How indian companies are building brands in the connected world

During the college days, my marketing professor always used to stress on the importance of the purchase funnel model and that was one question which was definitely there in the exams. And once I started working I had seen a lot of presentations referring to this model. But with a new era of digitalization, does this linear straightforward model can still be used to gauge consumer behaviour. Well, out of curiosity I kept on searching about it and got to know about this study by Facebook & Forrester called ‘Building Brands For The Connected World’. It’s an interesting study on how the customer journey has changed in the connected world and the role of the brands in the connected world. Personally thought that such a model is much more closer to analyze consumer behavior in the digital era.

Here are some important pointers from that

  • To succeed in the connected world, marketers must create connected brands: brands that continuously engage with people when they want, where they want, and how they want
  • The Connected World Has rerouted The Customer Journey- From a Linear funnel to the continuous process of exploration and interaction.
  • —The journey is not isolated to just one person at a time — the entire connected world influences it.

The Blueprint for Building Connected Brands

The study further went on to say how a connected brand should continuously connects and engages with people when they want, where they want, and how they want through social media. It suggested the following six actions to build a connected brand.

Have try to understand the blueprint from an Indian perspective and how indian brands are doing in the connected era.

Articulate Your Brand’s Social Identity

The study suggests that first and foremost the companies should identify components of the brand it can communicate via social media.  The report has a suggestion for how to do this. “Apply a social lens to your brand identity by asking ‘What about my brand is inherently social? Why do people engage with it and why do people want to talk about it or share it with their friends in the real world?””

Case study: What is so social about Stayfree a sanitary napkin brand and why consumers should engage with it and why would people want to talk about it. If we look at Stayfree the brand, it believes in empowering women and help them change the way they live or overcome difficulties. The difficulties could be in any form – physical, mental or social but the brand will help them overcome it. So the thought of empowerment is what the brand is inherently social about and this should be the brands core social identity to be taken forward.

Connect By Establishing A Presence In Social Channels:

Building connections via social media requires that a brand create a hub. So your hub could be facebook, twitter, youtube or a combination of all. But creating a separate hub requires a lot of investments and the consumer time gets increasingly fragmented across various hubs. While you probably can’t be everywhere, your brands need to identify the best places to connect with their fans and followers. In india, facebook seems to be the biggest hub with 45 million users. And lot of Indian brands have successfully used Facebook to create conversations and engagement with their fans.

Case study: A good example of this could be Mumbai Indians facebook page in which they are trying to bring cricket stars closer to the diehard fans. They have created a separate tab via which users can follow his favourite star from the MI team list, get personalized updates, know more about the stars and get the inside stories too. Below is a video of a personal message from Sachin Tendulkar to his fans

 Engage: While building a hub gets you started in the social media space but more important is how the brand goes on to create an engagement and building conversations with their users. While building conversations, brands have to make sure that they stay human and true to the user conversations and not just try to force their branding message in users interactions

Case study: A good example could be Chi kitchen and bar in how they deal with their prospective users on twitters. The above conversation shows how the brand has smartly got and build a rapport with a prospective consumer.

But there are lot of brands who need to learn and make sure they don’t become too intrusive in consumers life. Eg Pepsi- For its new campaign ‘Change the game’ pepsi keeps on intruding in users conversations with their branded messages. Such kind of intrusion has led to a lot of backlash from the twitter community.


Getting people to talk about brands with their friends and their followers is one of the biggest opportunities for marketers to influence and engage their potential consumers. For this brand needs to create favourable content, allow the brand to create a special moment in consumer’s life and if possible use paid media to increase the distribution of stories people are sharing about the brand. Also having consumers as influencers can help the brand in time of any sudden crises

Case study: Royal challengers Bangalore: 

RCB understood the importance of influencers from the early stages. They allowed their fans to be a part of their team by having special contest like chief blogger, Chief photographer etc. This helped the brand to get a lot of free media coverage as they in return covered the tournament online, shared behind the scenes anecdotes and photos.

The biggest point of influence and fans support came during the jan 2011 auction when they decided not to buy back Rahul dravid. This led to a lot of outrage among the hardcore dravid supporters. An angry mob of Rahul Dravid fans had trolled RoyalChallengers.com showing their displeasure. But passionate Club RCB fans retaliated strongly, defending the team and driving out the mob. This just goes on to show how passionate fans can have a strong influence even in time of major crises.


Integrate: Social media gives marketers the opportunity to turn any brand experience— from a TV spot to a branded event to the product itself — into a social experience. Lot of Indian brands have already embarked on to this journey. Tata docomo and Micromax did it with logo outsourcing. Vidhu vinod chopra is using the digital platform to get scripts for his new film. Parle Agro, the food and beverage specialist, used Twitter, to find out from shoppers and retailers the areas in which its Hippo snack brand were currently not available. Hero MotoCorp, the motorcycle manufacturer, has asked netizens to upload videos accompanying a piece of music by AR Rahman, the composer, the best of which are then used in its “hum mein hain hero” television advertising campaign. Lays Chips used social media to create new flavors. Below video shows how social media is being taken forward into different aspects of marketing.


Social media can be a very important tool to monitor brand health and improve the brand experience. Social media has created the ultimate focus group. What are people already saying about your brand? Have people misinterpreted your message? Are the comments positive or negative? And use this as a good opportunity to improve the brand experience. Nowadays lot of free tools like Monitter, Icerocket, Social Mention are available in tracking consumer interactions with brands

By the look of it, lot of indian brands are doing it right in building connected brands. But like earlier stated building connected brands is a continuous process and definitely not a one night stand relationship. But if we follow the above six steps it will help in a long way to have a deeper relationship with consumers. And definitely connected brand is the way to go in this digital world.


QR Codes- Indian marketers mystery???

QR codes which got originated in japan have been used by marketers world-wide to reach out and interact with their customers. And, nowadays one can see QR codes in almost every medium- magazine, billboard, T-shirts, Roads, Body-parts, condoms etc. According to a comscore report in December 2011, 1 in every 5 smartphone owners in the U.S. scanned a QR code with their phone.

Globally brands have put QR codes to successful use and have generated a lot of eyeballs. So why these black and white colour codes have become a marketers hidden weapon. Simple they add interactivity to a static print medium and the black and white codes add to the consumer curiosity. Also QR codes are turning out to be the perfect marketing package — a brief, compact, message driver and an engagement tool — all loaded in one single code. Hence we have seen a lot of marketers falling in love with them.  The below graph shows why consumers are scanning the QR code

CMB consumer pulse report

Indian marketers too have joined this bandwagon. In fact the Google Trends report on QR Codes puts India among the Top 10 countries at No 9.  So have the Indian marketers really cracked this black and white codes. Let’s look at few examples before we make any judgement.

To begin with let’s look at few Indian brands that are on the right track in successfully using QR codes

Shoppers Stop- The sale season is always a challenge for a brand to stand out and achieve the humongous sales target. And if you look across any newspaper you will see almost every brand advertising about the sales promo. So how did a brand like Shoppers Stop stood out. The solution was to use QR codes effectively and then start conversations with their customers and delight them in an interesting fashion.  Shoppers Stop placed a QR code in the print ads and on scanning the QR code the user was asked to install an app called ‘Shoppers Stop secret’ and then see the magic.

With the help of this app, readers could trigger an augmented reality set-up in which they could view certain ‘secret offers’. These offers were not printed specifically in the newspaper ad, hence in order to see them one had to download the app. According to me one of the primary reasons it worked was these special offers delighted the consumers and justified their decision to use QR code and download the app.

Turquoise Cottage – Buddy Stamp

Here is another example on how Turquoise Cottage, a popular bar in New Delhi, used QR codes on Christmas eve to show their customers and patrons that they care and ensured that their customers had a nice experience in the bar, reached home safely, and also hangover remedies the next day.

Now let’s look at some of the big marketers who have failed miserably with their QR code campaign

Kit Kat

Kit Kat one of the biggest brand in the world went horribly wrong in their usage of QR code. Kit Kat had come out with this print ads to promote their new campaign. Now one of the reasons why QR code have been a hit among the users is the curiosity to see what’s going to be there once they scan those black and white codes. And kit Kat did exactly the opposite and told user to scan it and watch their television ad. Something which a consumer must have already seen on TV.

Infosys: Infosys is a brand which regularly advertises on Times Ascent page so that it remains as a top brand to work for the tech community. Now if look at this ad, they have a very lengthy copy and then a lot of instructions on how to apply at Infosys. They have also tried to place a QR code in the middle of all the instructions. And if one scans the QR code it takes the user to the job application page on their website. I personally think it’s an idea poorly executed. There are already enough instructions on job application mentioned in the print ad. So what’s the purpose of a user scanning the QR code and then landing on the application page? Thought Infosys could have shown the user a video which could either be about why Infosys is a good place to work or testimonials of employees who have worked with Infosys.

Geetanjali Jewellers:

Another brand which I think so has gone totally wrong with the usage of QR code. If one scans the QR code it takes them to the company’s website. Also if we look at the ad clearly they have also mentioned company’s website too. Total waste of the print ad space and definitely a lot of dissatisfied users

Like seen above a lot of Indian brands have started using QR codes. Few of them have done it right but a lot of them just do it so that they can be seen among those elite list of brands who are masters of technology.  But they need to understand that just placing a QR codes with the link to the website or their TVC will not be helpful.  And for the end user there is nothing special for him. And in fact more frustration of going through the entire process of scanning the QR code and getting negative results. Personally I think QR codes are a good starting point for engaging and starting conversation with the users. But what is more important is the end result that the consumers are getting after scanning the QR code. Otherwise it will be a waste of ad space and more importantly consumers precious time.

Siri, how to make 3G sexy ji

This is the first question that every marketers in the telecom industry must have asked Siri. How can we make 3G so sexy that every mobile user in india would die for it? And the answer is what you can rightly see in the image.

Yes like stated last time, this blog is about how the Indian telecom players should innovate in the 3G era. But before we get into that, lets look at how the last innovation from iGod “Steve Jobs” that has changed our lives and get some inspiration from the same.

Siri has really redefined the way we interact and has truly given a new meaning to our life. But before we start throwing accolades to Steve jobs and his apple army, let’s look at few facts. Siri was originally developed by SRI International. SRI spun off Siri, Inc., in 2007, and this company launched a personal assistant app in February 2010. In 2010 apple acquired Siri, Inc for almost $200 million, and in October 2011 Apple announced that the iPhone 4S would be using this technology. So it wasn’t really apple from scratch but it still deserves the praise for making it possible.

First iPhone 4S buyer from Airtel

When Iphone 4S was announced it got a lot of criticism, as people thought it will be an iphone5 but it was almost just like an Iphone4 with few hardware changes. Yet more than 1M iPhone 4S were sold on the first day. In india, Iphone 4S has been priced starting from Rs. 44,500 and goes till Rs.55,000. Looks like a joke in a country where Indians pay 1cent per minute, Have an ARPU of 2$ and 97% SIM cards are prepaid. But still there was a mad craze for people to get hands on iphone 4S, just because of ”Siri”.

Finally, Siri is an app, which requires high bandwidth and will only work smoothly if it is on 3G or a Wi-Fi. A report by AppleInsider reveals that Siri on an average uses as much as 63kb of data per query when it looks for your answers. So more the questions, more the data usage and considering the craze it has, we could see a lot of data being used in just talking to Siri.

So with an application like Siri, users are ready to pay high, consume more 3G data, and be loyal to you. Hence with iGod blessing if one was going to request Siri again on how to make 3G sexy in india these could be few possible answers that one could get from Siri

Quality of the apps: Let us start with the indian players first. I logged onto the following website- http://www.airtel.in/applications/genericlead/apps/index.jsp to get an idea of the apps offered by them. Now the website recommended apps as per my requirement and here is the list on their recommendations. Office-Project manager. Reading-Wattpad. Exercise-Health Nuts. Music-Spice Sangeet. Travel- Voice Translator. Eating- Meals on mobile. I don’t think so anybody must have heard about these apps till now If we compare these apps with the top apps in the IOS & android market like Instagram, Flipboard, Garageband, Spotify, Zite there exists huge difference. And hence the first step would be to really invest in better quality of apps.

Quantity of the apps: Forget about the quality of the apps, even in terms of quantity they lag behind in a huge manner. Airtel the player with the highest number of apps just has 70,000 apps and the quality of the apps we already know.

Invest in applications Developers:  Like stated earlier Siri was not originally developed by apple. Can the indian telecom companies invest in developers and give them a free hand in developing innovative applications for driving 3g usages. And also the indian telecom marketers  have become very mundane in their thinking. Its time to innovate from the outside. It will definitely be more helpful rather than investing in brand ambassadors that beyond their fake looks & acting add nothing.

Look beyond Cricket & bollywood:  Cricket & movies are two big things in india and the telecom industry has done every possible mimicry around them. Also if we look at the indian audience, it has evolved and has moved beyond cricket & bollywood. There is a huge passion for other games like Football, Tennis, Motor-racing, and Basketball. And this is just the audience who will be ready to spend high on such kind of services.

Education: In India, education is a huge business. Every parent wants their kids to get the best education & would go to any extent. Look at iBooks, the way it is going to change the education & also the fortunes for apple. Imagine, a kid using an apple product right from childhood, getting addicted to it & becoming a loyalist forever.

Games: Develop hi-end games that would need 3G bandwidth to work effectively. Have competitions with games like Modern combat, The Sims, Need for speed, Real football, Asphalt & Air attack that will let the users play against each other on 3G bandwidth

If the indian telecom industry can start looking into the above answers given by Siri, they could at least make the first step in enabling the consumers on a joyful telecom experience and also start making some monies.

Have you swapped condom for 3G

‘Sab hogaya 3G pa busy. No aabadi No barbaddi.  What an Idea sirji’. Wonderful concept, trying to give india a country of 1.2 billion people the solution for a problem which even the god would have got an headache. So did 3G which was launched a year back has really helped us in taking care of this mammoth problem? Has technology taken care of this big shit that we are in. Or was it just an ad through which an adgurus was hoping to win a cannes with it.  Or should it be the telecom scamsters who should take responsibility for 3G never spreading like fire in india.

Well like the famous hindi dialogue ‘Taali ek haath sa nahi baajti’ there are lot of factors which goes on to suggest that why 3G has not replaced condoms. And before we get into the factors let’s look at the current 3G population. As per TRAI, India has a total 851.70 million wireless/mobile (GSM + CDMA) subscribers at the end of Jun-11 and 40.70% of total wireless subscribers base are capable of accessing GPRS (2G/3G) Data Services/CDMA Internet at the end of June, 2011.

And as per the latest reports only 12-15 million people have subscribed to 3G. So in effect only 2 % of the entire telecom population & only 4-5 % of the mobile internet population has subscribed to 3G services. A platform that was slated to revolutionize mobile experience through high-speed internet, interactive gaming, video-calls and mobile TV seems to have failed badly. Lot of factors can be attributed to this downfall- High tariff plans, bad user experience, majority of the Indians not having a 3G enabled phone, Poor product advertising, lack of innovation by the telecom industry, 3G infrastructure not to the mark. So let’s go by each factor now

Tariff Pricing: Pricing 3G services appropriately in a market where around 200 million prospective users live on less than $ 2 a day, will always be a major challenge. Before we get into 3G Tariff’s, let’s look at 2G tariff pricing. Lot of telecom players were offering 2GB plan for Rs. 99. And if I look at the same data usage for a 3G plan it will charge me roughly Rs. 700. So almost Rs. 600 more. Also in India, as per Opera browser study on Indian audiences, data transfer per user is roughly 8 MB.  Even if I ignore this data, considering it’s just opera browser but still the question that every consumer will ask whether I am getting value for this price and why should I even go for a 3G plan when I am not that actively surfing on mobile

User experiences: We have been constantly hearing from users that the 3G experience has not been that thrilling. Either the speed is not that fast or there is no connectivity. Something which will definitely improve over a period of time. And I would still say if you are in the 3G zone one can clearly understand the difference.  Also, from my personal usage, the 3G experience has really been just too good. I can download a 6 MB video in 30 seconds, can access  emails, Twitter & Facebook like never before. Hence if you are someone who lives fast-paced should definitely go for 3G inspite of all the media reports

Indian Phone market scenario: If one needs to experience 3G to the maximum, the general consensus is that one needs to either have a smartphone or Tablet. And if we look at some figures Smartphone sales in India made up 6 percent of total device sales in the first three quarters of 2011(Gartner). And if we look at the tablets sales(CIOL), only 1,58,000 media tablets were sold (shipped) in the nine months ended June 30, 2011. The split between 3G and WiFi models was in the proportion 70:30. Just goes on to prove why 3G is yet to take that BIG step in India telecom market.

Service providers & handset manufacturers joining hands: Post 3G launch we have seen a lot of players getting into 3G deals with handset manufacturers. Samsung with Vodafone, Airtel & Aircel with Iphone, Idea launching its own 3G android phones. While this tie up have helped 3G to make further in roads but still very rare and few. And specially looking at Indian markets with more than 150 handset vendors and a country where brands like Micromax, Spice & Karbonn are capturing market at a very rapid space, we will need more tie ups especially with the Indian vendors to make 3G the favorite of the nation.

3G Innovations & advertising When the agencies must have been briefed about the 3g product I think everyone from the NCD (Can’t say how many of them) to the management trainee must have got involved into the ideation. So while one agency came up with a family planning initiative, another got the iconic Zoozoo to be the rajnikanth. And everyone was trying to sell 3G as a life changing service. If we look at the graph it goes on to shows what kind of 3G products the bigger brands in the telecom industry have advertised and their importance in the consumer’s mind. Also, if we look at the big cats like Airtel, Vodafone, idea, Reliance there is not one single service which is distinct to them. It clearly goes on to establish that there are really few products which would have really made a difference to the consumer’s lives let alone changing it around.

I personally think it is the lack of innovation from the telecom players that have led 3G not spreading like a fire. It’s the primary reasons why the Indian audience has not got addicted to 3G browsing and something which I will cover it in the next blog. Till that please use condoms so that it is no aabadi and no barbaadi.