Archive for the ‘Consumer Behaviour’ Category

These are a few of my favourite tweets….

@gagupta's tweetcloud

  • 12th March 2010: Youtube ad? On front page TOI? Is this a tribute to the power of Print reach in India?
  • 17th April 2010: Note to myself in 2007 on BoP concept. Summarises thoughts of CK Prahalad & Karnani. RIP CK Prahalad
  • 27th April 2010: What is Social Currency? Deconstructing Social Currency – PSFK
  • 24th June 2010: Must read brilliant write-up. Nicolas Mahut and John Isner at Wimbledon: two bareknuckle pugilists
  • 8th July 2010: That Octopus is Bong. His last name is Paul. What he thinks today, happens tomorrow. He stays in a tank and has a swollen head
  • 2nd Aug 2010: The Innovators Dilemma is my first ever paid ebook download from Amazon.

Volkswagen’s “disruptive” innovation for Vento?

Sure it is disruptive, but is it strategic? How well does it fit into the car launch Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) plan? I had these questions in mind when I saw the VW innovation in TOI on 27th September 2010. My reaction was “where is is this noise coming from, and how can I shut it off?”. I am crossposting the following from Jessie Paul’s blog.  Could’nt agree with it more. Master Planner Stephen King suggested that it is important to identify the desired consumer response before you build the stimulus. Wonder if VW ignored that axiom? Do take a look at the comments in the original blogpost.

Quoting Jessie Paul:

“Today’s Times of India carries an ad for Volkswagen Vento on the back page.  The innovation is that it has a little black box which when the paper is opened bursts into a sales spiel.  (If you haven’t yet seen it, there’s a video of it at the end of this blog, courtesy @tsuvik).

The online world is buzzing about it, so I will add just 5 quick points to it.

1. If the goal was to generate buzz, the ad is successful. Just type in Volkswagen on and you will see the amount of online conversation about the ad

2. The sales spiel isn’t easy to understand and is rather boring and stodgy.  It also doesn’t have a stop button, so you end up having to either close the ad or break the box depending on your irritation threshold.

3. Using audio as a means to differentiate was good thinking.  But the execution is weak because it doesn’t add value to the experience.  For example, if the audio was a recording of the car’s powerful acceleration or even the toot of its horn, it might be more appealing and relevant.  It would also have a longer shelf-life as at least the kids would keep it to play with.  The absence of branding on the black box was also an opportunity lost.

4. The ad has no call-to-action which could lead to conversions.  On reading the ad your biggest desire is to shut the noise of the non-stop sales pitch.  There’s no special number to call or sms to get a test drive – just the usual dealer panel stuck on to the bottom of the ad.  A visit to the website (which gets a perfunctory mention on the top right of the ad) also disappoints – the Vento is treated as just another car in the VW stable with no special launch landing page.

5. The biggest concern with this blockbuster (easily in the multiple crores) ad is that it seems to be standalone, and not part of an overall campaign with online, outdoor, email etc to drive sales.

In conclusion, the ad has generated a lot of buzz but not much of it is going to convert to honey for the company.”

Reconfirmation: Print is dying. Long live Print.

Sometime in January this year, I had crossposted a Campaign India blog entry on “the next decade in media for India”.

For print media, my summary of the original post was as follows ” You no longer need brains to predict that print will continue its loss to TV & digital. Agree with Anant when he says cover price of Rs 10 for certain newspapers will not be uncommon eg Times of India Crest. Crest is also early validation that newspapers will move away from reporting (24 hrs delay) and focus more on features. Special interest magazines will continue to grow at the cost of general magazines. Do I see myself not reading Outlook Traveller? Not likely. What about Outlook Weekly? I already read it online,there is nothing that I want to “retain”, unlike Outlook Traveller.

Graydon Carter, the much celebrated editor of Vanity Fair, echoes similar views (albeit in an American context) when he says news on the print medium is DEAD. But niche content, respected opinion leaders (like Vanity Fair) will continue to flourish. You can read his views in detail here.

Essentially the same takeaway “Outlook Weekly newsmagazine is dead, but Outlook Traveller is not”.

Internet Company as a Conversation Company

I have earlier talked about Bought Earned Own (BEO) media. It is widely believed that Nokia was amongst the first marketers that started practicing BEO media principle. This presentation is by Arto Joensuu, Head of Digital Marketing at Nokia. The deck focuses on how the conventional sales funnel is no longer relevant in this age, where conversation is the new conversion.

Slide 30 in the deck is of particular interest. The BEO media is seen through a new lens:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) aka Own media
  • Search engine marketing (SEM) aka Bought media
  • Social media optimization (SMO) aka Earned media

And brands need to optimize within this space.

What I also found interesting is the comparision of “Yesterday’s Search” (Google) with “Today’s Search” (where search engines are just a slice in the pie). I was recently looking to buy a compact car, and I used Facebook & Twitter, in addition to Google, to find more about the car. While Google gave me “information & data”, FB & twitter gave me people’s views about the car. And those PoV were important for me to take a call. These PoV are essentially conversations, and the conversation helps in the conversion.

So is “Conversation is the conversion” the one line  requiem for traditional funnel?

Brand lessons from 2009 Recession

JWT Anxiety Index,according to its website, helps brands navigate consumer anxiety.

JWT Intelligence’ report titled Brand Lessons from the Great Recession of 2009 uses the Anxiety Index  to showcase Brand lessons from 2009. A quick glance at these lessons:

  1. Find your value voice
  2. Remove the risk from price
  3. Don’t shy away from tackling anxiety
  4. Leverage public sentiment
  5. Give consumers more control
  6. Provide a real service for consumers
  7. Inspire rather than empathise with your consumers
  8. Return to the core value of hope
  9. Re-imagine how your products are sold
  10. Use the recession to achieve a higher goal

The JWT report does a good job of showcasing use cases from 2009 for each of the “lessons”. My quick take on these use cases:

  • To me, Find your value voice is a subset of Remove the risk from price. After all, consumers are ready to take a risk with price in uncertain times as 2009, if they see a strong value in the pricing.
  • The two communication examples from Don’t shy away are examples of great, honest communication with the worried consumer. I am sure these would have generated a lot of conversations online
  • The Pay what you want example from Give consumers more control is, to my mind, not a recession specific strategy. It will remain equally relevant and clutter breaking, even without the 2009 Recession backdrop. After, even in good times, why would a consumer give away the choice to control, especially when it comes to pricing?
  • Amex’ platform for SME to network during tough business conditions is great  execution of Provide a real service to consumers. ICICI Bank supports a similar platform for SMEs in India. Someone should take a look at them as well
  • Inspire rather than empathise with consumers, to my mind, is a tonality of communication and advertising that applies to all other lessons. It cannot be a separate lesson in itself. It has to be part of the basics. India’s The Economic Times is more relevant as an example for Providing real service, in my view.
  • India specific example of Levi’s  EMI based apparel purchase scheme is a spot-on example of Re-imagine how your products are sold. You  feel squeamish about buying clothes on EMI? Go talk to the young Bangalore call centre employee, for whom style and appearance is his identity. And he was facing the brunt of Recession 2009. What better way to continue feeling and looking good as a 20 year old, with uncertain future,than buying branded apparel for a pittance every month.

Collecting data is less valuable than connecting people

Metcalfe Law

Creative words that convey the following message “Why companies like Facebook,Twitter, Ebay and Apple (but not Google) will determine the future of the internet?”

Why indeed?

Sean Parker, a venture capitalist, adds a twist to web 2.0/web3.0 debate. He believes that there are information services like Google, and then there are the network services like FB,twitter etc. And the future lies with the latter. Due to the power of the network effect, the big will get bigger because the value of the product increases  by factor “n squared” as more and more people join in.

The network services core value is facilitating a relationship between people, unlike the information services whose core value is collecting and processing information.

Is that why Google incorporated twitter feeds in its real time search?

Take a look at Sean’s detailed argument here . Also check out the TechCrunch view on Sean’s thoughts here

Is mobile internet only about mobile phones?

Morgan Stanley recently released a (comprehensive) report on mobile internet. You can access the 104 slides summary(!) here.

The report starts with a relevant technology trend: Mobile internet is no longer about mobile phones alone. It is a far bigger ecosystem comprising of e-readers like Kindle, tablets, MP3 players like iPod touch, gaming consoles and all possible devices that have started talking to each other. Of course, access via mobile phones,especially in emerging markets, will remain mobile internet’s largest entry gate. This is also validated by another observation in the report that mobile internet is ramping up faster than desktop internet (see pic).

Some other interesting observations from the report:

  • iPhone+iTouch cumulative units shipment in the first ten quarters of launch is the fastest user growth ever  in consumer technology history (slide 42).
  • The scorching ramp-up of mobile internet is accelerated by 5 trends that are converging faster than ever before: 3G/Social networking/Video/VoIP/smartphones. All these are enabling consumer to connect to the internet in far more portable and mobile ways, than the desktop of late nineties.

India, I believe, is on the verge of a 3G revolution. The moment shackles of regulation are broken, India will perhaps have the highest number of 3G subscribers. I would say by 2012. And entertainment (on the move) will be biggest reason for adoption of 3G by Indians using smartphones.

Am ready to take a bet. 🙂