Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Jab They Failed- McDonald's Arch Deluxe || Daksh Bhagat || IIM Shillong || January 2016 edition

McDonald’s is known in every nook and corner of the World for offering hot, tasty hamburgers to the masses. Being masters of the “Dollar Menu”, they own the fast food industry by providing their food at a significant value. Then why are we discussing the brand under this section of the magazine today? Any guesses? When a brand fails to recognize the need of the hour, it begins facing some conventional marketing problems, which also happened with McDonald’s when it launched its new burger, Arch Deluxe, which failed to inspire consumers. 

In 1996, the Arch Deluxe debuted as a large hamburger patty on a soft potato-flour roll, with lettuce, tomato and a fancy mustard/mayo combo sauce. Marketed as the ‘Burger with the Grown-up Taste’, the idea was to have a burger which would shift the focus away from children. Indeed, the advertising campaign for the Arch Deluxe sent across the message of a sophisticated alternative of McDonald’s regular offerings with images of kids shying away from the ‘sophisticated’ product. With a $100 million advertising budget, the burger became successful in creating a huge build-up to the release. However, it never caught on with McDonald’s throngs of hungry fans. Reason sighted against the same were many. Some argued that it was overpriced. Others believed that the target market was inappropriately identified. Many people also speculated that the budget was misused and the burger in itself didn’t taste that great. 

Let’s try to understand what actually happened. The value propositions that McDonald’s has set for itself are friendliness, cleanliness, consistency and convenience, which fortunately its competitors have neglected to capture. The first consideration is that a regular customer never goes to McDonald’s for sophistication, rather goes for the convenience offered. On entering a McDonald’s restaurant, a customer gets the convenience of knowing what to expect. He does not want to be bombarded with a million and one different variations of essentially the same product- a hamburger. McDonald’s has never competed on taste, yet everybody comes back. 

Another trouble with Arch Deluxe was regarding the strategy of the burger to be sold on taste. This may have been the wrong approach to draw in consumers because it was seen as McDonald’s trying to be something it’s not: a culinary luxury that appeals to food connoisseurs. That may not have been the intent, but that became the perception that led to a major break down. Another ironical aspect of the Arch Deluxe failure is that the product was well researched. It was only after an extensive market research involving different demographic segments, it was concluded that people would love to eat a hamburger specially designed for adults. However, the target market that was supposed to be catered never turned up, thus proving Arch Deluxe to be an embarrassing flop. Last but not the least, McDonald’s is heavily centralized. Most of the marketing decisions need to pass through the company’s headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois. In contrast to major product successes such as the Big Mac, the Hot Apple Pie, the Egg McMuffin and the Filet o’ Fish, which were all invented in operators’ kitchens out in the field, the recipe for Arch Deluxe came from the Oak Brook’s kitchen which is infamous for launching many such product failures. Have a look at one of the TVC's of the Arch Deluxe:

However, the problems encountered with the Arch Deluxe are symptomatic of an even bigger problem. McDonald’s in the recent years has been accused of losing connect with the customers who never find it difficult to give up loyalty and hence has been rendered far behind in the market in terms of brand value. Indeed, this is a problem acknowledged by the company’s CEO, Jack Greenberg, who arrived in 1998. Quoting Jack, ‘we have been taking much too long to develop an idea and get it to the market, then too long to decide whether we want to do it or not’.

Finally let us look at the lessons we have learnt from the failure of Arch Deluxe: 
1. Go for what you know: Part of McDonald’s brand identity lies in its simplicity. Another part is defined by its children-friendly approach. A ‘sophisticated’ burger ignoring children was therefore destined to misfire. 
2. Avoid customer confusion: McDonald’s is not cognitive, it is reflexive. By extending its range with products such as the Arch Deluxe, Bratwursts, McTacos and McMussels, McDonald’s was creating a need for its customers to think and get confused. 
3. Be sceptical of research: Market research holds a special place when carefully conducted, but it should never be taken as gospel truth. Perception of the brand/product should always be taken care of, even if the research shows results in the opposite direction.

Vartalaap - In conversation with Dr. Vijay Sethi || Professor || Nanyang Business School, Singapore || Interviewed by Akshay Seth || IIM Shillong || January 2016 edition

Dr. Vijay Sethi, Professor – Department of IT & Operations Management at Nanyang Business School, Singapore specialises in electronic commerce, IT entrepreneurship, strategic information systems planning & knowledge management. He is published in top IT journals and internationally recognized for his research while offering consultancy to many Singaporean companies. He was also voted as the Business Professor of the Year, 2013 by the London-based EIU (Economic Intelligence Unit). Under his mentorship many new Internet business ideas have gone on to win accolades in competitions such as the Asia Moot Corp, Global Moot Corp (Austin, Texas), etc. 

Markathon: Indian advertisements are said to be more creative than foreign ads. How is creative advertising different in Singapore & the U.S. vis-a-vis India? Any particular ad campaign, digital or otherwise which caught your attention and stuck with you? What was so special about it?

Singapore’s ad industry is different from India because it caters not just to Singapore, which is small, but to the region.  For example, ad agencies in Singapore will roll out a campaign across SE Asia as a whole and not just Singapore.  Thus, they need to take into account different cultures, languages, and sensitivities.  This can sometimes come across as being less creative.  But ultimately, the effectiveness of an ad depends upon its goals (branding, conversions etc) rather than how creative it is.  But Singapore and the region can learn much from India and perhaps it time for them to look East rather than only West as they have been doing traditionally.

Markathon: You have mentored many new Internet business ideas, many of which have gone on to win accolades in regional competitions such as the Asia Moot Corp, Bangkok Business Challenge and global competitions such as the Global Moot Corp (Austin, Texas) and Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC, North Carolina, Chapel Hill). You are also the business competitions director for Nanyang Business School. Indian B-schools are on the course of having a well-developed competitions scene. Some tips for our readers.

Startups cannot be created sitting in a closed room, amongst a group of founders.  They only happen when someone believes.  And this belief comes from feedback, talking, networking.  So go out and share your idea.  No idea which is any good can be so brittle that just by sharing it will be compromised.  Every feedback you get, you gain confidence.  Until it reaches a point where a founder knows that they have something important; that is the start of their belief.  Once this happens, the passion comes automatically.  We often say have passion.  But passion comes belief – so out and create a MVP (minimal viable product), get feedback, and a moment will come when you know that are onto something big. 

Markathon: How are trends in digital marketing different in India vs. Singapore?

Singapore being small and very different culturally and racially monitors digital media but manages with a light touch.  On the other hand, India operates very differently, with rules which often come about bottom-up.  These contexts dictate what people do with digital media and how they use it.  Social media I would think is equally popular in both countries.  But once again, what can be done and what cannot is aligned with the context of Singapore in this country while the Indian scene is more “chaotic” and representative of a bazaar, metaphorically speaking.

Markathon: India is undergoing exponential development in the e-commerce sector. These e-retailers benefit from not having to invest in establishing an offline presence (real estate, intermediaries). But what do you say about marketing? Should these retailers focus on offline as well as online marketing?

Yes, India is relative less mature in this space and traditional media plays a very role in society. Not only that, the Internet penetration rate is still not that high.  Moreover, the decision making locus is also very different, just like is China, vs. the West.  All these characteristics means traditional mean must play a large role in expanding the role of EC in India.  At some stage, just like it has happened in China, digital media can be the be-all and the end-all.  But that will only happen when there is an Indian equivalent of an Alibaba, Baidu, or Tencent. 

Markathon: Entrepreneurship in India is another area where we see a lot of activity. All startups are primarily looking to organize the unorganized Indian market and earn through disintermediation. But the focus of these startups remains on having a good IT team to develop the product. How important, do you think, is the need to have a good marketing team?

Its not about good marketing, but about having the right business model.  Far too often and too much, companies just copy what is going on in the West.  The only way to bring value is to understand the local context and then create a business model that leverages and is aligned with the local context.  So its about a business model.  That is why in classes we talk about concepts and lessons-learnt which are broader that the company that we are looking it.  Once we understand the fundamentals of EC, then we can apply then to the local context and that is what will create value.  For example, there is little point in copying e-Bay.  But the dynamics of the C2C space are important.  Once these dynamics are clear, then we apply them to the Indian or the Singapore context and a unique and value-creation model will emerge.  Far too often, many do not want to think or do the hard work of thinking conceptually.  Or we dismiss concepts as “ivory tower thinking.”  In the words or Daniel Kahneman, we need to do more System 2 rather then System 1 thinking! 

Markathon: In India, students consider an engineering education as a default option. It is only after their graduation that they start to explore other career options. How can budding marketers leverage their technical education in their Marketing career in India and elsewhere?

They are lucky because of the emergence of data analytics as a key and ongoing trend.  That is their ticket to utilizing their technical education.  I think if anything, parents do their children a disservice by continuing to push engineering.  And we all do a disservice by pushing the myth that engineering means good technical skills.  Engineering is an applied discipline.  If you really want to stand out today as a techie, then do pure science, especially Maths.  That is the deep skill which is needed today to standout in analytics and big data. 

Markathon:. What is the future for Online Marketing? Is offline marketing going to get redundant or will it experience a comeback when digital media gets on people’s nerves?

Digital media is not monolithic.  It started with simple online banner ads, moved on to Google, then social media, and so on.  Its this innovation which is keeping digital media alive and relevant.  Traditional media on the other hand has been relatively stagnant.  It must push new boundaries.  If it does, it will be a part of the marketing mix.  Thus, it’s the rate of innovation in the two media which will determine which one will survive and grow and which one will stagnate and languish.  The ball is in their court!

Markathon: Management education is increasingly getting more and more expensive in India as elsewhere. While getting increasingly restrictive to a wide section of students in monetary terms, it is also putting a lot of pressure on the quality of educators that these college have to offer. You have recently been named as the “The World’s best business educator” by the Economics Intelligence Unit after open completion from 300 plus professor around the world. What is the recourse for the students who are not getting their money’s worth in business education.

Students need to get away from an entitlement mentality.  Universities owe students an education and not a job.  Far too often, schools push their success in placements and this is what attracts students.  Jobs are the result of a process of hard work, learning, and become intellectually richer.  If students want to make the right choices, then they need to change their frame and perspective.  It’s a chicken and egg problem – students choose schools where they can get good jobs and colleges build programs to get students jobs.  Management is one of the most challenging disciplines because everything about it is an art not a science.  What people to recruit, why to customers buy, how to do branding – all these are wicked problems. We can solve them using the obvious or being creative.  That was my message in the talk that I gave at the finals of the Best Professor lecture in London.  My focus was on content and not form (or, in the terminology I used with you all – Function and not Form).  So students, to gain most value, must demand function and not form.  And very quickly the free market will react and better institutions will result.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Cover Story - Marketing Trends to look forward to in 2016 || Piyush Jain || IIM Shillong || January 2016 edition

Marketing Trends to look forward to in 2016

Piyush Jain
IIM Shillong

Looking back at the start of 2015, most of the marketing predictions were centred around social marketing. Then digital marketers wanted to know which traditional social networking platforms would get more expensive and which new social sites to exploit. Social media still works, but it’s important to look deeper into how people are using these platforms and not just which ones are popular at the moment.
So let’s see what 2016 might have in store for us in terms of marketing trends as predicted by Daniel Newman in an Forbes article and Kenneth Gillett in business2community to name a few. Digital marketing trends will be something to look forwards to this year also but at the same time there will be other ways and other things to look at. Like content marketing is becoming increasingly visual. As we transition into 2016, it’s time to think about which visual marketing trends are most likely to stick around. Though new techniques and ways are coming up every year but there are some traditional techniques that are an absolute must. Fashions, technology, and Internet user preferences can change in a flash. Still, some traditional marketing tactics have translated very well from offline to online.
Meanwhile, marketers get to enjoy an exciting ride, but they need to adapt quickly or risk falling off. So let’s have a look at a few trends that we should take a note of in 2016.

Top Marketing trends

Embrace the Customer Experience Model: 
It’s been a slow grind for some, but marketing departments are moving from a silo of advertising and non-interactive communication toward becoming a natural part of the sales cycle and an extension of customer service. Marketers, using integrated tools, can engage with customers online, track the buyer’s journey, measure sentiment and loyalty, and match behavior with outreach tailored to meet their audience’s needs and interests. But for customers already bombarded with information, a great customer experience is becoming baseline.

Content is still the King:
It may sounds like a broken record, but content is still king—even more so given the deterioration of interruptive tactics. But context is a stronger factor than ever. With no decline in sight for the importance of good content, the next year will see greater focus on bringing influencers on board for more organic marketing. Storytelling will also play a key role in drawing consumers in and keeping them engaged. Natural, relevant content in the right channels will drive content campaigns.

Big Data IS for Marketers:
Big data, which includes social and unstructured data, is a goldmine for marketers. Until recently, many marketers shied away from big data because they lacked the skills—or the big budget resources—to translate it into something meaningful. Now, tools are coming to the marketplace that make mining and managing data easier than ever. 2016 will be a banner year for incorporating big data and perhaps more importantly, analytics into marketing decisions.

Omni channel Will be Retail’s Best Friend: 
Tweet for Pizza! Dominos has one of the catchiest Omni channel campaigns right now, but brands across the board will quickly learn that an integrated customer experience is essential—one that creates one smooth interaction, rather than multiple micro events. From addressing the causes behind abandoned shopping carts to creating an easy transition between online and bricks-and-mortar locations, Omni channel will improve the bottom line for both retailers and B2B.

Digital Marketing

The year 2015 has been the year of digital marketing and it will be in the news in 2016 as well. There will be new developments happening in this space and will most probably take away the major chunk of the company’s marketing budget. So let’s look at some of the game changing digital marketing trends that we might witness in 2016.

·       Influencer Marketing: 
Influencer marketing is considered to be the most rapidly expanding way to acquire new customers. Recent surveys suggest that getting authorities or celebrities to mention or promote products might grow faster than SEO, PPC ads, and content marketing. Tactics to attract influencers vary, but they might include sending free products to review, offering cross promotion, or simply paying a fee. Many brands have already capitalized on this and others are following.

·       Increased spending on organic social marketing:
Organic social media is based on the assumption that you have to earn your way into the newsfeed with great content that people love. Most organic social media posts aren’t directly selling, because selling is rarely interesting enough to drive engagements. In the Adweek survey, 70 percent of marketers planned to spend more on using content marketing to increase their social presence. Attracting attention via useful or entertaining content can complement social media ad spend.

·       Going mobile: 
In May of 2015, Google already announced that mobile traffic outpaced laptop and desktop traffic in several countries, including the US. It’s interesting to note that that Smart Insights data suggests that the average time spent on a PC isn’t really decreasing. Rather, time spent on cell phones and other mobile devices is increasing rapidly. That means that it’s important to make sure you have an effective mobile design, but it’s not time to abandon updates for your laptop and desktop site.

·       Video will become critical for digital advertising success: 
Most marketers have already explored the power of uploading video ads to sites like YouTube and promoting them via social media. In addition, Google is testing using video ads in their PPC search ads, and these are expected to debut soon. Platforms like Facebook already have paid video ads, and they’re performing well enough to be a new standard in the marketing mix.

Visual Marketing

As mentioned above digital advertising will be on the rise and video will be one of the things that is going to drive it. It is nothing but Visual marketing to use a broader term and much has been clear for a while that is rising. From branded video content to the revitalization of email marketing, visual marketing will be a key component of the successful marketer’s 2016 strategy.

·       Use of Animated GIFs on Social:
As many social media marketers and avid users have recognized, animated GIFs and short videos have become pervasive over the course of 2015. If you look at Twitter, the majority of its best-performing content involves some kind of visual element.
This gravitation toward visual posts is based on human preferences. The average person’s attention span in 2015 was 8.25 seconds. Thus, most social media users aren’t going to read an entire article; they simply want the basics.
GIFS, or bite-sized animations, are ideal for telling stories in a short timeframe. The motion in these images also gives them an advantage in vying for attention in crowded newsfeeds.
Also look for Vine video clips, which are six-second truncated videos, to rise in popularity. Vine is already extremely popular with the general public, but brands have yet to fully adopt it. This will likely change in 2016.

·       Real-Time Storytelling Via Live-Stream Social:
Thanks to Meerkat and Periscope, an entirely new social medium came into existence in 2015. Known as real-time storytelling or live-stream social, these video platforms enable users to live-stream videos to their followers.
Periscope may already seem big, but expect the platform to explode in 2016. It offers the perfect blend of social media and video that progressive digital marketers have been looking for.
Also we can expect to see a lot of brands doing sneak peeks, product presentations, celebrity takeovers, live question-and-answer sessions, behind-the-scenes footage, contests, and more. If you’re a digital marketer, the possibilities created by social live-streaming are exciting. It’s the future of the industry, and it’ll be intriguing to see how live-stream social evolves in 2016.

·       Video Will Revitalize Email Marketing:
Though email marketing is still very much alive, its power has waned in recent months because more attention is being given to evolving mediums such as social media. Still, expect video to revitalize email marketing in 2016.
Marketers will rely less on heavy text content and more on videos that encourage recipients to interact with their brands. The key to successfully using video in email depends on the quality of the video and its length.

·       Videos on Home Pages and Product Pages:
While off-site videos on YouTube and other publishing platforms are valuable as mentioned above, you’ll see more and more video content migrate to branded URLs. Marketers will continue to find ways to integrate video into web design and make pages less static and more immersive. There are two specific places where video will likely surface, i.e., Home pages and Product pages. You’ll also see more video content used on landing pages and “About Us” pages. Textual content won’t disappear completely, but we can expect video to permeate web design much further in the coming months.  

These are some of the Marketing trends that will create a buzz in the market. So in this rapidly changing world of marketing with old trends still going strong and some new trends that are to be looked at as predicted by some marketer’s, so what do you think will these rule the market or we are going to see something different altogether? We can only wait and watch the exciting world of marketing that lays ahead of us this coming year.

Perspective - The New Era of High Tech Terrorism: a marketing perspective || Sidhartha Bhattacharyya || IIM Udaipur || January 2016 edition

The New Era of High Tech Terrorism: 

a marketing perspective

Sidhartha Bhattacharyya
IIM Udaipur

The author George Carlin once quoted “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”  Well this quote is not true in its entirety and as I shall hopefully convince you through article. To get to the point, a man who has been living in a civilized society and is not averse to reading a newspaper would have heard of the dark cloud looming over the world by the name of The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. They are a well know terrorist organization who operate out of the mentioned 2 countries and have amassed a huge army as well as land due to hostile takeovers. In the midst of gathering one of the largest and most devout armies of the world they have planned and masterminded some of the cruelest and horrific acts of terror the people of the world have had the misfortune of seeing.

The Successor Has Taken the Throne
At this point one would logically raise the question, about where has this terrorist organization been able to muster such a large work force. One must think that the ISIS consists of the people from Al-Qaeda who have shifted their allegiance to a stronger organization. The strength of the organization is said to be around 200,000 (1) which is significantly greater than its predecessor having just over 28000 members at it strongest (2). So one may ask where the new Islamist Extremists are coming from who never joined the Al-Qaeda.  Al-Qaeda has willingly taken a backseat in this affair as they cannot compete with the sheer size and scale of operations at ISIS and have been terms as too extreme by the current head of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri.  The scale has taken things to such an extent that “Coca-Cola” and “Pepsi” can be substituted by “ISIS” and “Al-Qaeda”. All this has happened due to the fearful beauty of the marketing and advertising strategy of the ISIS.

Frightfully Beautiful Strategy
Considering the fact that ISIS is a terrorist organization which incorporates sort of medieval practices people think that it is sort of an archaic organization. But on the contrary the organization or “Caliphate” as they term it is led by a group of highly intelligent and tech savvy group. Like any major company, ISIS has a well set out business plan which they intend to execute. Their plan is to impose the Sharia law on the whole world. Like every James Bond their intention is world domination. To do this they must have certain strategies and a marketing plan. Well that requires a simple STP analysis. The segments they have at their disposal is the whole Muslim population of the world which was 1.6 billion people in the year 2010 (3) and is also the fastest growing religious population of the world. Thus they have an ample group of people to target. So they set up their strategy to target the young Muslim population from around the world aged between 20 and 30. The reason they have been targeted as they are the young rebellious individuals of the world and have been aliened by the society around them. The impact of racial attacks and constant hate received by the Muslim community enraged these post-adolescent young adult and send them into a frenzied state of rebellion. Now the beauty in the ISIS strategy is their positioning. They positioned their organization in a way that it gives a safe haven to these so called outcasts of society and where they are free to practice their religion and all the extremist facets attached to it. They provide help to those who are in the need of this sense of belonging. People from all around the globe and majorly countries like the UK and Australia are falling prey to these promises.

Propaganda Propagation
ISIS may follow extremist laws but their methods of communication are highly varied and try to find different kinds of media through which they can target their audience. Videos are their prime source of media attention for the organization where their extremist acts are caught on tape and published in social media for the entire world to see. On the 4th of July they released a movie by the name of “Healing the Chests of the Believing People” where they show the execution of 25 seemingly teenage soldiers after they have been caught by the ISIS.  They feel that this video along with videos like “Punish Them Severely to Disperse Those Who Are Behind Them”, “A Message Signed with Blood To the Nation of the Cross”, and “Healing the Souls with the Slaughtering of the Spy” will “inspire social change” in the western world. They intend to portray the concept of Jihad to the rest of the world and attract thousands of young impressionable souls into their bloody path like so many already have. These videos include the beheading of several foreign journalists which do attract western military attention. Now this is not something that the organization would necessarily want but once people see their “brothers” getting killed at the hands of people who have been suppressing and isolating them from their childhood.

Gender Based Strategy
These strategies work on men very well but for women they have to use a separate method to help them join. Just like the men they have been isolated in these civilized societies and have a sense of hate welling up inside them. Along with this Muslim women do not have much say in the choices they make. Most of what they do is chosen by the family and are forced to follow them. ISIS realized that fact and targeted this group of enraged women in order to gain their support. They presented the environment to be beautiful as well as a place of freedom where they can choose to do whatever their heart desires. They presented the place as an utopia for Muslim women where they have the freedom of choice and also conform the ideals of Islam. But the scenario there was very much at loggerheads to what they presented. Women ran away from their homes and spent all their money to get a flight ticket into Turkey from there they sneaked their way into the IS stronghold. Expecting a beautiful environment they were very much shaken up to find that they made into slaves for the ISIS fighters. They were immediately brutalized, raped and made to live in the houses of the fighters in order to serve their every need. Needless to say they were not given the authority to leave and their lives which were bad just turned worse.

The point at the end of the day is that it is our fault that the ISIS is so strong today and nobody else’s. If we the people of civilized non-extremist society do not marginalize and isolate people based on their religion as well as what some religious extremists might have done before. We are nobody to judge a whole community based on a particular group of individuals. This form of constant judgement leads to gradual build-up of resentment and hate which drives them to the point where it seems to them that they have no choice but to go into the faction of religious extremism. The lessons learnt from the ISIS are not just about how a terrorist organization can lead a successful marketing campaign but how we the people have been a cause of our downfall. We have played a major role in the creation of this huge black cloud that is looming over the world just because of our own stupidity in these matters. We are the large group of stupid people and it is up to us to make a change in the way we look at things in order to stop this growth.

Perspective - Cause Marketing || Anubandh & Sudipta Mondal || TAPMI, Manipal || January 2016 edition

Cause Marketing

Anubandh & Sudipta Mondal
TAPMI, Manipal

CSR and CSR policy in India

Cause Marketing is aimed at achieving social benefits while creating business value for the company. It, however, is interpreted in many ways in the business world. It is based on the idea of giving back to society and forming a strong relationship with the consumers. Take ‘Save our Tiger’ campaign for instance. It not only improved the population of tigers in India, but also strengthened the image of NDTV and Aircel (campaign initiators) in peoples' minds.
On 28, February 2014, as per the Gazette notification of India, it became mandatory for every company meeting certain financial criteria to formulate a CSR committee and spend 2% of its three years average net profit on CSR activities. With the passing of this Gazette, the debate over forced philanthropy and ‘tick box’ behavior took the back seat. The law is there, whether you like it or not. ‘Options’ create ‘dilemmas’. When the order was passed, it left companies with no other option (and hence no dilemma) but to direct 2% of their profits towards CSR.
Thus, by means of this law cause marketing, under the armor of CSR, gained substance and much recognition from being abstract and debatable to becoming an integral part of the ‘type of marketing’ pedigree.
The smarter companies decided to use this opportunity for welfare of the society, as well as extension of the core values of their brand. That is when they went out one step further and formed CSR policies that applied globally, not just in India.

Cause Marketing and CSR

Cause Marketing usually falls as a sub-set to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), though a clear demarcation is difficult. A company’s CSR work enlists several initiatives, but not all are marketed. The decision of ‘which initiative to market’ is subjective to the company. Indian FMCG giant HUL runs many CSR programs like Shakti, FAL etc. but it specially markets Sanitation & Preventive Healthcare program through Domex Toilet Academy. 

Youths’ perspective

Today's generation proudly collaborate towards mitigating the grave issues of society. What makes them more active as compared to the previous generations? Partially, it can be answered from the fact that there has been a considerable increase in the per capita disposable income in the last two decades. In addition to that, technological revolution has caused a dramatic shift in the ways of information exchange. This has entirely change the dynamics of how youths perceive their society and how they react to its problems. Social media has subsequently appeared as an added benefit. Emergence of online petition websites such as or is the best example of how youths are using cyber space to improve their habitat.

Need for participative environment

‘Youth’ signifies passion and a desire to bring ‘change’. CSR gives them a common platform to align professional goals with their willingness to contribute to the society. In the current scenario, our work life and personal life has become one and there is hardly any time left to do something for a cause. CSR, thus, caters to both dimensions of life- professional and societal.

Moral incentives

Corporate world is awash with awards and recognitions given in the field of CSR. The idea is to motivate the companies as a whole and give their employees a sense of ownership for the cause they are involved in.

Company’s perspective

When questioned by his CEO about his goal in life, Bruce Burtch, ‘father of cause marketing’, answered by saying, ‘do well by doing well’. His reply has pioneered the significance of social responsibility in the corporate world since then.

Demographic Dividend

CSR activities have been focused at sensitive issues like women empowerment, vocational training to the underprivileged youths, environment & sustainability etc. This reflects companies' understanding of the truth that India has entered in a demographic dividend and training and educating the young population as well as providing them employment will eventually benefit the companies directly or indirectly.

Improving social image

It was surprising for some, when Mattel Inc. appeared in the top 100 corporate citizens list of Forbes magazine. Mattel has been severely criticized in the past for portraying poor/objectified women role models for children through their "Barbie" dolls. Their efforts to appear in the ‘good corporate citizen’ list clearly emphasize on the importance of having a good brand image in peoples' minds, which the company understood very well.

Marketing Aspects in Cause Marketing

Umbrella Branding in CSR

This can be best exemplified through the ‘Jaago Re’ campaign by Tata group. Jaago re in itself is not a CSR initiative. It rather acts as an umbrella brand, encompassing several different burning issues of the society, which demands cognizance from the society viz. tax awareness, child adoption, gender stereotyping etc. under its canopy. 

Brand switching/preference                                                                            

From time to time, market research studies like Cone Case Evolution, Edelman Good Purpose etc. have proved that consumers would switch to a brand that supports a cause when price and quality are equal. Study showed that 85% of job holders claimed that they would quit their job if the company had negative CSR practices.

Cause Marketing - Social Media Marketing

Social media has acted as a catalyst for cause marketing. Digitization has made it easier for the companies to reach new target segments. Similarly, it has become convenient for people to participate in social causes. It is because of social media that awareness campaigns on complex diseases like Ebola or ALS have become successful worldwide.

Brand’s core values-Natural extension

The very premise of CSR is based on 'mutual benefit'. And extension of a brand's core values should be the result of any effective cause marketing campaign. P&G’s Parivartan- the Whisper School Program initiative is worth mentioning here, which educates girls about menstruation and prevent them from unhygienic sanitation practices.

Issues with Cause Marketing

Double-edged sword

Although cause marketing creates a good image of the company, excessive marketing may discourage consumers, as they might think that the company is trying to reap profits behind the veil of social service.

Selfish motives

Companies use cause marketing to get monetary incentives/relaxations from the government.  They also indulge in certain campaigns to boost sales of their product for short-term and later on, disengage from the cause.

Cause-marketing myopia

The company managers at times get too involved with the social campaign and forget that not only the primary motive of the company is to earn profits, but also, the values and practices of the organizations need to align with the cause they are fighting for. In the infamous British Petroleum incident, where they telecasted 'Beyond Petroleum' ads on one side and carelessly allowed the Gulf oil spill to happen on the other, cause marketing efforts backfired and created a feeling of frenzy among the public.
To conclude, there is a clear association between youth, CSR and cause marketing. Together they create a healthy ecosystem for all strata of people. Effective CSR will lead to brand longevity, due to stronger connect with the emerging population. As for Cause Marketing, it will slowly intermingle and diversify with other, more traditional concepts of marketing. And when approached deftly, companies will be certainly be able to mitigate certain issues related with this marketing approach.

Updates || Harsha Daga || IIM Shillong || December 2015 edition


TATA to launch hatchback called TATA Kite

TATA with its HorizoNext-the four pronged customer centric approach plans to launch TATA Kite. In a new teaser featuring brand ambassador Lionel Messi, the automaker christened TATA Kite Hatchback as the Zica. TATA motors looks to re-establish its image in the entry-level hatchback segment, where currently it had only Indica eV2, which again has lost its charm as it seems outdated when compared with competitors such as Maruti’s Swift and Hyundai’s Grand i10.

PULSE - latest candy launched by Pass Pass

The entry of this new candy into the market by Noida based DS Group (makers of products like Rajnigandha Paan Masala and Pass Pass) might not be new to people from states like Delhi and Rajasthan, but now the entire nation will be privileged to get a taste of it. A simple Re.1 candy is showing new trends, wherein consumers are making bulk purchases of 8-10 candies at once as against a usual behavior of buying only a single piece at once.


HDFC introduces sonic marketing by developing first ever MoGo

HDFC introduces sonic marketing by developing the first ever Mogo (musical logo). It’s for the first time that music will be used by a large, main stream corporate for purely branding purposes. HDFC plans to use their mogo at various touchpoints at a pan-India level, through ATMs, phone banking, mobile banking app and the website. The company aims at capturing the interests of the youth as use of new age technology and ways of branding not just appeals to the target but also establishes a better recall probability.

HTC & Snapdeal: The newly found friendship

In a very trendy manner, HTC and Snapdeal not just captured the hearts of Delhi-ites but also twitteratis across the network. They announced their partnership in a storyline when executives from both the companies went across NCR clicking pictures of the monuments, streets and people. They tagged each other in every post by eliciting response by the other one. They also used the opportunity to market the fine camera of HTC’s upcoming phone One A9. Looks like this team is here to give others a ride for their buck.


Happydent makes the world go bonkers!

Though this ad is not a new one, it deserves a mention this time around as it is the only Indian ad to feature on the prestigious list of the Best 20 Commercials of the 21st Century, as per the Gunn Report. Prasoon Joshi from McCann Worldgroup India, the creator of this ad deserves accolades for capturing the attention of the consumer in the most quirky and innovative way that could be. All we Indians were in love with this ad, and now, the world is going bonkers over it.

Durex calls upon for Unicode Consortium

While all other condom brands are struggling to hold ground and going the usual “pleasure” way to advertise, Durex always has something much more interesting. And this time to on World Aids Day on December 1st, Durex encouraged its customers to call upon the Unicode Consortium, who oversee the introduction of new emoji, for an emoticon depicting safe sex. Their aim was to make more and more people comfortable to have a conversation about the importance of Safe Sex, and hence a condom. What a way to integrate societal marketing with digital media.

Scrabble’s new ad says more than just playing with words

“Words” is the first thing that strikes you the moment you come across Scrabble, but their new advertisement capturing the same in a set-up that is most expected in the holiday season, is so exceptional that feelings become the more dominant proposition for the board game. Leveraging the festivities and the spirit of joy and celebration to connect with their consumers they ensured to pull their attention towards the game with the use of anagrams.


Aeropostale forays into Indian markets with Arvind Lifestyle

The American apparel and accessories retailer plans to foray into the Indian markets in collaboration with the Arvind Group of Arvind Lifestyle. Aeropostale is a mall-based retailer targeting young women and men, hence reaching out to a very large segment of the Indian retail population. The brand aims at having 30 standalone stores along with 25 shop-in-shop (or multi-brand retail store) locations in the next three years.

The Moson’s group announes a new brand by the name of Indian Woman

The Moson’s Group, a Kerala based maker of Indulekha range of personal care products which has been acquired by HUL, has announced a new brand by the name of ‘Indian Woman’ under which it will sell non-personal care products. They plan to do the same through the Self Help Group (SHG) model with the primary objective of providing quality education to the to the Indian girl child.


Mobile Advertising - Tango Media

Tango media, a subsidiary of Mogae Group, launched a mobile advertising platform helps the companies in connecting with consumers, without the pre-requisite of data connectivity. Its patented technology uses keywords that it sells to various players who can directly communicate to the customer keying in ** followed by the particular keyword. Tango has currently tied up with five telecoms for carrying out the activity, hence reaching out to a humongous consumer base.