Monday, February 27, 2006

Outdoor Advertising: Schweppes in Europe

An innovative method of outdoor Advertising in Europe by Schweppes - placing Schweppes bottles in lakes and fountains.
Created by Duval Guillaume’s Antwerp, the campaign would include fountains across European countries placing Schweppes Bottles “illustrating the product's sparkling effervescence”

Since Europe is well known for its scenic features, such a campaign would definitely get high visibility. More so, the popularity of the “Indian Tonic” brand reflects in its sales in Europe. According to the official website, Schweppes sells enough soft drinks in Europe to fill over 4,000 average sized swimming pools every year!

Great idea for a transparent carbonated drink for sure. An idea to chew on definitely….
[via Adrants and Adverblog]

A comprehensive background about the brand is given on the website of Cadbury Schweppes (Schweppes merged with the Cadbury Group Ltd in 1969)

I specially wanted to mention this, since the inventor of Schweppes, Jacob Schweppe, is considered to be the father of the modern carbonated soft drinks industry. According to the website, He was the first to produce carbonated mineral water on a commercial scale
The Indian Tonic water is one of the most well known flavors of Schweppes out of its product line of over 50 flavors.

How did it get its ‘Indian’ name? According to the fact sheet on the website, British people in India used to take quinine, as a preventative for malaria, in the form of a drink with flavours and often spirits, including gin. They came to like the combination and continued to drink the beverage on their return to England. The drink's association with India remained and became known as Indian Tonic Water in many countries.

Another feature of the brand which makes it so popular is the shape of the bottles.

The “egg-shaped” shape of the bottles was a recent change brought about almost 2 years back. This bottling was so well received that it won the manufacturer the Shine Awards in 2003 for its egg-shaped bottles!

Application? I think this idea can be very well built upon in India as well, with so many artificial waterfalls and open outlet pipes . If nothing, they could definitely do some social good to the society.. just simple loud thinking!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Marketing to Women: More Hits and Misses!

I have earlier talked about various segments of Women Consumers: Women in the IT sector, women aged between 35-45 years and "Can you lose sales in two words?" from Women.

Let me take it a step further and delve into specific consumer mindsets. I managed to read a few articles on Women Consumers – some dos and don’ts and certain imperatives for Marketing to Women. Let me first talk from a generic perspective for Women and highlight key findings of certain research reports and then subsequently, cite certain peculiarities with respect to the Indian mindset and Consumer attitude.

Pre-school days - Relational Aggression
[via adweek]
At a time where I hear a lot about "pecking order”, there is one more aspect I read about, relating to Women psychology – “Relational aggression” – something which is very high on their pecking order since childhood days! According to a research conducted at Brigham Young University, pre-schoolers regularly practice what is called as “relational aggression” – defined as “harming others through purposeful manipulation and damage to relationships

Exclusionary behavior and threatening to withdraw friendship are two prime examples of relational aggression,” according to a BYU summary of the study, which examined how pre-schoolers regard their peers. “Research indicates that this behavior is the preferred type of aggression among girls.”
This is a key element to study, since this potential could be tapped into marketing elements for girls, right from their pre-school days to their business environment. The research extends to predict that mean pre-school girls will be well-suited to ad-agency life when they grow up: “They are good resource controllers, socially skilled, popular, conscientious and socially integrated, and yet are among the most aggressive, dominant and arrogant children in the peer group. It is this bi-strategic mix of positive and negative behavior that allows them to maintain their standing in the social hierarchy.”

Are there any particulars for Advertising to this group?

According to an article in Businessweek Online, the art of advertising to women is still unclear to most of the marketers. Incorrect communication, misinterpretation and conventional promotion lines are the norms of the day, which hasn’t been working with their consumers – women!

Citing an example of Jansport, which has a positioning line of “Nothing on this page will boost your self-esteem or help you find true love”, the publishers have criticized the Ad for being arrogant and insensitive.
It is a classic example of misuse of Research – “Boys and self-esteem are two top priorities for girls” is what research says, but simply mocking this and indifferently applying it does not mean that women would stand up and notice it. It simply indicates that simple cut-paste does not work!
Respect, care and compassion are critical elements which also need to be added to every communication that goes to the fairer sex!
The predicted response from the target audience would be “personal negative experience” leading to immediate disassociation with the ad.
Solution? The authors beautifully compare the Ads for them with dates. The Ads should communicate in a manner similar to impressive picking lines for them.
Food for thought, definitely! ;-)
[via Adjab]

An excellent 12-minute video on Marketing to Women, presented by Mary Charleson, President of Charleson Communications, reveals certain critical elements of Women Consumer Behavior.
To start with, research shows that women buy or influence over 85% of all the purchases across households. This reinforces the criticality of such studies and their applicability in the Marketing domain.

Primarily, their buyng behavior is influenced by stress and work life balance, which implies that there is little that they would do, which contradicts this belief. On the other hand, products and services that are on the lines of stress busters would be preferred anytime.
The video cites an example – Coffee. Coffee marketed as stress buster is highly effective with women, since it represents their “down time” throughout their round-the-clock schedule. The latest Ad for Nescafe “Reach out” takes special note of this “stress buster” factor.

Again, on a specific note, women under 25 are twice as likely to be stressed as compared to men. If there is any element of stress involved in the usability or accessibility of the product, it is unlikely that they would prefer to buy your product. This explains the “simplicity” tag being used lately by most of the electronics majors. The “sense and simplicity” campaign by Phillips reiterates this finding.

Experiential Marketing
Shopping experiences? The POS setup and shopping convenience makes a difference in the shopping habits of women consumers. For instance, “women with babies” is identified as an altogether different consumer group and offerings and retail outlets are customized for this group specifically, to accommodate the strolers and the babies.

Again, the article reiterates the importance of “ambience” and “experience” at the retail outlets - the store design and the ambience are essential elements of a purchase cycle for most of the women . They consider aesthetic sense as a primary determinant of any outlet, which reflects in its offerings and services. Thus, when it comes to women shoppers, we need to move into an entirely “experiential system” and environment.

Women at Workplace
A recent email survey by the West Shore Chamber of Commerce's new Women in Business Roundtable stated that the top three issues facing local businesswomen are workplace equity, balancing their personal and professional lives and getting respect. To top it all, it is a proven fact that women try and excel in everything they put their hands into, primarily because self-esteem is one of the top 2 priorities on their list!

Indian Scenario
How does all of this fit into the Indian context?
Ms Indira Parekh (IIM Ahmedabad) and Ms Bharti Kollan have discussed about Women Entrepreneurs and their evolution with time in one of their published papers. Right from the enthusiastic neophytes in the 50s to the role models of 90s, to confident businesswomen of the 21st century, the paper beautifully covers the various learnings garnered along the way

As is reiterated in a nice write-up on Indian Businesswomen, there is an implicit need for a sense of Independence along with a desire to do something meaningful with their time and to have their own identity instead of being associated with their families.

Broadly, the aspiration levels would be determined by their background - Women with a strong education and women without education both would have a different objective for doing business – the former primarily for self-esteem and the latter primarily for earning money.
It could be a simple contrast between Shahnaz Hussain/Indira Nooyi and Shakti Amma. Both the concepts allude to entrepreneurship. However, the objectives are completely different.

Most of the elements discussed above hold valid in the Indian context as well. A point of difference would be the “Experiential” element with respect to Indian women consumers. Price-sensitivity and family-consciousness are specific characterisitics of Indian women. For most of them, decision-making takes time.
In terms of customization at POS, this is something which is yet to gain maturity in the Indian Markets, but is something which definitely needs to be delved into subsequently.

So, be it Businesswomen earning money or be it women consumers spending money; be it young teenagers being aggressive or be it new mothers shopping with their babies; be it educated women looking for non-traditional ways of proving themselves or be it rural women seeking an identity in their community - women consumers undoubtedly have a multi-faceted role in any social setup. Tapping at every virtual touch point necessarily entails a different aspiration value, a different psychological factor, implyng a different marketing element to be used everytime.

Not an easy task for sure, but then who said women are simple to understand anyways! ;-)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Surrogate Advertising: Enforced Innovation

A recent series of hoardings led me to delve into a very unique trend specific to Indian advertising – Surrogate advertising… a trend which is fast catching up and has suddenly attracted a lot of innovative and creative brains around the country.

Reason? On one hand, the govt cannot allow public advertising of liquor companies. But ironically, liquor and cigarette sales are the biggest revenue generators in terms of taxes and duties on these items. That’s why an overt acceptance of the marketing in these sectors is not legally acceptable. This has led to one of the biggest ironies of the country – Sales of these items are not banned, yet advertising on the same has strictly been prohibited!

Talking about the market size and the different segments would not be pertinent to the discussion (for the records, it is more than 100 million cases in India!). But what is the significance of this trend vis-à-vis the entry points for new players and sustainability of existing ones?
Multinationals which would like to explore the Indian markets find the double-faced attitude of the government as an impediment to their ventures. Since no policy has been formalized in this regard, foreign companies continue to be skeptical about their entry.

Domestically, it has led to innovative ways and methods of spending on different media for Advertising from the companies, where companies do more of a brand building exercise than direct advertising. Be it promotions for brand building, or sponsoring events that can be mapped with the “showbiz” and “glamour” of the brand, advertisers don’t leave many avenues to enhance their visibility.

The rule says “Advertisements which lead to sale, consumption and promotion of liquor should not be allowed.” So, in Surrogate Marketing, a product which is different from the main product is advertised, and has the same brand name as the main product. The product is called as “surrogate” and advertising through this channel is called “Surrogate Advertising”!
It may include CDs, water, clothing, Apple juice, fashion accessories, sports goods or even events sponsoring!

These gimmicks, in turn, help the consumers build a strong equity of the parent brand, and with the enhanced visibility, the equity of the brand would definitely become higher!

Liquor companies were forced to look at innovative ways of building their brands. With an objective of enhancing brand recall, companies either engage into “surrogate advertising” or displaying “socially responsible messages”.

Again, out of the two viable options for Advertising, Surrogate Advertising has been surrounded by controversies and legalities for a long time. There is no clear policy from the government for obvious reasons and companies do not want to risk their investments on Ads, which might not be screened after a while.
So, a safer choice available where companies can exercise their grey cells is advertising “socially responsible” messages.

Take a look at these billboards which I noticed on a private flyover a few days back. There is also another print ad in continuation with the Johnnie Walker billboard.

Must say, this is one of the best elements of innovation that I have seen so far. Though it would be too premature to attribute this to the industry per se, it has become imperative for the companies to change their line of thought completely, to work around the system.

What are the other practices companies are looking at?
(a) Companies are getting involved in Sponsorships of events and have launched their own awards for bravery or lifetime achievements!
(b) Internet advertising has become a lucrative area which has so far not been delved into. The medium holds a lot of potential to enhance visibility, and companies have lately realized that.
(c) Catchy jingles have become the norm of the day to ensure that their brands have a high brand recall
(d) With restrictions in other marketing elements – in terms of pricing and distribution, companies have ventured into another important element – Packaging. Innovative packaging makes their brands stand out of the clutter, and most of the Multinationals are revisiting this element in their brand portfolio.

Though the industry is not healthy for the young consumers, some processes and laws need to be formalized and established in the system. Else, innovative workarounds and arm-twisting of laws would be the norm of the day for the entire liquor industry!

[Reference: Marketing Management Case Studies, ICFAI University, Banning Liquor Surrogate Advertising]

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Restructuring of Indian Firms - Brand Channel Paper

My Paper on "Restructuring of Indian Firms for catering to Emerging Markets" recently got published on Brand Channel.

Based on Corporate strategy, the paper talks about the strategy that Indian firms need to adopt in the changing business environment and the evolving dynamics of the Indian Markets.

Traditionally, the Indian businesses have been family-run businesses and conglomerates. They established the backbone of Indian business and have been the face of India Inc. in the Corporate World.

But with modern avenues to exercise, along with globalization, privatization and liberalization - the very definition of conglomerate needs to be redefined.

The global markets emphasize value adds, innovation, flexibility, excellence and customized products and services. The big question is whether the conglomerates should diversify into strengthening their internal functions or take a focused approach to establish and consolidate their markets.
In the published paper, we (I along with my colleague Saurabh) attempt to discuss the governing forces behind the decisions, an assessment of the decisions, and an orientation for the future. Looking ahead, we discuss the strategies Indian companies must employ if they decide to focus on core competencies.

Thanks Saurabh for the great effort!

The paper is available in the paper section of Brand Channel and the complete version (pdf version) can be downloaded from here.