Posts Tagged ‘ie business school#8217;

12
Jul

Today I wanted to paraphrase a well-known business article (It is the Distribution, stupid!) to showcase the importance of managing Media properly when building the Personal Brand Identity. And for doing so we have two perfect examples that reflect what should be and should not be done.

lebron james

IKER CASILLAS AND HIS MISSTEP

Iker Casillas has managed its Personal Branding relatively well for many years. I am not sure how systematic and structured he was in his approach, but in the end of the day he came across to Spaniards as a brilliant goalkeeper, with a human touch (reflected when he gave a call to Xavi from Barcelona to end up a club discussion) and passion for what he did and achieved (just recall what happened with Sara Carbonero 4 years ago upon winning the Soccer Wordlcup).

iker casillas

Moreover, he has managed relatively well his presence in Social Media, where we can find him in Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram, and has actually got really good PR thanks to some of his prizes, such as the one granted by the UNPD:  Goodwill Ambassador for the Millennium Development Goals.

What came out of it? Casillas managed to create a pretty good Personal Brand around himself, as it was reflected in the research by Personality Media, and actually some advertisting contracts with well-known companies such as Liga BBVA and Procter & Gamble.

iker champu

So far so good, till recently… The misstep came two weeks ago when he published a picture of his new-born baby, one “follower” attacked the baby (he basically said that he wished the baby would drown) and Casillas replied with all kind swearing and curse words…

comentario-iker

Had Casillas the right to response back like that? Yes, of course. Was Casillas right when responding like that? Absolutely not. Casillas needs to understand that even if he has the right to do so, he has created a Personal Brand, needs to protect it, take good care about what he does and does not say in public and specially take care of Media and Digital Media. For whatever he says, specially if it is a misstep, is going to be viral and promoted all around the Globe…

 

LEBRON GOES BACK HOME

The story of Lebron is somewhat similar to the one of Iker Casillas in a bigger scale. His Personal Branding started when he was only 17 and made it in the cover of Sports Illustrated: The Chosen one was born.

lebron the chosen one

Number 1 of the NBA draft in 2003, he was really up to the expectations he raised and managed to beat quite a few records during his 7 years in the Cavs, with only something missing: An NBA Championship. In 2010, he became an unrestricted agent and had to decide whether to keep on playing in Cleveland or moving somewhere else… Everybody was awaiting and he finally made his move… A move that he announced in an ESPN TV Program (The Decision)…

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Did he have the right to look for another Team where to win the NBA Championship? Of course. Did he mange it properly from a communication perspective? Definitively not. It was considered a brutal communication misstep, an arrogant move that made him a public enemy in Cleveland and in the minds of big chunk of NBA followers (myself included).

4 years later, Lebron was facing the same situation again. He had spent 4 years with the Heats, won 2 NBA Championships, had the right to choose his team again and got everybody was awaiting his decision. And today, he announced his decision and, in contrast to what happened before, he communicated it smartly: He wrote a well-thought and respectful letter published by Sports Illustrated, where he exposes the reasons for “I´m coming back home”.

lebron coming home

The reactions are yet to come, but I can bet that his Personal Brand Image will be strongly reinforced for:

  • He has amended his previous mistakes.
  • He admits the communication mistakes he made in the past.
  • He comes across as a respectful and considerate person, that looks for something else.

SOME CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • Personal Branding has to do with who you are and specially with how you come across.
  • For the latter Media in a broad sense is critical and needs to be carefully thought and manged.
  • When being a well-known Personal Brand, you need to be mindful and aware that everything your claim is subject to be published, promoted and made viral. This works both for offline and online media.
  • Having said that, you need to define your values and positioning and stick to them, even if rational or irrational critics show up.
  • And last but not least, please consider a professional assessment for managing your Personal Brand. Brand Management well deserves some professional help.

personal branding

Look forward for your comments @ignaciogafo.

Reset!!!

Ignacio Gafo

21
Jun

Recently, we hosted at IE the training academy “New Venture Creation and Marketing in Health/Life Sciences”, as a part of European Commission program Health-2-Market. During this week-long intensive training program, researchers-entrepreneurs from all over Europe had the chance to develop in collaboration with IE faculty the marketing plans of their ventures.

What struck me the most during this academy is the following. All of the participants were extremely motivated and knowledgeable about how their business ideas (products, services, or complete solutions) could be used. Each of them could talk for hours (literally) on how great and useful their business idea was… However, almost nobody could (at least at the beginning) adopt the view of their potential customers’ regarding their business. What would be the core benefit, for them?

In marketing jargon, they were focusing on their actual, and not on their core product. They were focusing on what their customer would pay for, and not why they would pay for it. For example, participants thought that they were providing “easy to use and technologically advanced medical devices” instead of “time, flexibility, and accuracy of results” to the doctors. “An integrated patient monitoring system” instead of “Cost reduction” for the hospitals. And, finally, “an easier and less intrusive way of heart-surgery”, instead of “more saved lives”.

Why may this be happening? Well, most entrepreneurship profs argue (rightly) that one of the keys to entrepreneurial success is passion for your business. They frequently use the metaphor that entrepreneurs must see their business as their child. Here, I believe, is the problem. It is extremely difficult for parents to stop admiring how great their child is, and start thinking how their child can be helpful to other people, the society, etc. Just as many parents believe that the society should be full of admiration for their children, many entrepreneurs believe that their business is so great, that the market and the customers should automatically appreciate them.

We have, thus, the following paradox: The very same passion that is necessary for entrepreneurial success, is preventing entrepreneurs from being customer focused, inhibiting thus entrepreneurial success at the same time. Maybe, then, the real key is to be able to manage your passion in such a way that keeps entrepreneurs motivated, but at the same time does not switch their focus away from customers’ needs.

 

More about Health2market e-training: http://elearning.health2market.eu/
More about Health2market: http://www.health2market.eu/

Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu

12
Jun

No me voy a parar a analizar el caso de Uber, ni el de Airbnb ni lo que está ocurriendo alrededor de un repentino movimiento regulatorio que pretende frenar con leyes lo que el mercado ya ha adoptado y los clientes han hecho suyos.

Lo que me interesa de estos casos y de otros que ahora veremos es cómo estos servicios están conectando de una manera íntima con sus consumidores generando un “engagement” extraordinario.

Y todo empieza con una innovación. Como he visto hoy aquí las innovaciones no se deben exclusivamente a una idea genial que surge de una mente privilegiada sino que normalmente consiste en una reinterpretación creativa de la realidad actual que atiende las necesidades de los consumidores e inspiran cambios en los modelos de negocio.

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Uber, Airbnb, Cabify y otras tantas lo que han hecho ha sido ofrecer una solución práctica y cercana que base su éxito en la reputación, en la confianza en los pares (peers) y en la disponibilidad. Y todo esto con un marketing inteligente, osado y trasngresor que es capaz de reinterpretar la realidad.

Este el caso que este mes nos trae trendwatching.com en el que vemos una iniciativa divertida, simpática y diferente de Uber. Durante una huelga de trenes y metro en Londres, la compañía lanzó una promoción genial: un 50% de descuento para todos los viajeros que compartieran tarifa. Sencillo. Directo. Just in time.

Captura de pantalla 2014-06-12 a la(s) 17.43.38

Y lo que es evidente es que esta tendencia está llegando a todos los sectores. Ya sea el de comida a domicilio con los ejemplos de JUST EAT (líder mundial valorada en +1.770 M € tras su salida a Bolsa), el de la cosmética (Wahanda es un gran ejemplo), al de los abogados (mybarrister.co.uk)o los que todos conocemos (Amazon, Alibaba, Ebay…) o

En cualquier caso, estas empresas se basan en algo tan sencillo como difícil: poner en contacto a la oferta y a la demanda y además, creando valor en ambos extremos de la misma.

Con modelos que se suelen basar en la comisión directa sobre las transacciones, los marketplaces exitosos  son aquellos que son capaces de rentabilizar su negocio sin caer en la tentación de guiarse por un espejismo con forma de burbuja y que tienen la voluntad y el conocimiento necesario para crear empresas sostenidas en el largo plazo.

Analicemos mercados maduros, hagamos ejercicios de marketing lateral e innovemos. A lo mejor satisfacemos a 1 cliente. Y, a lo mejor, detrás de ese primer cliente vienen otros miles de usuarios que nos estaban esperando.

Feliz jueves a todos. Me encantaría leer vuestros comentarios

@jesusrebollog

PS. Hoy en el Mundial #nomelajuego !

 

28
Apr

En un entorno de marcas y consumidores hiperconectados se debate con asiduidad sobre la necesidad de que las marcas dialoguen con sus consumidores . El objetivo parece claro: establecer una relación más fluida y continua en el tiempo.

Se habla de dialogar, de conectar, de storytelling; de crear contenidos, de distribuir contenidos, de conseguir recomendaciones, word of mouth, de seguidores, likes, tweets, retweets …

Buscamos community managers, SEO y SEM managers, creamos attribution models y pensamos qué contenido será mejor para atraer más consumidores, más clicks y generar más difusión e impacto.

Sin embargo, en la mayoría de las estrategias de las marcas echo de menos una palabra mágica: empatía.

Para establecer una relación duradera entre personas o entre un marca y sus consumidores no sólo es necesario dialogar, es necesario dialogar mostrando empatía.

El dialogo sin empatía puede ser correcto, circunstancial, incluso muy frecuente; nos hace ser conocidos pero no construye sólidos vínculos afectivos ni entre las personas ni entre las marcas y sus consumidores .

Mostrar empatía significa comprender y tener la palabra justa ante los sentimientos de las personas , anticipar sus reacciones y compartir sus momentos. La empatía implica capacidad de escuchar y de expresar al otro que le hemos entendido, que podemos ver las cosas desde su punto de vista, no sólo desde el nuestro.

Traducido al lenguaje del marketing es importante resaltar que mostrar empatía no es lo mismo que descubrir “insights”. Los insights son revelaciones puntuales para las marcas que les ayudan a hacerse visibles, presentes y relevantes en la consideración de los consumidores.

La empatía es lo que hace que un “insight “perdure en el tiempo y se convierta en una ventaja competitiva sostenible.

Por mi experiencia profesional en marketing e innovación considero de un enorme mérito la estrategia llevada a cabo por la marca Dove en estos años. Alguna vez ya he comentado al respecto en este blog

Sin embargo, lo que más me llama la atención de esta marca es su capacidad de empatía.

Me gustaría que viesen estos tres anuncios.

Probablemente el primero ya lo conocen, Dove Sketches.

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Quizas los otros dos aún no. Dove Selfie y Dove Shy. Echenles un vistazo.

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La transición del primero a los dos últimos es fenomenal.

Para Dove hubiese sido mucho más “simple” exprimir al máximo su exitosa campaña Sketches, buscando mas posibilidades creativas de “sketches”, nuevos targets mas jóvenes; diseñar concursos, promociones y tweets sobre los “sketches” de los consumidores y un sinfín de prolongaciones de la campaña que ustedes pueden imaginar…. Pero esto, aunque diálogo, no es empatía. Sin embargo, con estas nuevas comunicaciones Dove dialoga con sus consumidores con una nueva perspectiva, demuestra que conoce de lo que está hablando, empatiza con sus consumidores mostrando que sabe como se sienten o como se han sentido.

Desde el punto de vista estratégico para la marca el avance es inmejorable. Un target más joven, un tono menos dramático , más alegre y positivo.

Con los buenos amigos las conversaciones no se repiten hasta el aburrimiento. Descubrimos nuevas perspectivas. Hablando con ellos, nos conocemos mejor.

 

Espero que tengan una buena semana, seguiremos dialogando

 

puedes seguir la conversación en @carmenabril1

 

22
Mar

When faced with a bad event, most humans have the tendency to look for a “bright side”. This tendency has been captured by popular idioms in many languages, such as “Να χρυσώσει το χάπι” (“to coat the pill with gold”) and “Ουδέν κακόν αμιγές καλού” (“There is nothing bad without a bit of good in it”) in Greek, or “every cloud has a silver lining” in English.

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But what is a “silver lining” in economics? The answer comes from important research published in Marketing Science by Richard H. Thaler (University of Chicago; 1985, 2008). Thaler (among many other behavioral economists) argues that every financial transaction is mentally categorized as either a “gain” or a “loss”, relative to a reference point (usually the status quo). In addition, the perceived value of money is very different depending on how it relates to the reference point. Put simply, not all money is equal. Although an amount of money (let’s say 500 euros) can  buy the exact same things regardless where it comes from, its value for people can vary dramatically. One such variation is the “silver lining” principle. Let me explain this with an example.

Over the past (let’s say 3) years, Greece is experiencing the biggest post-second world war economic crisis. Many Greek citizens have lost large parts of their income, and the amount of this loss is for many something like 500 euros / month. For 3 years, this is a 3 x 12 x 500 = 18 000 euros. Now, the Greek economy seems to be slowly recovering. The Greek Prime minister just announced that Greece had surplus, 500 million of which will be distributed to about a million needy Greek citizens (see here). That is 500 / citizen, on average.

 

 

There are two possible ways to frame this 500. The first, is to “integrate” it in the previous loss: The prime minister, in this case, would say: “From the surplus, we will reduce the loss that the neediest Greek citizens had over the last 3 years from 18000 to 17500”.

Instead, he chose to say, more or less: “From the surplus, we will give to the neediest Greek citizens 500 euros each”. Which one sounds better? Clearly the second. Reducing the huge loss of 18000 by 500, would not make anyone any happier. They would still be losing 17500, roughly equal to 18000. Instead, the 500 windfall gain is presented in isolation from the disproportionately larger loss. Now, everyone is happy to have gained suddenly 500 euros; That is a silver lining.

In general, although traditional economics would say that X euros is always X euros, people do not understand money this way. They seem to be considering mostly “what difference does this amount make?”. For example, very small amounts of money may make a difference in how people pursue their financial goals (see here: http://marketing.blogs.ie.edu/archives/2013/07/improving-versus-maintaining-which-one-is-harder.php*). Or, as the “silver lining” principle suggests, when people face a big loss and a disproportionately smaller gain, combining the two into a slightly smaller loss would not make much difference. In these cases, people will “like” the same amount of money more, if they were treated as gains (i.e., gain 500) than if they are treated as “loss reductions” (i.e., limit a 18000 loss by 500)….and politicians seem to know that J.

 

Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu

 

*The Research leading to these results has received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions ) of the European Union´s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under REA grant agreement No. 298420.

13
Jan

How do we manage to sell our product to the far far away?

Written on January 13, 2014 by María López Escorial in Bottom of the Pyramid, Distribución

In my last post, “main guidelines for any successful ventures at the BOP”, last mile distribution was identified as a key success factor for any BOP venture.
I do agree with Polak and Warwick; after customer listening and understanding, you need to get them the product, otherwise everything is worthless.
The majority of the BOP clients live in scatter, remote, hardly accessible, rural places. I would always remember my trip along the Peruvian Andes at 4000 km altitude when after 4 hours along a dusty pathway with no more that sheep, goats and a shepherd, we arrived to a neatly organized paved village that gathered all the economic interactions done in around 10 hours walk trip.

far away 1far away 2

How do you manage to get your product there still being “ruthless affordable”?

Here I would like to provide some successful examples. Some companies are using door to door networks in the “Avon” direct selling manner or recruiting and training local “influencers” to prescribe and sell the product. These strategies do work, but it is difficult to achieve enough scale in this way.
Fortunately, there is a huge in-place infrastructure that is still underutilized. In every developing country, there are thousands of “mom-and-pop shops” that already sell any kind of consumer items as well as small carts that run all along bringing goods and services directly to rural homes. This entire network is under full capacity at the moment.

small village shop

Some successful companies are already working with them. One of the key success drivers of M-Pesa has been to put in place the right training, incentive and control program for this distribution network.
Coca-Cola is another example; they realized that in these markets providing merchandize items to promote the product was not enough. They introduced “eKOcool”.

screen-shot-2013-12-10-at-13-33-06

As Coca-Cola describes it: “A solar-powered cooler developed specifically for retailers in rural areas. Rooftop solar panels are linked to the chest-style coolers installed inside the store below. The sustainable innovation helps shopkeepers sell ice-cold drinks – a bit of a novelty in “off-the-grid” communities – without ice or electricity.”
The “eKOCool” coolers also feature ports for charging lanterns and mobile phones. In turn, increases store revenues (from Coca-Cola, recharges and other products), literacy rates by increasing study hours and community accessibility to electricity. Watcht how the clients see it:

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But you need to be careful when designing this type of channel. Channel management and control would be key, and therefore, recruiting, training and incentive schemes of this far and diverse point of sale. In my point of view, it will only work if there is a social and fair economic profit for both parts.

As Coca-Cola chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent puts it in a recent interview with McKinsey & Co: “It took us time to understand that small stores, many operated by families out of the front of their homes, were an unappreciated source of economic opportunity…//.. What we now understand intimately—and what other companies who want to sell in India must recognize—is that our future is tied to the communities where we operate.”

Any other key success factor you want to share?
Any other example of distribution network or execution?

I will wait for your comments! Here and at @marialescorial

11
Jan

Hello again everyone,

It is a great pleasure for the IE team involved at the Health2Market initiative to announce that the Health2Market Seminar: “Cutting Edge Decision Making Tools for Entrepreneurs”, will be hosted at IE Business School / IE University on March 3rd 2014. This Seminar will be delivered by professor Dilney Gonçalves.

But why is this seminar important? Well, managing a business at its core involves making good decisions. While most entrepreneurs will seek training in techniques in specific functions of the business like finance, marketing, and accounting, few are trained in decision-making. While it is important to understand the techniques involved in running the business, it is just as important to be a good decision maker. This seminar will provide participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to structure a decision problem, generate options, and select the best alternative in a consistent and unbiased way, enabling them to make the best possible decisions in their business ventures.

The seminar will be useful for everyone who is involved with health-sciences related businesses. So if you (or anyone you know) fits this profile, please do register!

 

REGISTER NOW: http://www.health2market.eu/seminar/2/registration

Registration is Required! Registration Deadline: February 7th, 2014

Participation is free of charge!!!

In addition, Health2Market offers FREE OF CHARGE full e-training courses. The courses range from the basics of marketing strategy to tips on how to attract partners to full-scale business planning and will help you understand the dynamics of the market and how to pursue business venture. Whether you already have some experience in the business world, or even if you have never left the science lab, the courses are designed to be easily understood by anyone.

 

More about the Health2Market Seminar: “Cutting Edge Decision Making Tools for Entrepreneurs”: http://www.health2market.eu/seminar/2
More about Health2market e-training: http://elearning.health2market.eu/

More about Health2market: http://www.health2market.eu/

 

Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu

4
Jan

New Year’s Resolutions. Why people fail?

Written on January 4, 2014 by Antonios Stamatogiannakis in ADVERTISING, Research in practice, Servicios

Hello again,

first of all let me wish a very happy new year to everyone!!

These days, it is common for many people to set resolutions for the new year. Those are commonly things that they want to achieve or do in order to improve their lives. This trend is so important, that the US government has devoted a special webpage to it: http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/New-Years-Resolutions.shtml.

Many of these resolutions focus on a better and more healthy lifestyle. Consumers typically aim, for instance, to exercise regularly. This exercising can take the form of either a daily workout routine ( X minutes per day) or a weekly schedule (e.g., 3 times per week). Many marketeers that work on domains that are related to these longer-term goals capitalize on the way that consumers consider them, promoting in their offerings exactly that: The benefits of a standard workout schedule (I am sure you have seen may ads like the following in the past).

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Yet, despite the efforts of governments, marketeers, and consumers themselves, long-term goals, such as new year’s resolutions, often are not achieved… Why may that be the case? Are people so bad at sticking to their goals?

resolutions pic

Recent research by a Cornell university psychologist (Dunning 2007), gives an answer to this question. Dunning argues that people are not that bad in pursuing their goals, but rather they are not very good when setting a goal, in the sense that they do not account for all the information they may have available. For example, when making these resolutions, people often fail to consider that the reason they did not work out as much as they wanted till now, is not that they did not have exercising equipment or a gym membership, but that they lacked the time or the motivation to exercise; It is very hard to find time to exercise, if one’s day is full with other obligations (e.g., career, family, commuting, etc.). Put simply, the day will always have 24 hours, no matter if one owns a gym membership or not!

So, the next time you fail in sticking to a plan of yours, instead of blaming yourself for being lazy, consider whether the plan was feasible to start with.

 

Having said that, I wish you never face such a situation during 2014!

Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu

 

 

5
Dec

I find the recent book by Paul Polak and Mal Warwick: The Business Solution to Poverty: Designing Products and Services for Three Billion New Customers, an excellent compendium of the essential role of business in fighting poverty. There is quite a few literature about it, but the authors have greatly managed to put all together in an easy to understand and comprehensive way. Moreover, they stress several points that although already known, have been never gain enough relevance.

The first of them is listening to your customer. In the business world, customer centric is a common mantra for successful business. Nevertheless, initial developments at the BOP have been launched just translating develop countries strategies and products to this new set of consumers. But the needs, priorities, uncertainties, fears, and strategies to face life at the BOP are radically different.

Notice examples of failure such as selling telephone health insurance for populations without telephone signal or talking indigenous languanges, soap powder difficult to use due to its foam in river streams, saving products with huge minimum entry deposits, yogurts needing continuous cool preservation or mobile transaction fees higher that the cost of traveling to the payment office.

Listening and understanding BOP customers is not straight forward. First, probably you do not speak their language, second traditional market research methods (as focus groups or telephone interviews) are difficult to apply in this context. How many focus group moderatos can you figure out come from the BOP, so that they can really identify themselves with the target and really understand and motivate the discussion with trust? How many of BOP customers would respond to a telephone interview?

Univeler started to send their product managers to make ethnographic studies living with this customer segment for 3-days to a week…. Soon after, only a few of them wanted to repeat the experience.

This is how Paul Polak does his research:
“I will go to a village – if I don’t speak the language, I go with someone who is respected in the village and act as an introducer and translator – and I will select a typical family and spend seven hours with them. I’ll walk them through their fields, have a look at what they’re growing, compare it to market prices. The first thing is to form a relationship, and then I ask them all kinds of questions about their lives, including what they had for breakfast that morning, how many kids they have, and how far their kids are going in school. When we get to know each other better, I ask them about all their sources of income and how they spend it. Then I do the same thing with another seven or eight families in the village for only one or two hours. That process has never failed to come up with at least one transformative idea.”

Paul Polak

We can extract several key factors of his research method:
1. Choose somebody trustful in the community,
2. Spend enough time listening in a learning humble attitude,
3. Form a relationship before asking personal questions,
4. Spend time knowing each other before going into the household economics, after all, this is “the” critical subject in their lives,
5. Test your findings with other families.
And at the end of the day have the enthusiasm to do it periodically.

Listening, research and value proposition adaptation must follow once the product is launched, and everybody in the company must continuously learn from the customer. In my previous post, I talked about the benefits for d.light of talking with Teresia about the use of her solar lamp.

In my point of view, even more than any other, BOP ventures must understand their customers.

Those are the rest of the guidelines they propose to launch a successful venture at the BOP:

• Listening.
• Transforming the market.
• Scale.
• Ruthless affordability.
• Private capital
• Last-mile distribution.
• Continuous innovation.

I will comment the rest in my next post. Now I wait for your comments and ideas.

Any other key success factor you want to share?
Any idea of executing market research in this customer segment?

Waiting for your comments.

30
Nov

Big Asian countries, such as China and India, are attracting the attention of companies in a variety of industries. Typically, two kinds of business opportunities are being pursued in these countries. First, many companies (e.g., IBM, Adidas, P&G, etc. – the list is really endless) transfer there some or all of their operations simply to benefit from lower production costs. Second, as the residents of these two countries represent roughly 50% of the total planet population, many companies are entering these markets  in attempt to grow their consumer base. From financial services to pharma, there seems to be something for every business domain.

As smart and profitable as the above practices may be, they are still a bit shallow (or shortsighted as a McKinsey article argues). A closer look reveals an important 3rd business opportunity; The tremendous cultural heritage of both India and China can provide excellent business prospects for companies who wish to be a bit more adventurous and seize opportunities as they arise.

But who would be the customers for such “culturally loaded” products? Well, first, an important part of Europeans and Americans find Asia as an exotic place, and they could welcome some of this “exotic-ness” to their lives. This is evident from both hard-numbers (Indian exports to USA alone are worth about USD 40 Billion) and softer consumer observation perspectives (e.g., influences of a recent Jean Paul Gaultiers collection).

But that is not all. With the modernization of the economies, many multinational firms now have significant offices in India and/or China. The executives of these companies, can be either locals, who have climbed up all the way to the corporate ladder, or expats, who were brought in by their companies in order to bring to these new markets their expertise. Both these types of people are interesting niche markets. The first, living and working in a westernized environment, may feel a little disconnected from their cultural origins. The second, living and working in a far away country, may try hard to “blend it”. No matter if their initial motive, is connecting to the past, blending in, or simply finding signature corporate gifts for their companies, they are very likely to seek for products that carry some cultural meaning of the country they live in. These products, then, could be used either by the executives themselves, or as corporate gifts of the companies they work for, which perhaps also want to communicate “original local identity”

Elements is a company that tries to seize this opportunity. The idea behind Elements was born by a team in which two IE alumni, Aman Goel and Gustavo Salinas, belong. Elements presents a unique approach to marketing hand-made Indian handicrafts, trying to connect rural Indian artisans and the culture their crafts carry, with the mainstream markets.

Aman and Gustavo explained to me the idea in greater detail.

“Indian handicrafts have been appreciated in India and abroad for a long time and already claim a market size of over USD 5 Billion. However, Elements believes, that the potential market for Indian handicrafts is much bigger. Indian artisans, for centuries, have been making the same products with same designs. So, while the world has become more modern and fast paced, Indian handicrafts have not evolved to suit the tastes of modern customers. Especially for the corporate clients, the gifts are seen as a medium building relationships with clients and employees. Therefore, the gifts not only require to communicate the company’s philosophy but also be unique. However, the corporate gifting industry in India is dominated by small regional traders who mostly import gift items from China leaving minimal scope for customization. This is where Elements brings in its expertise to adapt and contemporize traditional designs that are tailor made for each company and that carry the story of arts and artisans who have made the product. The enclosed image shows a business card holder developed by Elements using traditional Tarkashi art (metal wire inlay in wood), which has traditionally been used in making festive boxes.

El_Card holder

 

 

El_Logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Furthermore, Elements also works closely with the artisans, in order to guarantee authenticity and reliable delivery of the crafts. If needed, it provides the artisans with tools and raw material to improve their production efficiency while reducing their financial burden. In addition, close cooperation helps building strong relationships and allows passing to the artisans maximum benefits from a sale. The video that follows is indicative of this close relationship.”

YouTube Preview Image

 

Overall, though still in early stages, Elements shows that countries like India and China offer interesting market opportunities that do not necessarily rely on cheaper cost of production, but rather build on the value that products from these countries can deliver.

Do you think of any other similar business opportunities?

You can read more about Elements at:

Website: www.esbv.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/elementsmart

Blog: www.elementsmart.tumblr.com

 

Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu

 

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