IPL, the ultimate brand wagon

| Updated on: Apr 06, 2011
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Brand IPL is here once again. What does it mean to the marketer? Is it all hype? Or is it for real?

Shyam C. Menon, Delhi

Shyam, IPL is a singularly convenient vehicle that captures the eyeballs and gets the passion of India going. There are two aspects really. The first is one of eyeballs. IPL gets the largest numbers of eyeballs in India against every other possibility. It gets a very secular and democratically dispersed set of eyeballs as well. There is just no distinction of rich and poor, of happy and unhappy, of the rustic and the suave. In many ways, IPL viewership represents the entire fabric of India as it stands today.

Cricket and IPL are today a vehicle to escape for the consumer, to escape from his mundane life with its usual problems. Cricket-escapism.

In many ways this is the lowest common denominator audience profile of India, mixed with a large middle-class, garnished with both the genders and topped up with the small but surely energetic, upmarket homes of India.

It is a no-brainer to the marketer that the event is an opportunity to reach out to the largest number of people in India. No other sport or anything else can compete.

To the marketer, the second importance aspect is the key buzzword of passion. The game excites India like nothing else does. It is the subject of animated discussion at kitty parties and corporate bashes alike. It cuts across barriers. It's an icebreaker. It forges friendships. It beats the weather as a conversation starter. Marketers love vehicles that excite consumer passions. The idea is to harvest this passion into their respective brands as well.

Therefore, IPL is a killer vehicle for the brand marketer.

What is the essence of Brand India to you? And what are its differentiating factors?

Rohini Balakumar, Ahmedabad

Rohini, Brand India is about many things really. If I were to distil three key values from this amalgam that is India, it would be:

One: Brand India is about heritage, and everything that heritage brings with it. We are an old country with old values, really. Rich values — values that become more and more relevant as we progress into the future.

Two: Brand India is about diversity. We are a mix of peoples, eating habits, dressing habits, languages, castes and more. This diversity, when knit together, brings method to the madness at large.

Three: Brand India is about tolerance. We are a secular, democratic republic. The tapestry of India is woven by different religions and communities that live harmoniously with one another.

Experiential marketing seems to be another flavour of the season …

Suhail P. Ahmed, Hyderabad

Suhail, this seems more like a comment than a question. I understand your query though.

Today, experiential marketing is a very important aspect of the buying and selling process. Modern retail is based totally on this one tenet. The customer looks out for a good experience. Offer a positive experience, and showcase the experience with the right aura and excitement, and you have modern sets of consumers wanting to live and relive the buying experience.

Experiential marketing adds positive strokes to the brand at large. Positive strokes that help the brand attain a status in the mind of the consumer.

Experiential marketing becomes more important as you climb the hierarchy of brand offerings from the ‘needs and wants' oriented categories to the ‘desire and aspirations' categories. In the latter, experiential branding is very, very valuable.

Home shopping seems to be a complete non-starter in India despite decades of being around. What are the primary reasons for this?

Revathi Kolhatkar, Pune

Revathi, home shopping has been around for decades for sure. It has kept plodding on, despite the lack of success. Teleshopping has made some strides in recent years. Newer players have entered the market and have added a reliable stroke to the existing players.

One of the big issues with home shopping is that most users tend to prefer to pay ‘cash on delivery'. This is a tricky practice, as nearly 30 per cent of intentional buyers end up defaulting and not accepting packages. The courier who brings the pack benefits in the process. He gets paid to take the package out to a consumer and then bring it back to the home shopping entity. The marketer suffers.

Marketers themselves have faulted as well. They have faulted with poor packaging of items and delivery of items in broken and worn condition.

What's therefore missing is a true-blue international quality of delivery at the marketer's end and at the buyer's end, the commitment to purchase.

Use of a credit card would sort out the buyer side dynamics and better and more reliable packaging would sort out issues at the seller side of mechanics.

But both are un-relenting in improvements on this count. Therefore, the industry plods on.

Add to this the entire issue of delays at the end of the marketer. Home shopping delivery takes anything between 21 and 60 days in India. And that is a pain!

What are the salient points that one needs to keep in mind before opting for the franchisee route to expand in modern retail?

Jayanthi S., Chennai

Jayanthi, I do a fair bit of interviewing of franchisees for MNCs wanting to enter India in modern retail. In each of these interviews I focus on the following. I would define my five key points as follows:

The philosophy of the franchisee to business: Is he there to make a quick buck or is he there to build a business empire for himself?

The brand-ethos of the franchisee: Does he believe in brands, God and money? In that order.

The service-ethos of the franchisee: Does he believe in service excellence? Does he believe in Gandhiji? Does he think the customer is God?

The persona: Does the franchisee have his own skin in the business? Is he hands on?

The ethical format: Does the franchisee believe in the truth? Is he oriented to good business practice? Or does he subscribe to the route of the business short-cut?

Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. Email:

Published on April 06, 2011

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