Off the Shelf provides a platform for Retailers and Consumer Packaged Goods companies to discuss and gain insights on the pressing problems, trends and solutions.

December 18, 2014

What can retailers learn from consumers' online behaviors in shaping the in-store shopping experience?

Jane is walking through her local market when she passes by the hair products aisle and she remembers that she's running low on hair gel.  She wants to try a new, higher-end product, but making the selection is daunting, and she is not sure which product to buy.  She wants to do some quick comparison research before she spends 30 dollars on a product, so she takes out her phone to read relevant product reviews.  It takes a while to locate all the products, and reading the many reviews for the various products are overwhelming.  After five minutes of frustrated searches, she decides to settle with her generic option.

For the average shopper today, Jane's experience is likely to be a common one.   Indeed, a recent consumer survey found that the majority of people prefer to begin their journeys online, with 88% of shoppers webrooming--or looking at products online first, before purchasing in-store.  Such practices are not relegated to just high value purchases like electronics alone; modern day digital shoppers are increasingly price and value conscious, and they are used to easy access to reviews during their online shopping experiences, hence they tend to be less impulsive while purchasing, than ever before. 

It is the job of retailers then to meet consumers' increasing demands for external sources of information during their in-store shopping experiences.  To do so, retailers must focus on enhancing capabilities on mobile devices.  For example, to help shoppers like Jane, retailers can attach QR codes to products which allow consumers to easily access reviews for the product by simply scanning it with their phone.  On the same page, there can be reviews for related products as well. Also included must be tools to help Jane locate a product she indicates interest in. 

Repeated surveys indicate that despite the usual habit of starting shopping journeys online, consumers still overwhelmingly prefer to make actual purchases in-store.  Leveraging mobile content to supplement the traditional in-store experience, can create a simpler and faster journey that caters to the consumer's demands and save him/ her time. 

 


 

The case for Online Grocery

 

 

Online retail is a very important channel today, on which every retailer is trying to gain a foothold. Giants like Amazon, Ocado, and Flipkart etc have established their online business and are trying to tap into a larger market share across the globe. Be it the retail or consumer products for new or used products, everyone wants to be on the web and doing business.

 The next big thing in the online business is Online Grocery. Online business has its own advantage on cost, but is it cost efficient? Grocery retailers today are striving hard to become unique in form of the service they provide, the range they carry or the omni-channel presence allowing easy access to the customer. But there is a definite amount of cost involved in being unique, which is a major concern for any grocery retailer. The margins are very thin and tight control on operating costs is required to meet the top and bottom line. However the buzz around going online in grocery segment remains a major thrust area in 2015.

Customer's wants are never ending and companies too are trying to satisfy them with innovative methods like click and collect, drive through, home delivery and centralized lockers, to service the customers and retain them, apart from the online offering.  There are retailers who have a physical store and also provide home delivery, drive through - these services win customers but they also mean additional cost for the retailer to manage these services. That's why online retailers have  a minimum cap of purchase for customers to avail these services.

Going online sets the retailer free from the real estate cost which occupies a major chunk of the P/L statement of any brick and mortar retailer. And added to it are other costs like power, human resources, shrinkage etc.

The advantage in the online grocery business is the use of limited manpower who could be trained to handle sensitive categories and make sure the product stays intact till it reaches the customer. Also, when a customer sitting anywhere, places the order, gets to pick it from a location near to his/her work place or home or gets it delivered, it gives enormous customer satisfaction, which is most important today. The only thing online retailers need to do is to market their services, try to reach all types of customers and make their supply chain efficient. Once the supply chain for home delivery, drive through and click-n- collect is in place, the online retailer can enjoy the cost advantage and scale up.

In conclusion, in having only a physical presence, there is always a limitation in targeting only the customers available in the catchment area. In an online business, the retailer has a better reach and the retailer can provide other services too, which improves customer centricity, apart from  benefitting both parties monetarily.

 

 

 

Digital wallet and self-check-out - are they the answer to shorter check-out queues.

Market Size projections for Mobile Wallet Range from $41 B (per Forrester Report in 2013) to $64B (emarketer report in 2014) in US by 2017.  There is an even more impressive report card for Global Mobile Wallet market with estimates ranging from $ 191 B for 2017 (ABI Research for NFC Mobile payments) to $ 1602 B (Transparency Market Research, Oct 2014) by 2018 with a CAGR of 31% from 2012-18.

As we debate the correctness of various estimates, the writing is clear - these are well and truly exciting times for Mobile Payments in general and Digital Wallets in particular.

While there is a huge potential to transform the payment space, even at current levels of maturity the market is crowded and fragmented (at least in the US) with many players aiming to take a slice of the pie - see image below on who the players are and what are the various types of offering  (US Context)

DigitalWallet Ecosystem.jpg























Image1: Overview of Different Types of Wallets and Players


One would imagine that with the plethora of options,the awareness and adoption rate will be quite high, however the reality is quite contradictory - there is a high awareness (~ 80% in US) but a dismal adoption rate (< 20% in US) (src: Yankee Group 2014 report)

So what is really the problem - does the wallet not provide the convenience or benefits? Are consumers worried about security and data privacy?

Let's now consider the benefits of a Digital Wallet. Many proponents of the digital wallet will argue that usage of wallet results in shorter check out queues. While there are really no proven data points to quantify the actual saving, on the contrary there are some examples where different digital wallets have failed miserably on usage and performance that they had to be discontinued eventually ex: Starbucks Failed Square Wallet Rollout in 2012. Also, more importantly there's nothing particularly inconvenient about traditional card payments at POS / checkout. Given this kind of a scenario, the Mobile Wallet as a replacement of Credit Card with marginal improvement in checkout times will not be a great business case.

So now let's look at critical success factors that will help in adoption and in providing better benefits to customers. These factors fall under 3 different heads:

1. Superior Customer Centric Design -Foundation of any good mobile wallet offering
2. Address Customer and Merchant Concerns

Key Concerns.jpg






Image2: Key Concerns


3. Provide Value Adds

Value Adds.jpg







Image3: Key Value Added Functionality


In short rather than limiting the benefits of the wallet to just faster checkout times (yes this is absolutely needed but it is the bare minimum), the focus has to be more on looking at the digital wallet as a customer experience enhancement platform with built in components to address concerns and provide value adds so as to enable smooth payments by the wave or tap of a phone.

The success of any digital wallet program will depend on the extent to which it scales across the 3 dimensions of design, handling concerns and providing value adds to customer (see image below)

Attributes of a Good Wallet.jpg
















Image4: Attributes of a Good Digital Wallet Solution

Sales-Consultant, not Salesmen in the brave new Digital World

 

Picture this scenario - a passionate photographer wants to buy a high-end laptop for his work. He goes to websites of all the top manufacturers like Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Asus, and compares various products within his price range. This enables him to short-list his query to 4 laptops. He goes to various e-commerce websites to check the offers present there, and reads up all the 350 odd reviews across the 4 products. But since he intends to buy a high end laptop, he prefers to buy it from the shop, as he wants to see the product before he buys it, and even though price is slightly higher in-store by 1-2%., He  also wants to see which other add-ons are suitable for him.

This customer is what an omni-channel customer looks like. They enter the store with consideration-set ready and researched, and they come in ready to buy, unless the store is giving him a reason not to buy.

The salesman in this case will need to be well-versed with different makes, significance of technical specifications, advantages of having higher RAM over a better processor, and details of after-sales service. He would also need a tablet wherein he can compare the laptops and discuss if the customer needs better Video-RAM or a better Hard-disk capacity. In case the salesman knows a bit about photography, he can even convince the customer to buy a good quality printer/scanner along with the laptop.

Thus, an omni-channel customer looks for a shop where he can find sales consultants, and not salesmen. These sales consultants need to be aware of what is being said by the reviewers across platforms, and need to be aware of the latest technologies. They need to know not only the price of Xbox-One and PS4, but also the price of games popular on these machines.

In case the customer is happy with his experience, this shop will be his first visit when he wants to buy an upgraded lens for his camera, or when his younger brother needs a new laptop for his MBA.

Every retailer knows the importance of the Lifetime Value of a customer. The importance of Life Time Value is probably best explained by using the Amazon Kindle example. A Kindle Fire costing $200 has components worth $165 according to estimates*. The margin is no-where close to covering the R&D expenses. Yet an average Kindle owner spends $433 extra per year on Amazon**, making Kindle a very profitable business.

Thus, providing -customer-centric information, without actively selling, can convert a walk-in into a repeat customer with high Life Time Value which results in a satisfied customer and a satisfied retailer too.

December 16, 2014

2015: THE YEAR OF ONLINE GROCERY? (PART - 2)

With the U.S consumers' wallet share on ONLINE GROCERY growing rapidly, there is a subtle battle brewing between traditional retailers and e-tailers to capture their share of wallet. Given this is an industry typically characterized as highly price sensitive, hyper-competitive with razor thin margins and high purchase frequency - 'How to drive profitable revenues and build a sustainable, scalable (mass-market) online grocery business model?' is a key conundrum faced by U.S grocery retailers today.

Without a doubt, the U.S Online Grocery industry is experiencing a structural shift [see Figure 1] in the way consumers shop for groceries today. Few key trends defining this landscape, worthwhile to note are: price-to-value continues to remain an important driver for consumers who are seamlessly shopping for food and beverage across various store formats (no longer shopping at just one stop shop supermarkets), local and private labels are gaining popularity (better assortment mix), and last-mile delivery continues to be more challenging for retailers with diversifying consumer needs. So, what drives a consumer to shop online?[1] 

 

Grocery Image_3.jpgGrocery Image_4.jpg 

 

 

 


Turns out, Convenience still remains their primary motivation, though not the ONLY reason [see Figure 2] - according to a U.S Grocery Shopper Trends 2012 - Executive Summary published by Food Marketing Institute (FMI). Clearly, some of these reasons are easily replicable by the traditional retailers making it a level playing field for them. So, how can grocery players tap onto this opportunity today and make MONEY at the same time?
 
A Grocer's Perspective
 
De-constructing the P&L of a grocery business model [see Figure 3] shows that the overall economics of this business mainly depends on: the type of fulfillment model used (meaning productivity in number of units picked per hour), basket size, consumer demand, and population density.[2] 
 
Grocery Image_5.jpg
Clearly, a one size fit all approach where-in an e-tailer offering only a home-delivery or a traditional brick and mortar retailer offering only an in-store pick-up might not be viable and profitable. Instead, both e-tailers and traditional brick and mortar retailers, will have to strategically innovate to harness the given market opportunity. Consequently, rather than having a home delivery model across all geographies, brick and mortar retailers can play it by the consumer demand and population density to leverage a combination of fulfillment models e.g. in areas of low density and low consumer demand they can offer variations of click-and-collect models (in store, curbside pickups, delivering to your cars - Volvo seems to be innovating on this front), areas of high density with high consumer demand can leverage dark stores (dedicated warehouses) to offer home deliveries. E-tailers too, can leverage a similar strategy in offering variations of click-and-collect models (car deliveries, specific location pick-up) to drive up their revenues. Having looked at the "last-mile" logistics of the food delivery, now let's look at the consumer side of interactions - how can grocery players engage better with changing consumer needs?
 
A Consumer's Perspective
 
Offering a "differentiated digitally connected seamless" shopping experience today will entail: brick and mortar retailers looking at leveraging location based services to offer a more contextualized, and personalized in-store experience. E-tailers can explore the possibility of offering virtual grocery stores, and contextualized basket building features to match the in-store experiences offered by a brick-and-mortar retailer. In my opinion, some of the key capabilities [see Figure 4] emerging for grocery players today are:
 
Grocery Image_6.jpg

Given the relative economics of grocery business, offering a right combination of click-and-collect and home delivery models that "seamlessly" integrates with a "differentiated digitally connected shopping" experience will be the key to position the grocery retailers for success ahead. Grocery retailers to realize this first will continue to stay relevant to take it all.

As traditional retailers build upon their omni-channel capabilities to be more "online-like" and e-tailers continue to expand their offerings to be more "store-like", it will be interesting to see who wins in this unclaimed territory. Whom do you think will win? 


[1] U.S Grocery Shopper Trends 2012 - Executive Summary by FMI: www.icn-net.com/docs/12086_FMIN_Trends2012_v5.pdf

[2] Online grocery winners emerging - A Report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch

December 15, 2014

Consumers can 'bank' upon Wearables

Wearable devices are surely going to make doing business and making consumption choices easy and the retail industry is one of the biggest beneficiaries of this. In fact, the impact would go beyond retailers and the online business and extend to even consumer banking. In fact one can visualize the boundaries between the retail business and banking business blurring in the new digital age.

As consumers seek easier and more convenient ways to shop and then pay, the retail and payments worlds are likely to collide in the internet expressway to create a smooth seamless transaction for the customer.

For example, a customer walking into a store with a Google glass will use the Google glass to do various things such as - find his way to the nearest store, seek the aisle he wants, receive any promotional updates about products, browse product information and the same Google Glass will also allow users to connect to internet and access all bank account related information and conduct transactions using voice commands. The user could look at his account details, pay bills by taking pictures of them and commanding the app to "Pay Bill".  Another use case here could be, that next time round the customer is walking down the retail aisle/or passing by a restaurant/store, he can get targeted and customized offers of products and services on his Glass, which fit his 'client profile' and there is history of a payment made through his account for the particular category.

To extend the use of the Google glass further, the app will also help him find the nearest ATM/Branch. The user could simply deposit a check by looking at it (the image of the cheque is taken and processed for clearing).

Now let's look at a use case which might be applicable to the Relationship Manager of a bank, such a person would also find the device extremely useful. Once he gets a call from a potential lead, he will be able to reach the client on time, using its easy navigation interface. The conversation with a customer in a different language will be far easier, due to speech to text and language translation apps, on the Glass. Incase, the client needs more detailed product information, the same question can be transferred 'live' to a product expert, who can instantly see and hear the query. Once the questions have been answered and the customer decides to sign up, all he has to do is speak required information and a customized app on the phone automatically converts it into text and feeds it into an application form. Signatures can be collected digitally. Finally, customers photograph and copies of on-boarding documents can be instantly uploaded by saying "take picture". Funds for the account could be transferred instantly using a wallet application on the Glass. That's all! This really makes life much easier for a customer, by having a constructive discussion and completing all the mundane paper work very fast. 

December 11, 2014

2015: THE YEAR OF ONLINE GROCERY? (PART - 1)

Ever imagined a scenario where we will be clicking online for our books, media and GROCERY together? Yes, you read it correctly. GROCERIES... ONLINE? Today, Online Grocery shopping is not only a reality, but also an industry that is accelerating, quickly enough, towards its tipping pointAmazon Fresh[1] and few other retailers like Walmart, Safeway, Instacart, Peapod, Relay Foods and FreshDirect have been transforming the online grocery space to carve out a market share from this unclaimed territory so far.

As a part of this two blog series, we will take a peek at how the U.S Online Grocery industry is positioned for 2015 and the opportunities ahead for the U.S Grocery Retailers.

When we think of Online Grocery as a business, the first thing that comes to mind is the implosion of Webvan in early 2000s. Thus as a concept, online grocery is not something new to consumers and retailers. Webvan's emblematic failure did leave a wary glance on grocery retailers for a long enough time though. Ever mindful of the quote "Change is the only constant in life" - two vital changes in this case are: 1. the growing evolution in the way today's digitally immersive consumer expects to shop seamlessly, both between physical and digital world anywhere, anytime, 2. more viable grocery business models attracting capital savvy investors.

In 2013, US online grocery spending reached $17 billion [see Figure 1], Grocery Image-1.jpgaccounting for only 3.3% of the total U.S grocery spending  - a $500 billion industry -    according to an article[2] by Bloomberg BusinessWeek citing a study run by online grocer and consumer analyst Brick Meets Click. Further, by 2023, it is expected to reach 11% of the total U.S grocery spending growing nearly 3 times at 13% CAGR annually. Looking forward, in my opinion, online grocery represents a significant and exciting growth opportunity that is here to stay.

So, market side of the equation is looking great. Online Grocery Industry is gaining popularity and exhibits great potential for the years ahead. But, what about the consumer side: the Grocery Shoppers? With time, not only has the grocery market and business models changed but digital consumers' purchasing preferences have too. Especially, the way today's tech savvy digital shoppers are increasingly blurring the line between the online and offline channels.

In 2013, roughly 18% of U.S. households went online in the past three months to buy food, beverages, or groceries. Of these, 75% purchased 5% or more online and 20% purchased at least half online - according to an article by Grocery Headquarters citing a study  Grocery Image 2.jpg  'The Online Grocery Shopper Report'[3] run by The Hartman Group's. Further, the article characterizes an online grocery shopper as a high-value customer, who is willing to spend and shop more every month than the offline (at-store only) grocery customers [see Figure 2]. 

The confluence of societal changes (busy urban lifestyles wanting more convenience and less time-intensive ways to shop), demographical changes (more working women, multi-person high-income households, ageing population), and technological advancements (digitally connected consumer increasingly using smartphones and tablets to complete purchases) have led me to believe that the U.S Online grocery market will soon evolve from a niche segment to become a mass-market mainstream appeal. 

 

Given the U.S Online Grocery's tremendous future market potential, the question however still remains: Who is poised to claim this unclaimed territory? Traditional retailers or the E-tailers? The race is already on. Whom do you think will win?

In the next blog, we will explore the opportunities ahead for the grocery retailers.
 
 

October 7, 2014

Retailer's CRM through Gift Card

Have you heard of companies such as Blackhawk network Or Itz Cash card ? What do they do ? Well they are into gift card for large retailers.

Last minute gifting is nightmare....Not with digital gift cards .

Gift card industry is getting popular with expansion of customer base  . It is a CRM widget, to enhance customer's connect and share shopping experiences with near and dear . CRM involves analyze the customer data & leverage the refined information back to enhance customer's experiences in Sales/Promotions , Marketing and Customer Support/Service.

The trend of gift is gaining ground amidst both large and small corporate houses. Why ?


•They are able to "Track customer purchases" and hence build analytics on buying decisions.
•They create a loyalty factor with clients and employees in the long run.

The value of the Indian gift card industry is pegged at Rs 9,000 crore.

....Gift Card , what is that .?


Gift card has a unique card number ( generated random ), does not need any activation or monthly fee , may / may not have an expiration date.A gift card can be virtual, sent to customers via email ( with advantage of no loss ) Or a physical plastic card, which customers can use at a POS or online. Customer can add initial amount , redeem and later add balance. Few cards continue to be used with top up , while some are one time cards where balance add on is not allowed.

 New Gift Card request transactions stem from any of these sources :
• Website of the retailer
• Store POS
• Customer Care IVRS Unit


Further analytics and Big data can help understand buying patterns . For this , customer data warehouse stores order-history and a record of all activities performed on the gift card. Analytics helps predicting customer preference trends  & sales-forecasting . All is comes under CRM. In essence retailer would take the feedback & personalize shopping experience of the customer based on buying habits. Purging of data is also required as there may be un-used , expired entries of cards that would make databases bulky. As per stats :  In 2012, over $100 Billion in gift cards will be purchased in the US, where over 20% of those gift cards went unredeemed or unused .

Customers may want to see real time settlement of the balances while retailer systems do this re-conciliation through jobs that run only in midnight. Sometimes , retailer sites allow customer to buy value above their balance and this threshold ( eg : 25 cents on $ 100 balance ) is again part of CRM. This implies customers are allowed to purchase upto $ 100.25. Who pays 25 cents ? This is at the cost of store from where the purchase is being made.

Ever wondered , If the retailer goes bankrupt what happens to the gift cards ? Well , they do not hold any value ( these are treated as unsecured loans ).

The approaching festive season brings lucrative opportunities for gifting across the world. Combination of Gift Card ( that too personalized ) can be an effective CRM.

August 28, 2014

From Multi channel to Omni channel - Background Orchestration

In the retail arena, terms Multichannel & Omni channel are often used interchangeably however, their is a stark difference in actuality. Simply put, Multichannel implementation completed to perfection is Omni channel.  It enables customers to have a holistic brand experience without toggling between the channels. A major pain point for the ecommerce industry is the mismatch which occurs in their varied customer touch points leading to diminished user experience. 

 

Corporates are continuously juggling their channels of commerce and aligning them to have a better reach and throughput. Over 83% retailers expect to implement Omni channel strategy by October'2015.

If we look at the unification process closely, there are a range of activities that go into Omni channel enablement. This blog attempts at viewing the background approach that goes into it:


Cross channel integration
Retail selling channels web, Mobile, store need to be inegrated at the backend to present a complete picture. The integration needs to happen at various levels:

  • Unified Product definition (Catalogs) across the channels: Retailers still hold legacy systems maintaining separate item information for store items and online items. In their endeavor towards being Omni channel enterprises, Retailers need to unify these systems to bring about uniform product attributes. 
  • Taxonomy definition needs to be uniform.
  • Channel specific information pricing differences, product availability on the particular channel needs to be in retained in the systems. 
  • Continuous updation of product modifications need to flow in the channel specific repositories.

E-commerce re-platforming
Retailers spend exorbitant time and effort in integrating their channels streamlining product data, pricing, promotions, inventory etc. There are best of class platforms available in market today which can replace the existing legacy home-grown platforms like Hybris (SAP), Oracle retail, ATG, etc. Retailers evaluate platforms on various parameters to narrow down on appropriate platforms.


Pricing & Promotion
The key metrics in sales is Pricing. Pricing needs to be streamlined and in sync between channel. Any channel related pricing difference should be retained.

Retailers compete using marketing strategies to lead their peers. Marketing strategies like product bundling, promotional campaigns, BOGO need to be in sync in the product systems utilized by Stores and Web.

Minimizing the data repositories
Legacy systems and custom built ecommerce rollouts lead retailers to building numerous systems catering to different data like vendor systems, bifurcated pricing systems. It is important that the retailers weed out the unnecessary data systems. Ofcourse, the information needs to be retained in unified bases.

 

Inventory system synchronization
Once the product definition and pricing have been taken care of, the crucial step that remains is the integration of the inventory sources of the channels. The inventory information needs to be updated. Also, competitors are dealing today with flexible fulfillment options or cross channel fulfillments. This makes it mandatory to have integrated data sources.

 

The above factors will ensure the building steps to Omni channel are complete. 

 


http://www.thedrum.com/news/2014/04/25/83-online-retailers-expect-implement-omnichannel-strategy-next-18-months
http://risnews.edgl.com/retail-news/5-Steps-to-Omnichannel-Merchandise-Management91755

July 11, 2014

Marketing at its Best..!

"Take it sir, this is the best choice in the range you desire, and it's probably the last piece we have."

Recall something..!!

It's the statement that we hear almost every time we go to purchase anything, isn't it?

And how many times we buy that "mystical last piece" which never ends for its next customer? I mean every time a new customer comes, the piece regenerates itself on the shelf.

Probably my comment is sarcastic, but that doesn't mean it isn't reflecting the truth. We all experience it in our day-to-day life. But, one thing that we don't realize is, we are getting habitual of it.

There was time when we use to buy what we desired, but now, it's the era of Marketers. Now marketers sell us what they want. They now have tactics to spell-bound customers in their communication (consider verbal and non-verbal) and drive their perception. 

By hook or by crook, these guys are able to figure out the way to stimulate sales of their products. And that's all they are willing these days. Earlier it used to be just the marketing, now it has come up with verticals like experiential marketing, emotional marketing, Seasonal marketing, online marketing, Direct marketing, indirect marketing and what not. Everywhere it's just the marketing that we see.

Let's take a quick view of our life:

When you wake up, you turn on your FM/TV listen to some good music, and what you get free is, 'advertisement-marketing'.

Then you move on for your walk and everywhere on the roadside you see, is the 'print media-marketing'.

When you walk through the road you may listen to the announcements happening on loudspeakers: 'mass media-marketing'.

Then you go to the bank for your credit card payment, the bank associate will start with his 'consultative-marketing'.

When you go to a store to purchase a nice reasonable shirt with a budget of Rs. 1000, the sales person will try to his maximum strength to drag you to Rs. 2000 or more with the cross and up-marketing.

And when you pay, there will be credit card guys ready with their juices to fill you up. All these examples are not just it.

I have barely mentioned 0.1% of what happens in our daily life.

The brands have realized the importance of focusing their efforts on advertisements and marketing rather than just customer service, probably because they realize which one's easy to attain. Funny, isn't it?

Few of these 'dramatic' brands focus to create a buzz in customers' mind, but don't mind overlooking the quality-delivery. Their focus is selling to more customers, not on more selling to existing customers. So, at last the only sufferer left is the customer, who regrets the purchase throughout the life.

It becomes most annoying with the extremes of Marketing, when they target the audience with their most emotional approaches. They study the audience and find their weak points and attack on the same, similarly like the Guerrilla Warfare with the only difference- in most cases they don't harm you physically but off course monetarily. They have found a name for such tactics- "Guerrilla Marketing". It suits, doesn't it? LOL

Every day we see one or the other campaign through the advertisements which target the customers at their core beliefs. The limit of my patience gets tested when the marketers advertise themselves using their CSR activities. That's the point where the entire noble CSR concept becomes just a 'Marketing Gimmick'. In fact, they seem to be confused with the philanthropy and CSR.

Besides all the facts that I have stated above, it's undeniable that there are companies, and brands which focus more towards customer servicing than 'JUST' marketing and are leading in their product segments with a tag of "Unbeatable".

The concern is, just showing that "we care" is entirely different from doing the "actual care".

Further thinking on the same leaves me to the fact, "this is what a marketer is expected to do". This is their responsibility to run the business and maintain their presence in the customers' mind. But it seems incomplete, their aim is to create business opportunities, maintain existing ones and deliver superior results to the target community. But who's going to explain this to the marketers, there's no industry-specific "Marketing Rule-Book".

PS: I am not just stating the customers' view point nor am I against the marketers. I am just critical about the way few of them do the things.

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