Next time you enter your nearest mall, don’t be amazed to see a huge replica of an airplane, which is surrounded by beautiful air hostesses that makes you a feel as if you are about to enter a real plane ready to take off.

Welcome to the world of pop-up stores—temporary shops that usually sell goods for a limited period of time. Designed to generate buzz and ensnare shoppers with a get-in-while-you-can appeal, pop-ups allow brands to move quickly, opening up shops to test a new product or market, and closing them without much commotion. The trend involves ‘popping-up’ one day, and disappearing the next. These small and temporary stores have a tendency to pop up unannounced, draw in big crowds, and then disappear or morph into something else the next day. This creates a unique environment of relevance and interactivity that creates a buzz by generating consumer exposure.

Recently Singapore Airlines, in few selected malls across Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai, popped open 400 square feet facilities complete with mock-up seats, flight attendants welcoming you, in-flight amenities and cutlery to announce the launch of its enhanced economy and business class seats in a new way.

It can be called as an evolution of the modern retail environment providing a win-win situation. A comparatively low-overhead option for the brands, pop-up store allows them to step outside their traditional walls and meet a broader audience. It results in a flow of extra rental income and more traffic (footfalls) for the mall owners and it gives an opportunity to shoppers to touch and feel a product, sometimes even before it is available in the market.

Not surprisingly, brands such as Nokia, Singapore Airlines, Sony, Panasonic, Samsung , Canon, Acer and Dell are hopping onto pop-up store bandwagon warming the customers to here-today, gone-tomorrow brand tactic. Japanese major Canon is setting up 100 pop-up stores during the ongoing festive season for promotion of the latest range. NIKE is entering this innovative marketing trend with the Nike Runner’s Lounge, a temporary location where athletes can, among other things, rendezvous for a run, get free massages, drinks and snacks and perhaps most significantly, test-drive Nike’s line of running shoes. Nokia’s focus on pop-up stores in India started since the time the company rolled out its services under the Ovi brand last year. The company had then set up smaller stores to familiarize consumers about its array of services and also download content into compatible handsets. Enthused by the success, Nokia runs numerous pop-up stores across the country in electronics and mobile phone retail chains like The Mobile Store, Reliance Digital, Croma and Spice.

So, just ‘pop-out’ to the nearest mall and experience this emerging, innovative and effective marketing tool.


December 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm 2 comments


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 @ qrcode.kaywa.com

November 3, 2010 at 9:25 am 1 comment


Brand ambassadors have been one of the strongest marketing tools used for almost every product you can think of. From mobile phones to clothes and from soaps to toothpastes, almost every product category has a celebrity attached to it. In this competitive market it has become a need for every company to differentiate itself from others and attaching itself to a celebrity is just another attribute in this list.

Even though getting celebrities to endorse brands is nothing new, the impact it has today due to various media outlets has changed the way we look at celebrity endorsements. Accenture, is one of the most respected companies in the consulting space and had roped in Tiger Woods to be their brand ambassador. Their tagline emphasized on ‘High Performance… Delivered’. Unfortunately, other than the golf course, Tiger Woods was delivering high performance elsewhere. And today, Accenture has elephants conveying the same message. We have had numerous instances where the personal lives of celebrities has jeopardized the brands that they endorse.

On the other hand, companies have rode the wave of goodwill brought in by celebrities as well. Titan has changed its entire image after the launch of luxury watches with Aamir Khan as a brand ambassador. Aamir Khan, who is supposed to be a perfectionist in whatever he does has brought this attribute to the Titan Brand and what better attribute to be attached to the range of watches than perfectionism.

Companies are using celebrity rivalry to spice up their own product rivalry as well. For example, Coca Cola has Aamir Khan as a brand ambassador while Shahrukh Khan is the brand ambassador for Pepsi. Similarly, we have these stars endorsing competitive products in other product categories like DTH Cable Television (Aamir endorses Tata Sky while Shahrukh endorses Dish TV) and mobile phones ( Aamir has gone with Samsung while Shahrukh is a Nokia loyalist).

As per a reserach paper by Neha Taleja of Mudra Institute of Communication, celebrity endorsements depends on the following factors

  1. Celebrity Credibility
  2. Celebrity Profession
  3. Celebrity Physical Attractiveness
  4. Celebrity Values
  5. Celebrity Availability
  6. Celebrity Popularity
  7. Celebrity – Product Match
  8. Celebrity – Target Audience Match
  9. Celebrity – Cost of Acquisition
  10. Celebrity – Regional Attractiveness
  11. Celebrity Controversy Risk
  12. Celebrity as a Brand User
  13. Celebrity – Advertising Fit

The brand loyalty between the brand and these celebrities may be valid till the contract period however the end user’s loyalty to both the celebrity and their endorsed brand is something new age marketers have to capitalize on until the celebrity’s star power remains intact.

October 27, 2010 at 2:47 pm 2 comments


The major difference between a manager and a leader is that managers have reportees while leaders have followers. In the arena of marketing, these leaders can create a tribe which not only evangelizes the brand but also advocates it.

Gone are the days when the only contact you had with a brand was the salesperson who would sell you the merchandise. In the new age, the biggest salesperson is the man or woman sitting at the top of the organization. Today, CEO’s receive the same if not more, media coverage than models or celebrities. The CEO’s are no longer confined to the boardroom chalking out strategy but are selling their brand and building their tribes.

Lets take an example of Apple, Steve Jobs has been the leader of the i-Generation (any one with iPod, iPhone, iPad or anything ‘i’). He has been instrumental in the launch of each and every revolutionary product from Apple. His turtle neck and jeans along with his coolness while demonstrating any of his product has been accepted by consumers as a genuine demonstration of technology evangelism. Imagine having a movie star telling you about the iPhone versus Steve Jobs keynotes.

Another great example would be from Microsoft, where Bill Gates recently had a video created for his (supposedly) last day at work at Microsoft. The video went viral and so did the message that even the GEEK GOD could be cool or at least try to be. Virgin’s Richard Branson is a great example of a leader who has activated his tribe through his daredevil stunts and exuberance.

Like the two sides to the coin, every positive has a negative and leaders may attract a lot of negative publicity as well. For example, the exit of former HP CEO Mark Hurd didn’t go well with investors or consumers. Facebook’s Mark Zukerberg is the best example of a leader who has seen both sides of the coin, with his contradicting appearances on the television serial The Simpsons and the movie The Social Network.

Lets look at some CEO’s and what quality they personify

Steve Jobs – Innovation
Bill Gates – Charity
Richard Branson – Daredevilry
Ratan Tata – Integrity

Finally, faceless companies have a face that the consumer can identify and relate to. These tribes are what most businesses need, and who better to lead this tribe than the man or woman at the top of the organization.

October 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm 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


How far do you think innovative marketing would go to grab the attention of the masses ?

Recently Volkswagen created a buzz around their latest marketing campaign using a simple medium like the newspaper to create an innovative campaign. My usually mute and dumb (more intelligent than the idiot box though) newspaper had started to speak. Exaggeration? Maybe. For those who haven’t guessed it yet I am referring to the innovative Volkswagen integrated print and audio ad in the Times of India. Volkswagen had integrated a small circuit within the newspaper which would play a prerecorded message in support to the larger print ad.

As a reader, curiosity got the better of me as I repeatedly shut and opened the pages a few times over to hear the message which sounded quite similar to the Volkswagen Das Auto spiel in their TV commercials. On the way to work, I spotted another hoarding of Volkswagen Das Auto across the street. On any other day I would have looked through it but today it reminded me of the morning newspaper ad. As I updated my facebook status about how print just got audio visual, I wasn’t surprised to find that I was not the only one having this conversation.

Sitting on the brand chair of a marketing company I was no more a consumer. What followed were a few quick excel sheet calculations and a few calls to my media agency. My mind was already thinking about the marketers maths – ROMI (return on marketing investment). At an average price of a false jacket on the Times of India (which incidentally is the largest English circulation newspaper in the world), with the premium Volkswagen would have paid across 5 cities, the average CPP (cost per contact) of this piece of communication would be roughly 20 times that of reaching the same number through the television media. At this price Volkswagen’s Das Auto message could have probably reached the same number of potential customers through a direct contact campaign at offices or malls. They could have run a digital campaign across all major internet and social marketing portals for over 2 years. They could have sent a SMS to every single mobile handset in the country suggesting a test drive every day for the next 3 month.

We are all multi-media, multi-dimensional and multi-tasking consumers, never consuming a single source of communication at a given time. Between a morning cup of tea at home to looking out of my office window, I had already consumed on an average,  at least 3 media for the Das Auto campaign.

But then is the medium, the communication, the cost or the talking Times of India Ad, a good marketing strategy? What is really the price the new age marketer is ready to pay to get his consumer to listen to him? Does the consumer care? What is the customer segment for the car for which the company spent a few million rupees this morning? How many Indians would get the car in their consideration set? How many would associate with the brand personality of the car?

These are the few questions that a new age marketer would think about when analyzing this marketing campaign other than the buzz factor attached to an integrated audio print ad. So what does the marketer do to get my attention, something that hasn’t been done before, something the marketers call; a media innovation. So, will the talking newspaper work miracles for Volkswagen sales, only time will tell.

One moment, among all this buzz, innovation and excitement of the talking newspaper I almost forgot to see what car Volkswagen was talking about!!!!

Thank you for the buzz, Volkswagen Vento. Das ist New Age Marketing (German for: This is New Age Marketing).

September 28, 2010 at 10:26 am 2 comments


“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

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