Consumers’ value relationship with a brand is only monetary or at best rational. Sure, it is the age of information and the consumer is looking for more bang for his buck in every which way. That should be easy for marketers because it is the basic premise of marketing.
So we understand that he seeks ‘more for less’. The criteria is not simply absolute price, cheap is not necessarily a hit. This is a consumer who will weigh the benefits against the cost; he will pay a higher price if he thinks it is worth the benefit he is getting. So even if it is just a plastic coating on a soap bar; telecom VAS; the challenge is to constantly innovate and offer enhanced value to the consumers.
At a somewhat higher level; value could be construed as ‘recognition’. Today’s society is more outward looking, with great importance assigned to one’s standing in the society. Appreciation and acknowledgement by others have become important drivers. In fact, a brand is considered worthy only if the consumer feels that those around him assign great value to the brand. So not only do we make our brands aspirational, we give consumers a chance to be recognised personally by their favorite brand – Pepsi’s my can packaging has done this very successfully. The consumer is already, and will continue to look at brands that offer experiences that no one else can offer. Promotions like ‘First Ball ka Captain’ that Pepsi rolled out recently are just experiences that will delight the consumer.
We all know consumers are increasingly well-informed, discerning and demanding. They are looking for quality, aspiration, experience, and all of it delivered at a price that will make them smile. “Is that the formula to crack the market then? Is it that simple?” We might ask ourselves but what is a game when there is no challenge. And there most definitely is a challenge.
The challenge is unravelling the real strands of what value means amidst the mass of contradictions that is today’s Indian consumer. This aware consumer who is exposed to global brands listens only when they talk his local language. To connect with this consumer, you need to talk his talk, walk his walk. Pepsi’s success in India is a case in point. From the beginning, we created campaigns that were truly Indian at heart. Our consumer does enjoy an occasional meal outside and will experiment with some packaged food but the core value in food is still strongly linked to fresh and wholesome nourishment.
Home cooked food is not only pure but also superior in terms of intrinsic qualities and benefits. Not surprisingly, products that provide “homedulgence” benefits find great appeal, especially in tight times. The runaway success of Nimbooz, made with real lemon juice is testament to this insight. We need to understand how these contradictions manifest in behavior to stay a step ahead. It means getting under the skin of this consumer
When we try to understand the motivations of the Indian consumer, we realise that he is pulled in two directions and trying to satisfy seemingly conflicting motivations; his traditional Indian values are pulling him towards a safer, controlled outlook towards spending and life in general, while the other part of him is embracing consumerist and western values, of wanting MORE. So, while he is comfortable more with the fresh and homegrown, he needs convenience to meet his current lifestyle; while he talks the fashionable language of today’s health aficionados, he actually gives in to his real desire for indulgences; and finally, while he wants to splurge on new experiences and products, he has not lost his traditional cautious thrifty behavior.
He embraces money as a virtue but he knows that real value is knowledge, discernment and experiences that are worthy. He lives in an age of multi-income households, growing disposable incomes and easy finance schemes while maintaining that value is an intrinsic quality that betters the self.
He is seduced by a plethora of choices but he also knows that it is performing his duties with dedication and purity of intent which results in the accrual of merit at the individual and social level. At the base level, value is definitely the freebies the marketer provides but most definitely it is the spiritual value that brands provide.
So while value is smart shopping with a difference it is also what her kids love and crave. While value is nutrition it is also the ‘special’ enhancement of the collective moment.
While value is hygiene and scientific it is also a satisfaction of the senses. Value might be display and recognition by others. It might be a product or object which is recognised as valuable by others. But, once you look a little deeper – value is actually what a brand helps you become.