• Marketing Events – A marketer’s dream come true

    Every year, millions of Americans ( and others from around the world) tune in to one event that is every marketers dream – The Super Bowl. But, like all good things, Super Bowl ad time does not come cheap. In 2010, a 30-second ad slot cost about $3 million. So what is it that makes marketers dish out such an astronomical amount, for 30 seconds of ad space, year after year? Probably because of the hype, and the expectations, surrounding the Super Bowl.

    In America, the day on which the Super Bowl match is played is virtually equivalent to a national holiday, and people refer to it as Super Bowl Sunday. It is the second-largest day for U.S. food consumption, after Thanksgiving Day. Super Bowl XLIV, played in February 2010, became the most-watched American television program ever, drawing an average audience of 106.5 million viewers. According to Nielsen ratings, the Super Bowl reaches more than 90 million viewers.

    But more than all this, what makes it special is the mindset surrounding the Super Bowl. Super Bowl is not just about the game, its about the ads. They normally generate buzz even before being aired, and people always take time out specially for the ads. It was feared that products such as TiVo, which allow viewers to skip over the commercials, might reduce the efficacy of a Super Bowl ad. However, TiVo reported that viewers were pausing and rewinding in case of some of the ads. Once the Super Bowl is done, you only have to click to the net to find every site abuzz with reviews, ratings and much more. With so much attention from an actively engaged audience, its no wonder that marketers love the Super Bowl.

    However, its not as if everyone can afford this, or that everyone sees it as being worth the money. With the costs escalating year by year, and having reached their zenith, many advertisers are having second thoughts about advertising at the Super Bowl. Moreover, the Super Bowl caters to a mass audience, whereas many marketers today prefer to reach out to a niche audience, who will be more perceptive to their ads, and give them more value for money. This year, Super Bowl stalwarts such as Pepsi, General Motors and Fed Ex withdrew from the Super Bowl, paving the way for newcomers like GoDaddy and Cash4Gold to make a mass media splash.

    But how relevant is this for an Indian audience? Do we have any ‘Marketing Event’ to rival the Super Bowl? The closest I believe is the Indian Premier League (IPL). With marketing and hype galore, the IPL is one event where the ads do matter. Cricket is inherently an advertisers delight, because, unlike sports like Tennis or Football, where you have minimal number of ad slots, in cricket you have ads being shown after every over. In fact, this year, for the first time in history, the IPL allowed ads between the balls being bowled every over, which would be an effective if brute, way of reaching the audience. In a significant move, youtube entered the fray this year, broadcasting matches live, thus taking cricket to another channel altogether. With such exciting developments in the works, I’m sure IPL can be our ‘Marketing Event’.

  • Chalo Big Bazaar!

    On a balmy evening in August, two men on stilts parade down Jawaharlal Nehru Road in Kolkata swathed in Big Bazaar banners, shouting through a megaphone. People with multiple polythene bags weave in and out of the traffic, wiping their brows and searching for taxis. The Kolkata LIC BB store heaves and swells and people spill out, even as security personnel usher in waves of others who have lined up outside.

    Inside, the atmosphere is absolute pandemonium. There is barely room to move, and in some sections like Personal Care, there is a long rope that separates the customers and the sales force. People elbow each other and move purposefully to the detergents stack – where a Unilever product consultant (PCs, as they are called) perches precariously on a huge heap of Rin and Surf and shrieks at the top of his voice. I knock over some products from the shopping trolley of a bossy Aunty, and she gives me a short, sharp glare. But it is quickly forgotten, because this is the August 15th Big Day (or Mahabachat) at Big Bazaar – and Aunty is much more interested in carefully weighing her detergent options.

    As Indians, we do love a good bargain, but no bargain is complete unless someone is jostling us around for space – the sweatier, busier, and more chaotic the atmosphere, the greater the satisfaction of your purchase! Kishore Biyani’s Future Group recognized this early on and has the “organized chaos” feel of its stores down pat. The success of Big Bazaar’s Big Days (held on special occasions such as Republic Day and Independence Day) is testament to Biyani’s ability to deliver regionalized, localized, and customer centric experiences; as well as his understanding of Indian consumers and their predilection towards thrift, savings, and a bustling, bazaar-esque environment.

    On Big Days, customers flock in droves to the stores for the best offers and discounts of the year. FMCG companies are fast realizing the popularity of these special events, and are coming out with unprecedented offers and promotions. Even newer entrants into categories, such as S.C. Johnson’s Mr. Muscle range of surface cleaners, are conspicuous by their presence in the home care category, with offerings of larger bottles for the regular price. Big Bazaar’s home brands (private labels such as Tasty Treat and Sach) are also very visible, and aggressively pushed.

    By offering deep discounts and attractive kitted offers, FMCG firms are encouraging product trial and experimentation for the price-conscious, brand-neutral customer – because, while it is true that customers visit the store on Big Day to stock up on their favourite brands (and FMCG behemoths like HUL and P&G are cashing in on that) – there are also many consumers who come to Big Day not knowing quite what to expect and ready to pick something up if the bargain is good enough!

    Big Day is in demand, and it’s here to stay.

    Mansha graduated with a degree in Economics and French and worked in client service at BBDO Sydney’s PR and Digital & Direct agencies. Her projects include image management and experiential events for Starbucks, Etihad Airways’ launch in Australia, and BTL activity for pharma majors Novartis and AstraZeneca. She subsists on cult and arthouse cinema, indie music, and postmodern fiction.

  • Porter’s Five Forces – The Missing Link

    Porter’s Five Forces – The Missing Link

    Perhaps one of the most celebrated tools in the kitty of any marketer or strategist trying to analyze an industry is the Porter’s five forces model.

    For the uninitiated, here’s how wiki defines it –

    “Porter’s five forces” is a framework for the industry analysis and business strategy development developed by Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School in 1979. It uses concepts developing Industrial Organization (IO) economics to derive five forces that determine the competitive intensity and therefore attractiveness of a market. Attractiveness in this context refers to the overall industry profitability. An “unattractive” industry is one where the combination of forces acts to drive down overall profitability. A very unattractive industry would be one approaching “pure competition”.

    In very simple terms Porter’s theory says that if any organization keeps tabs on the bargaining power of its buyers, suppliers and customers and accounts for the threats from its competitors and potential substitutes, a very strong business can be put in place. It would be worthwhile to mention here that this theory has been celebrated for long and is widely considered as one of the earliest insights into how any industry and the competition in it can be analyzed.

    But this is where I see a gap. With the advancement of technology, especially computers, we nowadays see rapid development taking place and product life cycles have grown smaller and smaller. The average life-cycle of software or hardware is extremely short and in most cases organizations develop technologies way ahead of the time they are actually launched. Another very important change that has come about with newer technology is the realm of possibilities available today to most companies. Even the biggest organizations are not safe as they know there may well be a small start-up somewhere which may come up with an idea which will not only change the face of the industry but also make you extinct.

    In such a scenario, how relevant is it to only analyze the bargaining power of suppliers/ buyers or customers. This is because for all you know within a matter of days some change may come about which makes my supplier, buyer or customer extinct. Even if we avoid taking an extreme view, what is more probable is that as a marketer you may not find the relationship with your buyer/ supplier or customer as lucrative as before. E.g. Dell maybe buying its chips from an Intel today. But what if tomorrow AMD suddenly comes with a product which not only threatens the chip industry in its present form but also makes Dell seriously consider forging relations with AMD instead of Intel?

    A little brainstorming and probably this scenario won’t seem all that improbable anymore. Even as we speak today, the SaaS (Software as a Service) Industry seems as a very real challenge to the traditional software vendors. One outstanding invention here and the traditional software vendors will be gone before you can say “Microsoft Windows”.

    In such a situation what does one do?

    While there may not be a very obvious answer to this question, one answer that intuitively springs up in my mind is – it is not enough for any organization to do a Porter’s five forces analysis only for itself. In today’s fast evolving world at least companies in technology intensive industries must play it safe and apply Porter’s five forces from the perspective of all its critical stakeholders!!!

    And what do I mean by a “critical stakeholder” you ask? The simplest answer to that is someone who has a very direct and sizeable impact on my bottom-line. But it may well be interpreted in various ways depending on the nature of the business and it is this analysis which may eventually separate the men from the boys.

    Do you think this is possible? Or do you feel that it is theoretically possible but not practically feasible? Are firms already engaging in such analysis? Are there other solutions you have in mind? Or do you think the whole exercise of doing a Porter’s Five Forces is not worthwhile! Think about it…

    Let us know your opinions through comments on this post. If you would like to share your views in the form of an article in reply to this post, you can email it to us at themarketers.iimc@gmail.com and we might add your insights to this post.