“6 Viral-Marketing Lessons” to Learn From the “Ice-Bucket Challenge”| Entrepreneur

Social feeds from across the country are chock-full of videos and photos of Celebrities, Inventors, CEOs, Athletes and Politicians all taking part in the most recent viral sensation : “the Ice Bucket Challenge”…!!

Whether you’ve laughed at your friend’s reaction to the ice cold water or taken the challenge yourself, postings about it are everywhere. This initiative has achieved something that’s every marketer’s dream: going viral and capturing wide attention across the nation in a month or two..

How did this simple initiative turn into a movement that has scored participation from some of the biggest names in the country, including Bill Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Kobe Bryant, Oprah and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ??

The #IceBucketChallenge, benefits the ALS Association, which is dedicated to raising funds to research a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis as well as caring for those with the disease. It gained steam with the participation of Beverly, Mass.-based Pete Frates, who since 2012 has had the illness (also called Lou Gehrig’s disease)...

6 Viral-Marketing Lessons to Learn From the Ice Bucket Challenge

#StartUps, established firms and marketers of all types can learn from the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge…Those trying to develop a viral campaign can take the following steps :

1. Identify the Goal OR Cause :

The goal of the Ice Bucket Challenge has been to spread awareness and raise funds for #ALSResearch, and its success has exceeded initial expectations. The objective is simple and clear and the challenge doesn’t require much effort from participants: going online to donate or pouring a bucket of ice water over the head, or both.

Today’s consumers like simplicity and direct messaging. They typically won’t take the time to read through an entire article, newsletter or web page to understand a message. Marketers, simplicity is your friend…

2. Make it Fun and Easy :

Few things are funnier than seeing people have ice poured all over them and watching them cringe, scream or freeze in place. The web has been flooded with comical videos and images of those who have accepted the challenge.

People like to laugh, so keep members of your audience entertained with a video or photo that they would enjoy viewing. Keeping things lighthearted lets people connect with an organization on a human level and can encourage further engagement in an authentic way…

3. Add Immediacy :

Those asked to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge have only 24 hours to do so…If you want an idea to flourish, keep the window of time brief to propel the process forward rapidly…By giving your audience a deadline, the initiative will become a greater priority.

4. Understand the power of Multiplication :

The ALS challenge calls on participants to encourage three additional people to participate, thus creating a multiplier effect…When possible, let consumers involved in an initiative have a chance to engage with their network so as to experience the joy of others joining in. The bonus for a marketer is bringing increased exposure to a company’s brand..

5. Share on Many Platforms :

News of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is being shared on many social-media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube…

If you’re hoping for an idea or campaign to go viral, make it easy for others to share updates across multiple platforms. Don’t give people a reason to not become involved..

6. Give Participants a Chance to feel Good :

Everyone loves to feel a little better about himself (or herself). The Ice Bucket Challenge raises funds for a medical cause, and no matter the size of a donation, participants can feel good because they’re helping others in need.

Plus, the challenge gives participants a sense of unity : They are sharing positive feelings and a goal with the rich and famous…!!

Setting up an initiative like this lets participants also allows for an emotional connection with an organization and opens up an opportunity for conversation…!! 

Overall “Mall vacancy in India”,maintains status-quo at 14.5% | Realty Plus

According to Cushman & Wakefield’s latest Retail reports, the overall #MallVacancy, levels across the top eight India cities remained stagnant at 14.47% in Q2 2014, which was recorded around 0.4 percentage points lower compared to Q1 2014…Amongst the top eight cities, Pune witnessed sharpest decline of 2.5 percentage points due to healthy leasing activity and no new mall supply. Ahmedabad, Chennai and Bengaluru also recorded drops of 0.4 percentage point each due to moderate demand for quality mall spaces from apparels and food and beverages (#F&B) retailers…Hyderabad witnessed a rise of 1.1%, in mall vacancy in the same period.

Q2 2014 saw the addition of 370,000 sq ft of new mall space, which was similar to that received in the previous quarter. The supply comprised of 250,000 sq ft in one mall in NCR and the residual 120,000 sq ft in an operational mall in Kolkata. As many as six new malls planned for Q2 2014 witnessed the deferment to the second half of the year, which together accounted for 2.33 million square feet (msf)…

While three malls measuring 700,000 sf in total were delayed in Bengaluru due to approval delays, slower construction pace in tandem with low leasing led to deferment of one mall each in NCR, Pune and Hyderabad, measuring 700,000 sf, 430,000 sf and 500,000 sf respectively.

Sanjay Dutt, Executive Managing Director, South Asia Cushman & Wakefield, said, “The retail and retail real estate markets are still going through a period of uncertainty. Currently, we are witnessing stagnation in the demand-supply dynamics as mall supply is being deferred and existing vacancies remain more or less stable. Whilst everyone is aware of the huge potential that exists for organised retail in India and domestic and international retailers are keen to expand their presence in the country, they are awaiting the conducive conditions to do so. The real estate sector has been maturing to provide better quality spaces and adopting best practices to cater to retailers needs. However, macroeconomic conditions and not just the sentiments need to improve further to encourage consumer spending and the government needs to address the uncertainty that exists with respect to its policy stand on FDI in retail. The RIET’s for commercial properties post successful listings, would potentially open up for shopping center portfolio listings, giving much needed exit route to the developers & investors. This would encourage shopping centre developers to create much needed quality organized retail space at locations that matter. The overall infrastructure to support retail trade such as transportation and logistics too need to improve substantially for the sector to kick in to its next phase of growth.”

According to C&W, mall rentals remained stable across most cities except Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai and Pune where a few micro markets depicted rental variations. In Bengaluru, the sharpest rental decline of 13% was noticed in Mysore Road where lower trade densities impacted rentals adversely. Similarly, Cunningham Road in Bengaluru also witnessed lower demand leading to a 10% dip in rentals. On the other hand, Goregaon in Mumbai witnessed a 10% increase in mall rentals due to healthy demand from retailers. In Pune, Hadapsar also witnessed a positive trend in leasing leading to a 9% uptick in mall rentals. In Chennai, almost all mall micro markets witnessed a rental decline from the last quarter due to weakening demand. The sharpest rental dip of 9% came in Chennai-Western where lack of new mall supply hampered retailer demand for this location. Mall rentals in Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Kolkata remained stable.

In Pune, JM Road witnessed the highest rental appreciation of 9% due to high demand from fashion and lifestyle retailers. Vashi in Mumbai also witnessed similar rental appreciation due to high interest from apparels and F&B retailers. In Chennai, lack of optimum sized retail spaces led to a 7% decline in main street rentals. Anna Nagar 2nd Avenue in Chennai also witnessed a 7% dip in rentals from last quarter as ongoing infrastructure projects curtailed footfalls. All main streets in NCR, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Kolkata recorded stable rentals during this quarter. Vittal Mallaya Road in Bengaluru witnessed a 4% rental drop in wake of dearth of optimum-sized retail spaces and already high rentals commanded by this established main street.

During H1 2014, Bengaluru witnessed no new mall supply; this was primarily owing to the delay in approvals, which led to the deferment of upcoming supply. Meanwhile, the city mall vacancy level registered a dip of 0.4 percentage point and was noted at 7.1% towards the end of Q2 2014 due to the absence of new mall supply and moderate demand from apparels, F&B, footwear and electronics retailers. Although most locations in main streets and mall micro markets recorded stable rental trend this quarter, select main streets and mall micro-markets registered a drop in rentals. Whilst Cunningham Road and Mysore Road mall micro markets witnessed a decline of 10-13% in rentals in the wake of weak trading activity; Bannerghatta Road mall micro market recorded a drop of 3% in order to keep rentals competitive and attract newer brands. Main streets of Brigade Road and Vittal Mallya Road observed a drop of 3-4% in rentals due to limited availability of options with optimum sized floor plates. Going forward, Cunningham Road and Mysore Road mall micro markets may experience further downward pressure on rentals. On the other hand, established main streets such as Indiranagar 100 Feet Road, New BEL Road, Kamanahalli Road and Koramangala 80 Feet Road may witness an upward rental bias owing to healthy enquiries from apparels, F&B, electronics and jewelry brands.

In H1 2014, Chennai did not witness any new shopping malls becoming operational and this led to a marginal decline of 0.4 percentage points in vacancy, which was recorded at 5.9% at the end of this quarter. Cautious sentiments and limited transactions led to a dip in mall rentals across all micro markets. Chennai-Western saw the sharpest decline with a 9% drop owing to the ongoing infrastructure projects, which curtailed footfalls and demand. Amongst main streets, strong demand from jewelry retailers for Usman Road- North and Usman Road- South led to a 4% rental appreciation for these locations. However, no availability of optimum sized floor plates in Cathedral Road-R.K. Salai led to a 7% rental dip for this micro market. Enquiries from jewelry retailers for select main streets near CBD remain high but Anna Nagar-2nd Avenue may witness a negative rental bias due to lack of demand caused by the ongoing metro work. Paucity of quality mall space and low demand may lead to stagnant vacancy levels and rental decline across most micro markets.

The mall stock in Hyderabad remained stable in Q2 2014, with 500,000 sf mall space deferred to the next quarter. Q2 2014 witnessed a rise in vacancy by 1.1 percentage points and was noted at 8.22%. Established main streets such as Himayathnagar, Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills and Kukatpally witnessed an increase in demand from retailers, belonging to apparels, footwear and F&B categories. In the interim, enquiry level for electronic and apparels brands increased in peripheral locations such as Attapur and Kothapet. Whilst mall and main street rentals remained stable, next quarter the city is likely to witness infusion of 500,000 sf of mall space in Kukatpally micro market, which will put a downward pressure on the rentals.

Kolkata witnessed 120,000 sf of mall supply during the first half of 2014 and the overall city mall vacancy increased marginally by 0.07 percentage points. Limited transactions and moderate demand for retail space was recorded. Owing to lack of availability of quality retail space on main streets, malls witnessed more demand compared to main streets. Central and East locations continued to see majority of the leasing activity in both malls and main streets owing to churn and ready catchment. The first half of 2014 witnessed leasing activity predominantly from the apparels segment but rentals remained stable in both main streets and malls.

The first half of 2014 did not witness the opening of any new malls in Mumbai. Despite no new supply, churn in malls led to overall mall vacancies increasing marginally by 0.06 percentage points to 15.4%. During Q2, healthy demand led to mall rentals at Goregaon and Vashi appreciating 10% and 5% respectively while high vacancy levels in malls in Bhandup resulted in developers reducing rentals by 5% to attract retailers. Limited churn kept mall rentals stable in all other locations of the city. Main streets in Mumbai witnessed vibrant leasing activity with domestic and foreign retailers in the apparels and F&B segments actively expanding their presence at locations like Vashi, Lower Parel, Andheri and Linking Road. Owing to high footfall and thriving retail demand in Vashi, strong interest of retailers led to rentals appreciating by 9%. Mall rentals at select locations such as Lower Parel and Malad could appreciate due to higher demand for quality space. Main streets are also expected to witness improved leasing activity in the coming months. Increasing demand for space in main street locations such as Linking Road, Borivali and Thane could lead to increase in rental values.

Delhi-NCR witnessed one new shopping mall measuring 250,000 sf become operational with 60% occupancy levels in H1 2014. Amidst moderate interest among retailers to foray into new and emerging locations, developers continued with slow pace of construction deferring completion of malls. During Q2 2014, overall mall vacancy was recorded at 13.5%, which is 0.06 percentage points higher due to the influx of new mall space. With balanced demand supply conditions, rentals remained stable across all mall locations.

 

“Building a Luxury-Brand Image” in a Digital World | INSEAD

Luxury Managers often see #DigitalMedia, as a threat, worrying that mass appeal will take power away from the #Brand. But digital channels offer powerful connections with customers and closer integration with their ecosystems.

“Hermès has no desire to become “masstige” (a mass producer of prestige goods) said the company’s CEO Patrick Thomas in 2009, despite two-year waiting lists for its famous Birkin or Kelly handbags at the time. The luxury brand maintained that it did not want to dilute the brand image and compromise on quality in the interest of short-term profits…

Such a dilemma is par for the course in Luxury and is also applicable to the digital presence of the companies in the industry: How to maintain demand and a big customer base while remaining exclusive? This is all the more important as #DigitalChannels, “expose” brands regardless of whether they want to or not, through the hundreds of thousands of press articles, comments and pictures that are posted daily about #LuxuryBrands…If Brands do not embrace digital media, they risk being shut out of conversations about their products..

Hermès has resisted selling any of its “core”, highly sought-after collections online, and the company emphasises that its brand website is more of a channel for consumers to explore the world of Hermès, from its seasonal inspiration, to its heritage, art and museum collaborations and exhibitions. The same is seen on the company’s Facebook page…#Hermès, has also embraced the mobile app channel but only with their Silk Knots app that educates consumers on how to vary their scarf tying techniques.

Since digital attracts a much younger demographic not necessarily seen in physical stores yet, educating customers and other stakeholders about the brand’s DNA and what it seeks to represent is central to building the future generation of customers whose spending power will increase with age. Such approaches also entice them to the exclusivity of the store. To successfully engage people on digital channels while maintaining “distance” from the mass market, brands must answer two key questions: first, how to coordinate offline and online efforts to offer the best multichannel experience? And second, how to build an exclusive image online?

How to marry Bricks and Clicks ?

Luxury and fashion brands built their brand promise through a unique in-store environment and intimate personalised service that they can hardly transfer to the online world. So how should luxury brands marry bricks with clicks? Critics within the industry are often opposed to bringing clicks to bricks, arguing that the former endangers the later by cannibalising sales and potentially threatening the brand image by making the brand more accessible through online channels and social media.

While these dangers exist, deserting digital media would be even more problematic and would leave room for rivals to build awareness and competition, and prevent the brand from actively engaging with customers and responding to critics. In fact, brands that have been very successful so far have focused on maximising the synergies and complementarities with physical stores..

For instance, multi label boutiques like Lane Crawford and Neiman Marcus that have long started their #E-commerce sites, do encourage and enable customers to pick up their e-purchases in store, or visit a store for exchanges or refunds. It is a way to drive double footfall and traffic both online and offline. The key differentiating factor of luxury brands is and will remain the store experience and customer service, hence many luxury brands feel that a consumer needs to ultimately walk into a store to experience this, in order to gain “true” customer loyalty in the long-term. In sum, digital engagement should be seen as a way to leverage an additional consumer touch point, rather than jeopardising existing sales.

Second, inherent to the notion of luxury is that it supposes to create a distance between the brand and its customers  to create the dream…But this is in direct contradiction to the notion that social media and digital channels connect people with one another and lower the barriers to entry.

How to build a Prestigious Image?

The power of image relates to how a brand can increase its brand awareness and value by embracing and leveraging different digital channels to reach consumers.  It is further complicated when different consumer groups choose different digital channels.  Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogs, certain brands have compartmentalised their reach differently. This gives consumers the choice of which platform to be engaged with depending on which resonates most strongly with their lifestyle and desires, and also gives the opportunity for brands to intelligently use browsing data in order to more effectively target specific demographics.

The Burberry Facebook page for example, is very product driven, and lists many smaller accessory pick up items like wallets, clutches, sunglasses, versus their higher end exotic lines. It also features more of the brand’s music influences, which is not seen on its Twitter and Instagram accounts. The company’s Instagram account is much more “backstage” driven, with scenes of London; behind the scenes photo shoots; and live pictures from runway shows. This appeals to the slightly more visual and artistic customer who craves instant gratification from staying updated and plugged in real-time. The Mulberry blog, or journal is much more lifestyle-driven, and posts much less product, but more on styling influences, travel stories, events and even food recipes.

By giving people the opportunity to give their own representation of brands online, the Digital Revolution has led to much more fragmented, bottom-up, multifaceted #BrandBuilding…In turn, this requires that #LuxuryCompanies step up and strategically engage in image building with #Customers, and use digital platforms as a springboard for engagement and sales…

“Value of Packaging-Industry is INR`70,000 crore” Business in India | FnB News

The #FoodProcessing, sector probably is exclusive in respect of using the most varieties and forms of #Packaging & #PackagingMachinery….In a Interaction with Secretary-General, Institute of Packaging Machinery Manufacturers of India, spoke about the packaging industry in India and emerging trends. Excerpts :

What is the current value and growth of the packaging industry in India compared to the world?

The value of the packaging industry is estimated at Rs 70,000 crore. This however is very low compared to the global industry value placed at around US$600 billion. Of this, 20% is accounted by Asia region with Japan and China in the lead. The per capita consumption by spend is only one seventh of the world average clearly indicating the potential for the growth and opportunities for the packaging industries in the country..

What is the potential of packaging industry in India with respect to the food processing sector ?

As it is true of the situation in most countries, around 50% of the total packaging production is consumed by the food sector. The food sector probably is exclusive in respect of using the most varieties of package types and forms including machinery…!!

Does India rely on other countries for its food packaging needs ?

The food sector primarily caters to the domestic resources of packaging materials/packages.  Whereas they also source specific technologies and packaging machinery and system for higher ends and exclusive needs.

What are the recent developments in the food packaging industry of India?

The industry has witnessed considerable new trends moving from simple pre-packaging to vacuum packaging, gas flush packaging, CAP/MAP (Modified-Atmosphere Packaging / Controlled-Atmosphere Packaging), smart and intelligent packaging, retort and asceptic systems, barcoding and RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) and various types of collation and unitisation are specific areas of interest.

What are the operations and challenges involved in food packaging?

Food packaging lines vary considerably depending on the product state, quantities required, variations in the product characteristics etc. The retail and consumer end needs like dosages and conveniences also play a role. FFS (form fill seal)-vertical and horizontal, thermoform-fill and seal, lined carton system, stand up and spouted pouches, flow wraps are typical in this industry.

What are the types of packaging formats used for various food products?

The varieties of packages vary from simple PP (polypropylene) bags to high barrier packages and  asceptic packages. Single layer polyolefin bags to pouches, 2-5 /7 layer flexible laminates, 2-9 layer multilayer films, thermoforms from PS (polystyrene), PVC (polyvinyl chloride), PET (polyethylene terephthalate), PP, PE (polyethylene)and co-extruded structures besides semi-rigid and rigid metal, glow, plastic formats are very common types of packages used by the food sector. These primary packaging media are supplemented by a group of ancillaries like labels, caps and closures, wads, and reinforcements. Developments in these areas are indeed very commendable like dosage caps, smart labels, security/tamper identification labels, coding and marking systems, child-resistant and elder-friendly caps.

How balancing of innovations and risks are important in the packaging industry with examples?

Innovations within the industry and value-added packages are specific areas where possibly the packaging industry has tremendous scope. Responsibility lies both between the package buyers and package suppliers. No doubt this is cost-oriented but soon will become an entity if the industry has to become more and more competitive. India being identified as a good source for development and supply has therefore necessarily to acquire the infrastructure and buildup as a good and dependable source of recognition, globally.

What are the challenges faced by manufacturers of food packaging?

Both package conversion and packaging operations are considered reasonably developed. The existing level, however, need to be constantly updated towards higher technology levels. Opportunities are open for improvements and new material and material combinations with higher functionality. It is equally true of the machinery sector in terms of versatility, ergonomics, eco-friendliness, reduced turnover time, pollution-free, easy changeover and multi-product oriented.

How food packaging plays a role in safety and health standards of food materials?

Food needs to be safe and nutritious. More scope exists and innovation opportunities are higher in packaging possibilities. Consider the global scene – the one point agenda is to save food and reduce losses and make food available to all irrespective of season, location and at uniform price. The FAO/UN (Food and Agriculture Organisation/United Nations) has estimated that about 1.3 billion tonne of food is wasted. Poverty alleviation and removal of famine is only possible if such waste is curtailed. The common enemy seems to be “mindset,” lack of education or importantly poor understanding of the benefits or inadequate convincing and persuasion.

Comment on how flexibility factor will change the future of food packaging industry :

Primarily the laws and regulations should be clear and this yardstick can have no tolerances.  Standards and specifications should be drawn up both in respect of materials and process and details  should appear on the packages. If the system needs to be effective monitoring at the manufacturing / processing sites may not be enough. Market samples should be drawn and quality inspection should be done. Any malpractices or shortcomings or deviations should be dealt with expeditiously with stringent punishments. This cannot be a mere fear complex but an effective baton.

What are the issues about which manufacturers of food packaging have to be cautious?

Primary issues related to package manufacturing are raw material quality, process of manufacturing   site conditions, machinery and system, quality of output and their conformity to requisite standards  and specification complying to statutory and other stipulations.

How Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) is important for the packaging industry from a consumer point of view?

Consumer safety, health and hygiene being the core of food, food processing and packaging all data right from procurement, in-site manufacturing and supply chain are extremely important and essential. Coding and marking-barcodes/RFID and AIDC are helpful tools in this direction.

With new food mix and products emerging, what is your message for manufacturers and traders involved in the industry?

Product mix – in-depth and width will have to expand. Substitutes and alternates and modifications are part of the game. They will continue to be on the anvil all the time. RTE (ready-to-eat), RTC (ready-to-cook), RTP foods are typical examples. This is irrespective of the food sector – meat and meat products, dairy, flour-based foods etc.

There can be no single answer for packaging needs of these. Also a given package cannot be the answer for all foods and all market conditions. Each product needs to be treated on its own merit considering its characteristics, shelf life, supply chain conditions. It also should be noted that “a package” is a good vehicle and guardian. It will keep the product as it is processed and packed, and therefore ”what is put inside” and “at what conditions” are equally important.

What are the new trends in raw materials used for packaging and how eco-friendly are they?

Lot of discussions are seen in respect of bio-friendly packages. They are debated under different heads. Commercialisation always is governed by availability and cost. These probably are the constraints. Possibly more inputs are needed. Polymeric and coatings( barrier) will find more applications.

What are the challenges and responsibilities in front of the new government to help the packaging industry?

The packaging industry has been under various constraints which affect its expansion and growth.  Most of the converting sector were under the reserved category. The shift in early 1990s clearly paved the way for their expansion and modernisation and over the last and half decade one could witness the sea change. The trend set in will continue. The country still processes a very low percentage (less than 5) of the fresh produce. The scope is indeed very large and would have large influence on the packaging sector. With the retail sector growing at a reasonable pace and shelf- ready packages becoming more popular / necessity the demand for packaging will also increase in a good pace. Although the changing lifestyle, small families, more working women, demand for more and more convenience packages have shown a direct impact on the packaging needs, the cost inputs for packages in a packaged food does not seem to encourage large-scale shift, yet…Having identified “food processing” as a priority sector and a large number of financially-assisted programmes put in place by the government, the momentum needs to be augmented…

The Foregoing could throw up quite a few measures-industrial and fiscal that the government could review : 

  • Encourage processing and packaging centres at the orchards level.
  • Create a part of above as exclusive export oriented.
  • Provide financial assistance for setting up state-of-art processing and packaging centres and review fiscal aspects.
  • Create and enlarge the cold chain supply systems.
  • Set up quality assist centres at processing & packaging centres with emphasis for those at orchard levels.
  • Review the contribution of cost of package to the final product selling price and the part of the duties and levies.
  • Given the current situation and needs – review the fiscal levies to reduce its impact on the final product pricing to increase volume of processed food packaging.
  • Encourage developments in source reduction and make packages more eco-friendly.
  • Encourage easily recyclable and reusable packages.
  • Introduce and expand returnable packages (deposit scheme).
  • Fiscal incentives for those falling under the above schemes.
  • Can the fiscal support include tax holiday system with built-in conditional aspect on steadily increasing volume of packaged foods.
  • Encourage R&D / Innovation in packaging and extend financial support for those bringing in advantages for the consumers adopting state-of-art technologies and materials.

Consider special incentives for SME (small and medium enterprises) sector in the above areas….

The underlying principle and aim should be “Food Safety,” Food Preservation & Packaging…best suited for Tropical Countries and those with Higher Storage & Distribution cost…Such developments in all Types of Packaging – across the cross-section – will add to the choice to meet varying market segments. Packaging food more securely with high productivity and extended shelf life are the technology endeavours today…!!

“Consumer-confidence is Back”: How Marketers can seize the Opportunity | by: Harish Bhat | Business Line

Which means people are going to spend more….Here’s how “Marketers” can seize the opportunity..!!

Each quarter, research and measurement company Nielsen publishes the results of a Global Survey of Consumer Confidence…This is perhaps the largest survey of its kind, sampling more than 30,000 consumers online in 60 countries, to understand how confident they are about the future…It also gauges their future spending intentions, which are dependent on such confidence…The results of the latest survey were published by Nielsen a few days ago…What do these findings tell us ?? 

The big news in these latest results is that India has topped the #ConsumerConfidenceIndex…In the previous five consecutive quarters, Indonesia had ranked first, but this time around India is well ahead…This means that Indian consumers are today the most confident and optimistic, in comparison with their counterparts in all 60 countries surveyed worldwide…The equally important news is that India’s consumer confidence score has also increased significantly within the past few months — it now stands at a handsome 128, up from 121 in the previous quarter..

Any score above a baseline of 100 indicates degrees of optimism in the economy… Interestingly, #consumerConfidence, scores in large countries such as the US, the UK, and the UAE — which have strong linkages with the #IndianEconomy — have also increased by 4, 5 and 3 points, respectively, compared with the previous quarter…

India’s consumer confidence score requires some further detailing, to understand how powerful a figure this is. At 128, it is now virtually on par with its pre-slowdown score of 133 during 2007, when the Indian economy had been roaring ahead at a growth rate of more than 8 per cent per year. It is also significantly ahead of the global average, which stands at 97 and which has increased by only one point over the previous quarter…This means that Indian consumers are surging ahead in terms of confidence, compared with historical and global yardsticks…!!

This is surely very good news for Indian marketers…Many #ProductCategories, and Brands are likely to rise on this swelling tide of optimism…But the biggest victories will belong to #Marketers and #Retailers, who leverage this increased consumer confidence most appropriately and powerfully — particularly because such rising confidence comes in the run-up to the busiest shopping season in India, the festivals of Navratri and Diwali….To translate consumer confidence into extreme purchase buoyancy for their brands, companies will need to understand the fundamental reasons why Indian consumers are feeling far more optimistic today; and also what they can do, as smart marketers, to fuel and leverage these factors…!!

Budget Moves :

At the national level, the coming to power of a stable Narendra Modi-led Government with a strong majority and a progressive agenda appears to have impacted Indian consumer confidence very positively. Consumers feel more confident when their Government espouses and drives an agenda for economic growth, which has the potential of spurring future investment and creating new jobs. As the Nielsen report points out – “The annual budget announced by the new Government reveals a positive outlook for business, and we expect this to reflect in consumer sentiment in subsequent quarters as well.” A strong Independence Day address by the Prime Minister on August 15, which emphasises the actions being taken to drive growth, will undoubtedly add further to such consumer optimism..

In addition, tax-paying consumers today feel that they have more disposable income to spend on products they want to buy, because of some specific personal income tax exemptions announced in the recent Budget. The Finance Minister has raised the basic income tax limit from Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 2.5 lakh for everyone, and from Rs. 2.5 lakh to Rs. 3 lakh for senior citizens. In addition, he has increased the amount eligible for tax exemption under Section 80C and has also enhanced tax deduction on #HomeLoans…

All this means that a tax payer in the 30 per cent tax slab is richer by Rs. 36,000 per year and a tax payer in the 20 per cent tax slab by Rs. 25,000 per year…That is enough additional money for the consumer to buy a new television set, an air-conditioner or several pairs of new clothes for the family, in the season ahead…

What Media says, Matters :

People are generally aware of their own economic state but there is also the additional impact of media on consumer confidence. A CES study undertaken in 2006 (“Impact of Newspapers on Consumer Confidence”) highlights that consumer optimism is impacted not only by economic fundamentals but also by the way these fundamentals are reported in media…

Indian media, over the past few weeks, has generally voiced optimism about the economic policies and measures of the new Government and also about the long-term India growth story. This has also added to the overall positive sentiment…

In this positive landscape, a poor monsoon and continuing high inflation still have the potential to play spoilsport. However, there is no doubt that the number of factors driving an optimistic outlook has gone up sharply over the past few months and this is what has resulted in India topping the global consumer confidence index. And it is also heartening to see that the monsoon, after a shaky start, has revived during July…

What Marketers should Do ?:

How should Indian marketers respond to such growing consumer confidence ? The answer will vary across categories and segments, but here are some initial thoughts for us to consider…

First and foremost, when consumer confidence shows such strong increases after several quarters, there will be significant pent-up demand that suddenly begins expressing itself. If people had put off buying discretionary items such as a new car or two-wheeler or wrist watch for the past couple of years, this is the season when they are likely to consider purchases once again. Therefore, in the months ahead, marketers would do well to focus their energies and investments on discretionary categories which have seen sluggish demand, or even declines in demand, over the past two or three years.

Second, there are a number of useful consumer insights that marketers can tap into, in these times. For instance, many people may wish to indulge their families during the forthcoming festive season, after having been somewhat frugal in the past couple of years.

Also, if consumers can be appropriately reminded of the significant amount they are saving in taxes this year, they may be willing to spend this amount relatively freely, without any undue anxiety or guilt. Savvy marketing can help leverage and own such insights powerfully.

Third, marketers and retailers should consider significantly stepping up investments in driving footfalls and purchase consideration during the busy season ahead. Marketing investments tend to work much better during times of consumer optimism, than during relatively bleak periods.

#Brands, that are the first to occupy consumer mind space in their respective categories are most likely to be the ones to best leverage such positive sentiment…!!

Finally, for brands that target affluent and upper-middle-class consumers, this is absolutely the right time to promote premium products that may be somewhat more expensive but are also far more indulgent. Confident and optimistic consumers generally like to indulge themselves.

Here’s wishing all my fellow marketers good luck, as you begin preparing for an excellent festive season ahead. This year, you should feel greatly encouraged that you have consumer confidence on your side…

“Hotel Brands” : the “Devil Is in the Delivery” | BCG

Two Big Trends in the Hotel / Lodging industry are colliding…Whether Hotel-Companies get caught in the Pile-up or Steer-clear of the wreckage will have a big impact on their profitability…?

One trend is the industry’s increasing use of #Franchising, as a means of achieving more “Asset Light” #BusinessModels…For the past decade or longer, #HotelCompanies, have been divesting physical properties and becoming Pure #BrandOwners, and orchestrators because this model receives higher share-price multiples from public equity markets. One key consequence is that hotel companies increasingly must rely on individual franchisees to deliver the customer service experience that they have spent millions of dollars developing and educating consumers to expect—and that substantially defines their brands..

The other trend which is, the rise of information transparency and perpetual connectivity in the digital, and increasingly mobile, age…Online opinions affect more and more #Consumers, travel decisions…Our research shows that the two most trusted channels are personal recommendations (not surprisingly, 90 percent of people rely on these) and the opinions of other consumers they find online (70 percent trust those)…Our research also indicates that the average consumer spends 42 hours online—the equivalent of a full workweek—dreaming about, researching, planning, and making reservations for a four-day leisure trip, and then sharing the experience. Dreaming and researching take up 75 percent of the 42 hours—ample time to be influenced by what others have to say. This time is having an increasing impact on how people book and where they choose to stay, and this impact is showing up in hotel companies’ average daily rates (ADRs)…

Recent research by BCG involving more than a Dozen #HotelBrands, in several-categories shows a strong correlation between companies’ ratings on travel sites and their ADRs. Perhaps even more significant, we found a strong correlation between the consistency of those ratings and hotels’ ADRs…Companies that deliver Higher #CustomerSatisfaction, have the opportunity to charge more; conversely, consumers recognize those brands with inconsistent delivery—from both their own experiences and those of others—and discount the amount they are willing to pay...Within a network of multiple #PropertyOwners, the worst offenders can drag down the best performers and undercut brand ADRs across the board…In today’s #DigitallyDriven World…generating higher ADRs means delivering on the brand promise—and delivering consistently.

Many, if not most, hotel companies have come to grips with this #Operating-Disconnect, they understand that they are giving up direct control of brand delivery at precisely the time when consistency of that delivery has never been more important. They have taken steps to develop New #Strategies, Systems, and Processes for ensuring that their #FranchisePartners, deliver the #BrandExperience, that customers expect. (See Exhibit 2.) Those that successfully master the clear articulation of their brands and consistently execute the #BrandPromise, are rewarded—with Higher Revenues, a Bigger Pool of Potential Owner-Franchisees, and a product that achieves a premium in the marketplace...Those that do not increasingly pay the price…!!

Standards and Sticks:

With hotel networks today often spanning multiple brands, hundreds of owners, and thousands of properties, ensuring consistency of execution is a complex task. Companies undertaking brand renovation efforts face an even more daunting challenge as they must rely on owner-operators to deliver a new, different, enhanced experience, and to do so within the tight economic constraints of a highly competitive industry. Inconsistent execution can kill a brand renewal before it has a chance to prove itself.

The default approach on brand delivery for many hotel companies has been to develop a system of “brand standards” that they require franchisees and other operators to follow. These typically involve lengthy, highly detailed brand-standards manuals, providing instruction for everything from the number and content of information cards displayed in each guest room to rules for employee computer access. We regularly see manuals that run hundreds of pages and refer users to other manuals in the company’s collection for more detailed instruction on particular issues. Most make no attempt to prioritize or differentiate among standards or the impact they have on customer satisfaction. Very often, standards that directly affect what customers see and feel—cleanliness, for example—are given the same weight as specifications for things that are completely invisible to them…

This type of approach often ends up in companies resorting to sticks over carrots, punishing transgressions rather than offering incentives for good behavior. It adds stress to the relationship between franchiser and franchisee, and it can lead to corners being cut and inconsistent experiences for the customer from one property to the next. It also encourages owner-operators to put their efforts into avoiding transgressions rather than seeking to deliver the customer experience that the brand has promised. Most important, it does little to encourage better service, especially the kind of individualized service that customers tend to remember and post online about..

It Pays to Take a Better Approach:

Our experience, and that of many hotel companies, show that taking a more comprehensive approach to working with franchise partners on brand delivery can achieve a better result for travelers—and higher ADRs as a result. There are seven levers to pull; companies looking for the best execution will combine all of them..

Optimize the owner base. Each hotel company or brand has its own mix of property owners composed of large institutional franchisees with hundreds of properties or small, often family-run, operators—or a mix of both. Each requires a different style of engagement, and companies should think through how their mix of franchisees affects their brand delivery. They may want to favor one type of owner over the other, and gear the other components of brand delivery accordingly..

Define the franchisee relationship. Contracts define the relationship between franchiser and franchisee, of course, including the obligations of each party with respect to brand delivery—often in extensive detail. Companies need to approach these negotiations looking through a brand delivery lens. Smart negotiators seek to place an appropriate level of burden on the property owner to comply with brand-related requirements while leaving the company room to act as the ultimate brand steward when it needs to. Contracts today typically define undesired behavior on the part of the franchisee but much more rarely include incentives for providing better service or meeting customer satisfaction metrics. These agreements should be reviewed from the perspective of how they shape the customer experience as well as the business relationship between the franchiser and the franchisee…

Encourage owner engagement. Brand delivery is a tango: it takes two parties to do it effectively. Problems occur when companies do not appreciate the economic (or operational) impact of what they are asking their owners to do. Smart companies find the right balance between consultation and evaluation in their relationships with operators. For example, they can establish or update quality control processes that are based on customer expectations (see below) and establish clear rewards (and penalties) for operator performance…They can also build a business case that reinforces the value proposition for owners of meeting system wide service and #Customer-ExpectationMetrics…The interests of hotel companies and property owners may conflict at times, but both can find common ground over actions that lead to more satisfied guests who are willing to pay higher rates…

Build and motivate the team…Delivering on the brand promise is a function of countless day-to-day behaviors and habits within operators’ organizations. The very best strategy can fail if it is not appropriately distilled into necessary actions and capabilities. Few endeavors can have a bigger impact than working with owner-operators to help them recruit and train staff capable of delivering on the brand promise and building a team-focused organization. Many brand teams take an evaluative, rather than consultative, approach. They perform audits of compliance with the established standards, rather than helping the operator’s team provide a better product and service by, for example, defining the measures of success and putting in place processes, such as training and incentive programs, to help achieve them.

By instituting a more consultative approach, hotel companies can help their franchisees do the following :

  • Select employees on the basis of fit with the customer service culture.
  • Structure training programs to support excellent performance.
  • Encourage staff to put themselves in the customer’s shoes.
  • Pay according to performance.
  • Provide non-monetary incentives when pay is not directly linked to behavior.
  • Communicate effectively, providing employees with the information they need to do their jobs better.
  • Give employees autonomy and the authority to solve problems within certain standards.
  • Enforce standards and metrics.
  • Monitor feedback to drive continuous improvement.

Update quality control processes. Ensuring consistency across multiple properties with many owners requires updating existing processes and establishing new ones to replicate best practices and maintain focus on the critical factors that affect the customer experience. Most operators do lots of things well. The key for others is to identify best-in-class performers, analyze what makes their approach successful, and leverage this expertise by documenting processes to provide step-by-step guidelines for others. We have worked with multiple hotel chains to create a “process blueprint” that provides detailed information on best-in-class practices by department, standardizes opportunities across properties to provide similar customer experiences, reduces gaps and loopholes, serves as training material, and creates a framework for continuous improvement..

Prioritize standards. Standards do have an important place, of course. The focus should be on applying and enforcing standards when they have an impact on service and customer experience rather than developing an exhaustive, all-encompassing system that is doomed by its own weight and complexity. Again, incentives and rewards, as well as an appropriate means of correcting transgressions, are essential. Priorities are important. Research shows, for example, that customers care more about the quality of the bedding than the size of the TV. The goal should be a simple set of standards that are easy to comply with. They should give franchisees the ability to improve the experience but prevent them from cutting corners or taking shortcuts that could harm the brand…

Enforce the standards and metrics. Finally, hotel companies need to hold owner-managers accountable to documented standards and metrics that reflect the brand promise and customer experience. They need to establish a clear set of evaluation criteria to assess performance and understand where changes are needed, as well as a well-understood—and enforced—set of rewards and consequences for performance. Time limits should be set for implementing improvements or corrections. Carrots almost always work better than sticks, but both are necessary in most franchiser-franchisee relationships…

The global lodging industry is expected to approach $500 billion in revenues by 2015…Competition in established markets is intensifying, and #CustomerExpectations, are rising as companies seek to gain share and increase RevPAR (revenue per available room) through more amenities and better service…The devil, however, is in the delivery…Those companies that can work most effectively with their owner-manager partners to provide a high-quality—and consistent—brand experience will win the battle for more customers and higher rates…!!

“Large Mixed-use Retail Schemes” are the Most-Desired Style of Projects in Indian Real-estate space | ET Retail

Malls in India and elsewhere are increasingly becoming #LifestyleDestinations, posing challenges for #MallDesigners, as they need to create retail properties that engage, are cost efficient and sustainable…From mixed-use developments to family entertainment centres (#FEC) to streets and squares–such as those in Dubai–mall designers are constantly trying to innovate with #RetailFormats…Head and director of UK-based mall design firm, spoke on the latest trends in mall design…The company has designed #ShoppingCentres, in India such as DLF Place in Saket, Delhi, Phoenix Mills in Mumbai and Pacific Mall, also in the National Capital Region(#NCR)..!! 

Going by your experience of designing malls in India and abroad, what are the latest trends internationally that define shopping complex properties today?

The latest trends which we are seeing reflect the changing Global #RetailLandscape…#Consumer Demands are shifting because of the growth of #e-commerce, and designers must now create retail developments which entice shoppers beyond shopping. Creating a retail environment that is as much about leisure, as it is about retail, is essential..

Retail environments need to be in tune with and fully embrace developing lifestyle choices. Visitors should be able to enjoy a much broader experience, rather than be limited to simply shopping alone. Benoy is seeing many more mixed-use developments, which incorporate retail alongside other elements such as residential and commercial offices. These can become iconic structures that also encourage a variety of activities in the shape of leisure offers, entertainment and dining, and which ultimately create a destination. Any great mall design should also be flexible and adaptable so that it can compete with future competition, which employ the most advanced technology.

What kind of retail format has the highest demand in India, according to you– kiosks, speciality retail formats, large size formats etc.

The larger mixed-use retail schemes are the most desired style of projects in India at the present, but there is not a prevalent style or format for retail. Our schemes illustrate a mix of unit types, creating a balanced retail offer. Moreover, because India is so large and diverse, it is hard to define one style of retail design which will be successful and attractive to all areas of the country.

Always approaches India as a continent rather than a country due to the sheer magnitude of the market…The firm understands that what works well in one city may not necessarily translate to another in terms of look, feel and scale. As a country with a wide range of people, finance and consumerism, it is imperative to understand who the regional client is. As designers, Benoy is also very mindful of the natural surroundings and the history of the city.

When it comes to controlling costs of mall construction and design, how can a mall developer cut down on the expense of designing a mall yet make it more consumer friendly?

In other parts of the world, there is a defined trend towards retail developments that are either enclosed malls with natural ventilation strategies or which are open to the environment. Both allow the developer to reduce initial capital expenditure and ongoing running costs, particularly where mechanical conditioning is concerned. Of course, these strategies are not applicable in all parts of the world, yet even in Dubai, a part of the world with an aggressive environment during its summer months, there is a new wave of ground breaking open street developments – streets and squares, if you like – that are setting new benchmarks in sustainable developments. So in parts of India with a benign climate, such strategies should have a role to play.

Also seeing an emphasis of simplification of development so that the nature of the construction is cost efficient. That is not to say that developments should be visually bland or banal, rather that the architectural solution hides an efficiency of construction.

What is the contribution of the mall developer when it comes to facilitating a mall design and construction? Do you think Indian mall developers are up to the mark in that respect ?

Is seeing a wide variety of retail developments across all parts of the Indian retail scene. Of course, like elsewhere in the world, not all projects are world class, but there is a fast developing industry which is devouring new ideas and strategies.

In this, the developer is key. Despite the importance of the statutory authorities, the developer controls the funding, design and construction streams like the conductor of an orchestra. Their role is crucial in setting the tone and direction for any project.

Which international trends that have been extremely popular can be adopted in India according to you?

India is becoming an extremely popular market for foreign companies because of the opportunities on offer…This has led to a highly competitive environment, which is fantastic for driving growth but does highlight the need to have an established brand that sets you apart from your competitors. The recent global downturn has led to developers spending more wisely and they are becoming more selective about the partners they identify as bringing the most value to developments. As designers, it is essential that we offer beautiful schemes that are commercially viable.

Internationally, the rise in dining as an important component of any development has been well documented and it is an important trend that will define the nature of Indian retail developments over the coming years. Out will go standard, run-of-the-mill food courts to be replaced by higher-quality food villages and individual restaurants – dining will be an important anchor..

What are some of the top observations on Indian shoppers according to your psychographic studies?

As an #EmergingMarket, India has the advantage of being able to look to other countries and evaluate what works well. India, therefore, has become a platform for some of the most ambitious designs currently being actioned and offers one of the most exciting retail environments…

Shopping in India is therefore no longer a requirement, rather a choice – a leisure activity – has observed that Indian shoppers take great pleasure in the social aspects of “#RetailTherapy”…Whether Indian shoppers are couples, groups of young people or families, the social aspect of shopping is important and will continue to become more important over the coming years…!!