Monday, March 22, 2010

The Fourth Screen

The mobile phone is taking over as the universal medium for most Indians. It is drawing the internet onto its small screen and turning into a tool that offers more than calls and SMS. This is making the mobile screen an increasingly favoured advertising tool. Santanu, my bro, is a true inhabitant of the wired world. Right from the moment he wakes up to the time he hits his bed, whether it is the last minute changes to the client presentation or to check the latest cricket score or to catch up with friends on Facebook or even listen to some foot-thumping music……. His world starts and ends with his Blackberry. This shows how seemingly innocuous looking gadget is quietly taking control and touching our lives in ways unimaginable.

As mobile telephony grows rapidly, it is used not just for voice communication. Even SMS is passé today. Multitasking is the operative word here with a camera, computer and music player, all packed into the hand held. From downloading software to games, entertainment to accessing content across genres, mobile users are looking for new ways to personalise their handsets with utilities and multimedia content that make their mobile experience richer.

The Indian media and entertainment industry stood at Rs 58, 400 crore in 2008 and over the next five years, the industry is projected to grow at a CAGR of 12.5 % to become Rs 1,05, 200 crore by 2013. (FICCI ; KPMG) Though internet advertising contributes only 1.8 % of the country’s total advertising expenditure, it has grown a whopping 65% as against 17% growth of advertising on the whole. The newer options for marketing communication are on the shore and are harnessing the hot market of the current time. With the upswing of mobile market and swift rise in their sale, business people are taking the mobile medium as a promising sector for marketing and advertising. For the past few years, marketing practitioners have been suggesting that mobile devices would become the next generation marketing channel and supersede print, audio-visual and email and even web. With 400 million mobile users and 8-10 million more every month, India should be one of the hottest markets for mobile advertisers.

Often called the fourth screen after the TV, Cinema and the Internet, the mobile phone is the way to connect with the next billion and the increasing middle-class consumers in Brazil, Russia, India and China. For consumers, the mobile phone has become more than a communication device, it is now a complete entertainment gadget.. They expect their mobile phones to double as state-of-the-art digital cameras, gaming consoles and web access. These uses increases advertisers’ chances to connect with consumers on the move, who get engrossed in these multi-tasking devices. Mobile advertising will receive another boost because of the shift in the advertising industry itself. Advertisers are focusing away from broadcasting through a one way medium to narrow casting for one-to-one consumer engagement and feedback. Marketing is changing from mass-media-push to mass-customisation-pull… PULL IN ANYONE, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE is the mantra.

Will keep updating the latest marketing moves made by the hand held device, from time to time..

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What does a customer want?

Brands are continuously trying to augment their relations with customers. But is it wise to invest in the front end of the business or on product modernization that will keep customers happy in the long run? What is the hush-hush recipe for any company or brand to retain its customers for life? Is it innovative product? Amazing services standards or engaging customer loyalty program? Unmatched store experience or store design of international standards? These are few million dollar questions that are faced by most of the CEOs today.

Today the customers have multiplicity of choices even in the same product / services category. As customers’ aspirations keeps on changing, his / her spends across various categories keep on shifting. When we talk about spending money on entertainment, there are plethora of options- TV to watching movies in a multiplex, to watching cricket matches or even hockey matches, as it is promoted off late, to seeing a musical program or a drama or many more. Each of these are mutually exclusive and cannot be consumed simultaneously and hence fight for the same wallet share. Also we should not forget the fact that, consumers are always hard pressed for time- either travelling for work or for leisure or spending quality time at home. In such a scenario, consumer’s make a choice by using their heads and hearts—the former helps them towards making a rational choice while the emotional appeal connects them to the heart. Whether it is a cute character called ZooZoo or a star brand called SRK / Sachin Tendulkar / Big B.

Besides, this is the age to flaunt. Many marketers believe that a larger than life marketing launch will pave way for brand’s success. They assume that breakthrough clutter free advertising, big stars as ambassadors or even owning media vehicles will lead to enhancing a brand’s connect with their customer. Many leading Indian companies have taken this trend seriously and have been spending big bucks on the touch points of the customers.

Since last 2-3 years, film marketing has taken a new edge. Several contests, events, appearance on the reality shows combined with tittle-tattle about the leading pair (KITES.. Hrithik Roshan -Barbara) or even trade in tie-ups have been able to create a pre-launch excitement about the film. Corresponding to this, technical aspect of film making has improved with bigger budgets, striking locations, better quality prints and sophisticated multiplexes. However, much efforts goes down the drain, if the core product is an average one. In spite of all the media glitz and hype some films vanish. (Chandni Chowk; Blue or even MNIK). We may contrast this with the success of IPL which is now a $4 bn franchise only in its 3rd year. The mishmash of film star power, international cricket star power, the backing of top brass of cricketing authorities, cheer leading ladies, the sponsors big advertising spends would have fallen flat if the games would have been trite and colourless. The triumph of the low – profile Deccan Chargers or Royal Challengers proved once again that at the end of the day, talent and cricketing prowess counts for winning a game rather than a star power.

Marketing fireworks is like Sone pe Suhaga…it cannot breathe life into dead product.. The key for connecting to the customers’ heart & head is the great product / service. Great products brings in large number of customers again and again, bringing in high profits. Winning businesses require such players to fuel their continuous growth making them successful and connect with the customers through a blend of great touch points and superiors products and collaborate with customers all the time.