BRAND TOUCHPOINTS

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on November 1, 2009

Hey

Thank you for visiting. This blog has now shifted to a brand new site!

http://www.abhinayachandra.com/

See you there!


Is Social Media the 5th P

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on October 25, 2009

Recently, I was involved in a deep discussion about Social Media being the most important tool in marketing. It is a whole new revolution that opens up many locked doors to reach marketing effectiveness. My colleague was convinced that social media is the 5th P as participation in the marketing mix model.

I found this extremely interesting and debated the possibility of a change in one of the most powerful marketing model ever devised.

The 4Ps Marketing Mix

Marketing mix is a depiction of all marketing activities that have to be carried out. Product, place, price and promotions, a.k.a 4Ps, have been marked as the base for designing any marketing strategy. All 4Ps will have to be mapped out which will finally lead to a holistic strategy for the company.

SM1

5P Marketing Mix

There’s a new move. A move to include social media as another P – Participation. Here are my thoughts on why social media does not really find place among the 4Ps.

The 4P model forms the basis for developing marketing strategies. This is valid for all products. Including social media as a 5th P will not work for all products. It sure helps while launching a new phone or even FMCG. But, what about a heavy product purchase like a truck?

Yet, social media is getting too big to ignore. It sure is powerful enough to be included in the marketing mix. But not among the 4Ps. Translating social media into a 5thP will limit its power. To tap into entire social media landscape and gain real-time insight, here’s what I think can be done:

  • Add social media along with market research in the 4Ps model.
  • Social media application must form an important component of Promotions.

Social Media + Market Research

Today, the power of SM extends beyond marketing. Many new product development decisions are based on research conducted via social media. Here is an opportunity to find out exactly what people have got to say. Do they like it or not. What can be done to make the product more useful. Decisions that was once based on the judgment of a marketing head/product developer is now rooted on first-hand information from the users. This is where all social media consultants come into the picture. Social business strategy is in.

Social media application

Under the 4thP – Promotions, social applications play a major role. Mind mapping of the target audience will lead to the applications to be used.

SM2

What do you think? Is social media a 5th P or not.

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Carrefour – Eco friendly supermarket

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on October 18, 2009

Here’s an eco-friendly supermarket.

One of the global giants has decided to go green. Not only are they being environment conscious, they are also encouraging everybody to stop using plastic. Carrefour released a campaign that has a very simple message. Plastic = Shit. What struck me as different about this was the tone of communication. Simple, straight from the gut talk. Films, which was part of the campaign led the viewers to visit their site. Funny, but everything in here is in Spanish. Either the translate link is also in Spanish or there is no info for non-Spanish people.

About Carrefour

A supermarket that provides an awesome experience. Carrefour used to be a weekly routine during my Dubai days. Young couples doing their routine shopping, hassled mother trolleying around her kids, single men aiming at completing their entire list for a month under one roof, older people trying out one-size-fits-all clothes, girls at the cosmetic counters, all sorts of people can be found here.

Consequences

There have been other anti-plastic bag initiatives taken earlier. In fact, the Spanish government released a set of rules to ban use of plastic bags by 2015. Latin America had released a 3D animated spot called Revenge that used an emotional appeal for the same cause. But, a supermarket taking it up is different and will probably be well appreciated.

Carrefour reported a loss of 9% in the first quarter of 2009. This initiative might help to become the no:1 choice for supermarkets. Consumers are becoming increasingly environment conscious. Even if a premium is attached to shopping at Carrefour, consumers wouldnt mind paying up if this initiative kicks off well.

Carrefour could probably begin using social media extensively for this. So many communities are already in existence that stand for anti-plastic and environment protection. Engaging in conversation with the communities can probably generate more ideas that can take the initiative to another level.

What they have begun is powerful. If they take it further carefully, it can create wonders. Global giants are considered inhuman. If they care and can make a difference, way to go Carrefour!

Misused

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on October 16, 2009

Recently, I was privy to a conversation that made me cry. “Our client wants to reach out to a larger audience. Lets brand this cap and distribute it via an activation.” By branding, they mean stamping the logo on the cap. There are two words that are misused all the time. Used loosely in conversations. Research and branding.

Branding

Branding is like life within a body. Its the soul that gives a character to everybody. This is what differentiates one person from another. Branding helps build a character for a product. It defines even an inanimate object.

Remember that man who walked into your neighbour’s party? The blue-eyed blonde guy with a playful look? – Axe

Or that woman you see jog every morning. She’s fit and definitely looks like a go-getter – Nike

Brand planners possess the power to define the path that the product would take, the role that it will play in its consumers lives. Will the new bath soap end up in the perfectly manicured hands of a beautiful woman and be a part of her hour long bath or will it lie neatly packaged in every normal lodge’s bathroom. Brand managers are like guardians. They grow the brand.

Today, in many advertising agencies the word branding has almost lost its meaning. Merely designing a logo and affixing it to a collateral is NOT branding. What happened to all the thought that is supposed to have gone behind the process of branding. What about the research that should have been conducted prior to any action.

Research

Research. Calling up ten people who belong to the target group and asking them 10 questions is far from research. One part of the world is busy working years to derive one concept. One other group is still basing many advertisements on research conducted in a day or two. Creative routes and stimuli are derived by asking leading questions to maybe five people.

Sad, but true.

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iFood assistant – deliciously simple!

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on October 11, 2009

You are a twenty-something. You work and have a lot of things to do, that is so much more fun than cooking. Every morning, evening, it is the same situation. You cant decide what to cook.

“I want to eat healthy. I want to be fit. But, I cant eat tasteless food too. Even if I decide what I want to eat, it takes me a while to figure out the ingredients. Its a pain. I’d rather just eat out.”

A very familiar scene out of everybody’s life.

Kraft’s iFood assistant can be a necessary application for many people. It’s a time-saver. “iFood Assistant” brings out a Recipe of the Day and an idea for Dinner every evening. These are the ideas that have been cooked up and tested by the experts in the Kraft Kitchens, which sure holds a lot of credibility.Also, “iFood Assistant” makes mealtime easy and fun by giving out 1-2-3 steps and shortcuts.

Why is iFood assistant successful?

The iFood assistant has been hugely popular from the time it was introduced. This is an evolution into a service from products provided by Kraft foods. This use of social media is a smart move. Use of smart phones has been increasing at a very fast pace. Being an early bird in this sphere is always good.

At the beginning, it was weird – a food company with an app. But, the success rate speaks for itself. By the time smart phones completely take over, iFood Assistant will have become a necessity.

This tool makes life simple which is a must for any good service. It helps you decide and once the choice of recipe is made, it gives you ingredient quantities, shortcut tips, calorie content and also location of stores from where the ingredients can be bought!

All this has a direct impact on our brains. The mother brand holds a lot of credibility and positioning it as a tool to make life easy is ingenious. Life made easier is always welcome for any consumer. Most important, this application isnt trying to push / sell anything directly. Its always nice when a business giant reaches out to its consumers with no ulterior motives lurking within (atleast directly).

Will charging for iFood assistant work?

Surprisingly, its working great! This might be a well thought out reverse psychology marketing in action. Free = anytime welcome. Expensive = valuable. This concept has been depicted beautifully in Robert Cialdini’s Influence (which I recommend). When the application was free, it would have been one among the yet-another-app. But, now that they are charging for it, the value increases automatically.

This, I think, is the best time to charge for it. The target audience has already absorbed the application. Its become a daily necessity for many. Charging for it has been a huge debating topic that has won it a lot more publicity. Yet, many feel that charging for it is a grave mistake. Couple of weeks more and many reviews later, we will know if reverse psychology and publicity has made an impact or not.

Luxury brands go digital

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on October 4, 2009

One flagship store at Madison avenue.

One ad in Vogue featuring a supermodel sporting the latest collection.

Another ad in GQ. The rest will be done by the gliterrati.

This was the scene with Luxury brands  till 2004. Luxury brands once believed that minimal advertising is the key to maintaining their truly luxury status. They were sought after and did not do much to reach out to people. An ad in Vogue or GQ served the purpose. Publicity did the trick. The past few years has witnessed a huge change in their style of communicating with the audience.

Luxury brands go digital!

Its true. They are everywhere now. Trying to employ the available cutting edge technology to reach out to more people. Ralph Lauren began the trend by selling online. This yielded good results. Now, we can see other high-end jewellery, electronics, automobile brands go online!

Ralph Lauren introduced their first iPhone application last year. One kick-ass idea! It showcases the collection, features video highlights of the latest runway shows and also gives a peek into the upcoming collection. They have recently released another application – “Make your own rugby” where users are allowed to personalize the rugby/polo shirts and also virtually try them on. Estee Lauder released a similar application where users can upload their pictures and virtually try out the products.

Why become digi-savvy?

For a long long time, the luxury brands did well with their business model of maintaining the uniqueness  by allowing for users to come to them. They were rich and had to be approached. But with increasing consumer  interaction online, they have realised the importance of going digital. Increase in communities online and burst of social media hit them hard. This is the age where companies are fighting for the consumer’s attention. Competition coupled with recession has forced the luxury marketers to look for other options from the traditional business model.

Pros & Cons

The advantage with going digital is that it helps in easier data-mining and targeting. We know where the potential target audience of these brands hang out. Also, a lot of the fashionistas are becoming increasingly tech-savvy. It always helps to be on the lookout.

But, it can also lead to losing the luxury status if rubbed the wrong way.
I think this is an extremely crucial period for these brands. The transition from the traditional business model to something dynamic is a big step. This has to be done very intelligently. Going digital and participating in social media while maintaining the luxury stamp is not easy. We might see a lot of niche brands lose their sheen and up-market status by taking wrong steps.

In fact, a lot of brands are generally not digi-savvy. They are finding it tough to blend in. They do not consider moving online as a natural extension. I think if they have not yet made efforts to move online, they are far behind in the curve. It will be fun to see how many luxury brands optimize the tech world.

Blackberry – the most preferred business phone

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 26, 2009

What makes blackberry the most preferred business phone?

I was reading a book – Killer Differentiators, that talked about category leadership and first movers’ advantage as one of the strategies to grow a brand. Blackberry was cited as an example for one of the first smart phones developed. This was way back in 1999. It is 2009. Why is it still preferred?

Guaranteed – Its got many useful features that are completely business oriented, but what about other phones that offer equally better features and entertainment too?

They have built their brand around a very strong vision. Perception in the minds of the consumers is built so strong. A Blackberry owner is a true businessman/woman, elegant, sophisticated, rich and busy!

Competition

Apparently the sales is not so good this quarter. Profits have gone down, but they have managed to sell 40% more handsets than last year. The competition is building up. The new 3GS iPhone is growing strong and the Google android phones from HTC, Motorola releasing soon are sure to fight. Apple vs Blackberry war has been going on for a while now. This one is my favourite:

Blackberry taking a shot at Apple

Apple’s retaliation

Consumer’s views:

Four years work experience

In my situation, I would simply go for a pda as its a sign of professionalism, seriousness, stature and being associated with those who are claiming responsible positions in the firm, even though I may not have the absolute necessity of having to regularly check my mails.

I have seen many people who own an htc cribbing about it. They have not synchronised outlook to their hand held device as it beeps every now and then and is disturbing.

One year work experience

I would love to own a Blackberry! It gives me an “I am important” feeling. An iPhone makes me look cool. Thats not what I want.

Twenty – two years experience

I have no choice but to use a Blackberry. I simply need it. I dont care much about music / games. I have no time for entertainment. The battery is not good. On my last trip abroad, my Blackberry heated up and exploded. I got it replaced though.

Thirty years experience

I work in a high stress environment with tight deadlines. But, I must admit, I dont know how to use all the features yet. My Blackberry gives me a status symbol. I am a page 3 celebrity and its important that I am in vogue. Sure, it helps me reply to mails the moment I receive them.

Blackberry has become an aspirational brand for the newbies to business, status symbol for the ones in it already. It has created a very high top-of-mind-awareness for itself which is going to be tough to break for any other brand. I phone is still looked at as a coolness device. Blackberry users identify themselves as a layer above. They express no desire outside to look cool. They would rather be the only-business type. It will be fun to watch other players try to break this perception.



Powerful idea

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 21, 2009

My all-time favourite print ad has been Southwest’s retaliation- “Liar Liar pants on fire” to Northwest on their claim to be No. 1 in customer satisfaction.

Recently, I came across another ad that caught my eye.

filmfare

  • Today, where visuals dominate, this ad has reversed the process. An excellent portrayal of the cliches that are unfortunately true.
  • A touch of humour in reality.
  • This is an example of a powerful idea backed by an extremely simple, yet equally powerful execution.

From a consumer’s point of view:

Sans the advertising p-o-v, I wanted to find out if this ad makes an impact on non-advertisers. So I picked 5 people belonging to different industries and have nothing to do with marketing. I showed the ad to them individually. Here’s what happened:

3 of them found the use of colors attractive.

All of them had an immediate smile while reading the copy.

Most important, all of them could recollect the date filmfare was scheduled for, even 10 minutes after the ad was taken away from them. The ad has hit the target bang-on.

Most of the ads or even websites focus on design and colors. The cosmetic appearances are temporary. What manages to create an impact is always the content, communicated in a creative manner. Compromising on content is a sin. Ads like this bring out the power of ideation before getting into the visuals. They have their message right and the creative route chosen is excellent. Great work Mudra!

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Voice of a consumer

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 18, 2009

“I think corporations have become inhuman entities that merely regurgitate people and ideas and throw up on the unsuspecting consumer. They simply feed the consensual bs hallucination and suck everything in it’s path. ” – This is the voice of a consumer.

This statement kept me awake for many nights. Is this true? With neuro-marketing becoming more prominent, are we manipulating thoughts of a consumer? Especially, now that we have access to advanced scientific knowledge, are we extracting undue advantage over the consumers?

So, I asked this question to another consumer:

Q: Remember you bought that expensive chocolate box from Belgique chocolates the other day. Did you get back home wondering what made you buy? Its us! As marketers, we possess the power to influence your decision-making. Be it a necessary / unnecessary purchase, we drive it.

A: I would say “Good work!” If you guys made me buy that box of chocolates, you know what I want and I am glad somebody s paying attention to my wants.listen

This helped me realize that marketers are merely competing with each other for the consumer’s attention. He is still God. With the help of science and research, we understand what a consumer wants. What he needs are usually in the open. What he wants is buried deep within different layers like insecurity, sub-consciousness, financial stability, and more. A powerful want can snowball fast. Understanding this can also help in new product development.

What we do is uncover the hidden wants and make it a reality for the consumers. We give them what they want. Consumers are extremely intelligent and trying to manipulate one will be fatal.

But, what is really interesting is that there exists a set of consumers with the first mindset. How do we overcome this?

Microsoft goes cute!

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 13, 2009

Here’s an ad that has created mixed emotions. Using the little girl and the dog sure worked for Hutch. It s working fine for Airtel too. But Microsoft????

Take a look at this.

This ad is definitely not stimulating me to even consider Windows 7. “Cuteness” is not for every brand. Sometimes highlighting the features and talking about what the product can do, might help.

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