Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Consumer Behaviour: Understanding Nostalgia

I was browsing Youtube for something and I stumbled upon a famous TV commercial of Bajaj Scooters, 'Humara Bajaj'. I was amazed at the number of hits the ad has received so far. I then decided to prod more and found a lot of old ads which were an integral part of our growing years.

Why do people love these old ads? Traditionally, Indian culture has followed certain set of values and the fast pace of globalisation is creating a discomfort in a lot of people. The old ads are a kind of reassurance that not everything is lost yet. Welcome to the world of nostalgia.

Marketers worldover have used nostalgia both covertly and overtly to position their products. This is especially true in a country like India which, because of its sheer size, population and different pace of growth in different regions, is always in a phase of transition. Take for instance the mushrooming theme based restaurants which use the village setting. These restaurants rekindle memories of the carefree childhood, emotions take over and people almost always spend irrationally.

Marketers have also used nostalgic advertising to suggest longevity of the brand such as Amrutanjan or Pinku Gripe Water.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Using Social media to promote yourself

Social media offers very powerful tools that can help you promote your unique skills. We all know about the importance of Linkedin and Facebook which offer professional and personal networking opportunities. However, if you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field of interest, there are a lot of choices.

1.Blogs: Blogs (web logs) are very simple, easy to use media for many-to-many mode of communication. A lot of websites such as Blogger, Wordpress etc. offer DIY (Do-it-yourself) options. Using these, your blog can be ready in minutes.

2.Podcasts: Podcasts are basically audio or video broadcasts on internet. They can be used if you have something very important to tell the world. Podcasting is very easy and once recorded, you can host them on either paid sites or free sites such as Youtube, Widdler or Google videos. These videos can also be ported on your blogs. Audio podcasts are similar except that they are smaller in size. There are a lot of podcasts dedicated to particular subject. Look up a podcasting directory, decide on your niche’ topic and start podcasting. The obvious advantages of podcasts are:
a. Easy reach to your target audience. This helps you build your identity as an expert.
b. It is inexpensive and convenient.

3. Micro blogging: Sites such as Twitter can be used for blogging with a restriction on the no. of characters (typically 140). Micro blogging can be effectively used to promote your presence on other social media. E.g. you can twit about your latest blog or a podcast.

4. Personal Social networking: Web sites such as Ning offer excellent tools to build your own social network. You can start discussions, twit through the social network, import blogs of all the group members and do much more.

Letting the world know:

1. Share it: You can share your blogs or podcasts with your friends on as many as 15 social networks including Facebook and Twitter at a single click of mouse. You can do all this within your blog site.

2. RSS feeds: Encourage friends in your network to use RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds which are a revolution in social media. With the explosion of blogs, podcasts or twits, it is increasingly difficult to keep track of all the blogs or podcasts you love. All you need to do is install free RSS readers such as Sharp reader or Google Reader on your computer. Feed the RSS links of your favourite blogs to RSS reader and voila! As and when a blog is updated, a feed automatically goes to the RSS feeder in your computer.

Social media offers a lot of avenues for promoting your skills. I will be glad to help you in case you plan to setup your own social media presence.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How to use social media for promoting business?

Lately there have been lot of online and offline discussions about how to effectively use social media for marketing one’s business. Though I don’t claim to be an expert in social media yet, I certainly spot some trends. I can see that there is a lot of convergence in the social media. Sites such as Twitter, facebook, Linkedin etc are compatible with each other e.g. blogs can be broadcast via facebook, twits can be broadcast via facebook, linkedin groups can connect with blogs etc. This convergence offers a lot of opportunities for businesses. Let us say, I have started a venture and need to reach out to my potential as well as existing customers. I can start with blogging on my company website. This will give me opportunity to interact with my customers. I can also use social networks, wikis, online videos, podcasting, widgets (Widgets are basically small applications that provide online functionality and content. They can be distributed through a potentially limitless number of websites) and micro blogging (e.g.twitter) to promote my business. Companies like Honda, Toyota, Google and HP are using social media very actively.

You may view some of the successful social media campaigns in detail at the following link


Companies increasingly find social media very attractive because of some very obvious reasons. Firstly Propagating through social media has a cascading effect. A company sponsoring its new product can reach out to thousands of potential customers within no time using social media wisely. Secondly, it is very cheap as the benefits outweigh costs which are almost negligible due to low cost of connectivity. Most importantly, as more and more people are connected on various networks, social media is where the target audience is.

There is a flipside though, to using social media. Today, the fortunes of movies in the USA are made or broken by twitter because the moment people go out of the movie theatre, they start twitting about how they found the movie. If the movie doesn’t live up to their expectations, that’s the end of their fortune. There have also been instances of frustrated customers venting their anger on the company blogs or on the social media.

Since the social media is becoming so powerful, Marketers are spending a lot of their time on how to get the best out of social media. Companies such as Thoughtbuzz have developed very interesting business model around social media. They track social media discussions about companies on the internet so that the companies know the perception the customers have about them and their products and strategise accordingly.

We will see how individuals can benefit from social media in my next blog.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Case study: How to communicate with different audiences for same product?

Today, we will talk about how the same product is pitched differently to different target audiences. We will use two great advertisements from State Bank of India, India's largest Bank. Both the ads are about Life Insurance products from SBI but are clearly aimed at different target audiences.

In the first ad as you can see above, the setting is distinctly rural to appeal rural viewers. We can easily interpret through the body language of the hero(and the detailing of the tampering process)that he has no better work to do. The viewers can easily identify with his need for a life insurance when he is caught tampering the poster of the local hoodlum/politician. Thus the ad is influencing the approach of target audience towards life insurance by simulating a real life and believable situation. The situation very well sums up the tagline 'Kahin bhi kabhi bhi' (wherever and whenever).

The second ad conveys the same message but in a very subtle way and is strongly emotional. The ad is cleverly focussed on elderly middle class citizens who are financially independent and are free of family responsibilities. The positioning is clearly for elders who are 'Young at heart' and who don't want to miss out on any of the life's excitement just because they are physically old. This positioning is depicted in the way two sisters deny to be treated as old people and the way they enjoy their 48 hours long journey(some memorable moments include scenes wherein sisters play cards and wave at children standing along the railway route). The bonding between brother and sisters is used considering the family values of the target audience.

What is the secret of the success of these two ads? Though there is no single reason, I think, one of the reasons is that the target audience can quickly identify with the emotions, values and messages that the ads convey. This is important because the message in most interesting ads is lost by the target audience if the emphasis is merely on making the ads attractive and appealing. You may think about other reasons for success of these ads.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why Social Media is critical to marketers?

I had registered myself for the ‘Digital Marketing World’ a virtual conference arranged by Marketing Profs. While browsing through the topics of webinars, I stumbled upon a very interesting webinar on Twitter success stories. Many of us think that social media is just another fad and will quickly fade away. However, social media seems to get bigger by the day. E.g. of the total visitors to twitter, 41.7% belong to the age group 35-49 years, followed by 19.6% in 25-34 years(and we always thought people in age group 25-34 are socially most active than any other age groups). Most surprisingly, 16.6% visitors belong to age group 55 and above. The number of active internet users in the world is also mind-boggling. There are 625 million active internet users in the world whereas this number is roughly 230 million in Asia-pacific. Can marketers afford to ignore this silent revolution?

What’s the secret of this incredible growth in active usage of social media? In my opinion, there are two most important reasons. Firstly, social media harnesses the power of anonymity. Secondly it is the only ‘many-to-many’ mode of communication that we have developed so far. While the anonymity lends power to consumers to speak their mind freely, uniqueness of this mode of communication lends power to marketers because they can not only communicate with consumers but get a feedback from them almost in real time.

Though the whole concept is still nascent and is evolving, marketers cannot afford to ignore this revolution. The webinar also talks about some companies which have woven their marketing strategies around social media.

Here’s how you can visit the virtual conference: