by Reshma Bachwani
Planning and executing research at chlorophyll has never been short of challenging. For starters it has always involved a detour from the usual FMCG research terrain into categories as varied as hearing aids and blood pressure medicines to concept restaurants and an aerotropolis. In categories such as these, the usual brand interrogation approach used in research does not hold water.
Brand strategy research conventionally involves playing projective games with the consumers for two hours and getting them to think of brands as animals, cars and sometimes even film actors. There is no doubt that such sessions throw up interesting and sometimes even amusing analogies. The host of brand attributes one is left with is then plotted onto the usual brand model – prisms, concentric circles or brand keys.
The problem with such an approach is it would work only for brands that have been salient in the consumer’s mind. But what if the brand does not exist yet and needs to be created. Consumers would not have any associations for it and not be able to connect it with anything else in their frame of reference
Also the conventional brand strategy research approaches only tell us the situation as is. It does not answer questions such as – how differentiated the brand is or what consumer need it addresses or whether there is a consistency / conflict in what the brand says (communication) and what the brand does (behavior)?
What makes research at chlorophyll unique is that the starting point is never the consumer, but the brand owner and his / her vision. This gives a robust and yet realistic inside out perspective on what the brand stands for, its strength and what it is capable of delivering. This perspective is then married to the social (consumer context). A Visual concept called a “Brand world” is created in-house representing these two thoughts, which is then tested amongst consumers during research to get the outside in perspective.
What we arrive at therefore is a customer proposition that is not just robust and realistic in terms of delivery but also one that is relevant for the consumer. Approached this way, many a time what one ends up unearthing is not just a strongly differentiated customer proposition but also sometimes a shift in perspective on the category itself.
For instance, chlorophyll was approached by a thriving online dating site based in the US, to translate the brand for its entry into India. A relevant brand name and some rich consumer insights is what they expected. What we found out in-turn was that online dating as a concept itself is not yet socially acceptable though hugely popular undercover. An ‘activity based social networking site’ was a customer proposition that was not just more acceptable but also unique. The brand name, tag line, website elements were all aligned towards this proposition to make it palatable for the Indian consumer.
Within the context of this broad research framework, chlorophyll has never been shy of adopting new and experimental ways of arriving at consumer insights. In another instance the task at hand was to create a differentiated private label for a retail brand. Apart from the usual consumers interactions, some subconscious research was done with people to explore sensorial and emotional insights around food. The result – rich insights around the customer proposition ‘the lost flavors of childhood’. The result – the client did not just get inputs on a differentiated brand, but also a whole new category – ‘nostalgia foods’ that could be leveraged by the brand in the future.
In this day and age the meaning of the word ‘brand’ is in itself an evolving concept. Brands are dynamic and are being redefined everyday. While earlier it was used only in the context of tangible products and services, today it has acquired new meaning and can refer to anything from a politician to a movie star; from a country to a holiday destination; from a royal estate to a marathon event. Such versatility calls for an approach that is equally versatile and at chlorophyll has we have been fortunate enough to work with this entire spectrum.