AdStand: Women as consumers and advertising’s disconnect with them

Last week was dominated by women-centric stories in advertising and content. Both in India and globally. All the stories do raise a pertinent point: do we in advertising have any clue of the changing women consumers or are we still seeing them with the narrow perspective of past? Just sample what happened last week. Audi in China missed the mark with a TVC. In India, we are doing one strange TV show about a 10-year-old boy getting married to a grown up woman. An RJ in Mumbai brought BMC to its knees, and she is a spunky lady. A movie with liberating theme about women tied the Censor Board in a tangle that the best Yoga guru couldn’t fathom. The women cricket team reached the final of the world cup. Meanwhile, advertising in India continues to make skin fairer, weddings grander, mom-in-laws angrier, shirts whiter and utensils shinier.

Audi in China is a very powerful brand. It has ruled the market in China for a very long period and is a part of pop culture. The market’s reaction to the ultra-insensitive Audi Used Car ad was understandable. The market reacted with horror, there were calls to ban the commercial. Weibo (China’s equivalent of Twitter) was unforgiving. Audi’s global brand managers apologised. The commercial compared a new bride to a used car and the analogy made a big dent into the reputation of the brand. In every such case, we must remember that there was a brief, there was an approval to a concept, there was the process of creation, post-shoot approvals and may be many rounds of market research in between. If the ad made it to screens than it begs the question, are they in touch with their consumers? Or they are completely oblivious to the realities of the market.

Meanwhile back home Mumbai is witnessing a bizarre sequence of events. An RJ created a song about potholes in Mumbai and the whole BMC was up in arms. They slapped a case of mosquito breeding. Mumbai rose in unity and sided with the RJ. Across social media, the outpouring of support was massive. What possibly added to the whole movement was the fact that the RJ was a lady. What may have proved the authorities was possibly her gender. The city did not let her gender come by way of the support.

The outpouring of pride and support for the women’s cricket team who reached the final was also massive. Women’s cricket has not been a popular sport in India, despite the popular sport it is. The journey of the team from being a qualifier to almost champion fired up the imagination of the country.

After a protracted battle with the censor board, Lipstick Under My Burka was received with open admiration. The movie does talk about themes that have not been a part of the popular narrative in either movies or advertising. A pleasure-seeking old woman is not the theme that has ever been portrayed. The good thing to watch was not that the theme was touched upon; it was that the audience accepted the narrative.

The week also saw the release of a bizarre show on TV where a 10-year-old boy marries a lady more than twice his age. Everything about the show is wrong. However, despite the protests, the show is on screens, beamed regularly to our homes.

The wider issue is the lack of women centricity in most of commercials that are being beamed on TV. The insights and the propositions are a bit dated. Life on TV for brands is still about shinier, fairer, brighter and grander. The new emerging women consumers are not the same as what they used to be. Ten years back they were saying that it’s okay to not get married, today the signs of successful marriage are not how the husband-wife portrayal is in many mainstream brand ads.

Brands need to rethink the emotional contract they have with the consumers. They are moving at alarming speed. Brands need to be ahead, drive the change, be engaged. Maybe the next set of commercial from jewellery as category is not about a grand wedding, but about many more emerging themes.

Remember the girl’s story who does not call off her honeymoon even after her wedding broke, became an iconic movie. And the lead actor became a strong voice.

Original published here:

AdStand: Mother’s Day, mass hysteria


Move over Diwali, move over Christmas and move over Valentine’s Day. Mothers Day in 2017 has become the new marketing calendar showstopper.

Mothers Day may have started off as anti war movement in US, but now it has been fully embraced by India. There may be small parallels in India to Mothers Day with events like Durga Puja in East or Lakshmi Pooja in North, but there is no universal day that celebrates the bond between mother and children and her role as the nurturer. The day may have contributed a massive amount to the kitty of brands this year, restaurants, florists, and Internet data providers. If there is someone tracking the spends, I won’t be surprised if the money is not coming close to what we spend on Diwali (minus the jewelry).

India has seen a tear fest this year with brand after brand making heartfelt emotional films about mothers, about her toughness, about the lessons that she imparted, about how the new generation has abandoned mother for connected devices, about how she is the keeper of family flame, even fathers as mothers and the caretaker as being mother like. This year the sheer volume of Mothers day messages was staggering. Did the message come from the reality of the brand? Did it work for the brand? I guess in the drive for getting social conversation going, sometimes the message is more

The only message or forward I didn’t get was either about Bharat Mata or the Holy Mother Cow.

In this maze of sameness and emotional overkill, for me, the spot that stood out for the Mothers Day was from Preganews.

Pregnancy and workplace is not a theme that I have even seen. For a brand to create a sensitive narrative around expectant mothers and do it in a non-preachy way is commendable. The spot did hit a tender spot with many new mothers sharing their own experiences on how the work place did make it easier for them when they were pregnant. The brand did not let itself get carried away and become bigger than the narrative. It was the earlier brand to release the ad, and it did continue to stand out despite a barrage of mass hysteria.

It’s not that internally there was any dearth of Mother’s day messages from brands. Proctor and Gamble every year has been doing ads around Mothers day. The mom song that they created or even the Vicks ad they did this year are commercials that were celebrating the theme.

Internationally Gap and Kraft Mac and Cheese did something that stood out for me.

Both the brands used social influencers to create campaigns that spoke the language of today did not have an emotional overkill and were true to the brand.


Gap used models Candice Swanepoel and Coco Rocha, and actresses Liv Tyler, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Cass & Ali Bird, in a campaign, is titled #MamaSaid and has the ladies’ gorgeous children star with them. The brand celebrated the bond between mother and child by showcasing them in Gap ensembles. They also tied up with a voluntary organization to raise funds for them.


Kraft Mac and Cheese ( did a hilarious campaign with social influencer and author Melissa Mohr, author of “Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing”



They also created a website called where the kids can go and download silly mothers day cards and make them feel good about their own antics. The campaign is hilarious at many levels, biggest being the acknowledgment that Kraft Mac and Cheese is not about good parenting or nurturing. By acknowledging that the language of today is a problem, they made the brand a part of contemporary lingo


Mother’s Day has now come and gone. Fathers Day is around the corner, now will Father’s get their share of noise?

Originally published here:

AdStand: The Campaign that People Own


Olympics at Rio is over, India won two medals, both by women, two athletes finished fourth, one of them is a woman.
The nation erupted in joy w hen an unheralded virtually unknown Gymnast, Dipa Karmakar became the first woman Gymnast ever from India to represent India in the sport and marched into final. She missed Bronze by a whisker and we all know the emotional support the nation gave her
This was topped by Sakshi Malik who won a bronze in Wrestling. PV Sindhu then made it an Olympic to remember by winning Silver in Badminton. Sakshi became the first woman wrestler to win bronze and PV Sindhu became the first Woman Shuttler to win Silver. History was made at Rio. History was made by three women.

The spark of campaign
It is difficult to pinpoint where and when the campaign started. It definitely started on Whatsapp as countless forwards that people get. The ‘forwarding economy’ was at it very quickly and in no time there were forwards about how the unwanted girl child have saved the blushes for the nation.
This quickly became a firestorm across social media with memes, status messages and tweets, all about how it time for India to pay attention to its daughters.
The messages have not stopped even now with more and more people sharing the messages

The first publicly owned campaign of India
The brilliance of this campaign is that it is not even a campaign. No one owns it, no one is creating it, and no one is propagating it. The public outpouring of the sentiment seems to suggest a overwhelming change in the attitude of the country on girl child. The absolute voluntary nature of the campaign seems to be an indicator that there may be small, but there is an aperture of change that exists in the society about the attitude towards the gild child.

No brand could have done this
I haven’t seen a brand capture popular sentiment like this campaign has done. No brand could have delivered this message, not with this compounding power, not with this intensity. This is the power of forwarding economy. People joined hands, found interesting things to share, joined the conversation and sent a message for change.
Is there a chance of change?
If the power of sharing economy is on display with this campaign, so is the weakness. There is a good chance that people actually buy into the cause, but there is a good chance that they move on to a new issue and forget about this issue. This is what happens in true mass participative events.
Yet there is a good chance that this campaign will spark off some change in a few people’s mindset. For a issue that is deeply rooted in our psyche, the desire for change is not externally manifested. It has not been pushed as sermon from the authorities; it has not been pushed as a tearjerker from a socially responsible brand.

In future we will see far more such publicly created and fuelled campaigns. Campaigns that will have far greater power to change the contours if the society.
We as a country have not won many medals at Rio, but the two that we have, can change some deep-rooted societal issues in India.
That is a far bigger victory

Original published here:

Adstand: Some new awards

Abby’s is over, and best of the Indian and South Asian Advertising has been announced. Having won after tough scrutiny, they are the finest the industry has produced. Going with the mood, here are some that AdStand will like to give out.

The first is Laugh out of the Year award. No this is not for that video just released by someone called Tahar Shah, but fro someone even more audacious called MSG. The ad opens on a sort of comical dining rooms setting where one God Man is advising an even more comical looking gent to put ‘Kerosene Oil’ in his expensive car instead of expensive petrol. Surprisingly the man refutes God Man’s sermon and says cant spoil a car by pouring cheap fuel in it. The God Man goes on to tell him to stop eating food with pesticide and eat only MSG Pure Noodles. This, the man with a strange goatee looks whole-heartedly agrees with. You can make your day by laughing along with MSG here ( It is amazing that there are consumers who despite being smart and erudite do listen to the voice of God. Now that the other God Man’s noodles have been alleged to have ash, this one can lay claim to be the most pious of all.

The second award is the Cave Man of the year award, and this goes to Red Chief Shoes. Mr. India meets Chulbul Pandey ( There is nothing in the plot, a man is threatening a woman on knife point, she is wailing like the leading lady from 70’s movies do, suddenly the door is slammed off the hinges and in walks invisible Macho man in Red Chief shoes. The man with knife shivers in his pants drops his knife and scoots. Why is the shoe called “Man among shoes”, why does the ad say “Power of Real Leather” in another frame? Why did Mr. India wake up stuck in a time wrap? I thought the vest and underwear brands had explored every facet of the macho angle, but even they must be lest wondering. Please put your hands together for the cave man of the year award.


The Kidney Beans honest soup of the year award goes to the new 7Up commercial. The commercial starts with mocking beauty pageants and ends up mocking itself.  The women have a chance to win the contest based on final answer ( and she wins by making mince meat of everybody in a pan full of kidney beans. If the green mood lighting on the set is indicative of the brand, then this one is a winner all the way. Incidentally it is worth checking of every potential beauty contest contestant is lining up to try the dish.

The unopportunistic ad of the year award goes to for its “don’t do narebazi, only do smajhdari”. I never knew that Yatra has changed the airline seating system and everyone will get to sit only on Window seat. The ad raises a burning social question: what happens when you discover that there are no window seats left in the flight? You don’t grin and bear it, you revolt with the aid of an app. If all this sounds confusing then do watch the ad ( Is the joke on the brand or the person the brand is mocking? Yatra has gone into the war zone hoping to win the war that Snapdeal lost. Brand trolling the real life events is new.

On the subject of trolls, the troll conversation of the year has to go the founders of two unicorns of India. There is nothing to add to the just two tweets exchanged by Sachin Bansal and Kunal Bahl over Alibaba’s entry into India. After the two tweets, good sense prevailed and hopefully they picked the phone on each other.

The Grand Prix of the season has to go to Urban Ladder. Never ever has any brand ever released an ad as imaginative as this one. Urban Ladder released an ad on LinkedIn ( asking for people who can be mattress tester. It didn’t matter that the ad was released on 1st April, most people realized how easy their job is compared to the one Urban Ladder is offering and how they should trade their comfortable job for this really challenging profile. Urban Ladder. Well done Urban Ladder, really well done.

I am sure there are many more ads out there that deserve awards; we in advertising are very accommodative. Let’s create more categories.






Naresh Gupta

@googlegupta / 9811160480

Sent with Airmail

The R Day Weekend

This was the week when brands went into overdrive with Republic Day messages. The whole country seemed to be draped in tricolour and the entire country seemed to be on sale. Zomato even turned every word of Happy Republic Day into a food item!

Commerce usually triumphs patriotism.

This is where #belikebill meme had an interesting take on Republic Day. This is India. India minds its own business. India always feels young. Be like India. Well #belikebill did win the Republic Day social media war.

Mumbai Traffic Police around the same time broke on social media with some really funny tweets. In its effort to be seen as cool and young, it ran a series of tweets that could easily have been written by stand-up comics. Now that is the real issue: should cops come across as witty and funny? Is that the value that ordinary citizens expect from a law enforcement agency? Or should they come across as resolute, determined, watchful and tough? How long will cops be able to manage a funny tone of voice?

Delhi Traffic Police meanwhile took its game on social media many notches up. On the shared public transport app called Ridlr (DTP twitter handle is @RidlrDel), it is asking citizens to upload pictures or videos of traffic violators so that they can take action. Either way, the police are now using social media; once they move from adopter phase to interaction phase, one can expect a lot of things to change.

There is a huge amount of action happening in the video streaming end and social networks. Facebook till now allowed celebrities to live stream content to their followers; this has now been opened up to the public. Anyone can use an iPhone and live stream to select audience on FB. While this is currently available only in the US, it would be available on Android and iOS and across the globe in no time. Also, GoPro Hero now integrates with Periscope for iPhone and can now broadcast directly. Portable live video will open up completely new platforms for brands.

Imagine if brands let their commercial shoots be available live on FB. Till now brands tried to do this in a small manner on Snapchat. Video is the new frontier that will change the game.

ICICI is running a fabulous platform that allows the underprivileged to earn a sustainable livelihood. They have a short film chronicling the story of Manoj Kumar who, from being a scrap seller, learns from the books he collects and then joins the mainstream workforce. It’s a heart-warming tale that has been narrated very well.

Today, more than ever, brands have no option but to make an impression every day, consistently. To do that, brands have to move away from small victories to long sustained campaigns. Today, the tools have also changed.

Be like ICICI and the Raddi Library.

Original Published Here:

Shocking, Bizarre or Strategically Sound?

Can any brand ever imagine that a billboard done by it four years back and displayed in one city would be remembered? The almost impossible was achieved by C Krishnaiah Chetty and Sons, a jeweller from Bengaluru. For those who may not remember, the billboard screamed, “Let the world see your family jewels”. Serious, no jokes. They put this in the main city square, big and bold. Internet hasn’t stopped laughing ever since.

Grabbing attention to become memorable is the reason brands advertise. Attention is a rare commodity, it is not easy to find. Memorability is even rarer. In the cacophony of brand messages, status updates, newsbreaks, cricket scores, football goals, news of bans, WhatsApp jokes, et al, how much can one remember?

Today, more so, brands have it tougher grabbing attention. With the rise of social media, consumers have more things to do and watching and commenting on ads is just one more activity. Is creating bizarre ads with over the top appeal the best way to gain attention? Does it always work for the brand?

Scotch Brite had a hilariously comical conversation between a woman and God and how God blessed the Scotch Brite instead of her as God was distracted. The TVC is designed to be comical and make the viewer laugh. Dish cleaning is not the most involved category; making the consumer excited about the category is not easy. If anything, the brand garnered attention and conversation.

Does this work in categories, which are not low involvement?

AskMeBazaar has a strange take on online shopping. With Farhan Akhtar as brand ambassador, the brand has a
more comical take on shopping, services and other stuff that the brand does. Instead of what could have been a very engaging take from the brand on shifting habits from offline to online, what we get is a bizarre caricature of the brand.

GreenPly has had a melody chocolate moment (Melody itni Chocolaty kaise hai) with its series on Ask Greenply, the
context setting has no connection with the question being raised or the connection with the category. Many years ago Asian Paints had an almost similar take on home painting services: that take was brilliant.

These are just a few examples of ads from categories that are high involvement, where the task of generating interest is tough and where the image of the brand matters in making the choice.

Today, with millions of messages consumed across the day, being able to make an impression has become difficult.
Perhaps that is the reason brands are getting funnier.

Bizarre, funny or not, I think there are some things that brands do need to keep in mind to get attention. These are classical, old world rules that still work in today’s day and age.

One: Brands solve a problem; the reason they exist is because they have a unique solution to every day’s boring, mundane issues. They have to be meaningful in the way they approach the issue at hand and have an outlook that makes the brand stand out. Brands are not always about being faster, taller, grander, sometimes the brands are about doing one thing, but doing that one thing in a manner that others don’t do.

Two: The brand has to have a wider perspective, has to have a purpose to exist. The brand’s purpose has to be more than the sum of features that it has, has to be more than the what, where and how issues that brands often communicate. Purpose is a wider belief that works for consumers in the ever-changing world. Purpose gives the brand a charter to live by, a sense of manifesto that they can adhere to, a belief system that makes the brand long lasting. Consumer attention is scarce and miniscule; a sharply defined purpose will always get her attention.

Over-the-top cheesy brand appeals are created to grab attention. There is nothing wrong with doing so till the time the brand stays true to its purpose. When the brand loses focus and cracks jokes for the sake of cracking jokes, it becomes difficult for the brand to stand out.

Three: No brand can survive without the context. The context has to be real, relevant and something that makes consumers look at the brand. Often in being comical or strange or bizarre, brands lose their sense of context and then stand out like a sore thumb. When brands get the context correct, the creative metaphor becomes an easy vehicle to deliver the message.

Over-the-top cheesy brand appeals are created to grab attention. There is nothing wrong with doing so till the time the brand stays true to its purpose. When the brand loses focus and cracks jokes for the sake of cracking jokes, it becomes difficult for the brand to stand out.Even over the top appeals need an underpinning of smart strategy. Or else as the brand that promised something about family jewels, the world laughs and moves on.

Original published here

Grocery Wars

He is a powerhouse celebrity; he has sold suiting, cars, real estate, home décor, cellphones, cold drink, fairness cream, durables, watches, owns a cricket team, and now is busy selling groceries. To see Shah Rukh Khan get excited about potatoes, onions, tomato and pulses is not something that you could ever imagine.

That is the reality of the grocery war that has broken out in the Indian e-commerce market. The online grocery sites are on fire and they are going hammer and tongs at your kitchen.

Big Basket calls Shah Rukh Khan a ‘Big Basketeer’. Basketeer is someone who is an ace player of basketball; surely Big Basket is not referring to the slam-dunk kind of game in its communication. The brand builds on range, offers and convenience. While the brand offers the viewer the ease of using the app, or ease of ordering, at the same time it takes the viewer through the journey of home delivery, customer satisfaction and a hint of repeat order. The brand plays the SRK card to the hilt. What it leaves behind is SRK, not the brand.

Grofers, on the other hand, is cleverly building on its ability to deliver anything quickly in a quirky, funny manner. Unlike Big Basket that mimics its delivery process in its advertising, Grofers builds on its vast range of products in its store. In the process of building range and convenience, it does knock the husband-wife relationship off the ledge. To hint that the wife did not get the husband she deserved but can get the grocery she wants, is wicked. Incidentally, the husband knows what the wife wants, and that too is some leap of faith.

Both Grofers and Big Basket seem to believe that the future of e-commerce grocery brands may lie in the hands of the male members of the house. I am not sure if there is a small gender stereotype that is at play in these ads.

Grocery is big news in the e-commerce market at this time; there are many more brands that are after your wallet. Local Banya builds on specific membership plans that consumers can sign up for. Peppertap builds on speed of delivery – ‘from phone to door in 2 hours’ is its promise to move the consumers from brick and mortar stores to the e-commerce process.

Grocery and veggies constitute the bulk of the Indian retail market; almost 70 per cent of Indian retail comes from this segment. In developed markets, where modern retail is the only way to shop for groceries, where grocery shopping means taking time out and lugging big packets home, moving grocery to e-commerce offers a radical new idea. In India, where the average order value is not very high, where almost every retailer delivers to your doorstep and where veggie buying is a high involvement task, e-commerce brands have to work harder to change habits.

Range and convenience is not something that will move people to the new habit, the brand will have to cut this pie in a more imaginative manner.

This segment is set to get even more competitive and players like Godrej Nature’s Bazaar and Reliance Fresh can augment their physical stores with virtual. They hold the potential to open up the market in newer ways if they launch click and buy kind of service, something that allows the potential consumers to buy in advance and pay after physically checking the goods but not standing in long queues to pay.

This market will see a further churn with Amazon Fresh coming to India and Flipkart joining the rush to get potatoes to your home faster.

Technology may power grocery, but to reach the kitchen shelf it needs more than range and convenience narratives. The battle hasn’t even begun.

Original published here

Selfie: Curated Ego

One of the most vivid memories of 2013 will be Barack Obama, who was caught posing for a ‘Selfie’ with David Cameron and Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. The picture obviously went viral and was much debated post that. What Obama did was cap the year of ‘Selfie’ with one of his.
This is the year when Selfie became a mainstream word. Selfie is actually internet obsession with self, where you take picture of self and post it across the social networking sites ranging from Instagram to Snapchat. The trend has moved on from just plain vanilla selfie to ‘yogis’ (selfie + yoga) and ‘belfies’ (bum + selfie) making you wonder where the obsession with self can go. What though is beyond doubt is that this bout of narcissism is being fuelled by smart phones that are now ubiquitous and in every pocket. A host of celebrities, industry titans and politicians have been bitten by the obsession of self. While some have used it as revenge against paparazzi, others have turned it into a business opportunity. Gwenth Paltrow for example launched where she curates stuff she likes, where she peddles things that range from bizarre to obscene, (like monogrammed napkins for 14000 bucks).
The obsession with self is not limited to a selfie, it goes way beyond then just a mere snap. Selfie is a self-created advert for ‘what are you doing now’. This trend has now being used byu a variety of mobile phone apps like Klout (personal influence), Strava (cycling), Tictrac (personal dashboard) and the good old Nike+ (running). All of them do one thing, build self and create a branding for you across social networking sites.
The critical question to ask is this: is the Generation Me then a narcissistic epidemic or is it a pointer to something deeper that is happening in the society around us.
Generation Me is not a new term, it has been spoken about for some time now. There may not be one definition of this term, largely it refers to a bunch of people who have a very high self esteem, are overtly materialistic, are confident sometimes overconfident of their ability and live in a self created bubble. This is a group of people who invest a large sum on self-vanity. As expected the obsession with self cannot be seen as the good thing by the sociologist, afterall the self-obsession may be the reason behind failing global economy and falling personal relationships. After all if young teenager buys a limited edition Aston Martin Rapide and then boasts about it to all and sundry through a selfie is not the best of examples in a society. The self created video of the teenager who drove the Ferrari somewhere in Kerala that was doing the rounds this year did create a furor and may be even have forced action by the authorities.
Narcissism epidemic is real and is dangerous, especially when it starts to inflict the youngsters giving them a false sense of status and ability. Though the Generation Me is not composed of just kids, or a homogeneous audience. This is unlike most other generation nomenclature that exist. Generation Me is a sign of times, cuts across a wide swath of populace and has the ability to drive change in positive way too.
One thing that defines what the Generation Me does is build on immediacy.
There impatience that is inbuilt into the codes of conversation. As individuals they never feel that they are powerless and that they cannot change the status quo. This impatience is manifested across a range of activities that they are indulging in.
Generation Me is extremely fashion conscious, style is their currency. They shun brands that are uncool, that are not up on style quotient. More and more brands are now forced to just up their ‘looks’ quotient. Traditionally we have focused a lot more on what we deliver, and a lot less in what style do we deliver. The lack of style is now a serious business impediment. The impatience also leads them to punish brands instantly. Poor quality, poor service and even poor attitude is not tolerated and immediately commented upon. This generation is not looking at creating a social wave out of their comments, they are happy being the sole individual who took the brand to task. The brands may dismiss the individual comments, but collectively the brand owners cannot ignore this new trend

The third thing they do is do instant rejection of established order. There is no saying that existing established order is the only way to do things. They will create a new protocol and before the world realizes that becomes the new way to do things

While at one end the Generation Me is about creating individualized reality through Selfie, but at the other end they are impatient and reject old, boring and dowdy.

‘Me’ now defines who I am, and my camera defines how my ego should look.


Original Published in Financial Express Brand Wagon in January 2014

7 things research will never tell a marketer

No self respecting marketing executive can live without market research. Market Research offers purposeful information to make plans, policies, programmes and procedures of any marketing activity. Market Research industry is as old as communication industry and many would argue more important than the mainstream communication industry. Yet there are pitfalls, and things that MR can never tell. Here are seven things MR can rarely tell

1. Reflect reality

Market research is a post facto measurement of what had happened. The common belief is that research data reflects the current reality and hence can be used as a basis for predicting future. If that was the case then well researched brands would have never failed

2. Predict future

Research means placing human beings together in one place ask them their opinions and form that as a basis of predicting future. This is like saying that if you watch a lion in zoo, you will learn all about lions. Human zoo is no different from animal zoo, and is rarely the right basis of prediction.

3. Is never free of bias

Any form of research suffers from investigator bias and statistical errors. Research too is a classical case of stimulous response. The answers depend on what you ask, and that define the findings. Can research ever be free of bias?

4.Right answers depend on right questions

The new Coke is the stuff that is now a case study. While the new formulation tested well, scored on blind taste and passed every test the research industry threw at it, it failed when launched. The consumer was not asked the most obvious question; will the formulation change the brand they love? Do they want the brand to change? The result was a massacre in market

5. No guaranty of success

Testing a new commercial for predicting its success in market is a common practice. It is easy to score a commercial on emotional appeal, on message comprehension, on ability to create perception. Yet more commercials fail then succeed. We all know that, yet are slaves to practice

6. Does not replace experience and gut

We need to remember that research is a tool, and not the decision. A marketers gut, experience, market reality are far more important than any amount of research data. Yet the tendency is to live more by research data and less by collective experience.

7. Quality matters

We all know this.


Yet an average marketer rarely spends time on figuring out who will administer the stimulus for research. Will an average field executive be up to scratch? Will the average investigator strike the right balance of objectivity and expertise? Most researches are spoilt by simple overlooking of this crucial aspect. Next time pay attention to field investigators.

As a simple test try this, ban MR for a while, live by what you know as a marketer, trust your experience, trust your market feel, trust the hours you have spent in field. Take the decisions that need to be taken, and use research almost as the last step to check gross negative. You might speed up the process, learn a great deal more from mistakes, and possibly be more successful.

Experience always triumphs over data

The New Middle Class in India

It is now official. First time in the history of modern India, high income households will outnumber lower income households. According to latest NCAER estimates India will have 46.7 Million households in high income category and 41 Million households in lower income category.

Households earning up to Rs 45000 per annum are dubbed as lower income households, and those earning over Rs 1.8L per annum are classified as high income households. But the real story lies in the number of households that are between Rs 45000 to 1.8 L per annum. This number has now reached estimated 141Mn households, out of a total of 228Mn households in the country. This is what is called the middle class in India. This middle class now is over 60% of the entire country. This is a stupendous turnaround that we are seeing happen to our country.

We often assume that the entire middle class is ‘one class’ and we can try and paint them in one go. The truth is that the middle class in India is a constantly evolving mix of audience. The current decade has seen a very strong growth in middle class. The economic growth, the rising prosperity, more and more people moving up ladder has created a new class of customers. These are the new members of middle class of India.

What is fuelling this new middle class? What are the trends that they will trigger? After all they are a very potent group of consumers

The new middle class has been powered by women. Just look at the long term literacy data of India and the impact women are having will be clear. The female literacy rate has risen from 8.6% in 1951 to 54% in 2001 census. The 2011 census I am sure will show that the number may have crossed 60%. Interestingly the growth of female literacy rate was 15% between 91 and 2001, as against just 11% of male literacy growth. Clearly the women are catching up with males, and this too is triggering a set of new trends.

Here’s a look at some of the new truths about the new middle class

The growth of the new middle class is powered by women. With better education they are joining the work force in a greater number. With this they are taking control of their future, having a greater say in their wedding, deciding on when to have kids and how many. Apart from the demographic impact they are also driving their partners with a greater zeal to improve their future. They are making the most of change in their demographic and social status.

The new middle class will impact the travel choices in a big way. The new found economic freedom will translate into a greater desire to explore the world. They will pack their bags and take vacations at a greater frequency than ever before. And they will not always be looking at visiting their relatives only when they do so.

The new middle class is very serious about securing their future. One of the first serious buying decision they will take will involve buying a house. They will look at buying their own house even before they decide to buy a car. There is no better way to announce the transition than by buying a house. This means that the small home segment will boom in a much bigger way in coming decade

The new middle class is truly driven by dynamism of its own members. They are literally writing their own destiny and crafting their future. They are hardworking, optimist, smart and not driven by the rules of past. They will impact the world of marketing and branding in a big way.

The new emerging reality will be very exciting