Friday, November 29, 2013


Every brand makes proposition. But proposition making process is not simple as it may appear. For many strategists a proposition is equal to sloganeering and some take it as an opportunity to release their creative juices. Some marketing minds assume more is better/effective and hence end up linking their brands with many (too many) and conflicting propositions. Strategists also fail to appreciate the difference between their jobs as creator/designer which is essentially is high cognitive state and consumers’ state is usually passive or inactive. Brand propositions can touch chords which may range from lower to higher end.

Crucial to designing a proposition is that that it must end up motivating prospects/customers into desired behaviors. Proposition must clearly signify what a brand offers in terms of attribute, benefits and values. Most successful brands singularly stand for something which has high resonance value and it also stands the brand apart from others in the fray. People often equate brand proposition with unique selling proposition. Propositions differ in their extent of connection development. Consider the following:
  • AAP’s proposition is anticorruption or honest government (Swaraj)
  • Congress: Development, basically infrastructure or material development
  • BJP: Unclear message- vegetable prices, electricity prices, ‘sewak’, development.

Let us test the effectiveness of these propositions.
Clarity- clearly AAP and Congress score over BJP for it is not clear what their core proposition is to their voters. This has resulted from inconsistency of messages and their lack of convergence on to broad theme.

Level: How do these propositions stack up in their hierarchical ordering-lower level/tactical to higher order value? The value embedded in AAP’s proposition appeals to soul or high order existence. It allows you to be a part of a great national transformation. It taps into the need to achieve high order consciousness. Congress’s proposition appeals to material wellbeing. BJP’s discourse on price of vegetable and electricity does not go beyond daily mundane existence. Consider the brilliance of AAP’s proposition, it promises clean governance and once that happens the infrastructure and price rise will automatically get in line.

Connection: Brands become powerful when they develop emotional connections with their audience. Explore how powerful is the promise of honest governance and what impact do white caps have when they announce, ‘mujhe swaraj chaheye’.  Symbolically they invite everyone who has been victim of corruption (probably everyone) to join the second battle for the country. You are reminded of Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Azad, Shastri, and others who sacrificed not aggrandized. AAP seems to be giving ordinary people an extraordinary opportunity to contribute to nation building. It has positioned itself as a movement against the establishment. It is Pepsi in Delhi’s political scene, antiestablishment, rebel, and challenger.

Congress’s development platform invites negative emotions for flyovers, cluster buses and roads are not the perfect substitute for high inflation in commodities of everyday consumption. The happy faces in ads do not resonate with sad faces of real people who are bitten by inflation. They invite strong counter arguments. In Delhi BJP’s campaign lacks focus and appeal and hence a diffused and suffers from ambiguity. Consequently it fails to hook up an emotional connection with people who are either fall into the category of ‘indifferent’ or ‘swingers’. It is these people who are likely to be the kingmakers this time.

Political strategists often fail to target their campaigns at people who matter- swingers and indifferent- instead create campaigns for those who are already their loyalists. It must be understood that campaigns are designed by loyalists but not for loyalists.

Here I personally accept that AAP is most strong party to come in power and its agenda is transparent. If we want India corruption free must vote for AAP in Delhi election.

Reference : Marketing Crow

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Concentrating all marketing efforts on a small but specific and well defined segment of the population. Niches do not 'exist' but are 'created' by identifying needs, wants, and requirements that are being addressed poorly or not at all by other firms, and developing and delivering goods or services to satisfy them. As a strategy, niche marketing is aimed at being a big fish in a small pond instead of being a small fish in a big pond.

For example, sports channels like STAR Sports, ESPN, STAR Cricket, and Fox target a niche of sports lovers. Every product can be defined by its market niche.


A good or service with features that appeal to a particular market subgroup. A typical niche product will be easily distinguished from other products, and it will also be produced and sold for specialized uses within its corresponding Niche Market.


A marketing approach for a good or service with features that appeal to a particular minority market  subgroup. A typical product marketed using a niche strategy will be easily distinguished from other products, and it will also be produced and sold for specialized uses within its corresponding Niche Market.

Five Stages to Fully Address the Niche Opportunity
There are five stages to consider when attempting to address niche marketing opportunities. These stages are strategic planning, defining the mission and objectives, strategies and action, monitoring key projects and objectives, and organizational realignment.
1. Strategic Planning
Strategic planning encompasses many of the issues discussed above, including the assessment of market opportunities, as well as an inventory of internal resources, values, potential strengths/capabilities (addressed in more depth below), and any weaknesses/shortfalls of the current operation. In short, the overall strategy provides a "road map" to attaining the objectives of the operation and its owners, while staying true to their vision and mission.
2. Define Mission and Objectives
The mission is the operation’s statement about why it exists, and sets the tone of what the company and its products’ image should be at the very highest level of the operation. There should be a broad-based buy-in to this mission from owners, employees, other important stakeholders, and maybe even targeted customers. In essence, the mission explains the culture of the business to both internal players and external consumers.

3. Strategies and Action
To begin taking specific actions, with timelines and measurable outcomes that will support the broader mission, strategies, and goals of the business, it may be most effective to develop a work plan. That plan should include a key personnel list, timeline for the activity, a list of resources or budget needed to execute the plans, and any other relevant information (partners, pertinent legal or regulatory issues, and connections to other pieces of the work plan). Although a sufficient level of detail on all the actions to be taken may seem overwhelming, it will provide a realistic inventory of what needs to be accomplished and divide the actions into small enough units to facilitate timely
 action (rather than inaction due to being overwhelmed by the scale of larger goals of the company). Remember that actions are both effective and realistic steps to achieving the operation’s strategy. In short, this step requires the operation to build a plan of execution.  
4. Monitoring Key Projects/Objectives
Monitoring a firm’s progress towards its goals is one of the most crucial actions during the first years of a new (or significantly changed) enterprise. Determine key projects and areas of potential success within the work plan established above, and then decide on specific measurable elements that will allow the operation to monitor success. These elements should not all be financial indicators, as too many businesses focus on financial goals before they can realistically be met. In addition to monitoring sales growth, visitor numbers, and profits, the operation might also monitor full deployment of resources (land, buildings, employees, etc.), customer satisfaction and return visits, or employee feedback on their participation in the enterprise.

5. Organizational Realignment
In order to clearly link the objectives and strategies of any new niche venture, it is likely that the management will have to consider an organizational realignment of resources, human capital and marketing efforts. To be successful in niche marketing, it is important to align the structure and culture of the business and the personal lives of the owners in ways that are compatible with the niche the business hopes to operate within. This may include a change in the levels of family involvement, the privacy or solitude available on the farm or ranch, the choice to "brand" the owners’ family heritage and approach to farming, or even relinquishing control of some business activities to marketing or community partners.

The Decision to Market in a Niche
Even after developing a plan to enter a niche market, it is important to pick one point in the planning process to finally decide whether the new niche venture is feasible, and if so, fully commit to the plan. There are a number of elements that should enter into that final decision:
Acknowledge the present
Be aware of intent/vision
Control dreams
Determine the risks

Note that the first two are deliberate visioning and the second two are bringing realism.

In the end, the management and stakeholders of a farm or ranch must consider how to answer the question of whether their operation needs growth, change, or exit from the market. Niche marketing is only one of the potential enterprise diversification strategies that may affect this "big picture" thinking.


Cosmetic Marketing in India

Bearing a long glowing heritage of cosmetic and beauty, aesthetic makeup products is being used since olden days and nowadays it appear like a booming economy in India which would be the largest cosmetic consuming country in a next few decades. While the demand of beautifying substances are growing day by day, a large number of local as well as international manufacturers gradually extend their ranges and products in different provinces of India.
Since 1991 with the liberalization along with the crowning of many Indian women at international beauty pageants, the cosmetic industry has come into the limelight in a bigger way. Subsequently their has been a change in the cosmetic consumption and this trend is fueling growth in the cosmetic sector. Indian cosmetic Industry had rapid growth in the last couple of years, growing at a CAGR of around 7.5% between 2006 and 2008. While this is due to the improving purchasing power and increasing fashion consciousness, the industry is expected to maintain the growth momentum during the period 2009-2012. In the Indian Cosmetic Industry both electronic as well as print media are playing an important role in spreading awareness about the cosmetic products and developing fashion consciousness among the Indian consumers.  
Due to the development of satellite television and a number of television channels as well as the Internet in the modern day, the Indian consumers are constantly being updated about new cosmetic products, translating into the desire to purchase them. Additionally, the flourishing Indian fashion/film industry is fueling growth into the Cosmetic industry in India by making Indians to realize the importance of having good looks and appearances. Today most of the cosmetics manufacturers in India cater to the domestic market but they are gradually establishing their footholds in overseas markets. In recent years, cosmetic manufactures in India have received orders from overseas markets; for example - Indian herbal cosmetic products have a tremendous demand in the international market. 
   The Indian Cosmetics Industry is defined as skin care, hair care, color cosmetics, fragrances and oral care segments which stood at an estimated $2.5 billion in 2008 and is expected to grow at 7%, according to an analysis of the sector.Today herbal cosmetics industry is driving growth in the beauty business in India and is expected to grow at a rate of 7% as more people shun chemical products in favour of organic ones.
The emphasis of the herbal cosmetic has been on the spectacular growth of the herbal and ayurvedic beauty products business as conveyed by beauty expert Shahnaz Husain who was the first to introduce the concept of ayurvedic cosmetics to the world when she launched her products way back in 1970. Today, the Indian cosmetics industry has a plethora of herbal cosmetic brands like Forest Essentials, Biotique, Himalaya, Blossom Kochhar, VLCC, Dabur and Lotus and many more. The Indian cosmetics industry has emerged as one of the unique industries holding huge potential for further growth. In 2009, the cosmetics industry registered sales of INR 356.6 Billion (US$ 7.1 Billion) despite the global economic recession. Indian cosmetics Industry has mainly been driven by improved purchasing power and rising fashion consciousness of the Indian population and industry players spending readily on the promotional activities to increase consumer awareness and develop their products.
According to a new research report, the Indian Cosmetics Industry is expected to witness impressive growth rate in the near future owing to rising beauty concern of both men and women. Today the industry holds promising growth prospects for both existing and new players.
The baseline is that there has been a rise in variety of products offered by the industry players in the country. The companies have started going for rural expansion and are offering specialized products to generate revenues from all the corners of the country. Improvement and strengthening of the Indian economy in the coming years will also pave the way for the Indian cosmetics market over the forecast period and develop the Cosmetic Industry.
The Indian Cosmetic market which traditionally a stronghold of a few major Indian players like Lakme, and Ponds has seen a lot of foreign entrants to the market within the last decade. India is a very price sensitive market and the cosmetics and personal care product companies, especially the new entrants have had to work out new innovative strategies to suit Indian preferences and budgets to establish a hold on the market and establish a niche market for them.
According to analysis and figures given by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), the total Indian beauty and cosmetic market size currently stands at US$950 million and showing growth between 15-20% per annum. The overall beauty and wellness market that includes beauty services stands at about US$2,680 million, according to CII estimates.
The size of Indian Cosmetics Industry globally is $ 274 billion, while that of the Indian cosmetic industry is $ 4.6 billion. The current size of the Indian Cosmetic Industry is approx US$ 600 million. Among these fastest growing segment is color cosmetics, accounting for around US$ 60 million of the market. Industry sources estimate a rapid growth rate of 20% per annum across different segments of the cosmetics industry reflecting with an increasing demand for all kinds of beauty and personal care product. Growth in the Indian Cosmetic Industry has come mainly from the low and medium-priced categories that account for 90 % of the cosmetics market in terms of volume.
Costs for importing other products are much higher than producing it in the country. India usually allows the entry of imported cosmetics without any restrictions but the average import tariff on cosmetics products is currently very high at 39.2%.
  • Lakmé is the Indian brand of cosmetics, owned by Unilever. It started as a 100% subsidiary of Tata Oil Mills (Tomco), part of the Tata Group; it is named after the French opera Lakmé, which itself is the French form of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth who has is also renowned for her beauty.

  • Revlon is an American cosmetic for skin care, fragrance, and Personal Care Company founded in 1932.

  • Oriflame Cosmetics S.A. (Luxembourg) is a cosmetics group, founded in 1967 in Sweden by the brothers Jonas AF Jochnick and Robert AF Jochnick.

  • The L'Oréal Group is the world's largest cosmetics and Beauty Company. It concentrates on hair colour, skin care, sun protection, make-up, perfumes and hair care.

  • Chambor cosmetic line is a blend of the finest traditions in terms of radiant color, soft texture and skin accentuator. 

  • Maybelline is a makeup brand sold worldwide and owned by L'Oréal.

  • Avon Products, Inc. is a US cosmetics, perfume and toy seller with markets in over 140 countries across the world.

  • Make-up Art Cosmetics or MAC Cosmetics, is a manufacturer of cosmetics which was founded in Toronto, Canada by Frank Toskan and Frank Angelo in 1984 .

  • ColorBar cosmetics are one of the leading brands of color cosmetics in India. 

  • Street Wear is a young, funky and hip brand which globally is positioned at the young and trendy shopper and the range consists of about 30 SKUs covering categories like nail enamel, lipsticks, lip gloss, face make-up kits and eye shadows.


    According to Indian Cosmetic Sector Analysis (2009-2012), the Indian cosmetics industry is expected to witness fast growth rate in the coming years on the back of an increase in the consumption of beauty products. Owing to growing disposable income of the middle class households and changing lifestyle, it is expected that the cosmetics industry will grow at a CAGR of around 17% during 2010-2013.
  • A study even shows that affordability and rising consumer base were the main drivers behind the high cosmetic sales of around INR 356.6 Billion (US$ 7.1 Billion) in 2009. Market players are getting lucrative and good opportunities as people have become more beauty conscious due to changing lifestyle and spreading consumer awareness.

  • According to ASSOCHAM the size of India's cosmetics market will rise by almost a half to 1.4 billion dollars in the next two-three years as people get fashion conscious and more brands are launched. With increased awakening about cosmetics brands, which is evident even in rural India, the industry size will grow to around 1.4 billion dollars from current level of 950 million. It is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 7% during the forecast period.

  • Indian Cosmetics Industry is set for a significant growth depending on the capability of the manufacturers to market their products. Products that claim to renew cells, minimize pores, and restore hydration have created an $83 billion worldwide market. 
  • Due to the optimistic assessment the domestic cosmetic and toiletries industry show that with increased awakening which is growing even in rural India, its size will grow in next 2-3 years to around US$ 1400 million from current level of US$ 950 million. Till then India's per capita consumption of cosmetic and toiletries products could be on par with that of China which currently is US$ 1.5, says ASSOCHAM analysis.


    Tuesday, November 26, 2013

    8 P’s of Luxury Brand Marketing

    "I think every girl deep inside dreams about having the money to be able to buy the Louis Vuitton bag or being at the red carpet herself and wear a beautiful Chanel dress" - Qualitative research, UAE, 2010.

    With reference to Bates Pan Gulf (BPG Group), Dubai, UAE

     Luxury brands have always been a fascinating space and luxury brand marketing one of the most complicated ones. So, going by the above consumer quote, this paper attempts to decode what makes Louis Vuitton, Louis Vuitton; Chanel, Chanel – in simple words what makes a luxury brand desirable? What are the ingredients/components that make up a luxury brand?
    Is it the physical / functional attributes like the product quality, craftsmanship, design, technology? As one respondent in one of the qualitative research in UAE said "When you buy something with really high-quality, you can genuinely feel the difference. It is in the touch, the feel of the material; it’s in the smoothness, it’s in its minute details..."

    Or is it the self-asserting emotional stimulation of letting the others know that I’ve arrived & I have a penchant for finer things in life not common to many? A respondent said "I bought my BMW, just to keep my key on the table during the meeting." Another respondent said "If I stop at a signal I feel I will attract attention of people".

    Or is it that luxury brands are just the stepladder to move to the right circle or an appropriate thing to have or wear in that circle? A respondent said "There is a proverb which says if you wear nice shoes you enter nice place".


    In my assessment, by-and-large the above are the three major motivators that drive people to desire and acquire luxury brands. That said, it’s important to acknowledge that they are not mutually exclusive.

    Exclusivity has always been connected to luxury brands. But from the consumer’s perspective the definition of exclusivity goes through an evolution. At the early stage, having the ability or affluence to own a luxury brand desirable and recognizable by everyone is exclusivity. It is a means by which consumers assert themselves - whether it is to fit-in or simply to make a statement.

    As the consumer moves on and with more people joining the ‘ownership’ circle, just owning a recognizable symbol is not enough – the new need to "differentiate" sets in to further confirm their social status and to stand-out among the equals. The source of exclusivity, then, can manifest in form of acquiring limited editions or something with extraordinary product capabilities or rare materials, craftsmanship; it can also be driven by brand’s distinctive personality or simply the knowledge of the brand legacy. One can also observe that people who seek differentiation tend to have larger repertoire of luxury brands, have a choice of not-so-common luxury brands, have a definitive reason for their choice and sometime even prefer to stick to specialist brands. Few of the consumer quotes (below) from various quantitative researches in UAE emphasize this point:
    "I prefer to buy my watch from an expert watch-brand, not a fashion label."

    "I like things that are exclusive and specialized like the really top suit brands …and ties. You know, where one tie is the price of a good Armani suit, but that you’ll only find in Italy, only at one location and not in any branches anywhere else in the world. That’s like once in a while you want to buy something that’s special and wear it a few times on specific occasions."
    While genuine appreciation for product excellent needs no explanation, as mentioned earlier it is not mutually exclusive. In simple words, it does not mean that people who acquire luxury brands for either asserting-self or differentiation have no appreciation and love for beautiful products. But, then there are others who buy luxury without having any baggage of what others think. They buy it because they genuinely love the physical / functional attributes that the product delivers or because they find a profound connection with the brand / the brand story.

    The bottom line is that whether it is self assertion, differentiation or genuine appreciation for product excellence, these stories and the aura that surrounds the brands is what makes luxury brands desirable. Packaged as the 8 P’s of luxury brand marketing, this paper attempts to bring together the elements and interplay between them that are employed in the luxury brand marketing mix. Some of the elements have been named to fit the 8P packaging and therefore, my humble request to readers will be to take the broad-point made versus getting stuck in semantics. Yet, another point important to acknowledge is that the degree of significance of these elements may vary from brand-to-brand and market-to-market. The point-of-view of this paper is more that of a practitioner, than a theoretician.


    Performance refers to the delivery of superior experience of a luxury brand at two levels – first, at a product level and second, at an experiential level.  At a product level, fundamentally it must satisfy the functional and utilitarian characteristic as well as deliver on its practical physical attributes – a recipe of quality or design excellence ingredients like craftsmanship, precision, materials, high quality, unique design, extraordinary product capabilities, technology & innovation.

    A luxury brand must perform at an experiential level as well, i.e. the emotional value of the brand the consumers buy into – beyond what the product is to what it represents. For example: Rolex stands of symbol of heroic achievement & Tiffany is a symbol of love and beauty.

    Many luxury brands have a rich pedigree and extraordinary history that turn in to an inseparable part of the brand’s mystique. This mystique is generally built around the exceptional legendary founder character of the past, making up an integral part of the brand story and brand personality.

    So, when consumers buy say a Cartier or a Chanel product - it is not only because of the product performance factor, but subconsciously they are also influenced by the brand’s rich lineage, heritage and the years of mastery.

    PAUCITY:  Over-revelation-and-distribution of luxury brand can cause dilution of luxury character, hence many brands try to maintain the perception that the goods are scarce. Case in point - Burberry diluted its brand image in the UK in the early 2000s by over-licensing its brand, thus reducing its image as a brand whose products were consumed only by the elite. Gucci, now largely sold in directly-owned stores, following a nearly crippling attempt to widely license their brand in the 1970s and 1980s.

    Broadly, there’s natural paucity (the actual scarcity), the technology-led paucity and the tactical- driven paucity.
    Natural paucity is triggered by scarce ingredients like platinum, diamonds, etc. and/or those goods that require exceptional human expertise, for example handcrafted quality that constraints the mass production.

    PERSONA:  The persona of a luxury brand is largely a result of – first, its distinctive projection plus coherence of its applications across consumer touch-points and second, the brand communication through its advertising.  The visual brand identity captures the brand’s personality, mystique & emotional values in a nutshell. The distinct and consistent orchestration of the identity is central to establishing the visibility, familiarity & common identifiable brand imagery. The visual brand orchestration can manifest by way of its coherent application of its identity, the brand color(s), the other design elements like icons, the uniquely identifiable design, branded environment and even the tone-of-voice.

    While the luxury brand’s visual identity is a fairly stable factor, luxury brand advertising is a more dynamic and versatile marketing vehicle. While the pedigree of the brand has its role, keeping-up the contemporary-appeal and the newness-factor is crucial for enduring brand relevance. Therefore, luxury advertising not only needs to generate the desire for the seasonal collection, but at the same time it must also enhance the brand’s cool-quotient, thereby making it continuously desirable and aspirational.

    While the luxury brand’s visual identity is a fairly stable factor, luxury brand advertising is a more dynamic and versatile marketing vehicle. While the pedigree of the brand has its role, keeping-up the contemporary-appeal and the newness-factor is crucial for enduring brand relevance. Therefore, luxury advertising not only needs to generate the desire for the seasonal collection, but at the same time it must also enhance the brand’s cool-quotient, thereby making it continuously desirable and aspirational. At an overall level, luxury advertising messages can be observed:
    As more emotional and sensual to distance it from mass-premium brands
    Create a world and an aura that is truly exceptional to their brand signature
    Generate major differentiation in its production and execution


    One of the relatively new trends within luxury brand communication is the use of the long-form-commercials or the short-film-videos to generate interest with the online audience. It is clearly a pursuit where luxury brands are looking to bridge the gap between the familiar world of print and the fast-evolving world of online. It has also proved impactful as in a matter of few minutes, the viewer can have a clear understanding of the brand image or the story the brand is trying to convey or simply promotion of the new collection.

    Apart from these, with the intent of enhancing the ‘emotional connections’ with discerning mindsets, luxury brands have been exploring the digital space by engaging them in their activation programs. The objective is to generate a genuine affinity with the brand that transcends beyond the product, to an extent where, the consumers feel that they have found a soul mate.

    Some of the luxury brands have also utilized the social media. The objective may not necessarily be, as deep as, engaging the audience in their storytelling, but it has been done largely to generate the desire or the lust for the brand or the product. It is also an effective tool to keep-up the contemporary-appeal and the newness-factor by having a continuous dialogue.
    Public-figure or celebrities have been traditionally employed as one of the marketing mix in luxury brand advertising and they still continue to garner attention, credibility and impact. Public figures can span from film-stars to music personalities, from sports personalities to royal families and even the designer themselves. But because celebrity endorsements are no longer exclusive to luxury space and extensively used (and abused) across mass categories, it take a different meaning when it comes to luxury brand endorsement.

    Not only does the public figure’s associated values and personality have to resonate with that of the luxury brand’s aura, but there’s a distinct difference in the way celebrity role is crafted, executed and strategically utilized. Beyond traditional advertising (largely print in selected media), less in-your-face advertising tools are employed like

    accessorization or dressing celebrities for their walk down the red carpet, product placements within movies and television programs, invites to special events. This strategy attempts to remove the appearance of "selling" while still promoting the product by making it seem as a part of the celebrity’s lives, thereby positively affecting consumer’s attitudes, brand value & purchase intention.

    Long-form-commercials / short-films have also utilized the celebrity-factor. Chanel for instance recently created 3-minute short film with actress Keira Knightley who replaced Kate Moss in its ads for its Coco Mademoiselle fragrance. Other previous faces of Chanel have included French star Catherine Deneuve and Nicole Kidman, who represented Chanel No. 5.

    Similarly, as a part of their ‘core values’ campaign, Louis Vuitton used their website as the online medium to showcase their celebrity endorser’s journey, their story to bring to life how the brand has been promoting the art of travel and inspiring legendary journeys.

    PLACEMENT: The retail branded environment in luxury branding is all about heightening the consumer’s brand experience and amplifying the brand aura. Hence, the branded environment, the movement of truth, is where it must "live" the brand by orchestrating immaculate detailing that engages all senses of the discerning audience.
    Starting from the choice of store location, the chain of touch-points consumer interacts, the salesperson’s presentation and the impact of each touch-point is critical in creating a unique indulging experience

    That said, today’s evolving luxury consumers are increasingly seeking beyond the typical sophisticated, over-the-top, cosmetically elegant presentation or even the exclusive invites, privileged previews. With the increasing democratization of luxury brands and the rapid emergence of masstige brands – the luxury consumers have become more discriminating and demanding. They are seeking a more knowledgeable and professional assistance, a trusted and reliable collaboration helping them to manage their stature and lifestyle. Not only has this led to the new business offerings like Quintessentially (more below), but also luxury brands are increasingly investing in training and empowering their sales staff.

    Another important point to note within the placement factor is that it is not limited to the physical environment where the brand retails, but it extends to all the environments or consumer touch-points that the brand associates itself with. This spans from the extremely selective niche media where it advertises to the sports, the events, art, conversations that it places itself with.

    If luxury is about environment and aesthetics, then fashion magazines like Vogue, InStyle, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, etc. provide that complementing environment and aesthetics for luxury brand to advertise in print media.

    PR in luxury branding plays an enormous role in image proliferation of the brand, thereby subtly influencing public opinion. It is also employed to convey other supporting messages and attributes of the brand which cannot be explicitly captured in advertising, but by no means are less important to create brand’s personality, mystique and emotional values – whether it’s via the pedigree factor or via public-figure any of the previous 7 P’s mentioned.

    It is also a sophisticated branding machine for maintaining ongoing relevance and dialogue with the luxury consumer, especially so in fashion, technology and seasonal trends driven categories. At a tactical level, PR is utilized to generate buzz & convey the brand news, point of views of inspirers and influencers (celebrity talk or the designer speak), a crucial support for brand activation (like the fashion weeks, sport-events, themed previews, etc.).
    Pricing plays a quite a big role in the way consumers perceive luxury brands. Consciously or sub-consciously, consumers tend to generate a mental luxury stature or image with the price-range that the brand operates. Therefore, it is important for luxury brands to price thmeselves right – as setting the price lower than the consumer expectation and willingness to pay can potentially harm the brand value, whereas the reverse can potentially not given enough justification for consumers to go ahead and buy.

    The pricing strategy in luxury brands gained spotlight in the recent past not only because of the challenging economic environment, but because of more informed-and-exposed consumers who are more discriminating and demanding, for whom premium pricing without substance doesn’t imply luxury. A recent research by Unity Marketing suggests that affluent shoppers won’t spend ten-times more for something only three times better. The luxury-brands must, therefore, justify their price through the interplay of the 7P’s mentioned on top, thereby keep-up and maintain a higher perceived value.

    The sales promotions also tend to be handled differently by luxury marketers. While few have resorted to sales and discounts, most others play it by adding more value to the purchase like gift with purchase, gift-certificates or rebates for the next purchase, multiple item discounts, online or email exclusives, more loyalty points, no shipping and handling charges by online retailers, etc. Luxury brands also use the channel of luxury retailers like Harvey Nichols, Saks 5th Avenue who offer annual sales by offering them slightly lower prices.

    In conclusion, the key to luxury brand marketing boils down to the following three points:

     Product excellence by itself in not enough, the luxury brand must perform at an experiential level as well. As luxury consumers evolve, not only these act as points of differentiation, but also as ‘substance’ to justify a premium value and pricing.

     While pedigree factor is important to exuberate the years of mastery or lineage, it is crucial to generate ongoing relevance and dynamism through the persona, PR & public-figure factor.
     Luxury brands must continue to maintain a certain degree of exclusivity and stature with the paucity factor and the placement factor – from the retail experience to the touch-points it associates itself with.

    The 8 P’s of luxury brand marketing can provide a holistic framework to luxury marketers. The 8 P’s may not be a "universal methodology", yet it presents a strong analytical "toolbox" to audit and leverage the brand potential. That said, a pragmatic approach must be underlined, as the situation and challenges would differ from brand-to-brand and market-to-market.


    Monday, November 25, 2013


    By whatever means the segmentation is arrived at, be it by judgments, by classifying the database or by statistical techniques, the segments must pass a four-question test:
    • Are they truly different in a meaningful way? If not then they are not a segment and should be collapsed into one of the others. In determining, if and how segments differ from one another, it is helpful to give each a characterising nickname i.e. price fighters, range buyers, delivery buyers and whatever else suits. The name will ultimately become the shorthand description used in the company that immediately identifies the customer typology.
    • Are the segments big enough? If they are not, they will require too much resource and energy.
    • Do companies fall clearly into one of the segments? A company cannot be in more than one segment. This is unlike consumer segments where one week I may fit into an airline’s business-class segment and another week fit into low cost.
    • Can each company be easily identified as belonging to a specific segment? The strongest criticism of needs-based segmentations is that they work well in theory but poorly in practice. Saying that there is a ‘partnership-focused’ or ‘service-focused’ segment is one thing; allocating companies to these segments and building sales and marketing activity around this is quite another. Combating this problem is not easy. In many cases, companies pick out the key firmographic characteristics of each needs-based segment and use these as segment identifiers. In other cases, ‘killer questions’ based around needs are employed – the difficulty here is that significant resource is required to ask such questions to a whole database of potential customers.

    By plotting the different segments on an X Y grid it is possible to determine which are worth targeting and, equally important, which are not. The two factors that influence this decision are the attractiveness of the segment against the supplier’s competitive position within that segment. In this way it is possible to identify targets that justify resources in targeting and development. In the example below it may be thought that the price fighters offer no margin and are not worth targeting, even though they form a large segment. However, the traditionalists may be worth working on to see if they can be moved north and east to join a more attractive segment such as the range buyers, quality fanatics or delivery buyers.
    The Directional Policy Matrix Used To Select (and De-Select) Segments

    Segmentation is the first crucial step in marketing, and the key towards satisfying needs profitably. It is often the mix of where-what-who and why (the benefit or need) which is driving the segmentation. The grouping together of customers with common needs makes it possible to select target customers of interest and set marketing objectives for each of those segments. Once the objectives have been set, strategies can be developed to meet the objectives using the tactical weapons of product, price, promotion and place (route to market).


    Satisfying people’s needs and making a profit along the way is the purpose of marketing. However, people’s needs differ and therefore satisfying them may require different approaches. Identifying needs and recognizing differences between groups of customers is at the heart of marketing.

    It is very rare for even two customers to have identical needs to each other. In a perfect world, we would identify those customers that we deem to be profitable, and then treat each one of those individually according to their unique needs. In any market with a sizeable target audience, even this is likely to require more resources than is practical or profitable. To reiterate, segmentation, like marketing itself, is all about the profitable satisfaction of customers’ needs. It is designed to be a practical tool, balancing idealism against practicality and coming up with a solution that maximizes profit.
    This means we have to be clever in targeting our offers at people who really do want them, need them and are willing to pay for them. Equally, we have to be strong in setting aside those who do not. We have to choose our target audience on the basis of our capabilities and strengths. In other words we have to choose our own battlefield where we are confident that we are more attractive than our competitors. This early observation is fundamental, as it requires us to think as hard about where we don’t want to sell our product as where we do.

    This brings us to the consideration of the difference between marketing and selling. Selling focuses on the product in hand and our pressure to get rid of it, almost regardless of the needs of the customer. It is clear that brutal selling may leave a customer with a product they wish they had never bought and, therefore, they may never return as a customer again. Marketing takes a longer-term view.

     Marketing, and in particular segmentation, concerns itself with the matching of customers’ needs with suppliers’ needs and capabilities. More time and effort may be required but the customer is more likely to be comfortable with their decision and be loyal.
    The fundamentals of marketing are the same fundamentals of segmentation. Know your customers, know how they differ, and have a clear proposition that lights their fire. We will return to these issues but first we will examine the differences between consumer and business-to-business markets, as our challenge is to arrive at a business-to-business segmentation.

    Segmentation Challenges In Business-To-Business Markets :

    Business-to-business markets are characterised in a number of ways that makes them very different to their consumer cousins. Below we summarise the main differences between consumer and business-to-business markets, and set out the implications for segmentation:

    1) B2B markets have a more complex decision-making unit: In most households, even the most complex and expensive of purchases are confined to the small family unit, while the purchase of items such as food, clothes and cigarettes usually involves just one person. Other than low-value, low-risk items such as paperclips, the decision-making unit in businesses is far more complicated. The purchase of a piece of plant equipment may involve technical experts, purchasing experts, board members, production managers and health and safety experts, each of these participants having their own set of (not always evident) priorities.
    Segmenting a target audience that is at once multifaceted, complex, oblique and ephemeral is an extremely demanding task. Do we segment the companies in which these decision makers work, or do we segment the decision makers themselves? Do we identify one key decision maker per company, and segment the key decision makers. In short, who exactly is the target audience and who should we be segmenting?

    2) B2B buyers are more ‘rational’: The view that b2b buyers are more rational than consumer buyers is perhaps controversial, but we believe true. Would the consumer who spends $3,000 on a leather jacket that is less warm and durable than the $300 jacket next-door make a similar decision in the workplace? Consumers tend to buy what they want; b2b buyers generally buy what they need.
    It perhaps therefore follows that segmenting a business audience based on needs should be easier than segmenting a consumer audience. In business-to-business markets it is critical to identify the drivers of customer needs. These often boil down to relatively simple identifiers such as company size, volume purchased or job function. These identifiers often enable needs and therefore segments to be quite accurately predicted.

    3) B2B products are often more complex: Just as the decision-making unit is often complex in business-to-business markets, so too are b2b products themselves. Even complex consumer purchases such as cars and stereos tend to be chosen on the basis of fairly simple criteria. Conversely, even the simplest of b2b products might have to be integrated into a larger system, making the involvement of a qualified expert necessary. Whereas consumer products are usually standardized, b2b purchases are frequently tailored.
    This raises the question as to whether segmentation is possible in such markets – if every customer has complex and completely different needs, it could be argued that we have a separate segment for every single customer. In most business-to-business markets, a small number of key customers are so important that they ‘rise above ‘ the segmentation and are regarded as segments in their own right, with a dedicated account manager. Beneath these key customers, however, lies an array of companies that have similar and modest enough requirements to be grouped into segments.

    4) B2B target audiences are smaller than consumer target audiences: Almost all business-to-business markets exhibit a customer distribution that confirms the Pareto Principle or 80:20 rule. A small number of customers dominate the sales ledger. Nor are we talking thousands and millions of customers. It is not unusual, even in the largest business-to-business companies, to have 100 or fewer customers that really make a difference to sales. One implication is that b2b markets generally have fewer needs-based segments than consumer segments – the volume of data is such that achieving enough granularity for more than 3 or 4 segments is often impossible.

    5) Personal relationships are more important in b2b markets: A small customer base that buys regularly from the business-to-business supplier is relatively easy to talk to. Sales and technical representatives visit the customers. People are on first-name terms. Personal relationships and trust develop. It is not unusual for a business-to-business supplier to have customers that have been loyal and committed for many years.
    There are a number of segmentation implications here. First, while the degree of relationship focus may vary from one segmentation to another, most segments in most b2b markets demand a level of personal service. This raises an issue at the core of segmentation – everyone may want a personal relationship, but who is willing to pay for it? This is where the supplier must make firm choices, deciding to offer a relationship only to those who will pay the appropriate premium for it. On a practical level, it also means that market research must be conducted to provide a full understanding of exactly what ‘relationship’ comprises. To a premium segment, it may consist of regular face-to-face visits, whilst to a price-conscious segment a quarterly phone call may be adequate.

    6) B2B buyers are longer-term buyers: Whilst consumers do buy items such as houses and cars which are long-term purchases, these incidences are relatively rare. Long-term purchases – or at least purchases which are expected to be repeated over a long period of time – are more common in business-to-business markets, where capital machinery, components and continually used consumables are prevalent. In addition, the long-term products and services required by businesses are more likely to require service back-up from the supplier than is the case in consumer markets. A computer network, a new item of machinery, a photocopier or a fleet of vehicles usually require far more extensive aftersales service than a house or the single vehicle purchased by a consumer. Businesses’ repeat purchases (machine parts, office consumables, for example) will also require ongoing expertise and services in terms of delivery, implementation/installation advice, etc that are less likely to be demanded by consumers.
    In one sense this makes life easier in terms of segmentation. Segments tend to be less subject to whim or rapid change, meaning that once an accurate segmentation has been established, it evolves relatively slowly and is therefore a durable strategic tool. The risk of this, and something which is evident in many industrial companies, is that business-to-business marketers can be complacent and pay inadequate attention to the changing needs and characteristics of customers over time. This can have grave consequences in terms of the profitability of a segment, as customers are faced with out-of-date messages or benefits that they are not paying for.

    7) B2B markets drive innovation less than consumer markets: B2B companies that innovate usually do so as a response to an innovation that has happened further upstream. In contrast with FMCG companies, they have the comparative luxury of responding to trends rather than having to predict or even drive them. In other words, B2B companies have the time to continually re-evaluate their segments and CVPs and respond promptly to the evolving needs of their clients.

    8) B2B markets have fewer behavioural and needs-based segments: The small number of segments typical to b2b markets is in itself a key distinguishing factor of business-to-business markets. Our experience of over 2,500 business-to-business studies shows that B2B markets typically have far fewer behavioural or needs-based segments than is the case with consumer markets. Whereas it is not uncommon for an FMCG market to boast 10, 12 or more segments, the average business-to-business study typically produces 3 or 4.
    Part of the reason for this is the smaller target audience in business-to-business markets. In a consumer market with tens of thousands of potential customers, it is practical and economical to divide the market into 10 or 12 distinguishable segments, even if several of the segments are only separated by small nuances of behaviour or need. This is patently not the case when the target audience consists of a couple of hundred business buyers.
    The main reason for the smaller number of segments, however, is simply that a business audience’s behaviour or needs vary less than that of a (less rational) consumer audience. Whims, insecurities, indulgences and so on are far less likely to come to the buyer’s mind when the purchase is for a place of work rather than for oneself or a close family member. And the numerous colleagues that get involved in a B2B buying decision, and the workplace norms established over time, filter out many of the extremes of behaviour that may otherwise manifest themselves if the decision were left to one person with no accountability to others.
    It is noticeable that the behavioural and needs-based segments that emerge in business-to-business markets are frequently similar across different industries. Needs-based segments in a typical business-to business market often resemble the following:
    • A price-focused segment, which has a transactional outlook to doing business and does not seek any ‘extras’. Companies in this segment are often small, working to low margins and regard the product/service in question as of low strategic importance to their business.
    • A quality and brand-focused segment, which wants the best possible product and is prepared to pay for it. Companies in this segment often work to high margins, are medium-sized or large, and regard the product/service as of high strategic importance.
    • A service-focused segment, which has high requirements in terms of product quality and range, but also in terms of aftersales, delivery, etc. These companies tend to work in time-critical industries and can be small, medium or large. They are usually purchasing relatively high volumes.
    • A partnership-focused segment, usually consisting of key accounts, which seeks trust and reliability and regards the supplier as a strategic partner. Such companies tend to be large, operate on relatively high margins, and regard the product or service in question as strategically important.

    The benefits of segmentation are not hard to grasp. The challenge is arriving at the most effective groupings.
    A common approach in business-to-business markets is to apply a segmentation based on company size. The consumption levels of business-to-business customers are so widely different that this often makes sense due to large companies usually thinking and acting differently to small ones. A further sophistication may be to classify customers into those who are identified as strategic to the future of the business, those who are important and therefore key and those who are smaller and can be considered more of a transactional typology.
    These ‘demographic’ segmentations, sometimes referred to as ‘firmographic’ in business-to-business markets, are perfectly reasonable and may suffice. However, they do not offer that sustainable competitive advantage that competitors cannot copy. A more challenging segmentation is one based on behaviour or needs. Certainly large companies may be of key or strategic value to a business but some want a low cost offer stripped bare of all services while others are demanding in every way. If both are treated the same, one or both will feel unfulfilled in some way and be vulnerable to the charms of the competition.
    It is not easy to jump straight into a fully-fledged needs-based segmentation. Most companies are starting with some history of involvement in segmentation, even if it is only a north/south split of its sales force. Companies move down the road of segmentation learning all the way.

    There may be problems in developing a needs-based segmentation but this is at least an aspiration to drive towards. The question is ‘how?’
    The starting point of any business-to-business segmentation is a good database. A well-maintained database is high on the list in any audit of marketing excellence in a business-to-business company. The database should, as a minimum, contain the obvious details of correct address and telephone number together with a purchase history. Ideally it should also contain contact names of people involved in the decision-making unit, though this does present problems of keeping it up to date.
    Management is frequently blissfully unaware of the parlous state of its databases as it is rarely involved in inputting and maintaining data. Sometimes the best database in the company is the Christmas card list held close to the chest of every sales person.

    A comprehensive and up-to-date database is only the start of the segmentation process. A mechanism is now needed for determining every need of every company on the database. The commonsense approach may appear to be to ask them. However, what questions would you ask and could you be sure of the answers? It is not that people lie but they may not be able to acknowledge the truth;
    • Do people really buy a Porsche for engineering excellence?
    • Do people really choose an Armani suit because it lasts so well?
    • Do people, who say they buy their chemicals purely on price, never require any technical support or urgent deliveries from time to time?
    Sometimes the simple question and the straightforward answer is enough. At other times a more sophisticated approach is required. Statistical techniques (specifically factor analysis) can be used to show the association between the overall satisfaction with a supplier and satisfaction of that supplier on a whole range of attributes that measure the customers’ needs. It can be determined that any individual attributes receiving high satisfaction scores must drive the overall satisfaction score and therefore be an important reason for choosing that supplier. In other words, instead of asking what factors are important, we can derive them. Buyers of Armani suits may show a strong link between overall satisfaction with the suit and attributes related to the brand and so point to the importance of the brand in the buying decision.

    The classification data on questionnaires provides demographic data while questions in the body of the interview determine aspects of behaviour. Cross tabulations of data on these criteria allow us to see the different responses amongst groups of respondents. This is segmentation at its simplest level and every researcher uses the computer tabulations of findings to establish groups of respondents with marked differences.
    However, we can use statistical techniques, in particular multivariate analysis, to allow more sophisticated segments to emerge. In a segmentation study (or even in a customer satisfaction study), respondents are asked to say to what extent they agree with a number of statements. These statements are designed to determine the needs and interests of the respondents. Typically there are a couple of dozen such statements, sometimes more. The possible combinations of groupings from 200 interviews are literally millions and we need some means of creating combinations that have a natural fit.
    Using a technique known as factor analysis, statisticians can work out which groups of attributes best fit together. Looking through the different statements or attributes that make up these groupings it is usually possible to see common themes such as people who want low prices with few extras, people who want lots of services or add-ons and are prepared to pay for them, people who are concerned about environmental issues and so on. Factor analysis reduces the large number of attributes to a smaller but representative sub-set. These sub-sets are then given labels such as “price fighters”, “service seekers” and any other such terms that help the marketing team know exactly who they are addressing.

    The groupings of needs that have been worked out by factor analysis are now run through further computations using a technique known as cluster analysis. These factors are presented to the cluster analysis whose algorithms rearrange the data into the partitions that have been specified and so determine how neatly the population fits into the different groupings.
    The statistical approach to a needs-based segmentation has become extremely popular and it is certainly an important objective means of finding more interesting and possibly more relevant ways of addressing the customer base. However, the tastes and needs of populations are constantly changing and we should always be mindful of new segments that may not show up as more than a dot on the current radar screen. For example, if Guinness had carried out a needs-based segmentation amongst its customers in the 1960s, it may not have recognized the opportunity to re-position the drink as young and trendy. This segment was developed by a series of astute marketing campaigns.

    (Reference by

    Sunday, November 24, 2013

    10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

    Leveraging the power of content and social media marketing can help elevate your audience and customer base in a dramatic way. But getting started without any previous experience or insight could be challenging.
    It's vital that you understand social media marketing fundamentals. From maximizing quality to increasing your online entry points, abiding by these 10 laws will help build a foundation that will serve your customers, your brand and -- perhaps most importantly -- your bottom line.
    1. The Law of Listening
    Success with social media and content marketing requires more listening and less talking. Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them. Only then can you create content and spark conversations that add value rather than clutter to their lives.
    2. The Law of Focus
    It’s better to specialize than to be a jack-of-all-trades. A highly-focused social media and content marketing strategy intended to build a strong brand has a better chance for success than a broad strategy that attempts to be all things to all people.
    3. The Law of Quality
    Quality trumps quantity. It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time.
    4. The Law of Patience
    Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results.
    5. The Law of Compounding
    If you publish amazing, quality content and work to build your online audience of quality followers, they’ll share it with their own audiences on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, their own blogs and more.
    This sharing and discussing of your content opens new entry points for search engines like Google to find it in keyword searches. Those entry points could grow to hundreds or thousands of more potential ways for people to find you online.
    6. The Law of Influence
    Spend time finding the online influencers in your market who have quality audiences and are likely to be interested in your products, services and business. Connect with those people and work to build relationships with them.
    If you get on their radar as an authoritative, interesting source of useful information, they might share your content with their own followers, which could put you and your business in front of a huge new audience.
    7. The Law of Value
    If you spend all your time on the social Web directly promoting your products and services, people will stop listening. You must add value to the conversation. Focus less on conversions and more on creating amazing content and developing relationships with online influencers. In time, those people will become a powerful catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing for your business.
    8. The Law of Acknowledgment
    You wouldn’t ignore someone who reaches out to you in person so don’t ignore them online. Building relationships is one of the most important parts of social media marketing success, so always acknowledge every person who reaches out to you.
    9. The Law of Accessibility
    Don’t publish your content and then disappear. Be available to your audience. That means you need to consistently publish content and participate in conversations. Followers online can be fickle and they won’t hesitate to replace you if you disappear for weeks or months.
    10. The Law of Reciprocity
    You can’t expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them. So, a portion of the time you spend on social media should be focused on sharing and talking about content published by others.


    Thursday, November 21, 2013

    10 Habits of a Successful Person

    1. Be Honest With Yourself 

    You can fool everyone, but you can’t fool yourself. Lying to yourself will only hurt you in the end. The first and most difficult step is to be honest with yourself. Only then can you fix your problems and take the next step.

    2. Learn How to Communicate and Tell Stories

    A great mind is wasted if it cannot communicate it’s ideas to the world. Practice telling stories, this is the key ingredient to inspiring and influencing others with your ideas. 

    3. Surround Yourself With Like Minded Individuals

    Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Like it or not, humans are greatly influenced! The people you hang out with, will most likely have an affect on the way you think, what you do with your time and the decisions you make. Be sure to surround yourself with like minded individuals, it can make all the difference.

    4. Work Efficiently

    Quality over Quantity. At the end of the day, it does not matter how long you work, what matters is what you do with the time that is given to you. Focus on the task in hand, always be thinking and never be just doing.

    5. Tunnel Vision 

    All the greats have one thing in common, they all have tunnel vision. Visualize your goals and dreams, plan out exactly what you need to do in order to achieve them, and never stop moving forward. Always keep your eyes on the prize and never let unimportant things distract you from your end goals. 

    6. Be Accountable for Your Decisions, Actions and Goals

    The day you decide to own up to your actions, is the day you become an adult. Only when you become fully independent and accountable for your actions will you truly understand the importance of sacrifice, dedication and hard work. You will be able to weed out the unimportant things from the important and find out what is truly worth fighting for. 

    7. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

    NOTHING is ever perfect, everyone has their own set of challenges no matter how perfect someone’s life may seem. Stop trying to live someone else’s life and start working on your own. Don’t be a second rate version of someone else and instead, focus on being a first rate version of yourself.

    8. Never Stop Learning

    Self Development is what will give you the edge over your competitors. Always stay hungry for more information, with knowledge comes power. Everyday learning and everyday change is pretty much the only 2 consistent things in life. 

    9. Take Care of Your Body

    Your body is your machine. Take care of your machine and you will operate efficiently and effectively, don’t take care of your machine and you will eventually crash and burn.

    10. Positivity is Key to Longevity

    Life is a long journey full of ups and downs. Keeping a positive attitude and choosing to think positive goes a long way in keeping you healthy, motivated and alive. Never underestimate the power of a positive attitude.