World biz and more as seen from India

Monday, July 25, 2005

Mirror mirror on the wall...

Ok so I’m hooked to Mumbai Mirror - but then who isn’t?

The Reason: Not because I find it really useful as a tabloid - or a newspaper, but rather because it comes free!

Mirror mirror on the wall... or rather mirror mirror on the newsstand, is the reception quite grand?

Branding has never failed to escape my attention or my interest.....add a bit of consumer psychology to it - and you’re ready with the purrrfect recipe for a new post!

Mumbai Mirror is the latest offering from Bennett Coleman, the largest print media establishment in India. Simply put, it’s a tabloid - for those who are Midday loyalists. However, Times of India cannot afford to be seen or heard as down market, they avoid the 'tabloid' terminology like the plague, and call it 'compact'.

However, the main focus is the mini-war that’s setting in the skies of the newsprint industry - with Hindustan Times' Mumbai edition and DNA from the Zee-Bhaskar Group combine dressing up for the kill. OOH (Out of Home) advertising is on the rampage with huge banners and billboards flocking the city.

Times does seem to have done its homework on the human psychology, especially of the average Mumbaikar - who wants useful news, along with lots of glamour and glitz, a few Sodukus, a neat crossword, not to forget my favorite - Astro predictions for the week, and yea - typical tabloid type entertainment.

In the era where the average executive looks for a quick glance through his favorite daily or business yellows, while he is on the move, a tabloid might not seem to be the ideal choice for a company like Times. But then there are issues other than that which the smart marketer might recognise!

They say that you get free lunches only in mousetraps. Well here is one set for the customer - will he fall for it? The tabloid (my apologies to the Times group for calling it that!) seems to be focusing on one key aspect of consumer psychology in the Indian market - if it’s free, it will be accepted!

Even the Mercedes driven, Armani clad households of today certainly don’t mind anything free! Add some news, some gossip (actually lots of it), and a free goodie every now and then - VOILA! You’ve got a winner in your hands!

The Times group seems to be trying to get the most out of the "give it to me for free" mindset of the average Indian consumer, with a keen interest in the marketing basics underlying it...

Kotler might agree if I mentioned, "Habits define consumer purchase traits as much as brand preferences". If I were used to purchasing Brand X (for some reason which I cant even pinpoint!), I would continue to use it and be hesitant to change over unless there is enough incentive to switch brands.

This is something that can be called "Consumer Inertia", where the average consumer would like to stick to his brand X, even if Brand Y offers the same attributes or benefits! This has been one of the key reasons why "Maintaining customer loyalty" has become a key issue in today's market scenario.

Here is where I believe my definition of a customer gets some meaning in addition to sounding nice – “A customer, is one an accustomed user”. By this I mean someone who is using your brand not just because of its utility, but also because this Brand X has been in use since ages, and wont like to switch brands for some reason he cant pinpoint exactly!

Coming back to the Times plans, I strongly believe that their philosophy includes making the reader used to reading their ‘tabloid’ to such an extent that once it stops coming free with the daily TOI, the customer would actually like to go to the newsstand and ask for his copy of ‘his brand’.

This strategy looks to be an interesting one, as compared to competitor DNA’s quest to prove that their newspaper is one that has been built over an extensive survey of readers, so as to provide news that you can actually use. DNA as most Mumbaikars might recollect, carried out an extensive survey, followed by which it is now offering the DNA membership card, and a newscopy at subsidized rates to patrons.
Will the reader follow his DNA or simply stare at the Mirror on the wall??? Only time will tell…