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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The Disruptor!

“Why repair something which is working fine?” is an oft repeated question in the marketing war rooms of brands. As you rightly decipher, the question is mostly asked in war rooms of market leaders. The word chanted most by the new entrants and wanna be leaders is ‘Disruption’. The former are the status quoists for obvious reasons, maintaining their grip over their leadership position. The latter of course are the ones who muddy the water and annihilate the existing order. (Status Quo often leads to setting in of ‘fatigue’ but we will leave that for another day, Welcome!)

The market leader would love the new entrants to play by the existing rules of business while the new kid on the block would try its best to break the existing terms of engagement to firstly hit the leader’s market shares and then aim to dislodge the leader.

Disruption is essentially sought to be brought about by a combination of a big idea and then the execution/implementation of the big idea. Disruption could take multiple forms. It could be a price warrior like what Nirma was to Surf or the lesser known Videocon Budgetline TVs vs the then well entrenched BPL/Onida. It could be a packaging innovation like Chik Shampoo which was the first brand to introduce sachet packets to encourage sampling or facilitate entry of customers to a segment which was till then restricted to high end users because of larger/costlier SKUs. It could also be a technologically superior product, electronic photo copers which sent cyclostyling machine packing to obsolence and oblivion. It could also be in the form of doing away with traditional forms of distribution – Company-Stockist-Wholesalers-Retailers-Consumer – and sell directly to consumers like online retailers or offline like Tupperware/Amway. A caution note here is mandatory.

Disruption should not be confused for doing things differently just for either the heck of it or for doing something differently that does not add value to the consumer. A white detergent when the world is used to blue for example. It would be a differentiation at best and not a disruptor unless the white detergent also comes with superior benefits when compared to the blue ones.
In most of the above instances, the success hinged on the seamless and fast implementation of a good/great/different idea. As the markets have often demonstrated a great idea without the distribution or vice versa have led to destruction and death of many a brand.

The Disruptor!

In the backdrop of the above, let us possibly analyze the existing scenario of the denotification of the Rs.500.00 and Rs.1000.00 notes. Assume that the above initiative were a new entrant out to capture market share or its stated objectives. The touted brand promise of this initiative has been to:

1. Unearth black money.
2. Curb corruption.
3. Curb fake currency racket.
4. Stop terrorism by way of point no 3.

As an idea, this exercise falls short on many fronts. As has been pointed out by most, black money unlike in Bollywood movies are not parked in cash form except by the small fry or just to the extent of immediate liquidity requirements. Corruption is a function of you being in a position to encash your authority by extending favours to the chosen one. Transparency can reduce corruption not smaller or larger or newer currency notes. The jury is out on the fake currency racket and its offshoot, terrorism. Time will tell us what results it can deliver. 

As regards the implementation, the less said the better. While the need for secrecy to execute such an initiative is paramount is accepted, what seems to be falling short of expectation is managing the after effects of its announcement. Was the govt caught napping on what would ensue? Did the govt misjudge the magnitude of the aftershocks? Or was the post announcement turbulence expected by the powers that be and the Govt decided to brazen out the bitter pill in the hope that like in Hindi films “end main sab theek ho jata hain”?  

Running all the way to bank? Or Bankrupt?

Within my family and friends circles and a slightly extended one of colleagues and associates, the current mood is one of hope. Hope that the Govt is sincere and some good will come out of this initiative which will benefit the country in the long run. This despite the difficulties being faced by most, Yours Truly including. How long this mood of subdued optimism will continue or will it give way to anger if the chaos in the banks and ATMs continue for longer will be known sooner rather than later.

New note in old wallets?

In Bollywoodspeak again, one hopes this initiative is a trailer, the voluntary disclosure scheme before this being the teaser and Picture abhi baaki hain mere dost kind of more substantial steps are in the offing to achieve the Govt’s objectives stated earlier in the note. If yes, the disruptor will be in a position to encash the goodwill in the Votebank come 2019. On the other hand if this is a case of disruption for disruption’s sake, it could well be the end. Or as Rajnikanth would say, Ghatam!Ghatam!!


end main sab theek ho jata hain : All is well that ends well

Picture abhi baaki hain mere dost   : It is not the end yet
Ghatam!Ghatam : It is all over!