Monday, January 14, 2013


e-commerce and Brand Positioning

E-Commerce ahead

By Harish Bijoor

Q: I have the option to co-sponsor a motor-sporting event. Does it make sense?
-Rajat Goel, New Delhi
A: Rajat, I wish you had indicated the business vertical you work in.

Generically speaking, I do believe Motor-sporting events are good occasions to brand. It is however important to maintain integrity of product with integrity of event. A Motor-sporting event is an excellent location to brand everything from engine oil to motorcar to motorcycle. And maybe even sunscreen lotion. But not a potato chip for the moment.

The auto sector in India, which already has 662 variants on the roads of India, can use these events to good advantage. The nodal event of them all will be the NOIDA F1 circuit event. Enjoy the passion.

Q:  What is the most common reason of brand repositioning? 
-Shonali Kapoor, New Delhi

A: Shonali, a brand goes in for re-positioning due to several factors. One could be the fact that the competitive framework of the market has changed dramatically, and the brand needs to stay relevant and original under the new circumstances. Yet another reason could be due to the action of corporate merger and acquisition. And yet another reason could be the fact that the brand owners want to re-jig the image of the brand altogether.

The most common reason however is the reason of wanting to get more aggressive, relevant and contemporary in a new competitive market situation. The reality is that consumers change. Marketers and brands change slower than their consumers. In order to keep pace with fast-changing consumers, brands need to go in for re-positioning exercises.

Q: Where is e-commerce headed in a country like India? A dead-end?
     -Bhaskar K Rao, Mumbai

A: Bhaskar, that question seems to pack a lot of pain. I am not negative on this though.

I agree that e-commerce is an old buzzword in India today. It peaked as a word of tremendous resonance in B2B business space during the pre dot-com bust years. Today however, it is a much more mature arena that depends not on eyeballs and clicks, but on core solid business transactions that are getting more and more monetized. E-commerce platforms today depend largely on actual physical transactions than on advertising and eyeballs and virtual click revenues.

To that extent, e-commerce in India today, of both the B2B and B2C avatars, are that much more mature and robust in their business models at play.

Growth trends are dependent on category. Some categories such as on-line ticketing are big arenas of growth and percolation. The IRCTC is a classic example.  What is really slow in growth is the arena where last-mile delivery issues still persist. Anything that you are able to fulfill completely on the Internet, from choosing to buying and delivery, works best. E tickets are classic examples. When there is a courier delivery that accompanies, this is where there is a struggle. And when the cinema theatre adds an Rs.20 “convenience charge” on e-tickets, it bites a bit more than it must.

Players in the category are still learning. Learning to grope and cope.

Q: Do married couple-stars work better in brand endorsement or do un-married ones?

-SS Saravanan, Trichy

A: Saro (I am sure friends call you that, and am risking the appellation), when you pair a completely new couple who have nothing whatsoever to do with one another (be it in terms of marriage, open-relationship or for that matter even clandestine relationship), the chemistry in a piece of advertising is that much more. Consumers love the chemistry between models in life-style advertising, and not the lack of it. Sadly, a marriage or a relationship sublimates chemistry to a lowest common denominator level. In matters sheer advertising.

A set of new models working together in an ad like Genelia D'Souza and Virat Kohli for Fastrack works that much better. If I was to take an example from the same stable of Titan, I do believe Amitabh and Jaya works that much less.
Q: What’s the gifting market potential in India?
     -Sidarth Keshav, Patna

A: Sidharth, the gifting market in India is a large one. Any estimate you can really put onto it is really an under-estimate. Recent numbers indicate the size of the market to be some 4000 Crores INR.

Gifting adopts many avatars in India. There is festival gifting that perks up during Diwali and Dussehra and Raksha Bandhan and 26 other prominent gift-oriented festivals of India. Then there is the wedding gifting season. And then there are birthdays as occasions of gifting. Add to it Corporate gifting. Add bureaucratic gifting to it, and you have a Pandora's box of gifting occasions in India.

Gifts themselves are of a myriad kind. They cover a gamut of literally everything. Fruits, dry-fruits, sweets, clothes, jewelry, auto, and more.

Every brand in every category can aim for a piece of this big pie.

 Q: In sum, what is a good brand practice?
 -Jolly Sinha, Mumbai

A: Jolly, a good brand is one that treats its customers as friends. A brand cannot ever exploit its customer. It is therefore important to build brands and brand practice with care and integrity. Just don’t work too hard to push the brand message. If your message is good, it will find its way on its own. Build a good message first. Give it a nudge in the beginning for sure, but let it be then.

The merit of good branding is in the brand thought and promise, rather than the process which makes it popular.
Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

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