Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Changing face of the Indian Advertisements

McCarthy's 4P's – Product, Place, Price and Promotion, very aptly sum up the broad field of Marketing. The product is the tangible or intangible component, place denotes the operational efficiency, Price is tuned up with the organization’s revenue goals and the Promotion aims to maximize the reach to the target market. Advertising has always played a pivotal role in any promotional and marketing campaign designed by a company. The extent of Advertising in terms of visibility depends upon the target population and expected outcomes such as creating a certain Brand image for the product. Indian Advertising has undergone a sea change over a span of years in terms of both Concept and Creativity. 

Taking a look at the concept aspect, the advertisements made during the current times reflect the changing face of the Indian Consumer. The traditional “middle Class” is replaced by the “High aspiring working class” and so the conceptualization is directly linked to the rise in their purchasing power and high disposable income. The Advertisements are no longer concerned only on focusing on value for money but the value that it lends to the consumer’s life. Almost everyone who has seen the 80s era, can associate himself with the popular Surf Ad featuring the Brand icon “Lalitaji”. She was the synonym for the middle class housewife and the advertisement advocated the smart spending of money on a useful indispensable product. Fast forward to the 2000s, the same brand Surf metamorphosed into a better variant and so did the message. It no longer focuses on the value for money, but rather on the efficacy of the product in washing stains with an advanced formula. 

One thing remains same though – The eternal Mother figure in both the ads.  While the “Lalitaji” was a busy housewife cum mother, todays Mother is cool and happy on seeing her kid playing in the pool of dirty water. After all “Daag acche hain” with the new Surf Excel tagline. This also brings forth one more aspect – As more and more women are becoming the decision makers in the family, the advertisements are now targeting the female audience, be it the health drinks category for the growing children or something like choosing healthy cooking oil for the Husband, the focus is now shifted from taste to Health. The more recent ones is the new Tanishq ad that features a woman with a young daughter getting re-married, resonates the changing mindset of the people. 

Brand endorsements have also gained increasing popularity in the field of Advertising. Lux was one of the earliest brands to feature Bollywood actresses, but today every second brand is endorsed by some celebrity. Take the example of mobile networks in India –Idea: Abhishek, Vodafone: Irrfan Khan, Airtel: A R Rahman. Call it competition or to create a brand identity, celebrity endorsements are seen everywhere from Bikes, Deodorants, beauty products, or even the toothpaste.

Switch to the creativity aspect of the Indian ads. The bigger brands manage to create bigger ads with a more meaningful message such as the recent Coca Cola Advertisement. It is imperative what a carbonated drink does, but Coca Cola moved away from the traditional advertising and came up with the slogan “Open Happiness”. This one minute Coca Cola Song, penned by Prasoon Joshi brings freshness in the air along with a positive message for creating a better tomorrow. From the company’s standpoint it showcases the CSR (corporate Social Responsibility) initiative.

On the other  hand, some of the very cheesy ads that have been made in the recent times – the Deodorant ads.  The trend was started by Axe –known to create the axe affect, but it seemed to have been copied by many “Me too” brands. They all have the same theme – A guy sprays from the canned cylinder, and soon a bunch of girls flock around him. The content looks so repetitive.

The days are gone, when jingles used to be very catchy, like the “Washing powder Nirma” and “Utterly Butterly Delicious” . Over the years the Amul Girl has retained her identity with her humorous yet cynical one liner poster on one face of the Amul Butter pack. The advertising strategy is not so aggressive yet it manages to catch the attention of the buyers/ readers.

Many of the advertisements today carry the background score of Remixed old Bollywood songs with a forgettable taglines. This raises the big question – Are the ad companies missing out the originality or low on new ideas? The consumer is bombarded with so many ads through different modes like online, broadcast , print , Billboards etc which has created more of clutter instead of clarity. Under such a scenario, the audience chooses to discretionary viewing , unless an advertisement is appealing .

The bottomline is – Change is Good, so is the change in the advertisements to keep in tune with the trend, but it is equally important to see, if this change adds any value to the product. The ultimate goal for any marketing strategy is to create a Brand Image and Brand Equity for the product and thereby increasing sales, re-purchases and customer loyalty. Advertisements as a tool must aid in creating the value proposition by bringing clarity about the product through differentiation, positioning and reinforcement .

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The baby and the parrot

a random pic clicked randomly during one of the random moments.
reflects the indifferent attitude of the little girl who is being chased by her pet parrot.

Friday, January 17, 2014

" Women Empowerment "- The term misinterpreted

Much has been said about Women " Empowerment ", "Emancipation" , 'liberation" and "Women Rights" which seem to be the hot topic of discussion in the modern society. In India, the word "empowerment" is often misinterpreted by both men and women. The definition of empowerment has been re-defined every now and then and the modern "Educated" Indian woman considers it altogether on a wider plane. For some it means financial independence, for others it implies freedom, while for some it signifies freedom of expression. Ultimately, it all boils down to one single idea - Empowerment is the ability to lead one's life with dignity.

There is often a misunderstood notion about the term "Women Empowerment". Some of the staunch feminists create an uproar in the name of women emancipation, by encouraging the women to fight against any kind of injustice or Ill -treatment meted out to them. However, the definition of injustice is very subjective and vague in itself. Who is to decide, what is acceptable and what is not ? There have been examples where women have misused the concept of "Women liberation and rights" in order to get there way out, if they are unhappy with their relationship with their spouse, employer, colleague or any in-laws.

From a man's point of view, lets get this straight. An average Indian man is still uncomfortable with an " Empowered women". Majority of men still believe that women should give first preference to their family and later to their career .Even if they are fine with their partner going out to work, it is not because they value her education or talents, but because she brings in money to share the family financial liabilities. We may be living in the 21st century, but men still believe, that a woman should not venture out so much and be bound by the shackles of "social norms" . If a women is molested, harassed or raped, it is easy to put the blame on her, because " she was too bold and independent". There seem to be no finger pointing out at the menfolk. This brings in the question of equality and rights.If a woman questions so much, it is considered to be unfeminine. Comments crop up – “ You are a woman, learn to behave like one” or  “ This is none of your business” .

The big question is, why doesn’t she have the right to question the authority or the speak for herself.

By being "empowered", a woman does not intend to give the message that she will not cook, or she will neglect her responsibility as a daughter or a wife, or she will disrespect others. Women just demand to share an equal status as of men. They should have an equal right to education, equal right to have her opinion considered on pivotal decisions concerning her life, and more ever should be treated with respect, as much as is expected of her.More and more young girls and women, are realizing the importance of their rights and potential . Women want to focus on their careers to retain their identity, become self-reliant and financially independent with a voice of their own.

A word of advice for both Men & Women :

Men : Encourage and respect the women in your life and outside. She is equally capable as much as you are, if given the right exposure and direction

Women : Do not be carried away by the "empowered mentality" . There is a difference between " This is my right " and " This is my responsibility" .

Men & Women : Let yourself free from the gender defined roles. Know that " household chores" is not just a woman's domain, and "paying bills" is not just a man's responsibility.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Indian Aviation Industry -All is not well

The Low cost carriers (LCCs), often referred as “No frills” or “Budget airlines” gained momentum in India during the period 2003-2007, with Air Deccan, Sahara Airlines, Indigo, Kingfisher, Go Air, Spice Jet entering the aviation industry offering low fares and making air travel affordable to the average middle class families. The low barriers to entry, the rise in disposable income, the liberalization of the Indian economy, and increase in FDI are some of the reasons attributable to the aggressive growth of LCCs in India. Today 70 % of the Indian aviation sector is dominated by the LCCs, as the result of which even the Full Service carriers like Jet airways and Air India are forced to reduce their fares, in order to make themselves saleable in the market.

Today the biggest challenge faced by the airlines industry is to achieve cost efficiencies and maximize productivity. As can be seen, many low cost airlines had to discontinue their operations or were grounded because they failed to survive the pressures of high operating costs, low returns and Debt crisis. In 2012-2013, the Indian carriers made a loss of Rs 10,983 Crores.

Most of the LCCs follow more or less similar business model. The cost efficiency is partly achieved by charging extra fee for the in-flight services such as catering, personalized attention by the flight attendants, seats with more leg space priced more etc. The LCCs often do not provide any differentiation between the business and economy class since they have the same type of seats in the aircraft. At the most, the first two rows are reserved for the business class, and passengers occupying these have to pay more than the others, thus fetching a few extra income for the airline. However, these techniques are not enough to achieve the desired cost efficiency given the high operating costs of running an airline. The major expenses for any airline are: ATF (Air turbine fuel) costs which are ever increasing coupled with increase in dollar rate, cost of hiring and paying experienced qualified pilots, maintenance costs, salaries paid to the ground staff etc. Airlines also suffer a bigger chunk of loss from unsold seats. A standard A-320 aircraft is 180 seater, but not all seats are sold out for a given flight. The unsold seats are a kind of additional cost for the airline, as they are carrying fewer passengers, thus sales is lesser compared to the fixed operating costs.

Pricing also plays a pivotal role in determining the revenues earned by a LCC. Since there is large number of market players, the LCC industry is close to perfect competition scenario, wherein the prices are not influenced by any one particular airline, rather any fluctuation in the air fare impacts all the airlines equally. When the demand is more, especially during the holiday season, the cost per ticket is kept high, because the consumer is willing to shell out extra money for the same product. Most LCCs take advantage of the consumer behaviour/sentiments and raise the price of the tickets with the flight departure timings approaching closer. If there are no buyers at the revised price, the hikes are rolled back in order to increase the load factor. Nevertheless, the LCCs can also be very ruthless with their policies. If a passenger fails to check-in on time, their seat may be sold off to another passenger with no refunds applicable or the customer may be given an option to take the next flight subject to additional payment of cancellation charges and differential cost (the difference of original and new flight fare). If there is delay in booking cancellation, the customer may have to forgo the base fare.  These are some of the indirect tactics followed by airlines to earn revenues.


Since the airlines industry is price sensitive, and the customers choose to go for the lowest fare, irrespective of the airline offering it, therefore more needs to be done on the operational front .

To achieve the operational efficiencies, the LCCs can plan their routings in such a way that they can connect 2-3 cities in a single trip, by means of transit/connecting flights. This will help in reducing the cost of one trip, at the same time expand the network and connectivity. Eg: including a non-busy sector with a busy sector during non-busy hour. This will also address the problem of empty seats, as the probability of having a full flight plying on connecting routes is higher. To maximize revenue or determine the break even, linear programming method can be used to determine how many seats should be allotted between the two destinations.

The non-profitable sectors could be eliminated and the fleet can be utilized on the more promising sectors.

Almost 40% of the total fare is attributed to ATF, and any rise in the cost of fuel hurts the customer’s pocket directly, and increases the operating the cost for the airlines. Fuel Hedging can be practised in view of the Dollar rate volatility.  

Each low cost airline should design a strategy for differentiation. It could be like providing exceptional customer service in terms of comfort, on time flights, better customer loyalty offers for the frequent fliers, choosing a sector that is still untapped by other players.


With Government’s nod to 49% FDI in aviation industry, the future sees new entrants in the Indian aviation sector – Air Asia and SIA-Tata alliance. This will further increase the competition. Air Asia’s primary focus will be Southern India, while SIA-Tata will operate on the all the major sectors. The stocks of major players have already dipped by almost 50% . The number of flyers rose by 5.5 % in 2013 and with the new market players, it is expected to jump up in 2014. This will force the other LCCs to revise their strategy, and focus more on the operational efficiency, and to keep going..



Friday, January 3, 2014

Will the AAP make a difference to Indian politics?


The last month of 2013 witnessed one of the path breaking events in the history of Indian politics. What appeared to be a cut throat competition between the two most powerful  warring parties - BJP and Congress, finally ended up with low profile Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) take away the baton and gain the status quo of "people's party" .Even though there were lots of speculations over who would win the state elections in Delhi , a common vibe reverberated amongst the common men, Congress should not get  another chance. Blame it on the series of corruption charges dating back to 2010 commonwealth games, unfriendly public policies , high inflation and insensitivity towards gender specific issues, congress had clearly lost the rapport and trust with the commoner long before the elections happened.
The newbie in the town "The AAP " has turned out to be the new buzz word  and its founder Arvind Kejriwal became the new Super Hero , not just in Delhi but across the country, with all eyes pinning hopes on the party to bring about a revolutionary change in the Indian politics.

With all eyes eagerly waiting to see what this "self declared" people's party can deliver to the common man, the party founder, 45 yrs young Kejriwal promises to uproot corruption from the Indian politics.Looking at the party dynamics , the AAP team comprises of young and educated enthusiasts from various backgrounds who are willing to bring a change in the system.

With the dawn of year 2014, the Delhites received the new year gift in the form of free water supply and 50 pc slashed power rates.Delhi received its first anti bribery hotline number andDelhi was stripped off its VIP culture with the ban on red beacon lights on the government vehicles.All this happened within days after Kejriwal was sworn as the new  CM of Delhi. Other issues in the offing are revision in CNG price, better public transport, putting a ban on donations made to private school etc. Although opposition have little confidence in the new policies and term it as unrealistic, it is evident that if AAP stands firm on its philosophy and ideologies, Indian politics will see a major change in the coming years. The flip side that needs to be seen is that the party has no scope to falter. In the previous years, many times the prices of petrol and by products have been reduced to counter the angst of people momentarily, but only to be hiked in the next two months,on the pretext that oil companies are going on loss or the government is  spending a lot on the subsidies. If the same happens under AAP governance, people will have zero telerance. Needless to say, AAP has raised the expectations of the common man. On one hand party 's austerity has gain popularity amongst the people , on the other hand any personal vested interest may lead to the downfall of the party before the term ends.

Nevertheless, the blueprint of AAP's agenda backed up by a team of educated young individuals has brought a ray of hope for the Indian politics.If Delhi becomes a success story, then other states will demand to follow the same route. Finally, India may hope to see an empowered country and re-define Democracy which has lost its meaning over a period over a period of time.  For the next quarter its a wait and watch strategy for the common man and a quick action plan by the AAP to sweep the nation clean from corruption.