Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Soccer-style cricket....

90-Minute Cricket?

By Harish Bijoor

Q: Karnataka has its own IPL version, the Karnataka Premier League. Will these options work?
-Rohit Pattanshetti, Bangalore

A: Rohit, the true test of a tournament such as this is the manner in which the first set of fixtures take-off or not. It is therefore in the execution, rather than in the branding and the hype and the glitz and glamour being built around it.

Content is really king. And here, the content is good cricket. If there is good cricket, this will survive. If not, it will sink.

The format of 20:20 cricket is a hit. There is eminent fatigue in all other avatars of cricket of the 5 day and sadly even the 1-day variant.

In this day and age of twitter with 140 character limits, the format in cricket that seems to work is 20: 20 today, and who knows, possibly 10:10 over’s tomorrow.

Remember, in a world that is frenetic in its pace of work, the time-tested format of success in sport is the 90-minute game represented so solidly by soccer. Will we have 9-minute cricket then? Something that will be a big hit?

KPL's regional format is good, because it helps regionalize cricket. It helps knit smaller geographies together in this passion-format. Let's remember, more contiguous and small an area, more homogenous its peoples. Therefore KPL will help harvest local passions for a game. It helps build local jingoism in local cricket.

In the old days, cricket jingoism was national. It was about India versus Pakistan. And then with IPL it became city versus city. KPL brings it to the level of district versus district literally!

The format will work, provided care is taken to build this format with patience and care. God is in the details of doing this.

Remember, ICL flopped. KPL can.
Q: A simple question. How important is it to know your customer? And why?

-Mehul Kataria, Mumbai

A: Mehul, the customer is a very important entity. All business exists and revolves around this entity. The very purpose of all business is the fulfillment of the needs, wants, desires and aspirations of this entity. To that extent, the customer is the central focus of all business activity. The customer is the pivot around which all else revolves.

Having states this basic universal marketing truth, the customer therefore needs to be understood. Not only at skin-deep levels, but at levels that are deeper and subliminal even. Most businesses understand customers as numbers and numbers that contribute volumes and value to the enterprise they run. Most companies however do not believe it is important to drill beneath the skin of it all. If you understand your customers well, and in more ways than skin-deep customer understanding, it is a good insulation of your business. You will be able to predict behavior, predict change and gear up your business to face it all when it happens.
Most businesses however don't do this, and get surprised when their customers articulate new needs and gravitate towards new brands, new processes and new vendors. All of a sudden. Understanding customers in depth is a business-insulation process at the macro-level and a business-enhancement process at the micro-level.

The customer is like your child really. In the beginning when the child is small, it listens to everything you say. You understand your baby as well. As the child grows up and becomes a teenager, you understand it less and less. And when the child is all grown up and adult, you hardly know it possibly. The customer is just this way. It is important to stay in touch, stay contemporary, and stay peer-to-peer with your customer to understand your customer well. It is important to grown up with you customer and not stay where you are and static. The customer understanding process is therefore a science, an art, and a philosophy of its own. Dabble in all of it.

Q: Is the current aviation turmoil bad for the brand of aviation in India altogether?
-Sapna Ramnath, New Delhi

A: Sapna, I do believe the aviation industry has come a full circle very fast. In the beginning it was a commodity in the domestic market. There was just one national airline. It was Indian Airlines. One had no choice. If one had to indulge in air travel, one had to pick Indian Airlines. This was the commodity era of the aviation industry in India.

And then in came the private airlines. In came Damania,  Modiluft and the others. This was the beginning of the brand wars in mid-air. Damania offered excellent service and added in the bells and whistles for branding. Even liquor for a while. These brands invested in building a brand, a color-recall, a service-memory tag and more. Premium was possible in such a market as well.

The brand wars intensified with Jet, Air Deccan (which created its own brand of low cost imagery with the common man as brand icon and more. Premiums were possible here as well. There were multiple choices to pick from. The Aviation industry was a menu of options.

We have now come a full circle. From commodity to brands to commodity again. The current situation of the industry has erased all lines of branding that were created by one and all with much effort, time, energy and money.

Clear positioning stances of the airlines have been erased. Today one chooses an airline basis the price of ticket and convenience of sector. This is the ultimate commoditization of the market. There is a clear decimation of value here.

That then is the sad story of Indian aviation as of now. Is it bad for the brand of aviation at large, yes it is. It shakes up consumer confidence, and that’s bad for any category.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

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