Dress ed to Kill

Thursday, July 19, 2007

He is 25 years old. He dropped out of Princeton University and now he is turning “worm-poop” into green bucks! Tom Szaky and his friend Jon Beyer started a company called TerraCycle Inc. The company uses worm waste to create plant food and the best part is it sells it in recycled soda bottles. Most of these plastic bottles are collected through a nation-wide recycling programme organised by the company itself. It’s got schools and churches to collect empty plastic bottles and milk cartons, which are used to package its products. They now even have neck-tags on these recycled bottles where you can put your first name and the state from where you collected your bottle. It’s this idea of such an innovative packaging that generated copious publicity for this company that it has hardly spent on advertising. It even showed what the company believed in and stood for. Body Shop had done a similar thing years ago. They encouraged customers to bring their old packaging back into the shop to be refilled and re-used or recycled. They did it at a time when no one else was doing it – and it spread a good word about the company, which is more powerful than any advertisement.

Packaging is the first tangible interaction a consumer has with your brand. If it’s powerful and creates an impact, then it’s the best way to differentiate your product from competition and even beat it. No wonder Coors Brewing Co. is relying on packaging to help boost its sales. The have introduced “Cold Wrap” bottles. A wraparound label on the beer bottle keeps the brew cold longer by reflecting heat from the consumer’s hand. Not just this, they even have an agreement with the packers, whereby, the Cold Wrap bottle will remain exclusive to Coors for “at least one year”. What a way to beat the heat and the competition!

New and innovative packaging always helps to create a buzz. Last year, Pepsi Co’s soft drink 7UP decided to get the excitement going high by introducing its drink in a new packaging and using Mallika Sherawat’s curves to up the enticement quotient. It suddenly made the brand both hot and cool. Coca-Cola too had to change the shape of its soft drink Limca if it wanted to remain in the race. This year it made its bottle curvier and called it the Limca splash bottle. They said, it gave consumers a better grip. It might even help Coca-Cola to retain its grip over the market!

It’s a new world

Today it’s a whole new generation that we are marketing our products to. This “millennium generation” or “generation why” is very different. Generation Y, according to Crispin Reed of Sterling Brands, is “...arguably the most savvy generation ever to walk the planet. It’s never felt the chill of the Cold War, never knew life without AIDS, learnt about the birds and bees from President Clinton, never went to library, wore designer kids’ clothes & can’t imagine a life without DVDs, AIMs, Internet & SUVs.” If you have to attract their attention, you need to make the right moves. Amul re-designed its packaging of ice-creams, cheese and shrikhand. NestlĂ© has changed its “Fruit n Dahi” to “Milkmaid Fruit Yoghurt” and packed it in a cup.

Great packaging changes a brand’s image instantly. No wonder, companies are spending more and more on packaging, year after year. The packaging industry itself is growing at an annual rate of 4-6%. The range of products being packaged is growing and getting more and more diverse. After all, everything is getting packed and ready-to-eat-off-the-racks.

Intelligent packaging has made life easier. Think of life without resealable bhujiya packets, wet wipes, travel kits of the various cosmetic brands, juices in tetra packs, Coke cans, salt & pepper dispensers of Catch and many more.

On the shelf...

There are so many developments in packaging which are now helping in increasing the shelf-life of the products. Processes like vacuum packaging or gas packaging are being used extensively. The shelf is also the place where your brand competes directly with the rival’s brand. Marketers are using packaging to make a statement on the shelf. Some years back Coca-Cola unveiled a 30-litre plastic bottle of Coke. It was 4 feet tall, weighed 274 pounds and required, on an average, three men to lift it! The logic? They said Americans like big things – big car, big stereo, big TV. So why not a big Coke! They did try to make the brand look larger-than-life!

Windows Vista and 2007 Office systems not only redesigned the software package, but also the outer packaging to make it look more attractive on the shelf – displays; apart from protecting the software inside for life-long use.

DVDs and CDs have seen so much of experimenting when it comes to packaging. Limited editions and collector’s editions are just ways of innovatively packaging the old discs to make them look attractive and encourage impulse buying.

Thanks to the “Wal-Mart culture” of retail chains and department stores, most of the purchases nowadays are impulse-driven and many-a-times it is attractive packaging that makes you reach out for the product. Not just this, packaging also increases the brand recall. So it’s imperative your product look good on the shelves.

Save our planet

With the effect of global warming already being felt, consumers are becoming more conscious and making more ecologically friendly choices. Wal-mart has even announced a rollout of a “green” rating system of the packaging used by its suppliers – in a bid to become more environment-friendly. All suppliers would be required to lower the amount of packaging that they use, by 5% and use more eco-friendly & recyclable products. Those who don’t, might lose their business with Wal-Mart!

In today’s world, packaging even makes a statement about your commitment to the planet. Today it is no more packaging... it’s the era of green packaging.

Starbucks invented the disposable coffee cups and has shown that it is environmentally responsible too. Today, it is changing that and trying to rework a system, whereby, it would encourage consumers to drink inside the stores. America started the “take-away” culture and gave birth to a whole new style of packaging, while Europe still believes in the “consumer-in-store” culture. Consumers are demanding that companies show their responsibility towards the environment. No wonder Starbucks now serves in non-disposable re-usable containers.

So packaging is a powerful medium. It’s a statement! It gives a brand its identity. Use it with caution and you could reap rich dividends. If you have to win, make sure your products are dressed to kill.

Think Pink (Marketing to Women)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Men may be from Mars, but smart marketers now know that it is the species from Venus that calls the shots in purchase decisions...

The year was 1929. The man was called Edward L. Bernay, considered by many as the father of public relations. The Easter parade was about to be staged on Fifth Avenue. This was also the era when women did not smoke much in public. Before the parade, Bernay alerted the newspaper that women would be smoking in public to promote ‘equality of sexes”. Suddenly, everyone was excited & wanted to cover the event. What Bernay told no one was the simple fact that he had been paid for this effort by American Tobacco, the maker of Lucky Strike in their effort to encourage women to smoke. It was one of the most famous marketing moments of its time.

Recently Dell’s marketing representatives met Oprah and showcased their products on her show. Its Pocket DJ and 30 inch LCD TV featured on Oprah’s Favourite Things 2004 shopping list. About 70% of Dell’s plasma sets were sold in weeks after the list appeared on Oprah’s show. Twenty years ago, probably women were just considered as “add-ons” by marketers, with no major decision making roles. A recent survey in America revealed that women now account for $55 billion of $96 billion consumer electronic market (in 2003). With more and more women joining the workforce their purchasing power and decision making power both are increasing. What’s interesting is 25% of these women make more money than their husbands or boyfriends. So marketers are now being forced to give them a long hard second look and formulate plans and strategies to rapture this fast growing market.

Pretty in Pink

Women today are buying more electronic gizmos than men. What were earlier referred to as “boy’s toys” are no more the sole domain of men. Companies are going back to their design tables; reworking and revamping their products as they get to know the female consumers better. Gone are the days when Gillette wanted to target their razors to women, they just colored them pink. Today, that’s not enough. A woman knows what she wants and if you want the green bucks to keep coming, you gotta give her what she wants. No wonder Camel cigarettes are now available in packages of hot pink fuchsia and minty green. They know their customers would “walk a mile for a Camel” (the famous tag line of Camel cigarettes). They also know many of them would be wearing stilettos!

Women are different & the one who recognizes that faster, benefits the most. As someone said, “When women are depressed they eat or go shopping. Men invade a country. It’s a whole different way of thinking.”

When the Lancer group of Canada wanted to market their luxury condominiums, they included things like a walk in closet, a laundry room, plenty of counter space in the bathroom for make up. What they didn’t include was a giant wide screen television. Their target was single women aged 21-45 years who were bothered about various other details of the house and definitely did not value a giant TV screen. Today marketers are getting into the skin of a women to understand what she actually wants and desires. One of them did what no one had done before. Kevin Burke, father of lucid marketing which specialises in marketing to moms actually wore a thirty three lbs pregnancy suit for nine months just to understand how a woman felt the experience. He sure was very serious about marketing to women! Tetley, Canada, has a created a special online site “Music Lounge” where women can download free songs for their digital music players and computers – basically they get to chill out the ‘Chai’ (Tea).

Diamonds no longer a women’s best friend

With more and more women on the streets, driving their own cars, the hottest selling gadgets seems to be the GPS tracking system. Most of these navigation devices are being bought by women. About 55% of GPS customers are women. Not just this, even car manufacturers are seeing a rise in the women customers. Hyundai Motors India Ltd has announced special loan schemes to lure the women. ‘Santro’ and ‘Getz’ are being portrayed as women friendly cars.

Harley Davidson, long a symbol of male pride launched a web site dedicated to women motorcyclists. They figured out that 10% of all the Harleys sold in 2003 were bought by women, as compared to just 2% in 1985. Back in India too, the two wheeler marketing segment is seeing a lot of action. Hero Honda has launched its ungeared scooter targeting the young women. Not just this, they have even launched a retail initiative called “Just for Her”. These women- only showrooms would be used to distribute its scooter “Pleasure”.

TVS has come out with accessories specially designed for the female rider and even an exclusive website Scootygals.com to sell this new accessory range. For bike manufacturers, the real growth lies in targeting the female users. The customer is the Queen for them! Women are a rapidly growing consumer force. If you are not including them in your marketing plan, you are putting your business at a disadvantage. When Home Depot (one of the largest retail chains of US) realised that most of the people who purchased a home in 2003 were women, they immediately included them in their business plans. Home Depot now regularly organizes classes targeted to women where they learn to use power tools, lay laminate floors and paint their own houses!

Ipod decided it was time to time to introduce iboxes for women too! Bharti Cellular has now a “Ladies Special Plan” which allows them to receive special beauty and lifestyle tips & also gives them special discounts on subscriptions of magazines like Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping, among others.

The new single woman

Today many women are choosing to stay single and are loving their independence, both emotional & financial. Marketers everywhere are doing whatever they can to attract this segment. New products & services are springing up to cater to this solo-lifestyle, like ready-made foods, investment services etc.

UTI has launched a Mahila Unit Scheme exclusively for women investors above 18 years of age. Indian Bank has introduced a loan scheme called “Swarna Abharna” to help women buy gold ornaments. Women live longer than men & insurance companies are leveraging it. They are coming out with policies to target this new independent woman. Working women need a smart wardrobe. They no longer want to wear pants designed for men. So brands like Allen Solly, Wills Lifestyle etc. have come out with a range of clothes to suit the tastes of this woman.

TV channels too have realised that it’s the woman who controls the remote. So she is the target for most of their programming. Women are from Venus About 80% of all household purchases are done by women. She is the “family’s purchasing officer”; she is shaping up the new retail trends. Thanks to their expanding purse-strings, they are changing trends. Women spend differently from men. They spend more on “home-improvement” goods and luxury, designer goods. Today’s woman is ready to spend more on a product if it makes her life more convenient. She doesn’t mind spending on a Jacuzzi for those few moments when she can actually relax. She doesn’t mind paying a premium price for an oven if it cooks meals faster & gives her more time with her family.