Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Battle for the Online Indian Consumer - Part 1

India boasts of big numbers. As of March 2013, India has 160 million internet users, and 86 million active users of mobile internet. The potential however is much bigger, with 430 million internet enabled mobile devices. Facebook, the poster child for India mobile usage, gets 30% of its new users via mobile registration, and 30% of its users are mobile only internet users.

Multiple businesses are actively pursuing this opportunity in 2014. In the first 5 months, we have seen campaigns from 6 separate websites - a significant portion of the campaigns are focused solely on mobile usage. Let's try and understand the intent behind each campaign and assess their effectiveness. 

Note: The business objectives and campaign effectiveness mentioned below are based on own opinion and do not include any official inputs.

Key drivers of ecommerce business are broadly the factors below. 
1. Product assortment - what the business offers within its declared universe
2. Experience - the usage journey from search, purchase to delivery
3. Pricing - offering a competitive price vs. offline or competing online channels

A combination of these help in driving consumer switching from traditional channels. However for brand positioning it is risky to solely depend on pricing. Over a longer period this is unlikely to deliver a winning model. This holds true for traditional channels too!

Part 1 - Acquiring Consumer Base
These campaigns have a clear objective of driving website awareness and new traffic.

Amazon India

The Amazon India campaign is spot on. They have picked 2 core drivers - assortment ("Over 1.5 Crore Products") and usage experience ("Guaranteed 1 Day Delivery"). The competitive couple context is also distinctive and breaks through clutter. The website is investing in deep discounting to close the sale once users seek desired products on Amazon. Hence while they offer cheaper products their positioning isn't based on pricing.


Magicbricks promises to clear all confusion and mystery in property searches with an easy interface and thorough information. This is nicely contrasted with a caricatured property agent. Multiple creatives drive a consistent message. Since the competitors are not investing in awareness campaigns (like 99acres), magicbricks is likely to get good growth from the campaign.


Key question Lenskart needs to answer is why should consumers choose lenskart over the other giants like Flipkart and Amazon. The current launch campaign and the website experience doesn't do that. The storytelling with Purab is a bit laborious compared to other campaigns. The variety of products within eyecare is well established. Pricing incentives are kicked in when users land on the website - from offering first-frame free to 25% above purchase thresholds.


Snapdeal covers a whole spectrum of products - from clothing to electronics to home accessories. This is communicated well via separate creatives. The snoopy maid character is distinctive and they should ideally hold on to the theme for a while. The key watchout is positioning of "Bachate Raho" which is hard to sustain long term.

Note: I still don't get the punchline "Madam asking to no, mein askoongina to click click"...


Quikr's idea is based on delivering MSP (Maximum Selling Price) to the consumer. Multiple commercials are focused on the idea of a better price deal. This seems like a very limiting proposition for a peer-to-peer exchange website. Quikr will need to drive strengths on either usage experience or assortment (which is harder given that's dependent on user additions).

Do add your comments. In Part 2 we will look at campaigns driving mobile as a preferred device.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Review of Indian Election Inspired Advertising

It's election season in India for the past few months and the topic has dominated online and offline discussions. And when elections are the central activity / attention of the nation, as a marketeer for FMCG brands, it's quite tempting to plan creatives around the topic during the season. Over late 2013 and 2014, we have seen at least 11 Indian brands which have developed dedicated commercials around the election theme. The categories have been quite diverse from noodles to electrical wires, telecom to vests. Given the marketing investment backing these campaigns, let's try to answer the obvious question: When does it make sense to plan an election themed advertising for your brand?

The role of advertising is to 1) Get a brand noticed and 2) Refresh and improve brand association using distinctive cues. This grows brand mental salience for the consumer and hopefully then grows market share! (source). In addition to the usual advertising principles (where we assess the creative within the category universe), in this case the risk of category misattribution is also much higher due to multi category clutter around a similar theme. And hence creatives need to be strengthened on their category as well as brand cues.
So what should be the criteria for deciding election themed advertising?


When the commercial is along a broader, consistent positioning of being an agent of (social) change or new ideas. In this case elections and the expected societal positive change would dovetail well with the brand's message.  Tata Tea has done this well consistently since 2007.

Havells - "Tazaa Hava Chali Hai" (A fresh breeze)
Havells has stuck to its theme of bringing freshness to the environment, this time beautifully blending this with election situations, both pre and post election. Here are the other commercials (1 and 2).

Idea - "No Ullu Banaaowing"
The ad is a part of a larger series from Idea about enabling Indians to deal with everyday lies using the internet. The election edit works well with the internet subject, Idea here indirectly enabling positive social change.


When the core brand benefit can be laddered up to any positive election emotion. This includes derived attributes like strength, honesty, stability, consistency. This is typically the model for evolved FMCG categories where the brand usage leads to an emotional pay-off (Skin Care: confidence, progress ; Fabric care: positive appreciation from family or colleagues). The creative theme has to work a lot harder in this case to link the brand benefit with the emotional idea.

Fevicol: Election Chair
This ad is probably the best creative execution of the lot with extremely relevant and humorous references to the election battle, while finding a clean spot to embed the brand benefit in the story.

Berger Easy Clean - Clean your walls easily
The sub-brand's benefit of easy clean-up has been linked with the favourite topic of corruption and system clean-up. The creative is average though.Other easy clean ads here and here.

When the brand has some awareness which can be boosted with a distinctive election execution.

Dollar Baniyan
The ad tries to play on the dual meaning of 'Fit' - fit for comfort and fit for the role. The product is integrated well into the execution and the message.

Dairy Milk
The brand has used the election theme to advertise their full collection and chosen not to develop any TVC. The executions are across outdoor and social media - distinctive and tactical.

Ambuja Cement - 'Break down unwanted walls and for strong walls use Ambuja Cement'
The brand's promise of strong walls comes through well in the executions. However the execution could have been made more interesting when compared to the other brands (view here and here)

When the brand has zero or little awareness and hence no association in the consumer's mind
- Executions with little linkage to the original brand benefit / association 

ITC Noodles - Party
The brand message of tasty, long, slurpy noodles association (here and here) has taken a backseat while the lengthy AAP reference distracts from the brand benefit.

RR Kabel (Cable Wires) - Choose your candidates well
This brand has not been advertised in the past, and linking their launch commercial to elections would not be beneficial

Hero Hf Deluxe - New Bike for New India
Hero launched the bike in March 2014. The ad recall would probably be good, but the association with the bike brand would be quite weak. And this is not helpful for a launch campaign.

What do you think? Do add your comments.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Crying babies - A Guide to New Fathers for Efficient Crisis Resolution

Mothers (in India or any other country) have some weird feeling called motherly instinct to guide them around their infants. Unfortunately millions of us new fathers struggle with our respective babies. The only strong feelings we have resulted in a baby. And while we coasted along with the pregnancy, we are quite prone to being declared useless in handling crises related to our progeny.

Here's a handy flowchart designed for efficient, structured resolution of the situation. Patent pending.