Saturday, August 09, 2008

Consumer Insight #2 : Role of Users

During the monthly shopping for groceries, I noticed that my wife has included Vim bar instead of the Vim dishwash liquid. It was around one year back that we started using the dish wash liquid. And my wife was making positive comments about the utility part of the liquid form .

But strangely she has made a switch this month.The reason was simple : Our new maid servant prefer to use the dishwash soap rather than the liquid. My wife had to oblige.

This throws in a lot of challenges to a marketer. According to the marketing theory , there are different roles that consumer takes in the buying process :
Initiator
Influencer
Decider
Purchaser and
User
Marketing wisdom says that the marketer should first identify the members who play these role, identify the needs of each of these roles and then communicate to each of these roles.

In the above case, it was the maid servant ( user & influencer) who made the homemaker (decider) chose the product form. Dishwash market is worth Rs 600 crore and its crucial for a marketer to understand the dynamics of this market especially in the consumer buying behavior context.

So what does it mean to the marketer of a liquid dishwash product. From my understanding of this product form, liquid dishwash liquid is targeting the middle and upper strata of the society. In the urban markets , there is a chance that the households get the help of the maid servant.

In these homes, homemakers oblige to the demands of the maid servant because they want to get things done. More over there is a perception that maid servants will waste the dishwash liquid. As far as the maid servant is concerned, they are famliar with the dishwash cake and does not want to change.

It is a difficult take for the marketers to influence the influencers/users. Brand managers first has to decide whether it makes sense to target these influencers. Second is to try and communicate with these influencers.
A classic case of such strategy is that of Scotch Brite which tried to reach these housemaids by organizing events and training programs. But does it make economic sense to organize such events on a national scale ?

This type of situations warrant different strategies for these different consumer roles. Marketers of paints, automobile batteries, tires , sanitary wares handle these influencers by having campaigns specifically targeting these members. For example , paint marketers organize special events and sales promotion activities for the painters and architects. Automobile marketers also try to influence the workshops to support their brands.


Dishwash liquids have then a difficult task ahead .
First it has to convince the homemaker that liquid form is better than the cake form. Second it has to influence the housemaids to use this product and not to reject it. Proper use of liquid diswash is essential to maintain the value proposition. Liquid dishwash products are concentrates and if the maid uses more liquid, then the product will no longer be economically viable for the homemaker.