The evening of January 7, 2004 saw Pitch Brainstorm taking place in Ahmedabad, the capital city of Gujarat. This land has seen many a small player provide a challenge to big daddies. Aptly, the topic of discussion was ‘Lessons for Marketers – How did the Davids take on the Goliaths’.
The panelists for the session were SB Dangayach, Director, Syntex, Atul Joshi, COO, Bharati Cellular Ltd., Gujarat, Shailesh Gupta, Director, Dainik Jagran and PK Sinha, Sr Faculty, Marketing Area, IIM A. The session was moderated by ace adman and now Director MICA, Atul Tandon.
Joshi, the inaugural speaker, spoke about the inherent advantages of being a David. There is no baggage of the past and Davids can position and reposition their brands. He gave the example of Titan and HMT and how Titan made watches a fashion statement that changed the entire turf. He stressed, “There are many Nirmas across product categories and it is not an isolated case study.”
The other interesting comparison he gave was of Fairever and Fair & Lovely, where Fairever took the ayurvedic plank and differentiated itself from other ‘chemical’ fairness creams. Being more agile, Davids, he stated, define attribute creation values more and deliver that.
Taking from where Joshi left, Dangayach stated that it was advantage Davids as Goliaths suffer from low momentum. He also stated that being a David was more of a mindset, than being at a particular stage of business life cycle. Among others, he gave example of Reliance, which in spite of being quite an old and well-established organization, behaves like a David and reaps benefits from its agility.
Gupta was in unison with other speakers when he stated that being a David was a state of mind and this mindset kept one on his toes, exploring opportunities and options. The moment an organization starts thinking of itself as Goliath, certain complacency might set in. He elaborated that it was very important to understand consumer mindset and any marketing strategies should be conceived only after looking deep into the consumers’ psyche. He also drew attention to the fact that Gujarat was full of Davids who took on the Goliaths.
Sinha, in his extensive presentation, drew attention to several interesting facts. He mentioned that Goliaths give Davids a chance and are humbled in turn. Sinha made an interesting point that in India, so far Goliaths have only been humbled even though the core customers base is large. A Goliath, as per Sinha, is usually a monopolistic leader, distant from customers and lacks in innovation, lives on advertising, distribution and small tinkering with packs. It can avoid the making of David only if it is close to customers, and keeps looking for change in customer preferences and has supple systems and processes. In short, it has to be ‘a nimble elephant.’
During the course of discussion, Tandon raised questions like what causes newer Davids to emerge. And why does size usually hinder speed and momentum? The discussion was vibrant and sought to answer a wide range of marketing related questions.