Harish Bhat's 2nd book: With digital media, consumers want to have dialogue with brands
The advent of digital has been at the root of the radical shift that marketing has witnessed, in recent times.
Harish Bhat, brand custodian of Tata Sons has come out with his second book, The Curious Marketer: Expeditions in Branding and Consumer Behaviour. His first book was, Tata Log.
In his second book, Bhat explores everything from brand marketing using aliens and flying saucers to going big with a delicious local product (banana chips or coconut water), from the interesting concept behind multicoloured socks to the metamorphosis of the Diwali shopper.
Excerpts from an email interaction with the author.
This is your second book. What is the process/method you follow?
Writing a book is a therapeutic experience. It relaxes me, and brings out the creative spark in me. I strongly recommend “book writing therapy” to everyone who is so inclined. My writing methods are very simple and straightforward, like most other things in my life. I sit at my dining table every Sunday morning, with my trusted old laptop computer, and a cup of hot green tea. And then, I don’t get up from there until I have written at least 1,000 words. This method is very reliable.
Is there an author or a book that is your benchmark?
The book I adore most is One hundred years of solitude. I wish I could narrate stories like Gabriel Garcia Marquez has done, in this immensely enjoyable, brilliant, captivating, haunting book.
You mention in the book that curiosity is the key to marketing. Could you explain that further with an example of consumer behavior and how companies can seize on it to reach their target audience?
Steve Jobs famously said, “Out of curiosity comes everything”. His own experiesce of attending a calligraphy class out of sheer curiosity, and how this helped him, so many years later, to conceive of the sleek, unique design of the first Apple Macintosh computer, is a powerful case in point. Steve Jobs did not know where his curiosity about calligraphy would lead him…and eventually it led him to a great place, it helped him create some of the most lust-worthy products of our generation.
Sometimes, curiosity can be detrimental. Isn't it? So where would you say should be the line drawn with regard to curiosity?
Curiosity is generally very beneficial, so I would encourage all of us to be intensely curious individuals. Yes, curiosity can sometimes be detrimental, but only if it becomes intrusive. So the only line I would draw is that my curiosity should end where your nose begins.
Can you tell us the most innovating marketing that has inspired you (not a Tata company) and why?
The most innovative non-Tata marketing that has inspired me are the superb advertising campaigns for Fevicol. What wonderful storytelling, for just a simple tube of glue. The advertising sticks in your mind as powerfully as the Fevicol itself.
Marketing has undergone a radical shift in the last decade. What is the most positive about it in recent times, according to you?
The advent of digital has been at the root of the radical shift that marketing has witnessed, in recent times. Now, with digital media at their fingertips, consumers want a dialogue with the brands they use, no longer do they wish to merely listen. This is a huge positive, because dialogue is always far more powerful than a monologue, in any relationship. Brands and marketers will now learn from their consumers every single day and hour, because of this ongoing dialogue. This continuous process of learning will, in turn, make marketing far more effective.
Can you share an anecdote that has triggered one of the stories in your book ?
Yes, of course. Last year, my wife suddenly bought me a couple of pairs of brightly coloured socks. They were multicoloured socks, with red and green and yellow stripes on them. Until then, I had only worn boring grey and black socks to office. Suddenly, I began noticing that around half the number of men I met in formal and official places were also wearing coloured socks. That led to a very interesting voyage of curious discovery about why men wear coloured socks, and what this means for marketers, all of which is captured in one of the stories in my book. You must read this exciting story in my book. You may even begin wearing multi-coloured socks yourself.
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