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Friday, December 1, 2017

Why We Appreciate Bad?

Recently Shah Rukh Khan launched the new movie trailer for his upcoming film Raees. The trailer is a spectacular presentation of the thriller that the film is aspiring to be; the trailer is full of Drama and Shah Rukh Khan delivering dialogues in his quintessential baritone.

But as the trailer crosses over ten million views on YouTube, a question arises in my mind that is why do we love outlaws or appreciate the characters which have a sinister scheme. Take Raees for example, It is reportedly based on the Gujarat Don Abdul Latif Shiekh, who controlled the illegal liquor business in the eighties. And somehow, the trailer glorifies him as a hero and a courageous businessman whose methods were justified by his single minded obsession for profit and his daring in challenging the law of the land while breaking it.

If you think that it is a Bollywood problem; it is not. Hollywood is a predecessor for glorifying movies like these. The God father series is an exemplary to it and in the modern world; most of the stories that are told in the cinema these days depicts the plight of the villain or a more romantic term “The Anti-hero”

Gone are the days when there was clear divide between the Hero and the villain; now the central character of the story is the Anti Hero. Take for example, the case of Breaking Bad, The hit show revolved around Walter White, a high school teacher who sells meth and created an Empire out of it. The TV show was loved by the critics and the viewers alike. Similarly Netflix recently released its new TV series which is currently a rage among the popular viewership. The show ‘Escobar’ chronicles the life of the infamous Mexican drug cartel leader Pablo Escobar.

These type of characters, the outlaws are not created by the directors to satisfy their artistic persistence but to fulfill the ever increasing public demand. The industry offers only such products which sell. We as an audience demand and appreciate the bad or villainous in people.

We may forget Thakur saab, Jai, Veeru and Basanti but we can never forget Gabbar whose menacing dialogues are etched into our brains. Or let’s take recent example of The Avengers which was supposed to be a movie based on the heroics of a bunch of superheroes who stand for qualities such as Courage, integrity, honesty, pride, nationalism  etc. But the Audience remember the movie because of one singular character; Loki. The villain of the movie whose crooked smile and malign taunts left audience awestruck with the brilliance of his evil.

So I again repeat my question that why are we attracted to the crime, evil and their lives why we get intimidated by their power and why we are always curious to know about the crimes rather than the 
good things happening in the society.

The reason may be because the criminals represent a life which is not bound by the laws of the country or the norms of the society which often strangulates our desires.
How many times we wanted to kill our spouses in our dreams or wanted to ram our cars into the vehicle in front of us who would not give us a side but consoled ourselves by hurling abuses at him. This is because our desires are constrained by laws, society and most importantly our own inhibited conscience which doesn’t allow us to move as we would truly wish without the fear of consequences.

A story is not interesting because the benevolent son cares a lot about his parents, has perfect wife and good job to support his family. The story gets interesting when the benevolent son is actually not that benevolent. He has all the vices a man should not have.
He is an alcoholic and actually sells drugs to teenagers. But the story will be more interesting if there is no false public image of the son. He is rather a known criminal and has knack for consistently involved in the tussle with the police.

In such stories the stringent laws can be sighted as the real villains, which ostracize the individual free will to that of societal norms. To that effect he represent an array of discerning hopes, His acts might be wrong and ethically disheartening and as Breaking Bad shows us, his action doesn’t need to be justified as achieving some greater good for society, but might act on a selfish notion.
Our society tries to avoid bad traits of personalities by not acknowledging their presence in individuals, everyone is selfish, everyone has some pride in him, everyone fears something and it is human nature to like and dislike people.

Thus we can say that as long as people find themselves construed in the moral and social veil of society, family and nation. The individuals will never stop appreciating those who are free from the these shackles even though most of them would end up behind prison but the prisoner will always be more free from the ones who hide behind the veil.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Are we prejudiced about middle India consumers?

Increasingly, we are finding consumers saying ‘Oh no, not again’ when they see another top established star in advertising or public service commercials. So, while established stars are always at the top of the Forbes and other celebrity indices, they are more a reflection of the box office earnings and fame ranks. But those ranks may be hiding something very potent for marketers – of how tired consumers are, of seeing their favourite stars too often. And more importantly, we need to answer the question ‘how relevant are they for our target audience?’.

For example, a few years ago, to mark the launch of its new XE model, car maker Jaguar enlisted singer Emeli Sandé, actor Idris Elba and designer Stella McCartney to ramp up interest from a new audience. Or Seinnheiser used Miley Cyrus to endorse its range. Steve Dalton, director of marketing at Sennheiser said, “Over the years we have decided that it’s not right for us to choose an artist simply because they are the biggest selling or most famous because it limits us to attracting only a certain demographic.” Vivienne Francis, director of communications at Prostate Cancer UK said, “Celebrity-fronted campaigns can be effective, but it is naive to believe a famous face is enough on its own to build credible engagement.”

Colgate broke the mould a year ago by moving from Sonam Kapoor to Shraddha Sharma for their Colgate Visible White. According to the company, they got much more traction with Shraddha Sharma. Perhaps then, it is no surprise that Thums Up decided to ditch Salman Khan for Ranveer Singh recently. Most colas are talking to young people and Thums Up’s major franchise is the youth in Class 2 towns. So, what might have made Thums Up ditch the no. 1 star Salman Khan on the Forbes Celebrity List, with the no. 12 star? I have no doubt that it is the same misgivings that have bothered marketers in other parts of the world as well. Thinking about tomorrow and about the appropriateness of how relevant the endorser is with youth. And there is little doubt that Ranveer Singh is becoming an increasingly influential icon with the Indian millennials.

An earlier study conducted by DigitaBi, Razorfish, Tumblr and Yahoo gave some tips on how to engage youth with content:

  • Set the mood
  • Help millennials escape
  • Fuel creativity and play
  • Spotlight pop culture
  • Help millennials succeed and help them discover

The new Thums Up TVC sticks close to that knitting by extending the earlier thought of ‘Main Hoon Toofani’ which was launched earlier this year. The ad aims to inspire consumers to unleash their toofani (heroic) spirit. However, in the new commercial, our protagonist is not crazy about going to any length to acquire the beverage as in the earlier commercials, but is more interested in saving school children from a road accident. Again, a subtle change that is likely to attract the youth, who hate a forced plug-in for any brand and the traditional ‘brand window’ as a mandatory. They say that the youth increasingly don’t like ‘hard sell’ and prefer ‘light touch’ advertising. The kind of scale and action portrayed in the ad is of course just what middle India thrives on. It is the kind of fantasy they would love to live, and this is where the brand becomes a kind of mirror for consumers to see themselves in. But we may miss that subtle nuance, if we put on our jaded, prejudiced urban lens to review the ad.

"Ever since youth culture became a defined concept, marketers have been using the unique values of youth as an ‘in’ to young consumers,” according to a study from Havas. So, most brands especially those in highly competitive categories are willing to do anything that can get that nod from the youth. Marketers are also realising that youth want a different relationship with the product and the brand. If brands can create a friendship with consumers, you can take your brand to the next level. Because then you will get a loyal consumer who is willing to support you all the way.

For most marketers hitting the sweet spot for consumers of the future, seems to be the name of the game. Also, isn’t choosing a celebrity a bit of a gamble like horse racing? It’s all about predicting the winners of tomorrow rather than betting on the winners of today.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

How Marketing can Help Brands Tap the Massive Rural Opportunity

Despite housing close to 70% of the country’s population, rural markets in India have been by and large neglected by businesses in favour of urban geographies. Even mainstream business enterprises, despite their abundant resources, have made limited inroads into this vast market. Factors such as a lack of services, infrastructure, and essential facilities such as banking institutions have been touted as the main reason behind this lack of traction in rural geographies.
Rapid advancements in technology and increased inclusiveness, however, have dramatically increased the scope for business expansion in rural geographies. With digitisation in India accelerating at an unprecedented pace, rural markets are benefitting from the increased interconnectivity. The brand narrative for rural markets is shifting from empowerment to genuinely paying attention.
With rural geographies offering businesses across industry verticals a plethora of opportunities, brands are vying for greater traction with the rural consumer. There are, however, certain aspects that need to be kept in mind while venturing into rural markets, such as:
  • Staying relevant
Rural customers, though fast-pacing towards modernity, are still very connected to their roots. As such, when a brand appreciates their culture, they are more likely to respond more favourably to its efforts. This is why traditional approaches are often the most-effective in the rural market. Brands must also properly calibrate and thoroughly assess the viability of on-ground presence marketing initiatives. Some rural areas in particular are very deeply rooted in their regional identity. This gives brands an opportunity to connect better with their prospective audiences through initiatives that cater to their sensibilities.
  • Trust and Engagement
Trust and engagement are perhaps two of the most essential elements, especially for newer brands. Relationships are the perfect business catalysts and serve as the prime differentiator in the eyes of consumer and channel partners. This makes it imperative to not only nurture a strong bond with the local consumer base, but also with channel partners, in order to succeed and grow.
The rural consumer is getting smarter and so are the channel partners. In order to forge a successful and rewarding relationship with them, brands must make an effort to showcase what they are bringing to the table; consumers need to be shown the value in their purchase, while partners often prefer favourable margins. Businesses must maintain the perfect balance between the two in order to be gain decent traction in rural geographies.
  • Bolstering the network
Network and reach play the most pivotal role in any brand’s success. It is not only essential in retaining existing business, but also increases the scope of business opportunity through incoming referrals. Given that such referrals are often prequalified and relevant to the brand, the revenue spent on acquisition decreases drastically while the overall market reach increases. Brand influence also receives a tangible boost as a direct result of a stronger business network.
  • Differentiating product and understanding rural market
In order to cause strong disruptions, brands must always look to offer more than what the market currently has. The promise of designing products and services that address the specific needs and requirements of the rural consumers goes a long way in creating brand differentiation. What is most important for brands, however, is standing by their promises and making them happen. Doing so can dramatically increase brand affinity and create an entire line of brand loyalists which help in the formation of a strong consumer base.
With recent developments accelerating digital adoption, the digital divide is being minimised at a rapid pace to bring rural areas into the mainstream. Brands must therefore look to create an end-to-end, relevant marketing strategy to effectively tap into rural and semi-urban geographies. Successful execution will not only give them a chance to gain a significant share in a high potential and immensely lucrative market, but will also create the perfect confluence of urban, semi-urban, and rural India which collectively acts as a singular identity.

Friday, January 6, 2017


Prof. Manit Mishra
Associate Professor, Marketing
International Management Institute, Bhubaneswar

The festive season has arrived and the brands have decided to leverage it with “surgical strikes” on consumer wallets. To quote Jim Collins: “Greatness is not a function of circumstances. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.” The brands, retail as well as product, had made their choice in the run-up to festivities. The harbinger was the most unlikeliest and unpredictable ally a retailer can wish for: India Meteorological Department (IMD). With IMD predicting an “above normal” monsoon for 2016 in the month of April, and the actual monsoon not displaying a significant variance from it, the track was laid for the consumption carnival to begin. The government too pitched in and said – enough is enough, it is time to bless the babus with Lakshmi before the festive season. Lo and behold, the 7th pay commission said “tathastu” to almost a crore families directly. The cascading effect is likely to be staggered but exponential when you consider the downstream organizations – the state governments and the private sectors which are likely to follow suit, sooner or later. The final piece of the jigsaw puzzle was put together by none other than RBI. The icing on the cake, and just as you were about to placate your senses by gulping it down your salivating mouth, was provided by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) with a 25 basis point reduction in repurchase rate and thereby, easing the stress on your finances. Experts may vary on the absolute and relative impact of each of these factors on your discretionary income. However, there is considerable unanimity on one fact: all of these have contributed to a feel good factor, a positive euphoric vibe right before the onset of the festivities. A confident consumer is lapping it up with both hands, and with a carry-bag to spare too. The urge to splurge has gained momentum. Having said that, no points for guessing who is laughing all the way to the bank. While Amazon claimed an average of over 38 orders per second during its five day “Great Indian Festive Sale,” the Future Group is reported to have achieved 9-20% Y-on-Y same-store growth. It is a win-win situation. The buoyancy in the market landscape has strengthened India’s position as the only bright spot in a rather dull world economy. The objective factors influencing the spending apart, to their credit the marketers have left no stone unturned to subtly build a proclivity towards buying behaviour. The marketer generated stimuli has dominated the media with offers. Leveraging the strong association between festivals and buying, the marketer has cleverly supplemented emotions with reason – a perfect mix of use of central route of persuasion substantiated with peripheral cues. So there are full front-page advertisements in leading dailies which hint at all that I am going to lose if I fail to avail the opportunity within the mentioned time period. The good thing is, it doesn’t stop at that. The assimilation of buying behaviour with socio-cultural values is complete. So, if you do not belong to the community of buyers who have been smart enough to capitalize, you are a pariah. Consumer socialization initiated and sustained through sales promotion. To borrow a phrase uttered by Don Corleone in the blockbuster movie Godfather: “I’m gonna make him an offer he won’t refuse.” And indeed, the marketer has made an offer that the consumer has not been able to refuse.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Internet of Things (IoT) – Transforming Digital Marketing

The Internet of Things (IoT) - The trend which has become an increasingly growing topic of conversation and the one that everyone is waiting for. We all are aware of how internet has connected people to people, but now taking another step forward internet is going to connect things like never before. The IoT is the idea of physical objects, devices, or even people being connected to one another and to the internet(Courtesy: Wikipedia).  This can be anything ranging from your smartphone, wearable gadgets, headphones to smart television sets. It has the ability to change how everything physical in our life works. Well for those of whom who don’t know, IoT is already among us with Fitbit, Google Glass, Self Driving Car, Apple iWatch -- all being popular examples of our increasingly connected lives.

What does this mean for digital marketers?
Well, the IoT opens up even more digital channels for marketers to track. The increased volume of data brings an exciting opportunity to collect and analyse a variety of new behaviours. So the real challenge will be how to analyse and use this new information efficiently. The IoT will present many opportunities to marketers as more and more devices become connected. The IoT will give brands the ability to process information about connected products and then personalize them to each consumer. Companies will now be able to deliver enhanced services and messages to customers. It will require marketers to focus even more on different channels and devices when creating their marketing strategies. So, marketers will have to listen and respond to the needs of their customers accordingly – with the right message, at the right time, on the right device’. 
For marketers to succeed in a world that is becoming fundamentally technology driven, they will need to learn to leverage the technology itself in order to benefit from its obvious ‘data and analytics’ benefits so as to create a seamless customer experience that will be beneficial both to the brand and the consumer as well. 

 How will digital marketers actually use the IoT?
  • Use it to analyze the buying behavior of customers across the platforms they use, Marketers will better understand the consumer buying cycle and where in the cycle the customer is. The marketers can analyse user behaviour which allows them to further customize the product for them, and the data serves as the baseline for future product development efforts.
  • IoT will enable real-time interactions: Engaging potential buyers at the right time is a big problem for both marketing and sales teams.  IoT will enable data-driven marketing by providing real-time customer data which in turn will boost company sales significantly. With IoT, marketers can engage with prospects at the right time, such as the instant they are engaging on your website or with a targeted ad.
  • Personalized promotions: Beacons make the perfect example of how IoT could be used by brands to improve their point of sale experience. Brands are using this technology to deliver personalized promotions to customers as they enter and move around the store. Beacons allow for a new way of in-store interaction between customers and retailers. On the one hand, it allows retailers a new way of collecting data about its customers, based on their in-store actions. On the other side, it allows customers to receive personalized offers based on their preferences and their online/in-store behavior.  Push notifications and location-based promotions are just two simple examples of how objects will communicate with customers.
  • Predictive Social Media: IoT is optimized for use with social media. Marketers who are able to predict the development of social media communities, and target their efforts towards these communities, will be able to reach potential customers whom they may not have been able  to previously target. With these better targeted campaigns, marketers will be able to identify and monetize new emerging trends. IoT has added an edge of personalisation to social media marketing. Presently customers in the light of their browsing history are recommended products that they may like to buy. IoT helps to turn social media marketing more customer-centric as now you can shoot ads and promotion messages based on individual’s preference. 
There are some ethical concerns around this, as customers may find the concept intrusive. Marketers will know everything about a customer’s day to day habits, and this raises more concerns around the subject of privacy and security. Is our data going to be monitored constantly, and what information will be used? For some, they will welcome and understand the exchange of their data with brands, and enjoy receiving specific offers. But for others this will be too invasive. It will be important for marketers to incentivize customers to share their data and present clear benefits to the user.