Monday, 23 January 2012

Do you still like teaser advertisements?

You get joy out of making people wait, guess and predict. Meanwhile the respondents test their IQ and feel proud to guess what you are talking about. In the past, advertisers took advantage of this human trait to launch new products, associate their products with the customers’ interests and refresh their brand identities.

The cat and mouse game
You must have been witness to advertisements in dailies that ask you to look at the same place again the next day. The next day you are again requested to do the same. With each day the curiosity inside you increases till it plateaus. And when you think that you are not going to do the same next day, the advertisers cleverly put forth their messages, making you part of their campaigns. You become so involved with the product that you try it at least once. If the product delivers your expectations – you are glued to it – turning into a loyal customer.

I would like to cite the example of launching of a tea brand “Tokla”. The advertisers put hoardings and banners with the message “Kala is coming” for few weeks, all over the marketplace, in the streets and major thoroughfares. The message was there in the daily newspapers as well. People kept guessing and speculating what the thing “Kala” was. On the stipulated date, the marketers revealed the new brand of tea “Tokla”. The brand was an instant hit. Owing to its good quality, the brand has still maintained a string of loyal consumers.

However, things have changed with the fast paced lifestyle. In the current rat race for moneymaking and enjoying life to the fullest, people easily get impatient. They don’t have time to look at the same place of the newspaper day after day. So, if you are a clever marketer, you know that people are not going to ply with your playing the “cat-and-mouse game”. Some might be interested till the second or third day, but from the fourth day onwards, almost everybody will have lost interest in your message.

Filling the gap between curiosity and patience
The marketers have again come up with innovative ideas to bridge in the gap between curiosity and patience of customers. Now you will find a set of teaser advertisements in a certain page of magazine or newspaper which asks you to turn on to the next page and at the end you are led to the introduction of the brand. This little teasing tantalises your brain and in a way you are more attached to the brand than others displaying the products one time only.

The advertisers have also come up with the idea of extension advertising (advise if you have better name), where they design different versions of the same advertisements with coherent message and a common tagline. The advertisements are generally displayed on the right hand side pages. As you turn the pages, the similar advertisements arouse your interest and you are led to the final advertisement which talks in detail about the product. Sometimes the products and the messages are revealed on the first page itself and similar, coherent messages are carried out by a set of advertisements that follow the first one, but of course with new visuals, graphics and colours.

The river returns to its original course once in 12 years
The trends keep changing with time and tend to return with some improvements within a certain time period. As goes the old proverb from the Indian subcontinent, “A river returns to its original course in 12 years’ time”, the marketing trends keep on being tweaked, adjusted, adapted and improved with time – landing up with the similar sort of campaigns which are marketers’ favourite at some point of time. However, for this time around, the teaser advertisements are certainly out of the scene.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Promote publicly

Brand is not built in a day. It needs a long time to build reputation, repeat sales, consumer loyalty, brand recognition and top of the mind recall. While the media multiplier effect (pounding the customers with same message at the same time through different channels) is needed to reach the consumers and build brand recognition, the visual presentation of the brand at public places is a must to build curiosity and interest among consumers for the initial pull. Hordes of international and local brands have been presenting themselves at public places successfully.

Workplace hoarding
The factory and office sites displaying huge hoardings are the basic rungs of the brand building ladder. People passing by the site will not only witness the hoarding with brand identity of the product but will also be curious about the punchline of the product if it’s a hard-hitting one.

Point of sales promotion
I have seen brands painting the town red with their promotion boards and materials while launching the new variants. You will get to see the same brand at every retailer, wholesaler and shopping malls. However, the same brand is replaced by a new entrant over a period of time. Claiming the POS spaces at major nook and cranny is a clever idea to display your brand image.

Social awareness promotion
It’s a sure shot way of making your brand look responsible and in the meantime build soft corner in the hearts of consumers. One of the messages displayed by a brand at a major crossroad in Kathmandu asks the passers-by to cross the road only at the zebra-crossing. Half of the board then displays the brand. The brand has tied up with the Traffic Police to put the public awareness message. When one reads the message, s/he looks at the brand and its tagline as well. I am sure one out of ten people reading the message gets interested in the brand consciously or sub-consciously.

Street direction boards
Another popular way of promoting your brand publicly is to sponsor the street direction boards. Though the boards have a little space to share with the brand, at least people looking for directions will take notice of the brand.

Road islands
The road islands are a relief sight to your eyes, if you are driving in a jam-packed road for hours. While the customers driving by look at the beautifully managed island, plants and flowers, they come across the brand managing the island. A careful display of “The island is managed by…”gets noticed.

Bus stop signage
Public vehicles will never lose their popularity with the masses. Majority of the city dwellers commute in public vehicles and the bus-stops are favourite places for the marketers to display their brands. Nowadays, even the movie marketers eye the bus-stops and metro stations to display the posters of new releases.

Public gardens
Amongst residence colonies, amidst a busy city, there are public gardens. A whole lot of people visit the gardens in the morning for fresh air, daily exercise and relaxation. The company managing the garden can showcase its brand at the most prominent and preferred place of the garden.

Road dividers
A major bank in Kathmandu, in a unique collaboration with the Metropolitan Traffic police, has painted the road dividers falling on the way to its head office with its brand colours. Not only, that, the bank staff were engaged in painting the dividers – as a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) contribution.

Flowers and trees by the roadside
Again a major paint brand has collaborated with the Kathmandu Metropolitan City and has planted trees and flowers by the roadside. The marketers have prominently displayed the brand while planting the flowers and trees.

3-D hoarding
A motorcycle brand fixed a real motorcycle to a huge hoarding during its launch. Rather than painting the brand, the marketers preferred to display the real machine and it was an eyeball catching, brand building exercise which led to bigger sales.

Balloons at fairs and exhibitions
It’s a general and popular trend. Thousands of people come to the fairs and exhibitions and if you display your brand there, you are sure to catch the eyes of at least hundreds of customers.

While the public display of the brand image is just a part of the brand building exercise, it necessarily triggers the initial pull for the brand. Once you display your brand at public places, be sure to refresh the occupied space with new, fresh coat of paint, display of fresh but coherent messages from time to time. It will not only display your brand but will also tell the customers that your brand is live and kicking!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Brand differentiation – the tea drinking hen way

When I saw a hen pecking at a glass of tea, drinking tea from the glass at a town (Khanikhola) 23 kilometres west from the Kathmandu Valley, I was inspired to write this piece. The hen, at the moment, created a lasting differentiation in my mind. Generally, chickens are meant for either meat or eggs and they don’t have any brands as such (leaving aside the species of chickens). You can broadly categorise them as local or broiler breeds.

In the recent days, the local chickens have lost market to the broiler breeds. However, the local breeds are in much higher demand owing to their superior quality. The tea drinking hen, besides being a brand in much demand added value to its demand (at least for me). It was a differentiated product!

In line with the weird bird habit, have you ever seen a parrot with dandruff? A witty television commercial delves into the psyche of consumers and uses the punchline to denounce the herd mentality. When the owner of a parrot sees the bird dusting off its wings, the word spreads and the parrot becomes an instant hit with visitors from all over the place coming in hordes to have a glimpse of the unique parrot. The commercial runs well, but at the end the real reason is discovered by a curious cameraperson who sees the dust from the peeling interior paint on the ceiling falling on the parrot. The advertisement has been successful in differentiating the said paint from the competitors.

The marketers analysed the weaknesses of the competitive brands (peeling off easily) and developed the same weakness into its strength. They took care of the customer experience gap and packaged the product promising to deliver it.

Now talking about bottled water – you will see a horde of companies bottling water in blue bottles with blue logos except few like Evian which uses pink logo. However, when I saw a green bottle of mineral water with green logo, it was a welcome sight for me. And the brand, Davidson mineral water, also kept its promises by delivering good quality drinking water. The marketers thought of offering something different than the usual run-of-the-mill product. They tried to position themselves differently.

If you travel around 20 kilometres to the east of Kathmandu Valley (the place is called Janagal), you will come across a modest eatery where toast with khuwa (Nepalese local butter) is served instead of the regular toast with butter. An extra plate of potato-pea curry is served along with the toast. The taste is incredible and the brand differentiates itself from the regular eateries serving the regular menu! The eatery owner analysed the customer engagement drivers, and added a competitive input to his product.

Talking about differentiation to create a brand name, I would never forget the exercise taken by Pepsi thereby changing its regular colour to blue. It was a disaster differentiation, at least in the Indian subcontinent. In Nepal, the colour matched the colour of the kerosene and though being good in taste, it seemed you were sipping kerosene out of a regular Pepsi bottle! And, it was outright flop in terms of sale and moneymaking. So, care should be taken while differentiating a brand by keeping in mind the local culture and context.

Now coming back to the basics, you need do three important analyses (as done by the marketers above) before going for differentiation – 1) internal analysis, 2) customer analysis and 3) competitor analysis. Just go for a quick TOWS Analysis. I prefer looking for opportunities and threats ahead prior to jumping into the strengths and weaknesses. The opportunities and threats are external traits and can not be influenced. However, strengths and weaknesses are internal traits and you can work towards converting your weaknesses to strengths.

The next in the line is analysing the customer perception, behaviour and desire to add competitive input to your brand and position your brand differently, keeping in mind the local culture and context.

As Shiv Khera says, “Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently” in his book “You Can Win”, your product will win only if you differentiate it from others. And while you are designing the differentiation strategy, just remember the tea drinking hen and it will inspire you all the way!