The New Marketing Mantra – Traditional yet Modern

In an age where trendy youngsters who are as clued in on the latest i-pod as they are to yoga are sporting Kolhapuri chappals with jeans being traditional, yet modern seems to be the new norm in marketing.

Building on conventional behavioral trends of Indian consumers, such as eating food with hands, stocking savories in large ceramic jars and sipping tea in steel glasses, marketers are unleashing point of purchase (POP) innovations to provide multi-sensory experience to customers.

Leading modern retailer Future Group, which launched its private brand Tasty Treat soup with a mug last year, ran the promotion three times over during the year to grow the category. Although table manners specify that soup must be had in a bowl. Future Group decided to offer soup in mugs, an idea the consumer was more at ease with.

The POP scheme was based on conclusion drawn from a research conducted by the group among 100 consumers in five cities to understand soup consumption habits. The group found that soup consumption by 32% of consumers was infrequent as it required a formal atmosphere (read: having soup from a bowl with a spoon) A majority of consumers (70%) indicated that it’s convenient for them to have soup in a mug at home. This insight prompted the Future Group to break away from Western tradition and have mugs along with Tasty Treat soups to trigger more volumes.

It was important to take soups to the masses. As a retailer, we are in direct contact with consumers. It’s our responsibility to drive consumption by differentiated offerings. We suggested a change in the way consumers have soups from formal (bowl and spoon) to casual (mugs). Today, Tasty Treat has 25% share of the Soup category in our stores. Moreover the group realized that a bowl would require an additional investment by the consumer while mugs are readily available at home.

Similarly, when Britannia industries started offering biscuits in jars, it realized it had moved closer to the Indian consumer, who was traditionally stocking eatables like cookies in large wooden jars at home. Britannia Industries MD and CEO said there was a shift taking place in the way biscuits are stored. Biscuits have been sold like a grocery item. By making it available in smaller packs in jars, we have made them an anytime snack to grow sales. Today they contribute 10% to the business.

The consumer feels as much at home digging into a jar of cookies as he would hold his tea in a steel glass or Kullar. Taking a cue from this behavior Future Group, which is the process of rolling out its private brand Fresh & Pure premium tea, is planning to offer specially designed Kullars along with the product.

The most effective way to control he influence of ethnocentrism and the SRC is to recognize their effects on our behavior. Although learning about every culture in depth and being aware of every important difference is almost humanly impossible, an awareness of the need to be sensitive to differences and to ask questions when doing business in another culture can help one avoid many of the mistakes possible in international marketing. Asking the appropriate question helped the Vicks Company avoid making a mistake in Germany. It discovered that in German “Vicks” sounds like the crudest slang equivalent of “intercourse” so they changed the name to “Wicks” before introducing the product.

Be aware, also that not every activity within a marketing program is different from one country to another, indeed there probably are more similarities than differences. For example, the McVitie’s chocolate biscuits mentioned earlier are sold in the United States in the same package as in the United Kingdom. Such similarities however may lull the marketer into a false sense of apparent sameness. This apparent sameness, coupled with the self reference criterion, is often the cause of international marketing problems. Undetected similarities do not cause problems; however, the one difference that goes undetected can create a marketing failure.