September 16, 2010

'Top' of the Pyramid

(Scene: Today's mega media seminar in the huge conference room of a leading 5 star hotel where a panel discussion is going on consisting of some of the biggest names in the industry)
Moderator: Yes, Mr. Kazi has a question!
Me: I have two things to say, comments, facts and questions, included! Yes, India is a heterogenous market with over 6,34,000 villages that speak across 19 languages and 900 dialects and yet it is easy to profile rural consumers with tags like low income and illiteracy. Even as I speak, marketers say this is growing and there is no limit to its growth but still companies are going with the theoretical framework in the hinterlands and in reality, it is something else. You're talking about a specific medium, i.e. print which has regional potential but there is growth in other media as well. As such, how important it is to integrate cross category media to increase brand exposure and strengthen brand encounters? Second thing, Mr. X spoke of local brands, however they also consist of indigenous spurious brands which are climbing upon the media investments of the original brands. From spell-alikes and look-alikes to ditto duplicates, these brands are eating into the pie of most big brands operating in the rural market and the rural consumer is swallowing them all, thus the bad quality perception rubs onto the original brand. Thus, it is a double edged sword. Dabur recently changed its packaging to counter such brands, so that it'd be harder to replicate their packaging. As such, keeping the product POV aside, what are the challenges for the creativity in the campaigns to counter spurious brands?
Moderator: That's a slightly complex question. I'll leave that to Mr.X to answer (turns towards the panel)
Mr.X: (Blah-blah...) The rural customer knows the brand and if he wants to purchase an unbranded product, he'll purchase an unbranded one which better connects to his lifestyle as opposed to the urban markets which are getting saturated. Ms. Y why is the urban market getting saturated today?
Ms.Y: (Blah-blah...) and that's why such a phenomenon is happening. Mr. Kazi, don't you think so?
Me: Huh?
What was the question that was asked, how was it analysed and passed on and what ultimately came back to me! Yes, that's the kind of talent we have at the top level and yet we blame the field staff for their callous attitude when the problem itself is not identified by the strategisers. A simple answer was yes, we should integrate other media where penetration is high, for example southern markets due to higher literacy but such a thing might not be as useful in a small village of Rajasthan where Dainik Jagran is perhaps, the only name for media. Integration is necessary to increase brand encounters, so customers can identify the brand image and this will also lead to increase in brand encounters and result in natural inquisitiveness for the brand. At the end of the day, that's what your advertising goal was! Secondly, with respect to spurious brands. Yes, not all companies can use Dabur's strategy. A easy and cost-effective way is to educate customers through interactive BTL activities to identify your brand. At the end of the day, loyal customers would themselves turn in the spurious brands and cause them to phase out. The approach is a simple application of the BoP theory. Yet, so much confusion!

-With hugs and kisses to the Consumer,
The Young Marketer.
Complexly Simple!


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