A few months ago, I was one of the faculty at a programme that imparts training in the basics of business to micro-entrepreneurs from rural areas (CREAM training programmes run by Tree Society). The audience comprised villagers running simple businesses such as a cycle repair shop, furniture making, honey collection and selling, beauty salon (or, as they pronounced it,‘saalun’), barber shops, a wedding decorator, etc. Most of them were between 20 to 30 years old, all but 3 were men.
During one session, we were trying to illustrate the importance of adding product / service features that consumers value the most rather than others, given the ever-present constraints of cost and resources. We’d made our point using several simple examples and the audience seemed to have grasped it too, however they seemed slightly somnolent after a heavy lunch and we wanted to wake them up with before we began the next topic which was math-heavy.
So we decided to use an example of a product that was ubiquitous even in villages and used by everyone, that was feature-heavy, and from a category where the fortunes of companies selling the product had gone through ups and downs. One product fit the bill – a mobile phone. We began by asking the audience to tell us what features they wanted in a mobile phone, and which of those were must-haves and which were nice-to-have. Internet and multimedia were amongst the first few mentioned by the audience, followed by aspects related to how long the phone would last – sturdiness, a warranty, good battery strength etc. Basic features such as call quality, sms etc. were mentioned much later, almost as an afterthought.
What almost every person below 30 in that audience wanted was to be able to access songs and video on his mobile phone; even if they didn’t know how to download them, they knew that they wanted to be able to store and listen to them or watch them. Many didn’t really know exactly what internet and multimedia meant, but they did know that such phones guaranteed them access to songs, clips, pictures and games. Many of these young men already had cheap smartphones, those that didn’t were quite clear that affordability was the only reason for not buying one. In hindsight, maybe I should have expected this given the lack of entertainment options in a village, and that a lot of these people ran businesses where they spent significant amounts of time just waiting for customers to visit their outlet.
This article from the Mint gives the results of a TNS survey on mobile phone usage in various countries across the world ; while the survey was probably carried out in urban centres, it’s worth a look anyway. Listening to music turns out to be the No. 1 activity that Indians engage with on their mobile phones, the next are playing games, sms/text messaging and taking photos / videos, in that order.
Clearly the villagers that I met reflected a widespread trend.
- Zenobia Driver
In Jan of this year, we’d written this post about the implications of India’s demographic dividend.
One of the things I’d wondered about in this post was the supply of quality education for young children, especially in the 7 states where almost 50% of the births during 2000-2025 will occur. This article from the Mint gives us an idea of the current state of education infrastructure in Bihar, one of the 7 states.
One of the implications of the change in India’s demographic profile is the change in the age-profile of voters across the country. Recent data released from Census 2011 shows an interesting trend. Read this article from the Mint to see why first-time voters are a critical constituency in all states. As the article mentions, ‘a whopping 47% of eligible voters in next year’s national election will be aged 35 or below’, a fairly significant chunk for any political party to target.
This is a post that I’ve been thinking of writing for some time – ever since I made one of my infrequent visits to a small cosmetics store last year and noticed a brand that stood out on the shelf, or in the basket as in this case.
If you’re in India, visit a small ‘gift shop’ or cosmetics shop or bindi-bangle store in your neighbourhood market and take a look at how nail-polish bottles are stocked. Only expensive nail-polishes from premium brands are kept on shelves, the rest that are priced at Rs. 15 – Rs. 50 per bottle are just dumped higgledy-piggledy into a box or a basket – all colours and all brands together, this box is either kept on the counter or under the counter and brought out when a customer asks to see products.
As it is, for the vast majority of consumers, nail polish purchase is driven by colour and price, not as much by brand. To add to it, you have staff at the retail counter who often tell consumers things such as this statement, “aapko color jo pasand aata ai woh nikalo, brand se kya lena dena, sabhi same hai, utne hi chalte hai” (“select whichever colour you like, how does the brand matter, they’re all as popular”). Then how does a brand ensure that consumers are loyal to it and pick it up out of the box each time, from among a huge assortment of polishes such as VOV, Etude, Bo, 8C Lacque, Incolor, Tips and Toes, Caty Girl ( I kid you not !), Bonjour, Priya, Ambar, Blue Heaven, BCC, Miss Claire, Honey Sweet (like the Bond heroine ?), Teen Teen etc. ?
Well, at least one brand focused on understanding their TG, creating packaging that would appeal to them and get their attention, and then communicating the same. Elle 18, HULs colour cosmetics brand for young women was re-launched in Nov 2010 with the ‘Colour Bombs’ range. The brand was positioned as a young, modern, trendy yet affordable brand for its TG comprising 13-18 year olds who are willing to experiment with explosive colors, as the name ‘Color Bombs’ suggests.
These products were made to appeal to a young woman / teenager every which way, beginning with the name itself – which young lady does not (at least occasionally) aspire to look like a ‘bomb’ ? The range has the bright vibrant colours that are all the rage with young women today, the packs have a shape that’s different from the packs of other brands, with funky illustrations of women on them that utilize the little blank space available on the small pack most efficiently. The imagery and colors used in the new packaging and communication are young and edgy and completely different from the earlier plain-Jane look of Elle 18. I just loved the way the image on the nail-polish bottle – which no competitor has – made this pack stand out and grab attention amongst the clutter of products in the nail-polish box on the retail counter.
Note : While this post has focused on nail polish, the Colour Bombs range has nail paints, lipsticks, lip glosses, black eye-liner and kohl too, all priced between Rs. 45 and Rs. 100.
p.s Here’s a link to the ad in case you’re interested. Frankly, I didn’t like this ad much and thought it didn’t live up to the excitement and joie-de-vivre of the brand name and the packaging ; but what do I know, I’m not the TG, I’m an Auntyji.
- Zenobia Driver