Tuesday, April 20, 2010


The Top-10 Brands of 2010

The Top Ten as we enter 2010

By Harish Bijoor

Q: With the dawn of 2010 everyone everywhere is focusing on the number 10. Let me also ask my “10” oriented question. Which would you rate as the ten big hits of the year gone by in terms of marketing and branding success?
-Jacintha P Viegas, Mumbai

A: Jacintha, my top ten for the year 2009 at this point of time:

1. Twitter: The brand came to the fore in the Indian mindset with millions jumping onto the Twitter bandwagon. Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor was the un-witting brand ambassador for Twitter in India. One tweet of his made Twitter a buzz-word among large number of Indians, both urban and rural. Politicians from across the range of political formations and parties seized the opportunity. In the bargain, Twitter gained. At no cost. No price. Zero-cost marketing buzz. All due to a faux pas!

2. Rakhi Sawant: Rakhi continued to manage her brand visibility at peak levels. 'Rakhi ka Swayamvar' had the entire nation watching. Rakhi emerged a winner in the sweepstakes for star affection. An unlikely candidate and a dark-horse for sure. Millions across small-town India emote with her. Surprisingly, women-folk from the small towns of India emote with her equally. Many live their lives vicariously through the grit and bravado of a Rakhi Sawant in small-town India.

3. IPL: Decimated five day cricket. Decimated interest from one day cricket even. Morphed audience love overnight literally. Grabbed eye-balls, and with it marketing bucks of the best in the business.

4. Facebook: For grabbing a total of 14 million accounts in India in a very short period of time. And that number is as big as the population of Sikhs in India. Made people go virtual. Real relationships have now morphed into electronic ones. People live very active social lives....on the Internet. Thanks to Facebook.

5. The Congress Party: For upping the political ante on every issue and sweeping into power. In the bargain, it decimated and broke the BJP into factions.

6. News 9: A small English television News channel from Bangalore. The channel grabbed the imagination of the English speaking and English-listening audience of Bangalore. It brought zing into local News and has brought the immediacy-buzz into people's lives.

7. Tata Nano: For re-defining value altogether. As the car hit the streets, editorial buzz led the way for the brand with full order-books that will run into the next several years. What Bajaj Chetak did to the scooter market many decades ago, Nano has done to the small-car craving market.

8. Tata Tea: With its "Jaago re" campaign the company captured the soft-high-ground. It captured the imagination of a country when it was going to vote. A campaign run well to the benefit of the brand. Did not convert into actual votes, but did a great job in plugging the brand. Subliminally.

9. Nokia: Emerged with a whopping 65% of the market-share in India. Morphed to become as Indian as any company can be. Made offerings that were true-blue Indian. Handled every crisis that came up (battery flare-ups included) with panache and transparency. Talked the language of green and re-cycling as well.

10. Nescafe: Has quietly emerged as a super-brand. Consistent advertising and a very consistent brand-strategy has kept he brand single-mindedly ahead in the brand stakes. If there is one fmcg brand that can aspire for true blue super-brand status (and I am not talking of the super-brand tag being doled out by organizations to all who require it), it is Nescafe!

Q: What is Brand India? What does it really mean?
JP Guha, Kolkata

A: Guha-da, Brand India has two facets. The intrinsic one to India and the Indian in particular and the extrinsic one which is relevant to the non-Indian.

To me Brand India is about patriotism. It is about the tricolor. It is about the nation, its freedom and the environment that facilitates democratic life, democratic living and propitiates democratic institutions. To me brand India is freedom. This is intrinsic to the Indian.

To the International audience Brand India is an emerging opportunity. An opportunity that is free-market oriented. It is also about the mystique of India. A nation that is all about its tigers and snakes and snake-charmers and elephants alike.

Q: E-commerce is small in India. Sad?
-Gaurav K Mishra, Delhi

A: Gaurav, sad indeed. India is strange in many ways. We actually produce a lot of the back-end for IT, and we help create seamless end-to-end e-commerce enterprises for the world. We however are producers and manufacturers. We do not consume enough of it. That is the tragedy.

E-commerce is very small in the country as of date. First of all, Internet penetration itself is not as robust as a country with a population of one billion plus must have. Secondly, those who use the Internet at large use it largely for that one killer-app: email. A small percentage of those who use the Internet actually surf the web for buys. And those who surf the web for buys, end up using it as a reliable medium to compare products, quality and their prices. Most end up doing the research on the Web and buying in the physical market-place.

The e-commerce environment in India therefore remains small. Nano.

The author is a brand-strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.
Email: harishbijoor@hotmail.com

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