Saturday, March 28, 2009

How do you sell your cake?

Getting up at 3 in the morning to watch Test Cricket between the Indians and the Kiwis might be termed insane by some. But with someone like me, whose life has been defined and punctuated by insanities, what else would you expect?

Anyways, while watching this match, something strange caught my attention. The match was being broadcast on Set MAX, a primarily Hindi movie channel. The build up to the series was also primarily through advertisements in Hindi. The cricket dished out though had English as its language. The commentators spoke in English, the match presentations were conducted in English, the in ground advertisement boards were in English and even players, baring Dhoni with his tidbits of encouragement viz. Yeh achcha hain, stuck to English. The ad capsule in between the overs alternated between English, Hindi and Hinglish (a variant of the ubiquitous Hindi language where words of emphasis are spoken in English).

This got me thinking. Who was the intended audience for this cricket presentation and the related advertisements? More importantly, how do you decide what language to rely on to sell your product? Does using one language over other makes the product more saleable? Or you just shoot an ad, do a voice-over in all popular languages and thrust it across the audience?

While a lot of money is spent in making a product presentable and a lot of research goes in understanding how the consumers perceive a product; I could find precious little literature on the questions confounding me. One of the reasons might be that the industries and countries conducting these elaborate researches, unlike India, never had to deal with consumers spread across multiple language base.

So, here is the question to all my MBA, doing MBA and about to start their MBA friends (interestingly, these three sets cover almost all the people I know), how do you decide?


  1. Good Question! And you have answered this question "how do you decide" by asking the right kind of questions which you had listed before. Normally companies prepare a profile of the customer who would be watching this test match and accordingly make the adds (obviously you cannot target everyone- marketeers follow the 80-20 rule, 80% revenue from 20% resource). For example, I would say, companies feel the people who would be watching this test match are generally cricket crazy youth. I would assume mostly people in big cities or tier-1 tier-2 cities who have access to cable television and are literate. On your second issue, we have two modes of communication - visual and verbal and both are important.In south india, companies often do voice overs in native languages as advertising costs money. another way of doing is to have a recognized character, whose mere presence is enough to associate a product. Whether, a roduct needs to explained in native language is dependent on the product - health products would definitely place importance to language as opposwed to coke and pepsi where mere visual impression is sufficient.
    I also think that since the matches are at odd times the advertising rates would be lower as compared to prime time.
    I will post more as I think more about it.

  2. India has always been an advertiser's paradise or hell in equal measure. You get a chance to woo a billion plus consumers but the bottom line is every consumer is as unique and as informed as they come. I think there are a very few ads which have appealed to people across social strata: Until recently it was Pepsi which has put in that extra bit of effort to be seen in all gali-nukkads of bharat as well as India (remember "Yahi hai right choice Baby", which sets itself perfectly in rural as well as urban regions), though its Youngistan idea fails to fall in the same category. I believe it all depends on the brand and target audience- if it is washing powder, u sell it with "Sabki pasand Nirma" and if it is something as niche as a Safari Dicor u sell it with "Reclaim your Life"

  3. I could start of with demand and supply curves and marginal revenue brought in by each additional consumer but then that would just show my unpreparedness for my forthcoming micro-econ exam!