Grappling with disruptive marketing

HARISH BIJOOR | Updated on January 17, 2018

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Grappling with disruptive marketing

I have a product that will disrupt the toothpaste market. I cannot divulge what it is, but how are marketing disruptors treated in India?


Jagmohan, all market disruptors are taken with disbelief for a start. In the beginning you distrust them, and then you criticise them, and then you hope to scuttle their idea altogether, and then you hope to push them into depression. But eventually, if they actually make it happen, you will praise them to the skies. Reminds me of Mark Twain who said: The way of this world is to persecute living saints and praise dead ones.

If you have an idea, test its strength in the market for sure. Consumers are normally fair people when it comes to great products.

I have a portal that sells second-hand goods. I want to grow. Any ideas?


Joy, politically correct language is here. When we talk of second-hand goods, we don’t call them that anymore. Have you heard ‘pre-loved’? ‘Pre-owned’?

A big learning in this segment is that second-hand goods must not look like second-hand goods. If they do, there is a stigma. If they don’t look like second-hand, then it’s all fine. In India , it is all about image and imagery. Consumers do not like to convey to one and all that they cannot afford newly minted products, and therefore have bought second-hand. This is a business of subterfuge. Clever subterfuge. The stigma is attached if everyone knows. If no one knows, subterfuge wins.

Are consumers expecting more from advertisers and advertising? And if so, what?


Bala, consumers always want more. Bigger purpose will be pushed onto the marketer’s lap and laptop later than sooner. When this happens, advertisers will get one more line in the creative brief: talk the big picture, make it relevant to all, and for heaven’s sake don't make it look only for a few.

Bigger purpose commenced as a small movement in India more than a decade ago. Surf tried it tentatively with the ‘ Do bucket paani bachaana hai’ campaign, Lifebuoy took it up, Tata Tea grabbed it as did many others. Many dropped it en route as well. And that is the worry. The bigger purpose in advertising has been an experiment, and not a long term part and parcel of all advertising. That is needed now. And that will differentiate responsible brands from not-so-responsible ones.

Harish Bijoor is a brand strategy expert and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. Send in your queries to

Published on July 21, 2016

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