The storyline of Sholay, an iconic Bollywood film, is so simple that it can be narrated and written in not more than five sentences. Its screen time, however, is 3.5 hours! The secret behind this is the art of curating and creating real characters, revealing the psyche of each character and fleshing out typical mannerisms that befit the personality of that character. Such is the art of story-telling! What oft’ one sees in movies is the by-product of years of brainstorming, scriptwriting and strategising. The same recipe of story-telling is applied to any brand or company by its Marketing team to establish a distinctly different Brand Identity, to reveal the actual Brand Persona and emotionally engage customers with the larger cause. A brand needs to deep dive and search within, find its ‘real’ purpose of existence and relay the unique ‘ownable’ story to the world that no other competitor can own or narrate.
In this day and age, the consumer/customer is no longer a ‘mere’ consumer/customer. All consumers are now essentially ‘pro’sumers, (a portmanteau of the word professional and consumer), which means that they are now shifting from ‘con’suming to ‘pro’suming. The consumer thoroughly evaluates the pros being offered by any company, and does not settle for the cons that are in a product. The prosumer is capable of making informed choices and invests in a brand only after being thoroughly convinced with its brand essence and purpose.
To cater to 21st century smart prosumers, a new age brand needs to come up with a modern day approach. The 4P’s of Marketing, Product, Place, Price and Promotion, now stand defunct for consumers/ customers. The new age mantra is to focus on the S.A.V.E philosophy of Marketing.
Solutions, instead of Products: It often happens that brands tend to focus on bettering the features of their product(s), rather than offering holistic solutions. However, the prosumers of today prefer one-stop solutions over a multitude of single standing products. For example, almost all Consumer Durable conglomerates have stopped showcasing Flat Panel TVs on one wall, and Home Theatres in Audio Section, and so on. Now, the emphasis is on showcasing and creating a ‘world class entertainment experience’ by offering a Multiplex solution using Flat Panel TV with a Home Theater connected to it and a sofa right in the middle for a prospective buyer to sit and enjoy the moment. Nowadays, Home Towns and Lifestyle stores don’t showcase all kinds of beds on one side, all almirahs on the other and all furniture on the third side. What they showcase nowadays are curated bedrooms with all elements seamlessly woven together as a ‘Bedroom Solution’. What we buy nowadays are ‘Entertainment Solutions’ and not TVs/Home Theatres etc. What we buy nowadays are ‘Bedroom Solutions’, ‘Bathroom Solutions’, ‘Mobility Solutions’…and not Beds or Washbasins, or Faucets.
Accessibility, instead of Place: The consumer-company relationship is unique, and the consumer/customer always needs to be treated in the best possible manner, as if it is indispensable, and rightly so. The consumers want the brand to be easily accessible, and this can only be achieved through constant engagement at all levels of MOTs (Moments of Truth) – online as well as offline.
Value, instead of Price: A consumer might not invest in a high-priced product, but would definitely invest in a high-valued product. For the razor sharp balance that is ‘price-quality’ perception, unique and ‘ownable’ stories that a brand has to offer ultimately create a ‘value perception’ for the Brand in the consumer’s mind map.
Education, Engagement & Experience, instead of Promotion: Promoting one’s own product seems to be an outdated concept for the insta-age prosumers. The one-way trumpeting and rhetoric of self-promotion needs to be replaced with informative, engaging and educational content that will generate respect in the eyes of the consumer. The key ingredient for gaining customer loyalty is to cultivate a feeling of deep engagement, familiarity and dependability. The brand which manages to pull this off will hopefully avoid seeing the dark side of the business cycle. After all, Jeffrey Gitomer was right when he said – ‘People love to buy, but they do not like to be sold.’