Is it possible to build a brand on the net? We don't know. Not as yet. Till now, there have not been very many spenders on the net. There have not been many media planners betting their client's money on the Internet, and those who do, don't really bet on a large enough amount. There are still quite a few planners who don't hold the Internet in high esteem. But things are changing.
Says Sulina Menon, Media Head, Carat, "Experimentation on the net is increasing. Clients and agencies are both increasingly betting their money on the medium. Brands like Bacardi, Cadburys and Gillette can be seen quite a lot on the net. Yet while experimentation and spending has been there on the net, little brand building has been done. However, I think in case of niche brands, the trend would catch up."
Agrees Bashab Sarkar, MD, Maximise, "In case of India, where there are more mass brands and a large population, building brands on the net is difficult. However, in the case of a niche brand, if you have an easily identifiable target audience who can be reached on the net, I think it is possible to build a brand."
A niche brand trying to build itself using the Internet, apart from using print, radio and outdoor, is Zod. Zod is a brand from the house of Zodiac, which is spending as much as 15% of its advertising budget on the net.
Says Imran Surve, business head, Zod, "We are using the Internet to build Zod. Zod is a trendy range of club wears. The target audience for the brand is the SEC A/A1+ males, 20-35 years, living in the metros. Psychographically, he's got global exposure (though not necessary through actual travel). His wardrobe has evolved with his exposure to international trends and consists of office casual and party wear."
Zod has laid down three objectives- specifically with respect to Internet as a medium. In the first launch stage, Internet would help spread awareness amongst the relevant TG and capture mind share for Zod. In the second stage, it would help drive traffic into the outlets and in the third stage, it would help build a relationship with the customers.
Comments Surve, "Internet eliminates wastage completely. Plus, the cost efficiencies are unbeatable. There is great brand fit between the medium and the Zod target audience. Hence, the medium becomes critical for us."
Agrees Menon. "Since demographic targeting is possible on the net, it makes it possible to lessen the wastage. Plus, you can also track the response. However, since the number of people using the net does not really justify the money you put on it, it is sometimes not even very effective for niche brands."
Although right now, the market seems to be a little apprehensive regarding the net, initiatives by some may induce the market to have a rethink on the medium. And by looking at the optimistic outlook of the media planners and buyers, it seems that what has started as a mere experimentation, would lead to a full fledged exercise on the Internet- the Internet seems to be emerging as a brand building medium!