Airtel has been instrumental with their marketing strategies right from the start. Infact, recently in the recent issue of 4Ps magazine, Airtel was named to have to most brand awareness in India.
source: 4Ps Magazine
Be it the print media or the the Idiot Box, Airtel is right up there when it comes to generating buzz and showcasing its product in the best way there is. But with the telecom space heating up and the customer having a plethora of choices, how could Airtel ensure a dedicated un-wavering focus of the customer from their product?
One probable solution- Do not leave any space for the competitor to showcase its product !
This might seem insane to implement at first, but this is exactly what Airtel has managed to do. In July, Airtel logo’s adorned the walls of an existing mall in Hyderabad , RK Cineplex.
What was unique is the fact that there were no other brand logos fighting for real estate space. Infact, even the name of the mall was changed to Airtel RK Cineplex. This gave to what is the country’s first branded mall. Take that for garnering the maximum eyeballs!
The details of the deal are too few but according to the statement by Manoj Kohli, CEO in the BT article, this is a well thought out strategic move to increase its visibility among the masses. As for the mall owner, this sure looks like a sweet deal. There are no details on how much Airtel would have coughed up for this exclusive deal, but I am sure that the money would have been more than enough given the dire straits the existing malls are in.
But, is this exercise by Airtel worth its money and can it deliver enough returns? The idea is rather new so it is difficult to gauge the ROI based on existing examples.
A few good things for Airtel,
- Airtel gets to brand all the common areas in the mall. No chance of the product going unnoticed.
- One stop shop for all Airtel products be it the mobile, broadband and digital TV. It will make life easier for a brand Shopper.
- Clear tracking on the returns of the marketing campaign. Can help them gauge what kind of promotion/display are working since there are no other players.
- Coupled with its diversified product range bundled with varied pricing, it might be able to attract all kinds of mall visitors into their product
However there also seems to be other side of the coin, atleast thats what I feel, here is what I think:
The exclusivity price that Airtel pays is going to be dependent on footfalls among other things. People in general prefer malls for the options they provide. Moreover, malls are always ripe for tempting discounts that are offered. So, when people come to malls, there is a certain tendency to look out for the "best bang for the buck".
But with the Airtel branding strewn all around, that’s all the customer is going to notice. Don’t you think that could be a deterrent of sorts which could in fact lead to a decrease in footfalls.
An Airtel product according to me would never attract one of the biggest shoppers segment (KIDS). Indirectly, they are the ones whose eyeballs convert to sales on most counts given the product is visually simulating to them. I have my doubts if a BlackBerry banner would catch a kid’s attention.
Now, it is no brainer that a number of kids drive their parents to malls and even families prefer malls for the reason that there is something for everyone.But, if all the kid sees is Airtel around, would he be willing to go to the mall again. Now, thats just one hypothetical example which could lead to a drop in the revenue that the mall is going to make from the Airtel single branding. Even with a relatively generic audience, a single brand exhibit does not seem like a crowd puller. Moreover, with the brand Airtel showcased in bold, will the other vendors feel a little at loss setting shops in the mall.
The idea of a branded mall seems quite unique and interesting, but is the Indian Consumer ready for it?
What do you think? Do you think a branded mall is an outright winner for both the brand and the mall owner or is it otherwise?
[This post is written by Ankit Agarwal, an ERP Consultant by profession, a wannabe entrepreneur and stock market stalker by passion]