Archive for June, 2011

‘Need, but don’t want’ – Solutions from a Microenterprise

Urja logo

Urja, a fledgling Soya products brand in Udaipur that manufactures and sells soya paneer and soya milk. As most of us know, soya paneer is much healthier than regular paneer made from milk. One, in terms of protein content, and two, in terms of a reduced fat content (soya paneer has 30-45% less fat than regular paneer made from milk). In addition, the soya paneer sold by Urja has one other benefit, it is about a third cheaper than the regular milk paneer available in the market.

Yet, in spite of having a lower-priced healthier product to offer, Urja initially struggled to grow. There were two main reasons for this – one, most people in Udaipur were not aware of the health benefits of soya paneer and were not sure how it would benefit them, and two –  the taste of soya paneer is different from that of paneer from milk, which is what people are used to. There is also a third problem of a reduced shelf life (2-3 days for Soya Paneer vs. 2 weeks for milk paneer), but this is less of an issue. Thus the key challenges facing Urja were to raise consumer awareness of the health benefits of paneer and to make the health benefit relevant, also to overcome the barrier of taste.

The following paragraphs describe how the Urja folk faced these challenges and the basic lessons we can learn from their experience.

Steps taken to increase sales: With a long term focus, invested in PR (articles in newspapers) and promotions in order to make the general public aware of the health benefits of soya paneer. For the short term, focussed on increasing awareness amongst specific customer segments that were most likely to buy, thus using limited resources for maximum impact in terms of sales

  1. Targeted schools and colleges, where the administration is concerned about giving students healthy foods and beverages. Instead of soya paneer, Urja sold soya milk here and added flavours such as mango, chocolate etc to mask the taste and make it appealing to children. In the production process, soya milk is produced first and then converted to paneer, so selling soya milk did not impose any additional operational complications
  2. Targeting large hotels which have a lot of foreign customers. These hotels often buy items such as expensive organic pulses and lentils because this is something their clientele values and is willing to pay for, and this helps build the hotel’s reputation. Hence large hotels are a potential target segment that could be interested in soya paneer for its health benefits.


Steps taken to overcome the barrier of difference in taste : Reduced the height of the barrier

  1. Modified one step in the production process so that the taste of the soya paneer improves. The team ensured that all marketing collateral they created mentioned the nice taste of the soya paneer.     

    Urja Leaflet

  2. In addition, before meeting some key institutional customers, they got some quantity of soy paneer cooked by the chef of a restaurant and took the prepared dish along for the customer to taste. As they say, the proof of the pudding (and paneer) is in the eating !!

 The solutions found by the Urja business could apply to any company and situation :

  1. Evaluate various target segments, identify those that value the benefit your product provides and that can provide the maximum sale volumes (Ideally, create the product after checking which benefits customers value, but if not……………..)
  2. Communicate the benefits to the target segment
  3. Reduce height of barriers, if any

 (Note : Observations about the Urja business were made during the Sales and Marketing Module of the CREAM training program conducted with Seva Mandir in Udaipur)


Zenobia Driver

June 30, 2011 at 11:53 am 3 comments

The problem of ‘Need but don’t Want’ – What lies beneath

The previous post introduced the problem of ‘Physiological Need ≠ Want’, and held out the promise of delving into the underlying reasons for the behaviour. This post dives into those attitudes and beliefs.

Across the world, in the wellness space, people prefer to buy products that have an immediate, tangible benefit – a light feeling in the tummy, a quick burst of energy, relief from a headache / cough / cold etc, rather than buy and consume a product whose benefit lies in the prevention space, or one in which the benefit is immediate but not discernible to the consumer.

Apart from consumer education programs, doctor / nutritionist engagement programs, PR and advertising, businesses in the wellness space often address the ‘need but don’t want’ problem by linking an intangible benefit to a tangible benefit that consumers value.

The most common example is that of low calorie foods of all kinds – ads typically highlight the tangible, short-term benefit of weight loss and a shapely figure vs. the long-term benefit of weight/ sugar/ cholesterol maintenance at healthy levels. Nestle’s NesVita, a probiotic curd that has the primary benefit of being good for digestion is also 98% fat free and the packaging hints at the benefit of weight loss, presumably for the same reason.

Also remember the ads for Safi blood purifier (the intangible promise) that promised beautiful pimple-free skin (a tangible benefit). Colgate Plax is another example, a mouthwash brand that communicates the tangible benefit of fresh breath that occurs due to the germ-killing action (intangible to the consumer).

In the healthcare space, while it’s tempting to say that there is the tangible benefit of getting better and that should matter to patients, the basic issue is that all the ill-effects of ailments such as diabetes, high cholesterol or BP are typically not evident immediately, thus, the benefit of taking medication regularly and of making other lifestyle modifications is unclear to many patients. Habit change is always hard, when the reward for it is nebulous and indeterminate, it only becomes more so.

Therefore, unless an entity in the Healthcare space – either doctor, nurse, nutritionist, hospital educator or a pharmaceutical firm – explains the long-term impact on the body to the patient, and helps the patient travel from a state of lack of awareness to understanding and acceptance, patients do not view the ailment as life-threatening, and the medication is considered nice-to-have instead of a must-have. To an extent, the fatalistic Indian mind-set also has a role to play in this seemingly nonchalant and almost irresponsible behaviour of patients – ‘jo hona hai, wohi hoga’, ‘jab hoga, tab dekha jaayegaa’ (i.e. ‘whatever will happen will happen’, ‘we’ll deal with it when it happens’, quite the Indian version of ‘Que Sera Sera’).

FMCG products such as Saffola heart healthy oil have relied on an initial scare campaign through ads on TV and print to break through the layer of indifference in people’s minds and generate awareness about the ill-effects of ignoring heart health. They continue to back it up with heavy spends on PR and initiatives such as the Saffolalife program.

Pharma firms have begun to rely on IDM (Integrated Disease Management) programs in addition to doctor engagement programs.  The chronic care model prescribes a set of activities that emphasize active monitoring of disease in a panel of patients, care delivery according to clinical guidelines, education of patients about their disease and self-care techniques, interventions to provide on-going encouragement and support to patients, a comprehensive monitoring and feedback system and proactive patient outreach to assist patients in managing their disease. These activities are often collectively referred to as disease management.

Impetus for disease management stemmed in part from the poor match between the existing health care delivery system designed for acute care and the health care needs of the chronically ill. First, the chronic care patient cannot be “cured” and thus requires on-going medical care and attention; strict adherence to guideline-recommended care slows progression of the disease. Second, the effective management of chronic disease cannot be accomplished solely by the skilled practice of a single clinician; at a minimum, the patient must be engaged and actively involved. Very often, chronic disease management will require coordination among multiple clinicians and educators with various areas of expertise, working in separate settings.

Though the number of such programs is limited, those that have been implemented have seen a significant increase in patient compliance with medically recommended protocols.


Zenobia D Driver

June 23, 2011 at 5:48 am Leave a comment

Health and Wellness – Dealing with the Challenge of ‘Need, but don’t Want’

One common challenge faced by businesses of all hues : unless you can convince people about why they need the benefit a product offers, they will not want it and will not buy it, be it a brand of soap, a pressure cooker, a water purifier or a cosmetic product. In its simplest form, ‘No conviction about need = No desire to buy = No sales’, a scary prospect for any business.

For businesses in the wellness domain in India, this challenge often has an added degree of frustration. There may be a strong physiological need for the product and a long-term quality – of – life benefit to the consumer, yet those that need it most will buy it irregularly or not at all. Examples of such products range from vitamin and mineral supplements to healthy foods and beverages such as low calorie snacks, juices with high fruit content, probiotic curd, etc.

A slightly different form of this scenario plays out in the Healthcare space too. In cases where the impact of an ailment or problem is not immediately felt – for instance, diabetes, high cholesterol or high BP, patients are less likely to spend on medication to keep it under control.

 In comparison to other chronic diseases, diabetes is relatively well understood and there is broad-based agreement in the medical profession about how to manage the disease. Despite this professional knowledge and consensus, diabetes is often poorly managed in practice. Even some patients that have been diagnosed may not want to start using the medication, or may not use it for the required duration, or may consume less than the dose recommended by their doctor. If you don’t believe this, just speak to a few diabetics and check how many of them take all their medication regularly. Or how many check their blood sugar often enough to suit their doctor. And remember that these are patients that have been diagnosed, and are aware of the ailment !

 To find the solution to this problem, we first need to understand the underlying reasons in a bit more detail, but that shall be the subject of the next post on this topic.


Zenobia D. Driver

June 20, 2011 at 5:29 am 2 comments

Effects of Baba Ramdav etc – the changing Middle Class

Thanks to D for pointing us to this blogpost, an interesting read. The WSJ blog had a link to this article by Chandan Mitra in the Daily Pioneer , another interesting read.

As the Pioneer article mentions, ‘the rise of TV gurus, who appear regularly on various 24/7 religious channels that have mushroomed, has significantly altered not just thought processes but also impacted people’s lifestyles’. We have seen some evidence of this recently, with an increasing number of folk from lower income groups looking to Yoga Gurus on TV to help them understand more about health and wellness, and share tips with them on how to stay healthy and happy. Undoubtedly, the Dr. is still the key influencer on matters relating to serious ailments, but an increasing number of households seem to be tuning in to TV regularly and, at least for minor ailments, supplementing advice from elders in the family with what they heard from a yoga guru on TV.

– Escape Velocity Team

June 17, 2011 at 5:41 am Leave a comment

Effectiveness of Product Placement

After two posts (read them here and here) about product placement being increasingly used as marketing communication tool, here’s a look at some of their results.  

In early 2005, media agency MindShare North America conducted a study of American TV viewers to gauge their views toward product placement; the outcome was a staggering 80% responded ‘positively’ toward placement in TV and movies and 1/3rd claimed to be responsive to placements by trying a product after seeing it on screen.

But does this claimed responsiveness actually correspond to results as shown by increased sales? Let’s look at a few examples:

  1. Reese’s Pieces in Steven Spielberg’s movie ‘ET’ – Originally, the alien creature was supposed to be lured out of hiding by following a trail of M&M chocolate candies. However, the company which produces M&Ms did not wish to have their product associated with an unproven and potentially unmarketable movie and Hershey’s, a rival company, agreed to provide a similar candy called Reese’s Pieces. The movie became a huge financial success, and the product placement boosted sales of Reese’s Pieces by 66%.
  2. Red Stripe in the Tom Cruise starrer ‘The Firm’  – Sales of Red Stripe, a Jamaican-brewed beer, increased by 50% in the months following the release of the film.
  3. MINI in ‘The Italian Job’ – Soon after the launch of the MINI in the US market, ‘The Italian Job’ was released. 32 MINIs had been donated to the production, and the outcome was a beautiful showcase of its features, dexterity and manoeuvrability, and as was expected, MINI saw a huge surge in popularity.
  4. BMW in James Bond film, ’Golden Eye’ – BMW made US$240 million in advance sales alone, purely due to the Golden eye.
  5. Ray Ban sunglasses in ‘Men in Black’- Ray Ban reported that sales of its Predator 2 sunglasses tripled to US$5 million after they were used in the film.
  6. Toys in animated film ‘Toy-Story’ – It lead to increasing Etch-a-Sketch sales by over 4000% and putting the Slinky maker back in business by achieving sales of US$27 million.

Some Bollywood examples of success include:

  1. Tanishq in ‘Paheli’ – The jewelry showcased in the film was so appreciated that it was sold out, earning Tanishq revenue of over Rs. 1.42 Crores and the high demand for additional pieces of the same jewelry made them add some of the designs into their regular repertoire. After the release of the film ‘Paheli’, a dipstick survey done by an independent agency amongst 300 respondents from SEC A and 25+ year olds revealed that there was a 13% increase in purchase intent and 10% increase in favourability for the brand.
  2. New Zealand in the movie ‘Kaho Na Pyar Hai’ – Previously, it was neither considered a potential shooting location amongst film makers, neither a common destination amongst tourists from India, but such was the impact of the film that it has become one of the most popular holiday destinations amongst Indians and several films are shot there now.

In an online survey done by Synovate in 2005, across five Asian countries, respondents were questioned on brand recall based on active and passive placements in a wide range of clips. The outcome was that viewers have a preference for active placements over passive. According to Garton (Global Head of Media Research, Synovate), “This is not surprising since what they are seeing is a reflection of reality — objects that they use in their real lives every day. They can relate to what they are seeing on the screen.”

Although very effective measurement tools are not in place yet, when the events happen in isolation, such results can be claimed. Multiple companies, in India and abroad, are in the process of creating additional metrics that can be used to measure the product placement effectiveness.

While there isn’t a lot of published research on product placement and its successes, leading researchers and marketers have said the following:  

“87% of advertisers believe branded entertainment is the key to TV advertising in the coming years”

 ANA and Forrester Research, “Marketers Losing Confidence in TV” February 2008

“Brands have realized that product placements alone do not give the returns that these companies are looking for. Integrated association with a movie with a strong banner of producers and actors, makes much more brand sense. It’s a relatively new trend [in India] and we will see many more of them happening in the near future”

Rajnish Sahay, CEO of Percept Talent Management, India (specializes in 360-degree marketing within India’s film, music, sports and entertainment sectors) 


Roshni Jhaveri

June 13, 2011 at 7:15 am 12 comments

Product placement – media that serve as vehicles

As the last post on this topic mentioned, product placement in Bollywood movies has increased over the last few years.

Product placement in Hollywood movies is nothing new either. Recently, there has also been an influx of product placement on TV shows as well. This has gained momentum in many ways due to the popularity of reality shows like ‘The Apprentice’, in which products aren’t just shown, but additional features and applications are also highlighted through the tasks. ‘The Apprentice’ has several challenges around new product launches, highlighting product features or reviving ad campaigns such as designing sales brochures for Pontiac, painting ad murals for Sony PlayStation, etc.

Another area that has seen product placement pick up is within video games, where advertisers can accurately focus on niche interests. The car-racing game ‘Need For Speed: Most Wanted’ gives gamers the chance to drive the hottest cars from manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes, Porsche — and then kit them out with aftermarket parts from 5Zigen, GReddy, Momo and many, many others.

Returning to Bollywood, the oldest example of product placement that comes to mind is of Rajdhoot motorcycle in the trend-setting film ‘Bobby’. Since then, not only has the incidence of product placement in films increased, there are multiple products being placed in a single film.

Cars, electronics, watches and sodas are the most commonly placed products in films. Of course, with time, more niche market products like luxury designer labels, services, as well as tourism destinations have found their place in films. Think of Christian Dior in ‘Aisha’, Tanishq in ‘Paheli’ and ‘Jodha Akbar’or Tag Heuer in ‘Don’; Bharat & Western Union Money Transfer in ‘Namastey London’, FrankFinn training institute in ‘Welcome’, or Amitabh Bachchan working for ICICI Bank in ‘Baghban’; New Zealand in ‘Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai’, Singapore in ‘Krrish’, all examples of product placement.

Quite a few brands use movies as launch pads of their products – Stroh’s Beer in ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’, Maruti Swift cars in ‘Bunty Aur Bubli’. Tupperware which originally sold only through word-of-mouth marketing has now changed tracks and opted for product placement in ‘We Are Family’ as well as co-branding advertisements on television.

Similar phenomenon is being observed in Indian TV shows, like the clearly visible Videocon icon on the computers used on ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’, or the Samsumg Galaxy Tablet in ‘Koffee with Karan-Season 3’, in which not only does Karan Johar point it out in every episode when he uses the tablet for his popular rapid-fire round, but also emphasizes that they are a part of his infamous coffee hamper as well.

But are these tactics really effective? For that, you’ll have to return in a few days and read our next post.


Roshni Jhaveri

June 6, 2011 at 3:19 am 2 comments

Product Placement – Introduction

The flurry of recent movies bombarding the audiences with products placements as well as the follow-up cross-selling TV advertisements have caused me to wonder how the audiences react to these and their effectiveness as a communication medium for brands.

[Note : What exactly is product placement, you ask ? Product placement is a form of advertisement, where branded goods or services are placed in a context usually devoid of ads, such as movies or television shows. In most cases, product placement in films and TV shows is done during the launch of a new product/ service or a new variant of an existing product/ service. ]

Why do the different parties do it? Film producers are often blamed to be looking for product placements to meet the budget requirements of their films but often they also do it for film and character enhancement. That said, the advantages for the product companies are numerous as well; some reasons include:

  • Getting (direct or indirect) endorsements from  big stars at a fraction of the costs
  • Clutter-free environment – the product gets sole attention or is one of the brands amongst a handful as opposed to on television where there are countless ads for the viewers
  • Not subject to surfing, zipping or muting. It has become so easy to block out traditional commercials, especially thanks to the DVR players (like TataSky+ and TiVo). With product placement, the ads become the content, and they can’t be skipped.
  • While films transcend geography, class and cultural barriers, they can also be very target specific and the promotions catch the audience in a receptive mood. It also allows for opportunities for cross-promotions.

Consider the results of some unintentional product placement situations :

One, the recent hit song “Munni…” in the movie ‘Dabangg’. Apparently the song writers thought it cool and quirky to have ‘Zandu Balm’ as a part of the lyrics of the song, but… the result was a quadrupling of the sales of the product itself. Although the makers of Zandu Balm filed a lawsuit against the film producers (which was allegedly to gain more and more mileage out of the popularity of the song and film), eventually the actress performing the song was made the brand ambassador for Zandu Balm!!! This was no case of intentional product placement – but it did the trick nonetheless…

And an older example. In 1998, ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ showed Shah Rukh Khan sporting Tommy Hilfiger apparel throughout the film. During the making of the film, the stylist just happened to like the brightly coloured t-shirts by Tommy Hilfiger and chose to dress the lead actor in them. Fake Tommy Hilfiger T-shirts flooded fashion streets after the movie’s release, much before the brand itself came to India. When the brand finally launched in India in 2004, Tommy Hilfiger confessed he was surprised by the Indian market’s familiarity with the brand — he credited Shah Rukh Khan for having inadvertently done him a service, by wearing Tommy t-shirts in the film. Again, not a case of intentional product placement, but one that did wonders for the brand.


Roshni Jhaveri

June 2, 2011 at 5:16 am 2 comments

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