Brand- Focus and Win..

Once my friend told me when I asked, Can we think through how in every day life we decide to take or purchase the service of others through our own brand perception??

Basically what do we mean by “BRAND”? A good way to explain it is “as a mental image of a product or a service provided by some one or some organisation.”

Let me coroborate it with some of my personal experiences. After reaching to a new country, Philippines, to study for my one year management program I was so scared, how I will be able to manage the food there. It must be the case with many Indians when they reach to a new unknown place as I did. Personal food tastes and birth customs are ingrained into a person right since his childhood.

That is the time a local Philipino approhed us with a proposal to provide local Indian food. We definitely loved to try out her service. She was Leshi, having an interest to provide food for Indian students. Her Indian food are available at reasonable cost and best part of her is, she was attentive to reach of our demands. As we are few and every one needed personal interaction, she

provided that. In few days she almost became defacto food service provider for all. Within a few days her business grew. Slowly to enhancie business she started diversifying her business. Her focus has chnaged. She started a new business of handling the laundry service. Obviously this must mean more money for her.
But within a few days, few people started to complian about reduced service quality. And it was the time for a competitor Heidi to enter in food business. Lehsi’s focus had reduced and which gave Heidi chance to start consolidating her position in selling Indian food.
Though Heidi is more costlier, but she brings some addendum with her food like pickles, salad etc. Food diversification with better quality made students shift their focus from Lehsi to Heidi. Though costlier, I also shifted my loyality for better quality and service. Lehsi slowly lost the game.

When I think through the whole situation, I found a very strong connection of branding and customer loyality in this case.

So a vibrant brand is one which-

1. Easily relate to the customer. Depending on the population strata the brand need to grow with the age. The brand need to always guarantee best desired service.

2. Brand has to communicate a clear message of dependability ” You can depend on me” . A good brand always gives a feeling to the customer that, it is dependable.

3. Brand also communicate, the positioning, availability on time.

4. Brand communicate the clear working.. a multi layer brand might be confusing.. clear focus is always good.

Some time as a marketer, I could realize the problem Lheshi did in capturing the market. She might have taken customers for granted. This is the fatal mistake made by some companies and that actually throws them out.

As per me, a brand always need to be maintained as a promise for the consumers to deliver minimum commited need.

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Maturing Rural Markets

Today i saw this news and wondering, Bajaj Electricals set to launch separate brand for rural India
(http://www.ibef.org/artdisplay.aspx?art_id=32804)
1. Is rural market mature enough to take a separate brand?
2. Do rural consumer differentiate various brands?
3. Do rural consumer at all follow brands and have loyalty for it?

With changing economic scenario, currently the Indian rural market generates about 50 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Rural India comprises around 840 million people, and growing income levels and greater ambitions are progressively driving demand there. In the period 2009–2012, rural consumption per person increased annually at 19 per cent, according to data from National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO). This is phenomenal and will be a driving force for self reliant Indian economy of future. Any company or brand which is a fast mover will harness the benefit. Indian consumers are also moving towards more consumption like their urban counterpart. This lead to multiple challenges for rural
– Enhanced rural connectivity has improved, logistics which was a nightmare for many company. So roads are becoming back bone of growth. Many small consumption centers are mushrooming in the joint area of roads. So villagers are coming to it for buying their product and services. A road joint (Chaurah) in UP.
Penetration of mobile / internet network / Satellite TV has improved the knowledge base of the rural consumers. As Rural consumers are subdivided in to various strata as per education and economic status, their behaviors are different and we can not target the whole group as a monolith. Now consumption of advertisement in rural hinterland is not a bigger challenge as it was earlier. So targeted communication will enhance the chance of acceptance of newer products. Many company including Uniliver is studying rural consumers behavior towards upcoming media like mobile or internet marketing. Intresting challenge for all marketing professionals.
Currently rural, inflation has significantly risen in food item which also showcase than buyer and producers have more disposable money to spend. Few months back during a travel to rural UP, i found the onion / potato price of rural is almost 10-15% less than Delhi and consumers are purchasing it. that also shows that people area consuming. If we check the real estate price in rural segment the rise is almost two to three times than urban counterpart. It is an overall effect of national economy. One curious advertisement found in rural market of UP shows how the economy has grown.
Rural house with many durable shows the rural prosperity.
– Rural consumers are extremely value conscious as we as innovation customers. They understand the importance of limited resources and utilize it in the best way. Classical Jugad is a way for them to handle day to day need. Any way if a product or services is available to them on their arms reach they are not averse to try it and keep it till they have a feeling that the product is giving them what they expect out of it. Interesting to see a women uses fan motor to make lassi (Very famous Indian cold drink from yogurt)

A unique product and a business model seen, where a person is shaving a horse with an electrical razor locally made and he is doing it on rent basis. Interesting, is not it ;)-

— I Rural areas, Loyalty on brand is again dependent on many factors, but most important is value for money along with ease and convenience of user to handle the brand. Easier, regional communication platforms will assure conversion and stay on brand for longer time. In rural area relationship plays a major role in the purchase decisions of the consumers, so right channel mix and channel partner loyalty plays a long way on gaining the confidence of rural consumers.

I still remember a sentence of Prof. C. K Prahallad on rural or BOP market, i.e rural is no more a need but it is a strategic necessity for any company to survive in long run.