faculty speak

Myth 4: Marketing is one time activity and required only during launch

“Whenever an individual or a business decides
that success has been attained,
progress stops.”
– Thomas J. Watson

There used to be two foot over-bridges in south Mumbai – one on the Marine Drive near Marine lines station and another outside Churchgate station. Both were used more as ‘advertising gantries’ than FOBs. In the late ’80s, an ad appeared on both of them. The product was indeed a revolutionary one. It was a remote control for ceiling fans. The concept behind the product was really novel and the ad itself was equally novel. The brand name was- Remo.

However, after these outdoor displays for a couple of weeks and a press ad during the launch phase, nothing much has been heard about the brand thereafter. It may still be available in the market. However, there are no ads of the brand in any media. There aren’t any signs of its availability at the outlets selling electric goods and accessories either. As a result, no one knows about it and hence no one demands it. Isn’t it a big waste of opportunity? The product was so revolutionary and far ahead of its time that an appropriate ‘marketing mix’ could have turned it into a gold mine. Imagine such a product available to us today when we want remote control for almost every home appliance we use.

There are many such ‘revolutionary’ products, which get into oblivion despite entering the markets with much hype and hoopla. If the product is really revolutionary, shouldn’t it carry itself forward after the initial ‘awareness creation’ phase? Unfortunately no product, however revolutionary it is, survives without continuous and consistent marketing support. Going by the law of physics, no momentum – however big – can last forever.

Marketing, in its true sense, is about managing your offerings to the market on 4 Ps, i.e. Product, Place, Price and Promotion. These 4Ps are the governing factors of your ‘marketing mix’.

Many people – including entrepreneurs – misunderstand marketing as just about Promotion in the form of advertising for the product. There are a few brands which have been promoted well, but since they fail to fulfill the expectations of target customer; or their price is not right; or they are not available at the right place(s), they fail to convert the opportunity into real business.

Then how should one carry out marketing on a consistent basis?

In fact, real strategic marketing starts even before the 4Ps. It starts with segmenting the market and identifying the target customer for your product. It must be understood well that no product can be relevant to all types of customers. While Dove is relevant to some customers, Medimix is equally relevant to some other customers. Once the target customer is identified, you must ‘position’ your product in such a way that it connects with your target customer. For instance, a car could either be ‘positioned’ as a basic mode of transport or a status symbol.

From positioning evolves your product strategy. Going back to the example of cars, the products offered by respective car makers must match with their positioning. Otherwise, it could lead not only to confusion in the minds of customer but also mistrust.

While managing your product offering over a period of time, it is necessary to keep a tab on changes in the tastes of your target customers or changes in technology around your product. A well-defined ‘Product’ strategy arms you with insights to keep your product contemporary and relevant through all these environmental changes. This also helps you in expanding your business by offering right kind of variants to your existing product as well as introducing new products in the market.

A well-defined product strategy needs to be complemented with appropriate ‘Place’ strategy. The distribution network for your product must be put in place in such a way that it not only ensures the logistical movement of the product but also its availability to the target customer. While appointing channel partners, care must be taken to complement (and even enhance) the desired image of the product brand. Some time back I came across a showroom of an elite brand of automobile. The brand is an object of desire for many Indians. However, its showroom was located in quite a run-down area with slums in its close vicinity.

Another important aspect with regard to ‘Place’ strategy is to keep a close tab on the evolution of channels relevant to your product. Not too long ago, Godrej & Boyce was a leader in refrigerator segment. However, they rapidly fell off from that position, primarily because all through the ’90s and 2000s, their distribution channel was undergoing a big revolution – turning into one stop shop for all home appliances. While LG and Samsung could offer the entire range, Godrej got stuck with refrigerators alone. Very soon, the distribution channel started dumping the brand, and today it is struggling for its survival.       

Many people argue as to what is there to strategize in ‘Pricing’? It is simply about recovering your costs and earning profits.

You will be surprised to know that ‘Pricing’ is one of the important aspects in managing ‘consumer psychology’. A well-defined pricing can be used very well for your strategic advantage. A low priced product need not sell the most in the market. In fact, a product with high price is most likely to be perceived as of high quality and vice versa. A new introduction in the market need not necessarily be priced lower than the competitors, unless you intend to sell a lower-quality-lower-price option to the customer. Also keep in mind that ‘Pricing’ is prerogative of and hence decided by marketing and not by finance department of the organization.

With regard to the last P – ‘Promotions’ – people seem to be utterly confused. For many, it is just about releasing a few ads in print, visual or audio media. The potential pitfall of doing promotions wrongly can be colossal. Recently, I came across promotions of a brand which talked about ‘Opulence’. As you know opulence is luxury in superlative form. How can such a brand be promoted on mass media such as radio, that too by sponsoring songs? I am not undermining the merit of radio as a media. The point I am making here is your promotions, including the selection of media should reach the target customer and gel with your overall strategy.   

Success in business is about consistency and persistence in all your efforts, marketing is no exception.

Prof Rajeev Kamble
Associate Professor