Nanda Kishore Sethuraman
Guest Article

Guest Article: Nanda Kishore Sethuraman: The war of the wallet

Competition is not just from within the category. A look at ways being employed by brands today to beat their competitors, across the market space.

A few years back, while at B-School, I was introduced to management jargons, of which one was 'Share of Wallet'. To de-jargonise, it means how much of an average human's share of disposable income will you corner for your company by making him/her spend on products and brands from your stable. It gives beautiful insights about competition and the sources it comes from and how it steals a part of that disposable income that could have come to you from the customer.

Guest Article: Nanda Kishore Sethuraman: The war of the wallet
For instance, one of the biggest competitors of the Indian Railways is 'low-cost airlines'. People who can afford to travel second or third AC (air conditioner) bogies would rather spend a thousand rupees more and fly to their destination. For the simple reason that they would end up saving a lot of travel time; this spare time can be used for business or recreation as the case may be. A simple concept!

I have also heard of another concept propounded by Coke - especially, in developing markets like India and China. It is called 'Share of throat'. The brand realised pretty early that its biggest competition in these markets was not Pepsi, but other natural, home-grown remedies to thirst such as tender coconut, buttermilk, etc. Its biggest job was to convert these consumers to coke. I believe that was one of the key reasons for a Rs 5 SKU (stock keeping units), which was not common in most developed markets.

Coming back to the inspiration for this article - radio spots that I heard over the last few days, and recent TVCs I have seen.

The Diwali season is on, and every brand is roaring its heart out to reach for the customer's pocket. And, these are times when a brand understands who their real competitor is.

A few examples

A simple concept: Cadbury's Celebrations

A simple concept. Khushiyaan Baato. Share the happiness. Don't think about meeting your old friend/boss/neighbour. Just go and meet them. Make them happy, and you shall find happiness.

Pretty much straight forward. I-will-mind-my-own-business-kind-of-a-spot, which is in line with its campaigns on other media, including television.

Here's the next one: World Gold Council (WGC).

You can figure out who their competitor is! The electronic goods industry! Whoa! WGC actually considers Samsung, LG, Onida, Apple, and other electronic goods manufacturers as competition. They've taken them head on to let us know how quickly these goods depreciate in value, and how gold can appreciate! Good idea. I will corner that corner of the pocket which was meant for the LED TV that the consumer felt the need for in his home!

And, here's the next. Morphy Richards.

I would have ideally liked to feature Croma's Radio spot which believes a gym membership is competition, but couldn't find it. But, here's the Morphy Richards TVC.

It looks like marketers have woken up to the concept of 'Share of Wallet', and are trying to poach from every other corner to get a bit of action for themselves! Competition is not within your category anymore. It has spread far and wide. What else can explain gold, fighting with appliances, fighting with chinaware and gym memberships?

Marketers of today are fighting varied challenges.

• Competition is not just from within the category.

• Inflation and broader economy is making the size of the wallet smaller.

• Pricing has become a decision point, with the consumer being spoilt with choice. More effort required by marketing and sales to get the same amount of revenue.

• Brand loyalty is almost a thing of the past. Samsung is the new Sony. Korea is the new Japan.

Two eyes are just not enough. Look around. See the patterns and if you can't see that almost invisible spear travelling at high speed coming towards you, you may well be dead!

(The author is head, marketing, at Bharti AXA Investment Managers)

Have news to share? Write to us