Sunday, September 14, 2008


Tata, Jaguar and Brown skin

Brands and Color of skin

By Harish Bijoor

Q: Talk of the Tate’s take-over of Jaguar have had Western minds questioning the ability of the Tate’s as an Indian company altogether to handle a brand such as this. Do you agree?

-RP Sastry, Hyderabad

A: Sastry-‘gaaru’, not at all. And that’s a very firm answer.

India is a happening destination today. The image of India in the world market is not what it was in the decade that has passed by. Today, India is seen to be a hot bed of commerce and indeed a hot bed of mergers and acquisitions activity.

Brand value is a function of what consumers think of the brand at large. An ownership shift seldom has a negative impact on brands, particularly when they pass on into the hands of organizations that have a pedigree in the same space. Tata Motors has that pedigree, as has Mahindra & Mahindra, another of the suitors.

This mindset that India and Indian predators in the Western markets face is the same thing that Japanese companies once faced in the US. It is a perception that typically gets gobbled into the limbo of chauvinistic brand history once actual acquisitions happen and the acquiring organization shows professionalism in the management of the same.

Just pure old racism as far as I am concerned. If I am to be more polite on this count, I would say just pure old ignorance of a country that is shortly designed to be an active participant in a tri-polar world of economics and commerce.

India is demographically blessed. Further still, our GDP growth rates can take us only one way. Forward....and into the space of more and more acquisitions of both the white, yellow, black and brown kinds.

Brands know no color of the skin.

Q: There is a lot of talk of branding education and the Institutions that purvey it. How different must the branding exercise be while handling education brands?

-Swati Mishra, Delhi

A: Swati, education is a credible output. It is an inner-sanctum subject, very close to religion.

I have a theory that there are outer-sanctum products and Inner sanctum products. outer sanctum products are things like food, clothing, shelter, accessories, telecom, etc.

Inner sanctum products are Medicare and education, to name just two.

The innermost sanctum product is religion.

One must take greeter and greater care as one steps into more and more inner sanctum subjects. Branding needs to be sensitive, relevant, original and innovative. You can't brand it like you would brand toothpaste.

Some management Institutes however have tried to do that...much to the peril of their credibility ratings! And they have started looking like plain old tooth-paste as well!

When two brands get together to promote themselves, their category and at times joint products, what must they keep in mind?

-V S Saravanan, Trichy

A: Saravanan, the key criteria ıs that of managing the mass of existing consumers of each and of course vısıbılıty quotients for both brands. Brands want to hıtch up wıth other brands that are vısıble and command similar ımage cascades ın consumer minds.

At tımes the multiplier effect on such hıtch-ups is a bıg multiple of the obvious 1 plus 1 ın several cases. Co-branding helps bring ın new customers who were hitherto not with either of the brands. Aırlıne and credıt card company tie-ups are classıc examples of thıs.

The future in this space of brand tie-ups will be an interesting space to watch.

The perspective of tomorrow wıll be hıtch-ups not 1:1 but 1 wıth more than one party. A Credıt card company hıtchıng up wıth an aırlıne and a retaıl player lıke Relıance Retaıl...all together. Thıs wıll network needs. Data-mıned and shared requirement group profiles will integrate customers and their cross-buying requirements and wıll delver additional customers to all concerned.

The ıntellıgent credıt card wıll be the evolution of the future.

Q: If you are to brand the trend of using social marketing issues by brands of tea and toilet soap, what would you call it?

-Rohini Venkatesh, Mumbai

A: Rohini, only a brand with a mass appeal can take this kind of an approach.

I call it “Motherhood branding”!

Q:How do you see the business of cricket branding emerge in 2008?

-Jay Arora, New Delhi

A: Jay, I do believe audiences are getting less and less patient. This trend is big. As audiences get tired, the game will get crisper and crisper in its offering.

Cricket administrators will read the consumer sentiment that is loud and clear. The audience is getting younger and younger. India is a land of the young now. 54% of India is below the age of 25 and 72% below the age of 35.

India is getting to be a nation of working people who have little time to stare and dawdle at a 5-day game.

The variants of the game will keep morphing. From 5-day to one-day to 20 overs to possibly even triangular contests where three teams will battle it out on the pitch is an exciting variation of the game, for 10 overs each! The possibility is endless.

Cricket will become a game of eye-balls. Cricket will get more fast-paced and less fuddy duddy a game. If football can happen in 90 minutes flat, the adrenalin rush harvested over ninety minutes is big money. Cricket will need to compete with football. I do believe football will be the new cricket for sure!

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


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