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Read The Csonsumer


Many a student or a brand executive or a sales marketing manager has asked me as to what books on marketing should they read. Many have read my books and books of other authors, but they still ask for the advice on, what other materials should I read.

My strong recommendation, advice and guidance is “READ THE CONSUMER”. Understanding, consumer behaviour, reading his or her attitude and usage patterns, listening to his or her words and observing the consumers actions and reactions is paramount and of utmost significance. This would help create strong connections with the consumers and build profitable brands in the minds and hearts of consumers.

Many years ago in India, a small entrepreneur with a large vision, Mr. R. Mohan read the consumer closely in terms of the mosquito menace as well as observed the irritation and loss of sleep that a consumer has to go through whether it be a small girl or a senior citizen. Thus was born a very simple but effective concept with the relevant brand name “GoodKnight”. The brand grew substantially and till today is one of the most sustainably successful and effective brands in the country in the category of mosquito repellents.

Not only does reading the consumer help in creating the categories but also helps in keeping up with the changing needs of consumers. For example, since thousands of years “listening to music” has been a growing category whether from the time of the old kings and their singers and musicians in a personalized form to the gramophone, record, cassette, CD and moving further. Brands which have been successful have constantly read the consumer, almost on a daily basis looking for consumer insights, changing needs and new trends.

If you do not read the consumer regularly, you could be left behind in marketing.

Reading the consumer for a marketing professional has to become his or her habit, his or her second nature. Adhocism does not work, reading the consumer is like breathing, if you do not do it regularly your brand could die.

The new growth areas like mobile phones, spa’s and fitness centers, family entertainment centers and malls as well as coffee bars or multiplex complexes have all been a result of reading the consumer regularly.

In marketing, many a company makes the error of focusing on only distribution channels or pricing or advertising. If the consumer is not read regularly there could be a disconnect.

Let us look at live successful examples in India where reading the consumer has helped marketer’s gain consumer insights and launch position, reposition and build strong brands.

Understanding that consumers were looking for convenience and ease of payment and purchase, car finance companies have built large bases and have made the category grow through easy monthly installment basis. Similarly in home finance and in consumer durables financing including computers, both the financing companies and the manufacturers have penetrated deeper into markets as well as made many a consumer’s dream come true.

On the other hand by reading the consumer and understanding affordability companies like Nestle with a 1 Rs. Nescafe and a 2 Rs. Choco-stick have exploded the markets.

Similarly Hindustan Lever with its 5 Rs. Offerings for Lux and Ponds have grown the market and themselves. Smaller pack sizes have helped attain bigger sales.

Similarly in areas like the airlines industry, industrial products sector or the OTC products sector, reading the consumer has helped gain sales as shown by brands like “No Marks” which has created an absolute new category. The consumer insight of “Ujala” Brand building and the 100% vegetarian positioning of Anchor are all a result of reading the consumer regularly and intently.

Thus, in my opinion, the hierarchy in marketing should flow thus – first comes God, then comes the Consumer, then the Brand, then the Retailer, and thereafter everyone else. Thus, reading the consumer, is of prime importance and this can be done only by getting up from the chair and your air-conditioned cabin and going out in the market and in the field and meeting and interacting with consumers regularly irrespective of whether it is formally or informally done.

Understand, who your consumers are, what do they prefer, why do they buy, who is the decision maker and who is the influencer, where is the purchase or consumption done and how does the consumer use the product and service. This what I call the Samsika 5 wives and 1 husband way of reading the consumer. The 5 wives being – 5 W’s – What, Where, Who, Why, When and the 1 husband being – 1 H – How.

Build your brand, succeed in marketing your product of service by reading the consumer.

The author is Brand Guru Jagdeep Kapoor, Managing Director of the successful Samsika Marketing Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.
Tel: 022 28597700/7701 Fax: 28597699 E-mail : jkapoor@samsika.com

Copyright © 2007 All rights reserved with Jagdeep Kapoor, Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants Pvt. Ltd.
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