Thursday, August 09, 2012
Malls. deodorants and renting brands
This category is today image led. Imagery and brand propositions will morph in this country from the functional to the emotional to the ridiculous. The dominant imagery as of today seems to be the woman-magnet and man-magnet theme alike. Use this deodorant and you will have women sticking to you! This is a basic first-generation deodorant market brand proposition. We will evolve. Later than sooner. To higher end benefits and needs.
The challenge in this category ahead is one of market clutter. The challenge is equally to stay relevant, original and innovative to a changing consumer profile, which gets fatigued with the brand and the scent a bit too fast. Faster than before. The deodorant category is therefore young, aggressive and on the morph all the while. A marketer who keeps pace with this is the marketer that wins.
When you buy something you get locked into the product for its entire lifetime. There is fatigue and there is indeed a feeling of being locked in. The innovative idea around is therefore of marketing things out to borrow rather than own. This works for both low end and premium products alike. Take for instance the case of a cosmetic accessory such as a ladies bag. When a lady spends a fair (and in most case, unfair) amount of money and buys a bag, she gets locked into it for well nigh nearly a decade. Instead, if she joins a lending library of bags, she gets variety, and she looks different with a different accessory at every party she attends. The idea therefore works on the key insight of the consumer being a variety-seeking animal! And animals are not loyal to the same look, the same design, the same color and anything that has sameness about it.
Q: What’s the problem with the Franchising industry?
A: Suhail, your question pre-supposes that there is a problem. I will answer from that perspective.
The big problem is that we are yet to pay enough attention to the end-user and end-consumer dynamics in Franchising.
There is an important need for the industry to be besotted not with the Franchisor or Franchisee. Instead, one needs to be devoted to the consumer who brings in the money. One important thing to remember is that Franchising as a business with potential is not about the Franchisor or Franchisee. Instead, it is about he consumer at large.
Focusing on the delight end of the business is important. Delivering seamless service that is consistent is the imperative. This is where the failure lies. And this is going to be the big emerging trend as well.
The Franchising industry will progressively start relying on the practice of delivering high quality service. This is an experiential business. Creating the right experience for the right segment, and staying one step ahead of the consumer and his expectation is going to be the cutting edge, if not bleeding edge stuff to focus upon.
The industry faces the key problem of people as well. That is the biggest challenge to handle. This industry is unable to keep its hold on people. People remuneration practices are also antediluvian. There is a great emphasis on out-sourcing, which is not necessarily a great practice as well. Add to it attrition numbers in the industry, and we have a potent cocktail that points at business inefficiency at the point of consumption. And that is the biggest challenge of them all.
While everything else in Franchising can be bought off the shelf, customer service positive strokes can only be earned. Earned by hard work, consistent delivery and very high standards and norms that are Internationally benchmarked, and more importantly, delivered.
Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.
Saturday, August 04, 2012
E-commerce, QSR's, Islamic Branding and Boards
I see this new trend of consumer research taking off. Let me give you a statistic. Between 2002 and 2009 my company got an average of 6 requests for consumer end probes and research, every year from PE funds wanting to invest. In 2010 we had a total of 17, in 2011 the number grew to 21 and in 2012 as of the first quarter itself, we are on active work on 9 PE investments wanting to probe the consumer gut before making an investment decision! This means PE funds are getting more and more rational in their investment decisions. Rational at the consumer end of affairs. They look today at more than exciting elevator pitches and gushy PowerPoint presentations of idea-evangelists.
Marketers today want to appeal to issues such as green and inclusive in a big way. The idea is to embrace every cause that is relevant to the well being of the consumer at large. Marketers therefore want to be inclusive in every manner. Economic inclusiveness movements are typically followed by socially inclusive movements and these are then followed by religiously inclusive movements. Islamic branding is a part of this effort.
Islamic branding is really not only about the Halal branding movement. There is much more to it than food. Islam in many ways is a way of life. To that extent, Islamic branding is all about using brands as good deeds. What starts with Halal foods, can move on to Halal practice in every industry, be it the pharmaceutical or the entertainment or the cosmetic industry even.
And there's lots more to Islamic branding than food alone. Islamic branding can embrace broader pastures that cover business practice even. Islamic business models are in place that look at how a business has been funded. Islamic banking is a very old practice even, and it's tenets find acceptance in good Islamic business models.
In short, Islamic branding is an idea whose time has come. Hyper developed and developed markets will embrace it in their business models and marketing plans. Over a period of time, expect a unique Islamic branding mark to emerge as well, a mark that will tell you the entire story of the brand, it's generics, it's contents, it's business practice and more. Islamic branding is therefore more in the DNA of a brand, rather than only in Halal certification marks. It’s a good practice. Embrace it.