Friday, February 03, 2012


Pop-up Stores and More!

Heroes without Honda

By Harish Bijoor

Q: What is a pop-up store? And why the buzz about them?
-Kruthika Krishna, Vijayawada

A: Kruthika, a pop-up store is a store that pops up all of a sudden, fulfills its short-term purpose of creating awareness for the brand it represents, and then pops out of your life as quickly as it came as well.
The buzz is all about he fact that Pop-up stores work in the current clutter-market situation one witnesses. These pop-up stores are amoebic and have the ability to pop up and close down at will for short durations. In these short-durations they have a huge degree of quick viewership in terms of new eyeballs. They help in building a quick awareness on a new product and then they vanish. They move on to capture more eyeballs elsewhere. These in many ways are Caravan-stores that cover a large area in a shorter time.

These stores come up from nowhere and vanish fast. Permanent stores actually get boring as they become part of the mall they are located in and become part of the furniture around. Pop-up stores add zing to such a dead and static retail environment.

These stores work beautifully for a category that has a new product, a new piece of technology, or even a new model to showcase and demonstrate.

The joy of such stores is that it may not be restricted to a mall. Even a large Mom and Pop store ('kirana' store) can accommodate a pop-up store counter. In many ways, at the Mom and Pop stores, this is nothing too different from the space they used to let out on a weekly basis to products and services that wanted to demonstrate the product to new customers in the old days.
Q: What’s the status of the Direct Selling industry in India? We do see small little noises being made time and again, but nothing big at all.
-Som Mullick, Kolkata

A: Som, the noises are small, but the Direct Selling industry is fast emerging to be the choice-industry of the small town. Small-town markets are growing in terms of the aspiration to eat more brands and buy more brands. However, there is a loophole in terms of availability and the supply-chain that caters to the small town. Direct selling therefore becomes the one single answer.

Direct selling will grow exponentially in the small towns, just as it will shrink exponentially in the big 8 Metros. The industry is slated to grow briskly in two terrains: health and wellness and so also in the terrain of cosmetic care where the range available in small towns is not so vast as in the big cities. The Direct selling business offers dis-intermediation in the selling chain and offers the best of International products at the doorstep of the Indian in the small town.

As affordability, the yen to want to possess and use, and more importantly the craving increases for such products in small towns, the first answer will be offered by the Direct Selling industry. Bottlenecks however remain.

The biggest bottleneck is the non-use of credit cards in purchase, and the return-factor on the Cash-on-delivery scene in India. Returns of cash on delivery packages range at 30% levels as of today. And that is a disaster.

Q: Hero splits from Honda. What’s the impact “break ke baad”?

-Rohini Chadda, New Delhi

A: Rohini, a break is a break. From the consumer point of view, it is a break-up of a brand.

In many ways consumers equate the brand and its delivery capability to the fact that two mighty corporate organizations have gotten together to get a powerful motorcycle brand going. The user of this product still does believe that technology that comes in from outside India is superior to technology that is available in India. This rather strong viewpoint helps brands such as Hero Honda as the Japanese connection is its one big draw. There are really two bits of equity at play in this brand. The first is that of the Honda equity in terms of technology and durability on offer. The second piece of equity is the Hero equity. This is all about a local player who has a face that is Indian and a face that is recognized to be one that has wide reach and has the capability of offering good after-sales service.

The sum equity of the Hero Honda brand is therefore an amalgam of the Honda technology and durability marrying the domestic service and sales capability of Hero.

Just plain old Hero is really nothing but a bicycle maker of repute. Therefore the future option with Hero would be one where just plain Hero is just not enough. My view. So take that with a pinch of salt.

Q: I want to brand an educational institution of repute. How do I go about it? What do I avoid?
-Saleem A Kishti, Mumbai

A: Saleem-ji, 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 greater 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 toothpaste as well!

Q: When does mystery marketing work? When do teaser campaigns deliver? Any touchstone issues?

-Preiti Mullick, Raipur

A: Preiti, mystery marketing works in advertising environments where there is too much of clutter in terms of overt branding.

Therefore, the first ad that does not use its brand name, but leaves back small little clues of what it could be, and finally reveals it all, works.

Once a few have done this, the aura of such advertising and marketing ceases as well.

The point is simple, in a market when everyone is shouting the loudest, the one who is whispering the least is heard the most. Most mystery marketing campaigns aim for this.

The core big idea of such advertising is to tell it all later. Reveal the brand the last, rather than in the first few seconds, as most brands do.

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

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