Customer Surveys As Business Growth Tools

In order to improve the quality of the services that are offered, you need to listen to your customers. The truth is that feedback can help out so much more than you may be tempted to believe at first glance. The problem is that many business managers out there do not actually use customer surveys in a proper way. Continue reading “Customer Surveys As Business Growth Tools”

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Brand Personality Dimensions

Brand personality refers to those human personality traits (sometimes developed cognitively) which are developed harmoniously with a brand, whether it is a product or a service. While branding a product or a service, especially if it is new, or is being launched in a new market, or is getting repositioned in a new or existing market, in depth understanding of all the dimensions of Brand Personality is of utmost importance to the product or service manager or the brand manager.

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Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid – Marketing Strategies

Economically speaking, the “Bottom of the Pyramid” is the largest and also the poorest socio-economic class of people across economies. This consumer segment consists of 2.5 billion people who live on less than 2.50 dollar per day. The phrase “bottom of the pyramid” is used in particular by people developing new models of doing business that deliberately target that demographic, often using new technology. This segment of consumers have also been referred to as the “Base of the Pyramid” or more commonly the “BoP”.  This consumer segment has drawn the attention of the biggest marketing firms due to the sheer earning potentials from volumes of sales with low margins.

The consumers at the bottom of the pyramid have a very distinct buying behavior as opposed to the other consumers. While the rest of the consumer segment derive value from products through 3 sources, namely attribute based satisfaction, consequence based satisfaction and finally, goal based satisfaction,  it is our belief that the consumers at the BoP derive value / satisfaction mostly from the innermost ring or the first level/source of satisfaction. Because of their spending ability, this class of consumers tend to be very conscious about the core benefits obtained from the purchase of any product or services.The probability is high for success of products which fulfill the attributes of the lower bases of the consumer need model provided below.

While every the most profitable consumer segment in current economic times is the youth within the age gap of 20 – 30, commonly called the twenty sumthing, the sheer volume of possible purchases in this consumer segment has become a focus for marketers. While every product offers benefits to its consumers not only from its core attributes, but also from its fringe attributes (benefits from outer levels), this class predominantly derives maximum satisfaction from the core attributes of products only. Product extensions and ego-based attributes have little impact on the consumption and buying behavior of this consumer segment, who would in fact, perceive the extra benefits as being something, they are having to shell out quite a bit extra, even if the marketing firm does not charge for them. While “extras” in the product marketing mix may consist of other value adding product extensions, care needs to be taken while deciding on the basket of goods for such consumers. Thus the probability is high for success of products which fulfill the attributes of the lower bases of the consumer need model provided below, namely which fulfill the physiological need and the security needs the most.

Pricing strategies also play a major role for the success of marketing strategies in such a consumer segment. While place and promotion offer very meager sources of value or utility, a low pricing of products is often a mantra for easy acceptance on a new product introduction. Price premiums are not easily tolerable in this highly sensitive value-sensitive consumer segment. Thus it has been seen that companies rage low-price war to capture the market of this segment, and many success stories which have been glorified are that of Nirma cake soap, Tata Namak, and other brands which churned billions of dollar by targeting this segment.

Generic Strategies for the Ultimate Competitive Advantage

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage” ~ Jack Welch

Today, the firms operate in an even more competitive industry dictated by an ever unparalleled dynamism. Jack Welch never said anything more meaningful. In current times, when change is the only thing that is constant, a firm’s ability to learn, and more importantly “unlearn and then relearn” creates the most important distinguishing factor for sustainable competitive advantage.

Michael Porter’s framework for competitive advantage probably explains few of the focus issues firms may keep in mind while formulating strategies at the top level.

However, this is the way to achieve sustainable competitive advantage and a firm’s top executive needs to understand the core to his firm, based on which he can take this call. However, due to the dynamism of the industry structure, he needs to continually analyze and re-evaluate his strategies, based on the core.

A firm probably has multiple dimensions of personality traits, talents, resources and skills, and hundreds of other characteristics, but what is it that when all the others are surgically removed distinguishes the character of the firm at the very core? This is essentially the key which needs to be leveraged successfully and innovated upon continually to attain that otherwise illusive competitive advantage.

So how does one recognize one’s core?

One may argue that achieving “customer loyalty” may be a step towards achieving a sustainable competitive advantage. It’s not a secret that loyal customers are good for an organization or brand. You don’t see too many executives saying they don’t want more of them. But in spite of that what intrigues me is how few companies truly acknowledge, take care of and leverage those loyal customers in a way that measurably accelerates market share and recurring revenue while mitigating competitive risk and reducing sales & marketing costs. But in spite of  “customers” being a crucial focal point for business, it is required to recognize that in current times, the very nature of business is evolving. With the very definition of a firm’s role in an industry or even the definition of the industry under such a strict evolution, it is crucial to note that the very target customers are deemed to change in this dynamic market structure. So identifying and acquiring new customers, in spite of the spiraling costs of new customer acquisitions, may play a key role for sustenance.

Thus a firm’s source of resources for the “Ultimate Competitive Advantage” is much more than the sources of revenue. Smaller firms whose ability to learn and “unlearn and then relearn”have reaped the benefits in the past. The problem started after they grew to a certain size where they couldn’t stay so nimble on their feet, and faced competition from other firms, who were more adaptive to the dynamic industry structure.

Sometimes, one tends to think that probably a firm’s organization structure and the culture is the inherent and most important source of competitive advantage. But how can a firm leverage that to quantifiable profits since at the end of the day, business decisions are based on ROI figures and financial achievements. This is probably where a firm needs to rediscover itself.

Joel Peterson of Stanford on Organizational Culture

While embarking on an entrepreneurship plan, often leaders are at a loss to make their dreams a reality.  To simultaneously think about market structure, short term tactics, long term strategy, financing model, marketing etc takes the attention away. But what often one misses is how one interacts with others on the team. So an entrepreneur often sets a culture without knowing it. So what can a entrepreneur do to positively create this culture for the long term benefit of the company in these formative days, and what should he be careful not to do to negatively impact the culture? Check out what this Stanford Lecturer has to say on this aspect. Continue reading “Joel Peterson of Stanford on Organizational Culture”

Excellent lecture on social intelligence and leadership

This video is an interview with Daniel Goleman, outstanding psychologist, Harvard Business Publishing. See how you can use emotional and social intelligence to improve your own and your organization’s performance. How social and emotional intelligence vary with degrees of success amongst leaders. Continue reading “Excellent lecture on social intelligence and leadership”