branding/advertising communications

Between Decision-maker and Consumer, is the Brand Influencer

The Hunt Begins for a TV brand.

We needed a new TV set. The Samsung LCD went dead on us for the third time in 5 years – but that’s another story, another blog perhaps!

Enter Vijay Sales.

The search for a new TV set first went online and some brands were identified, with Micromax in the consideration set. Then a visit to the Vijay Sales stores, where the family stopped at the TV section, and followed by the salesman. The brands suggested were Videocon, Vise (Vijay Sales self-label manufactured by Videocon), LG, Samsung, and Sony.  Having burnt our fingers with Samsung, the brand did not resonate with us. Sony was way above budget. This prompted the sales guy to push Videocon and Vise. Both came with a 3 year comprehensive warranty.  Price was  affordable. Vise came into brand consideration, but if manufactured by Videocon, they why Vise? Of course our previous experience with Vijay Sales had been good.  However we were not too convinced of the (cheap?) Videocon brand,  so delayed our decision.

Croma enters the Fray.

We then visited Croma in the vicinity. We got drawn to the Micromax set, when the daughter exclaimed, “Micromax in TVs? Thought they were only in cells”. That put an end, before the beginning, for Micromax. Other brands were the same as we saw in Vijay Stores. The sales guy tried pushing Samsung, so I inquired how long he was with Croma. About 3 years was the response. I then related to him my 5-year-old episode with purchase of the Samsung brand at his store, for which he was apologetic. Our past experience too with the service at Croma Stores, was not much to write home about. Strangely, he was insistent that the warranty of Videcon was 1 year comprehensive and extended by another 2 years for service, with payment for spare parts. Vijay Sales offered a different story.

Back we went to Vijay Sales, and confirmed the comprehensive 3 year warranty of Videocon. Having established that, swiped the Credit Card and came home, happy with the purchase, but not necessarily with the brand.

The Brand Influencers!

A little marketing knowledge told me the purchase decision for a brand depended on 2 sets of audiences: The decision maker  and the consumer/purchaser. Brand influencers were a go-between and not given too much consideration.

The past decade or so, has toppled this buying behaviour heels over head. I have always noticed that whenever we make a planned and considered purchase of a durable, almost always we returned home with a different brand. Not necessarily because of lack of homework, but most often due to the role of the third-party or influencer – most commonly the Sales person. Although we are aware that a particular brand is pushed due to better commissions, at the moment of purchase, we succumb to the Influencer.

Now that Social Media helps us connect instantaneously and gain brand knowledge, its role as a word of mouth vehicle and  powerful Influencer cannot be denied. However, the Sales person will always have the last word for our wallet.





branding/advertising communications, Corporate Life

Requisites of a good client-servicing person/ad executive

A client-servicing or account management person plays a generalist role. That being so, it is easy for anyone to play the same role. So what makes the servicing person better than the rest?

Establish Credibility: Credibility here transcends reliability. It also encompasses honesty, integrity, punctuality, etc. All easier said than done, and not very achievable, but once accomplished and retained, can become extremely rewarding. It makes a client certain that a date given, will be honoured by the servicing person, come hell or high water, one of the few advantages of credibility. The benefits of credibility cannot be over estimated.

Often today, an accusation of misdemeanour,wrong or fault, requires the backup of proof.  So no proof is akin to no fault. Or so we believe. But that is applicable only in a court of law and not to society or to the general public. The corruption of our politicians is rarely proven, but how many of them have credibility? Blaming traffic jams for tardiness at meetings, often cannot be proven, but does it hold any credibility?

And credibility is like an inflated balloon, once punctured, very difficult to reestablish!

Update relevant Knowledge: Undoubtedly we are today in an age of information explosion, thanks to technology. Any or all information is easily accessible, hence not so valued. The stress today is not just on information or knowledge, but on relevant information which can be of value.

Many years ago, whilst launching a new herbal tonic, I had to study the product consisting of  32 ingredients. At the internal agency briefing, was asked by my superior if all information on the product had been gathered by me, which I confirmed. He then threw me off-balance by challenging me to name the ingredients and their respective qualities! How on earth did that help in projecting the ultimate product benefit, I fail to understand till date.

And since we live in a super fast changing world, knowledge needs to be updated regularly, just to remain in the rat race.

Knowledge on the product, consumers, competition, insights, etc are crucial to the success of an ad. executive.

Sharpen Analytical Skills: Mere knowledge is inadequate since as said earlier, knowledge is easily obtained and hence in good supply. The challenge today is in processing that knowledge/information and analysing the same, thus making it productive. In his book, “The magic of Thinking Big”, Dr.Schwartz says “the thinking that guides your intelligence is much more important than how much intelligence you have”.

Get Networked: The power of networking is awesome, to say the least! In agencies, most often copy or content writers are networked in the same category and so abreast of happenings. The true networker is connected with groups or categories, of different people in all walks of life, which makes it not only interesting, but also rewarding. One never knows when a client can become a friend or vice versa!












branding/advertising communications, Personal Life

Is it the brand or model, that swings the decision?

Cause and Effect?

I always thought I understood brands, although I admit I may not believe in them. Perhaps it is the cause and effect syndrome at work, or a causal relationship.  Because I understood brands, I don’t believe in them. But let’s get to the point.

The TV Brand.

Some 15 years or so ago, clearly recall the time, when my parents needed to upgrade or exchange their TV set and my younger brother volunteered to do the same for them. So not wanting to feel left out of this honourable act, I too lent my shoulder to the task. Which found both of us at the retail outlet,  lugging our old TV set. On checking through the several brands on offer, and comparing the technical specifications, prices, offers, etc. of the models, found myself bringing home a brand whose name that time connoted a “cheap brand”! Was really shocked at my own decision.

Older and Wiser?

Cut to a few years ago, when I thought I had grown older and wiser. And the wife insisted on exchanging, what I considered a good refrigerator – and she thought was, old and faded. Which found both of us again at a sales outlet. This time looking for a good bargain, with specifications to match the older refrigerator. So the search for the right refrigerator led us from one brand to another and on and on, it went. Untill we shortlisted on one brand and walked out of the store, planning to visit again and place the order. Not feeling fully satisfied or convinced, began to mull over the decision. Which then led us to another store in a totally different location. The search for the right brand with specifications, began again, this time with renewed zeal and enthusiasm.

Role of the Salesman?

In both cases, the salesmen played their roles. Highlighting the virtues of each brand/model versus the other. Difficult to fault them for pushing any particular brand, as we found them playing a neutral role. The choice often was not between brand versus brand but rather brand versus another brand model.  Ultimately we decided on one particular brand/model, and closed the deal with a purchase. Again this time, a brand that was not too popular on the brand ranking. In fact, a brand name that would not come to mind without aided recall. A name that does not bring me any pride.


Perhaps it was the model that swung the decision! But am still wondering if it was a wise decision. Time will tell!