Consumer’s Personality traits and Manufacturer’s Marketing Challenges

Every customer is a bundle of personality traits. These traits then create a system which processes each marketing stimuli in a particular way. This particular way paves the way for perception and response to the stimuli is a purchase decision or non purchase.

Every manufacturer understands this scenario pretty well but is always in a dilemma. His/Her endevour lies in generating sales and revenue. Now revenue is a  function of Profit minus costs. Thus one source of revenue is minimization of costs. Second and the more proactive method is increasing sales. Now sales increase depends on either increasing usage or increasing the number of users. Generally increasing usage is not a practical strategy as it would involve devising new uses of the product or more quantity used per usage. Thus increasing the user base becomes the most viable option. This does not mean that companies do not go for option number one. For instance the coffee brands start talking about cold coffee in summers who just few months back were talking about the warmth of relationship with a cup of coffee. But this option has a limited base.

Increasing user base involves either new users or users of competitors brands. Converting non users expands the complete market but then it involves a familiarization strategy followed by creating favorability. Here the challenge regarding personality traits comes in. When the company trying to enter into new customer bases initiates the marketing of its product then customers view it in line with the brand image or brand personality of the company and the product. In this process the first challenge for the company is congruency. Whether the company’s marketing communication, positioning of the brand and the product value as perceived by the customers is in congruence with the customer needs or to be more apt the need gaps is a multi million dollar question.

Second issue is the personality traits of the segment company is focusing upon. The Marketing communication must address to the target segment in a language and with a message which directly offers a solution to them.

Again if the product is an active one then it will be required that all functional benefits are highlighted. Here its important to note that this will lead to instrumental conditioning and thus our message strategy should facilitate cognitive learning about the product. As against this all lifestyle products will generally need to focus on emotional issues and image issues as they need to focus on hedonic learning.

All the best.



Multiplicity of Decision making variables for a Customer

With the onset of internet and then social media becoming a part of our daily lives the consumer mind is in for a change. Long gone is the time when only the Perceptual Map theory would hold good for the customers. Number of decision variables has increased drastically over the past five years. Multiplicity of sources of information as well as pre-purchase discussions on the internet forums has added multiple dimensions to the consumer’s decision making.

If we look into the existing researches then five most important factors consumers decision making are Personality, Learning, Motivation, Perception and Attitude. From the Indian Context consumers have been found to be seeking assurance in the form of good word of mouth or expert advice. This is where the social sites as well as other comparison websites have made a huge contribution. In India one more aspect which contributes to the multi-attribute brand evaluation by the customer is the absence of a strong consumer grievance redress mechanism. In general the legal processes are so slow that no customer wants to get entangled in the net. Many brands both big and small take the advantage of this scenario. In such an insecure consumer environment a learned customer keeps increasing his decision variables to make a wise choice.

Speaking about assurance further the role of Marketing communication is immense. Customers have high regard for highly visible brands and select them against qualitatively superior brands which have lesser visibility. This proves that Indian customer loves to see the ad story lines of brands which he/she is planning to buy. A strong marketing communication strategy also instills confidence in various channels of distribution. This has a overall positive affect on the customer.

Time will tell whether consumer decision making will continue to become more complex with time or become simpler and easier for the marketers to comprehend.

Contagious Psyche of the Customer

Recently I did a small study wherein a small negative intervention in the consumption experience of an individual customer had a ripple effect amongst a big number of customers. Some take aways from this exercise were:

  1. Customers remain irrational for a big number of times.
  2. Even if the fault is that of the customer one always poses that the fault is of the manufacturer.
  3. Other customers feel the pain and sorrow much more than the affected one.
  4. Without applying any logic or looking at the past record of the brand the customers denounce it.
  5. Interestingly new customers who have yet not used the brand at all are the first to buy this opinion and look for substitutes.

This sort of phenomena leads us to draw following conclusions:

In India due to low self esteem we do not try to test things or facts ourselves but go by word of mouth of related people. Secondly we do not want to spend the time and energy to do the research ourselves. But we believe in facts and figures presented by others without any authentication. This passive attitude of the customers actually makes the job of marketers easy as they have to divert the funds from Advertising and promotion and put them in social media or creating a word of mouth. Many of us really relish the comments on the internet before any purchase and decide accordingly.

This makes Marketing more Perception and Psyche related than Product line innovation or need set related. It remains to be seen that such a phenomena only exists in India or in Asia or worldwide.


Marketing of a Tourist Destination

Destination marketing has been an age old concept in the Western world. However still at a nascent stage in India. Today with the growing competition in the tourism industry destination marketing has become a necessity. Even in India the type of growth the travel and tourism industry has been witnessing in the past one decade has been phenomenal. With the fast growing penetration of internet and further facilitation by accessibility even in phones the awareness level has never been that high. Today when it comes to holiday planning or visiting a tourist destination there are a host of websites as well as search engines to speak about different sites as well as tourist blogs. With the per capita expenditure on this head increasing today Destination marketing has become a full fledged industry in itself. We are now coming across process like Packing of destination, Life Cycle of a destination as well as Destination branding.

Despite having a vast potential in terms of tourism there has been a lack of interest in terms of Marketing of destinations. With the largest population we also have the largest number of travelers. Today for all those Indians who are going abroad for leisure if we ask them have visited all the top destinations within their country the answer, perhaps will be no. Its a known fact that if we can convert even half of the LTC (Leave Travel Concessions) for domestic tourism we do not need to look for foreigners to come to India. The best example is Gujarat. After successfully using Amitabh Bachchan  as the brand ambassador with an impressive message strategy this state is today able to register the strongest growth in incoming tourists. Yes they are facing infrastructural issues as they did not expect this sort of communication impact.

However we need to always keep in mind Marketing is not selling. Selling is one part of it. Thus when we talk of destination marketing it not only means promotion but also a high level of customer satisfaction resulting in a very strong word of mouth as well as repeat visits by the tourists.

Time will tell whether we can prove our marketing mettle once we have a range of offerings in a diverse country like India.


How Marketing Super Achievers Think

Marketing has been for long been taken to be synonymous to sales at least in India. But if we see super achievers in the area of marketing we can learn a lot from them. There are some simple points to become a super Marketing achiever:

1. Study the behaviour and reaction pattern of market players- This will give a strong idea regarding triggers in the market. It will also help us to realise that different markets have different strategies working. Similarly a Product Market will have different strategic approach than the Service Market. Similarly B2B market will display a different set of strategic norms. Fina;;y same product market in India will have a different patter than say USA. This will depend on the market saturation point, point in the Product life cycle as well as stage of learning curve of the customer. Understanding the behavioral pattern and studying other markets equips us with a strategic tool kit of a different kind.

2. Understanding the pace of Consumer Learning- A consumer’s mind is perhaps the most dynamic part. Be it preferences, or Purchase decision making or zone of tolerance or customer delight, parameters are always changing. With the incoming of social media and more interaction thru the electronic media now customer learning is much faster than 5-10 years back. With the changing lifestyles and values in life our consumption patterns are changing. Just for example gifting a box of sweets was received with lot of appreciation and admiration. But now as India heads to become the Diabetes capital of the world scenario has changed. This has drastically changed the gifting pattern in Diwali. So now new product as well as non edibles have entered the fray. One famous brand of chocolate is trying very hard for the past one decade to change customer preferences from ethnic sweets to chocolate. With the emerging of new consumption patterns the demand scenario changes. This leads to sunset and sunrise for different sectors. If we can see this before time we are a winner. This needs minute observation of the lives of the customer. Understanding his/her struggle of life, their aspirations and dreams.

Marketing Orientation – The Need of the Day

I feel happy to start this blog today. In this blog I would be focussing on multiple issues. Primary focus will be Marketing and allied areas. But on an off I may wander off in areas of self-development and leadership. Whatever I write the intention is to help the reader in any small or big way possible.

Today all companies whether big or small are pursuing one philosophy ie SALES. Every boardroom the discussion is on YOY or MOM (Year on Year n Month on Month sales differences). This psychology forces organisations to become short-sighted. This leads to a scenario wherein time and energy resources are completely diverted for devising ways and means to increase sales. The result is over selling, compromising with Brand image of the organisation, reduction in Product Life cycle, a clutter in marketing communication. This however creates an opportunity in the market. An opportunity for those who can be more customer oriented, more marketing oriented than sales oriented and investing in R&D to understand future needs better. Marketing essentially works on three principles Creation of Value, Delivery of Value and Communication of Value. This is far beyond the philosophy of sales.