Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Marketing innovation- who has the edge?

I am listening to a technology panel at Davos right now, which has a group of large incumbent players (Verizon etc) and HTC, from China.

One insight that struck me was- how big businesses that have a vested interest in their businesses are all about trying to "incrementally" innovate on their existing businesses, whereas newer organizations (HTC), are willing to be much more open, because they do not have any existing interests they need to protect. This was particularly true in the way the biggies were trying to penetrate the so called "emerging" markets…

Extending that logic to marketing, I am wondering if having "established" marketing programs perhaps might be a liability? Wouldn't it be an idea (albeit a much unappealing one to my ilk) to start marketing plans on a zero base every 2 years ? I mean genuinely zero base, not a set of platitudes for continuing with existing programs. It would push people to ask and answer important questions on whether the business case for investment is there, and if it is, how best can it be leveraged.

Business would love it- because it gives all a chance to look marketing investment with ever-fresh eyes, doesn't allow spends and investments to ossify, and more importantly, forces the marketing group to continuously reassess portfolio allocation to channels- for instance, I believe that we will be spending magnitudes more on online channels of influence (web based/ 2.0 stuff) going forward…

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Differentiation in a Web 2.0 world…

The good news is, the web 2.0 world and the consequent democratization of content and channels has given everyone a voice. Has allowed anyone to set up their own newspaper (blog), tv channel (youtube) and radio channel (itunes podcasts).

But, a direct and a consequent problem is the huge increase in noise in the market place. You want to find an agency or an expert, go and search on linkedin, and look at the 100000 results and wonder how you are actually going to shortlist? And differentiation? In an age where the hottest music track of this week is something that the cat brought in the next, forget it…

So what can you do? Not sure if you can actually do too much -yeah sure, all the platitudes about being focused, thinking customer centric, being very good at it, etc are of important, but, are they enough? What would make you standout?

A thought provoking set of ideas was articulated by Seth Godin, at the TED conference in Monterrey, CA (http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/28). In talking of sliced bread and purple cows, he articulates the notion of being remarkable (in every sense of the term)…Happy viewing…

 

Innovation blowback- innovation from emerging markets’ that could come back to haunt...

I was in India for the WEF India economic summit, and was hit by the incredible amount of innovation the consumer space is seeing.

Walking down a street in Bangalore, i saw at-least 5 new retail formats, everything from speciality niche offerings to mainstream "catch alls". One example, for instance, is a healthcare outfit called "Cradle". Think of a 5 star birth care hospital, replete with leather sofas, exclusive care, beautiful facilities etc? Well, that's Cradle for you. (http://www.boloji.com/wfs3/wfs322.htm )Very focused, it only caters to birth and delivery (and is trying to expand into neo-nates and paediatrics)

Well, in the intensely competitive marketspace that's India today, I expect to see a plethora of new innovative formats, all of which will have a chance to succeed as a business, given the huge size of the market, and consequently the numerous niches that can be supported. Arguably, some, if not many of these formats will be applicable elsewhere as well (in developed as well as emerging markets). It will be fascinating to see how these innovations pan out in India, and as time progresses, how they come out of india. Watch this space...