Intangibles of branding: Deep-diving into consumer behaviour

– Dr. S Ramesh Kumar, Marketing area, IIMB

Intangibles of branding will continue to impact the mind digitally or otherwise.

About four decades back, the toothpaste brand Close up, had introduced the ad Smile for me —close up “smile”in cinema halls, showing a young boy and girl permissively close enough smiling at each other, given the conservative culture of the yesteryears (an era sans the social media). And the proposition of the brand was toothpaste cum mouthwash. After such a long time, how many of us use mouthwash regularly? Why? The brand with its updated variants included, is doing well.

Did the rational proposition of toothpaste cum mouthwash solely responsible for the success of the
brand (or is there is something more?), in a context where mouthwash as a category (despite advertising
attempts by a few brands in the past) is not a developed category?

Emotions and Profitability

While mouthwash as a category with respect to oral care may not have developed as well as marketers may have liked, research on emotions seems to be almost conclusive on the impact of the emotions (intangibles)on the subconscious of the human mind.

A paper published in Harvard Business Review, “TheNew Science of Emotions”, says that there are 300emotional motivators, after extensive research usingBig Data. More importantly, the paper establishes thefact that identifying the right emotional connector canlead to profi table consumer segments and even the future value of the consumer segment can be predicted.

The concept of CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) had been advocated by thought leaders in the recent times but using emotions as a predictor of the future value of consumers’ worth reflects the extent to which, consumer emotions can play a role in markets that are intensely competitive; the interesting and enigmatic part of several associated research studies is that consumers may not even be aware the working of emotions.

Emotional Motivators

The authors of the paper had worked for about eight years to provide the insight that emotional motivators are those that align with the motivation of the consumers at a deeper level and satisfy unknown and unconscious desires of consumers, confirming the credibility of the classical work done by Fraud on the human mind, though not related to consumer psychology.

The well- known brand of watch popular among the urban youngsters Fastrack associated with permissive advertisements appears to suggest how the emotional connectors work in the Indian context.

Incidentally, the emerging markets like India with a culture different from the west, spells out an important lesson for marketers:

The likeness of the human mind across the universe is moderated by the cultural context and brands need to take care to project a balance of unfulfilled desires and cultural acceptability.

Brands and Emotions

* Not a part of the crowd – There are many recentexamples, but the author prefers the ads of LML Vespa scooter of the yesteryears as it repositioned the leaderBajaj (it was having a monopoly in the category at thattime) as the brand for masses.

The ad of LML, showed for the first time in the scooter category), an urban youngster as someone, who makes a special statement with the brand about himself. The setting was exclusive and the design of the vehicle itself was sleek (both the ads and the design, completely giving a new image of scooters in the days of “HamaraBajaj”, the scooter of the masses. The article does not discuss the success or failure of LML Vespa.

*Futuristic confidence – When consumers are to get used to a concept, associated with a newness, emphasised globally, a brand can associate itself with the changing environment, “Never been to Evergreen” campaign from Tata’s Neon electric car illustrates the effectiveness of futuristic orientation in an environment that is literally getting electric with respect to the four-wheeler and two-wheeler category.

A feeling of well-being – Mothers culturally are prone to feel tense about the security and risks associated with their children. Several brands over the last five decades had used the mother-child associations in their ads to good effect. Lifebuoy soap’s narrative on the “feel secure” ads with a well-known celebrity is an appropriate example.

Refreshing sense of freedom – Imagine the “rebellious” growing up years and the pressures of conforming to social norms; impending pressure to perform in life and prove oneself looming large on the psyche. The stage cannot be better for a brand to give a vent to the escapist in you.

There is an iconic campaign associated with a brand of cigarette, that 60 Plus consumers may recall. Since the advertising for this category is banned, an equally good example will be the two – wheeler Pleasure’s
campaign on “Why should boys have all the fun?” using the socially entrenched “bride-meeting” traditional ritual that is still in practice in arranged marriages. The ads ‘timing too was in an environment, that was beginning to reflect gender equality.

The recent campaign of Tanishq “a boot camp in life”,on Mother’s day is all about a brand’s association with changing stereotypes.

Sense of adrenalin – Has Coke handled two colas in any part of the world for an extended length of time?
Thrill and excitement cannot be away from a category like soft drink. Thumps up (Taste the thunder) connected so well with the target segment, the brand’s personality differentiated it from Coke. It is interesting to note that the brand had tried out cricket celebrity(Gavaskar) during its earlier campaigns days!

Red Bull, also a brand in the soft drink category but with a different proposition, is well known for its association with extreme adventure sports. Do most consumers consuming the drink, participate in such sports? Of course not. It is the underlying and subconscious brand associations that matter. Red Bull to this day has successfully warded off several competitors including the ones from mega MNCs.

The article touches the tip of the emotional iceberg. Deep-diving into consumer behaviour
and the judicious use of Big-data could hold out exciting times ahead for young and passionate brand managers.

Source: The Economic Times