The world is going through a period of rapid and wrenching changes. The last financial meltdown has unfortunately increased the level of poverty and un-employment, developments that are now being fought with stimulus packages around the world to re-store confidence and economic growth. In addition, climate changes and rising pollution are challenging countries to limit the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but at the cost of imposing a higher burden on business. Furthermore, the rich countries of the west are now experiencing a much slower rate of growth, and economic power is rapidly shifting to countries in the east, that are experiencing higher rates of growth. And finally technology is shifting from the Mechanical world to the digital world-the Internet, computers, cell-phones and social media-which is having a profound impact on the behavior of producers and consumers. Day and Shoemaker, who did extensive research on 119 global companies, argued that in an inter-linked economy, the ‘butterfly’ effect exists. A small change in one part of the world can make big changes in other parts of the world.
Regrettably, the elite economists of the worlds were not in a position to either predict these changes (including worldwide recession of 2008-09,) nor they are in a position to suggest quick re-covery ideas. People have started now believing that, Recessions are cyclical and the world and its various countries go through this inter-mittently.
In the wake of the (as of now) biggest economic calamity (2008-09 Recession) of this century, the reputation of economics has taken a beating. In the public mind, an arrogant profession has been humbled. Though economists are still at the center of the policy debate-think of Ben Bernanke or Larry Summers in America or Mervyn King in Britain-their pronouncements are viewed with more skepticism than before. Paul Krugman, a winner of the Nobel prize in economics in 2008 argued that, much of the past 30 years of macroeconomics was “spectacularly useless at best, and positively harmful at worst “Barry Eichengreen, a prominent American economic historian, says the crisis has “cast into doubt much of what we though we knew about economics”Since India was a pioneer in Economics thanks to the Kautilya’s Arthshastra; somehow we missed the boat of being the world’s oldest economics knowledge Hub (world guru) and the world suffered in 2008-09 economic depression.Under such situation, creating satisfied customers (thereby growth) becomes critical. Empirical research shows that, the return on investment of the top 25 per cent of firms with respect to customer satisfaction, as measured by the American customer satisfaction index shows that, the firms with more satisfied customers have higher returns, beating market average over five years, with lower variability over time. Mounting evidence suggests that, creating satisfied customers appear associated with higher return on investment and reduced risk.
A study of Mckinsey concerning 20,000 companies spanning the five sectors of Automobiles, Skin care, Insurance, Consumer electronics and Mobile telecom reveals some interesting insights. Consumers are connecting with brands in new ways, that extend beyond the control of manufacturers and retailers. Today’s mantra is engagement and peer advocacy. The traditional mass media or paid media, technically termed as the ‘working media ‘is now losing ground to ‘owned media’(like company channels and websites)and ‘earned media’(customer created channels such as blogs, opinion forums, tweets and communities. Given the influx of new-age media, consumers today inadvertently go through a process of engaging with multiple brands and options in tandem as opposed to the earlier iterative manner of selection. This has led to a decrease in the consumer decision journey prior to shortlisting of options before purchase.
As far as Rebranding is concerned, before independence and even after independence, for quite some time, India was perceived as a country of snakes, sadhus and Bullock-carts on the roads. At that time, since India was fighting for independence, we were perhaps not in a position to try and change that perception. In fact, we at that time may not be believing in this business of Branding! Branding as a subject can be traced to Marketing, (Macro and Micro) which forms as one of the disciplines of the Management education. Management as a concept is a western concept in itself, and India got a flavor of this from the Britishers. However, if we think of Economics, then India could have been the pioneer, since we had “Kautilya’s Arthshastra” written long time back. However, somehow we could not capitalize on this ancient knowledge and advice the world.
Regarding Micro-marketing, there are some ethical issues cropping-up worldwide in the areas of Branding (Anti-branding consumer movements) at one end, and intrusion of consumer’s privacy by social media campaigns at the other. Whilst, there may not be now any possibility of going back on these issues, more regulatory mechanism could be brought in place, so that consumers feel protected and well-informed so as to help them in buying what they need to buy. Marketers who are not sensitive to this change are prone to lose track of their core objectives: building customer loyalty and brand revenues. Resource allocation would, in turn, emanate after an understanding of the important aspects that determine consumer touch points. Leading to the right choice of communication channels. Organizations that have smartly changed their marketing strategies in line with this have succeeded in generating better market penetration, customer retention, market growth and margins.
New age media provides marketing professionals with considerable scope to generate innovative solutions that can dynamically connect them with their demanding consumers. An ability to think beyond the routine, openness to co-create concepts and ideas with diverse consumer groups by recognizing the power of advocacy groups as third-party influencers can help organizations stay ahead though innovative and creative practices that demonstrate thought leadership. Country branding in itself could be a special area of research and today the image of India as a rural country with poverty has changed to a likely financial super power. When we talk of powerful nations, the first think that comes to our mind is its economic/financial stability and India has done well in spite of the recession of 2008. Economic prosperity/stability depends a lot on the growth of Business(manufacturing/service) and Agriculture. As far as agriculture is concerned, the nature(Monsoon) plays a significant role in its growth, hence depending on nature’s blessings, it creates major/minor impact on GDP of the country. For the other component i.e. businesses, the primary requirement is consumer demand, which has picked up in a big way after liberalization and now sometimes faces minor cyclical fluctuations, because of other business environmental factors like, technology, social environment, legal and environmental concerns. Branding of a country will primarily involve basic economic stability and prosperity of its citizens (Developed/developing country). On that, we can add few parameters like Infrastructure, ease of doing business and some more global assessment indexes.
These days, overall economic stability thereby economic prosperity have shown promising numbers (excluding the employment numbers). Somehow, all these numbers have to come together seamlessly and not exclusive of each other. Management education(knowledge) being a western concept (developed countries), India has to find its own interpretation suitable to its nature of a developing nation and see that, by using its inherent strength of population (particularly the youth) it has to up-grade to a state of Developed economy. Some Indian companies (SUN Pharma, Patanjali) particularly the Family managed businesses have already done this on the world stage. Rebranding will call for Macro-marketing which is a social process that directs an economy’s flow of goods and services from producers to consumers in a way that effectively match supply and demand and accomplishes the objectives of a society.
Once this is done at least for the basic necessity products (like food, clothing and shelter), Micro-marketing could start. While going for Micro-marketing, we have to keep in mind, the overall worldwide heightened consumer awareness level (Anti –Branding, social media and individual privacy invasion consumer’s environmental concerns etc.) We are definitely on the path of a recovery from the image of a socialistic poor nation to a likely financial super power in the years to come. Whether to do Macro-marketing first or straight go for Micro marketing is the question to be answered.