Industry Trends

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Retail Wars: Part Deux – David’s move

Like we discussed in our previous post, small retail companies currently have an advantage in terms of distribution and sales. Their swiftness has trumped the slow-moving giants. These companies are aggressively eating into the share of Big Retailer Cos. The Big Cos are back devising a strategy to regain the consumers they have cultivated over the years. Soon, the wave might turn against the smaller players as they lose their grip from the consumers’ minds and wallets.

What can the Small Retail Players do in order to maintain their position and permanently arrest the shift away from Big brands? The critical strategic play here is ‘Memory Embedding’. Here are some Strategic Instigations by Wolfzhowl about how smaller brands can create bigger memory structures in the consumers’ minds. Check out Wolfzhowl’s deck on Brands and Memory Structures

1) Be thankful – Gratitude goes a long way. Thank your Customers for trusting your brand in these tough times. Incentivise them, giving a smile or a sweet memory works too.

2) Don’t forget to leave a mark – Big players have the digital prowess and footprint that a small player might not have. Make sure the brand leaves behind a token visual mnemonic at every possible interaction with the customer.

3) Reaffirm Product Quality – Smaller brands often face the consumer perception issue cheaper price = low quality’. Therefore, they need to explicitly highlight high-quality control measures and establish that their product is at par, if not better, than the products offered by bigger brands.

4) Seize the opportunity for Product Innovation – With steady revenue coming in and big cos still left handicapped due to the lockdown, smaller brands have the opportunity to turn their focus on creating, hyper-local, consumer-centric, tactical product innovations. With some extra effort, this move can set your brand apart from other products and hence accelerate adaptability and memorability.

5) Increase basket-size with product bundling – Make hay while the sun shines. The more space the brand occupies in the consumer’s mind, the longer it remains in the consumer’s memory structure. Once your brand has entered the Customer’s wallet, make the most of it. If the brand has any other complementing products, bundle them with your fastest selling products via offers.

6) Create product consumer rituals – Effective long-term memory for brands can be created by associating the product with an action or a ritual. Invent a product consumption ritual via packaging, advertising or by gamification of product and its consumption. Eg. KitKat, Kinder Joy, Oreo etc. Create a unique, tangible mini-experience around your brand & product.

7) Unite to Fight – Evaluate Cross-category tie-ups with small manufacturers of other products to get into households with combined weight to tackle the post Covid19 onslaught of the big guns.

8) Underdog Advertising – Admitting that you are smaller player can feel like shooting yourself in the foot. But it’s a counterintuitive way to reach the consumer’s heart and be remembered for good. Smaller Cos are faster, cheaper and equally effective in the times of need. And just because they don’t have the strength of the big players, they work doubly hard to provide the best they can. This is an endearing way to embed your brand in your consumer’s mind and win some well-deserved brownie points.
Brilliant case of effective Underdog Advertising – Avis

9) Discount the Product, Not the Brand. Build one afresh – Brands that have been built in adversity have stood the test of time. Now is the best time for a smaller brand to lay the foundations and build a strong purpose from the ground up. A classic example of this is Dove.

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Moving away from selling just ‘insurance’

With multiple insurance companies vying for the consumer’s attention, it is time for a change in tactic. And there are some companies that have been able to break away from the clutter of selling the insurance based on its need. 

The recent campaigns by ICICI Lombard and Acko General Insurance have hit the nail on the head. 

Let’s first look at the ICICI Lombard #TechnologyWithAHumanTouch campaign. 

Moving away from transactional branding

ICICI Lombard #TechnologyWithHumanTouch

The series of ads go on to show how people are stuck in various situations that require either processing of a claim, getting a claim settlement or claiming a value-added service and how ICICI has made things easy for them. The heightened emotions of frustration, despair, fear are all seen in the protagonist, which is common to any insurance ad. But that’s where the similarity ends. The ad goes on to humanize the technology by giving it a friendly face and name and the ad has been shot in a way that it seems that the human-faced technology is on its way to help the customer in need. For once an insurance brand has not taken an “advisor” or “mentor” role in bringing across its USPs – high claim settlement ratio, quick service, faster disbursal. 

In a similar attempt of breaking the traditional “friendly advisor” role is Acko General Insurance with its latest campaign – #DimaagKyaLagana


Acko humanizing insurance

Acko General Insurance – Iss Mein Dimaag Kya Lagana

The insurance brand wants to tell its prospects about how Acko is the right choice for Motor Insurance. Using the Sprite – Clear Hai approach, the brand humanizes a car as the angry girlfriend while the protagonist is seen apologizing for not purchasing insurance yet. Another cooler car (the ‘crush-material’) appears and talks about Acko. The pain-points of insurance purchase are well highlighted while the brand is plugged in really well. The viewers are left to interpret this “Iss Mein Dimaag Kya Lagana” in any way they want – it’s the only choice of insurance, the interface is easy to use, all information is provided to you up front, no comparison required, etc. 

Clearly, these brands have realized that while people understand the need for insurance, it is the other factors like cost of premiums, promised value-added services versus actual delivery, difficulty in claim processing, etc which deter the customers from making the final purchase. Talking to the target audience about these deterrents makes more sense as the market evolves.

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Is Retail ready for its next big revolution?

Consumer preferences are changing. The way they purchase is changing. From only shopping at brick-and-mortar stores to now finding the right product at the physical store and buying online, Indian consumers have come a long way. This means that we will need to change the way retail does business.

Retail needs to move to retail as service model

Delivering the best product on time is now a norm and not a USP that the brand can flaunt. The same goes for discounts. With players like Amazon and Flipkart offering flash sales, End of Season Sales, Big Billion Days and so on, the consumers are expecting discounts even at a physical store. 

So in order to stand out, what should the brands do? Move to a service approach!

Retail as a Service’ now needs to be looked at with all seriousness in India. Every customer needs to be serviced differently. They expect to walk or click into a store and find something best suited for their needs. Of course, departmental stores are best suited for this model. Specialty stores would face a tough time, having only a small window of opportunity to convert. Self-check-out counters and an omnichannel presence are the need of the hour. 

In the digital space, this will translate into user experience. If the experience of your e-store does not cater to multiple personas, you are losing out in the game. Customized user journeys starting at the landing page and using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to show the products that the customer may be exactly interested in, is now mandatory.

What does this mean for marketers?

We believe that marketers need to adapt their marketing plans to Retail as a Service. Using analytics and deep diving into consumer behaviour, dynamic messaging is the way to attract customers to the retail (e)stores. It, now, becomes imperative to break the clutter of discounts, sale, and quick delivery and focus on consumer needs. This also means that marketers need to focus on building an emotional connection between the users and the brands in order to drive brand love. 

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Beyond Insurance: MetLife has announced 360 Health insurance in Korea

MetLife Insurance is taking insurance one step further. According to a recent interview in Korea Times, Sanjeev Kumar, Sr. VP and CMO of MetLife Asia announced taking a holistic approach to insurance. The holistic solution is 360 Health, a new policy helping customers to prevent illnesses, and get access to treatment, ongoing care and financial support for them. MetLife has launched the policy and sub-brand in Korea and China. It is the only solution in Asia that provides end-to-end support across all life stages of a serious illness, according to the insurer.

Going beyond health insurance

MetLife Insurance launches 360 Health


MetLife has been able to understand the existing consumer tension that more and more people are now bothered about the quality of life rather than for how long they live. This is more prevalent in Asian countries. MetLife has also been able to understand that insurance companies need to go beyond just being policy providers and have to add value to the consumer’s life. A holistic approach is the only way ahead for everyone in the insurance market.

Do you agree with this? Let us know in the comments.