#Brandalism & the CEO/CMO in the socio-digital age #wolfSIGHTS

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What brands really need to watch out for is Consumer Hacktivism, which has virality embedded to it!

Or Socially responsible BRANDALISM (Brand-Vandalism)!!

Look at this for example: http://www.citylab.com/design/2015/11/cop21-paris-climate-billboard-artist-volkswagen-brandalism/417897/?utm_source=atlfb

It’s time for brands to start cleaning-up their inside stories and turn a new leaf before getting copped-out on social media.

On the other hand, there is possibly a huge hacktivism based business model in doing a brand transparency – a BOP (back Of Pack) babelfish.

Subscribe and pay for us to scan your brand basket that you purchase and tell you what is truly good for you and what is it that you are truly consuming…believe me the way brand cynicism is growing in this socio-digital age, this can be a hugely profitable business.

This revolution will not start with eco-impacting categories in India (most consumers in India would have already forgotten the VW debacle – as eco-hurting is not yet a mass story in an India which is afflicted with rabid consumerism.

Indians are so busy with showcasing brands as status badges that anything which does not affect them personally will not be in memory for long and shall not affect purchase decision.

Only when a “Me-Me-Me” India starts turning again to an “Us-Us &We” India, shall transparency be demanded of eco-impacting categories).

This brand transparency audit will affect India in the F&B category, personal care category etc; FIRST & that too in a limited fashion. (Look at the Maggi Story, I personally think Maggi could have actually raised its prices and made a whopper of money when they came back.

The fatalistic nature of India combined with the love for habits makes them accept certain brands back. (Brands like Maggi, which have become a default habit & have enjoyed consumer love for over a generation). But brands, which enjoy weaker consumer love and are newer (Example: Yippee noodles, or Chings etc;) would possibly have shut shop and gone bankrupt by now. I highly doubt whether consumers would have forgiven them so easily or infact brushed aside rumours like they did with Maggi.

So the impact of social hacktivism on brands which are in the health care business, F&B business and personal care business is going to be very high and unforgiving.

Brands which directly & immediately affect the “Me-Me-Me” attitude will get impacted by social hactivism / brandalism first in India. If you look at western social hacktivists, they are extremely persistent and very strategic. Having realized that there is a large chunk of people who might remain unaffected by plain social hacktivism which impacts only the “Us-Us & We” conscious people, they do a post-campaign in which they instigate public-shaming of those who choose to ignore these truths about the brands they consume. This impacts the “Me-Me_Me” attitude and forces these guys also to conform to brand shunning. Indian hacktivists are not laggards in learning from their western counterparts.

Financial category brands again are most susceptible to socially responsible hacktivism.

Any-which ways, we are definitely entering an era of “Brand Transparency”.

The corporate-strategic reaction to this in play: Corporate Brands which have made huge load of money by selling non-transparent product categories, will be deploying those monies into investing in more transparent businesses with urgency.

Once they invest in organic, eco-friendly, healthy etc; – they will create a counter culture against their own past brands/businesses and make money by a charging a premium on the good new businesses.

Diversification is anyways the name of the future game and socially responsible diversification will even help them wash away their old sins in flow of the new good deeds.

So here are a few of my predictions for the future:

(1) Large corporate giants will diversify into businesses, which are completely opposite to their current businesses. Aerated water manufacturers getting into Milk, tobacco companies getting into personal care, F&B and health etc; using the money they earned from their non-transparent businesses as capital for the transparent do-good categories.

(2) Large corporates which suck-up natural resources irresponsibly and with a huge amount of wastage will get into new businesses which have co-created and inter-dependable models at the core. Plants of their erstwhile businesses which either suck-up or pollute ground water will launch new ventures which will be about rain harvested water, responsible usage of water – showcase the process as a brand USP. This story will enable them to demand consumer love and charge a premium.

(3) The natural fears that get fanned by hacktivism against current product categories will be leveraged upon, to build interest towards “transparent” categories. These categories will have the promise of “good from the scratch to the shelf and to you” process goodness. This process & business operational responsibility will also be turned into a USP and a part of an alluring brand story. In the end they will be able to charge a premium for these new product categories too.

While this makes for a great conspiracy theory…

The fantastic part of this transparency movement will be the birth of brands like Kimaya Enterprises ( https://sites.google.com/a/kimaya-enterprises.com/www/fruits ), which have goodness truly embedded at their heart. All these brands need, is a little marketing savviness. Hacktivists /Brand-vandals will soon start not only dissing mega brands, but will also lend their support to these kind of brands. They will leverage the social-discovery era of the web and help turn these into cult brands.

One thing is spectacularly clear, the next master-trend for the world will be consumption of “Transparent/Honest/Socially Responsible Brands” which taps into the consumer-need for “sustainable/eco & socially – conscious consumption”.

Thats why CEO’s & Founders need to make their companies shun mere positioning and get involved in organizational & brand purpose creation. They can no longer afford to ignore the socio-cultural & consumer truths in favour of micro & macro economic truths.

What brands meanwhile are advised to do is to not deploy the 2% mandatory CSR in some distant to their core business areas. But to actually look at their CSR in two major ways:

(1) Core to business CSR: Amul way of CSR – which directly impacts their core business and the way they conduct it. Another masked example: A non-local milk brand in South East Asia which is actually supplying cows and buffaloes to citizens and creating employment for them – while strengthening their own supply source. The byproduct of this is a huge local loyalty. This counters the ill-effects of the swadeshi brands sentiment growing in South East Asia. A great way to leverage the aura of international stature, yet earn local loyalty and apnapan.

Indian brands looking to enter or already operating in Africa, for example, should possibly take a leaf out of this CSR approach; especially, after the recent India-Africa summit.

Sadly Indian companies & brands still think the mandatory goodwill/social responsibility spends should go into mere communication only.

(2) Human/Social CSR: The TATA/Mahindra way, which picks a cause/causes close to their founder personality’s heart and hence personalizes CSR. This is deliberately not advertised, campaigned about or PR’d about. Over a period of time, organically the knowledge of this spreads amongst citizens and though a slow-burner, it has a major long term and long lasting impact.

Though in no way am I suggesting that the TATA/Mahindra CSR initiatives have marketing intent at their core.

A man’s growth to founder / CEO usually gets him in touch with his genuine altruistic side. So they could actually look within themselves, pick a cause they are genuinely passionate about, and deploy their power to make the corporate brand champion this cause.

One example of an immediate implication for financial category: Do not do insipid communication of tips to be safe and savvy with their financial dealings etc;. Dude that’s such a banal way of wasting your money and creating a blind spot.

For example why does the mutual fund category not create a crowd sourced, simplified dictionary of complicated financial terms (complicated terminology as explained by one aam admi to another – with muhavras and colloquial examples – in layman’s terms) and e-publish it. Do an animated – story telling version of it, deploy educators of this to go to colleges (especially post-graduate colleges) and educate them.

Why not form a fund for a charitable cause, get concerned people to invest in it and make sure the fund matures fruitfully and yields good returns (using their knowledge and expertise – vital to brand differentiation) and then deploy it for a social cause. Build a school which teaches rural women exclusively about better financial management or just a school.

This piece of goodwill based infrastructure then automatically becomes the most visible monument to their capabilities and goodwill and is also proof of Mutual funds being a palpable option for profitable investment.

As a vital by product it also creates an aura of goodwill for the entire category. HDFC an apt brand for this, with their infrastructure credentials, long standing trust credentials etc;.

Howl back at this strategic instigation!! Would love to correct, value-add to my thought process.




Consumer Comics: The New Father of the Bride

Wolfzhowl Consumer Comics

The rise of the new age daughter has given birth to a new age father of the bride.

Even until a few years ago, the Indian father of the bride used to be the ever cautious, timid and subservient father – always in fear of & displaying reverence towards the  daughter’s in-laws. He would over- pamper and over-indulge the son-in-law, and let himself be taken for granted by the daughter’s new family.

Today however, there is an emergence of a new kind of confident, seeking to be on equal-footing, assertive and firm father of the bride.

Wolfzhowl Consumer Comics - father of the bride - transformation

3 major behavior changes that have triggered this change in the Indian mindset?

  1. The New Age wealth creators are bringing up their girl children with confidence, liberal thinking and self-reliance as key values. When these new age women blossom into the age of marriage, their self-confidence reinforces the confidence of the fathers.
  2. New Age daughters (even from the middle classes) who are confident, self reliant, capable and pursuing viable careers, are picking new age husbands who are more broad minded – responsibility & work sharing. They seek more casual & friendly relationships – rather than stereotypical age old relationships.
  3. & yes there is the rise of the new age son-in-law as well to give due credit to men.

But the phenomenon is majorly being driven by the first 2 factors, ably aided by the 3rd.

How does the rise of the new age father of the bride impact categories & brands – Pre & During the wedding and Post the wedding?

Pre & During the wedding:

New Behavior 1: Daughter is gifted not “stree dhan”, but indulgent (non-imprisoned in the locker) valuables.  Daughter is gifted independence & confidence & not dependence & conformity.

Categories Impacted: Bridal jewelry, increase in share of everyday jewelry, Personal Fixed Deposits / financial tools (instead of cash ), personal electronics (gadgets and devices), personal automobiles, etc.

New Behavior 2: Daughter’s Marriage ≠ Debts or Depleted Retirement Fund for father of the bride .  Gifting is focused  not only on groom’s side, but also on bride’s side now.

Categories Impacted: Non-gifting of major assets – e.g. apartment, automobile, etc. (Intention is to not spoil the groom / groom side by excess pampering from the beginning, rather let them earn these gifts with good behavior post marriage, i.e. if the bride’s family is well-to-do).

Getting de-burdened from groom-side gifting leaves more wallet-share to indulge own family. Hence we see the rise in spends on: Employing wedding planners (to give the bride her dream wedding), the bride’s outfits, jewelry, make-up, photography, etc., the bride’s parents and immediate family’s clothes, jewelry, etc.

Also on better accommodation for bride’s side (hotel bookings, travel bookings, etc.)

Post the wedding:

New Behavior 1: Gifting the daughter & the couple more. Lesser to the groom’s family. (Post-marriage gifting a choice & not a burdening compulsion)

Categories Impacted:

For the Daughter: Fashion, luxury, etc. for the daughter (indulging her dreams rather than her needs).

For the Couple: Holiday experiences, apartment, etc. (gifting intimacy for the couple or escape / distance from the in-laws).

New Behavior 2: A  more relaxed, indulgent lifestyle post daughter’s marriage.  There is a rise in spending on self & spouse.

Categories Impacted: Holidays, automobiles, consumer durables, fashion and apparels, more frequent renovation / refurbishing of house, club memberships, etc.

New Behavior 3: With the increased desire for indulgence, there is a noticeable increase in risk appetite as well as the need for quicker wealth multiplication to indulge more.

Categories Impacted: Mutual funds will become more a part of active financial portfolio (might be more open for short term higher earning, higher risk mutual funds), insurance might be in the form of ULIP, acquiring properties (Holiday properties like farm houses, etc., and also flats / apartments which they can rent out), etc.

Note: These category implications are SEC agnostic and some truths could be relevant to the middle class segments while some could be relevant to the rich class Indians.

A few strategic instigations for certain categories, brought alive:

Business opportunity 1: Pre-wedding Scenario

Wolfzhowl Consumer comics - Father of the bride 1

Gold was often the choice of jewelry for the daughter’s wedding. Gold shines yet is malleable (adjusting – like the daughter is told to adjust in her new family). Gold is the metal of investment & wisdom (that was expected of the daughter – to be wise with her new family’s money).

In this changed scenario, along with gold – a diamond can give a message to the daughter to not take any unnecessary exploitation/pressure. To  be as tough, to shine as individualistically and to indulge in her own happiness as well (and not just adjust & sacrifice).

Business opportunity 2: Pre/Post-marriage Scenario

Wolfzhowl Consumer Comics - Father of the bride 2

The older generation father of the bride used to be cautious with money, even after marrying-off the daughter. ‘My daughter’s marriage is just the beginning of a new set of financial & emotional responsibilities for me. Maybe my son-in-law will require money, birth of a grand child, gifting to her in-laws on festivities etc;’

The new age father of the bride however indulges & feels that the time has come for his second youth. “Main toh apne sab doston ko dekhta hoon na… jinke bete hain… bacchon ki shaadi ke baad bhi koi na koi tension… kisi ko bahu ki… kisi ko business ki… is liye main sab ko kehta hun… bhai betiyaan acchi hoti hain… bete jaisa daamaad le aati hain aur koi tension bhi nahi rehta. Hum toh ab zyaada enjoy karte hain… who log holiday bhi plan karte hain toh beta ya bahu ‘kyon’ pooch hi lete hain… hum toh ekdum free birds hain…”

In the India Vs Bharat dichotomies, every truth has a contrary truth…equally true. Hence India & Bharat are also seeing the emergence of a new mindset, borne by tectonic shifts in gender liberation, gender equations and the after-effects of a liberalized economy.

In this case, lets raise a toast to the new age bride & more specifically the new age father of the bride. Here’s to hoping there are more such risings for mutual & social profitability.

Special Mention: Illustrations by Rohit Keluskar – An NID graduate (National Institute of Design), graphic designer/illustrator based out of Mumbai.

What Game of Thrones Teaches Us About Content Marketing

Game Of Thrones – one of the most successful all time HBO series does not take its success lightly and rest on its laurels.

There seem to be some hardcore strategic efforts into its seasons’ pre-launch.

Here’s a strategic instigation from @wolfzhowl trying to decode & retro-organize the approach behind their 2015 season’s pre-launch content marketing strategy efforts. #wolfSIGHTS

The deck primarily focuses on Game of Thrones, followed by an at best sketchy capture of the Indian Premier League of Cricket’s (IPL’s) efforts at pre-launch content marketing efforts for the 2015 season.

While the analysis of IPL has not been as robust as GoT, we have also studied the individual team efforts in detail (not included in this deck – for reasons of manicuring the length of the deck). Our biggest findings seem to be that IPL actually has pretty decent content – which is not well distributed and well socialized, while better content assets can be developed indigenously and also by borrowing examples from GoT.

Note: GAME OF THRONES  – content marketing strategy instigations is a thought-piece crafted as one of the 5 components of “The Howl”. #TheHowl is a strategic instigations newsletter from @wolfzhowl shared with brand custodians every full moon.

If you desire to be on the mailing list, please send us a howl at intelligence@wolfzhowl.com

Temple Strategy for Brands

As brand custodians we are obsessed with Brand Architecture, Brand Identity, Brand Personality & Brand Behavior. We focus a lot on the semiotics, communication, packaging etc.

But are we obsessed enough with the role of Temple Ingredients & Temple Products in the brand craft?

A few brands are!

Using examples of Dove, Nivea, Dettol, Loreal, Lancome, Bajaj Pulsar etc; this thought-piece aims to instigate implications for brand custodians on thinking their Temple strategy.   #wolfSIGHTS

Temple Ingredient & Temple Product are terms coined by @wolfzhowl to create a handle for driving home the importance of this strategic approach.

There are a few strategic instigations for brands like Parachute & Dettol, based on this approach as well.

Another thing brand custodians can possibly think of, is using digital media to socialize and drive home their temple ingredient & temple product advantages.

What perhaps could be a second thought piece on this is service brands and do they have a temple service that can anchor their brand in?

Note: Temple Strategy is a thought-piece crafted as one of the 5 instigative pieces for “The Howl”. #The Howl is a strategic instigations news letter by @wolfzhowl mailed to brand custodians every full moon.

If you want to be a part of the mailing list, please send us a request at intelligence@wolfzhowl.com

Facebook: Winning in Semi-Urban / Rural India

Facebook is a platform which is getting adopted in India with voracious appetite. Announcement of internet.org etc; only showcases how hungry platforms are to become the default window to the world for Indians.

However there are socio-cultural behaviors which impede this adoption and most importantly restrict active participation in semi-urban & rural India. #stratalogues 2013.

Social media in semi-urban & rural India – even among those adopted is a consumption platform and not a sharing/participation platform. This makes the platform itself less sticky for these users and also lower participation makes it a non-engagement /non-interaction medium, making it less attractive for marketers to deploy it for targeting their semi-urban/rural users. #wolfSIGHTS

This presentation aims to instigate Facebook to adopt certain measures which shall enable it to increase more active participation rather than passive consumption amongst its semi-urban & rural user base in India.

Note: This strategy deck has been crafted as one of the 5 thought-pieces for “The Howl” #TheHowl is a strategic instigation letter shared with marketers & other partners of @wolfzhowl every full moon.

If you want to be part of the mailing list, please write to us at intelligence@wolfzhowl.com