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BW Businessworld

Marketing Makeover

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Pity the poor marketer. His life has become more complicated than ever before. Competition has intensified, product cycles have become shorter, and pricing and positioning have become more difficult as hundreds of brands and variants jostle for attention in every single product category. Meanwhile, there is no mass media vehicle left — instead, one needs to work with dozens of different media channels.

Consider this. Even until the early 90s, you had about five strong TV brands, and each brand offered four or five models at most. Each option was aimed at a clear demographic, with features and price tailored to appeal to that section. Now, there are well over a dozen brands. Each brand in turn offers a bewildering array of variants within the LCD, LED, plasma categories as well. There are HD TVs and HD-ready TVs, Smart TVs and 3D options. And there are at least half a dozen screen size options. 

Research shows that the sheer plethora of choice makes it difficult for the consumer to make up his mind. It is far worse for the marketer who needs to position his product clearly and communicate its special benefits to the consumer.

Forget televisions. It is the same in all product categories: cars, mobile handsets, cellular services, laptops, washing machines, FMCG products ranging from face washes to creams, soaps to detergents and cleaning products. This has led to creation of hyper specialised, niche segment products — different washing powders for top-loading and front-loading washing machines, for instance.

Then there are other problems. Do you advertise on TV or in newspapers? If you choose TV, there are well over 150 channels to choose from with options even within the main categories — general entertainment, news, movies, kids, religious, food, special information, crime.... Newspapers? Again, you are swamped with choice. Also, these are the old media options. Younger consumers consume their news and information from tablets, laptops and mobile phones.

Meanwhile, product cycles have become shorter, making brand-building even tougher. So how do you manage such a situation? The stories, columns and interviews in this issue are designed to help marketers navigate this new world of marketing.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 18-06-2012)