Desi Boys by Vaishnavi Shah, PDPU (Gandhinagar) [Winning Entry – September Issue]

India – the most diverse nation offers the marketers a wide array of segments to choose from. Given the heterogeneity in India, when it is said that every 12 miles, there is a change of dialect, a unique dilemma is posed before the marketer as to how the alignment of the marketing programme needs to be done. The dilemma is elementary and abstruse at the same time. Elementary dilemma is, ‘which media gives my brand the bang for the buck? Which one delivers sales? Which one delivers image?’. The complex part deals with efficacy. It gets tough to know as to which avatar did what for my brand.  Issues related to efficacy can be summarized in one statement made by John Wanamaker – the father of modern departmental store and modern advertising: “I know that half of my advertising dollars are wasted … I just don’t know which half.” The dilemma of a brand manager will continue. Indian customer is arriving at a state of maturity where he can no more be enticed by a sultry advertisement. And when it comes to serving a huge group of heterogeneous people where you need to take care of the religional, regional, cultural political (the list goes on) sentiments of people, given that Indians hold a masters degree in Jugaad, (yes, there is a famous book dedicated to Indian Jugaad!), it is a unique blend of challenges as well as a joyous ride for the marketer to sail through the tumultuous waves of the Indian customers’ mindset. The journey is not at all a rhythmic ride.


Shubhodip Pal – CMO of Micromax


It is amazing to see how Indian marketers are leveraging this heterogeneity of Indian consumers and optimizing it to their profitability. The most recent newsmaker is Indian phone maker Micromax– which is set to dethrone Samsung in the smart phone segment (which can be summarized in 3 words – ‘It came, it saw, it conquered’). Shubhodip Pal – CMO of Micromax attributes this to the immense know how of Indian culture by the marketing team. For instance, with recent Micromax Campaign ‘Fly to Brazil’ via Khatron ke Khiladi show on Colors, Shubhodip Pal aimed to target the youth (youth refers to young by attitude and not only age) of the nation. The campaign is said to have increased sales by a whopping 20%.

Just some food for thought – why fear slowdown? The government of India should unleash its marketing expenses to attract tourists as this is the best time to entice them taking an advantage of rupee faring bad which will help them get more rupees to spend against the same budget for holidays. Also, companies can use it to their best by attracting talent at low rates than which could be possible during the boom.


A brilliant marketing reach was accumulated by Lifebuoy when it targeted the world’s largest gathering – Kumbh Mela to market its product. It carved the wordings on 2.5 million rotis – ‘Aaj Lifebuoy se haath dhoye kya’ (Did you wash your hands with lifebuoy today?). The campaign was a truly “hatke” – different from the crowd – no hefty toll on pockets by advertising on television. Another instance of jugaad marketing done by Indian marketers is the availability of shampoo sachets – right hit on the mindset of the Indian consumer who always looks at ways of cheap luxury. This technique was a huge success especially when it comes to targeting rural markets and any new players have to make shampoos available in sachets to survive in this industry. It’s not just the FMCG sector that has benefitted from sachet marketing; it’s the telecommunication service providers which are using this as a warhead to thrive in the hugely competitive Indian market with one of the lowest Average Revenue per User (ARPU). This can be corroborated by the recent innovation of Airtel to provide users with Re.1 per video. This is just not a loss leader strategy. Data can substantiate what I am trying to convey. Currently, companies offer 1 GB for Rs 125 which means 1MB of data costs 12.2 paise for monthly pack users. Considering that a video requires 5 MB of data, in the Re 1 packs, a consumer is paying 39 paise more for a video, compared with the monthly data pack users. There are plans for one paise per 10 KB data, or Rs 1.02 an MB. (Business Standard, 2013). Result: At the end of June 2013, 24.4 per cent of Airtel subscribers were data service users, up from 20.6 per cent a year ago. However, it’s a win-win situation as consumers also need not to go for monthly commitment. The success stories are endless with Kishore Biyani replicating the ambience of a street market into a supermarket to entice an average customer thereby crossing a huge hurdle of ‘supermarkets means high prices’ in the mind of consumer and Tata tea blending its ‘Jaago Re’ campaign with elections of 2009.

Hence, given the wide array of Indian consumers, marketing in India has catapulted from bombarding in the mass media to more sophisticated levels as companies are enthused into gaining a larger pie of the market share.



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