Emotional vs Rational

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on August 27, 2009

Emotions impact decisions. – Agreed

Emotions exercise a greater impact on decisions than rational thinking. – ?!

I know a lot of people are vigorously shaking their heads now. How can that be? I bought my Toyota last week after a lot of thinking. It was a very rational decision. My ipod nano was a necessity. I need it for my work outs every morning. I just had to buy the new shoes. My old ones were killing my feet.

So, the sleek design of the car, scent of fresh leather when you open the door, the magnetic aura that is wrapped around you when you sit behind the wheel did not aid to your decision making at all?

What about the increase in your “coolness quotient” thanks to the ipod nano. You feel like a true gizmo freak by owning the latest techie fads, irrespective of their requirement. Also, the shoes looked so pretty on Angelina’s feet. Im sure they would look just as good on mine.

This is what happens in the brain. Needs arise – emotions take over – rational justifications are formulated to reduce guilt. Most of the brain is dominated by automatic processes rather than deliberate thinking. A lot of what happens in the brain is emotional, not cognitive (Buyology).

I came across a very interesting concept known as mirroring neurons. Imagine a secluded beach. The sea is deep blue and is sparkling with the rays almost touching the water. The sand is a mixture of brown and white. There is a pleasant freshness in the air which you have been longing for. There is a gentle breeze blowing across your body and you do not want to leave the beach. You are content with the scenic beauty.

Im sure you have a far away look in your eyes yearning to atleast catch a glimpse of this wonderland.

Imagine finger nails scratching on a black board… screeeeeeeeeeechhhh…. Did you just wince? I am sure you did.

These neurons send signals to the brain which helps us experience what the other person is feeling. This is why, a lot of FMCG advertisements use celebrities. Its the best case scenario.Brain_by_moutoin

“She” uses this soap and is very beautiful. Though all our rationality points toward it being a money-making gimmick by advertisers, the signals are already sent to the brain. BEWARE!

More on neuromarketing coming up soon!


Luxury in recession

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on August 22, 2009

The world is facing an economic downturn. And, yet I receive messages from Ralph Lauren about their new collection. The biggies still hold fashion shows and are doing well for themselves. Is there a layer of consumers who are unaffected by the financial crisis?

Guy Richards post on Why brands increase price in an economic downturn explains the strategy behind this. But what about consumer behavior? Do people really pay more during a recession? Will it work? How do they advertise during this period?

This came up during my discussion with luxury marketers in India:

Recession has had a huge effect on the affordable luxury. This is the time when the line between true luxury and affordable luxury widens. Consumers who have $10 million in assets are recession-proof and they continue to spend as planned. This has affected brands like Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein who have slipped from their true luxury status. Brands like Louis Vuitton and Prada continue their production like ever before.

Companies are also employing the “targeting luxury” strategy. It’s the strategy being employed by Maurice Lacroix as it provides watches as giveaways to corporate executives it meets in the course of its promotions, such as the Time Machine campaign and the brand’s deal as the “official watch” of the Indianapolis 500.

Also, some brands continue to do what they are best at – appeal to the refined taste and matching egos of the upscale consumer.

Beside all these company-specific strategies, what all of them have done is:

– Cut out the advertising budget.
– Spend more in the engagement experience. Allow the up-scale to feel rather than see / hear.

    Hard to believe, sounds weird, but its true! They still spend.

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    The Starbucks Experience

    Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on August 20, 2009

    You wake up in the morning. Another boring day. You get out of home all dressed to go to work. On the way, you stop at the regular coffee-house. “Morning John.. the usual please.” You are greeted by a warm smile and a couple of minutes later, you have your tall latte de-fatted soy milk sugar free cold with whip and vanilla.

    A touch of warmth and kindness is a beautiful way to begin a day. And this is what the Starbucks partners (a.k.a employees) strive to create. “The Starbucks Experience”, authored by Joseph A. Michelli is a book on principles for turning businesses from ordinary into extraordinary using Starbucks as a base model.

    If you d0 not understand the branding language, here are some facts that can make you go ga-ga-

    If you had invested $10000 in the Starbucks IPO on the Nasdaq in 1992, your investment would have been worth approximately $650,000 two years ago.

    What struck me as awesome was the fact that the principles are simple and not some of the management gibberish we study, in every B school. They can be employed in real life too. They are results-oriented and can be deceptively powerful when employed:starbucks

    • Make it your own
    • Everything matters
    • Surprise and delight
    • Embrace resistance
    • Leave your mark

    Simple strategies that can facilitate a huge turn-around. Try it out and do write back.

    Enjoy your latte!

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    Epitome of innovation

    Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on August 18, 2009

    Remember that stylish metal bin which you bought in 1990s. That bin which was placed under your Billy bookcase. Here’s something very interesting about it: Kamprad wanted to sell the bins for 10$ while they were being sold in the high street for 40$. This stumped the IKEA team as they were not able to find a supplier who could manufacture them at less than 20$. Kamprad led his team into the IKEA kitchen and pointed to an industrial can of tomato soup. The next thing we know, the soup manufacturer agreed to make stylish bins that could be sold for 10$.

    What about Skopa? The plastic hardwearing chair in your garden. The one which has witnessed many quiet moments and many cups of coffee. To align it with IKEA’s low cost business model, they struck a deal with a factory that made plastic bowls and buckets.

    Not surprised yet? Read on ..

    8-17-ikea catalog1

    • A sofa is made from a shopping trolley.
    • A table is made from some skis.
    • Table legs are made by a window factory.
    • Bed headboards are made by a door factory.
    • Cushion covers are made from shirts.
    • A chair is made from a tomato tin can.
    • A tea light holder is made from an electricity pylon.
    • A photo frame is made from some rubber car tires.

    It sure takes a lot to design a stylish piece of furniture. But, it takes way more than that to design the same piece which can sell for 15$ and be a part of everybody / anybody’s home.

    To the 11 in-house product managers at IKEA- Respect!

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    Brand personality

    Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on August 13, 2009

    What do you do, when you have over 200 related products to be branded? All of them have to be recognised independent of each other. 5 of the 200 are very popular and are leading products in the market. The corporate brand has not gained much importance as of now and that has to be strengthened too. All this has to be done in 6 months.

    Now, the biggest challenge of all: The target audience is very low on literacy.

    So, there goes all strategies to build a brand through social media and online advertising. No technology-driven advertising. It’s got to be traditional advertising.

    I was going through blogs and articles on building brand personalities, when I came across some very interesting statistics on popular personality attributes:

    • Innovative (45%)
    • Professional (41%)
    • Responsive (36%)
    • Caring (32%)
    • Reliable (27%)
    • Customer focused (27%)
    • Trustworthy (23%)
    • Service oriented (18%)

    ps: If anybody have worked on a similar account and can help, please do write back.

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    I got bitten !!!!

    Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on August 12, 2009

    lovemarkA philosophy that sounds so simple and yet tough to follow. Love and respect. This book is all about a revolutionary way to move businesses. It completely attacks the conventional mannerisms of business-houses.

    “Brands are running out of juice.” They are everywhere and are cluttered. All advertising agencies are trying to break this clutter by coming up with points of differentiation for all.

    Result: We end up getting sucked into this game of creativity and make purchases without a reason.

    But, there’s got to be a solution to this and Lovemarks provides the route to a brand’s successful future. If we treat a brand with love and respect, it becomes powerful and gains loyalty. Loyalty beyond reason by its consumer due to unconditional love delivered by the brand.

    I read this book two weeks ago and thought to myself, “It sure looks good on paper. It might not work.” So I gave it a shot. For two weeks, I have been making an effort to treat all brands I handle with love and look at them as something more than a mere account.

    New ideas to enhance the brand value has been flowing throughout and also ended up getting a lot of work done! Next milestone is to read the sequel to this book: The Lovemarks effect – Winning in the consumer revolution.

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    Women consumers

    Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on August 10, 2009

    The toughest subject that I have studied till date is consumer behavior. The subject holds prime importance in my career and I am still stumped. One particular lecture that keeps coming back to me is “women as consumers.” Apparently women as consumers have a very low decision making capability and I didn’t quite agree with that.

    Yesterday, I got the chance to put that to test practically. I took my mother shopping at a clearance sale outlet for domestic clothing.


    She picked 5 sarees seeking my constant approval.

    The next process of rejection began by discarding everything that merely sounded a little expensive.

    And then, her mind plays twenty-questions looking for answers within.

    • Am I spending too much?

    • Is this required?

    • Is it expensive?

    • Will the colors suit me?

    • Is the material ok? … and more

    Assurance, assurance and re-assurance. That’s what they all want. She wanted me to tell her that her choices are perfect and she needs them. At first, I refused to reply and asked her to take her own decisions. She was stuck and couldn’t move forward. Subtly, I added, “I think they look good.” That did it. Five minutes from then, we were paying the bill.

    Many people argue that the above process is common among the middle-aged and not the young crowd. I was actually privy to the following conversation.

    A young girl, aged 22 / 23 at Planet Sports on the phone: “Should I buy this pair of tracks? Do you think I really need it? I don’t know… It sounds too expensive. I know I need it but do you think I can do without it?” She left the store. Came back in half hour and bought the pair of tracks!

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    Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on August 6, 2009


    One of my most interesting clients is surprisingly a cement company. A quick research around the market points to very few cement companies engaging in advertising. Those who do, have the typical ad with an emotional appeal.

    A house warming ceremony – happy family – blah – and more blah. So here’s this cement client who had no history of advertising.

    Task: Build a brand for Sagar Cement.

    To break the clutter, we took an entirely different route – animation. We created a character that would be our brand ambassador. This character is a mason who leads the workers at the construction zone. The story unfolds into a dance of joy by the characters created at the construction site.

    Message: Sagar cement – solid cement for a solid home.

    The campaign has been supported with billboards, a lot of outdoor advertising, Audio Visual played at the theatres and marketing collaterals.

    Result: High levels of brand awareness and differentiation created in the market.

    *This jingle has also been translated into other Indian languages and French for their audience in France.

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    Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on August 4, 2009

    After sitting through a very interesting lecture on Innovation and strategy during the MBA days, I was asked to write a paper on “Innovate to Integrate” for Business India.

    The following 15 days were filled with a lot of brainstorming sessions, deriving models and formulating solutions for various questions posed by the power of innovation.  Here is an abstract of the paper.


    The two big ‘I’s – Innovation and Integration – are to be the key defining features of today and tomorrow’s businesses. Innovation is the vehicle to continuously enhance customer delight. It is one of the most talked about concepts in the corporate world and now looked at as the conscious competence of a business. Integration is the seamless partnership between customers and business processes that sustains customer delight. A scan of businesses however shows that the full potential of integration is not being realized, primarily because the business model seems to have evolved into a silo mode. The tool to remedy this is innovation, so as to achieve integration of business processes with customer aspirations and needs.

    This paper looks at examples of how business leaders have innovated to integrate their businesses. Four pillars – technology, processes, relationships and information – have been the focus of innovation on the journey towards a holistic business. Finally, the author’s personal application of the innovate-to-integrate lessons in her activities has been included as a learning experience.

    Click to download the entire paper –

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    Hear Ye!

    Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on August 2, 2009

    Recent research states that the Indian consumer believes in recommendations by personal acquaintances rather than the million other ads he comes across every day. Apparently, personal recommendations and editorial content play a major role in the decision making process. So say the Nielsen biggies themselves.

    This gives a clearer perspective on defining the audience. Currently, one of my clients is a new entrant in the real-estate market. Instead of bombarding the prospective buyers in all directions possible, it might make more sense to:

    • spot the opinion leaders.
    • Convince them to buy and make them happy.
    • Create loyalists.
    • Watch the good word-of-mouth spread.


    And more:

    Text ads on mobile phones are the least trusted medium (FCUK, Wrangler and fastrack – stop texting me! I know you guys have a new collection out.)

    Globally, the most trusted source of advertiser led advertising is the brand website except in Sweden and Israel which rank the lowest.

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