top of page

Coffee Chat with Saurabh Bajaj-II

Que- What are the typical myths of marketing that you have come across in your career and how would you defy them?

Ans- There are typical myths of marketing one of which starts with a business perception of marketing and a marketing perception of marketing.

The business perception of marketing is to gain share. But brands are surrogates of categories and either you can grow your category or steal share. Which is a simple concept and very difficult for the business guy to understand. A business guy’s perception would be if the ad is working then my business should grow. A lot of people start their own demand and innovation by saying beat the competition.

In marketing replication hardly works. Taking for example my stint with Mondelez where once I was responsible for Gems.

Gems innovation in the chocolate category started by saying that in the playing occasion we need to make a place in the segment of sugar candy. So, they gave fruity flavor to Gems but if you wanted to have sugar candy you would have any other sugar candy. Why go only for Gems?

Chocolate is something that absorbs moisture from your mouth. So, the flavor is important and that’s why Gems did not do well in the playing occasion because it does not lead to salivation rather it absorbs the saliva.

When it comes to demystifying the myths of marketing. One such example is of the Raksha Bandhan ad in the Cadbury celebration. Trying to tell the brother that you can replace cash and give the gift as a mode of celebration.

During the market research phase, I used to stand out of these shops all throughout and before Rakhi and one day I realized that there is no single man going there and buying it, there are only women. Then I wondered why did that happen and came to the conclusion that the celebration is about Mithai.

It was not the brother who was giving the cash but the girl or her parents who were willing to give the brother a gift.

So, these were some of the myths that I came across about marketing in my career till now and a lot of them have an entire story which is bounded by the shear threads of insights that you have to uncover and make them work for your brand.

Que- Let’s talk about advertisements. How is the decision framework for an advertisement laid out and what has been your favourite advertisement to work on?

One of the most amazing moments of my marketing journey was to figure out how do you find insights. Most of the brands do extremely well because they are centered around a beautiful insight and although it seems difficult, this is one of the best parts of marketing.

How do you find insights? Most companies have different tactics but one process that I am a fan of is the acronym ALICE.

A- Align, where you all get into a room and align all the statements related to problem statement and strategy.

L- Leverage, where you go out and read all the existing material

I-Immerse when you go out and meet all the consumers

C-Connect, when you get everybody into a workshop.

E-Evaluate where you figure out which of the insights work

Under Leverage and Immerse, you ask everybody about their observations. And this is a very delicate process since all these observations have to be really pure. They cannot be diluted in any way. They cannot have your interpretation on it. It is captured easily in the lines of what I saw, what I heard, and what I write. So, it is an untarnished observation.

It is about dwelling on exactly what you saw and then operating on it. You take these various observations and post them on various post-it notes. And a team of about 10 to 15 people works on it, in a large conference room.

If you have 10 people participating you need to have 500 odd observations. That’s when we start grouping them and then through these observations, we get a consumer map or a mind map.

Everything you have recorded which was in the mind of the consumer, you get that on the wall. It's like sitting inside a consumer’s head. Everything and anything that is talked about is on these walls.

The team has insights from all the kinds of consumers, core consumers, light consumers, heavy ones, etc. This phase is about getting all the core and essential insights. Then you start grouping these consumers, based on the synergies or likeability. So at least 30 to 40 observations which look the same are grouped together under one single heading.

Taking the example from above, these 500 observations are now merged into 20 odd groups.

For example, if you’re talking about a mother, their interest lies in her child, parenting, cartoon. reading, soaps, etc. After putting all these observations together then you ask what is the pillar observation.

What is the one observation which is holding all these observations together?

Then you start the process of insight mining. Insight mining is like looking for gold. When you group 3 or 4 aspects together then you ask the question of why. Why is the consumer behaving like this?

As you do this why-why 5 times you go deeper and deeper into which is the real insight that is holding the entire conversation. And this insight which is moving the people is the real one where the entire gist of the conversation with the consumer comes in.

And from all these insights we get the one insight that the brand will be using for their advertisement.

In order to elaborate this, I worked on a great insight when I had worked with Cadbury celebration again and going back to the videos of ‘Is Diwali Aap Kise Khush Karoge’

The segment of Cadbury celebration was not growing.

There were various reasons behind it :

1. The awareness had already reached 100%

2. When we grow more awareness then the business grows by 20%. But if the awareness had already reached its full capacity then we cannot get any more business out of it

3. Then we started trials for Cadbury celebration and through that, we figured that somewhat way or the other everybody in the TG has bought Celebrations. So almost the trials overall are 100%

But what we also figured was that the trials in a year were only 30% and they reached a maximum of up to 60%. 10% will go in and 10% will go out. So, the main conundrum was, how can we reduce the aware non-purchasers. Who are these people who are aware of these Celebrations boxes but they just don’t buy it?

There was this one question where we faced something like why don’t you gift chocolates. Is something like you don’t like chocolates or the traditional mithai is better?

But there was someone who said that I gave celebrations pack 2 years ago and now I didn’t think about it. So, the main task was how to break this behavior of I didn’t think about it.

To figure this out, we decided to skip the metros and go to the smaller towns like Bareilly and Rajkot. When we started doing this ALICE process there, then the magic happened.

I vividly remember the Bareilly house that I had visited. We had spent the entire day doing immersions and we have lived with a family there who had a big house and we spoke to their neighbors and their friends and who were organizing a Diwali party.

There were all uncles and cousins who we were celebrating Diwali with all the exchange of gifts going around. In this journey, there was one line that was very moving for me.

The person with whom I was having a conversation with said that I am a tenant who lives on the first floor and my landlord lives on the ground floor. Both the tenant and the landlord’s sons go to school together. And it has been 8 years and nobody in school does not know that they are not brothers.

That love of a neighbor kind of feeling is not in the Metro cities. Society in India in these past years has changed massively and nobody lives like a brother in the Metros anymore.

So here we did that ALICE process and put the insights on the wall and connected and asked ourselves these questions that what is really lost in the entire country is the feeling of genuinely making someone happy during Diwali.

Diwali is slowly becoming a tick mark where you just have to give a gift and your work is done. There is nothing moving about it and nothing where I want to make genuinely someone happy.

That’s when the lightbulbs went off and we thought we have discovered a very great idea. So when we added the tagline of ‘Aaj Aap Kise Khush Karoge’ with Celebrations, suddenly it was made into one of the most thoughtful gifts.

Something which was just a bunch of chocolates and a carton box became more thoughtful than dry fruits and mithai.

As a result, we blasted through those metrics with the tagline. And ‘Is Diwali Aaj Aap Kise Khush Karoge’ made Celebrations from a 150- crore to a 300-crore brand in 4 years’ time.

We made a 25% growth rate on it because it was nestled into very popular consumer insight.

One more thing I find fascinating is that consumer insight is about your consumer and not about your product. So, if you have got a powerful consumer insight a bunch of different brands can sit on it.

There’s also a good similarity between consumer insight of Surf Excel’s ‘Daag Acche Hain’ campaign and that of Kinder joy. Somewhere we were also surprised by the relation between washing powder and chocolates when it came to insight for advertisement.

We understood this when we did the ALICE process of Gem Surprise. We need to understand the process of why is Kinder Joy selling because all these years there has been a convention that Rs.5 chocolates sell and not Rs30. What was the scene of society?

We did this ALICE process and figured that society has changed in all these aspects of running to office and coming back from home.

10 years back mothers used to avoid giving their kids chocolates because they did not have the money. By saying that your teeth will rot, but these days they don’t say the same thing. Why is that? Now because they have the money but now, they don’t have the time. So, brands in this phase become a convenience.

10 or 20 years back everyone used to live in joint families and everyone had ample time for each other but now living in Metros and nuclear families we don’t have time to give our children.

So, when we have money to buy and also there’s a need for hygiene, these branded products became the alternative as health was the priority and mothers have the faith that branded products are not adulterated or unhygienic.

This was a full circle where people were shunning cokes and Pepsis and going back to milkshakes and lassis. Because society had taken one more circle.

Now we are less worried about time and money but more about obesity and other stuff.

These are the various phases that society goes through. And the phase that we are in where the Kinder Joy is selling, we seek that the negotiation between the mother and child is dipping.

The decision has gone to the children. Children are now more aware; they can negotiate harder and more systematic way. Mothers are insecure. They don’t have the support structure of their families and they are trying to do everything on their own. Whereas the children are continuously in the world of mobile phones and tablets and they feel they are cutting the corners and not doing the right things.

And that point in time, chocolate coming in and saying that they are hygienic and are made in a proper manner. And they also have to have some milk in it and within Rs.30 they are getting chocolate and a toy and each time you come back you have to reward your child.

This was the perfect time when the Kinder Joy has to explore in the market. The same story is there in ‘Daag acche Hain’. Here the same mother who does not have an ample amount of time wants their child to leave the comfort of the mobile phones and push them to go outside and play.

She’s got the money and would feel less guilty if the child comes home with dirty clothes. The same behavior of ‘Daag Acche Hain’ led to the psychographic behavioral pattern of Daag Acche Hain tagline.

The society and people around you are superstrings of physics that are joined together by small insights. And these insights are down-right sitting in front of you. You just have to uncover them, find them, and latch your brand to them. And it all comes by understanding the consumer what is really moving them right now.

bottom of page