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A large chunk of India’s population lies on the outskirts of the formal economy. Living in far-flung corners of the country, illiteracy and a lack of connectivity are common reasons why consumers in these areas remain unbanked. Moreover, banks in rural areas are few and far in-between, making it difficult for many people to reach them during working hours.

The government, however, is making efforts to broaden financial inclusion and has recently introduced several programmes to address these obstacles, including Jan Dhan Yojana and Smart Cities.

Impetus provided by Demonetisation

In November 2016, the government announced the demonetisation of high-value currency in India, leading to prolonged cash shortages and disruption in the economy. While there were several objectives behind the demonetisation, increased digitisation and the integration of the formal and informal economies were among those that began to take shape. The shortage of hard cash for daily purchases led to the quick adoption of e-payment portals, e-wallets and digital transactions. Additionally, the cash volatility encouraged people to warm up to the concept of payments banks.

This adoption of digital transactions, however, was primarily taking place in the urban areas, largely because companies enabling digital transactions, like e-wallets, e-portals etc. hadn’t covered rural areas till then. As a result, consumers in the hinterland felt the effects of demonetisation more severely. In fact, as much as 38% of the rural population didn’t even have bank accounts.

The Domestic Remittance Opportunity For The Rural Economy

Remittance, or the transfer of money between two people (rather than a payment for goods or services), is a basic financial activity for many rural Indians; it’s also a key untapped business opportunity for players looking to facilitate the abundance of money transfers. Payments banks can provide a ready solution to the current domestic remittance scenario. There are 120 million migrant workers in India, and more than 80% live in the inadequately connected rural areas. Additionally, migrants who hail from villages but work in towns and cities make 80% of the country’s domestic remittances.

According to the National Remote Payments Survey by National Council of Applied Economic Research, and additional insights using Nielsen’s forecasting technique, domestic remittance in India is valued at more than INR 900 billion per year, including non-traditional modes of transfer. Rural India’s contribution is over INR 700 billion per year.

Of the INR 700 billion worth of domestic remittances that happen in rural India, traditional channels comprise a mere 40%, or INR 300 billion. The rest of the remittance happens via non-traditional remittance modes. Given the high risk of non-traditional remittance modes, there is a huge scope to expand traditional remittance avenues like payments banks.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018 00:00

Disrupt the status quo in order to grow

Recently I wrote a piece for Brand Matters, our monthly review of what is new in the world of brand marketing, about the need to break out of the comfort zone. In this post I thought I would explore a few different examples of how a brand found growth beyond the edge of the comfort zone.

My observation of the few brands that grew over five years suggests that they all did something disruptive, something that changed the way they served customers, went to market or communicated with their target audience. These brands were not simply repeating a marginally different version of what they did the previous year, but doing something radically different based as a result of anticipating their customers’ needs, wants and desires.

The most obvious example of disruption is the launch of the Apple iPhone and because it is so obvious I am not going to dwell on it other than to say that it was a classic example of functional innovation that changed consumer expectations and disrupted an established category. However, too many of us get fixated on the idea that innovation only applies to a brand’s product or service. So let’s have a quick look at some other innovative and disruptive activities.

I love the example of Clear shampoo in Japan. As a lesser-known brand focused on scalp care Clear had a big challenge if it was to grow through traditional B2C marketing. Recognizing that the existing game was stacked against them, the brand team decided to change it and sell to corporations not consumers. Its Headgear Cover Plan encouraged companies to supply Clear shampoo to those who had to wear headgear at work, like firemen, food prep and construction workers. The Headgear-Cover Plan campaign added 70,900 employees as new users, seven times the target, and e-commerce sales rose by 171 percent over the duration of the campaign compared to the previous year.

My media colleagues are always reminding me that the medium is also the message. And it is true, but when media budgets are often set well in advance of implementation it can sometimes be difficult to something different from last year. However, Jane Ostler, Global Media Domain Lead, Insights Division at Kantar, reminded me of the example of Burberry, the first luxury brand to livestream their catwalk shows, one of the first to enable shopping from Instagram and try out short form ads on Snapchat.

Then there is the example of Ariel detergent in India. How can you break out of the status quo in a highly competitive market? Find a compelling new purpose that will help the brand make a positive change in society. The campaign sought to highlight the gender inequality that meant men did not do their share of household tasks. Videos that contrasted the attitudes and behavior of men and women were augmented by creative use of messaging on packaging and wash care labels with different instructions provided for men and women. Ariel’s ‘Share the Load’ campaign encouraged 1.57 million men to pledge to share the load and Ariel grew value sales by 106 percent.

If you want to grow a brand you have to do something different from the norm, something innovative that disrupts the status quo. Can you think of any other examples of disruption, other than functional innovation, which resulted in strong growth?

 

Written by Nigel Hollis,Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst at Kantar Millward Brown.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018 00:00

AME Awards Announces Shortlist

New York Festivals® AME Awards®, for the World’s Best Advertising and Marketing Effectiveness™, announced the Shortlist for 2018 competition.

“Since 1994, the AME Awards has honored campaigns from around that globe that are not only creative, but successfully demonstrate innovative solutions to challenging marketing problems. This year’s standout Shortlisted entries represent ground-breaking creative work that has achieved measurable results on behalf of the brand, said Michael Demetriades, President and Executive Director of the AME Awards.

2018’s Shortlisted entries submitted from creative agencies around the globe boosted brand awareness and achieved exemplary results utilizing a robust number of strategies including guerilla marketing, branded entertainment, social marketing, sponsorships and promotions and cause marketing.

To view the complete 2018 Shortlist please visithttps://www.ameawards.com/finalist-page.

Innovative ideas placed brands out front and helped achieve measurable market share including such cutting-edge tactics as a talking store, snow tweets in the Alps, and tattoo ink created from motorcycle burn-out carbon. Brave New World Communications Pvt. Ltd. India’s Shortlisted campaign’s “THE HEART OF THE HIGHWAY - The World's First Talking Store” for client The Roadster Life Co. featured a talking store, with a unique first-person voice, that reached out to shoppers creating the effect of personal interaction delivered by interactive in-store tech including custom software, digital façade, interactive and multiTaction touch screens, augmented reality green-screen, immersive VR and virtual shopping screens. Results included a 70% revenue spike in high-value apparel categories.

Heimat Werbeagentur GmHB “Snowdrawings” for Swisscom, sponsor of the Swiss Ski team, wanted to be more than a logo and create a benefit for ski fans and showcase their extensive network. The telecommunications provider utilized a remote cheering app that allowed fans to send supporting tweets to the ski team and have them written next to the race track in the snowy slopes of the Alps. The tweets were visible for 2 miles and were created using automated snow blower-bots. Results—26 million impressions, 4 million video views and over 20 km of written messages in the snow.

Team One Los Angeles, “Inking Our Mark on Motorcycle Culture” regained market share for Indian Motorcycles by leveraging a brand-first lifestyle media partnership and the world’s-first tattoo production technique formulated from the burn-out carbon from Motocross legend Carey Hart’s Indian Motorcycle. The process of making the ink and tattooing Carey were presented in a video along with a six-page custom print advertorial for Inked and offering a limited-edition run of Indian Motorcycle Ink™ in select biker-focused tattoo parlors nationwide resulted in the ink being sold out in a week. With zero paid traffic to Indian’s website, the results include 82% new visitors who spent an average 59% more time and visited 7% more pages than other visitors in the same period reinforcing success in generating qualified conquest leads. Indian went from 7th to 2nd most purchased motorcycle brand in the U.S.

Branded Entertainment repositioned brands and increased brand affinity, Shortlisted entries include Zulu Alpha Kilo Canada’s campaign “Common Ground” for their docu-series that followed riders from around the globe on a trip across Canada for Harley-Davidson Canada. Discovery Channel picked up the series as a primetime special, increasing Harley’s market share. PHD China’s “Panamera O2O Brand Repositioning” for client Porsche re-launched the Panamera through an integrated sponsorship with the immensely popular series “Ode to Joy” making it better aligned government and cultural climate and consumer needs and wants. Starcom Saudi Arabia’s “ALJ Toyota After Sales” for client ALJ Toyota created an animated web series for YouTube portraying the day-to-day life of a Saudi citizen. The film showcased ALJ after sale and maintenance services resulting in 94% change in brand perception with 49% increase in service appointments.

HBO Multicultural Marketing "The HeLa Project" was launched as a lead up to the premiere of HBO’s film, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” The multi-day, multi-city, multi-media, traveling art installation consisted of a unique, impactful collective of artisans and thought-leaders from the African-American community. Touring activation resulted in 182 million media impressions. Oprah, the film’s star, promoted the film through promotional channels, including her social media accounts, a promotional press tour that included the cover of an Essence cover and hosting a junket for black female journalists (#blackgirlmagic), and show appearances. Over 6,500 guests attended, 77% of guests were more likely to watch “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”.

Campaigns created to raise awareness for causes, or social and civic issues advanced. Shortlisted campaigns include: Dentsu Jayme Syfu Philippines guerilla campaign “Dead Whale” for client Greenpeace. The agency mounted a 73-foot decomposing “Dead Whale” installation on the shores of one of the most polluted cities in the Philippines during the 2017 ASEAN Summit. When examined closer, the whale was made entirely of plastic wastes collected from the ocean. The results—over 100 million impressions internationally and it caught the attention of ASEAN leaders, which put Coastal and Marine Protection in the proposal for the next Summit. Heimat Werbeagentur GmHB Germany’s Shortlisted campaign “A New Way of Thinking” for Free Democrats created a game-changing election campaign to reach and activate young voters and bridging the gap between the Liberal party and the voters. The digital campaign resulted in a comeback for the Liberal party.

Entries utilizing Sponsorships raised awareness for brands and connected them with target audiences. Shortlisted entries include: QIYI China’s “Rising! Chinese Hip-hop” for client McDonald’s China connected McDonalds with millennials via food and music creating The Rap of China, the first internet-based hip-hop contest. Havas San Francisco “Citrix & Red Bull Racing: This Is How the Future Works” for client Citrix. The campaign repositioned Citrix as a thought leader in the future of work, leveraging their high-profile partnership with the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team and showcasing what Citrix can bring to any IT customer relationship. GMR Marketing “Lincoln Financial Group Presents: The Game Plan” for client Lincoln Financial leveraged their Philadelphia Eagles partnership to showcase best practices for financial planning by following a day in the life of players and illustrating that Lincoln Financial is a partner who will help them take charge of their financial future.

Social platforms created buzz for brands resulting in measurable gains in market share along with Shortlist status. Grabarz & Partner Werbeagentur GmbH Germany’s “Laughing Horses” Volkswagen showcased the product benefits of the Trailer Assist, illustrating the stress of parking while someone is watching. This funny social video featuring laughing horses mocking a frustrated driver trying to park his trailer became the best performing German Volkswagen video with 40 million views. Other Shortlisted entries include: Team One USA “Platforms of Expression for a Shareworthy Life” for Lexus IS; TBWA\ Singapore “Justice Bao and The Missing Travel Insurance” for Singapore Tourism Board; Saudi Ministry of Health “Diabetes Monster” for Diabetes McCann New York “The Sound of Priceless” Mastercard; Al Jazeera Qatar “#DemandPressFreedom by Al Jazeera” for www.aljazeera.com; Brave New World Communications Pvt. Ltd. India “Once Upon a Highway” The Roadster Life Co.; and Mediacorp PTE Ltd. “Letter to My Son” for Mediacorp.

Campaigns for automotive brands drove consumer engagement and gained traction for the brand. Agencies Shortlisted include: Grabarz & Partner Werbeagentur GmbH “Laughing Horse” for Volkswagen; Socialize United Arab Emirates “Meet Kamal: The World's Best Auto Salesman” for Mercedes-Benz; Mirrored Media “Road to Coachella” for BMW.

The medal round is underway and AME’s Grand Jury awards Gold, Silver, and Bronze to the highest scoring entries through two rounds of regional judging to ensure scoring accounts for cultural and economic relevance. Gold-winning work from all regions is judged by the full international Grand Jury to determine a Platinum Award for each of the five regions (North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East & Africa and Asia Pacific) and the International Grand AME Award.

 

Sunday, 18 February 2018 00:00

Fast food innovation

From Bitcoin Buckets to delivery drones, fast food moves into fast innovation.

Brands are finding new ways beyond ad campaigns to connect with consumers by positioning themselves at the forefront of cultural and tech trends. Furniture giant Ikea launched Space10, its internal innovation team, at the end of 2015 and Unilever collaborated with startups through the Unilever Foundry, which piloted in 2014. More recently, fast-food companies such as KFC, Domino’s and Burger King have upped their presence in the testing of product prototypes and the trialing of new ways to interact with consumers.

The new branded currency

Brands are exploring the possibilities of blockchain as a seamless and safe way to make digital transactions. Last month KFC Canada released the Bitcoin Bucket. Sales were tracked live on Facebook and the promotion sold out almost immediately. In August 2017, Burger King Russia launched the WhopperCoin, a “blockchain loyalty program.” Customers receive a virtual WhopperCoin with every Whopper they purchase and these can be traded or cashed in for burgers.

Retailers are experimenting with face-based payments to attract “young, tech savvy consumers who are keen to embrace new tastes and innovations,” Joey Wat, Yum China’s president, told Reuters.

In September 2017, Alibaba released its Smile to Pay facial recognition technology at KFC China, the first physical store to use face-based payments. CaliBurger brought the concept to America the following December using NEC’s NeoFace facial recognition technology. The screen in the self-order kiosk recognizes customers, pulls up their loyalty account and order preferences, and lets them pay by smiling.

Drone delivery

Drone delivery adoption is growing among retailers and consumers. Amazon, 7-Eleven and Google have all piloted autonomous drone deliveries, aiming to eventually make the service commercial. For two days in January 2018, KFC India offered the KFO (Kentucky Flying Object)—a strictly limited number of lucky customers in selected cities received their chicken wings in a box that could be reassembled as a drone.

Domino’s has been testing pizza delivery drones and rovers since November 2016 in New Zealand, Germany, and the Netherlands. “We believe drone delivery will be an essential component of our pizza deliveries,” said Don Meij, Domino’s Group CEO and managing director, when the service was first trialed.

Self-driving cars

Pizza brands are partnering with car companies to prepare for our automated future. At CES 2018, Pizza Hut and Toyota put the concept into action with an autonomous delivery truck that could one day even contain pizza ovens.

In August 2017, Domino’s US launched a research study with Ford Motor Company to discover how consumers would respond to pizza delivery from a self-driving car. “We’ve been watching the development of self-driving vehicles with great interest as we believe transportation is undergoing fundamental, dramatic change,” said Patrick Doyle, Domino’s president and CEO.

Fast (food) fashion

Fast-food companies are encroaching on the fashion industry in a bid to become lifestyle brands. Taco Bell brought its fast-casual attitude to fast fashion, partnering with Forever 21 in October 2017 on a clothing line of hoodies, shirts, and sauce-themed bodysuits. In the same month, Pizza Hut created a parka out of its delivery material, with a triangular pocket wittily suggesting wearers might like to carry a slice with them at all times.

Companies are also releasing branded accessories. In July 2017, KFC launched KFC Limited, a line of chicken-themed merchandise from socks to Colonel Sanders’ string tie. For the holidays, the collection was updated with wrapping paper and gravy mugs. McDonald’s followed suit by launching a lifestyle collection with UberEats, giving away one free item per UberEats order to randomly selected customers on July 26, 2017.

Fast-food retailers are gaining consumer attention and loyalty by adopting creative, innovative projects. The limited-edition releases demonstrate that fast innovation is a great tool for market research, allowing brands to test consumer response to better understand their audience.

 

Wednesday, 14 February 2018 00:00

Your throbbing start-up seeks wings !

Imagine if Uber after series of brainstorming had concluded that innovation meant building great comfortable taxis for commuters. Good for us they didn’t do that, instead picked a different insight. They saw the pain people went through while booking cabs and simply solved that.

Lot of times we wonder if there was a framework that could help small businesses, growing brands and start-ups focus on brand building and marketing in this complex Digital world, without losing their sleep and yet continue to focus on all the other things that matter? If you are one of them you will agree there are enough things to distract you and there will be occasions where you will feel lost, bit less confident and inadequate with a feeling that the market is evolving faster than you can manage. You are convinced your brand or your idea has the potential, but what to do with it seems like a big question.

It’s going to be an important question since building a brand and creating a successful value proposition needs a committed approach. Today success is about adapting to change and this change is happening really rapidly.

There are these four areas to consider as you begin the journey

· What’s the current tension (amongst your likely audience) that you are trying to resolve?

· What’s the solution you have thought of, something your product or service is promising to do?

· Who exactly are your consumers, what do they do/read, how they spend their time and what do you want them to do or feel as a result of your product or service?

· What are your brand’s values, how does it behave, communicate, create experiences and deliver on the promise it makes?

How do we start. Lets assume you broadly know the space your brand wants to operate in.

The problem or the tension you are hoping to resolve

While getting to this, the best way is to look deep inside the consumers mind. That could be done by talking to them, looking at their conversations, carrying surveys or spending time with them, even living with them. Lego did exactly that.

After losing market share and realising this new ‘instant gratification' generation may not have the patience with Lego, they visited a 11 yr old German boy’s house - a Lego consumer who pointed out to his worn-out sneaker shoes as his most proud item which made him the best skateboarder amongst his peers. The Lego team realised it was this social currency (among peers), that was most important to this boy within the skills he chose, whatever that skill is (in this case skateboarding).

You know the areas that interest you. Look for information and make a list of consumers reactions, insights and other valuable  information you can gather. Now imagine the consumer's journey towards purchase, the steps he/she would take to move towards completion of their action. Think of all the steps, multiple touch points and offline-online interactions they do in the category you are building.

The trick here is to find areas where the consumer can have a frictionless experience. Friction is the opposite of consumer experience. Make a list of all the possible ‘tension’ or ‘friction’ spots. Consumers cant express what they need, so the best way would be to watch them. Experts call it Frictionless Customer Experience (FCX). A digital design agency is creating a cafe on anticipatory design philosophy. The Baristas get to know the customer is approaching even before he/she has reached (through an iwatch for instance), and start preparing their favourite drink and keep it ready. They call this philosophy - ‘flow not friction’.

Your unique solution or offering

How do you create a unique offering. Something that is unlike what others are offering, something unique. A quick thumb rule which i have seen a few great brands following.

Benefit - What is that special you are doing for the consumer?

Outcome - What is it going to result in, eventually?

Story - What is your unique narrative, your story telling?

Strengths - What is that makes you uniquely strong?

Remember it as the BOSS philosophy.

We will come to narrowing down the audience, but at this stage continue to think how your brand is adding value to their lives. What is that special you are doing. Look at the other competitors in your category and find some uniquenesses you want your brand to be strong at. If your brand can deliver something more than what your consumers are expecting you have a winning proposition at hand. It can be a new concept or something incremental to an existing one, or even a different way of using an existing product or a service. When I conduct corporate workshops, one of the activities we do is to ideate and create a radically new product out of a mash-up of 2 or 3 existing products or services keeping the consumers growing needs in mind.

Nike has been a great example, since the time the brand got created in 1971 along with its symbol the Swoosh, it has focussed on innovation and used new technologies effectively. Their vision has continued to remain the same - ‘to connect with athletes to aspire and enable them to do better’ and always stayed ahead fulfilling their consumers new, unmet needs.

Identifying your audience

There is a trick here. Definitely its important to understand your audience, but in todays time you need to do more work. I meet clients, who say ‘I am thinking of a new content channel which will provide intelligent content to children’ or i am a healthcare brand wanting to make booking appointments super easy’. There  are several great ideas and entrepreneurs out there. Its important to microscopically observe your vast audience and build personas. Each will have a distinct need and will need a different approach and strategy.

The point here is not to get trapped in the traditional - Age, SEC classification. Instead, first think of people around you, teachers, gym co-members, colleagues, society neighbours. Are there people who you think are most likely your target audience. If yes, wonderful! They are then, actually your target group. Define them. You will get different personas.

Unless you know your audience, you will fail to effectively talk to them. Get into a room and ask what drives them, what could be their favourite things, their hang outs. What are they likely to do online and what can be offered to them that can add value to their lives. What is their unique ‘unmet' need that you could possibly fulfil. Always remember consumers only have an existing reference to make. They cannot predict how they will respond to a new concept, or articulate a new need. We know Snapchat created a radical shift in video creation with vertical videos. It realised consumers were not doing the normal thing when it came to creating videos (they held the phone vertically while talking or chatting but changed the orientation when shooting videos). Snapchat just made people record their videos in the easiest natural way and with over 10 mn vertical videos each day on Snapchat, we know it was a great shift.

The Brand essence

What is the essence of the brand that you want to build. Its values will manifest in the way your brand behaves, talks and communicates with your audience. You could be this healthcare brand or a book-reading app or a fitness product. You need to arrive at the essence of your brand.

Ask yourself, what are the adjectives your brand is most likely to be associated with. Think of things important to you, close to your heart. These possibly are the values you want your brand to be associated with too. Go deep, it will help you create a personality. You could want to be bold, edgy. Or radical, rebellious. Don’t try to be like others. Be something new, unique, something that truly resonates with what you intend to be. Defining your brand as a person, is the best outcome.

You have looked at your competitors and differentiating yourself is key to success. Be true and authentic and its okay to defy set rules. See Tinder, it says online dating should be as casual as a bar and worked on this theme. Infact MIT Media Lab recently awarded a prize for shaking up the state quo or breaking the rules called the "New Disobedience Award".

A white board with inputs from all stakeholders and then segregating the inputs is great. At the end you should have a sense of the values you want your brand to be associated with, its personality and the tone. Eventually this will also become a great brief for your designer to come up with - visual language, designs and the logo (if its not already created).

While defining the vision, discuss what your brand wants to be, its reason to exist. Arrive at one statement - the big vision that will get etched in stone, something that you will eventually want to be, several years from now. When P&G created beinggirl.com it was not to talk product, but to “illuminate" the TG’s world (the 11-14 yr old girls age segment who have their embarrassing moments, hygiene related issues etc).

Storytelling

Storytelling is the best way to build a bond with your audiences. Find those unique aspects about your consumers' lives and build your content around these micro moments and their life experiences. Let there be emotion, because that’s what people associate with. Good stories will lead to visibility and reach. With good visibility your brand will get share-ability.

Research is showing that our basic qualities - belonging, expression, self discovery, emotions, freedom - when used in story telling gets the best consumer connect. Remember when Nike got Nancy, a runner who came 6284th at Boston marathon and lost her job and confidence, to run again, gave her running shows and all the motivation she needed. She was no less a champion than the top runner. This is a story that stays true to Nike’s brand essence, a brand that doesn’t just sell footwear but stories of personal quest of excellence.

Storytelling comes in all forms and shapes. It is in shape of experiences related to customer care, it could be the actual product and packaging or it can be in-store experiences. How  many times have we loved the Starbucks experience. They say a Starbucks store is the third place in the lives of its people, a quiet moment to gather your thoughts, a small escape. Starbucks people smile at you, making it a place that feels like a breath of fresh air.

Never forget the people you hire, your employees. Successful brands have this great desire to promote a culture that resonate with their brand. Zappos, the online shoe and clothing retailer gives a reverse reward for employees if they want to quit. It pays them money to quit if they think they aren’t fitting in.

Okay, so we are done for now. All of this needs to stay consistent. At this stage you have your brand's reason to exist and values defined. The value of your brand will get built over time, as your loyal customers grow and bond with it. The challenge is to stay on track and continue to strive to build loyalty.

Go ahead rule the world. Talk to partners who can now show you how to best use Digital, which channels to choose, what KPI’s to keep and develop smart impactful messaging. Keep up with your enthusiasm, courage, hunger and willingness to adapt to unknown situations and you will do wonders!


Written by Rajeev Sharma, Founder, Awrizon - a performance driven Digital Consultancy.

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