Monday, April 23, 2007

Bollywood Stars - Sliced and Served Hot !!

Are Shah Rukh, Aishwarya, Bachhan, Rajkumar and Rajnikanth all symbols of a bygone era? An era where the heroes (and heroines) were worshipped. Where it was a religion and it hurt a lot as much as it pleased?

Going by the number of stars thronging the silver screen and the small screen, it appears to be a case of "the end of mass worship". Well, all public figures do face a natural decline in their popularity. But thats not the point here. The popularity of these personalities is or was too magnetic and unquestionable at some point of time. But with so many people on the screen, there has been what I call a "natural customisation" of these brand personalities.
Some may say Sunny Deol is his favourite actor though he does not remain in the top 3 or 4. The point is this: atleast a few people get the option to choose him as his favourite actor. Thus Sunny Deol has been customised for that market. Same is the case with any other actor or actress. And as we have seen with other markets, customisations tend to create nicher space, each successive piece of which is smaller than the whole of it, atleast to begin with.

If it was Bachan commanding say 90% of the market, then its now probably ( lets assume for the sake of illustration) Bachan 20%, Shahrukh 20%, Hrithik 10%, Abhishek 10%, Amir 15% and others grabbing up the rest. There are still people who are at the top but with lesser market share.

This compounded with the fact that new actors and actresses pour in all the time. With the entry barries being taken out every day, the influx of new actors and actresses is rising. FilmFare Awards was once such a revered one. It still is, but is now sharing the TRPs with Zee Cine Awards, Star Screen Awards, National Awards ( by Govt. of India) with each throwing up its own list of Best Hero, Best Film et al.

Films like Iqbaal did extremely well when the goliaths around it collapsed. The film market is being niched into pieces by the high creativity that is flowing from the non-Mumbai cities and getting enough cash for the partners in the value chain at the same time.

Too many brand personalities vying for the same space makes for a case of a Sliced and Served bollywood industry. There will soon come a situation where we may not have Badshahs and Dream girls of industry. But still there will be Heroes and Heroines. Albeit UNCROWNED !

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Word of Mouth : Lessons from Sony and Google

The first time a walkman was made, the guys at Sony decided to make word-of-mouth the way to propogate the product AB INITIO (right from the beginning !!). A few ladies and guys were asked to plug it in the ear and start jogging in the morning. People around them suddenly discovered a way to engage themselves with music and also disengage with the noise and traffic of the surroundings.

The rest as they say is history. This way of launching can be though argued as quite product specific, it brought an altogether new perspective in the marketing circle. The belief till then was that, word-of-mouth is something that is EARNED over a period of time and cannot be CREATED on purpose. This also described the old approach: the product should be of great quality, the service follow-ups should be prompt enough and all this will eventually lead to favourable opinion about the product/company and this will snowball into word-of-mouth(WOM) resulting in a natural advantage to the company. But Sony displayed (unintentionally I suppose) that WOM can be created right from the beginning and can be used as a unique approach to launch products. Thus a company could create and drive the WOM than being just a passive observer of it. That the product should be competitive enough is something that will remain uncontested though.

Today when I see around, I do not find products or services that have been able to create such WOM ab initio. You have huge hoardings or big budget ads or some other promotions that are just used to have a big-bang launch to create a splash. How much of these turn into sensible WOM that will help the product to break into the market is really questionable. I am yet to notice a powerful WOM induced marketing since the launch of Sony Walkman. The one that came closest and in some ways even crossed the Sony's was Google.

Although internet penetration itself was low at that time, especially in developing countries, the "Search" has been one of the most popular human activity ever. Google encashed it and probably summarised the entire value of Internet. All it did was provide a small bar and say "search". WOM spread out saying you can find anything and everything on the Net and how: just GOOGLE for it.

Came across a product that relied on the WOM induced marketing? Just let me know.