nothing permanent but change. Both consumer and market dynamics are evolving continuously with rapid economic growth. Will marketers have to create new marketing principles to understand future consumers? At the 2nd National Brand Summit 2007, organised recently by the All India Management Association in Mumbai, Harish Bijoor, chief executive officer, Harish Bijoor Consults, explored what branding would be like for marketers in 2010.
According to Bijoor, no one can predict the future of branding and marketing. The best a marketer can do is to spot new and emerging trends and create marketing for the consumer accordingly. He said that people today are divided into 'brand caste systems'. This is a system of groups of people who swear by particular brands or who strongly believe in them. This can also be termed as a psychographic brand cluster and it defines how consumers think and behave. These clusters can be helpful for marketers as they not only tell the area of influence of consumers, but also indicate other factors such as affordability and economic segments.
Secondly, marketers have to re-think the old in their business. The tendencies that were supposed to be very good in the past, but have become passť now because of current circumstances, should be brought back into action. This is the trend of 'retro marketing'. Bijoor gave examples to substantiate his point. Raffles Bar in Singapore allows its customers to throw peanut shells on the floor of the bar. People coming in have to walk over a layer of peanut shells lying on the floor. The bar is a big hit and earns good revenue. The reason this weird act has clicked with the consumers is because Singapore has so many strict rules and regulations. People are fined even for throwing a toothpick on the street. The bar-owner is giving his customers the freedom to throw garbage on the floor and thus reminding them of the days when there were no such rules.
In India, using another example, the old practice of brushing one's teeth with neem twigs is coming back. As, a result, you'll find branded, finely cut and packaged neem twigs ready for sale now in various stores.
A marketer should never stop innovating and should always tout his innovation in the market. Bijoor said that it was very important to announce an innovation in the market because otherwise, people would dismiss it as run of the mill.
The Taj Group of Hotels once faced a peculiar business problem. The mirror in the hotels' bathrooms became misty after a hot shower and people invariably used a towel to wipe off the mist to see their face. So, Taj put a heat source behind the mirrors, which prevented the mist from forming. But when customers were asked what they felt about the change in the mirrors, they hadn't even noticed it. Then Taj came up with the idea of putting the heat source only on a square portion of the mirrors, which showed the face of people. Mist was allowed to settle on the remaining parts of the mirror. The customers found this really innovative.
'Product morphs' is another trend that can benefit brands in the future. Product morphing is basically brand morphing, in which the essential qualities of the brand remain the same, but it keeps evolving in new forms with relevance and originality. Coca-Cola comes in 23 different colours in the US. Heinz has invented a purple coloured ketchup, instead of the usual red one. Both these products have been a brilliant hit in the market. Square watermelons have also found favour with consumers in the market. These were invented when a farmer in Japan discovered that only 260 round melons could be loaded in a nine tonne truck, which wasted a lot of space. Transportation costs were high. This farmer started growing melons in square glass boxes and the fruit took on the shape naturally. This not only allowed transportation of 360 melons per truck, but also sold at a premium to the regular round melons.
In 2010, markets should go for exciting and out-of-the-box promotions to promote their products, said Bijoor. This doesn't mean they have to come up with the conventional 'one-on-one free' scheme. The concepts have to be original. For example: A cockroach spray company called ESS conducted a 'bar-coded cockroach promotion' in the city of Milwaukee, USA. ESS was already the market leader in the city with 83 per cent of the market share. Being marketers, they thought of experimenting with something that would further re-establish the brand in the market.
The idea behind the 'bar-coded cockroach promotion' was to brand five healthy cockroaches with barcodes on their belly and set them loose in the city. Later, the company announced in the media that anyone who found these cockroaches, dead or alive but not squashed, and brought them back to the company would be rewarded with a sum of US$50,000. This led people to buy ESS sprays recklessly and carry them everywhere, even to offices, schools and in public transport. The campaign had to be called off after 25 days because the company had run out of stock, even though only three of the cockroaches had been found. In this period, ESS' sales grew by a record 3,600 per cent.
Bijoor concluded his speech by saying that in future, marketers should not undertake 'murderous selling', wherein a product is forced down the throat of the consumer, but rather try 'suicidal selling', in which a consumer makes up his own mind about buying a product. In the latter case, if there is anything the consumer doesn't like about the product, he is likely to stick with it longer because he has made the choice on his own.