• The Big Bang is coming!

    Dear Reader

    Over the past couple of months, a few of you may have noticed that TheMarketers weren’t really writing all that much. We were all away for our internships, and what with one thing and another, few of us found time to write articles. It’s true, internships do take their toll on poor students, who, after all, are also made of flesh and blood.

    However, that’s about to change – we’re back in campus, and we’re back in action! And we’ve got a whole feast awaiting you. 21st of June, 2010 is going to be the Big Bang – when we make our screeching entrance back to the blogging world. We have a whole array of articles to blow you off your feet, on topics which are sure to make you curious, and hopefully get that old noggin working!

    So wait for the Big Bang!

    Your old friends

    The Marketers

  • Habit Marketing

    Amit Shukla, a 2nd year student pursuing the Post Graduate Diploma in Agribusiness at IIM Lucknow, has won the ‘Judge’s Pick’ prize at Marketique, the marketing article writing competition at IIM Calcutta’s annual international B-school meet, Intaglio ‘10. Following is his prize winning article on ‘Habit Marketing’.

    Introduction

    Tea cultivation in India has been a major business activity since eighteenth century. However, tea drinkers were very scattered at that time and drinking was restricted to the elite classes. East India Company controlled most of the tea gardens in India for exporting mostly raw tea from here. They also tried to increase the domestic market size for it. The Indian tea market was mostly undeveloped but offered huge potential. Thus, the real challenge was to develop a new market. In order to do it, they evolved a tactful way. They started giving out free samples to the people in those areas where its consumption was far and few between. Soon, people got habituated to it. Thus, by incurring minor initial costs, the British government was successful in increasing the market penetration for tea.

    Oil giant HPCL felt a strong potential for LPG in Indian villages. It carried out a detailed survey (with the help of MART) and based on the findings, set up a series of LPG based community kitchens across 8 states. Here, LPG cylinders and stoves were provided by the company to the village women for a minimal charge of Rs. 2 per half an hour cooking. It gained popularity and soon after, it was found that 20 % of the associated families opted for individual connections. The company had succeeded in placing the solution (convenient and eco-friendly cooking) in the minds of the people. The model is known as Rasoi Ghar, and it won RMAAI Gold Medal and special jury award for 2005 for best long-term rural initiative in India.

    Both of these examples present the concept of Habit Marketing (a term coined by me!)

    Concept

    The underlying principle in Habit Marketing can be found in Johari Window shown below. This is an important tool in cognitive psychology. There are four dimensions of a human consciousness as depicted in the figure.

    There is an area in our consciousness called “Blind Spot”, as shown in above diagram that is not known to self but well known to others. Habit Marketing targets that spot. Often, people are not aware about their own wants and desires.

    A successful marketer has to identify and stimulate that area of one’s consciousness, and then gradually strengthen it. If the offered solution has a substantial appeal to that particular segment of people, then it will be accepted.

    Here it must be mentioned that Habit Marketing is more relevant in rural settings due to lower level of awareness. It may, however, find some usefulness in other semi urban or urban markets.

    Usefulness

    Habit Marketing is very useful in those cases where an age old tradition is to be broken for an improved and beneficial practice. Normal marketing techniques may not efficiently work as they are mostly based on direct or active promotion and hence, may face resistance. Other possible reasons as to why people were unable to identify their wants are mentioned below:

    Mental rigidity to accept new ideas
    Low level of awareness
    Poverty
    Prevalent myths (frequent in rural areas)
    Existing other means that partially fulfil the requirements (compromise on quality)
    Modus Operandi

    Habit Marketing is performed over a long time period. In order to overcome above mentioned problems, targeted customers are ‘mildly and gradually’ exposed to whole range of experience associated with a particular solution. Actually it is a type of mental conditioning where people are made to ‘live with experience’ rather than receiving many interrupted exposures. They can feel proposed new solution and can take time in decision making. They are never asked to make quick decisions.

    Benefits of Habit Marketing

    As an analogy, we can compare difference between Habit Marketing and other marketing techniques with homeopathy and allopathy. Homeopathy works parallely with the system whereas allopathy works against it. USP of this concept can be summarized as follows:

    Use of continuous exposure for a prolonged time period rather that increasing frequency of exposure
    Reach is automatically increasing; by means of virtual ‘viral marketing’ or simply by word of mouth promotion (Gossips mongering!!)
    Possibility of mass acceptance, and hence a big customer base, in a single effort
    However, there may be a few downsides as well:

    Initial cash outflow might be very high; may remain so till the time of acceptance of solution by a sufficient portion of population
    Like the chance of mass acceptance, there is chance of mass rejection
    So considering the fact that rural market is still largely untapped, Habit Marketing can be a promising tool in the future.

    Note

    This article no way promotes the possible abuse by Habit Marketing (for example making people habituated to liquors or any other detrimental substance). The example of tea usage is presented just to highlight the methodology.

    This is to support use of Habit Marketing ONLY for the welfare of human communities, especially those dwelling in rural areas.

    References

    1. http://communities.seepnetwork.org/community/2008/04/28/hpcl-mart-rasoi-ghar-project

    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johari_window

  • The God of Small Shops

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