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September 10, 2013

Business Collaborations That Are The Kat's Meow

Posted by Sandeep Dadlani (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:10 AM

Android KITKAT 4.4 -- The future of confectionery [Source:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKOrkLxOBoY]

Arsenal, one of the world's best soccer teams, outfits its players with shirts that boldly urge us to "Fly Emirates." Some of the leading drivers in America's biggest sport, stock car racing, are emblazoned with the logos of brands seemingly unrelated to super-fast automobiles such as chewing gum and laundry detergents. Indeed, sports teams have long had a symbiotic relationship with companies in entirely unrelated sectors when it comes to getting their messages out.

Perhaps the most noteworthy of all marketing collaborations is the recent KitKat candy bar by Nestlé that comes wrapped and ready to eat in the shape of an Android. This cross-marketing effort is the result of Google wanting to make a splash during its 15th anniversary year. Although consumers are eating up the campaign, Google claims very little money changed hands between it and the Swiss food giant. The collaboration was more about making a statement and having fun, they said. It was about the unexpected.

The digital consumer is a demanding sort. We at Infosys know this fully well in the wake of our ground-breaking study this past summer in which we polled 5,000 digitally active consumers across five Western countries. Consumers of all ages told us that they're willing to provide information about themselves to companies if they think that those companies are doing more than just gathering data; people want something in return. Maybe it's a deal on consumer packaged goods or a special mortgage rate at a bank. Whatever the promotion, a company must demonstrate that information gathering is a two-way street.

That's why I'm fascinated by Google's decision to name the 4.4 version of Android after a tasty wafer and chocolate confection. In the past, Google had named its Android versions after generic sweets like Donut, Éclair, and Gingerbread. Instead of Key Lime Pie, the choice many people thought the company would use for "k," Google instead went with the name of a trademarked product. Nestlé is reportedly thrilled with the choice: It's shipping more than 50 million Android-shaped KitKats to 18 markets including India, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

At first, my reaction to the collaboration was that it is not unlike Arsenal's multimillion-dollar deal with Emirates Airline, or NASCAR's deal with Wrigley's chewing gum. That is to say, the consumer product companies paid big money for the privilege of having their brands seen by millions of sports fans on a continual basis.

But that's not what the Nestlé-Google collaboration is about. Rather, it's a savvy win-win between two entities that are both courting similar consumers - whether those consumers know it or not. The Twitter-sphere and other social media outlets are already on fire when it comes to chatter about the special-edition candy bar. The excitement to run out and purchase a bunch of chocolate comes from up scale, digital consumers who will no doubt feel a special attachment to the Nestlé product line long after this clever promotion ends. They'll be hard pressed to forget the light-hearted references to bites vs. bytes, and, in a subtle dig at rival Apple, which enjoys asking if you have an app for that, the company asks the question: "Got a KitKat for that?"

True, the collaboration has all the trappings of something unexpected and off-the-cuff. But don't believe for a moment that Google - and Nestlé, for that matter - is trolling social media for mass sentiments in an effort to gauge what consumers like and don't like about their latest Android offering. In a hyper competitive market that is the world of rival operating systems, no promotion goes unplanned or is spur-of-the-moment.

What's so good about this seemingly innocent and friendly collaboration is how it sets a new standard for data collection and consumer sentiment analysis. In describing KitKat as a compatible, useful piece of confectionery engineering, two consumer-oriented companies are not only poking fun at the nature of past marketing campaigns. They're demonstrating to the public how savvy they are in gathering information about their customers in ways they never thought possible.

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