Archive for December, 2011

Almost an Adult !


I recently went out to lunch with a couple of friends and heard one of their daughters protesting against being described as a kid; “I’m NOT a kid, I’m almost a teenager”, the young lady complained, bristling with indignation at the ripe old age of 7.

Being well past that age myself (well, chronologically speaking, at least), I was still smiling as I repeated the anecdote to a friend at office the next day. And then found that something similar had happened in her house as well.

Rakhis with cartoon characters

Her young cousins had recently objected to the cartoon character kiddish rakhis she used to tie on their wrists at Rakshabandhan and expressed a demand for adult rakhis, “like the ones you tie on bhaiyya”, bhaiyya being at least 20 years older than them. But they stood their ground and insisted that being treated as a ‘kid’ was not something they wanted, they wanted to be respected as adults / grown-ups.  Yes, next year she is buying similar ‘plain resham ki dori’ rakhis for bhaiyya and the pre-teens.

 Why mention these two anecdotes on the blog ? Simply because they illustrate how kids want to be seen and treated as grown-ups, and make their own decisions; hence it’s imperative for a brand that wants to connect with kids to speak to them without talking down to them, not an easy task at all.



A few relatively recent ads have managed to speak to kids and explain the benefit of the product in a fun and easy-to-understand-and-connect-with manner.

This scrabble ad gives the (perceived) nerdy desire to know more words a cooler tinge by showing how ability with words can help get you out of trouble.

This Complan ad and this one have the brand speaking to the child, showing situations that many can identify with and saying ‘complan pijiye, farq dekhiye’.

[As an aside : there have been concerns expressed about the credibility of the specific claim of height increase; also, I wonder whether it’s fair to play on a kid’s insecurity about short height.]

It’s especially interesting to see how the brand has updated it’s communication over the years; contrast any of the current set of Complan ads with this old ad that spoke to the mother and told her about ‘all the 23 vital foods including milk protein that growing children need’, nope I can’t see any kid I know today being even remotely influenced by that message. And this one, a little later, clearly aims at tugging at the mother’s heartstrings.


Zenobia Driver

December 29, 2011 at 6:38 am Leave a comment

Everybody says I’m fine

No, the title of this post does not refer to the Rahul Bose movie, though it could have and that post might  have been more interesting to read than this one (am nothing if not honest! ). This post is about us Indians and our health related attitudes, beliefs and behaviour.

Over the last few years, there’s been enough coverage in mass media about the rapid growth in prevalence of lifestyle-oriented ailments & conditions in India, due to which awareness levels of diabetes, cardiac problems, etc. amongst the general population has undoubtedly increased. Ask anyone to tell you the health problems they are worried about getting in the future and these will invariably be mentioned.

Sources: NCMH background papers 2005, Central Bureau of Health Intelligence, WHO Decision Resources

This is how some of my friends behave, spurred on by concerns about long-term fitness and worries that they are just not fit enough:

One friend swims regularly; not only does she watch her own weight, she is conscious of her friends’ weight too and serves only healthy snacks to friends that visit her home – such as home-made soup or salad, or dry fruits.

One friend runs up and down a hill near his house every evening; one plays badminton for an hour most evenings, squash is another friend’s chosen form of exercise; yet another has a bench and weights at home and lifts weights regularly

A couple that I know are very careful about extra calories and believe that the best way to resist temptation is to ensure that no unhealthy stuff stays in the house; so after every birthday party / anniversary / religious festival, they either give leftover desserts / mithai to the servants or throw them in the dustbin

Another friend has chosen to give up sugar completely – not even in tea or coffee!

Etc. etc. you get the drift, don’t you? All of them worried about looking good and staying fit over the long term. So then why is this post titled ‘Everybody Says I’m Fine’?

Well, these friends are literally the exceptions that prove the rule, they constitute the sliver of the population that is very conscious about health and makes an extra effort to stay in good shape. In research after research, whether in focus groups or depth interviews, we’ve noticed that almost all respondents describe themselves as healthy, rarely entertaining any self-doubt on the issue. Even respondents that are visibly unhealthy, often mentioning an ailment, for instance, people with knee and joint pain, that struggle to walk, will describe themselves as healthy. Published quantitative surveys, such as this one by Technopak, throw up the same output. Most respondents rate themselves as having excellent/ good health – in fact, 56% give a score of good / very good health! To truly appreciate this paradox, do pause and spend a few seconds thinking over whether 50% of the people you see everyday are in good or very good health.

Source: The Knowledge Center, Technopak

As usual, India turns out to be the land where seeming paradoxes co-exist. There’s a portion of the population that is very conscious about health and fitness, and there’s a chunk that seems to be quite unconcerned though they are aware of and worried about chronic ailments such as diabetes and heart problems in the long term.

  • Which of these segments can a healthcare marketer look to for sales? And what will the potential market size be?
  • What is the benefit that will appeal to these segments? Which products will sell?
  • Are there products that sell well abroad but will not do that well in India?

Answering these questions requires answering a whole host of basic questions, some of which are given below:

  • How do different segments define ‘good health’? How do they define ill-health?
  • What are the health issues that do worry consumers? Are these the same across countries?
  • How can companies and health-focused organisations raise awareness about health issues?
  • How long does it take to educate consumers and change their habits?

Complex questions all, with finely nuanced answers. I’m afraid you will have to call or email us for the answers to these; these require a conversation and cannot be fitted into blog posts.

Do write in to us or comment below to tell us what you think about your health? How healthy are you? What do you do to stay in good health?


Zenobia Driver


(p.s. I confess that I think I’m fine too, absolutely in tip-top form, couldn’t feel any better, absolutely looking forward to hogging on vindaloo and plum cake while celebrating Christmas this weekend. MERRY CHRISTMAS ! )

December 19, 2011 at 10:20 am 8 comments


1. Flipkart and E-trade ads :

After reading our post “Flipkart Ads: We Like!“, our regular reader Rahul, directed us to similar ads for E-trade in the US. These ads also use children, well actually babies, in adult situations to convey their message humorously.

We’re unsure if the humor in these ads would work as well in India, but they undoubtedly cut through the clutter. Here are a couple of the ads from the series:

E-trade Baby First Class:

E-trade Baby Girlfriend:

Which ads did you prefer – the Flipkart series or the E-trade series? Do comment and let us know.

2. Frozen Yogurt :

In July 2011, we ran a post on the growing popularity of frozen yogurt in India in our post called “New Buzzword in Town – Frozen Yogurt”. We recently came across an article in Business Today that talks about new entrants in the market such as Kiwi Kiss, Yogurberry, etc., new markets being targeted and expansion plans of existing players.  This space is definitely seeing some serious activity both by Indian and foreign players.


3. Enhanced Water :

On our trip to Pune last weekend, we noticed banners of Danone B’lue splashed across the city. Danone Narang Beverages, a joint venture between French group Danone and Narang group, has launched B’lue, a water-based restoration beverage that is enriched with vitamins and minerals.

A month ago, we ran a post on “Enhanced Water” that particularly spoke about the brand Vitaminwater (as the name suggests – it’s vitamin enriched water) and its growing popularity especially in the US.  We’d asked then – is the Indian market ready for enhanced water yet?  Even though the per capita bottled water consumption is still quite low (estimates vary from 0.5 liters to 5 liters a year as compared to the global average of 24 liters), bottled water consumption has risen rapidly in recent times and the market is growing at the rate of 45% – perhaps enhanced water is the natural next step.

Danone has taken the first plunge into this category and it remains to be seen how this market shapes up in India.



Escape Velocity Team

December 16, 2011 at 5:39 am 6 comments

A Tale of Two Firms

This post contrasts two organisations, both supporting traditional Tussar* silk weavers in villages in India. These organisations help organise the village women, train them in weaving better and more efficiently and help them sell the cloth; the training and market linkages offered by the NGO are a key need for the weavers.

[*Tussar Silk, also known as Kosa Silk, is valued for its purity and texture. It is drawn from cocoons especially grown on Arjun, Saja or Sal trees. In India, Tussar silk is mainly produced in the states of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Orissa, besides Maharashtra, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Tussar culture is the mainstay for many tribal communities in India.]

The village women typically weave Tussar saris, saris made of a type of silk popular in the Eastern states of the country. Tussar saris are traditionally worn on religious occasions and a few darker colours were preferred during religious ceremonies, hence a large proportion of the weavers’ output used to be in those colours.

Then two market circumstances changed. One, the consumer herself – younger women wore saris less often, and preferred lighter coloured, contemporary patterns to the traditional Tussar designs. Two, rising imports of cheap silk from China made it difficult to sell high-quality hand-woven silk in the domestic market; Chinese imports had the added advantage of being available in lighter colours and a variety of designs too.

Both organisations reacted differently to these circumstances. (Need I add, ‘it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness….’)

One chose to stick with what it was good at without changing any feature of the product, in the belief that the current changes were temporary and that there would always be a large enough market for traditional fabrics. As a result, they continue to struggle to sell what they produce and often lament the fecklessness of the modern woman and her slavery to the demands of fashion and design. A classic case of Marketing Myopia.

[Marketing Myopia refers to the short-sightedness that leads companies to focus on their own organisation and product – line rather than on customers’ needs and wants. It leads to reluctance to change, and a failure to adjust to a changing market environment.] 

The other organisation chose to fight back creatively rather than bemoan the tough conditions they had to operate under. Within the range of Tussar silk saris offered, they included a lot of colours and patterns in addition to the traditional ones. In response to changing apparel trends, they also added new products to their portfolio – from weavers of saris, they became weavers of saris and silk stoles for women, scarves and silk ties for men.

Needless to say, sales picked up again; apart from sales to government handicraft outlets and at handicraft exhibitions, the company is now a supplier to a large ethnic apparel retail chain too.

A great example of adapting to changing consumer preferences, adding new products and modifying existing products, all the more powerful for having come out of the social development and livelihoods sector.  

(Note: This post is based on anecdotes heard during the Sales and Marketing Module of a CREAM training program)



Zenobia Driver

December 12, 2011 at 6:29 am 7 comments

Flipkart Ads – We Like!

Brand: ‘Flipkart’, the popular online shopping site

Tagline: No kidding, no worries

Our opinion: Well, the title of this post summarises my opinion rather well.

The ads break through the clutter with the use of kids in adult situations (in office, shopping, at a beauty parlour, etc.); even better, rather than use them just for cutesy – pie warm stuff, the ads use them to make a point humorously. And I like the implicit pun on the word ‘kidding’.

The two ads set in an office situation get the office situation, behaviour and dialogue bang on. And I like the way that a line that underlines childhood is popped in (the classic ring-a-ring-aroses in this one !!) at the perfect time.


This interaction at the water-cooler is my favourite


Links to other ads in the series here and here.


Do share you opinion of these ads with us.


Zenobia D. Driver

December 5, 2011 at 5:21 am 12 comments

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