Friday, October 21, 2011

Monday, February 15, 2010

I gave my valentine a "StarKiss"

It was a fun experience although she did not enjoy it, said it felt like an old people kiss :( I loved the experience and the idea of a NEW type of a kiss after - Butterfly kiss, Eskimo kiss, Khumani kiss (after our dog) and so on...

I must say I was inspired but the StarKist advertisement that was such a let down!

The company could have capitalized on the timing and the holiday but I hardly noticed any more than a few spots.

These are perfect opportunities for a brands to create consumer engagement and transcend into a cult.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Nuggets from Silverstein

Happy New Year to my readers! After a short hiatus I am back to writing and talking about my passion... BRANDS & PEOPLE.

A recent post in the WSJ caught my attention, from the author of Trading up, Treasure Hunt and now What Women Want... Here are some poignant thoughts.

Men typically:

1. Ignore the importance of emotional appeal. Senior male executives often rise to their leadership positions through manufacturing, finance, marketing or product development. They are rewarded and recognized for their ability to identify technical and functional benefits, but they often fail to realize that women buy goods for emotional benefits: How does this purchase make them feel, during the purchase experience and after? Do they feel wise, savvy, intelligent, cared for? Men, by contrast, develop habitual purchasing routines and buy most goods for replacement. This is why women's categories are characterized by ever-shortening fashion cycles while change rolls much more slowly through men's categories.

2. Cut price to build sales. When business slows, male executives will typically cut prices or create promotions to make up for a drop in sales, but this often has the opposite effect than the one desired. Women think of lower-priced goods and services as second rate and assume that the offerer has compromised on quality. Women are in the market every day, physically and online, and are more aware than men are of changes in offerings and shifts in pricing.

3. Don't change offerings from year to year. Executives will skimp on product development, making incremental improvements that are intended to bring short-term payback, rather than gain share over the long haul. They lengthen the product development cycle, making few changes in the product from season to season, and, as a result, have difficulty differentiating their products from those of their competitors and have little news to offer their customers. Women are far more interested than men in what's new, better and novel, and want to be delighted by innovation.

4. Make it pink. Male executives who have success with a product aimed at men, and are uncertain of what women really want, will offer a female version of their male-focused product, by making minor changes in size, shape, packaging, color or marketing strategy. But, because the product is not genuinely created to meet women's needs and challenges, female consumers immediately see through it and reject it.

5. Fail to differentiate. Unless they research and refine, companies find themselves blind to women's needs and dissatisfactions. They offer "me too" goods and wonder why they sit on the shelves.

6. Communicate clumsily. Marketing is often based on stereotypes rather than insight into the real problems women face . Sales and/or service delivery frequently fails to directly target segments of women and meet their needs exactly, finely, prescriptively.

7. Overlook the need for time-saving solutions. According to the BCG research, women identify their main challenge as how to manage time and create balance in their lives. Although men are gradually taking more responsibility at home, women still shoulder the majority of household and childcare tasks. They have, in effect, a job at work and a job at home, so they are constantly making choices and trade-offs and look for product and service solutions that help them make the most of their precious time. Although many products are marketed with the claims that they are designed to save time, bundle tasks and make life easier, few of them actually deliver on those promises.

8. Ignore the importance of community. A sense of community and empathy is lacking from most male-developed products and services. Personal connection and credibility are critically important to key service categories. One satisfied female customer will bring another nine or ten into the fold. Women spend as much time on the Internet now as they do watching television, and, unlike men, much of that time is given over to networking and connecting with others.

9. Forget design aesthetics. Women love color, but men tend to use a black and white palette. Women see every product purchase as a chance for adventure, learning and a way to bring excitement and flair into their lives. In most categories, men are focused on functionality, durability and price.

10. Underestimate the importance of love. Next to time, women place love as the most important aspect of their lives. Married women with children especially have the least time to express their love and, as a result, seek goods and services that let them say "I love you" with care, specificity and empathy.


Monday, December 14, 2009

'I think' & 'I feel' connundrum...

Stanford Knowledgebase published some recent finding into a study conducted in partnership with University of Illinois, Chicago about brand messages that empathize with the consumer through copy that contains, 'I think' and 'I feel'. They uncovered some interesting insights...

Men tune in when messages contain 'I think' while Women focus on the 'Feel' follow the link for details... Is "Thinking" or "Feeling" More Persuasive?

Friday, December 11, 2009

I could not believe it...

It sure sounds ridiculous, but I trust the analytical judgment of the investors? Eitherway, Now women can pee while standing.

I hope this is a joke in the woman's emancipation movement?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Mixed format advertising is amazing...

This old piece from Chiquita is apparently making a come back according to brandchannel.com the interesting mix of DRTV and an infomercial is both educational and catchy.



Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Chief Mythologist's view point

Devdutt Patnaik helps the Future Group understand the shoppers in India, their behaviors and habits.

This is an interesting talk on "the myths that mystify" posted on TED.

Also check an old related post - Mythology MUST influence brand strategy

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stupidity influenced

This may not be a huge surprise but stupidity loves company! Here is an example those who watched the show 'Jackass' were most likely to try repeating some of the actions they watched. The show had to caution audience against trying any parts of the show on their own and at home!

Is stupidity really contagious? If humor is lost in translation why isn't stupidity?

Now for the more critical part of this essay, how does a brand target the stupid? Or does the target find the the brand? I am quite sure those that qualify for The Darwin Awards very often don't need to know about them to act and qualify for them!

Sadly organizations too fall prey to being influenced by 'stupid', as much as I have loved Drucker I know Management is not always about doing the right things and leadership is not about doing things right!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The experience brand phenomenon!

V interesting article in Adage on "How Experiences Are Becoming the New Advertising" and brands like Red Bull, Virgin America, Uniqlo and Guinness Lead the Way!

Red Bull: Red Bull basically pioneered the experiential category. Not only did the brand rise to prominence by sponsoring alternative athletes and lifestyles, it went further by creating its own events, like Red Bull's Flugtag and even its own sports like Red Bull's Crashed Ice, which takes over old Quebec with a mix of hockey and motorcross. Even the brand's website has morphed into a blog, much like today's most popular publishers.

Camper: Most of us in the U.S. think of Camper as purely a comfortable yet stylish shoe brand. But the Spanish company is much more and pursues a brand ethos that's both traditional, cultural and fashion forward simultaneously. Proof: Casa Camper, stylish (but laid back) hotels in Barcelona and Berlin that embodies the brand's essence. Ditto for Camper Together which taps up and coming artists to create one-of-a-kind boutiques.

Guinness: Guinness may be 250 years old, but it's acting like a much, much younger marketer. The company has embraced experiential branding both literally and figuratively with its "It's Alive Inside" positioning. For its anniversary, Guinness offered up Remarkable Experiences, including a trip into space. It also released a pub-finder iPhone application with a social media twist. More impressively, the brand created the Guinness Storehouse, a seven-story building that functions as both museum and pub, that has now become one of Ireland's top tourist attractions. And, more recently, Guinness even wired up its rugby team with RFID tags (including balls and players) to capture a whole range of statistics about how fast, powerfully and effectively the game is played.

UNIQLO: Few companies have so used digital like Uniqlo to both build a brand and breakthrough to new consumers -- and on a truly global scale.The Japanese retailer surprises and delights consumers at every turn, whether through innovative iPhone applications, calendars, e-commerce, stylebooks and microsites. Uniqlo's experiential efforts not only express the brand, but reach new consumers who may live thousands of miles away from the nearest retail location.

Virgin America: Virgin America has gone further than most, ensuring that the experience is the marketing -- and advertising in many cases. The brand targeted tech-savvy consumers early on with its Red system entertainment console and in-flight WiFi. It showed off its dramatic interiors in promotions with Diggnation and YouTube celebrities; became an early adopter of Twitter for customer service; and reinforced its brand values through its simple booking engine on VirginAmerica.com. And now, for the holidays, Virgin America is partnering with Google to offer free WiFi for travelers.

Nike: Nike, of course, has been moving in this experiential direction for a few years. 'We're not in the business of keeping the media companies alive,'' Nike's Trevor Edwards told the New York Times in 2007. ''We're in the business of connecting with consumers.'' And so they have. The company continually earns kudos for consumer experience breakthroughs like Nike+, its online running community; the Human Race, a global running event; and more recently the Livestrong Chalkbot which enabled users to submit a text message that would be painted (digitally) on the route of the Tour de France.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Branding 'Sexiness'

This is a very powerful video, one with a strong personality and yes of course 'Sexiness'. Sensuality does not have boundaries and without doubt is PERSONAL not limited to someone else's evaluation, judgment or appreciation! - LIAISON



Powered by liaison-dangereuse.com

Now for another view on Shoppers

Segmentation is one of the fundamental building blocks of a marketing program and one of the first steps in presenting a brand with a relevant proposition to the target audience. Segmentation is not how brands perceive shoppers & consumers but how shoppers and consumers perceive themselves... There are obviously 10 ways from Tuesday to skin a cat and so also Segment the target shoppers & consumers.

Here is one shopper segmentation in light of the current economic recession from Decitica -

1. Steadfast Frugalists
2. Involuntary Penny-Pinchers
3. Pragmatic Spenders
4. Apathetic Materialists.


These categories were derived by analyzing the frequency, satisfaction and the self-efficacy associated with a variety of spending, purchase and consumption behaviors.

Steadfast Frugalists

Steadfast Frugalists are committed to self-restraint, engaging in prudence with unequivocal enthusiasm. They make up about one-fifth of the American consumers, representing all income and age groups.

"Marketers will find this group to be the most challenging, as they are the least brand loyal and most likely to discount marketing messages," notes Dr. Srinivas.

Eighty-percent of Steadfast Frugalists say the new behaviors they have adopted will likely stay with them for a long time. This is in contrast to twenty-four percent of Apathetic Materialists who feel this way.

Involuntary Penny-Pinchers

Involuntary Penny-Pinchers, about twenty-nine percent of the population, have been severely affected by the recession. They are mainly made up of households with less than $50,000 in income, with more women than men.

This segment has been forced to embrace thrift like never before. Presently, their actual behaviors do not differ widely from those of Steadfast Frugalists. Where they drastically diverge is in their aversion to expending effort in money-saving strategies. Only seventeen percent find buying store or generic labels to be satisfying, compared to fifty-nine percent of Steadfast Frugalists.

Also, the recession has had a heavy emotional impact on Involuntary Penny-Pinchers; they admit to being more scared (seventy-seven percent), stressed (eighty-one percent) and worried (eighty-seven percent) about the future than other groups.

Pragmatic Spenders

"Pragmatic Spenders are the most attractive group for marketers because of their higher spending power," says Dr. Val Srinivas. "While it is true that they have also curbed their spending, they are the most capable, both psychologically and financially, to willfully resurrect their past spending patterns," he added. This group comprises twenty-nine percent of consumers.

Income has blunted the effects of the recession on this segment. Only twenty-eight percent of Pragmatic Spenders feel the recession has changed what and how they will buy in the future, compared to fifty-five percent of Steadfast Frugalists.

Apathetic Materialists

Apathetic Materialists seem least changed by the recession. They have not embraced the new frugality to the same extent as others and get minimal satisfaction from such behaviors. Only about six percent in this group find price comparison to be satisfying, in contrast to eighty-five percent in the Steadfast Frugalists camp.

The Apathetic Materialists segment has more men (fifty-five percent) and younger consumers (seventy-two percent are below the age of forty). They are the least driven by price: only eight percent admit to being very focused on value compared to thirty percent of Pragmatic Spenders and fifty-two percent of Involuntary Penny-Pinchers.

In my opinion a lot of these segments are sheer common sense and a lot of creative copy in generating segment names that sound profound and titillating at the same time.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Top 10 tactics that make you buy

Retail marketing article on MSN's Money is interesting... Here are the tidbits

1. Location, location, location

In retailing, as in real estate, location is everything. The milk is at the back of the supermarket for the simple reason that you have to walk past everything in the shop to get to it. There's no dashing in and dashing out again. Instead there's enough time to remember that you also need dishwashing detergent, garbage bags and, oh yes, Tim Tams. The best layouts are designed to keep you moving and often follow a curving path (think of an IKEA store or your local Target). The effect is to have you "wander around".

2. Refer to rule one

While we're on the subject of location, it's no accident that small, incidental purchases are placed close to the cash registers. Magazines, chocolate bars, batteries … the kind of stuff you never remember unless it's staring you in the face. In the same way, lip glosses, scented candles, soaps, those little "comedy" books, key rings and the like will be placed tantalisingly near the counter of specialist shops. It makes it easier for you to say "oh, and this too, thanks". You'll also often see products classified as impulse buys placed at the ends of aisles, making them hard to miss.

3. Smells like teen spirit

Probably bigger in the US than it is here, scent can be used to create a buying ambience. The classic is coffee and freshly baked bread in supermarkets (try smelling either and not feeling hungry), but there have also been cases where sports stores have been scented to smell like locker rooms (supposedly to make you feel like an athlete).

4. My kind of sound

Next time you're shopping, close your eyes and listen to the tempo of the sounds being piped through the aisles. In a traditional department store, the music is likely to be soothing — aimed at slowing you down and encouraging you to linger over the merchandise. Supermarkets play those comfortable, easy hits that have you singing along and probably not sticking as closely to your shopping list as you should. Specialty stores will use music to reflect the kind of customer the retailer is targeting — young, funky boutiques play young, funky music (usually at ear-splitting levels).

5. Show me the money

Visual merchandising (a fancy name for displays) offers more ammunition. By putting items together in an attractive way, or, in the case of home stores, showing a room setting that allows you to imagine the items at your place, retailers are doing the hard work for you. So rather than buying the picture frame you went in the store for, you might buy three (they "group" so nicely) — and perhaps a rug, lamp and cushion to "tie the look together".

This kind of enticement begins with the glossy catalogues that stores now produce. No longer just a photographic show-through of a company's product, the catalogues are selling "see-yourself-here" lifestyle aspirations.

6. Look at me

To make you buy, the retailer has to get you to stop. The more you stop to look at attractive displays or interesting details or "bargain" signs, the more likely it is that extra stuff will find its way into your basket or trolley. To combat this, keep on walking — if it's that interesting, you can always go back later.

7. Shelf possessed

It's no accident that the most expensive items in a supermarket are placed at eye level (or that products aimed at kids are placed about three-feet from the ground). We see therefore we buy. It takes a savvy shopper to know that cheaper products are usually on the bottom shelves. Bend a little and save.

8. Twice as nice

How many times have you been seduced by the supermarket "multi-buy" or the shoe stores "two-for-one" offer? Using the words "two for one" instead of "50 percent off" have been shown to increase purchases by up to 150 percent! Apparently we feel we're getting value rather than simply getting something cheap. Ask yourself this: do you really need two?

9. Size does count

It's very hard to over-shop with a basket — space is at a premium — which is why some retailers push us towards trolleys. Your three-item shopping list — toothpaste, butter, tuna — looks very lonely in a huge trolley and it's hard to avoid the temptation to throw in extra products to keep them company. Before you know it, you've racked up a huge bill.

10. When trying has you buying

Clothes-shopping has many traps for the unwary. From the salesperson who tries to develop "a relationship" with you (so that you trust her judgement and will take her advice on additional purchases) to the little "extras" that are vital to making an outfit "work" — think jewellery, bag, shoes, scarf … and the list goes on. It also seems that simply trying something on can lead to a purchase. It's called "claiming ownership" and the logic goes that once you've had that coat on your back you'll feel less happy about putting it back on the rack. Nobody's suggesting you shouldn't try before you buy, but beware those possessive feelings.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

8 Guaranteed Ways To Kill Your Brand

As important as it is to work a strategy to develop a successful brand, it is important to know avoid the pot holes along the way. This was an interesting article from this morning's MediaPost, cant say I agree with everything 100% but it is not a bad start.

Here are some of the key points.

Myth #1 - Follow the leader

NB - You cannot fail for following the leader! Game Theory has proved the best fail proof strategy is "Monkey see monkey do"

Myth #2 - Better safe than sorry

NB - Test, Test, Test then Act! Better safe than fool hardy.

Myth #3 - Recessions are bad times to introduce new brands

Myth #4 - National brands are dead

Myth #5 - Value = price

Myth #6 - More SKUs = more market share

Myth #7 - Consumers are marketers

NB - Start with listening to Consumers, but marketer holds the controls

Myth #8 - The answers lie in research

NB - Start with research and end with research! Focus on the right questions not just right answers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Brand Magic

The article is no new news but a sheer reinforcement of concepts but the ideas are certainly on target. Top lines from the article:

1. Understand the "right brain" of your category.

Marketers always have a deep understanding of their category's "left brain," the numbers and functional benefits. The "right brain" attributes often are unexplored. What visual, sensorial and emotional benefits can your brand deliver and own that work together with your product's attributes to create an unbreakable bond that turns your consumers into brand enthusiasts?

2. Understand the sensorial and emotional palette of your audience.

A lot of research is still left-brain, Q&A-focused. To unveil the magic in your brand, using highly right-brained projective techniques like image sorts, drawing and writing can get at the more elusive sensorial and emotional attributes that are important to your consumer and relevant, meaningful and inspiring in your category.

3. Create a Visual Position.

Brand positions are often created in words, although people primarily experience brands visually. But ... a brand's packaging, advertising and overall presence in the world starts with visual symbolism, not words. And unlike our pets at home, who have heightened senses of smell and hearing, humans are primarily sight-driven. Seventy percent of our sense receptors are in our eyes, and 80% of what we learn about the world comes to us visually, yet most brands do not have a visual position that brings the written positioning and story to life.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Terminologies catching-up with Concepts

I was at the breakfast table and thinking of an ice breaking phrase for a conversation when I stumbled upon the thought of how terminology and concepts are out of sync. May be even a phase lag where terminology is playing catch-up with concepts!

Here is a classic example "Automobile", as an equipment and term enabled consumers to be 'mobile' without much physical exertion. For a few years now we don't even need to physically travel to be 'mobile' to get from Point A to Point B, participate in dialog, interact broadly beyond just sound. Devices like Mobile-Phones, Networking devices enable us to be in a new place ethereally in a matter of seconds and in many times multiple places simultaneously at the same time.

This gap creates the space for brands to establish metaphors and emotions for consumers to visualize and imagine the possibilities? The more vivid the images and greater the relevance the greater the likelihood of resonance!

You've got to love the simplicity!

Venky (Rao), Thanks again for the shot...


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Plan-Act-Prepare

Interesting article on Realities of idea diffusion and consumer idea adoption based on concepts from Moore's, Crossing the Chasm & Godin's 'Purple Cow', published by Beakdal.

Here are some real life examples from the article:

Car industry:

One example is the car industry, and companies like General Motors. If they had embraced this plan 5-10 years ago, then they would not have gone bankrupt.

Of course, there are always special cases, where you are creating niche products that go against the norm. But, they too have to change with the times. Even Ferrari is looking into creating more fuel-efficient cars. And cars like the 2010 Fisker Karma are showing the way.

"Web design" (which we need another word for)

The same goes for web design. Instead of a traditional website, your plan should now be to move your content to where people are. While doing that, you should embrace the social world and use your website as a hub (do this now, not tomorrow).

You should also still support the ‘old world' of websites and blogs. But, you should no longer spend any more time creating traditional websites.

Marketing & PR:

It is the same with marketing and PR. Plan for social news. Do social networks, support TV & magazines, and ignore print catalogs?


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Fair versus Equal

Back to the debate of tangibles? Yes, ofcourse!

I know not a lot of people have patience for this math mumbo-jumbo but here is where I was going with the concept. Brand and particularly in the service sector incentivize customers through promotions either to attract or retain them various strategies (popularly refered to as CRM-Customer Relationship Management, a glorified way of nurturing your customer). Even the best laid plans are often abused, the least attractive shoppers often endup with maximum gains and the loyalists miss the cream.

In a debate between fair and equal, the rewards are established fairly from the opint of view of the marketer but redeemed fairly from the point of view of the customer and consumer. Fair is intangible and is obviously a function of the point of view where as equality is tangible and independent of points of view.

So the fnudamental question in my mind was should a brand pursue fairness and run the risk of some very happy customers or equality and averaged happiness across the entire customer base? One option is to establish and offer equality through baseline brand attributes of service, quality, assortment while fairness in community causes. As for the rewards, let the experience be a reward in itself?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

'The Daily Prophet' from Harry Potter in real life???

This could be ground breaking for the traditional print media & communication world, video-in-print ads in select copies of "Entertainment Weekly".

  • The first-ever video advertisement will be published in a traditional paper magazine in September
  • Americhip, the developer of video-in-print (multi-sensory marketing), has also created magazine technology that appeals to various senses, including smell.
Fascinating piece in the BBC interview on - YouTube

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Let the brand evoke your senses

Came across an article on FastCompany - Smell This Tag: Olfactory Street Art

Scent is intrinsically tied to memory, and chances are the smell of grass in an underground subway stop would not only be a respite from the urban drag, but evoke memories that would be impossible to recreate with everyday spray paint.
Won't it be great if the so called retail theater were truly a sensory experience with all senses - Visual, Auditory, Olfactory, Taste & Touch... truly 'stimulated'?

Let's enable the shopper & the consumer to live vicariously through our brands!

Integrating culture into the brand's message

Fabulous ad, hits the IDEA home!!!



Venky, thanks for posting the link.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mental Floss - 18 Memorable Ad Questions

Interesting tag lines & slogans posted on Mental Floss, the comments have equally interesting additions...

1. Got milk?

2. Have you driven a Ford lately?

3. Can you hear me now?

4. Where do you want to go today?

5. Do you… Yahoo!?

6. Does she or doesn’t she?

7. Where’s the beef?

8. How do you spell relief?

9. Is it live, or is it Memorex?

10. This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?

11. Aren’t you glad you use Dial? Don’t you wish everyone did?

12. Did somebody say McDonalds?

13. What would you do for a Klondike bar?

14. How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie-Roll center of a Tootsie-Pop?

15. Doesn’t your dog deserve ALPO?

16. Fun anyone?

17. Wassup?!

18. Pardon me. Do you have any Grey Poupon?

from some of the comments posted to the blog...
American Express - Do You Know Me?
Sam Adams - Do you love beer?
What kind of man reads Playboy?
Why Ask Why? (Bud ‘Dry’)
What can Brown do for you?
Do you believe in magic? (McDonald’s)
Are you in good hands?
What’s in YOUR wallet?
Have you played Atari today?
Have you seen my XR-7?
What do you want on your Tombstone?
Southwest Airlines: wanna get away?
Who do you want to be today?
Are those Bugle Boy jeans you’re wearing?
Pepto-Bismol - Do you mind if we talk about…(whispered) diarrhea?
Do you Canoe?
Amex - What will you do?
Mom, do you ever get that…not so fresh feeling?
Do you know where your children are?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Underdog brands

Brands that start small as underdogs and evolve into a leader, how are they to handle the change in position?

Past couple elections around the world over the last year got me thinking about a challenge where a political party 'The brand', that played the role of an underdog one that was in minority, represented for the little guy suddenly wins elections and gets to the decision table grows in size and looses its identity as a small meek entity. Real life examples are the guerrilla organization, characterized as a terror group is now a legit party in power in Palestine. Barak Obama is running some of this same risk, promising nimble response to some of the economic problems is not running ever bigger size that slows things down, including lobbyists from every economic corner in the US into his government that he fought against.

What is a brand that has evolved from David into the Goliath to do? How is the brand to continue a successful relationship with its core consumers? Can the brand stay relevant to the cause? Do principles of creative destruction apply to such a scenario?



Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mythology MUST influence brand strategy

This is ABSOLUTELY THE MOST FASCINATING AND VISIONARY IDEA in retailing! Cheers to Mr. Biyani and his team for their bold and ever so bohemian stance. For a developing country like India religion is a a very strong element of who the people are.

"You need science to validate art. But without art, science has no meaning. As CEO, you must keep Kama (creative spirit) and Yama (control) in proper and constant balance in your firm."

Greek mythology (which Western management gurus and motivational speakers heavily borrow from) won't work in India for two reasons: first, Greek myths center on a single character and adulate individual heroism (Heracles, Odysseus, Achilles, etc). Second, they promote absolute values (good vs. bad). But Hindu myths like Ramayana are cast with multiple heroes and imbued with relative values (e.g., Hinduism considers a bad action acceptable if animated by a good intention). In the highly diverse and complex Indian society, internal and external marketing stories won't sink in unless they embody "collective heroism" and non-Manichean values.
  1. "Whole brain" marketing and communication techniques that combine both art (gut feeling, sociology, and even mythology) and science (analytics, business processes) are key for shaping new markets and keeping employees engaged.
  2. As Western companies go after global markets that are increasingly complex and diverse , US and European firms must adopt and adapt stories from Indian mythology to inspire and engage customers and employees
A very interesting and engaging management conversation for sure and given Future Group's success in India, as a marketer I thinking an equally engaging marketing strategy!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Retailers may be waking up to the difference between Shoppers & Consumers?

Someone is warming up to the SHOPPERS while keeping the CONSUMER equity... ITS NEVER TOO LATE! Interesting article in the WSJ this morning - Teen Stores Cater to the Ones With Money

Retailers Keep Parents in Mind

  • Wide aisles so that parents with strollers can easily navigate the store
  • Longer display tables with items folded neatly and stacked in size order to facilitate browsing
  • Wholesome imaging behind the counter to project a family-friendly brand
  • Bright lighting so that parents can easily see the merchandise (also, not pictures, but a moderate level of music, which is lowered around back-to-school times when the company knows it will have more parents in the stores)
  • More cash registers in the middle of the store to help parents make purchases faster
One thing to remember, Moms and Dads are the ones that pay for the shopping and they DESERVE the respect, they need to be PLEASED as much as the consumer!

PKN goes viral

A very interesting MIN-MAX concept in communicating (Minimum content, Maximum Impact), 20 slides x 20 seconds per slide. The concept is amazing drives you to the brink of creativity and forces diligence by including only those visuals that are absolutely needed.

Pecha Kucha - is Japanese for chit-chat (WIKI about the idea)

Everyone needs an elevator pitch, PK is the elevator pitch or a one pager for the communicator!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What is Neuromarketing?

From FastCompany - Neuromarketing Hope and Hype

Picture 2

Neuromarketing is the practice of using technology to measure brain activity in consumer subjects in order to inform the development of products and communications--really to inform the brand's 4Ps. The premise is that consumer buying decisions are made in split seconds in the subconscious, emotional part of the brain and that by understanding what we like, don't like, want, fear, are bored by, etc. as indicated by our brain's reactions to brand stimuli, marketers can design products and communications to better meet "unmet" market needs, connect and drive "the buy".

It is commonly accepted that traditional market research is flawed because consumers don't know, can't articulate, or will even lie in a focus group about their purchase motivations. Neuromarketing research removes subjectivity and ambiguity by going right to measuring observable brain behavior. Respondent attention level, emotional engagement and memory storage are common metrics.

Who else but Walter Landor...

"Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind."

- Walter Landor

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wells Fargo - Brand Gaps!!

It is a scary world when you have to talk to a service brand where the ingredients of the brand (the very people that make up the brand) say things like "I don't know what he/she may have said... ", Finger pointing and Evasive talk for those people who represent the brand is a poor reflection on the brand whether it is the CEO speaking or the Janitor!

Had a terrible experience with Wells Fargo... As a consumer I am doing business with Wells Fargo (the service brand) and not the individual I am on the phone with or across the counter from a representative of Wells Fargo, and I don't care if it is Joe Anybody? I expect the same integrity, commitment and service from the rank and file as I do with the first individual I run into that represents the brand to me, 'the consumer'.

Here are a few tid-bits:

  • Employees representing the service side of a brand MUST OWN UP!
  • The fault of an individual element of a brand is a FAULT ON THE PART OF THE BRAND!
  • Everyone that works for the enterprise (service brand) IS THE BRAND!
  • Every employee of the organization, every individual acting on behalf of the organization IS THE BRAND!
  • Sales is a continuous process, FAIL ME ONCE AND YOU LOSE THE CONSUMER FOREVER!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Is anything permanent?

This is a very philosophical question "Is anything permanent?" and I believe there are some things that can be. I was thinking about this recently during an engagement, a typical brand strategy project and why a brand deserves to exist and thrive. In a cluttered world why should a product that does roughly the same thing as many others even survive?

I started with first principle...
- What do products need to survive? Customers.
- What attracts customers? Brands.
- Why brands? Brands give people a reason beyond a product
- What kind of a reason? A unique thought, a special place in the mind, an unequivocal emotion!

So in essence as long as emotions exist products survive. Said differently things can be permanent as long as the unique emotion is tied and implicitly associated with the brand the products will last.

A classic example are empires like India, China, Rome, Egypt, etc. came and went but religions and philosophies like Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, etc. have out lasted generations. Abstract concepts outlive time and space!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Five leading consumer trends for 2009 from Mintel

From Mintel's news posting, are the five leading consumer trends Mintel identified for the rest of 2009 - TRUST, CONTROL, SIMPLICITY, PLAYFULNESS, TRADING UP/DOWN/OVER

Trust
Trust is a paramount concern in 2009, as banks, food manufacturers and government officials suffer from losing people’s trust. In the US, 66% of adults say they have less trust in financial services companies because of recent economic developments. Food companies are at risk too: six in 10 Americans worry about food safety.

In the UK, loss of trust in financial institutions is understandable, but brands are also fighting to establish themselves as trustworthy. Trust is key to keeping customer loyalty because people are seeking out cheaper private label options: Mintel research shows 39% of Brits on a budget look to switch to private label.

Control
When the financial bottom dropped out last year, already-choosy consumers found another reason to grasp for control—security. A Mintel survey of US mass affluent adults shows two in five saying they intend to permanently spend less and decrease their reliance on credit cards, thus increasing control over their finances. Likewise, in the UK, as many as 6 million Brits (13%) intend to increase their savings in the next year or so, while a further 3 million people (6%) who are not current savers intend to start saving soon.

“We see new values taking hold as people adapt to today’s tighter economy. Conservative and pragmatic are in; excess is out. Consumers feel pessimistic about the future, so they’re taking cautious steps to ensure their safety and happiness now,” comments Harry Foster.

Playfulness
Despite negative feelings about the economy and pressure to cut back, people still want to enjoy themselves. In the US, three in five people say they traveled domestically in the past year; but to save money, more travelers visit friends or family, spend time looking for travel bargains or choose cheap transportation.

Additionally, helping people achieve the balance between necessity and pleasure, global manufacturers have been releasing quirky, light-hearted new products*. Today, playfulness offers people a way to escape, engage and build relationships with brands.

Simplicity
In work and play alike, consumers around the world continue seeking simplicity. More than two-thirds of Americans recently told Mintel they’ve been simplifying their lives over the past six months, while nearly nine in 10 think there is “too much emphasis on material things in our society.”

Manufacturers have followed suit globally, launching more products that appease people’s desire for clear functionality, clean ingredient labels and simple packaging. Restaurants, too, have caught onto this trend by offering all-inclusive meal deals that tell people exactly what they’ll get for their money.

Trading down, up and over
Trying to save where they can, consumers continue trading down across spending opportunities. Eight in 10 Americans say they’re cooking at home more now, while a full 52% admit to spending less at restaurants this year than last. Meanwhile, some 54% of Brits are buying more food on special offers, while more than a third (36%) are trading down to budget private label brands.

With so much trading down, however, many consumers also trade up in some instances to reward themselves. Small luxuries such as fine chocolate or perfume are a common treat, while other shoppers purchase gourmet food at the grocery store because it’s still more affordable than eating out.

Mintel analyzes consumer trends annually, pinpointing those with the greatest impact on behavior and beliefs. Watch for Mintel’s 2010 trend predictions later this year.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Generation gaps in selling

I had a conversation recently about sellers and consumers. Sellers usually end up being older (age) and the buyers range across generations. The gap is addressed on consumer packaged brands through brand architecture in order to adapt positioning by generation but service brands have a tough time. Mainly because concepts of brand architecture driven strategy has not crystallized in the sector compounded by the success metrics that are more often focused on revenues versus sustained long term profits

Here are some examples we discussed. Grocery stores want more and more guests to visit even if it is for a minuscule share of requirements, which means could be simply cherry picking. Restaurants want patrons to visit and eat without realizing the life time value may be marginal. Private schools want to attract families even if they are high maintenance resulting in a lot of nonproductive time investment on the part of the teachers and the administrative staff.

The truth is who does not what growth? Even if it is just revenues that may not be profitable long term? Patrons, guests and consumers don't have a label that would help institutions filter them out, so how is an organization to evaluate its customers fit? Organizations have addressed these opportunities over time some have been strategic while others have learnt through mistakes. here is what has worked...

Leadership is critical because an organization needs to be able to walk away from business if there is not strategic long term benefit! Instituting a consumer and customer centricity in the brand is a must and lastly Measurement of the cost of acquiring and maintaining a customer and consumer.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Online Advertising on Par with TV

Interesting results from comScore & dunnhumbyUSA. Particularly given the cost of Interactive marketing as compared to traditional Media and the over abundance of supply.

Offline Sales Lift from CPG Brand Advertising
Comparison Between TV and Internet
Total U.S.
Source: Information Resources, Inc. and comScore, Inc.
TV (IRI) Internet (comScore)
Sales Lift +8% over 12 months +9% over 3 months
Percent of Campaigns Showing Statistically Significant Lift 36% 80%
(Table from comScore Press release of Aug, 17th)

Google had performed a similar study in '08 in partnership with Harris Interactive with similar results.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The balancing act

When does inspiration change to temptation? Brand and marketing organization I work with are often sitting on the this edge making a choice between being inspired by a successful brand or even brands that have pulled a one off punch. This year has seen a disproportionate number of brands barking up the "Compare & Save", "Taste & Performance test", "Blind test", etc. trees.

The tough part is this transformation from inspiration to temptation is very subtle one that is driven by inertia from a critical threshold of marketers and executives simultaneously impressed by the competitors tactic creating a geometric escalation from inspiration to temptation.

When inspiration transforms into temptation brands run the risk of being "me too"! There is nothing worse than a "Monkey see-Monkey do" brand especially since the tactic progressively gets less effective but more importantly erodes defining identity and equity of the brand!

It is interesting brands don't have to do a whole lot different to combat this affliction... objectivity in evaluating competitors is a priority, a portfolio approach to tactics and finally consolidation of the basics - positioning, segmentation and targeting.

I agree responding to competitors is important but at times taking the high ground and not responding to such tactics can be the difference between a brand leader and followers.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Two interesting articles in one day....

Bringing the CMO and CTO together is an excellent opportunity! The only this morning's article "The Great Divide", lacked was the fact that it completely excludes the Marketing point of view? Here are some interesting thoughts I discovered...

While both the CMO & CTO share high-level goals, their priorities differ. Marketers find flexibility and agility most important, while IT execs value stability and continuity.

1. Allow IT to experiment.
2. Give IT a stake in marketing.
3. Let marketers tinker with technology.
4. Mix things up. Systems work better when IT and Marketing work in the same room and share responsibility for uptime.
The CMO's Role in a Customer-Centric Organization - I have been interested in Jay Galbraith's work on organization design for a while (I own and have read all the books he has written), his article in AdAge this morning is very exciting. Here are some nuggets:
"How customer-centric do we need to be?"; At the center of these challenges is the role of the chief marketing officer -- the person who needs to deliver thought leadership, lead the strategy debate and reorganization, and then integrate the various marketing types into a company-wide, customer-centric orientation.

The need for strong thought leadership begins by defining customer centricity. This task is more difficult than simply establishing a company lexicon.

many product-centric companies think that they are customer-centric; They drive their product-development process with customer insights. They use ergonomic and anthropological studies to guide product design. They test the design on focus groups and user groups. They measure customer satisfaction and so on. But at the end of the day, they are still product-centric. Why? Because they are trying to reach as many customers as possible for their product. Their metric is market share and customer retention.

A customer-centric business tries to find as many products and services as possible for the customer. They create solutions and experiences for their customers.

Solutions require customer insight and knowledge in order to create value for the customer segment. In general, the larger the solution -- the more products and services that are combined -- the greater the amount of customer insights and knowledge needed to create that solution.

The CMO's role? To be the thought leader who defines customer centricity and determines if the company is product-centric or customer-centric; The role of the CMO is one of generating and implementing cross-category solutions. The CMO needs to build and establish a robust insight-development process throughout the company to drive the development of solutions. Finally, the CMO will need to bring the brand architecture framework to bear. The CMO needs to have the leadership skills to manage this company-wide community. The CMO typically runs the marketing councils for the company.

Monday, August 24, 2009

all ROUND Engagement with Pampers...

I was hoping to go for a double entendre, but I am not a copy writer... Thank God!


"A Parent Is Born" is a docu-drama series following a real couple, Suzie and Steve, along their path to parenthood. The series captures the range of challenges, fears, excitement and joys that come with having your first child. The episodes are 4-5 minutes in length and will live on the recently redeveloped Pampers Village Web site, which continues to offer new content and features to delight current parents and parents-to-be where they live, work and play. "A Parent is Born" is an honest, entertaining, portrayal of a couple's amazing journey from the 15th week of pregnancy through the first month post birth.

"Pampers understands there are experiences to be faced long before the baby even comes," said Jodi Allen North American vice president and general manager for Pampers. "The 'A Parent is Born' series is an authentic look at the joy and excitement, as well as the challenges and fears that go along with becoming a parent. We are excited to enhance the Pampers Village Web site and provide consumers with compelling video content that not only informs new parents-to-be, but also provides some nostalgic moments for parents looking back at their own journeys."

"A Parent is Born" 12-part docu-drama video series debuts on www.pampers.com on Aug. 24. Not a new strategy for either Pampers, P&G or most brands but the concept is great in targeting the prospect when she is anxious and prime.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What Does Engagement Really Mean?

I am currently involved with a project in better understanding the concept of "ENGAGEMENT". This MediaPost Blog: Engage:Hispanics, is a summarization of current work publicly being discussed.

Forrester Research's definition of ENGAGEMENT:

Engagement is measured as the level of involvement, interaction, intimacy and influence a customer has for or with a brand over time.

Metrics:

  • Involvement tracks site visitors, time spent, page views, reach, frequency, media impressions, etc.
  • Interaction measures the contributions to blogs, content creation and uploads, and purchases.
  • Intimacy monitors consumer attitudes, perceptions and feelings about a brand through surveys, service calls and brand studies.
  • Influence measures the likelihood that consumers will recommend or advocate products or brands. Summarized well with gauges such as Net Promoter Indexes (NPi), brand affinities, etc.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Google Wonder Wheel

Creativity has been big business! Back when I was with a large global CPG company I even remember one exec asking me to organize for a consistent creative breakthrough... I cant say we were super successful but we certainly we delivered, using something similar to the Google Wonderwheel. Our tools were a lot simpler - The Visual Thesaurus.

A recent video posted on Stanford University's eCorner has additional insights for Creativity and Incremental innovation - What is Creativity?

Google Wonderwheel - Consumer Insights

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Breaking retail's addiction to discounting

It is easier said than done - "Breaking retail's addiction to discounting"! Its not just lack of leadership it is often lack of common sense. Retail has dug its own grave training shoppers and consumers to shop on deals and leadership in retail is often short-sighted without deep understanding of brands and engagement with shoppers inside the store.

Kate Newlin puts forth some interesting points (her example is not new and neither are her points, they are from her 2006 book - Shopportunity):

1. If we're a clothing retailer, we have to hire fashionista/passionistas.
A genuine passionista (of whatever retail genre) is excited about the merchandise not because they're told to be, but because they are excited by it. How can you tell? One of the aspects of finding passionistas is that their avocation is also their vocation.

2. We have to brand the experience, differentiating on elements of style and design.
The most salient emotional benefit of shopping is to feel "lucky," as women describe it over and over. Knowing that feeling lucky is the emotion women desire from a great shopping experience, we can empathize with retailers who try resort to the short cut of price promotion, which surely can elicit the "lucky" response. However, it's those folks who work harder and more creatively to prompt the "I'm lucky I found it" reaction through enhanced shopping experiences who win social as well as financial capital.

3. We have to change the tone, acknowledging that the customer knows the economy is in free-fall.
What customers want is to have a unique proposition. When we bother to do that through service and support or any of a hundred valid means, we automatically de-average price.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Packaging the sixth sense"

The Times article refers to an article published in the Journal of Marketing that studied consumers and interaction with product packages.

"When buying products whose selling point is richness or weight, consumers like to see the product image at the bottom or the right of the packaging"

"products that are supposed to be healthy or light — like low-calorie cookies or hand-held video cameras — do better with images at the top of the packaging, or on the left"
Credits to Ernst Dichter for the title of this article. Ernst published a book by the same name in 1975.

Strengthen a Brand Community

Awesome article from Bandchannel.com - Four Opportunities to Strengthen a Brand Community. The best part of the article is the fact that the four opportunities are not limited to "Online" since most engagement models are technology centric. Here are the top lines:

Needs in Tension Reveal Hidden Opportunities
Keep it..
- practical (get help to get things done)
- emotional (express devotion to my group)
- individual (explore different parts of my identity)
- social (raise the quality of my interactions)

Sustain Passions while Managing Responsibilities
Joining a community is often a means to pursue a hobby or interest
- Paradoxically, the more a community succeeds at providing members multiple ways to engage, the more it increases the potential conflict between spending time with the community and the need to manage responsibilities such as family and career.
- Strong communities head off these issues by providing opportunities to include the family and by making it easy for members to manage their involvement without feeling guilty.

Deepen Experience and Explore New Challenges
Some of the most tangible benefits communities offer are opportunities to deepen knowledge and gain expertise.
- The more the brand enables members to explore their shared passion, the stronger the ties to the community become.

Be an Individual and Part of Something Bigger
Individuals often join communities to test out or develop different aspects of their identities.
- Affiliating with a like-minded group is a good way to explore ideals and decide if they’re really for you.
- Marketing experts have taught us that the best way to do this is by developing a strong brand identity: define a relevant set of values and express them clearly and consistently to attract a loyal following. While this formula works well for attraction, it can be limiting in terms of retention. The very clarity and consistency that build a strong brand can feel confining to those already involved and lead to a desire for escape.

Enjoy Today while Preparing for the Future
The tension between immediate gratification and future rewards has plagued humans for thousands of years. It shows up in every aspect of our lives, and the community sphere is no different.
- Involvement in the community can feel like a distraction or like an impediment to getting on with the serious business of real life.

Discovering these opportunities requires listening to constituents, asking questions and, often, digging beneath the surface to unearth hidden conflicts. Passionate community members are eager to co-create, and engaging people in strengthening their own community is always a winning strategy.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Change Is Hardest in the Middle

Interesting post on the Harvard Publishing Blog - from the Change Master Rosabeth Kanter. I had an opportunity to present on the topic of Organizational Change to a client and when I read this post, I could not resist by post a slide from my presentation.
Kanter's stages and suggestions align with mine:

Tune into the environment. What has changed since you began the initiative? Do the original assumptions hold? Is the need still there?
Check the vision. Does the idea still feel inspiring? Is it big enough to make extra efforts worthwhile?
Test support. Are supporters still enthusiastic about the mission? Will new partners join the initiative?
Examine progress. Have promises been kept and milestones passed? Are there early indicators, tangible demonstrations, that this could succeed? Can the next wave of results sustain supporters and silence critics?
Search for synergies. Can the project work well with other activities? Can it be enhanced by alliances?
I agree with Kanter on the fact that:
Those who master change persist and persevere. They have stamina. They are flexible. They expect obstacles on the road to success and celebrate each milestone. They keep arguing for what matters. And who knows what might happen? Persistence could keep innovations alive, convince companies to avoid draconian cuts, influence hiring managers to take a second look, or even persuade local politicians to save the city zoo.

Online engagement...

I am an avid GOOGLER, I know what you are thinking? Yes, I searched for the word and found a colloquial English instance of the word. One that means a "regular habitual user of the Google Search Engine", the second one does not apply to me.

Google fascinates me in how it not just organizes data and translates it into knowledge for users like myself but adds to the overall process of creating awareness through fun and exciting tid-bits of visuals. Take for instance the Google logos -


The birth date of Hans Christen Orsted would have been the last thing on my mind this morning but the fun fact gave me a reason to spend additional time on the site, add to the search traffic on Google and visit Wikipedia (not associated with Google) to read up on Orsted's contributions to electro-magnetism, etc. Yesterday it was the Meteor shower and so on.

I know of a very short list of ubiquitous and structured organizers of data and knowledge, starting with Dmitri Mendeleev the developer of the periodic table, Melvil Dewey the developer of the Dewey Decimal library classification system and now Google. Obviously the value addition from Google far exceeds those of Mendeleev and Dewey given the reach and penetration of the internet across the globe and generations today.

Whats most interesting is the subtle yet fun ways the Google engages with the user community giving them reason to spend ever more time on their site as Brand Google aspires to organize knowledge and create wisdom!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Creative logos and subliminal messages

Ernst Dichter was the first recorded psychoanalyst proposing metaphors to communicate brand and marketing messages. Since logos are the visual side of the brand they offer the opportunity for various hidden messages about the brand, I just came across an old post on the Graphic Design Blog:

Body Wisdom

It is a logo design for a high end day spa… the hands effectively convey relaxing massage integrated with the proximity of the “owl eyes” to clearly say “wisdom”.

Forkwire Logo

Designer - Bojan Stefanovic

Being an Online Food Delivery service, its logo shows a fork formed into an @ symbol! Such a easy logo to remember.


...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Communicating a story to drive towards a meaning

Cheers to Clive Wilkinson Architects, for a beautiful video on the new JWT office in New York.

Specific meaning needs a specific story, without context stories run the risk of selective perception!

This video on YouTube does a fabulous job of connecting the dots. Unfortunately not everyone who visits the JWT offices will have watched this video to understand the metaphor of the tree constructed into the design of the building.

The question is does an artist art that communicates the meaning by the time it translates into a design or in this chase an architecture?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Why are the supers always fighting for something?

We have all read stories of all the supers - Superman, Supergirl, Spiderman, Robin, Phantom, etc. They are always fighting for something? What is with all the fighting? Why can't they just negotiate through dialog? Isn't there an easy way to communicate and present their proposition? And what about the brands they endorse? Do the brands needs to fight those battles too?

I know the brands are always trying to get across to the consumer and in the process "fight" with the competitors for market share. The anecdotal fight is about gaining the consumers purchase, consumption and possible loyalty all for pricing, the value addition, the difference they deliver. There cant be a negotiation not because the other guy is bad or wont "fight" a fair fight of sorts but any dialog would be considered and treated as market collusion.

I recently came across a retailers add with a 'super' fighting for savings for the shoppers and I wondered who is this super fighting against the manufacturers of brands, other retailers or the merchandisers and management that needs to deliver the profit targets. The primal issue to me is who (which consumer) is this super talking to? I have never been asked by any super what I would like? May be I don't want savings but improved quality of service even if that means a higher price.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Neuromarketing gaining interest

With growing regulatory restrictions in multiple categories, fragmentation of media, insights into the working of the brain and consumer behavior in-store, Neuromarketing is gain greater favor every day.

Martin Lindstrom added an element of flair to the subject with his book Buyology.

Since upward of 70% of purchase decisions happen at shelf, packaging design and messages inside the trade channels are the perfect candidate to leverage subtle Orwellian, neuromarketing stimulus. Here is another interesting article with valuable insights into neuromarketing as an influencer in package design.

The implicit power of packaging