Paul Writer marketing

I went to a neighborhood mobile phone shop in Amsterdam. On showing my id the store owner cheerfully chirped “Jassi, jaisi koi nahi”. He’s from Afghanistan. Assorted Europeans have sung various Hindi songs to me and want to know if I have met Amitabh Bachchan (I have). Dutch friends crave home-made chicken tikka. And everyone assumes we are in IT. (Sort of true.) Oh, and we must be expert at yoga (just started with a virtual trainer from India). Bachchan, IT, chicken tikka, yoga – is this what India is primarily associated with?

I’m doing the final round of editing of the second edition of my book, No Money Marketing, and the chapter on using country as a brand lever triggered this thought – what is India famous for? If I told you food, fashion or an automobile was from Italy you’d probably pay a premium. Ditto for Scandinavian design, German engineering, French fashion, a Swiss watch, a Korean phone. What would earn a premium if you said “Indian xxx”? In the previous edition of my book I mentioned IT, but I’d love some ideas on what else we could claim. Ping me with your thoughts! India is much bigger than Estonia or Costa Rica but maybe it is time to consider a strategy to build out our brand on certain industry clusters.

On a related note, I like what tech firms like Zoho are doing both for the India brand and for rural India – “Made in India, Made for the World” is a lovely thought to take forward. Here’s their Creative Director, Raffic Aslam’s back-story on this campaign. Makes you all warm and fuzzy.

Warm and fuzzy is in season, with various brands like PVR, Cadbury’s and Burger King giving shout-outs to their peers and competitors. It sounds super generous but has the added benefit of putting a halo on their head – great in these times when customers are looking for brands to be ‘good’. I share my thoughts on this strategy in this article in Hindu Business Line It is an extension of the awards marketing strategy – the company which is giving out the awards is assumed to be an expert in that space.

I’m moderating a virtual roundtable on CX today, and my ice-breaker question to all the panelists was “a surprising fact about CX”. Researching that topic, I was surprised to find that as per Forrester’s Customer Experience Index “69% of customers had good experiences with Indian brands — with 10% even reporting having excellent experiences despite COVID-19.” The improvement is a testament to how fast we can move when (a) we have to and (b) we are not distracted. COVID-19 has simplified things for a number of businesses – lesser distribution channels, lesser media options, lesser available products/suppliers and, yes, possibly lesser customers. I’ve long felt that CX gets the short stick in India in many industries because the pool of new customers is greater than the pool of existing ones, AND the cost of good CX is often prohibitive. The current crunch has sorted the first reason and digitization is sorting the second.

A brand that is not getting any warm and fuzzy at present is Tanishq – their most recent ad which has a character who in passing mentions no fireworks for Diwali has also been pulled. Frankly if it wasn’t for this controversy the ad wouldn’t have gotten noticed. So maybe it is a great ad, after all. I wrote about why marketers cannot have morals in Hindu Business Line when their first ad came out. But this one doesn’t really fall in that category – more of the writer expressing the thoughts of their milieu.

One of the trends I wanted to seek your views on is how the amount of space we all use has shrunk. Earlier we used to distribute our time across so many different venues – office, meeting spaces, hotels, restaurants, gyms, shopping malls, beauty salons, clinics, airplanes. All of that has been reduced now. Will a vaccine change that? Will we go back to using spaces the way we used to or will we interact with our world differently? The answer will impact many businesses.  Many are digitizing the old way of living – who will design for the new way of life?

This Diwali/Kali Pujo will be different from years past. But hopefully it will be as warm and happy.

Shubho Kali Pujo/ Happy Diwali to all who celebrate it!


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