Monday, October 23, 2006

Consumer Engagement - From Intrusive to Co-creation..

With rising consumer preferences, and emergence of more discerning consumers, marketers are revisiting their marketing and communication strategies.

Shaping up a consumer’s mindset no longer seems to be an effective mode. Instead, higher consumer involvement in the early stages of Marketing activities seems to be the mantra in the marketing world of the future.

In a recent article at imedia by Jim Nail, titled "The 4 Types of Engagement", the future of advertising has been mapped to the consumer’s decision making process. The author discusses the various kinds of engagement and their corresponding implications. A proposed model based on a level of engagement suggests disbanding the traditional model of AIDA (Attention Interest Desire Action) and incorporating Engagement Marketing instead.

The AIDA model prescribes getting attention of the consumer, arousing interest in your brand, creating a desire for it, ultimately leading to Action (purchase) towards the brand. Seems logical and effective; However, how and why does it no longer vibe with the marketers as such?

According to a brilliant post at Ageless Marketing, this sort of marketing is known as “Interruptive Marketing”, where one thinks in terms of intruding the consumer’s mind and taking control of his decision process. The trend of marketing needs to move from interruptive to engagement oriented. That is, rather than attempting an intrusion into the consumer’s mind, it has become imperative for the marketer to engage the consumer and co-create the product development and decision process with him. This would lead to a stronger relationship with the consumer, and help the marketers focus on a communication plan which is more consumer-oriented and has been worked based on the inputs of the consumers themselves.

As mentioned by David Wolfe, "Bilateralism versus unilateralism marks the differences between postmodern engagement marketing and modern interruptive marketing". Thus, a consumer needs to be more involved and engaged with the entire communication procedure not only to recall and repeat the communication, but also to live through the communication, to get engaged with the brand. This is possible, when the consumer “co-creates” the meaning of the brand and its elements.

Engagement, defined as turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context, involves a subtle, subconscious process in which consumers begin to combine the ad's messages with their own associations, affix symbols and decode metaphors to make the brand more personally relevant and palatable to the consumer. [Source:Imedia]

Interestingly, the research inferred that consumers engage with the ads at an emotional level first and then recall the ads, that is, the process of consumer purchase is “Feel, then Think, then Do”. Consumers process a lot of new information, including ads, on a subconscious, emotional level first, and later engage their rational mind to lead to action. So, a marketer should focus on raising stimulus to sensitize the consumer, to seduce the consumer, than provide fact-based push factors.

The 4 types of engagement cited in the article as part of Consumer Engagement are Media Engagement – Ad Engagement – Engagement Marketing and Brand Engagement.

Media engagement provides a context that can facilitate this engagement. The relative preference of one media over the other sets a platform, and engages a consumer to a particular set of media. The next step is to connect with the Advertisements, known as Ad Engagement, where the consumer relates to the ad and receives a personalized meaning out of it. Once the connect has been established, a stimulus must be provided to the ad to give it personal relevance. This is done through Engagement Marketing, which reactivates the associations and symbols at a time when the consumer is ready to move from the emotional, subconscious form of engagement to an active form.
The last step, Brand Engagement, ensures sustainability and loyalty towards the advertised Brand.
This happens when the messages and experiences blend into a combination culminating into a strong association with the brand per se, and not only the communication.

Impressive concept, and has more to do with the subconscious decision process of the consumer. Need to delve further to identify the stimulants and other support functions.

Interestingly, while I was looking for more material online on Engagement Marketing, I hit upon Communities Dominate Brands. Must admit, this blog is truly addictive, and if anyone wants to get a perspective on Engagement Marketing, and its nuances, this is undoubtedly THE place to spend some time on. Have a look and decide for yourself! ;) Definitely something I would refer to, in future discussions.

Did you get engaged with this post? or was this a consumer disconnect ;)?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Maggi (Romania) – If Women spent less time cooking..

It’s been a while since I wrote about something. Have a few pending subjects, but need to delve a bit more before I post them here.

For now, I read about this interesting campaign at Ad Punch by McCann Ericksson for their client Nestle Romania (Brand Maggi). . This campaign recently got shortlisted for the Golden Drums Awards 2006.

The theme of the campaign reads ‘if only women spent less time cooking’, and reflects the places women could reach, beyond the kitchen. Undoubtedly, very good execution, but the concept per se does not seem to be too appealing. For one, it reflects a strong gender stereotype. Though the creatives include popular male-dominated reflections like Godfather, Tarzan and Mount Rushmore, the “connect” is missing, somehow. How does spending less time in cooking relate to being Jane, or Godmother, or for that matter, the President of the United States?

However, all said and done, it does entail a good recall and has a strong “entertainment” value, and is a well-deserved contender for the Golden Drums Awards.

Talking of the Brand Maggi in Romania, the agency responsible for Nestle in Romania, McCann Ericksson has been aggressive consistently in the Romanian Market. Last year, it launched the “Cook from the bottom of you heart!” campaign for its client Nestli, where every flat was appeased to put a heart-shaped sticker with a "Maggi" logo on their window, in order to win a prize.

According to an article last year "Free Advertising" at Yo MaG In this campaign, Almost everyone living in 40 selected cities of the country received stickers in their mailbox, representing a big red heart `Maggi` and were asked to stick it on their window. A "Maggi Patrol" traveling through 40 cities of the country rewarded those residents with 200 euros those who had a Maggi heart on their window. For every Maggi product they had in their kitchen they received another 50 euros, up to 1000 euros!

Worked well with the kids, and in turn, their families! Kudos to the creative team at McCann Ericksson. Innovative concept indeed.

Ironically, this campaign reinforced the fact that women spent more time in their kitchen, sticking Maggi logos, so that they could win prizes.

Now, may I ask “What if women spent less time cooking?” ;)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Missed Call Marketing (Australia) – Innovative Telemarketing or Cheap Spam?

A new wave of telemarketing is getting a lot of attention in the Australian Mobile market and annoying a majority of mobile users in Australia. Termed as “Missed Call Marketing”, it is the practice of giving a missed call to mobile owner, who upon seeing the “missed call” notification would perceive it to be a legitimate call and ring back. On ringing the number, he/she would hear a recorded promotional message.

Normally, telemarketing is done the other way round. This method, however, passes the cost of the call to the mobile owner, and leaves the choice of calling/hearing the promotional message with the owner itself. Thus, it is a marketing tactic which tries to shift the cost of a telemarketing call to the consumer – whether or not they want to hear about the promotion.

There is a debate going on these days at various forums over the classification of ‘Missed Call Marketing’ as Spam. Some relate it to email spam which includes link to an unknown website. Some others believe it is an “abuse” of people’s trust. So much so that people in Australia have preferred not to call back to an unknown number. Bad luck for the other telemarketers as well! The Australian Communications and Media Authority believes that it is spam and is scrutinizing whether it is in breach of the anti-spam legislation [Ref: Textually]

What is the promotion all about?
According to,
If you call back the number, which is Sydney or Melbourne based, you get put through to "Simon" who, in a chirpy, pre-recorded message, says: "Did I just call you? Then it is your lucky day today as you're a winner and you're about to collect your personal mobile content gift with the value of at least $40. And that's not all. You might also win up to $10,000. Congratulations."

Seems to be a lucrative offer and a good deal for sure. But listen to this - To collect your "gift", which includes a range of mobile phone ringtones - you have to ring a premium 190 number charged at a minimum $2.97 a minute. To get the content, it takes almost five minutes, or about $15 worth of call time!
I wouldn’t call it something less than spam..

On the other hand, the company responsible for it, DC Marketing does not believe that it is a scam. It says the missed-call marketing technique does not breach any Australian law, code or regulation, including the Spam Act.

Justify the owners - "This has been used in Europe and also Australia for a while and is considered a soft telemarketing approach. Opposite to other telemarketing concepts, all the concept does is leave a caller ID on the display. People then can call back the number at a time that is convenient to them, and they are not interrupted while having dinner, or getting their kids to bed. On calling back, customers can listen to the pre-recorded marketing message, and if they do not like the offer, they can simply hang up."
More so, it claims to have given away more than $1 million worth of free mobile content and that complaint rates are "very low given the size of the promotion". Australian authorities say DC Marketing runs its competitions legitimately and pays out all the prizes on offer.

Convenient statements to wash off your hands! But the fact remains that little can be done to avoid human curiosity and general etiquettes. Returning a call from an unknown number could be out of general curiosity, or in most of the cases, simple courtesy. In such circumstances, company is breaching someone’s trust and leveraging human curiosity to find out about the unknown for their marketing concept.

More so, since the demographics of mobile owners is spread across all age groups, right from 11-13 year old kids to 70-year olds, missed calls like this being made to potentially vulnerable consumers like Kids, tourists and housewives is NOT good a marketing practice, and would definitely tarnish the brand image of the company.

To tackle this scam, a team of seven youngsters aged between 17 and 21, have created a company known as “4 wise Monkeys”. It stores and displays problematic phone numbers and attempts to track the miscreants, and the source behind the campaign. According to their website, their forum about the spam and its source is attracting more than 7000 unique visitors each week, many of whom have "googled" the mysterious phone numbers that appeared on their phones after receiving a prank call.

Incidentally, DC Marketing claims it has access to "every single mobile phone user in [Australia]" and supposedly has technology to "contact ALL 16 million Australian mobile phone users in a period of only two months!"
Where did it get so much data from? According to a report, the company is being accused of buying a massive database from a Cyprus company involved in porn and gambling websites and Australian-based nightclubs and DVD rental companies.

Such a marketing tactic is justifiable, when the cost transferred to the consumer is very less. In a country, where the mobile charges are moderate to high, shifting the burden to consumer would definitely entail outrage and annoyance.
On the other hand, if such a tactic were to be used in a country like China (or for that matter India), the mobile calls are pretty less.

How is it handled in India currently? There are automatic voice messages running a promotion from either Airtel (Bharti Group) or Reliance. Interestingly, the number received is a local number, and in cases, where the receiver “misses” the call, it is not returnable. When you call back the number, it fails to connect, since the number is blocked for incoming calls.

However, the convenience is something which is not passed on to the consumer. You could get calls from 8 am to 9 pm through this.

At the end of the day, the last thing a marketer would want is to irk his potential customers. The way DC Marketing is moving ahead, and the negative vibes it has generated in the market as of now, it is not doing good for its own brand image, at least not from a Marketer’s perspective.
Hopefully, Missed Call Marketing shouldn’t translate into a Missed Marketing Effort altogether!

[Photo Source: Angry Kid, Phone Kid and Cell Phone Spam]

Monday, October 02, 2006

Mahatma Gandhi – “Think Different”

Exactly a year ago, I had celebrated the 136th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi at this place. Logically, it is his 137th Birth Anniversary today.

Last year, I had discussed “Brand Gandhi” and how he has been instrumental in endorsing brands. Elevated to Celebrity status, the use of his name and stature has been instrumental in attaching credibility to a lot of companies.

Taking it forward, I intend to discuss one such illustration which highlights incorrect use of “Brand Gandhi”. How ethnic differences impact marketing and what are the implications? Wait for the next entry.

For now, a smart application of the legend, by Apple- “Think Different”

Could not really understand the one with Hitler and Stalin (I think). Maybe I will have to wait till I understand some Russian!

Incidentally, there is an entire generation of people (mostly Europeans and Africans) who know him as "Ghandi" and not the actual "Gandhi". Am clueless about the origin of this word, but some portion of the literature I found on the Internet has consistently misspelt the name!