Monday, November 16, 2009

Shop Floor; The New Prime Time.

Prime Time ; A boon for brand marketing folks worldwide… it was a time when consumers would sit-back, glued to their TV sets taking in one soap or the other, or a game, or news or a movie and along with it absorbing a healthy dose of creative commercial messages which wet their appetite for the brands.

Logic had it that more the amount of noise created, the more liberal the usage of sexy celebrities, the more dazzling the production quality of the TVC - the higher the resultant brand recall. It therefore, surmised (almost) that the consumer would walk-up to the store, seek out and purchase the brand which had the highest recall in his mind.

As a result this thought process; the brand marketing folks have chased that prime time spot to stay “relevant” in the consumers consideration set. This chase is now a habit – almost a compulsion and an obsession – consider the fact that most of the industry dialogues seem to be completely focussed around the world of that 30 sec TVC.

Getting the consumer to be “aware” of the brand is something which everyone has focussed on for a while, albeit the dependence of mass-media for the same has been the chosen route. Thus it has been the one-way, single message for all, top-down communication which has dominated the thinking process.

However, for a consumer to progress in his mind and actions through his “path to purchase”, he has to undertake a process of 1st changing from a consumer to a shopper into the category and then from a shopper to a buyer of the brand and while awareness creation in the mind of the consumer is a critical 1st step, it is perhaps only the starting point.

The much discussed “path-to-purchase” model (figure 1.1) does a great job of explaining the consumers’ progressive levels of engagement with the brand and defines the path to purchase that a consumer moves through. It also explains the typical media vehicles or other experiential tools which can be used to influence behaviour. The funnel also represents the attrition / reduction of number / volume of consumers’ at every stage of the “path to purchase”.

Interestingly, while this model does not necessarily attempt to comment on the way brands needs to prioritize their overall marketing spends, brands have, over the years mirrored their marketing spends as per the funnel, with the maximum spends going into creating awareness (at the top of the funnel) and minimal amounts in the last mile (at the bottom of the funnel) to ensure conversion and sales.

There was a time, many years ago, when this logic made sense in terms of ensuring a wider reach, effectively informing customers, creating desire, etc. In those days the business logic of marketing would be simple; create a product, create an exciting story around it (read ad), make people aware of the product/brand and ensure it is made available in the shops – consumer will queue up and buy. The more noise you make – the more people will buy!

Today that hypothesis does not hold true. There is a massive shift in the way a brand should allocate its funds across the path of purchase. A brand now has to not merely tweak its allocation of funds towards the path of purchase; it has to completely re-invent its allocation logic.

Time is ripe to reverse the allocation. A brand should and needs to spend the largest share of its budgets in the last mile (lower stages of the funnel) as against on creating “awareness and recall” of the brand.

Let me share some of the current and evolving consumer behavioural trends I have observed, from around the world, which make the need of this change real and urgent, please visit the blog and view the 10 specific trends as I see them;

1 comment:

Arvind at LL said...

Hi Vijay, good as ever. Settling in for some long reading.