Frugal Marketing

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events and/ or publicly available information. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

T Prashanth, MBA 2016-18, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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Massive Brand building and wide distribution- Two essential components of an FMCG company to sustain it’s growth and survive in the hostile market. Patanjali has defied these odds to become the fastest growing company in the FMCG sector. It has achieved a turnover of Rs 5000 crores and is expected to double it this year.

While the reasons for its rise to prominence has been discussed and dissected several times by several people – ranging from analysts to students, what has not been talked about much is its marketing strategy. According to recently released reports Patanjali has inserted almost 1.14 million Ads in total. What is even more astonishing is the amount of money used to achieve this. It has used up to Rs 300 crore of advertising. This is normally one tenth of the amount used by big FMCG companies for marketing.

Patanjali has pulled off this seemingly impossible feat by putting a big chunk of its Ad’s on TV news channels. With almost 85% of its Ads inserted on all news channels, Patanjali has not only found a cost effective measure to advertise but also get the same amount of reach. This has also enabled it to get attention of mature audience who were previously unaware of the brand and also those who would not have bought Patanjali on Baba Ramdev’s name alone. Another distinct advantage with Advertising in TV channels is it would not be cluttered and thus lost among other Ads. With fewer Ads displayed it would get sufficient screen time and attention as Ads in News Channels is almost an untapped market which has just opened up.

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Vodafone and Idea Merger – The Road Ahead

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events and/ or publicly available information. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Nikunj Agarwal, MBA 2016-18, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

Vodafone & Idea have finally confirmed about the ongoing talks for a possible merger of their operations in India. The Vodafone-Idea merger, if a deal indeed goes through, would be the biggest such consolidation in the sector, and create the largest telecom operator of India. The discussion is still in preliminary stage as both companies need to agree upon certain terms and conditions. The deal is based on the premise that both companies would hold equal rights in the Vodafone-Idea merged entity.

The merged Vodafone-Idea entity will become the biggest telecom operator in India, both by subscribers and revenue. At present, Airtel leads the market with 265.85 million mobile subscribers, as per COAI data, while Vodafone and Idea have 204.69 million and 190.52 million mobile users respectively. The merged Vodafone-Idea unit will have a combined user base of 395.21 million, putting it far ahead of Airtel. It will also be at a safer distance from Reliance Jio which is a recent disruptor in the industry.

But, this merger will face some issues. As per government regulations, the merged entity can’t have more than 50% market share in Telecom industry in terms of subscriber base. If the merger takes place, the merged entity will have over 50 percent subscriber market share in five circles – Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh (West). Similarly, it will cross the 50 percent limit in RMS in seven circles – Mumbai, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh (West). This will face regulatory hurdles. TRAI would have to step in to ensure that none of the practices of the Vodafone-Idea joint entity are anti-competitive, considering the large market share.

Brands Bouncing Back

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Aayush Sharma, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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PART I – BACKGROUND

In any typical product’s life cycle, there comes a time when it has to face stiff competition or, in general, has to face adverse market conditions. These are generally the defining moments of the parent brand, when just like a human, it tries to find answers relevant to its own existence.

Sometimes, the past achievements help it pull out quickly, but many times a vicious cycle may ensue leading to brand value erosion permanently. Brands may perish as a result of this testing. Kodak1 is one such example. HMT watches2 also had its last lot of 5500 watches produced recently.

In the present scenario, there are brands which are again trying to build back their trust in the customers. Volkswagen3 is a prominent example in this category which is still recovering from a disaster of ethics which it embroiled itself into.

The reasons for failure of big brands can be many. They can range from lack of foresight for judging upcoming trends, unforeseen increase in competition and not heading to true customer needs among others4.

However, in the due course of time, some brands have proved their resilience. These brands are discussed in the next write-up.

References:

  1. The Guardian’s detailed analysis of Kodak’s demise and how it could have been averted (Jan 22, 2012)

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/jan/22/john-naughton-kodak-lessons

  1. Times of India article on the last lot of HMT watches (Jan 7, 2016)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/After-govt-order-to-close-HMT-mood-somber-in-watch-makers-Kumaon-factory/articleshow/50484695.cms

  1. One of Volkswagen’s revamped ad campaign (started in late 2015)

  1. Detailed reasons for brand failure

Why brands fail

Brands Bouncing Back

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Aayush Sharma, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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PART II – WINNERS

After being hit by a major controversy regarding its contents, Maggi has already regained more than half1 of the market share in the instant noodles segment. Looking at the pace of the recovery, it is pretty clear that Maggi has been able to retain its powerful positive image in the minds of Indians, despite all odds.

Similar is the story of the Netflix, the US-based global provider of movies and TV series streaming services. After nearing a meltdown, Netflix bounced back from a near split2 into two companies. It has recently entered India as well.

Even behemoths like Tesco have to rejig their strategies for fighting competition. It did this recently by cutting prices, improving availability and customer service3. The result of this was that its sales – for the first time in three years – went up 0.9% in the fourth quarter of the previous financial year.

Some other popular brands and their stories are depicted in the following info graphic:

So how can brands ensure their continued dominance? Perhaps three things4 can be reinvention, having adequate back-up fire power to take risks and the vision to achieve big.

 

References:

  1. Business Standard article highlighting recent growth in Maggi’s market share (Apr 20, 2016)

http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/maggi-back-with-a-vengeance-116042000031_1.html

  1. Forbes article on how Netflix came back from a near split (Oct 10, 2011)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/10/10/the-qwikster-is-dead-netflix-scraps-decision-to-split-into-two-companies/#4da9b4181d1e

  1. Marketing Week article (Apr 18, 2016)

How the Tesco brand recovered from crisis

  1. Business Standard article discussing these three things at length with examples (Apr 4, 2013)

http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/can-brands-bounce-back-113040400534_1.html

Titan JUXT: India’s answer to the Apple watch

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Sarthak Singla, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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The latest buzz around the technology scene is that of smart wearables. With mobile phones having become an integral part of our lives, wearable devices take the intertwining of technology and our lives to an entirely new level. The most popular wearable smart device is the smart watch. The concept of a smart watch has come a long way from a monochrome SPOT watch by Microsoft launched way back in 2006 to the Apple Watch launched last year which comes with its own app store! Smart watches are all about making lives simpler, and to pursue this mission, one of India’s most trusted and loved premium brand has joined the fray.

Titan, which has led the premium wristwatch market for quite a few years, surprised everyone with the announcement of its own smart watch, Titan Juxt. The Juxt is a culmination of legacy and modern design, retaining the traditional Analog watch, and complemented it with a rectangular display which sits on the dial itself. The end result is simply a visual treat!

Juxt’s value proposition lies in its cross-platform compatibility. Own an Android phone, and it has you covered. Just bought an iPhone and don’t have the bucks left to buy an Apple watch? The Juxt won’t disappoint you here as well. Priced at around 17000 rupees, the Juxt strikes the right blend of premium and affordable. It has a variety of dial colour as well as strap colour and material options, which can be changed at will to suit your style and comfort.

Titan Juxt is truly product to watch out for, and as an MBA student, I give my thumbs up on this one!

Marketing through Aastha – Patanjali

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Palash Sinha, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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Patanjali, quite a familiar name recently is taking the market by storm. The brainchild of Baba Ramdev, the Yoga guru of India is growing fast and is also posing threat to the prominent players in the FMCG market in India.

Patanjali Ayurved Limited, started in 2007, was started by Acharya Balkrishna, companion of Ramdev Baba with an aim to popularize Ayurveda, the ancient medical science in India. It owns more than 15,000 exclusive outlets that sell healthy and organic consumer products and is into many product categories of personal care and food such as soaps, shampoos, dental care, balms, skin creams, biscuits, ghee, juices, honey, atta, mustard oil, masala, sugar and much more. Starting with few stores and limited distribution, this company today is putting the mighty FMCG players to deliberate on the rapid escalation of the company into India’s FMCG market. But putting all pundits into amaze, the company will technically be equal to Emami brand (₹1,820 Crore*), according to estimates.

The most interesting thing is that according to Baba Ramdev, he doesn’t possess any share in the company and more interestingly the company doesn’t even have a proper business plan or marketing strategy. It all started with the brand building of Baba Ramdev. He started as a modest yoga guru but gradually gained prominence in this domain. People started associating him with Indian culture and yoga. He used this belief and trust of the common man to market Patanjali products.

The products entered the scene as ‘healthy’ substitutes and were offered at cheaper prices. While the brand is entirely pushed into market by baba’s popularity, it isn’t surviving only on that. There is sure no business plan, but the strategies does not fall short in front of any multinational food company. Celebrities like Sushil Kumar are coming in to promote Patanjali products.

By rightly gauging the scope of the FMCG market, offering at cheaper prices, the company also used the franchise outlets to gain the reach. Currently, over 4,000 outlets operate and sell these products. Going by the popularity of the products, Reliance Retail store, Reliance Fresh entered into agreement and offered exclusive kiosks. And now, the company aims to expand sales to online and bring it on e-commerce majors like Amazon.

It is fascinating to see how the trust factor of a single person fuels the popularity of a product to the niche market of health conscious Indian customers. It will be interesting to see the battle of brands in the FMCG sector once Patanjali gain more market share.

Reference:

http://deskstory.com/no-business-plan-no-marketing-meet-indias-new-fmcg-giant-patanjali/

Ecommerce discounts and customer loyality

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Mayank Goel, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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Customers today look for online offers on a daily basis and it has become a habit. The problem is that the companies who started this are now moving into loses while acquiring customers.
The major issues that e-commerce companies are facing today include:

Customers returning products: Due to the poor quality and juggling mentality of Indian customers.

30 days Return Policy- No questions asked: Well if we are buying something offline do we have a 30 days return policy? The answer is NO.

Payout Policy to Vendor Companies: Due to the above policies a lot of vendors are having success stories, but, more than that people have shut their shops and are not interested in selling online.

Cash on Delivery: It seems to be easy but if you are ordering for a bigger ticket size and you are not residing in one of the Tier I cities then probably the order won’t be taken. Moreover there is a threat at a lot of places and logistics companies have stopped working in few states because of the threat on COD orders. A lot of orders are not received by the customers when delivery boys call them up. So COD is the most risky segment.

Customer is not loyal: If you are looking for a loyal customer online you won’t find that because he/ she is only attracted to sites, which gives more discounts.

Products sold below the manufacturing price: The issue is that we have seen in alot of cases that goods are sold below the manufacturing price because of the heavy discounts. Hyper Retailers have been into a menace since then.

GST is on hold: A centralized taxation would help in the pricing and moreover would help in a flat pricing in the country. Still the same has not been passed and is just on papers till date.

 

Patanjali : A wave rising high

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Mayank Goel, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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Patanjali has brought a revolution in making Ayurved and allied products most popular among Indians and foreigners alike. It is the integral worth of the Patanjali products that has gone down so well with consumers of all shades and classes.

A pertinent point to remember is the efficacy of the Patanjali products and no publicity is better than mouth to mouth publicity. The users of big and small products that they use talk to friends and relatives and say wah-wah for the Patanjali products. The literati, gliterati, the high and the low in the social order are equally concerned about their health. The high cost of established foreign brands and the low cost of similar products of Patanjali Ltd proves to the men and women, not forgetting children that Patanjali products are cost effective and health promoting.Let us recall the nestle products like maggie being thrown away from counter as they were found to be sub-standard and a vacuum was created for a short period of time in the noodle market.

Patanjali atta noodles filled the vacuum and made money to go laughing all the way to the bank. Here is a Sanyasi and his friend, Acharya Bal Krishnaji, Ayurvedacharya who know what people want and they provide products post haste without making a hole in consumers’ pockets.Indeed there lies the secret of success of Patanjali and its products both ayurveda based and beauty based. It goes on and on.The foreign companies that had almost monopolised the Indian markets are amazed to see the meteoric rise of aurveda products marketed by the Patanjali. What was onced treated as an untouchable in the field of medicine has made a bold front door entry to drive out foreign usurpers, so to say.

PM Narendra Modi’s plan of Make in India has been made a super success by Swami Ramdev and Acharya Bal krishna. The super success comes in the face of opposition onslaught and frontal attacks mounted by foreign business concerns in league with some Indian politicians who look to capitals of erstwhile communist countries for sustenance.

Some charges leveled against Patanjali were baseless like the alleged use of human bones and forbidden ingredients in making ayurvedic medicines. It was an attack for foreign system of medication on the age-old Bhartiya system. The attack failed miserably.

The false charges fell through. The false charges had no legs to stand on. The Patanjali products sustained itself in the vast market with the unflinching support of common man as well as the nationalist politicians of all shades and colors. the law and courts of law were on the side of the Patanjali products and their manufacturers. The truth won and falsehood day perished.

“Can chatbots replace apps in future?”

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

N Adarsh Varma, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur.

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The Apps era has led to a massive change in the usage of smartphone. Many Smartphone Users feel that the apps have made their life easier to live. But there has been a change in the way we perceive things and Facebook had brought this change by launching chatbots in the messenger.

The bot era has officially begun. Facebook had announced tools for developers to build bots inside Facebook Messenger, bringing a range of new functions to the popular communication app. Facebook believes Messenger can become a primary channel for businesses to interact with their customers, replacing 1-800 numbers with a mix of artificial intelligence and human intervention. If it really works then bots could represent a major new channel for commerce, customer support, and possibly even media and also can be expected to replace apps in future.

The Facebook had already started using the bots with a few partners like Uber, Lyft and KLM, but the latest announcement means that a lot more businesses are about to join the party. One might expect that the bots developed are for customer support or tracking online orders although it can certainly be used for that too but these chatbots are targeted to offer services that range from delivering top news stories to the local weather. The two of its launch partners are a CNN news bot and Poncho, a weather bot that masquerades as a friendly cat.

The question now arises is how to find them. First, you have to download the latest version of Messenger — it should be available on both Android and iOS. Once you launch the app, you’ll find that there’s now a persistent search bar at the top. Tap it and you can start searching for your bot of choice. Once you select a bot, you’ll see a splash page along with a description of what the bot does. Underneath is a “Get started” button. Hit that and the bot will start talking to you.

The tools announced at the company’s F8 developer conference include an API that allows developers to build chat bots for Messenger and chat widgets for the web. Facebook is not the first company to release a bot store for its messaging app. There is a bot store on Telegram and on Kik, which opened its store just last week before this conference. What mainly distinguishes the Facebook’s Store is the amount of scale i.e., more than 900 million people use Messenger every month, dwarfing most of its competitors. For millions of people, Messenger could be the first place they ever encounter a chat bot. And if people embrace bots in large numbers, it could trigger the biggest gold rush in software development since Apple opened the App Store.

Microsoft is already making a substantial move on bots. It had announced its own bot platform during its Build developer conference. Over $80 million has been allocated to spur the development of bots and other utilities that run inside the service.

This shows that in the future the bots play a crucial role in our life similar to the apps playing now in our life. Thanks to the development in technology, we can expect that the chatbots will replace the apps in a smartphone in future because of their comfort in use.

Apple iPhone SE launch

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Ruchi Patel, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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On March 21, 2016 Apple unveiled the iPhone SE; the 4 inch iPhone SE, features an improved camera and hardware and is priced at $399-$499.  It is another attempt by Apple to shift from premium segment to mid-market. iPhone 5C was launched in 2013 with the same motive but was later withdrawn from market as it failed to meet customer expectations.

Whenever a new iPhone goes on sale, customers tend to act like it’s a religious holiday. There are the rituals of waiting outside stores in snaking lines and getting high-fived by hordes of excited Apple retail employees after making a purchase.

These customs happened predictably every year since 2007 — that is, until when the iPhone SE launched. Technically, the SE is a new iPhone, but it’s really just the older model iPhone 5S spiffed up with new internal parts to make it run faster and take sharper pictures.

Early morning lines for the iPhone SE could be found in a handful of major cities, ranging from Sydney, Australia to Miami, Florida, but many other Apple Stores had no queues whatsoever as excitement was unsurprisingly more tepid compared to the launch of a flagship smartphone like the iPhone 6s.

The SE has a 4-inch display, the same smaller size as iPhone models from three years ago, and has just about all the same handy features as the bigger and more expensive iPhone 6S, which went on sale last fall.

It can be viewed as today’s technology in yesterday’s body. The phone is meant for people who are not comfortable handling large smart phones but do not want to compromise on technology.

The company aims to capture market in developing economies like India and China by keeping price lower than the regular iPhone. Still the phone is too highly priced for the middle income group in these countries. So, the fate of the phone in these countries is still undecided.

One of the main reasons of failure of iPhone 5C was its confused positioning as a cheap iPhone. For most of the people in developing economy buying an iPhone is a matter of esteem and pride. By positioning iPhone 5C as cheaper version of iPhone this need of the customers was not met. iPhone SE could suffer a similar fate if not positioned correctly in these markets.