Tag Archives: gurugupta

Toshiba: The Cacophony of Consensus

Asian companies often pride themselves on a non-confrontational, consensus building management style. Here is proof that consensus can create cacophony for consumers (and not much for the bottomline). Toshiba makes fine laptops. However their communication singularly and consistently  fails to land a  big singular point.

The example shown above (with my comments against the white background) is just one of the many from their hall of fame, which keep gracing global weeklies. Fine footprints of at least five departments (marked in blue text) can be seen on this work of art.

I can almost hear the “eager to get promoted” marketing manager ask the boss: “Sato San, What would you like to add to this ad ?”.

Advertisements

China : Factory to Studio?

Read my assessment of China’s  prospects of moving from being a factory for cheap goods (and  code) to becoming an origin point for new products, designs and business models.

http://www.ddb.com/yellowpapers/

Sony: Making us believe again ?

If you are watching the FIFA matches, you can’t miss the new SONY ads prominently displayed on the boards near the sidelines. SONY has ditched “like no other” (which was never used on the entire product range) to embrace a new unified brand concept “Make. Believe”.

There is a very elaborate explanation on the website of the concept. The thinking is quite clear and well captured in this quote from the CEO : “SONY is a technology company with an intimate understanding of creative possibilities of content. SONY is a content company with an intuitive grasp of technology. No other company has both”.

It seems the strategy is about positioning the brand as one which empowers consumers to dream, imagine, experience, create (make) great content with the help of Sony’s products and technologies. So far so good.

However, the only strategy the consumer sees is execution and the execution in this case i.e the sign-off line “MAKE. BELIEVE” is just not inspiring and intuitive enough. One can argue that taglines alone don’t make a brand and SAMSUNG has been growing at break-neck speed without a brand tag line ( although the latest one : “Turn on tomorrow” is quite nice). The launch cinema and TV execution (shown below) however is even more ordinary.

SONY as a brand needs as much inspiration as it can find on all fronts- product as well as communication. It desperately needs to regain its salience in the consumers’ minds. It was a leader brand, and now it is not. A series of mis-steps have made it an also ran in the key categories it competes. It no longer dominates the markets and minds, the way it used to 5 years back.

Perhaps an integration of the new strategy with “.like no other” which was a powerful statement of leadership, would have been more interesting. Something like “Create/play/connect/imagine …Like no other” wherein the first word refers to what that particular product range offers.

We need more belief. This is just make believe stuff (pun intended).

The Wisdom of Imitation

No supply issues on the Iphone 4G in China. The new Iphone 4G is already out in China. The cloned one, that is.

It is easy to complain about the cheap knock-offs which Chinese factories keep churning out. Perhaps there is a bit more behind it than the desire to make a quick buck.

The term “Shanzai” and ‘Shanzaism”, often used for such products, although literally meaning “Mountain Village or Stronghold” today symbolizes anything that imitates something famous. According to Li Zonggui, a professor at Sun Yat-Sen University in south China’s Guangdong Province, Shanzhai represents non-mainstream ideas and innovations, and is also a new way for common people to express what they want.

Well maybe there is also a  connection between this imitation streak and Confucius philosophy, if one goes by the quote below.

On a cheeky note..maybe the Chinese authorities can use this philosophical under-pinning to explain this culture of imitation to the Western trade representatives, next time the issue of IP protection is raised.

Chinese Men and Nappy changing

Seen at the new Honqchiao airport at Shanghai.

Sign of changing times ?? Don’t know about that, but full points for progressive thinking and execution.

I don’t remember seeing a sign and facilities for nappy changing in the men’s room in any other airport in the world, I have visited. Attention to detail is remarkable. The symbol showing the person changing the nappy is also a male, while the corresponding one above the women’s toilet  was a female figure. Clearly they didn’t scrimp on money for the signage.

Bravo !

P&G : Getting Men ?

The action in male personal care market keeps hotting up. Dove’s  Men range : Men+care , launched 2 months back in US , Europe and Australasia. Vaseline (from Unilever) launched a Men’s range in India in March. Now P&G’s OLAY has launched Olay Men solutions in China, riding on its mega brand status in the country.

While DOVE  and VASELINE are  attempting to stretch a specific equity – Care and moisturization- across genders, OLAY is  riding on a broad equity- skin care expertise, which it can claim via its dominance of the female skin care market in China. All packs in the OLAY Men solutions range feature “Refreshing energy” as a common line, which is clearly a new thought as it hasn’t been used before in brand communication or packaging.

However the brand which should have been first off the blocks in this segment- Gillette- is still struggling to be a serious player in men’s face care. It is frankly stunning that they still don’t have a Globally consistent face care range . The UK site has pre-shave wash & scrub  and post-shave moisturizer but  I couldn’t find anything on the Gillette US website. They test marketed Gillette COMPLETE skin care range in US in 2005, and it didn’t work. Instead we saw the launch of a hair care range in 2008 which is already de-listed in UK.  Gillette’s equity is in men’s skin care not hair care. What are they thinking ?

Clearly, P&G is still trying to “get” Men !

Starbucks: Big bucks in China

If you hold Starbucks stock, I suggest hold on to your shares. With the margins they have in China and the huge potential to increase the store density this is a 1 way ticket to print money. While prices are 10-15% higher than Hong Kong and London, the labor and real estate costs are almost half.  Even with the import duty on coffee beans the margins are clearly VENTI size. The table below says it all. Should we drink to that?