Prof. John Philip Jones struck the right note with the audience at the Pitch Thought Leadership Forum in Bangalore on August 10, 2006, and stressed the need for a continuous process of brand building. In the course of his presentation, he lamented that BTL promotions were hardly planned in sync with advertising campaigns, globally, and were often thrust upon the manufacturer by retail channels.
The advertising veteran and noted professor contended that the notion that brands eventually died was a fallacy. “The brand is a managed asset,” he said, citing examples of brands from the US market to make his point. These included Tide, Listerine, Dial, Tylenol and Budweiser. Budweiser, which hardly sold outside the US, was a 140-year old brand and the largest selling in the world in terms of barrels sold, Prof. Jones explained
Commenting on the Indian market, Prof. Jones said, “The economically active segment has a great relevance to branding. I was in Delhi, visiting some malls and was counting the number or Mercedes, BMWs and Lexus cars there. The number shows a high purchasing power. The economically active segment has great relevance to branding. It means that brand choice is available to people. I understand that this group is growing at the rate of 12 per cent, and the interesting thing is that growth in India is consumer-driven; unlike China which is export-driven.”
Prof. Jones further noted that while advertising was capable of producing sales in the short term, if it was really good, it could lead to accumulated value in the long term. While India has had good advertising for a long time, one weak link was the largely unorganised retail segment, he added.
“In the developed retail model, the supply chain is shorter. With a system like we have in India, the spoilage in categories like fruits and vegetables is as high as 35-40 per cent. Multiple links and fragmentation means that the cost is transferred to the end-consumer. In India, there are about 15 million retail outlets, but only 4 per cent of the shops are of reasonable size – more than 46 square metres. Organised retail is only 3 per cent of the total. It’s going to take six years to be 6 per cent of the total, going by the present growth rate,” he explained.
Prof. Jones underlined the need to measure advertising effectiveness in the short term and the medium term; and how a comprehensive understanding could help one understand the effect of advertising on brand building. In the context of the STAS (Study on Short Term Advertising) he developed for measuring effectiveness, Prof. Jones said that with measurability one could identity which half of the advertising wasn’t working.
Responding to a query on BTL activities delivering better ROI than mass advertising, he remarked, “Manufacturers don’t plan for promotions. Quite often, it is thrust upon them by the retail trade. There is a need to integrate promotion with advertising. Very few people do that. That will actually give you a strong sales result.”
He further said, “It would be lovely if w-o-m was a medium you could buy. Unfortunately it isn’t. Advertising can ensure that your message reaches very household.”
One not-so-startling revelation that Prof. Jones threw at the audience was that a lot of the good work in the marketing communication domain in the US was actually done by Indians. While skill was not lacking in the country, he said ‘You export all your brains’.
Not all of them, Prof. Jones. Not all!