Monday, January 01, 2007

Brand Trends 2007

Brand Crystal Gaze 2007

By Harish Bijoor

I peek at 3 Brand Trends that will dominate our Marketing lives in the year ahead.

The Brand Caste system.

The Caste system is dead. Long live the Caste system.

In the big cities of our lives, no one is ever bothered whether you are a Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya or Shudra. Thank God and the culture of political correctness for that.

The Caste system as we knew it is well nigh dead. But a new Caste system will emerge. 2007 could as well count to be the year it all happened in India. I call this the brand new caste system. The Brand Caste system. Add a Trade Mark symbol to that.

What’s this all about? Look around you. The brand is getting more and more ubiquitous in its consumption. Eat more brands, drink more brands, breathe more brands and partake of more brands seems to be the culture around. This will deepen.

As consumption of brands deepens, Brand Caste clusters will emerge. These are essentially Brand Caste Circles. Consumers of various brands will be scattered all over the globe and will occupy different geographies. In terms of Brand Caste however, they will occupy very closely knit circles. Never mind the geography.

Look around. The listener of a Radio Mirchi emotes with every other listener of a Radio Mirchi, whether in Indore, Mumbai or a Bangalore. Never mind the geographical distance. This is a seamless movement. They are all the same. The same psychographic group at large. They are the Radio Mirchi brand cluster. But remember, this is only one brand consumption pattern. Add forty more. Does a Radio Mirchi listener use a Colgate toothpaste, wear a Peter England shirt, ride a Kinetic, and watches movies only at a multi-plex come what may?

Bind them into a brand caste cluster. In fact give me the names of 60 brands a consumer uses and I will give you the Caste circle the consumer occupies. Is he a Brand Brahmana, a Brand Kshatriya, a Brand Vaishya or a Brand Shudra?

And guess what, all the ills of the old caste system will plague the new Brand caste system. The ‘Brand Brahmana’ will smirk at the ‘Brand Vaishya’. Inter-caste marriages will be tough as usual! The twain shall never meet!

Inclusive Branding ahead.

The brand is essentially an exclusive statement of intent. Brands started as that, and have progressively become a bit too exclusive in their stances. Brands essentially try to build exclusive walls around themselves and lock consumers within their gates. Entry is to an exclusive set. It’s quite like the membership to an exclusive club.

The year ahead will see marketers review their approaches keenly. The brand as an exclusive statement helps pluck the low-hanging fruits of the market at large. The higher hanging fruit can now be got only when the brand becomes that much more approachable.

Brands will suddenly embrace more. No longer will the brand be about the consumer and the “I, me, myself movement”. It will be about more. The consumer and her extended family of 22 members. And more. The locality she lives within. Remember the Lifebuoy clean the locality campaign? And more. The city she lives in and the community around. Remember the Surf Excel 10/10 offer with a scholarship for the underprivileged child in your city? And more. The country at large. Remember the Red Label “Desh Ka Pyaala”? And more. The world at large. And indeed the Cosmos as well!

Strangely, the brand Caste system and the Inclusive Branding movement will start out together. The country is large.

CSR becomes ISR.

Corporate Social Responsibility has been a reasonably big buzz around for the last decade. Corporate organizations have vied with one another to spend their share-holders’ monies on activities that help out society in need.

Schools have been built, hospitals put up and in times of an earthquake and a flood(of which we have had a fair share) these organizations have sent out money and material.

An audit of the actual amount spent on CSR by organizations however leaves a pathetic number staring at your face. Makes one wonder then whether CSR has been but a politically correct thing for the corporate entity to dabble in.

The year ahead promises some excitement here. I see organizations of every kind wanting to get socially involved in a more relevant manner. Organizations will progressively cease offering money to the market at large. Instead, organizations will encourage their employees to move from the CSR movement to the ISR movement. The Individual Social Responsibility movement.

The days of ISR will stop spending the share-holders’ profit. Instead, work-stressed employees will be encouraged to achieve a softer side to their personas. The IT code-writer will be on the streets, helping feed the under-privileged on the streets. And guess what. He will bring his own free time, his own money and more importantly his own persona to the cause.

ISR will therefore emerge as the more relevant, more passionate and more real replacement to the lip-service CSR movement we have seen thus far at large. When the ISR practitioner is investing his own time, his own money and indeed his own persona in a cause, he will pick and choose the most real, the most needy and the best of the causes.

Leakage of funds in the sector will be a thing of the past. IT companies will use this as an Internal Branding and retention tool as well!

Happy New Year 2007 then!

Harish Bijoor is a brand-domain specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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