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Event: Pitch CMO Summit 2013

Speaker: Mr. M.V.Krishna, Vice President, Marketing (Two-Wheelers), Piaggio India (16 years of experience with TVS Motors and Castrol)

Session Chair: Mr. Shripad Kulkarni, CEO, Percept Media

Mr. M.V.Krishna

Mr. M.V.Krishna

Did you know?? There’s close to 11 players in the two-wheeler market that offer almost exactly the same mileage of 100 to 125 cc and are also priced similarly. Yet, the funny part is that people still stay utterly confused about which one to buy in this market of 11 look-alikes!! Now, that’s because a whole lot of factors feature in the buying decision, which can be can be broadly summarised as rational factors which include functional benefits like mileage, price, etc and emotional factors like brand image, reliability and so on.

In this cluttered two-wheeler market, how can brands differentiate themselves and make the choice easier for the consumer? Looks like the iconic 1940s brand – Vespa Piaggio has just the right solution for this problem as it tries to stand out in this market of me-too’s.

With its new launch, the Vespa Piaggio wishes to establish a niche in a logic driven market, command a premium price for the same and also procure a sizeable business out of it. The challenge was to bring in novelty and style while still holding on to the timeless brand image of the Piaggio.

To achieve this objective, the team decided to go ahead with ‘Unscootering Vespa’ that is to tell consumers that ‘Vespa’ is not just about mileage, price, convenience, reliability, pickup, or anything,  but it is much more than that.  There are Vespa Clubs for fanatics, who know Vespa’s more than just the functionalities! These clubs have a worldwide presence, and closer to home, you’ll find them in Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad. Seems like Vespa is going the Harley Davidson way!

Vespa, priced at a 40% premium with respect to the average scooter price, competes in the

Display of a wasp made using Vespa at Kala GhodaArts Festival 2013

Display of a wasp made using Vespa at Kala Ghoda
Arts Festival 2013

high-end segment. They target two interesting segments of consumers: ‘The Liberated’- the expressive and affiliated group of people and ‘The Achievers’- the ones who feel that their vehicle depicts who they are and how they wish to be perceived.

As is it said, a brand is all about – What it is, What it says, What it does and Where it is seen. The latest Vespa display at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2013, speaks volumes about Vespa’s intention to clearly ‘unscooter’ itself and break through the clutter!!

How successful they turn out to be is something that we must wait and watch!

-An excerpt from the Pitch CMO Summit 2013 report made by Abhishek Shetty, Nima Vijayan, Rashmi Udayshankar & Rati Sawant (students of SIESCOMS 2012-14 Batch)


Knowledge Management – A Driver of Competitive Advantage and Business Growth!

Event: CII – Knowledge Summit 2013


  • Mr. Jayesh Chakravarthi (Senior Vice President and Country Head-IT Fidelity Business Services India Pvt. Ltd.),
  • Mr. Karuna Ramanathan (Deputy Head, SAF centre for Leadership development, Singapore Armed Forces),
  • Mr. Arun Gupta (Chief Information Officer, Cipla Ltd.),
  • Mr. Vadim Shiryaev (President, SOMAR; CKO, Livejournal, Russia),
  • Mr. Alok Kumar (Vice President and Global Head- Internal IT and Shared Services, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd.).

Session moderator: Mr. Ganesh Natarajan (Chairman, CII Knowledge Committee 2012-13; Vice Chairman and CEO, Zensar Technologies Ltd.)

As people progress and move up the ladder, their buying habits change significantly. This is a pretty ‘common-sense’ piece of information. And this piece of information remains just that until it is transformed into Knowledge – which is the real task. And that is where Knowledge Management comes into the picture.

Well, Shoppers’ Stop – the Indian department store chain promoted by the K Raheja Corp1 Group, used this piece of information and designed a new strategy to create a slight shift in positioning and successfully rake in a whole lot of revenues.

The strategy included positively changing the attitude of the floor personnel, rebranding of the floor – in terms of merchandise, vacating value clothing and focusing only on premium brands. This added an aspirational value to the brand, although a certain set of customers who came for the value clothing are possibly being lost.

As visual merchandising plays an important role in retail and is known to affect purchase decisions, the store look was changed to add a more contemporary feel. And as hoped for, revenues from the targeted customers gradually began to rise. For Shoppers’ Stop, merely knowing the number of customers possessing a first citizen’s card was not enough. They went one step ahead by converting mere information into knowledge that could be put to use!

An organisation that looks bottom up is usually knowledge driven. Knowledge Management doesn’t happen in a committee. It happens when large sales teams interact with one another, share instances, and help each other overcome challenges.

This can happen only when there exists a sense of purpose and intent among the various internal stakeholders involved. Intent is something that a CEO sets for a company;

SIESCOMS representation at the summit

SIESCOMS representation at the summit

however without articulation of purpose it is incomplete. A common purpose is imperative to make sure knowledge is shared and made use of effectively for the benefit of customers and eventually for the benefit of the company.

Talking about information, how can we not speak about social media which is bursting at its seams with terabytes of information on a daily basis? Social media is important for collaboration in today’s world. Today, companies use social media to gain consumer insights, and many companies are also contemplating on incentivising knowledge sharing. But who knows, that might actually cause more harm than good with users cooking up stories just for the sake of the lucrative incentive. In the end, how to filter all those Facebook and Twitter feeds to gain what is of value to the company and its product is a test of Knowledge Management right there.

All said and done, everything in Management boils down to quantification of results and return on investment. The knowledge shared, the insight gained might be priceless, but can we quantify it, can we measure the return on the investment made in Knowledge Management – that’s a thought for all to ponder upon!

 – An excerpt from the KMO SUMMIT 2013 Report made by Dipendra Saxena, Lata Punetha, Madhura Navare, Navya Chandrasekar, Nupoor Mehta, Prajakta Sarmalkar, Pranita Shewale, Pratik Shetty, Renita Miranda, Ruchika Shrivastava, Sandhya Bhatre & Utsav Joshi (students of SIESCOMS 2012-14 Batch)


Event: Pitch CMO Summit 2013

Speaker: Ms. Manisha Lath Gupta,CMO, Axis Bank (13 years of  experience with Colgate and Unilever, IIM-B alumna)

Session Chair: Mr. Suresh Balakrishna, CEO, Brand Programming Network


Ms. Manisha Gupta

‘In a day, how often do you think of a bank and how often do you listen to music?’ That’s the question Ms. Manisha decided to start her talk with at the Pitch CMO Summit 2013. Undoubtedly, people listened to music more often. Well, the motive behind her question was to portray that people tend to spend more time and also focus more on aspects that entertain and engage them. Thus, it is better for brands to associate themselves with some sort of engaging music or action in order to create an impact in the minds of customers. But it is difficult for brands in the BFSI sector to engage customers due to the sheer nature of their products and offerings. But Axis Bank wasn’t willing to give up and go with the flow, it decided to tweak the scenario with its latest three-fold strategy:

  • Create Advertising which is Entertaining!
  • Create Content to Increase Engagement
  • Integrating Content via more Consumer Association

Let’s look at how each of these tactics has been put to work by Axis Bank!!

  1. Create Advertising which is Entertaining!

This is the rationale behind Axis Bank’s most recent ad campaigns ‘Badhti ka naam zindagi’ and ‘Zindagi ke highway pe koi akela nahi chalta’. The fact that people prefer more engaging communication such as songs and stories, has led the marketing team at Axis to believe that they need to be using more effective and engaging tools to get to theirSIESCOMS customers, rather than just talking about the banking products, which is a dry topic in itself. Also, nobody likes to hear about somebody else, but everybody simply loves to hear anything about their own self. This is the idea behind moulding every ad campaign around the lives and life stories of customers. The main motive behind making the ad campaigns with so much focus and emotional connect towards the customers, was to compel them to watch the ad time and again, and thus increase Axis’ mind share.

  1. Create Content to Increase Engagement

To implement this strategy, Axis has launched a website named as . The insight behind this website and the corresponding ad campaign was that our lives are interlinked to those around us, and whatever we do has a direct or indirect effect on the people around us, that is, ‘when you progress, others progress too, and thus we progress together’. To give impetus to this initiative, a platform has been provided at, where an individual can express gratitude and thank anyone, who he believes has contributed to his success. To attract more traffic to the website, multiple entry points were enabled namely an application micro-site and a facebook application on the brand’s page. Besides this, the TVCs, outdoor ads and print ads also route traffic to the website. Currently, more than 1000 people have used the platform to thank others.

In the second phase of strategy implementation, Axis Bank has dared to Make Finance Fun! To do so, it has launched four interactive games on the website, siescomswhere in each game addresses one financial problem and generates solutions to the problem. The games include Suneetha’s Dilemma – introducing the Axis Bank Ladies-First Card, exclusively for homemakers and Happy Home – that provides tips to reduce number of EMIs, and others. At present, more than 12000 customers have engaged with Axis Bank through these games.

  1. Integrating Content via more Consumer Association

For the purpose of increasing their consumer association, Axis Bank has opted for various effective partnerships and collaborations. Well, if you’ve noticed the Axis bank logo on the cheque that Mr. Amitabh Bachchan hands over to contestants of KBC, Axis can be sure their attempt was effective. Axis Bank collaborated with Satyamev Jayate by becoming their donation partner and by having Amir Khan name Axis Bank as a source of more information and donation points while asking viewers to donate for the cause.

Axis Bank’s promotion strategy is a good example of how connecting with customers is all about starting with an idea and building around it with entertainment and engagement. And seems like they’ve been successful at it!


Rashmi Udayshankar

MMS (2012-14)

Evolving Trends in Marketing

Times have changed, so have the customers. Innovation is necessary; product placement has become vital; market is cluttered, consumer has power and choice and competition is cut throat!! Amidst this scenario lies the debate on traditional v/s non-siestraditional marketing techniques. Today, marketers are torn in between these two ideologies. While you have a well established, successful and proven method of traditional marketing on the one hand, you have the glimmering and promising yet unsure way of the so-called modern marketing, on the other.

As we approach the end of 2012, let’s have a look at some of the breakthrough trends and strategies that appeared this year. The year kick started with the thunderous response to ‘Why this Kolaveri Di?’ The song was officially released at the end of 2011 and instantly became viral on social networking sites for its quirky Tanglish lyrics which the youth could relate to. Apart from it, the viral marketing technique of uploading the song on the most popular website and targeting the right audience was what made it a rage among the public – A perfect execution of the ‘Strategizing-Targeting-Positioning’ principle. Many companies like Nike are joining the digital race, too. Their recent blockbluster video on Youtube is a proof of that.

 Social websites viz. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. are no longer just youngsters’ domain. Most businesses which are big brands today have opted for these to garner more loyalty and increase penetration. Marketers have started to realize the importance of social sieschannels. Gone are the days of living with a static website, if you want to be a ‘brand’. Interactive websites provide a platform for the customers to share their stories, grievances, and happy moments associated with the product which develops a bond between the consumer and the brand.

Many advertisements from the top brands are uploaded on their social pages, rather than spending huge amount on printing them on a regular basis in magazines and newspapers. Even the print advertisements have some twist integrated in them to make it attractive. A recent example is the two-page advertisement for the Polo and Vento in the Times of India, the first page is bare but for the headline “Feel the shiver of excitement?” go to the second page and the light sensitive box starts vibrating.

Earlier products were made and sold to the customers. Now, customers decide on the type and innovations they require and such a product is introduced in the market. Hence targeting the specific audience is essential which is very much possible through digital advertising, social sites, mobile marketing, geo – targeting.

Despite the fact that the traditional media are getting replaced by new upcoming online marketing trends, businesses still see benefits of traditional marketing. The surprise package here is, Television. Although a traditional medium, television continues to enjoy a lion’s share of revenues in the media industry. Many attribute the growth of non-traditional media to the economic slowdown. Every marketer wants to tighten the budget and still ensure higher returns.

So, should a business follow the online race? The answer is Yes! You simply cannot turn a blind eye towards the modern way of marketing, because your reticence now could be someone’s opportunity. In the age of evolving digitization and online marketing, remember that you are a part of the clutter unless you are interactive and innovative!!


Nitu Nair

MMS (2012-14)

ESP – The New USP

We all know that sales are based mostly on emotion and the decision is backed up with logic.

That’s the law of the salesperson! You’ve heard of a USP right? i.e Unique Selling Proposition – well, these are the benefits that your prospects and clients can look forward to receiving when they purchase your wares. They could be called “THE LOGICAL BENEFITS” of doing business with you. Your Sales Manager and Sales Director will most likely ram USP’s down your throat so you can discuss them with your prospects.

But based upon what we said earlier, your prospects will make their buying decisions based upon emotion and will back that decision up with logic and not just logic alone via your USPs. Are USP’s really USP’s any longer? Everyone seems to have the same USP’s! Therefore, you need to work out what your ESP is!

Earlier, the first question that a company used to ask itself was: Why should customers buy from you and not your competition? The impact of the answer is a powerful tool in focusing the company on delivering the promise of the USP, thereby helping to improve the company’s performance. An excellent example illustrating the impact of a USP is the Domino’s Pizza message: made-to-order hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less – Guaranteed. That’s how Domino’s stands out from the competition. It makes Domino’s unique and distinctive. It’s how Domino’s took over the delivered pizza market. It clearly differentiates Domino’s in the eyes of potential customers and keeps current customers coming back for more. Notice though, Domino’s did not promise the pizza would taste good! What Domino’s did do is develop and unify the company “systems” to ensure the stated USP is met. The customer can measure what is promised.

Now let’s come to ESP that has too much extent, tucked USP under the carpet.


So what’s an Emotional Selling Proposition?

Sure, your USP will provide logic and reasoning as to why someone should select you but their primary reason will be an emotional one. Your ESP’s are your products/service/companies emotional levers that help the prospect to buy. They are the “beneath the service” triggers to create emotion. So think about the feelings and the emotions that you want to stir up with your prospects and clients and use this in your sales. Can your product/service make the prospect?

* Feel important
* Feel valued
* Feel part of a unique group or select band of people
* Feel whole
* Feel remembered
* Feel attractive
* Feel trendy
* Feel hip
* Feel safe
* Feel accepted

Get the picture?

So, next time you are revisiting your USP’s make sure you take just as long if not longer on your emotional selling proposition too. For decades, marketers and businesspeople have focused on developing their USP, or Unique Selling Proposition.

Think about different brands of products you’ve seen advertised on TV. What’s the main message underlying the ad? Different brands and types of products utilize different primary themes, attributes, or ideas associated with each brand. The problem is that very few products are unique. Just ask people who sell aspirin or gasoline or any other commodity product. So where does that leave us? Emotional Selling Proposition focuses attention on the emotional connection consumers have with your product or service.

This works for just about any product. Take Starbucks, for example. Their Emotional Selling Proposition revolves around the feeling of comfort, peace and soothing satisfaction that washes over you when you walk through their doors. If you were stopping by Café Coffee Day to get a cup of coffee from them, the emotional experience would be completely different.

Lets again go back to dominos if I say it’s USP has been for a long time the “30-min” delivery promise, pizza hut to a great extent has been able to deliver the same promise by introducing “we serve the Pizza hot at your door step”. So then what did Dominos do differently? Still retaining its USP it added emotions to its product i.e. “khushiyon ki home delivery” so that the customers have a happy and joyous feeling on the delivery of the much awaited pizzas.

Coca cola again with its “Ummedo waali dhoop” song tries to convey the customer that it is more than just an aerated drink which brings hope and smile to everyone’s life.

Now let’s come to the Apple. Though being a cult brand Apple products inspire strong emotions because the brand defines the identity of its customers. Just owning a Harley- Davidson Motorcycle says something about you, so does owing an iMac. It offers, like all cult brands, a collective individuality. People want to be different, but they want to belong. Cult brands such as Apple and Harley Davidson manage to satisfy both impulses simultaneously by using the ESP. Brands are built around emotions and products are built around functions.

What makes Axe Deodorants stand out in the crowd? Going by the customer review the Axe deodorants doesn’t last long as compared to the Gillette and Garnier dry deodorant, then what makes them tick? It’s simple. Axe deodorants sell sex appeal. The feeling of girls (and now Angels) falling for you makes people feel like the chosen one. An L’Oreal emotional connects with “because you are worth it” was an instant success among the Indian masses. Being compared to Paris beauty worked for the Indian ladies.

People don’t wear a Rolex for its accuracy. They wear it to make a statement about who they are and how big their bank balance is. It is a wearable Porsche, and signifies the same qualities. A Rolex is an investment.

Most of the service providing industries particularly the hospitality sector focuses on emotional and feel good factor of the service and hence the “physical evidence” becomes an integral part of the offerings.  The better the ambience, the more the customer are touched and more are the revenues for the hotel. This again explains why hotels like Taj are doing a good business. After a long time of fighting the competition in the noodles market Maggi which was on the verge of losing the market share due to its stale USP of taste, came out with a new ESP which could connect with the customer. “Me and Meri Maggi” pulled the customer back to itself, showcasing the fact that it was Maggi who was there with you at the time of joy and hunger. Customer with their experiences became a hardcore brand loyal to the “emotional product”.

The Bottom Line:

As a marketer, you should be aware that people buy many products for emotional reasons and then justify that purchase for logical reasons. Get inside the mind of your consumer and try to figure out the hidden motivators for buying your product. Once you’ve got a hand on those, be sure everything you do — everything — taps into that emotion in one way or another.

Sumanth Nayak & Anish Bagchi
Batch of  2011 - 13

References :

You can Sell

YOU CAN SELL – If you are a Student of Marketing, what comes to your mind when you hear this phrase?

Firstly, if you aren’t a student of Marketing, you’ll think, “I don’t have to sell”. There will be a set of people who think, “Well, who said I can’t? Of course I can!! And I know that!” There will be another set of people who’ll reckon, “Whether I can or I can’t, I don’t want to sell!” Then there will be those who’d say, “Really, can I sell?? I want to know how!”

Well, if you think this book by Shiv Khera, author of the International bestseller ‘You can Win’, issiescoms only for the last category of people who think they can’t sell, you are mistaken. I for one, believed and realised that I couldn’t sell, thanks to my Summer Internship experience. And as a consequence, I decided that I ‘don’t want’ to sell. But think deeper? Who’s not selling??

The book takes off from this note. Shiv Khera begins by explaining that everyone is selling at some point or another. Take the cliché instance of ‘selling yourself’ at a job interview. Let me extrapolate it further to bring it in context, a finance person has to sell the idea of why only so much money must be invested in a project and not more or less. An HR person has to sell to the employees the idea that the company they work for is the Best Company in the world. And the marketing guys, whether your designation says sales or not, trust me you will still be ‘selling’ something or the other. Let me quote, according to the book, ‘Anyone who sells a product, service or an idea is a sales person’. So this book is for anyone who thinks they need to improve their selling skills, and a must read for a marketing student!

The author begins by urging readers to have a good attitude towards selling, and then goes ahead to explain in details all its aspects – the personality traits that you must develop to sell better, the selling process & its psychology, types of selling situations, types of consumer reactions, and other nuances of selling such as calling, meeting people and handling objections in order to achieve closures / deals.

For me, sales meant forcing someone into buying something that she was not interested in! And that is why, I detested it. I believed that, if someone wants to buy something and your product is good enough, the sales will and should happen automatically. But, the book reveals a different side of selling. It says, ‘When a sales is complete, you have sold a SOLUTION to someone, it means you have helped them achieve some gain or get rid of some pain’. There are two kinds of needs – the visible need is where the prospect is aware of the pain or the problem and actively responds to or takes action, without somebody prompting her. The invisible need is where the prospect has to be made aware of the gain of owning and the pain of not having. Now, that’s where the salesperson helps her out!! So, selling isn’t really about pushing something just to meet targets, it’s actually a service that you are doing!!! Now, that’s such a fresh thought!!

The only drawback that I see in the book is that it assumes all products to be ‘perfect’. But many a times, salespersons have to sell products that aren’t the best solution to the prospect’s need. What do they do then? The book fails to answer this.

The book indeed is a myth breaker for those who say, “I just can’t sell, I’m not really the sales type.” It tells you that anyone can learn the ‘art’ of selling and excel in this great profession. All you need to develop in the first place is the ‘attitude to learn’. And surely, this book is a good guide. But the principles of selling that you learn from this book will not make you a star-salesperson overnight. Can you learn to swim by reading a book? NO, and so is the case with selling! Remember, the will to learn, practicing the principles you learn from this book in any selling situation that you find yourself in & persistence is the Key to successful selling!!

Sharon Mary John
Batch of 2011 – 13
Reblogged from Decoding the World and Life

Brand Wars – The Hindu vs The Times of India

And they hit back and how! not one but 3 full frontal attacks.  The Times Of India(TOI) had recently, around november, taken a dig at The Hindu with its campaign ‘Wake Up Chennai‘ where the taunt was clearly at The Hindu. As is its no nonsense and serious image, i thought that the newspaper would never respond to TOIs commercial. And i was proved wrong.

The Hindu commands a Numero Uno position in the Chennai market, you can call it the Rajnikant of newspapers in Chennai, followed by The Deccan Chronicle. Now it has come up with its ‘Stay Ahead Of The Times’ campaign making an aggressive “up yours” counter attack at the TOI. Enjoy!

Agencies involved:
TOI : Taproot India
The Hindu : Ogilvy

PS: The YouTube video title shows Stay Ahead with The Hindu, while the campaign is Stay Ahead Of The Times. Wonder why a confusion or is it deliberately done so?

The  TOI Wake Up Chennai  [Taproot India] commercial below, see The Hindu shown at 0:59.

The Hindu – ‘Stay Ahead Of The Times’ [Ogilvy]. No explanation needed.

And this one…

And this one…

Ajit Joy
Reblogged from What A World…Again! 

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