Archive for August, 2009

Has the mainstream media tweeted too early?

In the recent past I have seen 3 different “editorial-like” posts in the mainstream media (read – newspapers) about twitter and to think that less than 120K Indian’s are tweeting, yet. Is the mainstream media disconnected with the Indian reality and just aping the hype in the western media? To begin with all the articles assumed knowledge of this phenomena and were not educational, to say the least.

Media can definitely act as harbingers of change, but the mechanism to approach it is definitely by briniging the people on board and not just pushing it down the public’s throat, especially when most are either not aware of the phenomena, or have not bought into it, yet. The questions media needs to ask itself is that when an onslaught of new technology – ranging from online presence, blogging, social media and now twitter – comes up what kind of measures do I adopt to get the public onboard, do I have a mechanism to gauge the depth of adoption possible, will my reader identify with this, what role can we play to encourage adoption?

This is going to happen – today with twitter and tomorrow with something else – with the newer technology products, and the better the mainstream media is prepared with a strategy and plan of action, the more beneficial it is for the readers. Not to forget, this nation is still largely influenced by traditional media – TV, newspapers – what with even Google advertising in newspapers in tier II cities, it is sufficient acknowledgement of the fact.

So, what do you think – on twitter or not? why would you get on? I hope one of the reasons is not because the mainstream media is raving about it!


Cadbury’s India Tryst

I can’t help but notice that the chocolates I love in India are from the same company – Cadbury and that the company holds about 72% market share in the organized chocolate market (source: here ). Just in case you were wondering, Cadbury is a British company and has a bouquet of products ranging from Diary Milk, Perk, Five Star, Eclairs and Halls to the higher end Temptations.

They have a history of running ads that associate well with the Indian mentality, what with India being their top 12 strategic global focus geographies, it ought to be so…ok, lets start in the reverse order (these are mostly just Dairy Milk ads – one of their top brands):

1. Pehli Tarikh Hai – Their latest ad of “Kuch Meetha Hai Khana Aaj Pehli Tareekh Hai…” appeals to the Indian lower and middle-class mindset well of celebrating by splurging on the pay day, 1st of every month! Now, isn’t this the best form of localization ever! I think the ad is a roaring success and a tribute to the spirit of Cadbury India. Well done, Ogilvy and Mather and of course, not to mention the retro style of the ad, which is a thoughtful touch, it not only makes the ad stand out, it brings back memory of childhood in most Indians.

2. Rakhi Celebrations – this set of ads associates the Rakhi gift, which is tradionally given by the brother to the sister, as being the celebrations package – which has an assortment of cadbury chocolates – again no celebrity in most of the ads and simple, “think festivals, think celebrations”  and subtle message being conveyed

3. Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye – is a common refrain you will hear in India, especially post lunch or dinner and was captured well in the series of ads that mostly featured Amitabh Bachchan

4. Kuch Baat Hai  – This was a set of ads which urged people to enjoy “the real taste of life” and one of the ads featured a g’pa giving his wife a huge bar of dairy milk chocolate and the another featured a girl dancing in the middle of a cricket field, again cricket being India’s religion (oops! did I just say that!), well said and well captured

5. Khane Walo Ko Khane Ka Bahana Chahiye – Well, this was a classic, where the mere suggestion was that people love dairy milk and will eat it anywhere, anyway. One of the ads that I vividly recall was the one where someone had bought a bunch of dairy milk to a crowd that was watching cricket match and hoping to distribute them if India won. However, India loses. Silence, and then the crowd eats the chocolates anyway, someone won – right!

They have also had their share of faux paus – like they say to succeed one must fail all the more…so here goes the list that I can remember of the top of my head:

1. Diary Milk Dessert Range- an attempt to combine chocolate and an traditional Indian sweet (Shirkhand, I believe) – completely failed and the products were not heard of beyond a year or so, agian the ads were tempting and extremely well done, the product didn’t do the trick, though!

2. Too good to share? Cadbury or Kashmir? – this ad, aired back in 2002, raised a hue and cry and Cadbury had to retract it but not before they tendered an apology

And so on…what are your favorite cadbury ads? 

Trivia: My top three chocolates from Cadbury are Diary Milk (Roasted Almond), Perk and Temptations, what are yours? 🙂

Note: What’s more, when pushed to the hilt with rich creamy chocolate and aggressive advertisement, Indians just adopt it as another sweet in their melee of traditional celebrations!

Aircel Launches Youth Plan

Aircel (the 4th player in the telecom game, after Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, with majority presence in South India)  recently launched a Youth Plan…before, I go into the package details, think about it for a moment. Which is the segment that’s extremely price sensitive, could be a first time customer and does not really care about the quality of calls or signal availability? – The Youth Community – they want more SMS, more local calls, call groups at cheap rates and more at the lowest possible price. So, here comes Airtel with their “Youth Plan” delivering a package of 4500 free SMS, local call groups at 20p/min and more…at Rs. 150.

How does this help? Well, one of the new joinees in my group recently opted to go with Tata Docomo and not only that it is impossible to reach him, the call gets abruptly dropped several times while the conversation is going on and I’m told that the line is busy! But, he has no complaints, he doesn’t pay for anything more than he talks (by the second). Now, Aircel (which is likely to be most threatened of its position by the new entrant) with its youth plan is taking Tata Docomo head on in its very (possible) target market.

PS: I had mistakenly heard this advertisement to be for Airtel and hence written my post accordingly. I have corrected my mistake and redone my thoughts to account for the fact that it was actually launched by Aircel and not Airtel. Alas, what is in a name, huh!

Social Media Surveys – Not Too Social

Recently I got a survey request. It was for understanding how people use internet and specifically, social media. What struck me the most, was that the surveys we use to understand “social media” is still playing catch up with the concept of social media. You see polls being conducted on social networks, but they are like any other poll that would be conducted through any other medium. It only leverages the easy and instant access of the social media and not the interactivity or consumer content generation aspects of it.

One of the innovative ways to conduct a survey is to keep the options open in the beginning and as users fill out the survey, convert the answers into options. This serves two purposes, when defining a survey one goes through several steps and one of them is talking to/running a sample survey with a few real customers to understand if the options you are suggesting are accurate. With the above idea, it takes away a couple of steps in the process.

Another interesting idea to experiment with could be to let people suggest improvements to questions and answers, enabling the users to judge the improvements and finally, keeping the ones with the most votes/comments/readership.

What do you think, what are some interesting ways to conduct social media-usage surveys? I shall keep updating this list as I come across/think about more ideas…feel free to post yours.

Bluetooth Mobile Headsets – Quite An Earful!

Ever wondered why Bluetooth headsets never took off the way they should despite the growing need for such a gadget amongst the “teleconferencing community”? I bought a Jabra headset a couple of years ago and it has fallen out of favor with me . Thinking back at my reasons, I decided to put them up here for those considering buying one and for those wondering why they wasted money on it! Have fun…

1. Extra Charger – I need an extra charger for the headset! As if having to go through the constant charging of on my mobile phone was not painful enough. I have extra accessories to carry around and remeber to use. What is more, when I’m charging the headset, I can’t use it to talk. So, if you remember that you have an hour long call at the last minute and your headset is out of charge, tough luck!

2. Connectivity Issues – There is no way I can connect the headset as an afterthought, once the call has started, it just wouldn’t let me activitate the bluetooth headset. So using a headset actually means, being prepared – with it charged and connected – all the time, if that is how much you use your phone, which is most of us, anyway! Not to say, if the phone runs out of charge while you are talking, there are good chances that your call gets dropped.

3. Separate Entity – This is my favorite one…a bluetooth headset comes as a separate entity that I need to track apart from the 20 other things that are essential when I’m travelling or working – car keys, security cards, identity cards, food coupons, locker keys, house keys….what not?

Why can’t the mobile phone have a headset space on it, where I can plug it in after use and it charges along with my phone? Why can’t I connect the headset with the ease of putting my phone on speaker vs. handset mode? Well, life would be too easy then, eh?

Samsung Mobile Ads – Next Is What?

Samsung appointed Aamir Khan as the brand ambassador for their mobile phones in India in March 2008. Since then the ad series has gone through a couple of revamps. The initial set of ads were for the Samsung Karoke Phone, pictured Aamir Khan singing old Hindi film songs aloud and prancing around in an apartment. It was masterminded by the creative agency, Cheil Worldwide, and ended wit the punchline, “bolti band, gana shuru”, they were cheeky at best and ineffective, at worst. 

 The new set of ads are a refreshing change and bring out the innovative, creative quality of the Samsung brand to the forefront. Aamir shines in the ads by not being the center of activity, yet delivering the punches with precision timing.  It strings three disparate scenes together, with very apt music while showcasing the availability of features like music player (in a moving train), games and camera (with flash) on the mobile. You can see the new set of ads here. Quite a good package, I must say!

Just as these ads were enticing the users, here comes Samsung with a newer set of ads, showcasing a rugged image with their Samsung Marine. Attempting to debunk their image as just a “and stylish phone”, the ad is shot in real-life outdoor locations and showcases the phone weathering water, sun and mud effectively. The ad agency is Cheil India and have launched the ad with the tagline – “One Life. Challenge It.” What I find really cheeky with this ad is, in the first screen shot at the bottom they show, “Do not try this with any other mobile phone”. Ha ha!

Anybody tried any of the Samsung phones in any of these real life situations? Is it really as rugged as the ad claims?

Why Japanese Phones Are Not Global?

Japanese are ahead of their times in the kind of phones and mobile services they launch and have been using 4G for sometime. They have the sleekest features ranging from internet browsing and e-wallets to pedometers! However, the Japanese phone makers Panasonic, NEC and are not globally popular, unlike LG and Samsung from Korea. One might only wonder, why so?

The Japanese phone industry is a good example of a few misguided assumptions that many global tech companies today commit…a few mentioned below:

1. The “market” is what I see – Making technical decisions based on a limited set of geographical/economic characteristics and worst yet, on limited market knowledge and thinking that “we build it, they’ll want it”. In this case, the Japanese market and their race to adding more and more advanced features on their phones.

2. Going it alone – Attempting to push the frontier while being a single piece in the ecosystem, whereas it is important to prioritize external dependencies and push the frontier an inch at a time , nudging other people along and building the entire ecosystem to support the advanced technology adoption. In this case, the advanced Japanese phone features being out of place in the 2/2.5G networks that many of the other countries continue to support. They will upgrade one day and the Japanese might have an upper edge, but isn’t there a time value to money?

3. Catering to “high end” with “high tech” – Not catering to the mass market with lower end offerings for fear of margin erosion, despite having the technological capability to do so – it requires a different approach to the market, one of understanding what it needs and aligning the technical features available accordingly. Again, in this case the Japanese phone makers could have defined a range of features on their phones that could well support lower end technology features and compete with the Korean, US and European phone makers.

The good news is that the players realize this and are working towards understanding the reasons of why they are not global favorites. You can read more about it here. Has anyone used the Japanese phones, what do you think?

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