What it takes to win new India ; Success with consumers takes a disciplined and systematic marketing approach. [India Today]
(India Today Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The myth of the blockbuster product that suddenly and surprisingly hit it off with consumers continues to persist. But it remains exactly that-a myth.
As marketing and businesses mature, the emerging truth is that success with consumers takes a disciplined and systematic approach. All too often, marketers are on the lookout for that incremental or 'new' feature, or a combination of them that will excite consumers, convert sceptics and get the cash registers ringing. This utopian vision is the side effect of the fact that marketing success itself has become incredibly difficult. The analogy that explains why this happens is similar to vision that most athletes have when they fantasise of effortless victory-being in the zone.
The truth, however, is that overnight success is the usual result of an endless grind. But uncommon sense and a simple framework can take the guesswork and mystery out of this. Here's what that is beginning to look like, in boardrooms and strategy meetings around the world. First, discard the hunt for features, technology and new news-that comes later. Then, create a thorough understanding of the mega themes from an environmental, attitudinal and behavioural perspective that can help separate successful products that will persist (such as smartphones) rather than be a flash in the pan (like Segway). Take, for instance, the trend of Premiumisation: Environmentally, the availability and financing of luxury cars have never been easier. Attitudinally, the willingness to unabashedly own luxury cars for reasons other than ostentation (performance, prestige, posterity, personal pride). Behaviourally, consumers have purchased upwards of 30,000 luxury cars on Indian roads-the highest in recorded history; and Jaguar, for instance, grew 22 per cent in a year that was supposed to be a low point for the Indian economy. Put all this together and you have the makings of a mega trend.
Making the most of this trend once you spot it, either at the early stages when it is a micro trend or when it blossoms as a mega trend, takes a new approach to ensuring success. It begins with 'consumerisation'-the strategy of identifying your most profitable and valuable consumers and measuring yourself by your success with them. Then, unearthing insights about them and discovering unserved needs before your competitors do in order to conceive, create and construct innovation that will serve their needs better than anyone else. Once this is done, ensuring that your messages and communication reach, resonate with and elicit the right reaction (purchase, re-purchase by upgrading etc) is the key. And finally, ensuring that you manage your performance at the point-of-buying by ensuring the right channels, stores and deals that will excite and energise the lifestyles of consumers. In fact, it is the final leg where business triumphs or stumbles. We've now discovered that three things work to ensure success-1) Ensuring a virtual presence that reinforces, guides and supports even offline purchase; 2) Innovating on smart deals rather than just product features; and 3) Ensuring quality human interaction during the decision-making process. When looked at more honestly, most businesses in India are unable to demonstrate world-class excellence on all three fronts simultaneously.
Here's how that looks from the consumer's point of view: A brand and organisation that uses multiple channels, retailers, direct contact, social media, online and mobile feedback mechanisms for ideas and gaps. A brand that is constantly adjusting its offering or investing in new ones to better the consumer experience in terms of speed and quality. A brand that is redefining communication to make it easily accessible, and not just informative but also engaging and entertaining. And a brand that integrates itself into consumer's existing lifestyle and experience to improve it unobtrusively, and available at arms' length or in as intuitively guided a manner possible. Building your brand, organisation and insights around a well-defined consumer segment rather than hoping that consumers will organise themselves around your idea or offering, then, is the way to go. When you see this as a consumer, you begin not just to buy into a brand, but become best buddies with it and recommend it to others.
That, in a nutshell, is the path to performance and the simple playbook for success with the consumer. Too often, searching for the illusory blockbuster that will corner market share is the imaginary easy way out. It doesn't exist. Worse, when it does occur, it often misleads businesses into imitating something that is undependable and outmoded by the time you need to launch the next new thing in your portfolio. The other extreme is being obsessed with tools and techniques rather than consumer insights and the business issues at hand. That strategy misses the wood for the trees. Reshaping marketing and strategy with a view to measure, manage and improve performance can, however, liberate organisational resources and redirect resources in the most optimal manner possible.
Ultimately, the difficult part isn't achieving success, it's reorganising your business to incorporate this framework to enable and accelerate success.
Adrian Terron is the executive director of Nielsen India, a market research agency.
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