Friday, August 29, 2008

Now advertisers target CHILDREN?

From childhood brands have impacted our lives. As a child we were part of fan clubs, we followed our role models who were mostly the brand ambassadors of a particular product. Our buying habits were very much controlled by what these icons said or performed in advertising campaigns. Also the advertisers promote fan clubs and loyalty programs wherein children get a chance to meet their idols, this increases the brand recall and in turn forces the child to buy a particular product.

Often, the products like McDonalds meals, Lays, Maggi Noodles, etc accompany with freebies for children. Mostly children buy these products for the freebies. The children freebie advertisements appear on children TV channels informing how they can play with the free products. These freebies often have an emotional relation with the cartoon the child loves to watch. Below I have tried to list some examples of brands which had impact on children’s buying trends, have also compared those products with what they could have brought incase they hadn’t seen those advertisements.

  • Maggi noodles instead of normal hakka noodles
  • Lays instead of potato chips
  • Pokemon instead of any other cartoon characters
  • Coco Cola cold drink instead of lemon squash/coconut water
  • iPhone instead of any other phone
  • Gaming plaza instead of a game of hide-n-seek, cricket, etc.

Brands have created impacted on the minds of young children to such an extent that they now also tell their parents what to buy and what not to buy, which Brand is good and which is bad, how to use a particular product. The main reason for this can be attributed that children spend more time in front of television (6 hrs per day says a survey done in USA). Actually this is the main reason why most of the advertisers target their ads towards children, try to influence and become no1 brand in children’s minds.

But sometimes I wonder how many Indian Brands have been able to understand this opportunity and change the concept of their Brand? HARDLY ANY Brand Hits my mind when I think about it...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What a BRAND means for a common person?

For a common person or the people at the bottom of the pyramid a BRAND is an association, an emotion, an attitude and a sense of ownership. A common person associates his emotions with a Brand then relates his story with the Brand, this translates in the sense of ownership of the Brand, ultimately with a sense of ownership comes attitude.

Over the years even the common person has changed, his knowledge has evolved with the information available through TV, Radio, Internet and Newspapers. Also the outside world has changed quite a lot, even this made impacted on his knowledge. The common man is no longer common he might earn $ 50 (approx Rs. 5,000/-) per month but dreams to become a millionaire (Crorepati, thanks to Kaun Banaga Crorepati). The common man dreams to drive a 4 Wheeler (Nano, the Rs. 1 lakh car, new offering from Tata Motors). So dreams are being blown out of proportion by media. Banks are offering EMIs on anything and everything from buying mobile phones to buying houses, from blowing money on weddings to entry in elite clubs and all this drives the common man towards Brands.

The common man's aspirations towards Brands have led to Brand categorisation from super luxury and elite Brand to the most fashionable Brand. Marketers and Brand managers have differentiated Brands for each segment catering to different strata of society.

To take care of the common persons aspiration about Brands, stores like The Loot (Discount store, offering 25% to 80% discounts on international brands like Levis, Pepe, Banana Republic), Big Bazaar (Offering everyday discounts on grocery, utensils, electronics, etc: it provides common people shopping mall experience), Seconds outlet of Bombay Dying towels and bedsheets have been launched, etc. These stores to provide the COMMON PERSON experience on owning a BRAND and a sense of attitude about the BRAND.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No new innovations by Indian Pharma companies?

Indian Pharma companies have experienced a lot of R & D developments in recent few years. The innovations have placed these Indian Pharma companies amongst the top elite Pharma companies in the international scenario. This industry according to Ficci reports is growing @ 26% which is more faster rate than the retail sector.

The Pharma sectors traditionally have been investing funds in R&D and Clinical Research Trials. But in the recent few years a lot of investment is put aside for International Acquisitions, Research in new molecules and Patents. Though these companies have been competing with international counterparts to reach the top position in terms of net value of the company, innovations at the bottom of the pyramid haven’t seen any light of the day. I mean the no improvement in the training of the MRs, the sales representatives and the Brand Managers. The sales reps still carry the same old visual aids and the research papers to pitch about the company product to the doctors. Actually to think about it, I feel the Medical Representatives are the most neglected lot in the Pharma companies, coz nobody feels they are driving the company’s sales.

By the statement What at the bottom of the pyramid? I mean to say the people who directly impact the growth of the company; the other people are indirectly connected to the growth of the company.

The Marketing & Sales departments haven’t seen any innovations in last 20 yrs. The MRs (Medical Representatives) still visit 10 docs and 5 retailers as per the set target, show them the same brochures and visual aids, the same pitch and lastly the research reports. The only new development that was seen, late in the year 1998 was KOL based PR stories in publications, but can we consider it an innovation?

On an average when a new product is assigned to a Brand/Product manager he is given a budget to market the product which is peanuts. In that budget the marketing manager has to

Conduct product training for all the MRs,
Brochure development providing a brief on the product,
Conduct Research on the product stating how superior the product is from its competitors,
Sponsor CMEs of KOLs which helps in spreading the word of mouth publicity on the product and
Prepare visual aids to be given out to the doctors when the MR visits the doctors.

The Brand Managers decisions are mostly based on RoI, leaving a very little scope for innovation. He has a target to achieve, and advertising is out of question because prescription drugs cannot advertise as per the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical research), so uses the age old techniques to push the product details to the doctors.

Now once this is done, the Sales Managers job is to drive the sales of the products so he sets targets for the MRs to meet doctors. The Sales manager thought process is simple meet doctors and more doctors, meet them often, also meet retailers and more retailers, this will drive the sales of the products. Actually the Sales Manager knows the doctors will listen to the MRs only once and the next time will skip the meetings, but he knows of only one thing that will drive the sales, he doesn’t try to innovate something new which will help his team to achieve the sales target.
Doctors are fed-up of the same old story of the drugs and medicines, watching the same old visual aids, pitches from MRs, etc; this often forces them to skip the meetings with MRs, which are then bound to be quite boring.
But the BIG question is, whether any Pharma companies are doing anything to improve this situation? If the Pharma companies are not able to innovate something new to help in marketing their products, sales of the drugs might be affected in the long run.

What the Pharma companies really need is some great innovation at the ground level where sales of the products are been driven, word of mouth publicity another big avenue yet to be tapped and recommendations of the drugs. The Pharma companies should hire some ad agency to ideate or pitch to NID to think of some innovation which will be the greatest innovation for the MRs.
The story appeared in Financial express was a review of a book named: The Marketing Mavens by Noel Capon: The article talks about Pfizers innovations at the Sales level, this is what the book had to say…
Pfizer rigorously schools its field salespeople to ask questions and feed information back to the firm. Target expects all employees who travel—whether on business or pleasure—to write reports on trends in other parts of the world. This kind of information gathering can give your business an edge. It can pinpoint needs that customers don’t yet recognise—needs that by definition won’t show up in traditional data gathering. You should be striving to meet and exceed customer expectations not only by solving their current problems, but by anticipating future ones, and then proactively devising solutions in existing and emerging market segments.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Innovations in BRANDS

When a child is small his habits, hobbies, needs are a lot similar to other children. He likes to play the same games like gully cricket, hide-n-seek, etc. They love Kellogg's cornflakes, McDonald meals, Pokemon, etc. But as they grow-up their knowledge increases with studies, books, movies and of course television. Knowledge leads to good decision making skills. So they start changing, their needs change, likes change. Now they also understand and decide what they want from life, from career, from social groups, etc. This leads to change in behaviour patterns of grown-up kids, their wants and hobbies takes a big turn. They also have more choices now with the opening of Indian economy and international products & brands available in India right into their nearest store. They are not dumb anymore to blindly follow what they are taught/shown, coz they have their own mindsets.

In the same manner Brands also have life, they are born, they reach the height of their image and slowly they perish, coz the brand managers fail to innovate. Brand managers who are considered the parents of the brands fail to understand this important aspect of the Brand i.e. to Innovate. Each new Brand/product is launched with a lot of budget on advertising, publicity, events, etc. But after some years of break even and profits the brand manager starts neglecting those same same Brands which everybody cherished.
Also since the Brands are targeted to a specific audience, if the audience changes or grows, the Brand managers again start targeting the same age group, so they start from the scratch the campaign for new consumers or customers. Again the same concept of advertising, same target audience and the things over again. If the Brand managers innovate then the target audience will increase, the marketing plans will change with a new challenge for the Brands to survive.

Take the example of Horlicks, earlier the Brand campaign was targeted for children and mothers as whole food for children. Then the team at Horlicks started changing the packaging of the brand with different flavours, so a new target audience I mean more consumers as every consumer has a different taste. Over the years Horlicks kept on changing the taste/packaging/campaign for the changing needs of the consumer. This was part of the Horlicks innovation team, which suited their product to each consumer requirements. Over a period of 15 years Horlicks campaign with many changes also began targeting working women and mother's as they also need energy to work. According to Horlicks the now the women are more career oriented, working mothers, they need energy to work, to meet their ends. Their are very less brands in the market who have changed the way consumers have changed their habits, Brands like Cadbury is one such brand which comes to mind when we think about continuous innovation in BRAND.

It's high time the brand managers think about long term benefits and offer long term customer service, rather than achieving short term targets/goals. Every Brand needs to innovate coz the consumers are changing, they are getting more options, more choices, more information. The consumer is more informed as ever about what is good for him/her, they understand what the meaning of reading the labels, so targeting these consumers a more innovative campaign need to be planned.

But, what I have seen is the Brand managers often goes in for a complete re branding of the brand. For a Brand manager this generates enough hype for its target audience with new hoardings, new advertisements, and press conferences, which is not the right solution.
Celebrities/sex is used, when creativity dies.

Companies need to planned for long term goals, conduct market research, innovate, invest in R & D, etc.

The competition is not with rival companies or products but with TIME and INFORMATION coz both these aspects are changing with the speed of thought.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Now Bollywood teaches MANAGEMENT!

Innovations have infected the 21st century.. from Automobiles, Services, Retail, etc. Every industry has been innovating itself investing a lot of moola into R & D to create new innovations in the company. This helps to attract more consumers towards the company's products and services. Same is happening with the education industry from IB schools to ICSE board schools operating in Tier 1 and Tier 11 cities. So a lot of intelligent crowd is joining for higher education with a lot of intellect. Education also need to be overhauled, so it becomes more interesting for the students to learn, and they are more eager to learn more aspects about things taught.
MBA and other management courses have also seen a lot of change during the last few years. Earlier the management trainees were taught text book case studies, but now the students have to search for case studies which suits the theories. The prof's also teach different management principles based on movies like Chakde India, Corporate, etc. Often Bollywood movies have been made only for entertainment, hardly it happens that the script case teach you. Chakde India is one such script which teaches a lot of management lessons. If we imagine Shah Rukh Khan like a manager of an organization we find the practical example of team building, motivation, leadership and winning attitude.
The movie teaches a lot of lessons some of the lessons highlighted below:
  • Turning impossible to possible: Winning of the women hockey team in world cup was next to impossible. With each member having her own ego.
  • Individual success is linked to team success: When working in a team the success of the team is more important than individual success. When the team wins, automatically the individual wins.
  • Challenge is an opportunity: Leaders should think of challenges as opportunity, every chance brings with it an opportunity to grow, to prove, to succeed. Kabir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) took upon him the challenge of coaching the women's hockey team for the world cup. The team was not able to play in the qualifying rounds of the world cup, but ultimately won the world cup.
  • Leaders have to be decision makers: Kabir Khan taking the decision to coach the team, the decision to decide who plays when is a tough decision to make.
  • Dream big and define goal: Kabir Khan dreamt big of winning the world cup, he only thought about the CUP.... AND THE CUP.. He not only dreamt about the cup but created a strategy..a winning strategy, which involved every team member. He showed the goal to every team member and explained the plan. When the members were ready, the plan ready and the challenge ready... they went, fought, and WON.

The more you watch the movie the more management theories you will find and how they relate to our management. The movie inspired many management institutes to think about infusing movies with teaching, resulting to more understanding in students about the theories. In the past no such movie enjoyed intellect audiences.

But Satta Pe Satta was another movie which could have taught management lessons to a lot of management students.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Uncle Sam is upto what now???

Global Food crisis, then Global Greenhouse gases crisis (trouble), then Global Oil crisis... now what more crisis is Uncle Sam up to? The latest reports which regretfully date back to 2004, inform how US emissions have risen by 15.8 per cent from 1990 to 2004. The US have always tried to rule the world with latest technologies, which then in turn consume more and more fossil fuels. New Scientist have written scores of article on how the climate is changing and we are experiencing more warmth. Melting of Glaciers have began...resulting in the rise in sea level. This has resulted in increase in diseases, storms, flooding, clod nights, hot days. The global temperature has increased by 1.7 degrees c. US and other developed countries are the main culprits in damaging the environment. US for a number of years denied singing the Kyoto Protocol on the grounds of economic problems. What were the problems ? nobody knows but the US administration thought this will impact the US companies (by damaging the environment).

Now post signing this Kyoto Protocol the Bush administration has been pushing the research for bio-fuel.. so tons and tons of Corn has been imported and licenses have been granted (Actually Corn is used to produce Ethanol the main ingredient of bio-fuel). Bio fuels have forced global food prices up by 75%, so this import has lead to food crisis in under-developed nations.

So food is used to pump energy in cars by starving the humans.. isn't uncle Sam great by disturbing the ecosystem??

Riots have been going on in Sudan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and every other under-developed nations for food. We have lost on Roti of Roti, Kapada aur Makan. The US, UK and Europeans nation governments have have already passed a law that with every re-fueling of petrol and diesel 20% bio-diesel should be added.

I think we should for a change have Paris Hilton as the president. This might solve the issues, coz every administration of developed countries have been sucking the world of all its resources. I have really lost count of words... but I trully feel bad about the whole situation.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

BEST celebrates 61 years

Today BEST the backbone of public transport in Mumbai celebrates 61 years. Mumbai saw its first bus on 15th July 1926. Their are more than 3380 buses in mumbai plying on various routes. BEST also introduced king ling buses, AC buses on its various routes to make communicating for Mumbaikars comfortable.

As a part of celebration of BEST completing 61 years the Chairman of BEST Mr. Pravin Chheda travelled from Worli to BEST office in Colaba by 83 no. bus. He also organised various events to make create awareness on travelling by Bus will help to protect the environment of Mumbai. I feel this is an excellent way to inform Mumbaikars to start using Bus/public transport and save fuel. Already a lot of people have stopped using cars and have started travelling on Bus....

Mr. Pravin Chheda we hope by spreading such messages if at least 10 Mumbaikars stop using their personal vehicle it will be a great achievement..

Can visit their website :

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Is Indian abortion law outdated??

Every publication, every TV news channel and every media carried the coverage of the Indian High courts verdict on Niketa and Haresh Mehta's abortion plea, to abort the foetus in the 25th week. The high court denied the plea.. but is the media making a hoola of the whole issue adding masala and taking interview's of the couple....
The radio in the morning hours went further to an extent asking the listeners on their views... and whether the couple was right in aborting their child?? but will the govt change/review the law.
Well the law was passed way back in 1971... (Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, pregnancy cannot be terminated after the 20th week unless there is a health risk to the mother) and it is still not amended ... can the health ministry review the law.. well our media savvy Union Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss quotes to publications stating "Broader discussion on abortion laws to be held" so the couple is at loss coz by the time the is facing acute problems in his/her life the law will be changed.
A lot of gynaecologist's argue that if a lady decides to abort her child she will abort no matter what the circumstances are.. so I really wonder if we force Niketa to continue with the child she might go to some illegal abortion clinics or dump the child post deliver???

who will take care of this situation? If the couple is not able to afford the treatments, is the govt ready fund the treatments?

I think media should also highlight this situation, wherein some pharma company's can sponsor.. and as far as the MTP act goes.. the next govt will decide coz this govt is already behing saving their chursi..... so by the time discussions will start it will take atleast 3 years???