November 9, 2009#

India’s uber brands

An intersting feature of the Indian market is the large number of brands that have succesfully crossed un-related customer categories. Some examples

Reliance: Oil and gas, wireless, retail, etc

Godrej: Appliances, personal care, security equipment, etc

Tata: Auto, tea, wireless, etc

Religare: Financial services, healthcare, travel

Kingfisher: Beer, airline

These brands are able to convince customers that they are equally capabable of making tea and cars or refrigerators and deodarant. How did they get customer’s to trust them across such diverse seemingly unrelated categories?

Maybe it reflects the importance that family plays in all aspect of one’s life. So it stands to reason that consumers will trust a brand family across a wide range of activities. Maybe it is a result of the weak retail distribution system that is unduly influenced by a few large companies.

Whatever the reason it creates interesting brand challenges. How do you create meaningful and differentiating brand ideas that cross so many categories without becoming too soft and “airy”, as some have become. It is important for Indian companies to figure this out. They have global ambitions and other socities maynot be as favorable to multi-category brands. And the Indian consumer is changing- the role of the family is weakening and the retail market will get stronger, offering customers more choices in every category.

The evolvement of these brands will be intersting to follow.

October 14, 2009#

Brand Managers to Become Brand Advocates

Forrester has issued a new report (“Adaptive Brand Marketing:  Rethinking Your Approach to Branding in the Digital Age”) that makes sweeping recommendations on how the role of the brand managers needs to evolve to keep place with the rapidly changing media environment.

A feature article in Ad Age titled Why It’s Time to Do Away with the Brand Manager lays out the key recommendations.   Here are some of the highlights

          ·  Brand managers should be called “brand advocates,” signaling the shift from the   traditional command and control brand management approach to a more collaborative, consumer-centric charge.

          ·  Brand advocates should be more “real time oriented” rapidly addressing media and partnership opportunities as they come along, as opposed to adhering to long-term plans.   In fact, Forrest recommends abandoning formal annual budget planning altogether.  They suggest money should be earmarked for initiatives, not media, and that lots of little initiatives are preferable to a few big ones.

         ·      Not surprisingly, the report recommends increasing investment in “consumer intelligence”, giving research, analytics and predictive modeling a more prominent role in marketing.  For this, brand advocates will need to be more numeric than their brand manager brethren of today.

         ·      Beware agencies:  they also recommend that companies bring in-house far more of the planning, research and creative functions that are outsourced today.  What’s more, the report argues that “brand advocates” should shift away from long-term agency relationships in favor of rapidly shifting alliances with media, content creators and crowd sourcing.