the ‘Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram’ persona and the sonorous tone of music was something which you would recognize from a mile.

And now comes the day and age of the audio logo in focus. The audio-logo is essentially that piece of audio track (could be all of 3 seconds long or 30) that reminds you the listener, of the brand in question. With the spurt of FM radio stations in our modern lives today, the audio-logo is becoming important again.

Audio radio channels need to invest a substantial amount of creativity and effort in creating for themselves these distinct audio signatures that will remind the listener that he is listening to a brand and not a commoditized radio category and channel.

The audio logo attempts to achieve a distinct status in the mind of the consumer and aspires to become the audio-buzz that will create brand recall for the radio channel in question. Audio-logos are nothing new; they have been around in our lives. It is only now that they are once again attaining importance as the radio environment has opened up with every city ending up with more than 4 radio channels to surf about and listen to.

Q: Packaging in India is largely an ignored realm. I have just returned from Germany where this is an exciting category. Why is this so?

-Raghava BS, Bangalore

A: Raghava, you are right. We are yet to bring in zing into our packaging. This is one part of the branding exercise that is still antediluvian in its approach. If at all Indian brands falter in the International market, it is certainly on this one count.

You ask why. My quick answer to that would lie in the ethos we practice out here in this part of the world where we are very much more concerned about what is inside us, rather than what is outside. The point is philosophical, and is all about a cultural mooring that is tight. In many ways, this is the way to be. This however puts us on the back-foot when it comes to International marketing.

Packaging today has progressed leaps and bounds. Both aspects of packaging, the functional and the cosmetic have gone places, and it surely is time to focus on this arena with vigor.

New investments need to be made into the packaging landscape in the country to contemporize the industry at large. Functional packaging innovations need to be brought in to the market at a faster pace. Today, the Tetra Pak remains the most recent example of functionally right and mass replicated innovation entering into the market. But then, this is old hat already.

Apart from the functional side of packaging, the cosmetic is showing some exciting signs. Interactive packaging, where the consumer actually interacts with what is in hand has just about come in. The recent Horlicks pack is an example in hand. Watch out then for packaging that speaks back, packaging that smells as your rub on the pack and much more.

One important thing to remember is that the Indian market at large will always be a few generations behind market development in these arenas. The reason is a simple one. The Indian consumer does not want to pay for the packaging. She would rather pay for what’s inside than what’s outside.

Q: Is the consumer in the marketplace really getting more and more prosperous, or is this a marketing pipe-dream?

-Prashanth Manian, Chennai

A: Prashanth, I like that “Marketing pipe-dream” bit, but beg to differ. I cannot agree with you that this is all hype and not reality.

The Indian consumer is really getting more and more prosperous. Every urban piece of data generated on the modern consumer, his income status and propensity to spend is showing a healthy rise.

I will however not depend on all these secondary data bits to answer your question. I will refer to a piece of work we did recently in the markets of Delhi, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Chennai, Pune and Bangalore. We called it the “On-street value probe”. Very simply put, we did a check across 820 people on the streets of these cities the kind of value they carried around on them in terms of clothes, brands, gadgets and accessories on a normal working day. Remember, this is not a “wedding day”, but a normal work-day.

Researchers probed what people wore on them as brands, sprayed on them as brands and so also what they carried on them physically. They came out with brands such as Peter England, Jockey, KIBS, Dora, Lakme, IBM ThinkPad(pre-Lenovo), Nokia, Sony-Ericcson, Motorola, LG, Samsung, Binny’s , Byford, YSL, Stop, Shilpa, Nalli’s, Popat’s and names of every kind that represent various categories. The list is long and winding.

What was interesting to see is that the ‘on-street value’ of an individual is on a swift rise. Nearly a year ago when we last did this exercise, the value was different than it is today, up by all of 14% in value terms and up by 23% in terms of number of brands franchised.

I would wager a bet that this number would see a further increase both in terms of number of brands and total ‘on-street value’ in rupee terms if we repeated this a year from now.

Consumers in our big cities are essentially eating more brands, drinking more brands and wearing more brands than ever before. The ‘on-street value’ is high.

On a lighter vein, if you were to kidnap a techie off the street of Bangalore, his on-street value could be anything between 80,000-1, 35,000 on a work-day. Even if you were to remove the ubiquitous lap-top from this count, you could land up with a number that is interesting. Salivatingly interesting for the marketer at large.

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


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