Catchment Analysis for Retailers

Different businesses have their respective key “P”s of the marketing mix. For a manufacturing company it is their “Product”, for the beverage giant it is “promotion” and for the commodity business it is the “price”. However, for the retailers the key P is the “Place”. With the amount of growth the world is going through, and the way the lives of individuals is shaping up, it is clearly visible that one is always short of time (even money is not an issue now for the middle class consumer).

Hence it is of the utmost importance for the retailers to be easily accessible, or be so unique that they attract footfall by just their offerings, ambience, and secondary services like F&B and entertainment opportunities (in case of malls and lifestyle centers). So it is really important for the retailers to be really be located in the key city areas, or to have a clear understanding of the areas it is going to serve.

Catchment is defined as the sphere of influence from which the retailer is likely to draw its customers. It is the area from where they expect to gather footfalls and run their business. Most widely used definition of various catchments is Primary, Secondary and Tertiary that attract 75%, 20% and 5% of the total visitors respectively.

The size of the catchment area is determined by the format and size of the store, population density of its catchment, the competitive intensity, and how well its proposition fits the needs of the customer base. The major determining factor for the size of the ring / area is the format – bigger formats have larger trade areas and hence a large catchment to cater as against a small retail player or the local grocery store.

Usually primary catchment spans over a couple of kilometers on all sides of the establishment, but it might not be a good definition for a sparsely populated area. In such a case, a radial distance of up to 5 kilometers might suffice the need. The measure of radial distance and time travel to define the catchments should be decided by the retailers themselves to best suit their needs and expansion plans.


The image below illustrates the radial representation of the primary, secondary and tertiary catchments using the red, blue and green lines.


As you can observe, large areas in the blue and green (marked by orange) do not have any major road, connecting to them and hence it is safe to assume that it is less populated and hence it should not be given the same prominence as the areas marked by green overlay.In a practical case, this problem actually led to over-estimation of the potential population, causing a major drag on the bottom line at a later stage due to the mismatch in the range of facilities provided and the trials achieved.

This is not an accurate representation of the catchment.

Let us now look at the second image.

ideal catchment

The catchment boundaries represented by red, green and orange areas are not just round. They have been drawn according to the roads that run across the areas. It is evident that the map has been drawn after taking into consideration the travel time and distance from the retail center.

This is an ideal catchment representation.

How does one carry out catchment analysis?

Retailers use catchment analysis to get a better understanding of the area that they plan to serve. It requires inputs from both secondary and primary research. Secondary resources like the municipal corporation, or IRS services can be utilized to get an overall understanding of the areas under consideration. Information like total population, number of households, distance from the retailer, etc. is used as well. This is an important step for the next stage of the study as the insights from the secondary research will feed into the design of the primary research initiative.
Primary research involves personal face to face interviews with the residents of the areas identified in the secondary research. A qualitative approach of market immersions and consumer immersions is the key to understand their behavior and perceived category gaps in the areas.
A thorough analysis of all the sub-areas in the catchment is usually advised for the study, however depending on the density and homogeneity of the areas a sporadic and well spread out study can be undertaken.

Key information outputs from Catchment analysis:

It is very important to accurately undertake catchment analysis. This will give the retailers information in the lines of:

Population of the area, Number of households, Family size
Demographics of the residents: Age, Income, Occupation, Marital Status, Number of kids, Number of elders
Understand catchments needs, wants and other lifestyle measures
Assets owned: Electrical appliances, Number of cars, Number of bikes
Media consumption patterns
Current shopping behavior: Who shops? From where? How often? Average Spends? How do they visit? What do they buy?
Understand perception of their competitors
Current F&B experience available; what is missing? What would they look forward to having around?
Category gaps: Any product category the area is missing, Any brands that they want to have in the surrounding

What is in for retailers?

The above mentioned information areas will then help the retailers make many important and strategic decisions.

It helps estimate the number of potential footfalls accurately
Helps plan the dedicated floor plans by categories (if catchment analysis is undertaken in the initial stages of development)
Parking area for cars and bikes can be better managed
Determining category mix of the outlet
Planning for kids play area, area dedicated to elderly etc.
Help target promotional activities / exercises
Help decide on the frequency and types of activities and events to be held at the center
Help differentiate from the competitors

It is ideal that every retailer undertakes Catchment Analysis so as to maximize customer footfalls and spend. Brandscapes Worldwide has undertaken catchment analysis for its clients and has helped them come up with various marketing, category and segmenting strategies in turn helping them gain an easy and focused entry and access for smooth functioning in newer markets.

The article is written by Abhishek Preetam, who has an experience of over 3 years at Brandscapes Worldwide and has worked with numerous clients with a keen focus in the retail sector. In his free time, Abhishek enjoys photography, making videos and listening to music. You can check out some interesting clicks on

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Relevance Marketing in Retail through loyalty card programs

A few days ago, as I was clearing my inbox, I stumbled across an e-mail I had received from an Indian retail chain. It was regarding the loyalty card I hold with them, on which I accumulate points whenever I shop at any of their stores.

Besides informing me of the points I had accumulated in the month, it also contained a detailed history of my shopping (in terms of purchases that month as well as a proportionate split of categories purchased over a 1 year period). The researcher in me was fascinated at this accumulation of interesting data on consumer spend patterns.

My interest piqued, I dug a little deeper going through other mails (ignored earlier as spam) from this retailer. I discovered other mails offering bonus points if I purchased a specific brand of baby health food drink (which I purchase regularly at their store) and adjacent marketing in the form of free child nutrition counselling from the same brand!

This retailer was well and truly on the path of creating ‘relevance marketing’.

As India’s modern retail revolution marches forward, most large outlet chains are struggling to bridge the gap between reward and relevance. Most choose to stop at reward points that can be redeemed at any point in time by the card holder. This in essence limits the customer to a value proposition.

The next evolutionary leap that most retailers in India, are slowly catching on to only recently is ‘recognition’. Sifting through a huge customer population, identifying the best customers and creating a truly differentiated program for them. This is creating ‘relevance’, to the point of personalization delivered by ‘mom and pop’ store owners who know their regulars well enough to offer them tailored services i.e. based on what you shop at my store, your preferred products and services, what are the benefits that I can provide to you.

The ultimate goal for any marketer would be this scene out of ‘Minority Report’, set in the year 2054, where the character of Tom Cruise is bombarded by personalized communication as he walks through a mall to the level of even specific enquiries about his satisfaction with past purchases.

While the above might look futuristic, this future is closer than we think. In the US, Neiman Marcus, the luxury department store, is using customer data to offer is clientele an enhanced shopping experience. With the help of an app, the sales person is alerted when a specific buyer is back in the store (and who they have assisted in the past). They also have instant access to customers’ previous purchases on a tablet, enabling them to make relevant recommendations.

Just collecting data is not enough. It has to be dynamic

In India, though there exists a huge potential target base, the data currently collected by modern retail is not nearly dynamic enough to enable targeted marketing. Static data such as date of birth, anniversaries are a great way for a retailer to stay in touch, but, to be relevant it is more important for a retailer to know the purchase basket over time, who the consumer is shopping for (self, children, other family members and friends), what is their frequency of visit and shopping pattern, thereby creating an effective shopper DNA.

The real power of such dynamic data is truly unleashed when it helps create opportunities for the retailer in areas such as pricing and promotion strategies (looking at how consumers change their shopping patterns in reaction to pricing over a sustained period of time). It can also help retailers maximize shopping potential through shelf assortment strategies and product adjacencies (where one should put what inside the store).

Making it worthwhile for the consumer

Another problem with loyalty card programs in India is that because of the nature of the trade most people use a balanced approach towards what they buy from their local grocer (kirana) stores and what they buy from the organized outlets. Hence a standalone program might not be worth the while for a customer who shops at a store only once a month or maybe with even less frequency.

Reliance Retail one of the largest retailers in the country seems to have hit upon the optimal solution to counter this by offering a single loyalty card to its customers that works across all its businesses. So customers can accumulate points on a single card shopping at any of their stores ranging from (consumer durables, electronics, clothing, household essentials, vegetables/fruits, books/DVDs etc.). Not only does this present the retailer with an opportunity to cross sell but also gives customers the incentive to earn a little across multiple transactions, across various stores, which can accumulate into a meaningful reward down the line.

Big growth is projected for the loyalty cards market in India (currently estimated at Rs. 5,000 crore), almost to the tune of 60-65%, over the next 3 years. However this potential is only likely to be realized if retailers smarten up their act and provide more meaningful loyalty programs in the future.

“When the customer comes first, the customer will last”
Robert Half – Founder of RH International

This blog post has been written by ASHISH CHOUDHARI, Associate Vice-President, Brandscapes Worldwide.

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Marketing Gamification

In 2013, Swisscom & Samsung decided to launch Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone in Switzerland. The product had a unique eye-tracking technology by which the phone knows when you are looking at it. The company designed a promotional strategy around this technology where in people were invited to stare at the phone for 60 minutes and if they win they can walk away with the new S4. However, in those 60 minutes the team will try and distract the person away from the smartphone. The whole event was streamed live to a special microsite and a series of live banners on all the major Swiss websites. A video of the event went viral on YouTube, bringing millions more eyes on the S4 from around the world. This marketing activity, which helped to increase the product sales of S4, was derived from the concept of Gamification.

The idea of gamification- challenge, motivation, reward- has been present in our society right from ancient board games to the new age video games. People derive fulfillment from playing games & competing among peers. Marketing Gamification is a process of integrating the gaming mechanics in the marketing activities to make them more fun & engaging. A game offering right incentives and returns can help create breakthrough engagement with the audience.

According to the report by Gartner, more than 70% of the world’s largest 2000 companies are expected to have deployed at least one gamified application by year-end 2014.

With the increasing awareness of Gamification and realization of potential of the same, game play is now evolving into a marketing movement. This trend is altering the way marketers are now interacting to their consumers.


Nesquik’s use of games to promote their chocolate milk among elementary & middle school children around 2006 is a great example of increasing engagement with gaming. Nesquik created a small charming game called Nesquik Quest and also an elaborate adventure game.The goal was to achieve the most perfect glass of Nesquik chocolate milk by going through the whole landscape in order to find the correct ingredients. This game made the rounds among school students very entertaining without them being consciously aware of the fact that the whole game was an elaborate advertisement. These children were indeed Nesquik’s target audience and if they associate with the drink as “tasty & fun” they can influence the parents to buy it for them. This fulfills Nesquik’s goals.

Gamification is a great engagement strategy as it delightfully distracts the audience from the fact that they are being advertised to. People tend to spend more time with the game because they feel that it’s for their entertainment and in the process they are exposed to other elements of the brand too.

The games also tend to increase word of mouth promotions for the brand, as people tend to share their gaming experience among the peer groups. This increases the reliability of the brand. Also, games easily create brand advocates who might share the content on social media networks.

With the advent of mobile technology, gamification is offering plethora of new opportunities. A person carrying smartphone can be exposed to a gamified experience at any time, wherever they are. One of the most successful examples of mobile gamification is Foursquare, which launched a location based mobile game where in the user is supposed to give away their location when they are visiting a restaurant, a coffee shop, a garment store etc. and in return they get badges and experience points which help then earn discounts at places they usually visit. This application, which was previously perceived as invasion to privacy, has turned into a game which benefits both the giver and the seeker.

Gamification also deepens the brand impression on the user. It is easy to remember someone you have met & interacted with than someone you have just seen or heard about. Game in this context is that means of interaction.

In sum, marketing gamification can be used as a tactic to increase consumer engagement with the brand through entertainment & rewards.

This blog post is written by AJITA SWAROOP, Associate Insight Consultant – Insight Mining, Brandscapes Worldwide. Ajita has been with Brandscapes for 3 years and has worked on several analytical projects for renowned brands. Besides this she is also a animal lover and an avid reader of Mythology & Medieval History.​

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Brandscapes gets Empowered!

Brandscapes organised two days of amazing, inspiring and insightful presentation training for our employees on 15th and 16th Nov, 2013. Mr. Pranesh Misra, our Chairman and Managing Director, believes that visualisation is the key to our work and hence we need to empower our employees with the necessary skills to create visually appealing and impactful presentations.

The training was conducted by the super-fun, enthusiastic and creative Ms. Yancey Unequivocally in coordination with the relatively quieter, calmer and analytical Mr. Cory Jim. Both are co-founders of Empowered Presentations, a presentation design firm that specialises in crafting impactful presentations. The firm was established in 2010 after winning the world’s Best Presentation Contest and is based on the beautiful island of Oahu in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Pix 1

Brandscapes employees learnt visualisation and design aspects and were truly inspired to create dynamic presentations that will not only provide insightful recommendations to clients, but will also engage and win them over! The energy and enthusiasm further flowed over to Day 2, when employees were organised into teams and each team had to showcase their learning’s through an ‘empowered’ presentation deck.

Pix 3Pix 2Pix 4

Now, armed and ready with loads of creativity and enthusiasm, the team at Brandscapes Worldwide is coming to bowl you over!!!

Cheers to the Team!

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Brandscapes Worldwide & Coca-Cola Company Win the Best Paper Award at 23rd MRSI Annual Seminar

The 23rd Market Research Society of India Annual Seminar was held in Mumbai on 11th and 12th November.

Brandscapes Worldwide and Coca-Cola Company won the Best Paper Award for their paper titled, “Mobile Based Consumption Tracking”. This paper presented the learning derived from a mobile app based beverage consumption tracking study conducted in Singapore.

This paper also won the Best Paper Award in the “Data Capture” segment of the seminar.

Another paper, “Cultural Harmonization in Consumer Research”, co-presented by Coca-Cola Company and Brandscapes Worldwide won the Best Paper Award in the “Data Interpretation” segment of the seminar.

The MRSI Annual Seminar has been institutionalized 23 years back. This year 13 market research agencies and their clients submitted 150 synopses for selection. Of these, 22 papers were selected for presentation by an eminent jury.

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The Great Indian Online bazaar (E-Tailing in India: A Snapshot)

According to a recent report by the IAMAI the ecommerce industry in India is pegged at INR 630 Bn by December 2013 year end with a 33% jump from December 2012. To put this in context, as per the India Retail report 2013, modern retail in India was estimated at INR 2236 Bn in 2012 and this was only 8% of the total retail market in India.

So why is there so much buzz about E-commerce and specifically E-Tailing in India?

First of all, it is still the story of the great Indian middle class but with the added chapter of burgeoning internet access. In a recent report by comScore India, at 74 Mn online users, India is now the world’s third largest internet user after China and the US with three-fourths of this online population under 35 years. This is youngest online population globally.

The online retail market in India has a 60% reach v/s a 74% worldwide signifying high potential.

The very large young Indian online population has reached critical mass and are primed to leap, if they haven’t already, into shopping online.

E Tailing

So where does E-tailing figure among E-commerce as a whole? 

E-commerce can be divided into 5 segments (refer chart).

An IAMAI study shows that the bulk of purchases went to travel 73% of the total value in 2012 (Domestic and International ticketing for air, rail, bus and Hotel/tour package bookings and travel Insurance).

E-Tailing (books, apparels & Footwear, Jewellery & Personal/healthcare accessories, camera/camera accessories, consumer durables and kitchen appliances, home furnishings, M phones/accessories, Laptops/netbooks/tablets) while being at 14% of the total pie is growing the fastest at an estimated 55% much higher than the 25-30% growths of other segments

What are some of the reasons behind this high growth in E-Tailing?

The E-Tailing growth is courtesy the immense potential that the retail category holds in India with online retail filling the distribution and convenience gap.

In a country as vast and varied as India consumers over the past ten years have become more aware and sophisticated. From the comforts of a home or office, at the click of a button everything from the latest gadgets to designer labels is available at their doorstep. Significantly, Google which ran a ‘great Indian shopping festival’ in 2012 saw 51% traffic from non- metros.

What are the key barriers to online shopping and how are they being addressed?

In a Google study in end 2012 consumers highlighted some barriers in shopping online – the number one factor was inability to touch and try the goods before purchase, fear of faulty products, fear of posting their personal and financial details online and the inability to bargain were cited among the other reasons.

For E-Tailing companies the important factors to ensure customer acquisition have been to remove inherent suspicions regarding online transactions. Key features adopted by all major companies such as cash-on- delivery, 30 day return policies and shorter delivery timelines are critical to enable removing barriers for the offline shopper to move on and experiment with online purchases.

This blog post has been written by ANUPAMA VEDANTAM, Insight Consultant – Marketing Science and Insight Mining, Brandscapes Worldwide. Anupama spends most of her spare time reading. She enjoys travelling the world especially to places steeped in history but is yet to visit the Taj Mahal! 

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Culture drives Behaviour

A Country is defined not only by its geography but also by its history, culture, religion and economic development. Individuals from different countries can be differentiated on the basis of the products they consume, their overall lifestyle, and even the way in which they react to a particular situation. The religion, culture and history of a country define the individual’s values, and set the blueprint for his/her choices and behaviour, whereas economic development directly influences life style by determining the set of choices available, the latest trends, technological developments, and overall knowledge and exposure.

Developed nations like the USA, have higher standards of living and its citizens have more choices available to them. They are more informed and technologically advanced as compared to their counterparts in less-developed nations. They are more informed and technologically advanced as compared to their counterparts in less developed countries. In developed countries, people have the freedom to exhibit their choices and follow their preferred lifestyle. They are more individualistic and believe in taking most decisions on their own. They value success and achievement and are more entrepreneurial in nature. They are also more competitive and love to challenge themselves. People from these cultures like to expand their boundaries and are in constant search of new ways, approaches and technology which would make them more superior that can distinguish them from others.

The Chinese exhibit a marked difference in traits compared to their American counter parts, as they are deeply influenced by Confucianism. Confucianism regards human relationships as the most important factor in life and its rules guide the behaviour of the Chinese. They are more group oriented and give higher importance to society and its rituals. They believe in creating a strong social network, as it is considered to be the fall back in a crisis situation. They give less importance to their individual self and would continue to work for the benefit of the overall group, even if it is not in their own interest. Expression of individual moods and choices is very limited. They are less likely to volunteer or take initiatives and generally do not like to take risks. Their decision making process is slower when compared to developed countries. They consider the authority of the leader to be paramount, and would readily conform to what has been dictated.

Arab countries are largely influenced by Islamic principles and religion impacts every aspect of their lives. They are more conservative in nature, because religious conformity is high and religious norms dictate their attitude, lifestyle and consumption of products. For example, people would abstain from consuming products like alcohol which are considered by Islam to be impure. Arabs also exhibit higher family orientation and it is quite common for several generations to be living together under one roof. The community is considered to be of prime importance, with people conforming to requirements of overall society and also engaging in charity for overall community growth. Their business hours are defined by taking into consideration the time required for prayer, i.e. namaz. The overall pace of life is much slower than that of the western world and Islamic rules dominate in business as well.

In European countries like France, where religious freedom is high, people are less observant of religious rituals. However, they have strong societal & cultural norms which guide their day to day behaviour. They are more reserved and behave differently when they are in public verses when they are with their friends and family. Family is the bonding factor, providing both emotional and financial support. They are more formal and fashion-conscious in their dressing and they expect guests to follow general norms as well. Business behaviour is driven by courtesy, and trust towards each other is of prime importance. They are more direct and formal in their communication, and can sometimes be viewed by other cultures as being extremely blunt! Hierarchy is followed in decision-making. They are much slower and would analyse each and every detail before arriving at a conclusion.

Indians exhibit a mix of traits influenced by a long history of amalgamation of cultures and different religions. Religion is an integral part of life and it influences every aspect of society and life. However, people of different religions mingle freely and celebrate key festivals together. People are generally helpful and friendly in nature and welcome strangers with warmth and affection. However, social discrimination based on religion, caste and income is visible in some parts of India, especially among the middle and lower socio-economic classes. Indians are generally not too competitive and most of them readily accept the authority of leaders. With increasing influence of western culture, however, people are becoming more aware and less bound by rigid societal norms. Consumerism is on the rise and younger generations are enjoying the fruits of a liberalised economy far more, compared to their parents.

In conclusion, it would be appropriate to say, that culture broadly defines people of different nations. However, with increasing globalisation and exposure to different cultures, these differences are narrowing down.

This blog post has been written by PREETI MATHEW, Senior Insight Consultant, Brandscapes Worldwide. Preeti enjoys understanding customers and is constantly looking to gain new insights on consumer behavior. She is also an avid traveler during which time she ensures that she gets the flavor of the local culture through interactions with the natives.

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What companies winning at Big Data do differently?

Big Data is high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety information that requires specialized and innovative forms of storage and analysis for enhanced insight and decision making. Staggering statistics mentioned in prior articles depict the amount of data being generated every day. To give you an idea into the world of Big Data, have a look at the video below:

As this quantity of data grows, it becomes imperative for businesses to use this information to their advantage. Valuable insights derived can enhance decision making, reduce costs, and increase marketing ROI eventually leading to higher revenues and profitability. Further, ‘real-time’ insights and ‘predictive’ analytics can provide a pronounced competitive advantage.

The technologies surrounding Big Data allow companies to do exactly this. This article and its follow ups, will be illustrating how businesses are winning at Big Data and using it to their advantage, taking a distinct case study at a time. This article illustrates the case of Bank of America.

As on July 2012, Bank of America had 57 Million customers, 29 million online banking users and 10 million mobile banking customers. For all those customers, they hold 65 Petabytes of data and they only use 1% of it for analytics at present.

Traditionally, the bank used data analytics to understand its customer based on largely structured data available within the Bank’s database. More recently, however, Bank of America is storing and analyzing a lot of unstructured information about the customer. This refers to the information generated by monitoring customer journeys through websites, call centers, tellers and branch personnel to understand the paths customers follow through the bank and how these paths affect attrition or purchase of particular financial services. This data consists of a combination of website clicks, transaction records, and voice recordings from call centers. Insights derived from a combination of analyses on both the structured and unstructured data provide well defined customer segments that allow the bank to pitch the right product to the right customer, leading to increased revenue. The bank claims to have a relationship of some sort with 1 of every 2 customers in the United States. It certainly knows its Big Data.

How Bank of America is deriving Winning Insights from its Big Data?

  • The Bank utilizes transaction and propensity models to determine which of its primary relationship customers may have a credit card, or a mortgage loan that could benefit from refinancing at a competitor. When the customer comes online, calls a call center, or visits a branch, that information is available to the online app, or the sales associate to present the offer.

  • In 2012, Bank of America launched BankAmeriDeals, a program that provides customers with personalized cash back offers based on their spending patterns. This program is offered through its online banking platform and the customer can avoid the hassles of using newspaper cuttings or any external deal websites (such as Groupon). When a customer clicks on the deal, it gets loaded on his debit/credit card and he receives the cash back, the next time he shops at the particular store. Recently, this program was provided on the bank’s mobile app too, with the additional facility to notify customers when they are near a retailer for which they have a coupon. Such programs benefit the business by increasing customer loyalty and swaying customers away from the competitors.

  • More recently in 2013, Bank of America tracked speech patterns, location, movement and posture of employees at its call center, and based on the data gathered, rolled out initiatives to  improve interactions between employees and employers and even office floor plans. They switched from staggered 15-minute breaks to having teams take breaks all at the same time, thereby increasing productivity by 23 percent and team cohesion by 18 percent.

  • Further, Bank of America made changes to its organizational structure and restructured to form a central analytics group showcasing its commitment to Big Data analytics.

In sum, Bank of America was able to develop a much deeper relationship with a larger set of customers allowing a large bank to provide more customized and flexible solutions and function similar to smaller banks that have the benefit of knowing its customer more personally. In this way, it solved its business challenge of losing its customers to smaller neighborhood banks.

This series will be continued further featuring examples of other well-known global companies. Watch this space!

This blog post has been written by URVI BABLA, Insight Consultant, Brandscapes Worldwide. Urvi is a passionately curious individual who believes in lifelong learning. She is also a travel enthusiast and has explored many diverse regions across the world such as Europe, Middle East and Africa besides India. 

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Of Hurricanes & Strawberry Pop tarts

Big Data reminds me of the millennium bug.

Y2K bug (or millennium bug) paranoia heightened in the last five years of the past century. The fear resulted from the practice of abbreviating the four-digit year to two digits, which could potentially have created a huge problem on computer/ digital systems at the turn of the century. The race was to change dates to a four-digit year format across the world so that the systems did not collapse or freeze at the turn of the century.

This created huge demand for software services, which many Indian software firms were fortunate enough to leverage to catapult themselves as global service providers. The catastrophe was averted, and all was well.

A decade later, there is a buzz around another information technology phenomenon, Big Data. Love it, or hate it, you can’t afford to ignore it.

Each of the Four V’s that describe Big Data, pose challenges and opportunities for the future:

  • VOLUME: With volume of world’s data doubling every 1.2 years, we may soon drown in an ocean of data. Unless, of course, we build technology to stream, store, purge, analyze and channelize the power of this data to guide business decisions.

  • VARIETY: With 80% of the world’s data being unstructured – text, pictures, video – we may actually not be able to make use of this analytic opportunity. Unless we develop software to enable business algorithms to encode and use the power of unstructured data.

  • VELOCITY: With longitudinal data being captured in microseconds, our business response cycles would have to move from annual or monthly or weekly to ‘real time’ models. For example, if a telecom consumer encounters a call drop, we should be able to predict the vulnerability of losing him and take recovery action before he churns – all within a minute or two of the incident. No longer would we have the luxury of waiting for a month or two to develop a churn strategy and implement it.

  • VERACITY: As quantity of data grows, it would inevitably raise quality and consistency concerns, which have to be tackled.

All this is both scary and exciting, depending on which side of the coin you are looking at. The mammoth proportion is fearsome. It is a like a huge tidal wave – a data Tsunami – that the world has ever encountered. It is the fear of the unknown.

Big Data is exciting, especially for the analytics professionals, for exactly the same reasons. Imagine a world where data driven analytics is at the core of every aspect of life – business, medical, sociological and personal. Analytics, powered by Big Data, has the potential of creating intuitive decision models that replicate or even beat the best human brains.


This brings me to the headline of this piece – what is common between hurricanes and strawberry Pop tarts? Walmart’s analytical models crunched POS and weather data and discovered that when a city is hit by hurricanes, the sale of Strawberry Pop tarts goes through the roof. This was a surprising discovery from analytics, which is difficult to explain rationally. The retailer benefited by shipping truckloads of the brand to stores in cities where weather reports predicted the arrival of hurricanes. This is just a small example of how Big Data analytics could change our world.

This blog post has been written by PRANESH MISRA, Chairman & Managing Director, Brandscapes Worldwide.

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Should advertising awards be scrapped?

This article was featured in the April 22nd, 2013 issue of Business Standard


The Creative Awards scene is getting murkier every year.

A few rotten eggs are raising a stink. So should we throw the baby out with the baby water?

Most creative industries, like music and the movies, have creative awards that have stood the test of time. Adver-tising creative awards, too have been around for a long time. At the global level, some of the most coveted awards have been around for more than 50 years. The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, established in 1954, is among the oldest. The Effie Awards, one of the most respected advertising effectiveness awards, is now in its 45th year. So, awards shouldn’t be wished away. Most successful awards are also money-spinners for their owner-sponsors, who will fight tooth and nail to ensure their continuity.

What makes such ad awards resilient, despite the many controversies, allegations and mismanagement? It is the ad agencies that are keeping them alive. After all, ad agencies hanker for creative awards for several reasons. Being on the top of the awards leagues table enhances their chances of winning new business, attracts better creative talent and instills a spirit of competition. At least, that is the theory.

There is nothing wrong with creative awards per se. If awards help agencies to become more creative, their clients should benefit as well. But clients don’t always win. We have seen how the judging criteria often do not include either the strategy that went behind the creativity or the results, in terms of sales or market share gain. To that extent, the constituting of ‘effectiveness awards’ seems to be a more robust step and better aligned to promote clients’ objectives.

The structure or the mode of judging and administering awards will not change overnight. But the industry needs to start somewhere. A good place would be to increase entry fees dramatically. High fees will ensure that the selection of ads to be entered is handled at the senior-most level, not just at the agency but also at the clients’ end. The number of entries would decline and each entry would have a better chance of a serious evaluation by the jury.

Secondly, the rubber-stamped sign-offs from the clients should be made mandatory. That would ensure greater senior management involvement in the entries sent by their agencies.

Let us not forget the role of the jury. Why should they comprise of only creative professionals from the industry? Why can we not invite experienced clients, media planners, and even business leaders to the panel? The entries will then get judged from different angles rather than a purely subjective creativity-led evaluation process.

May be it is time to create an entirely new category to allow agencies to enter ads that are today classified as scam. For this section, the agency-client relationship wouldn’t be mandatory. Any agency would be free to work on any brand – whether they handle it or not, under this category. This will give creatives complete, guiltless freedom to indulge.

(Note: the opinion/views are purely personal based on putting facts together)

This blog post has been written by PRANESH MISRA, Chairman & Managing Director, Brandscapes Worldwide.

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