Thursday, November 17, 2016

Paytm – Cashless Currency and More

Phrase “Paytm karo’ gained prominence today with the milieu of demonetisation of higher denomination currencies in India. One 97 Communications launched an online recharge portal by the name Paytm initially and upgraded it to an e – wallet in the year 2014. 

Paytm was a disruption in the online payments space as the world is moving towards digital payments. The biggest challenge for an online e - wallet earlier is the consumer behaviour. The transaction of Indian consumers are predominantly cash driven. They trust physical transactions (particularly involving cash) over virtual transactions. Another area of concern is the idea of wallet. Wallet usually is in personal custody and physical. But an e- wallet is in whose custody? (Read consumer confusion). I presume when Paytm was launched, the market was not mature enough for a swift change.

Luckily, for Paytm they were able to capture trust among the techno savvy consumers through their online recharge portal which got stretched to other products. The mobile wallet offered money transfers, bill payments, and gifting options by understanding the hassle consumers face today (due to busy lifestyle). The positioning was based on utility. You don’t want to carry cash or walk to an ATM regularly but do all with Paytm. 

The primary segments were tech savvy young people with a smartphone. But later they counted in people in all demography as well as geography as segments. Thus they urged a taxi driver to accept hire charges through Paytm. To make the process simpler they introduced QR codes. Hence, one can pay his auto rickshaw fare or grocery bill by scanning the QR code with your smartphone which takes lesser time. The QR code, which customers can scan on their mobile and pay their bills, can be seen behind the rickshaw driver’s seat, at a grocery shop etc.  Paytm rapidly added digital goods such as movie tickets, tickets for flights, trains and events, and gift cards.

Another segment they added is the off – line retailers by giving them a market place through O2O (offline-to-online) commerce. In this model the payment portion of the whole retail transaction is made online through Paytm. So consumer can choose the product offline and pay through Paytm. Later the company added schools into their basket.

Paytm is not devoid of competition. E – wallets such as freecharge, Mobikwik, Oxigen along with mobile service providers like Airtel, Vodofaone etc. and banks are now posing a stiff challenge for Paytm. Nevertheless, the journey still continues for Paytm. The new developments in the country instilled a forced change in consumer behaviour which makes the future promising.

For me , Paytm is a perfect marriage of technology and service.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Ching’s Secret: Truly Chindian

Recently during Diwali my wife prepared yummy rasagullas for the first time in her life. She nowadays  try out something novel in the kitchen. She sometimes cook  North – Indian Cuisines, sometimes Chineese and of course South Indian Cuisines. One thing she ensures is her own midas touch in it. She don’t believe in standardisation of taste but wants to try all type of cuisines. My wife is just a testament of the modern women in India. The consumer (read women) of today believe in convenience cooking. Thanks to the grandmother “google’ which assists you with a myriad collection of recipes. This idea of convenience cooking is now familiar not only with urban women but also with rural counterparts. Most important is that she seldom buy Ready – to – Eat stuff from the stores. (Idea courtesy: book titled “Super Marketwala” by Damodar Mall)

The food – culture in India is quite different from others. The ethnic cuisines change every 300 km. The Chinese dishes of India never taste Chinese but Chindian (Read. The dishes will have an Indian touch in it). The noodles which we sell in India is truly an Indianised version. Thus selling a food product among Indian consumer is never a cakewalk. However, making this challenge as an opportunity a handful of companies are operating in the instant food market in India. Noodles was the first product to be launched in this category in which Nestle Maagi is the undisputed leader.

Ching’s secret launched in the year 2001 was the first in the processed food industry to launch Hakka Chinese sauces, noodles, seasonings and soups. Since there was heavy competition in the noodles category they entered this segment late. All these products have a chindian taste (positioning). The product is targeted to people in the age group of 18-25 who prefer spicy flavours (Read Demographic segmentation). The pricing is somewhat 50% more than the competitors (Premium Pricing) in the case of noodles, while playing with the price point is gave Ching’s Secret the edge(at ₹10 a pack, it is just a third of what Knorr charges).

There was innovation is distribution also. Ching’s was launched initially in modern outlets as the consumer profile matches with the product. Later it was extended to general stores. Thus moved from urban to the rural hinterlands. Demonstrations at retail outlets, in offices and at different exhibitions were used to familiarise the products. Later when the sales increased they started concentrating on making the product visible. The company also expanded overseas and now the overseas sale is also a major contributor to the revenue figures.

Knowing your consumer and developing a deal (product) can make a company relevant in the market.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Platinum Etios – Can it Escape from a Taxi Image?

Brand imagery is always a cause of concern for marketers. Pitching a product with a right imagery is a tough task which every marketer agree with. The biggest risk is that once a wrong image is made the reversal is seldom possible. Tata Nano is a classic example of poor brand imagery. Usually marketers recognize this trap very late as they tend to believe in numbers and profitability. The product may be profitable initially due to a sudden hype but long term success is a paradox.

Japanese car maker Toyota along with Kirloskar Ltd. started its operation in India in late 1990s. Since its inception Toyota is known for its quality and style best suited for the upmarket. The first model from Toyota in India “Toyota Qualis” was a colossal winner as it killed the likes of TATA Sumo and became market leader in the category. The overwhelming success was followed by a poor imagery as Qualis got prominence in Taxi fleets. Hence they even pull out the brand from the market and came with Toyota Innova. However, Innova also enjoys its predominance in the taxi sector. The Etios and Etios Liva launched in the market with a tag ‘Made for India’ targeting the middle income segment also followed the suit. Consequently, the cars from Toyota were opted out by personal car buyers.

For a country like India, car is still an aspirational product. It is been considered as a status symbol. So a car which is been a predominant taxi fails to aspire people. To stay relevant in the market Toyota definitely has to appeal the personal buyers. Very recently Toyota launched the ‘Platinum Etios’ in the Rs. 7 – 9 lakhs segment. The competitors in the segment are Maruti Ciaz, Hyundai Verna, Honda City etc. Since MUVs like Ertiga also is in the same range they can also contribute to competition. The Platinum Etios comes with a new front and rear bumper, front grille, fog lamp, enhanced cabin space, a large boot and plush new interiors. In addition, a host of safety features like ABS, dual front airbags for driver and passenger and child seat locks complete the picture. Thus it matches with the competition.

But, the real challenge lies in giving a different imagery. The new commercial of Platinum Etios explains all the benefits and appeals to a family (Read aspirational personal buyer). It has developed a 3600  campaign to communicate with the target audience. As the Indian consumer look for “more for less” proposition, only time can determine the success of Platinum Etios. The only sweet spot is the evolving consumer behaviour, thanks to Uber/Ola. A new segment of ‘not owning a car by choice’ can in long run alter the way consumer view a car and may come to the rescue of Toyota.