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If there was a single device which you could not live without, which would it be?

The Television …. Nope

The Personal Computer …. Nope

The Mobile Phone …. Definite Yes

Over a billion mobile devices are sold every year. Mobile phones outnumber television sets by over 3 to 1, and PC based internet users by over 4 to 1, and the total laptop and desktop PC population by nearly 5 to 1.

As the indispensable mobile has become the most interactive way to communicate, marketers today are capitalising on this ‘hard to ignore’ media. A simple means to use mobile for marketing would be an SMS by which one recipient of an advertisement on  a mobile, will forward that to a friend, leading to a viral communication which lets the customer be a part of advertising.

Apple’s advertising platform iAd is fast being accepted as the combination of interaction and emotion. The demo for iAd – Toy Story 3, showed the ability to not only see information about the movie, but to watch trailers, play games and more — all within the same application. Users were even able to buy products within ads.

Google, with one of its mobile advertising product, allowed marketers to embed ‘maps’ within the ads to target users based on their immediate location. It provided mobile users with more calls to action. And marketers with more options to connect with local advertisers. The ‘maps’ format uses IP to show ads based on geographic location but if users opt-in to use services such as Google’s ‘My Location’, the users exact location can be used.

Google QR, is an exciting way to market products and services through smartphones. The way to use it is simple. A service or product having a QR code needs to be scanned on your smartphone and you will be taken to that business’ web page, or a review page to see what other users think about that service/product. Marketers can incorporate QR codes to complement traditional marketing efforts. The codes could link consumers to product demos, videos, the brand’s Facebook or Twitter page.It allows potential customers to instantly learn more, by visiting a mobile version of the business’ web page on any supported phone. QR codes give shoppers an immediate connection to additional information that can potentially close a sale.

An interesting application of QR would be ‘Mobile ticketing solutions’, which would enable the easy validation of 2D mobile tickets from mobile phone screens – granting consumers immediate access to events without having to search for paper tickets.

Another exciting example of this format mobile ads is that used by HBO. HBO was running ads on a mobile site for a new season of its show ‘Eastbound & Down’. There were QR codes featured in print ads at bus stops that lead users to this page where they could view teasers and trailers for the show.Once users were at the mobile site, they could watch exclusive clips for the new season premiere. The target audience were men aged 18-45 along with pre-existing fans of the show.

Most of TGI Friday’s restaurants are located next to a cinema. So what do you think they can do about it? Maybe broadcast this, ‘A cinema night is not just going out to watch a film, but also indulging in cocktails and a meal for the full premiere experience.’  Through location based apps, TGIF would ‘sign-post’ these messages to users in real time when they are in proximity to a restaurant and cinema and are browsing on the go.

Mobile ads help in connecting with your customers in the right way, at right time and at the right location. Marketers have to use this powerful tool which is now being used only by a few pioneers in innovative trends to reach out to their targets.

PS : You could try creating your own QR Codes @


November 3, 2010 at 9:25 am 1 comment


‘WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get’ is no longer the norm by which organizations are looking at attracting and retaining customers. The new age belongs to ‘WYWIWYG – What You Want Is What You Get’.

How many times have you wondered of having your favorite quote on your  t-shirt ? So what if you were the only one in the world who thought it was a cool quote.

How many times have you wanted to study the subject that interested you ? So what if history and geography in school never caught your imagination and that only the fine arts excited you.

The era today belongs to customization. Every individual today has one’s own creative cells yearning to be used. And why not ? We love ourselves and we want to pamper ourselves with what we love. Like for instance, I would like my name on my ‘Nike’ shoes with my favorite colors. Is this possible?

NIKEiD furnishes a great example of customized products that are subject to these weird yearnings. Nike offers customers an interesting, easy and fun experience. You select the shoe design which you would like to customize and upload your details like color, material, fitting and also your personal ID. Behold, you have a self named Nike shoe ready to your specifications.

While costing about the same or a fraction more than the athletic shoes purchased in a store, consumers are accustomed to paying premium prices for anything personalized. Note that Nike has been, and continues to be, in the business of offering standardized athletic footwear, but the company has now added this service that allows consumers to design shoes according to their own taste. The trend is moving towards giving customers what they want and this is an interesting step in that direction.

Why should companies consider setting up this model now or at least start moving towards it. Consumers are slowly, but surely, taking the reins in regard to fashioning their own experiences with brands. Since so many customers enjoy the process of consumption, it could be argued that they derive even greater pleasure and value from customizing their own products. Today’s youth are accustomed to personalizing their own experiences, from the Internet to their mobile phones. They are customizing their toys, games and even their clothing. By making the customer part of the finished product design process, great perception of added value can develop, especially if that process is seamless, well designed and well managed. Also, being closer to the customer, and getting a constantly updated pulse on marketplace trends, yield great rewards.

Dell has always been considered a prime example since the company’s business model has always been based on mass customization. Customers who stroll into Starbucks can order coffee drinks in myriad ways within uniquely designed environments. There are purported to be over 19,000 ways to order your coffee drink at Starbucks. It can even be argued that Starbucks devotees have transcended mere brand loyalty to become true brand advocates.

Design your own chocolate bar, even your own watch! 121 Time Swiss Watches presents a great example where customers can select very casual or business watch styles and then customize every component of the basic style they choose: movement, case, bezel, dial and hands, crown and strap.

A few years ago, Burger King ran a very successful campaign, ‘Have it Your Way’ which resonated with customers since the fast food giant enabled them to order customized sandwiches to their liking. For Burger King, this was a clear point of differentiation from its competitors; one that it could exploit to solidify its brand identity in the consumer’s mind.

What kinds of rewards can be reaped by companies that offer mass customization services ? For sure, these companies can gain a competitive edge and significant differentiation from their competitors. The companies that become leaders in connecting with the customer in this new ‘experience economy’ in such a profound manner can achieve deep customer loyalty as well as true sustainability. And that is the ultimate goal of every business.

October 4, 2010 at 2:48 pm Leave a comment


“Did you know that between 80 and 85 percent of the energy used to wash clothes comes from heating the water? Tide Coldwater—The Coolest Way to Clean.”

“20 years of refusing to farm with toxic pesticides. Stubborn, perhaps. Healthy, most definitely.”

“The only thing our washer will shrink is your water bill.”

If you haven’t guessed it right, these taglines are by ASKO, P&G and Earthbound Farm Organic. And by now you must have realised what I’m hinting at. ‘Eco-friendly’, ‘energy conservation’, ‘save earth’, ‘recycle’, ‘environment’ are the buzz words most heard of today.

Customers’ today care. They care about their surroundings. About their planet. And that’s the reason why, the products that help “save the earth” are well approved of. Let’s call these products “green” products. And green products are not just responsible. They are better, healthier, more durable, more thoughtful, nicer, offering extensions into social communities, belonging to something. The young consumers today want to be a part of this change in mindset. They want to make a difference. Encouraging and endorsing green products definitely makes them feel a part of this revolution. In today’s  world, issues such as global warming interests consumers as well as marketers.

Green marketing refers to the process of selling products or services based on their environmental benefits. Such a product or service may be environmentally friendly in itself or produced or packaged in an environmentally friendly way. Potential consumers will view a product or service’s “greenness” as a benefit and base their buying decision accordingly. Consumers might even be willing to pay more for green products than they would for a less-green comparable alternative product.

Thus “Green Marketing” refers to a holistic marketing concept wherein the production, marketing consumption and disposal of products and services happen in a manner that is less detrimental to the environment with growing awareness about the implications of global warming, non-biodegradable solid waste, harmful impact of pollutants etc. Both marketers and consumers are becoming increasingly sensitive to the need for switch in to green products and services. While the shift to “green” may appear to be expensive in the short term, it will definitely prove to be indispensable and advantageous in the long run.

Companies have realised the power and potential of this colour today. They are beginning to capitalise on this ecological marketing approach by differentiating their products and services using the “go-green concern”. The traditional plastic bag takes about one thousand years to decompose. Notice Mc Donald’s napkins and bags. Also notice the recycling efforts by Apple. 19 million pounds of e-waste is recycled every year. Doesn’t your perception about the iPod/iPhone that you own become even better?

Few other examples are Body Shop – known for not testing their products on animals, refilling and recycling activities etc., Honda Motors – who are innovating with alternative fuels like hydrogen/natural gas based autos, General Electric, Epson etc.

Epson in particular, has made environmental policies like providing earth-friendly products, recycling used products and changing the process to reduce the burden of the environment. Epson collects and recycles ink in nine countries and changes their packaging for ink cartridge. It thus broadens its environmental concern from products to transportation and packaging methods. The Epson group disseminates their messages through websites, print media and TV advertisements. The messages try to create a positive image of their brand by environmental activities they have undertaken and thus create a positive brand image for their organisation.

So, all in all, green marketing benefits the brand and the customer. The interest, while rooted in a desire to do better environmentally, can also be traced to an increasing belief within mainstream business that green practices not only help companies add to their bottom lines in more innovative ways, but they can also promote a better business ethic, both internally and externally. Organizations are increasingly realizing that it is not enough to offer functional benefits alone to their customers. The opportunities and competitive advantages offered by environmentally friendly green products are becoming increasingly important for product sustainability.

In other words, green marketing is arriving in a fast pace and is here to stay.

August 24, 2010 at 10:05 am 2 comments


Why is the consumer’s brain more relevant to marketers today!

Picture this. You enter a wine shop. Soft French music is playing in the background with the scent of a freshly opened 1912 Franzia. No wonder you land up buying a bottle of wine. You entered the store with no intention of buying anything. But the soft music and relaxing aroma just didn’t let your feet turn towards the exit.

That is the power of the human senses. Brain power at its best. And some innovative marketers are capturing this aspect of human brain to sell their products. To give a brief scientific explanation, technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measure the changes in the activities in the parts of the human brain. Thus the answers to why the consumers behave in a certain way are answered. For eg. Sometimes if you are asked why you chose a product over the other, you have no answer. You say to yourself, I just felt like. But it is in the subconscious mind that the happy experiences related to that product exist. Like, the color, or the shape or the smell of that product somehow appeals to you. This science is fondly also called as “neuromarketing”.

Your senses: the sight, smell, sound, touch and taste are very important to marketers and this is how they capitalize on it. Let me illustrate to you a few communications that have brilliantly taken over this phenomenon.

A baby picture boosts altruistic behavior within people which is captured in this advertisement. This Michelin tire ad portrays the image of tire purchase for safety rather than economy or performance. And in particular, the safety of this adorable baby. Presumably, the shoppers’ might be willing to shell out a premium as they would be persuaded that these tires will be safer for their family.

A product scent is extremely effective for enhancing its memory and proves to distinguish amongst the surrounding context. Scent enhances a product’s distinctiveness and helps a consumer remember it down the line.

There was an experiment conducted where a few participants were asked to evaluate a few pencils (some scented – tea tree and some unscented). It was found that the scented pencils were much remembered and recognized than the unscented ones.

Imagine a billboard, a few feet away from a burger place that could emit the smell of fresh vegetables / grilling chicken for some parts of the day. For e.g. the smell could be something like that of “a blend of black pepper and grilled chicken”. The smell component of the signboard could operate during the peak commute times. Science explains that when coffee lovers smell the aroma of coffee, they crave for a cup of it. Ditto this sandwich. There could be many arguments that target consumers could be seated in a sealed, air conditioned car that would reduce the impact of the smell. But, this effort would create a lot of buzz and PR and social media use than rather having a billboard which no one would even notice in the absence of the smell.

A powerful and innovative medium of selling and branding products is definitely through the use of the tiny brain cells in the human mind. Imagine adding scent to talking/interactive billboards! Too powerful to even think of!

July 31, 2010 at 8:32 am 7 comments

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