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May 29, 2018

Marketing lesson for the day: Common sense is not common – Kohinoor’s - Meeta Pan, Kala Khatta, Juicy Strawberry and Silky Chocolate

My often repeated idiom -  Common senses is not very common. Kohinoor has introduced a new set of Condoms and to build up excitement and awareness of its new offerings, it gave them very saucy names, Meeta Pan, Kala Khatta, Juicy Strawberry and Silky Chocolate.

On the face of it, my readers might ask me, what’s the big deal? It is the worst deal. Kohinoor has every right to name the product as it likes and it is up to the Customers to like the products or not. But the product display in a medical shop raises the hackles!

As usual it was Madhusudan Kota who brought it to my notice. Let us remember it is not at a place that is secluded and away from the prying eyes of small children. But the display is right at the POS and very much in the face.

The product names appear innocuous but are very close to Meeta pan a toffee, Kala Khatta is a brand of ice-cream and worst of all Strawberry and silky chocolates look like brands of chocolates. Product categories that belong to the children and names that they are familiar with.  

What happens if the children demand these products from the parents? Imagine the embarrassment a mother would face if her small son or daughter ask for them seeing the product display! How does she explain the products to her inquisitive children?
Customers should not be put through such embarrassing situations, Kohinoor. Use some other media and don’t let your products embarrass people. In the modern world the possibility of a loyal customer changing into a virtual vigilante is just a Facebook post or a photo share away! You could become viral for all the wrong reasons!

May 26, 2018

Marketing Lesson for the day: Real Me from Vivo - Mark of desperateness!

My students always ask me “why are you so fascinated with Marketing?” It is the only area where changes happen every day and one can observe and learn. Observation can pay rich dividends and one of the sharpest observers is Madhusudan Kota my ex colleague at SSIM. Kota is pursuing his PhD under my guidance.

Kota has just send me a photo. Take a look. This is the new Mobile phone offering from Vivo and its name ‘Real Me’. Innocent branding or cute name. No way Sir!

This can be called “Desperate Marketing”. Generally, such desperate tactics are indulged by local or even micro level competitors trying to cash on the brand names of their famous competing brands by aping their names. Examples galore; Coolgatte, Nirwa, National Panasound, Adibas, Black Labial, Coma, Saniya an many more. To get more fun and knowledge follow the link.

When small players do it, we can all laugh and say ‘desperateness of a small player’. Those are counterfeit products and customers can avoid buying them. But when Vivo does it, it appears sinister. Look at the font it looks like Red Mi.

For all the hype created by VIVO with its association with IPL 11. Red Mi is the king when it comes to online sales. And everything is fair in love and war and Vivo goes for the kill and names its product Real Me. I am not impressed. How would Red Mi retaliate? Your guess is as good as mine. But my two bits of advice to Red Mi -  Don’t do anything. Be quite and serene. Imitation is the best form of flattery.

May 20, 2018

Marketing lesson for the day: Confused Cinema Celebrities! - Switch to active Life style (Protinex) from Thums Up. I AM CONFUSED!

I was having lunch and was watching Dookudu at the same time. An advertisement was being beamed during the break. And it had the Prince of Telugu cinema, Mahesh Babu propagating the virtues of a healthy drink “Protinex”. He went on to say that Protinex is very good for people and warned us all “Glibly” that other protein drinks that we are drinking are not good and that we a should drink only Protinex.

“Wonderful, Prince”, I said to myself “very smart and very good. Till today you have been the brand ambassador of Thums Up have been asking up or rather goading us all to drink Thumps Up and be adventurous. Now you yourself are saying that other protein drinks are not good. What about soft drinks, especially Thumps Up? Does that mean that your earlier endorsement of Thums up was wrong, or is both good drinks good and should we drink both drinks simultaneously”.

Oh Celebrity endorsers, have common sense. Your audience is watching and seeing the laughing stock that you are all becoming! Try to build a brand and a brand image that is long lasting. Once you start endorsing all the products that approach you, your loyal fan base and even general public will stop believing in you. It could be the death knell for the brands that you endorse!

May 13, 2018

Marketing lesson for the day: bumbling Hyderabad Metro

Hyderabad Metro along with other Metros is missing ways and means of garnering eye balls. Unlike other metros, Hyderabad Metro’s concourse is at a different level (level1) and the platform is on a different level (level 2). HMR says 70,000 to 80,000 people are utilizing their service every day.

The retail outlets are not ready, the billboards in the platform are not totally let-out and I have never seen any product promotions take place during my travel. Two days ago, ‘The New Indian Express newspaper’ was being given free. But sadly no one was picking up a copy! The Reason, there was no notice saying ‘pick me up’ and there was no-one from ‘The New Indian Express’ to hand out the free copy.

I did pick up a copy and most other passengers were throwing curious glances at me. Except for air travellers, none of the other passengers were used to picking up a free copy of stacked newspapers. They were under the impressions that the newspaper was not free and that they would be asked to pay. Good experiment but the entire effort was wasted due to wrong execution.

Except for the super travel experience, Hyderabad Metro does not offer any chance or excuse to stay and linger. And marketing is all about stickiness. There is hardly any reason for anyone to stick around. If people stick around, the stations would appear crowded and that would create a buzz, action, popularity and of crowds. Because of unimaginative marketing, the metro stations look deserted and frankly are frighteningly lonely spaces for girls and women. There is hardly any vibrancy.

And to top it all Hyderabad Metro rail has introduced ladies only restricted seating area. It is a very retrograde move. I have travelled in many metros including BART (Bay area Rapid Transport) in California bay area, Bangkok Metro, Delhi Metro, Bangalore Metro and in Chennai Metro. No other metro except Hyderabad has restricted ladies only seating.

The ladies only seating area separators look shabby and tacky. I have observed many times that there is space in the ladies only seating area and many women sit in the unrestricted area while many men including senior citizens are left standing. Somehow it makes for a very depressing sight. So technically even if the reserved seating is free, men can’t enter that space. Definitely, have separate seating area for women but the divider mars the Hyderabad Metro claim of ‘Global form of high speed travel’.

Similar experiment was tried out in Hyderabad city buses where literally a door was installed to divide the women’s seating from the men’s seating area. The idea was an utter flop and it was hastily withdrawn. So like a proverbial fool, Hyderabad Metro is rushing into something when one needs to tread with caution! It is not the case of once bitten twice shy! Keep making one mistake after another and hope that committing many mistakes will finally result in one correct result or an outcome.

And to top it all there is talk to have ‘a women only station’. Excuse me ‘what do you mean women only station?’. And Pray! what should the men who want to get down or get into the metro from that particular station do? Are they supposed to go to the next station? If it was not so silly, it would have been a good joke.

May 12, 2018

Marketing story of the day: 21 gun salute to the power of marketing - Sind Bakery, Karachi Bakery and Pardise Biryani.

Today on a market visit I saw a board that said “Sind Bakery” shop in Secunderabad. This is in direct competition to “Karachi Bakery” the now famous bakery and biscuit brand from Hyderabad.
This led to an interesting discussion with my PhD student Mr. Madhusudan Kota. Kota was of the opinion that Sind was trying to cash on the name Karachi and trying to piggy ride Karachi’s popularity and try to build as me too brand.
Quite an interesting thought but I beg to disagree. Karachi the bakery and biscuit brand has nothing to do with the name KARACHI the port city of Pakistan. It is a long standing bakery that got first established from Mozzamzahi market.
It became known for its fresh mouth-watering puffs, pastries, cakes and biscuits. The story goes that all items are freshly baked and left over food items are distributed to the poor and the needy at the bakery closing time.
It was clever branding, and even more cleverer franchising and giving wings to the brand Karachi that made it a brand to reckon. Sind Bakery will have to create its own market space and not try to hitch a free ride along with Karachi.
Paradise Biryani has now become synonymous with Hyderabad and Hyderabadi biryani. Readers will be surprised to know that brand Paradise is quite a recent phenomenon.
Paradise was the name of a cinema hall and Paradise cafe was a canteen that served the cinema audience snacks during the movie interval.
Fact of the matter is that till late nineties Paradise was quite low in the pecking order as far popularity of Hyderabad biryani was considered. The top draw was Alfa biryani, followed by Garden restaurant biryani, Madina hotel biryani , Shadab hotel biryani and then it was Paradise Biryani.

Where-as all the others remained wedded to traditions, it was Paradise that embraced modern marketing and propelled itself to becoming almost synonymous with Hyderabadi food and became one of the most sought after city attractions to visit. Not bad for a brand that started out as a cinema hall canteen. 21-gun salute to power of marketing.

May 09, 2018

Caveat Emptor - Marketing lesson for the day - Laser Control 3 blade and Razor!

Marketing story of the day: I am fascinated by marketing. Today (09-05-2018) I bought Laser control 3 razar along with 3 cartridges. At Rs 30/-, I thought it was a great deal. The package said it all. Control three, Triple blade and nice imagery of three cartridges.

When I opened the cartridge at home, I was in for a surprise. There were only two cartridges and one very clear one cartridge space was kept blank. Not very smart. On the front in very small letter written : 2. Buyers beware, Caveat emptor!

Beauty in Simplicity - Marketing lesson for the day - Jet airlines celebrates 25 years of flying.

There is beauty in simplicity. Jet airlines was celebrating 25 years of flying in India on 6th May 2018. This was the logo adorning the seat in front of me on my flight from Pune to Hyderabad on 8th May 2018. What a dramatic design. It took my breath away. 

But at the same time a small thought came in my mind. What if, what only if Jet airlines made a cute memorabilia and gifted all the passengers who flew with them this particular week. What good will they would have generated!

And if they are so cost conscious they could have offered it at 25/- rupees, 125/- rupees or at 225/-. Get my point. Jet's offering would have sat on many decision makers table and it would have been great branding. What only if!