FAMILY MATTERS

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The world is getting more and more virtual. Thanks to social networking and mobile phones, we are spending more time nurturing relations on-line than face to face. Most of the time, families aren’t ‘together’ even though they may be living under the same roof. Everyone is in their own world enjoying virtual company more than each other’s company. Small wonder that today people are increasingly realising the importance of family, even as they fight the 24X7 busy lifestyle.

Going the family way

A whole lot of marketers are flocking to the virtual world and marketing their products on various websites, but advertisers have discovered a new trend, a new way of attracting consumers. It’s the ‘family mantra’. With even children bemoaning the lack of family time, this is one theme which today is attracting consumers like never before. Everyone is frantically looking for some way in which they may squeeze in quality ‘family’ time into their busy schedules. And those who can show them how to, are assured of rich benefits.

The original Xbox was targeted at hard core gamers. The brand endorser was the stereotypical young male dressed in black and living independently. That was six years ago, in 2001. Today Microsoft wants to position Xbox as a connector that brings people together. The positioning seems to attract more buyers and hence is more profitable to the company. They have realised that family games like ‘Uno’ and ‘Pac-man’; and less violent games like ‘Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action,’ have a bigger market than the hard-core violent games.

Santro shot to popularity when Shah Rukh claimed “Hum Santro Wale Hai”, meaning the hatchback from Hyundai’s stable was the car of intelligent and smart families. Chrysler is now marketing its mini-vans with a new tagline – “Family room on wheels.” Toyota’s Innova was launched in India as a car with enough space for the whole family. After all, as Indians we prefer to do everything with the family in tow. Our trips and holidays are incomplete without pappa, mammi, daddu, mini, guddi & company, right?

Surprisingly ‘family time’ is catching on in the rest of the world, too. After 9/11, people became far more introspective and family travel increased. Similarly, overburdened and guilty parents find it imperative to take kids along on vacations. All travel agents with vacation plans that include and entertain children, find their businesses booming now. Even an outdoor adventure oriented tour operator like Austin-Lehman, realised that families accounted for 50-55% of their business. Small wonder that most travel agents are now modifying and customising their packages (beach and lake vacations, theme parks, cruises) to accommodate kids.

Panasonic decided to spend sometime, researching and finding inventive ideas to furnish fun and quality time for families. Its new punchline is “Bring back family time.” High definition flat TVs, which till now were marketed as symbols of success to young professionals, are today being marketed as a means of getting the family being together.

Toys were either bought as gifts or to appease a yelling child. Well, not anymore. Today, toys that have been certified and approved by “Parenting Center Seal of Approval” sell more because – yes, you guessed it right - they help families spend more “family time.” Mattel introduced a game named “Chatter Matters” to encourage families to talk (chatter) and share their feelings about various topics (matter). The game would help parents communicate with their teenage children and help Mattel fight competitors.

Food-n-Family

A staggering 83% of parents today believe family dinners contribute to their child’s success in school. Yet only 70% manage to eat together four nights a week. Anyone offering them quality food with ‘family time’ thrown in as bonus, is catching their attention. McDonald’s, no more advertises its outlet as one only for kids. Its “I’m loving it” theme cuts across all age groups. To encourage entire families to come over, the QSR chain is now planning to put nutritional values as per age groups on the wrappers of each product.

Domino’s realised that 70% of the orders were from families. So it announced its ‘fun meal for 4’ – after all, when families order together, they look for variety. Add to that, Domino’s value for money USP and the management is confident of keeping Pizza Hut away.

Once restricted to just Hrithik and Aamir, Coke has moved ahead with times. Its new theme, the ‘Coke side of life’ is now about friends & families connecting & sharing. With the holiday season just round the corner - companies too are realising that making families eat together makes more money for them.

Families that sing-n-dance together

“It’s all about loving your parents” was how the very popular blockbuster Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham was promoted. Families flocked into theatres to cry, laugh and smile together with the actors on screen. Hum Aapke Hain Kaun broke many box-office records, as parents & grandparents continued returning to the theatres for more. Bollywood history is proof that nothing works like family films. The 1940s saw films like Ghar, Sansar et al, which were touted as ‘for women’ movies. Today, they have found a new avatar in Ekta Kapoor’s K-brand of telly soaps, which are giving every other serial a run for their money. If yesterday’s Baawarchi was hugely entertaining, then so is today’s Cars of Disney Motion Pictures.

According to Movieguide, the percentage of family oriented films has risen from 6% in 1985 to 45% in 2002. G-rated films yielded the highest gross profits on an average, as compared to PG or R-rated films. After all, it makes more business sense to sell four tickets to a family than one ticket to a teen or adult!

Families of the future

Of course, ads emphasising family unity seem to be working well, but here’s a word of caution. The definition of ‘family’ is changing simultaneously. Parents of the future may have fewer children; or may not be married. Couples may be child-less by choice, many preferring to adopt. One needs to keep these factors in mind, while depicting families in advertisements.

Companies like Ikea, J.C. Penny are already showing people of different skin colours and races – as a family. American Express showed a couple getting a call informing them that there was a child waiting for them in China. Kodak showed a Caucasian couple on an airplane holding an Asian baby. The caption, ‘The flight takes 12 hours, taking the picture takes 2.5 seconds.’

As George Santayana once said, “A family is one of the nature’s masterpieces.” Marketers and advertisers can’t agree less. They are generating huge profits from ‘the family’! Just as ‘family packs’ of goods generate larger volumes of sale for companies, compared to small or regular size packs, similarly ‘family themes’ in ads captures more attention.

Here’s a word for all those creative geniuses. While planning ad campaigns in future, don’t forget to include chacha, mausi, dada, nani, tau, pappu, chintu, mummy and papa... after all family does matter.

Surprises in-store

Thursday, December 6, 2007

In-store marketing is increasingly turning into a virtual last mile for marketers, which could play a major role in their long term success


Walk into Wal-Mart and chances are you will come across a TV showing how Listerine Agent Cool Blue pre-brushing rinse turns plaque blue. This is not a regular commercial that you would see on TV. Rather it’s an “infomercial” that is custom-made for retail stores and chances are after seeing it you might just pick up a bottle of Listerine – just to give it a shot.

Reebok stores around the country recently carried out a fitness test for people who walked into their stores. The customers were asked some questions and based on that the retail attendants mapped their fitness levels and even gave the customers suggestions to improve their level of fitness.

This Diwali, Planet M placed kiosks in its music stores from where customers could download songs.

A 34-feet long Heritage Wall greets you in Bangalore. Its touch-sensor links make it a virtual scrapbook that depicts decades of history of Levis. Marketing has a new baby and it’s being touted as the hottest new medium. You may see it dangling from the ceiling or pasted on the floor or being flashed on TV screens inside shops or maybe even on the trolley carts. Its importance is in fact growing almost at the same pace as that of the internet. It’s called “mall marketing” or “shopper marketing.” “In-store marketing” is the latest way in which marketers are trying to reach the wallets of consumers.

Why in-store marketing?

The world’s largest advertiser Procter & Gamble has cut down part of its ad-spend on TV and increased its spending on in-store marketing/advertising. P&G spends at least $500 million annually on shopper marketing today.

Krrish movie merchandise was sold exclusively through Pantaloon stores with the assistance of in-store advertising.

Today, thanks to retail chains and retail becoming more and more organised, the complete endeavour of shopping is changing. Most of our purchases today are unplanned and impulsive. Shopping is no more a chore but an experience and retailers are going all out to make it as pleasurable for the shoppers and as profitable for them! This is the “last mile”. It’s the last chance marketers have to make a sale and it’s proving to be the most fruitful “last mile”. After all, a shopper inside a retail store is most prone to buy. Research, too, has proved that more than 70% of purchase decisions are made inside the store. So chances of an advertisement being seen in-store and causing a sale is more than an ad seen “in-home” or elsewhere. Not surprising, then, that “In-Store-TV” is becoming so popular now-a-days, where content is made specifically to suit the needs of the retail-chains and the customers. Wal-Mart TV today is probably more influential than regular TV. According to a T. N. S. survey done in 2005, after seeing ads on Wal-Mart TV (inside Wal-Mart stores), 15% people purchased the product the same day, proving that Wal-Mart TV drives significantly higher motivation levels than advertising for similar brands on in-home TV.

Traditional media like TV and press have got too cluttered and customers have learnt how to avoid the ads here. In-store advertising seems to work wonders for marketers.

It’s a whole new world in-store for you

Gone are the days when cardboard danglers were the most novel way to promote your products in-store. Retail store design is a whole new medium. Intelligent retail store designs are actually improving sales. Titan discovered that after trying seven or eight watches, the customers were a little hesitant to ask the salesboy for the 9th one. So they designed a card reader which was given to every customer who entered the store. He could record the codes of these watches and once he was done, he would be presented his collection on a tray – to see, try out and select at leisure without any salesperson being involved!

In-Store-TVs are the latest entrants and have contributed to a 20% lift in sales. Not just do they show ads specifically designed for the retail outlet, but also entertain shoppers. Hypercity has introduced digital signage in its consumer electronics section to help customers understand the various features of products. In its kitchen section, chefs demonstrate the use of the latest kitchen appliance and customers can even taste the dish – before deciding to buy the appliance which helped cook it.

Shopping is being made more enjoyable. H&M, the Swedish clothing giant, has put flat screens behind the cash registers where people waiting to pay (often in very long queues) at the cash counter are kept entertained. Macy’s has flat screens, which show the football games each Saturday. While the wives shop, the husbands watch football.

With 74% of buying decisions and 37% of brand switching decisions happening in-store, “In-Store-TV” has become a very powerful marketing tool today. Think of it… with more then 50 brands of toothpaste, 175 types of teabags, 285 types of cookies, 360 types of shampoos to choose from, which one will you pick? Probably the one whose ad you saw a few seconds back on the In-Store-TV, which not only entertained but informed too. Almost every retail chain is coming out with its TV. Future TV from Kishore Biyani group is going the Wal-Mart TV way in India. League One is another big player in this area.

Decades ago, what started as signs on shopping carts has today grown to unrecognisable promotions. In-Store-Marketing is reaching new heights. The “Mall” is the medium for advertisers. Marketers are queuing up in front of them for this is their chance, rather their last (but not the least!) chance of getting to interact with customers.

Retailers all the way

Retailers have never had it so good. Everyone from banks to credit cards, to airlines, wants to be seen inside these retail outlets. They all want to connect with the consumers for inside a shop, the consumer is in a buying “frame of mind”. It is the sheer mobility that retail marketing affords. Some 40,000 customers walk in on a weekend at a Big Bazaar outlet. So Big FM doesn’t hesitate to pay Rs.1 lakh per month for each Big Bazaar store to play its radio station.

Hutch and Worldspace prefer to be seen inside a Barista Café. Nerolac has now decided to promote its paints with Disney characters inside KFC outlets.

In China, in-store advertising contributes 4-6% of the total sales of a store. Mumbai malls estimate that selling ad space in-stores accounts for 15% of the mall’s revenue. It has becoming an important stream of revenue for retailers. So much so that Shopper’s Stop has now recruited a team to look after their in-store marketing initiatives.

With prime time TV prices increasing & viewership dropping, with increase in clutter, marketers have realised that brands can best be built in a retail environment. In-store-TV today is more effective than In-Home-TV. With innumerable brands and endless varieties, marketers have realised how important it is to be visible to the consumer just at that moment when he is about to decide what to buy.

Shops are being re-dressed and revamped, consumers are being pampered to the fullest inside these shops and marketers are working hard to showcase their brand – one last time – in such a manner that it seems irresistible to the consumer. After all, in-store displays are found to add significant incremental volumes, over even price cut activities by companies. For consumers & marketers alike, retail outlets are turning out to have a whole lot of surprises in-store.