Digital Audience Measurement In Pakistan


Digital Audience Measurement“Since the beginning of radio, the broadcaster has been interested in how the owner of a receiver reacts to the programs presented over the air. Some of the questions to which the broadcaster, whether he is an educator or advertiser, is anxious to secure the answers are as follows:

  • When does the listener use his receiver?
  • For how long a period does he use it?
  • To what station or stations does he listen?
  • Who listens (sex, age, economic and educational level)?
  • What does he do while the receiver is in operation?
  • What does he do as a result of the program?
  • What are his program preferences?

—Frank N. Stanton (1935)”

Frank Stanton, who later became president of CBS, wrote those words in his doctoral dissertation. Little has changed since that time. The media has undergone great transformations, but the basic research question—a need to know the audience—has been one of the most enduring features of the media industry.

The need for measuring audiences online has been a recent trend in our country. Once the domain of techies, it is fast became a need for marketers and advertisers for evaluation of their digital spends. Ever since the inception of internet in Pakistan, there have been multiple challenges to address the issue of measurement. The biggest challenge namely being that the internet is HUGE and the rapid growth that it has seen in Pakistan renders any assumption about the data gathered of its size, pretty much useless.

The second problem we had been facing since inception of the net has been to chart the growth in subscribers and the services they subscribe to. With exponential growth any information regarding visitors access is rendered useless with the introduction of new services and changing tastes online due to new users. This is a challenge even more so when we think in terms of  the fact there are no geographical boundaries on the net. Thus how do we define ‘access in Pakistan’.

Third and not the least are the lack of standards and impartial definitions that still continue to create measurement problems in Pakistan e.g. just over a decade ago the standard on which audiences were measured was HITS (the number of client (browser) requests) to a ‘website’ (after all Facebook wasn’t around then). This was a reasonable method initially, since a web site than often consisted of a single HTML file. However, with the introduction of images in HTML, and web sites that spanned multiple HTML files, this count became less useful, since each client (browser) would now send hundreds of hits on every page load.

These problems are still present to date and attempts to measure audience of Pakistani online advertising campaigns or digital platforms have not been consistent or transparent enough to provide reliable standard metrics. Understanding how well your brand is doing is about more than clicks and page views. It’s about the audience and that is where the troubles start. Take the metric of ‘new visitor’ e.g. there is really no such thing as a new visitor when you are considering a web site from an ongoing perspective. If a visitor makes their first visit on a given day and then returns to the web site on the same day they are both a new visitor and a repeat visitor for that day. So if we look at them as an individual which are they? The answer has to be both, so the definition of the metric is at fault.

Online measurement methodologies in Pakistan also have a problem on how the data is gathered. One way e.g. is through reading cookies (small text files saved on computers with unique individual IDs) which gathers data on the user from site to site. This only works on ‘persistence’ basis. When the user deletes this cookie from the browser, the user will appear as a first-time visitor at their next point where the cookie is read. Without a persistent and unique visitor id, conversions, click-stream analysis, and other metrics dependent on the activities of a unique visitor over time, cannot be fully accurate. This approach also does not take into account that the user doesn’t just consume digital “cookies”. They’re a shopper, a home maker, a tweeter or a power texter, the process which misses the audience completely and looks at the trees for the forest.

With over 10 million broadband users in our country more and more people are now viewing their favorite programs, browsing information on websites, socializing via networks on digital screens & platforms such as PCs, tablets and mobile. With this growth in digital audiences, there has never been a greater need to profile and provide accurate and reliable data to clients through modern measurement techniques. Advertisers, agencies and marketers have grown used to the regulated and reliable measurement of ‘traditional’ media, and they now seek the same standards from digital media when it comes to measuring the scale and behavior of online audiences, one that provides for a consistent, reliable approach for validating their ad campaign.

Thus whatever standards we implement in our industry, at the heart of the audience measurement should be an understanding of consumer behavior which not only need to be holistic it should also analyze consumer behavior and trends, advertising effectiveness, brand advocacy, social media buzz and more to provide a 360 degree view of how consumers engage with online media.

Different approaches exist worldwide to measure audiences. The survey method is still a popular method though one can never be sure of the sample’s authenticity. Another approach followed by online research companies worldwide combines representative, people-based panels with, tag-based measurement to deliver a holistic view of the digital universe and its audience. The representative panel offers deep insights across demographic characteristics of Internet use, while data collected through tags placed on participating publishers’ pages provides measurement of the content consumed tracking their demographics, web visiting, online and offline transactions, search behavior, video consumption and ad views. The result is a Total Internet Audience metric that offers a sophisticated approach to understanding consumer behavior and provides comprehensive digital media measurement across all devices and locations, including mobile devices, tablets, secondary PCs and access points outside of home and work locations. This problem with this approach is that it completely misses niche content and is highly skewed towards what is popular.  Other approaches use a mix of impressions, unique reach, frequency (how many times a person saw the ad online), Testing of different creative and tie in with incremental sales.

The first companies to take on Internet audience measurement had been firms with an expertise in estimating computer usage (more Google Analytics) rather than mass-media consumption. However as the media permeates more in our lives and as the new forms of media become live especially mobile, so will the content consumption and behavior of our audiences change even more. Thus from a web based landscape that once required Internet users to visit specific destinations for content will evolve to one in which content is pushed directly to consumers. In order to uncover the size, growth, composition and value of these distributed multi-channel audiences, audience measurement technologies will have to keep pace. Sadly we are not even at the first phase yet.

Online Classified Market In Pakistan


Online Classified Market In PakistanPakistan has traditionally always been a nation with strong social support systems rather than institutions. Even for things as simple as schooling or buying a house, we seek after the opinions and recommendations of our own and extended family and friend networks rather than depending on external reviews or peers.

Over the last few years however this system has seen a gradual shift especially in the upper income segments. As technology has permeated into our lifestyle, the increased exposure and information flows has resulted in making judgements based more on the recommendations of strangers and experts than just existing peers. The increase in more and more people shifting to nuclear families as well just amplifies this trend further. To cater to this sophisticated audience, a growing plethora of classified advertisements sites are springing up in the anticipation of this growing market of the future.

Globally a $100 billion business, Classified sites are the new form of how consumers and businesses or more appropriately sellers and buyers find each other. Whether individuals or businesses are looking for a used car (pakwheels.com), a new employee (rozee.pk), a place to sell their mobile (hafeezcentre.pk) buy a plot for investment or their new home (zameen.com), or even find a partner (shaadi.com), the first stop is increasingly becoming the Internet to sites such as these and more. The appeal lies in the convenience and ease of use such sites provide with powerful search capabilities, more personalized “push” services such as automatic ad alerts, more timely and up-to-date listings and features such as photos, video, and sound clips in online ads. Best of all they are FREE!

In some aspects, the evolution of the online classifieds in Pakistan is unique from its global counter-parts. Pakistan has seen the rise of vertical sites i.e. specializing in one area such as jobs, real estate and matrimonial first unlike say US where the first and still biggest classifieds site is Craigslist, a horizontal site specializing in many categories simultaneously. Secondly, unlike the west, where online classifieds have taken business away from newspapers, online classifieds in Pakistan have grown the overall market. During this time even the print classifieds have grown substantially. This is comparable to our telecom markets where the fixed lines though have been growing gradually, whilst the mobile market has shot through the roof improving tele-density significantly. The future however is mobile and similarly, the online classifieds industry will ultimately cross the print classifieds through the sheer reach, flexibility, cost effectiveness and ease of use for both advertisers and searchers.

Classified sites are the ideal web 2.0 business for a country like Pakistan for unlike Ecommerce models based businesses such as EBay or Amazon where the transactions are completed online, users never buy directly from these classified sites thus our limited infrastructure and payment gateways do not restrict the growth of these online business. Instead, users to these sites use the service to look for best offers and get in touch, while transactions are conducted in person or by phone. The sites benefit from advertising revenue and some paid listings for ‘Featured’ ads. Whilst numbers of the size of the market and revenues are harder to come by, leading the traffic race is OLX with 2.2 million unique users every month in Pakistan. Local sites such as Pakwheels, which deal mainly with second hand cars, claim 15 Million Page views in a month and 150,000 registered users. Zameen.com claims over 180,000 unique monthly visitors and 10,000 site listings a month.
“The market is interesting because of the potential – Pakistan is a huge market in terms of sheer numbers There are roughly 20M Internet users in Pakistan today, and we believe that this number will grow substantially over the next decade. So there’s definitely a big potential in the Pakistani Internet market. We believe that a free, quality classified site like dekho.com.pk is a service that most of the Internet users in Pakistan will want to use”, said Nils Hammar, CEO at dekho.com.pk, one of the pioneers of classified sites in Pakistan.

The launch of Dekho.com.pk since November last year is interesting because this is a horizontal site, much like OLX or Locanto in Pakistan and amongst a growing number of foreign horizontal sites investing in the future of this country and this market. Even with local players, also the market is shifting from vertical category sites to horizontal category sites. Even the players who were earlier in one category have launched other verticals or their own horizontal sites e.g. Pakwheels have launched naitazi.com and tringtring.com, verticals for general goods and mobile phones in Pakistan.

The trends and the factors governing classified ads markets support their assumptions. There is a substantially large numbers of micro and small entrepreneurs who are increasingly looking at advertising options that are free or low cost to market their businesses, services or products online. Online classifieds provide them with a local as well as a national reach and like we mentioned it’s free. A site like dekho.com.pk already claims 50,000 listings in a span of few months.

Classifieds online is definitely evolving but it needs a critical mass. Pakistan’s online industry is in the nascent stages. The overall internet population in Pakistan is limited. Even though it is said to be around 20 million, a person accessing Internet at least weekly is not more than 5-8 million (estimated). Out of this, people looking for search based information would be 2-3 million. This is not a critical mass when compared to US or other developed markets. Secondly, there is a problem of information hoarding e.g. the real estate brokers thrive on their knowledge of whose buying and whose selling and would not part from this information easily. However even with these challenges, the number of classified listings and the audiences would increase substantially in the next 3-5 years because of two things:

1. Pakistan is an emerging market growth with both GDP per capita and online media consumption growing at a good pace. The increasing salaries, more disposable income (many times due to both partners working), increased choice of goods has ensured that users are changing their laptops, PCs and cars faster than before. 50% of mobile especially gets changed within 6 months of purchase. These trends are resulting in a spurt in online listings. People are selling everything – right from washing machines to laptops and even air conditioners. Currently the household in Pakistan which wants to sell items doesn’t have any option offline except the people they know. Hence, online classifieds sites are providing these solutions.

2. Sellers are not online, while buyers are all over the Internet. How many apartment landlords are willing to put up their rental ads on a website? Infact how many landlords are Internet savvy in the first place? However as awareness about online classifieds increase, this will change and more people will join in the marketplace. Online classifieds currently stand to become the trade portals of all C2C transactions in Pakistan and fill in the huge gap between buyer knowledge and sellers disadvantage.

The future for these markets look bright. Internet penetration in Pakistan has been constrained because of broadband and PC penetration where as Mobile penetration has been explosive. People are beginning to realize the ease of access of Internet through their mobiles and in many cases they are having their first exposure to internet through a mobile handset. Online classifieds on Mobile are gradually gaining traction and with the rapidly growing mobile internet users, it could become the largest chunk soon.

“A great mobile service is a must as the Internet usage goes mainstream. We have a mobile site today on dekho.com.pk/m that is being used by all kind of mobile devices. As the market grows we will add more options for mobile users. The future looks promising. We have a lot of belief in Pakistan and the Pakistani Internet market and we want to be a part of the progress as the market grows. So far, the response we’ve had from our users has been great, so I really believe dekho.com.pk will bring value to the Pakistani market”, said Hammar.

One thing is for sure, no matter how the classifieds market will look like in the future, more Internet users mean better services being developed, and better services in turn attract more Internet users. Hopefully we’re in the beginning of this positive spiral where it’s hard to imagine 5 years from now a better way to sell our cars, buy our houses or even find our partners for life.

Original Post: http://auroramag.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/classified-and-online/

Yes! We Khan – Social Media Case Study Of Imran Khan Rally On December 25th, 2011


Imran Khan Yes We Khan Rally Picture HopeThe highly successful Jalsa of 25th December, 2011 organized by Pakistan Tehreek Insaf was a major social media milestone for Pakistan. By using a disruptive technology in early markets, PTI has upset the status quo, catapulting a man who did not look like a serious contender for government initially into the forefront of the race whilst engaging voters in fundamentally new ways.  This form of tech adoption has also ushered in a new relationship model between leaders and their supporters (especially young ones) with all political parties now announcing and jostling for the ‘youth vote’ with their youth wings. Perhaps in the future it will also serve to change expectations of ‘Citizens’ and ‘Leader’s’ roles in government.

Imran Khan’s campaign epitomizes the opportunities  to be gained using your ‘customers’ to amplify the effect using new technologies despite contending with established players that have far greater resources and legacy. At its most basic however it’s about good fundamentals. For a start it’s about selling a product which people want [an innate buzz]. Dr. Awab Alvi, the person responsible for PTI’s social media strategy said “We are just an interface to communicate the product to people online. People want to see, hear and want to interact with our brand and we use a medium to give them what they want. The buzz is nothing to do with us marketing the product. Fundamentally the product is a need of the time due to the country’s situation and people are looking for an alternative and Imran Khan is being seen as that alternative.”

Thus authenticity matters and If one looks at the competitive landscape in this context, Shahbaz Sharif and PML-N have recently spent an inordinate amount of money on social media trying to make up for lost ground, but the difference is again in the vision that Imran Khan sells and the ‘more of the same’ approach which is being used by PML-N. In social media one can’t just adopt a brand and expect people to buy into it without authenticity. The new ‘Khudari’ message (something which PML-N didn’t do in 20 years) thus will not work for their brand in this case.

Another one of the tenets of social media that holds true for PTI’s approach is “go to where your customers are.” PTI made it possible for people to participate where they want, how they want, using the tools and friendships they want. Whilst it’s a butt of jokes that most of Imran Khan’s base cannot even vote and that children under 18 are not relevant to be targeted because they can’t vote. However in this traditional thinking, political bigwigs forget that these same generations can talk [and inspire] and help to build a wave of change. Social media enables them to use lower or zero transaction costs to do it. It is these passionistas  who serve as the base for the party.

“There is a tremendous army working for the organization which responds to queries, reputation management, etc and to date NONE of the volunteers have ever been paid. When you have passionate people doing something they love… they believe in the change, in doing it as an end in itself and all they want from us has been the recognition of that aspect’, said Dr. Awab. ‘I tell them truly that it’s YOU whose done this for Pakistan and I mean it’. Faisal Kapadia, a blogger and activist at ‘DeadPan Thoughts’ describes the feeling as ‘It was a high that I’ve never felt before with an energy level not even found at a U2 concert’.

Social media use by PTI includes clarifying and defense of the party’s policies and actions, reputation management and killing of the rumor mill, engaging with voters, provide the imagery that give hope and provide for a catalyst of change. The key engines thus that propelled the social media movement forward for the organization included but were not limited to Imran Khan (Official) Channel and Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (Official Page) which are the Facebook channels responsible for organizing and mobilizing people for initiatives that support key processes whilst ‘We Want Imran Khan to Be The Next Prime Minister Of Pakistan’ and ‘Jagutho’ are initiatives for sharing viewpoints, helping supporters, volunteers and campaign workers to co-ordinate their offline and online activities.

Combined there are over 500,000 ‘fans’ of PTI & Imran Khan with over 50,000 plus active participants at any moment in time. These channels were the ones which provided the support needed during the Jalsa online and the figures below show the impact of these on the Jalsa and vice versa.

Constant engagement is key. Imran Khan campaigns and encourages users and artists to use the imagery they provide for their own purpose acknowledging and recognizing that they should give up control. The best creative developed Imran Khan addressing the Jalsa with the caption: ‘Hope Is Priceless… for everything else there’s Mastercard’. A big lesson for brands here is to ‘Make it easy for people to make you their own’. Let people act on their desire to get involved at a low transaction cost, and very visibly. This increases leverage.

PTI has also been present on Twitter with @Imran KhanPTI and @PTIOfficial channels. Twitter works since during the span of the Jalsa the PTI broke 11 global twitter trends within a 5 hour window and because of it reverberated across the 300 million strong community on the platform including ‘DilDilPakistan’ quickly being picked up across the region.

To understand its significance, one can take into account that as a baseline it takes a minimal of 500 active users and 1200-1900 tweets per hour to break a global trend. To dominate it as PTI did, it takes much more. Another platform which has been very successful for PTI has been the mobile 80022 which drives the membership for the party.  Utilizing this form of technology, PTI has their ‘army’ segmented via city, via constituencies and clumped by affinities which allows them to mobilize with great speed and effectiveness.

This informs people with SMS messages when an event such as the Jalsa is about to happen and asks for participation. Roman Urdu works better than English on the platform. In the future, this database form of marketing will serve its purpose for voter turnouts.

Other features enabled on mobile include mapping via SMS which was used to provide directions to nearest available pickup points for people and recently an iReport debut feature on the platform which was used to identify and resolve the problems that people were facing at the jalsa.

iReport holds the potential to be much much more. This is going to be a powerful form of Citizen Reporting platform and once properly activated will become a force for accountability in Pakistan as normal Pakistanis report their encounters on issues which PTI raises.

The jalsa also used an innovative platform of ‘Live Streaming’ the event globally to all those who could not be physically there. Using a 50 Mbps fiber connection, the event was streamed to over 35000 people at its peak LIVE across the globe.

The PTI Jalsa has broken new grounds in the marketing of politics and perhaps even for business. Marketing executives need to start focusing on what will happen when their stakeholders self-organize, mirror each other’s interests, magnify the interests into passions and make a lot of noise. This can change expectations fast. They should be aware of traditional thinking in their organizations so they can counter these. It must be remembered that all disruptive change always presents as a fringe activity at first. Thus marketers need to make it a priority to understand social media adoption milestones, so they don’t get caught by surprise. Some of the good lessons out of the Jalsa which marketers can learn from:

  1. PTI strategy is to focus on selling leadership, not policies. Most political campaigns sell their candidates like products, replete with features and benefits (“policies” and “programs”). More profound, leadership and personal qualities and beliefs inspire more easily than policies.
  2. Trust your stakeholders to discover and do the right thing. Smart organizations are becoming more cooperative by sharing “control.” Letting go energizes people to contribute in a meaningful manner.
  3. Realize you cannot control the conversation and that’s okay.
  4. The more transparent and collaborative, the stronger your organization will be as a competitor.
  5. Think small. Industrial Economy marketing held that the only things worth watching were big numbers and big initiatives. Yet in the digital age, many many people doing small things can have a big impact when they are using digital social media because it affords so much leverage. Many small numbers can roll up to a big number. Many-to-many means geometric growth and acceleration.

For PTI after a successful campaign, now on the Social Media Roadmap is to move on from ‘just defending ourselves’ to organization of the masses and translate the online activism to offline activism. “Right now it’s all Imran Khan’s draw but now we’ve seen potential we will be organizing leaders in colleges and universities. Jagutho is one of the initiatives which has created a ‘Responsible Citizen’ model which is organized around a mohalla basis which we hope to implement soon.”, said Dr. Alvi. “The Future is calling”.

Rural Broadband In Pakistan: Powered Off


Goth in Sindh40 Kilometers out of Karachi, in the neighborhood of Sultanabad, Kemari Town lies a small goth named Anwar Thaheem of over 3000 inhabitants. The village consists of a school, a single entertainment area and just one bricked house which is owned by the chieftain whilst the rest are thatched huts. The majority of the residences are illiterate and despite the presence of a single computer which was donated to the school long ago, it has never been turned on due to lack of knowledge of the populace. This goth in particular is of interest because the electricity wires that reach Karachi pass overhead (official kunda costs only Rs. 500 per month) and the fiber optic cables that connects the country pass within 20 feet of the village.

It’s places like these that serve as a reminder that despite the promise of information technology that has brought prosperity to millions of (mostly Urban) Pakistanis, unless the rural-urban divide is bridged and the issues of systemic issues not taken up more seriously, the broadband connection to over 1000 cities despite the hoopla will prove to be of little benefit to our country and the economy at large.

The promise of broadband for the rural sector has been hyped up for years.  It has been seen as unlocking the great potential of the digital revolution in the service of relief to save lives, sustainable development and lasting peace in rural areas. ICT has been seen a means of providing accessible and affordable education, while marginalized groups will use it to play a key role in economic development.

Over the last few years, some of this has come about. Due to the policies implemented by the govt. especially with regard to telecom, Pakistan has seen the growth of broadband at a good pace. Though penetration is still at 0.66% as of December 2010 with 1,140,781 broadband subscribers as compared to 643,892 at the end of December, 2009, it still shows a 77% growth over the last calendar year with 1000 cities covered to date.

The path ahead is still not easy. One of the great challenges of broadband is to provide service to potential customers in areas of low population density, such as to villages and small towns. In cities where the population density is high, it is easier for a service provider to recover equipment costs, but for each rural area it’s tougher as each area may require expensive equipment to get connected and for few customers. The quality of service for internet service providers too remains a question mark. This is mainly due to old copper media for landline connections which prevents reliable service available for home-users who are 1,500 meters or farther from the telephone exchange. Some of these challenges are being mitigated with help from the USF (Universal Service Fund) which has been running rural telecom projects to provide basic telephony and data services in several remote areas of Pakistan. The USF backing on rural projects have changed the focus of telecom operators from urban towards rural population. Until now, contracts have been awarded for Rural Telecom Projects to provide a subsidy of PKR 4.2 billion in total. All these projects aim to provide services in 12,000 un-served muzas. These projects have started bearing fruits as the number of previously un-served muzas where service has been provided has reached 3,500. In addition to this, it is mandatory for telecom operators in rural areas where USF is providing subsidy to power their infrastructure through renewable energy sources. So far, 66 Base stations are on solar. However the future is a long way away.

Broadband can be the great enabler that restores Pakistani rural’s economic well-being and opens doors of opportunity for all to pass through, no matter who they are, where they live, or the particular circumstances of their individual lives. With the escalating costs of living especially with the rise of fuel prices, the economics of rural sustainability are in question which rural broadband can resolve.  Even just a rupee jump in oil means people that are commuting to work can no longer make that economically viable.  Going to the next town to shop becomes an economic hardship.  The shifting of the economics is causing a lot of people’s livelihoods to disappear, at a time where rural broadband could provide clean, industry-sustainable jobs working for corporations that are physically located anywhere in the world.  Many more people would subscribe to high speed if they could turn it into an income supplement based out of the home.

But as with all technologies it’s not just about the infrastructure – it’s how people can rally around accepting their own full potential and that requires a change the mindsets. Rural poverty suffers from social isolation and lack of updated education.  The dream career of a matric passed student here is to get a low-level govt. job. Anything else is taken at blank. The second trouble is the lack of leadership. No tribal leaders shows up at any initiative, no teachers from the schools are  available for tutoring and worse even the MPs in the area never visit their own areas. So the ideal outcomes are hampered by the unwillingness of the leadership to hear what’s possible. Thus building in new capacity or new buildings is more of a wastage of capacity unless one can also take care of the systemic issues.

The resistance that rural Pakistanis have shown toward towards what is their greatest opportunity at improving their lifestyles is part of a great systemic  responses that will have to be addressed before rural broadband will take off. These anti-literacy, anti-technology rural attitude barriers will have to be broken. It will mean answering questions such as how do we educate our leaders who are not in school?  How do we educate teachers when there are not budgets for professional development for educators and at the end of the day it will come down to leadership.  If leaders are not keeping up with what’s possible through trends, etc, then it hampers the rest of us, and right now we have a generational inertia that is incredibly damaging.

The main thing that needs to change especially is youth’s readiness to accept change and to pay attention to what is happening around them, both locally and globally, and to give the youth an opportunity to receive current education and showcase their skills. Only than will the chasm ever be bridged.

Published in Dawn Images: 13th June, 2011

Jeremy Gutsche – Unlocking The Cool Interview


Jeremy GutschePopular is not cool. Cool is the next big thing and in a world of increased competition, intensified customer demands and globalization, understanding how to be creative and then build up a culture of innovation is more important than ever before. One of the ways companies do that is to use ‘Trend Hunters’ or ‘Trend Spotters’, people who research ‘what’s cool?’. One of the pioneers of the field is Jeremy Gutsche, a Canadian innovation expert, author, “one of North America’s most requested keynote speakers” and chief trend hunter at trendhunter.com which has been described by The Independent as “the world’s biggest online cool hunting magazine”.

At the Marketing Symposium organized by Revelations, Jeremy was in Pakistan to talk about ‘Unlocking Cool: How to inspire innovation potential and infect products with Cool’.  Jeremy’s Culture of Innovation framework exposes the audience to ground-breaking ideas related to perspective, customer obsession, tolerance for failure and creativity. Aurora caught up with him to talk about the next big thing.

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself and do explain what do you mean by Trend Hunting?

I guess the best background for me is just to say that I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart and I never knew what my business idea was going to be. Everywhere that I worked I was trying to get that inspiration. So eventually when I started trend hunter, I wanted it to be a place where people could come when they wanted to get their ideas and I’d get ideas from all over the world and hopefully I’d find my own. As TrendHunter took off I never needed to pick. The interesting thing is that still guides us. We have the world’s largest trend spotting network with 50,000 contributors signed up around the globe from where we publish ideas each day and with 40 million views a month we gather data to understand what clusters and what groups are interesting.

Q. Why should marketers care about Trend Hunting and what’s Cool?

Cool is unique, cool is cutting edge and Cool is viral. Micro-trends and innovations surround us so how do we make sense of all the noise? Trend Hunting thus is basically the search for inspiration. Looking for something new, a pattern that could inspire your next big idea. It’s not about the rise of big trends that everyone knows about like ECO or FEMALE PURCHASING POWER since everyone knows about those including your competitors. We’re looking at micro-trends, those unique niches of opportunities. When you see these opportunities you can take advantage of them and if you don’t your competitor or a new startup might and overturn you.

Q. For most businesses your ideas are quite scary. You advocate constant change, relentless questioning and an anti-bureaucracy. How do you create a culture like that in a traditionally steeped organization?

There are two parts to that that are important. One is the idea that you need to constantly change. Second, you have to realize is that the world never returns to normal. If you look at marketing, you can see things like social media changing the landscape.

I like to say that ‘Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast’. Thus in terms of how you get a traditional organization and get them to change, an interesting way to get an organization to get more innovative is to create a ‘Gambling Fund’. The idea is that it’s tough to try to persuade everybody to do things a new way but the real thing that stops people from being creative is because you get caught up in a routine. With a gambling fund you are allocating a specific amount of money and time trying something new. BBC’s ‘The Office’ was their most successful program and that came out of that fund.

Q. You talk a lot about destroying value to unleash new creativity and innovation. Yet cannibalization in business is hard. Is there a middle way for managers where they can balance both shareholder demands yet ensure that they live for tomorrow.

In innovation there are best practices and having someone kill your idea is important. There is a need for people to challenge the idea and there needs to be a push in all directions. Situational Framing Dictates The Outcome Of Your Creative Process. What is it that you’re trying to do?

It’s so easy to get caught up in your profit center that you stop adding fuel to your innovative new ideas. When push comes to shove or when you need a little extra money, companies cut off their innovative arms. For the long term, one of the most important questions is how do you re-invent ourselves and that always comes from destroying that which you’ve created.

Failure is part of the experimentation process.  In order to win, you need to constantly be gauging customer needs, tracking evolving trends and testing new ideas. Google is an example of this. They’re constantly testing new portfolios.

Q. You have come up with “The Exploiting Chaos Framework.” Give us a brief description of each of the four tactics and how they work in the framework. Do you think these tactics can be employed by Asian cultures which are more passive in nature?

The framework has four parts. Creating a ‘culture of innovation’ – Deeply Understanding Your Customer and Willing to Try New Things. The next part is ‘trend spotting’ – you identify opportunities from your customer, competitors or other industries. The third part is adaptive innovation – constantly adjust your strategy to ensure that you’re on top of a changing world and the forth idea is ‘infectious marketing’ – to create a meaningful change it’s about finding a way to break through the noise and create word of mouth. What this framework is about is that in periods of change these are the elements that help companies adapt and win.

There’s a difference between how people remember you and having people feel how they see you as part of their team. You can either make an emotional connection or you can go deeper and making a cultural connection. The difference is that with a cultural connection I see you as being part of my team. I don’t see you telling me what to do, I see you as part of my team.  Because we’re on the same team I want you to win and you want me to win. In any industry when you make a cultural connection, people are willing to refer you. That someone else says your product or message is the best.

Q. I love the quote you often use, “Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast”. Do tell us more about what that means and how does culturally steeped nations can create the Culture of Revolution you often talk about. Are we doomed to passivity?

No matter how cool your PowerPoint deck is, if the organization is not willing to adapt and embrace change than it’s not going to happen. At the end of the day, what will make your company succeed or fail is the culture you’ve created. This means both the culture within your organization’s teams AND the cultural connection you’ve made with your customers. Within your team, you will always be more successful if your team feels connected to your cause, empowered to try new things, and able to test and fail. With your customers, you will always be more successful if you can create a cultural connection that makes people feel like your product is made just for them. Too often companies speak “to” their customer, but companies that create an authentic cultural connection make the customer feel like they are part of the same team… They talk “with” their customer.

Q. For a message to go viral, you recommend that marketers should Relentlessly Obsess About Your Story. What does that mean?

People talk about it in a given way. You can control that message by having a story idea that is simple, direct and super-charged. The idea is that if you can only remember 7 words or less – slogan or in every part of my company – you might want to think what those words are. You need to best describe what you do. By constantly figuring out what are the exact words that best define what your company is about you can get a disproportionately better impact and each word really really matters.

You need your story needs to be simple. I’ll give you the words that you can tell us. The second is you need to be direct. You convey your value proposition and why I must choose you. Super-Charged – messages, slogans, titles that makes me want to tell someone else.

Marketing Strategies For Digital Media


Every year for the last five years digital pundits had been predicting dramatic change in our media consumption. They had foretold the convergence of digital and broadcast media, the erosion of mass audiences and the restructuring of the media and advertising industries. So far every year, leading industry practices had remained static, even stagnant, and the overall pattern of marketing spend had barely changed in all these years.

2011 however marks the event when the long-predicted future has finally arrived heralded by the ever increasing number of advertisers looking for digital solutions, the marketing spend on digital in Pakistan crossing the $5 million mark, the setting up of ‘digital agencies’ by the dozen, established traditional agencies setting up ‘interactive divisions’, whilst prior tech companies proclaim themselves to be ‘agencies’ and both mainstream media companies and major marketers accepting the facts that the methods by which consumers absorb information and entertainment and the ways they perceive, retain, and engage with brands and brand messages have changed irrevocably, as evidenced in interviews in Nov-Dec, 2010 issue of Aurora, the leading trade magazine for the advertising industry. Now enough consumers are spending enough time accessing information and entertainment via digital media platforms to have shifted the overall pattern of media use. This shift will increase substantially in 2013 as greater broadband penetration (4.13 Million connections estimated by PTA) and roughly 20% of all Pakistani households using broadband will make the internet more viable as an alternative entertainment platform as well.

Yet digital platforms continue to remain a mystery for most Pakistani marketers. This is because they transform the traditional marketing and media ecosystem into an intimate, immersive, accountable environment, in which consumers can interact with brands at every level of the purchase funnel. This befuddles the mind as it is very different from the linear content and communication form developed for traditional marketing channels where the consumer is assumed to be the sheep or as politically correctly called ‘captive viewer’. The old media world was where information was controlled and limited by editorial through a centralized single channel distribution system. In today’s multi-channel world of ‘leaks’, however it’s not really surprising that these old forms of advertising should fail to translate well as consumers increasingly behave more like discerning critics who use the Internet to pick through and make their own sense of the swathes of information available. To survive in this new reality, thus requires a massive change in mindset.

The first thing to understand about digital marketing is that (surprisingly) it is not primarily about technology. It’s about providing relevant & interesting value in the form of ideas and experiences that get people engaged, makes them want them to talk, provide real entertainment value, or render a useful service to the consumer rather than just another [empty] marketing slogan, dance or jingle. These marketing ideas and experiences thus need to be crafted with the same discipline as the underlying product so that the two become virtually indistinguishable.

Secondly, to effectively engage consumers in the new digital space, marketers need to define more clearly the values that underlie each of their brands and to instill those values throughout the marketing program through integrated marketing. Marketing executives can start by asking the overarching question: What new capabilities and services will enhance the value of my product to my customers? The answer to which will thus develop an understanding of capabilities they should keep in-house (e.g., those that can achieve scale across the portfolio and that create essential advantage) and which should be outsourced to external marketing, media, and technology partners.

Thirdly, it helps to remember digital marketing’s greatest selling point. Digital benefits marketers by furnishing a real time, direct, uninterrupted view of the consumer and a measurable, efficient read on the return marketers are generating on each marketing spend. This accountability and intimacy are particularly important now, when a cluttered and highly fragmented media environment has made “buying awareness” prohibitively expensive.  However it’s one thing to collect digital information; it’s quite another to draw intelligence from it. Leading marketers would be wise to build partnerships with their digital agencies to track ad placement, versioning and effectiveness as well as delve in social insights generated through ‘listening’ to the consumer.

To thus keep up with the times, the following are some recommendations for new digital marketers and traditional agencies:

  • Shift just 3% of your media spending and management attention to digital media and learn how to use those media to more effectively influence consumer purchase behavior. Especially learn to develop in formats which promote interaction with audiences.
  • Digital is not a silo. Combine “above-the-line” advertising and “below-the-line” marketing (promotions, sponsorships, events, public relations) in new two-way interactive campaigns. Touch-based technologies can really amp up any event.
  • Research through approaches and metrics that measure outcomes.

Traditional advertising has lost its storytelling charm and evolved instead into predictable, often bland, and largely invisible dance based executions that are not memorable or inspiring. Industry-wide, companies are making digital media a bigger priority in their brand strategies. It’s not that digital alone will dominate over other mediums. Mass advertising will continue to perform a role in driving awareness, but increasingly as digital makes head-end marketers will prioritize towards channels that deliver accountability, relevance, and interactivity to fully capitalize on the online opportunity. The digital markets thus are only set to boom.

To Learn More About Our Digital Marketing Solutions, Visit My Digital Agency or for a full list of services we offer in Digital Media: http://www.midigital.co.

The Rise of The Data Center Industry in Pakistan


IT operations are becoming a crucial aspect of most Enterprise and Medium sized organizations in our country. As the automation of processes increases through implementation of world class ERPs, one of the main concerns that companies are facing is business continuity – what if a system becomes unavailable thus impairing or completely stopping the business process. Thus it is becoming necessary to provide a reliable infrastructure for IT operations, in order to minimize any chance of disruption. Thus Data Center Services are becoming a booming business in our country.

A Data Center (the cold room) is a facility used to house and maintain dedicated servers on behalf of an organization. It’s a concept that found life during the dot-com bubble in the US and has since then grown into a discipline unto itself globally. In Pakistan it started with the Basel II accords which separated operational risk from credit risk (meaning banks were now responsible for defaults and any operational problems that arise in banking) implemented by the SBP. Now with Basel III implementations and more and more medium sized companies aiming for enterprise level automation, IT becoming the core backbone on which business operates especially for industries such as Telecom, Banks and shipping, m-commerce and e-commerce growing in Pakistan and increasingly competitive landscape from a global community is driving the companies towards focusing on core competencies and outsourcing everything else.

The biggest reason for this change in mindset is cost. The overall IT spending shows that the lion’s share of IT expenses goes towards overhead and maintenance – as high as 70% of the budgets of IT departments are spent in maintaining IT infrastructures at the expense of adding new capabilities. This underutilization of equipment leads to high cost per transaction. Most servers in typical business data centers are utilized at only 5 to 10 percent of their maximum capacity and cooling and power distribution systems are also used to much less than their full potential.  Clearly that’s wasted capital and it makes the cost per computing transaction much higher than it needs to be. A secondary effect is that the fixed energy costs for running servers at low utilization makes the cost per transaction much higher than it needs to be.

The second factor is that outsourcing ensures access to operational expertise, much of which is unavailable internally due to economic or other restraints thus also freeing up internal resources for other purposes. These services also allow enterprises to leave the upkeep of network infrastructure and applications to the data center personnel allowing the company to focus on their core competencies. Not only does this increase efficiency, but also reduces the cost of running the network in terms of resources and manpower. Besides this, it also offers increased security, whether from environmental threats such as over-heating and dust or from viruses and infiltration via firewall maintained by the data center thus providing a high level of risk management.

The future for this industry is bright. It cannot be denied that traditional retail formats have been saturated and the present consumer environment is moving from bricks and mortar to online due to the increased convenience and a more satisfying retail experience. Many new ventures are now focusing on e-tail and need the expertise in networking and database while being focused on translating the retail experience onto the new medium. The biggest driver however remains the consumer themselves who as they become involved with the digital world more and more, will increase demands for storage, connectivity and more and as corporate turn to serve them, they too will drive the demand for reliable mission critical facilities.

 

 

The Year Twenty Ten: A Review


It’s that time again when we reflect upon the world and aim to do better with our resolutions. This has been an eventful year. I guess we were expecting it to be when Google announced with a bang in January that its corporate network had been attacked. With the follow up being the attack on the Iranian Nuclear Facilities through the Stuxnet worm, the Gulf leak that occurred from BP’s Oil Spill, Pakistan’s Floods to the finale this month with the US Cable Spill, 2010 will be remembered as the year of struggles and crisis. In the midst of so much flooding of stress, tension, five distinct trends stood out which could well summarize the year that was 2010 and possibly tell us a bit of what 2011 will hold.

The Rise of Leaks and The End of Privacy

it was a very busy year on the privacy front and nothing showcased the power of the social web than the way technology was used this year in multiple forms. From the news of Tony Hayward, CEO of BP’s Yacht trip during the worst of the Gulf oil spill to the recent US cable leaks which have had consequences for the political fiefdom in our country and have given rise to new meanings to the terms ‘Open government’, ‘Public Interest’ (do we really care about the hot Ukrainian blonde) and ‘Radical Transparency’. With Google also in the hot water over it roaming street view vehicles, to Facebook’s new Privacy settings which basically sold your profile to advertisers expect the Web community at large and the government to become even more concerned about what to do with all of our personal data in 2011.

Recession Proof: Mobile Rules 2010

Without a doubt, the explosion of the smartphone landscape this past year and the allure of earning income from the new data services and surrounding industries in Pakistan have made the mobile and telco industry a behemoth to contend with.

Apple’s iPhone 4 was launched  early this year followed up by the equally drool worthy iPad and the world has never been the same again. Angry Birds was the number one application in the Apple’s Pakistani App store whilst locally ‘Gully Cricket’ became the first locally developed mobile game to be made available from a local carrier.

2010 can also be said to be the year of the Android phone – Worldwide HTC dominated the market with their Android assault especially HTC Desire. However the new Motorola Droid (Milestone) is getting the best reviews since their old Razr went blunt and reports of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 are very positive whilst Android has also made its presence felt in Pakistan, being launched by a Chinese Telecom company along with equally economical internet packages on the mobile phone which is expected to double the number of internet surfers within a year or two.

All these trends are expected to accelerate well into 2011.

Social Networks Come of Age

It can be said that Social Networks came of age in this country when users on Facebook crossed the 3 Million mark this year (3,075,480 at the time of writing this article) and politicians in this country took to twittering their thoughts and whereabouts to anyone who cares to follow them.

Marketers know that tough times also spur innovation and thus they are experimenting with mediums such as social marketing. Social marketing promises lower costs and bigger returns. In fact, word-of-mouth campaigns encourage consumers to do the marketing on behalf of the brand themselves. There are many brands which are getting on the social media band-wagon amongst them hair care, cooking oils, personal care are the most famous categories. Telecom industries are using the media as a form of customer service centers.

In 2011, expect social media to get even more popular, more mobile, and more inclusive as even the lowly Chinese phone starts supporting the different networks natively. It will also toughen the job of IT departments as people feed their social media needs through the mobile medium.

Pakistan IT Industry Becomes a Source Of Pride For The Nation

The Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) is an international awards program which provides networking and product benchmarking opportunities to ICT innovators and entrepreneurs from 16 countries in the region including Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka among others. Out of 16 APICTA categories, the P@SHA (Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES) delegation picked up 7 Merit Awards (the APICTA Silver equivalent).  These included Merit Awards in Security Applications, E-Inclusion and E-Community, Financial Applications, Communications, E-Government and E-Health categories. It was our best performance ever.

The Rise of Online Movies & TV watching

Perhaps it’s a by-product of the ever declining broadband internet prices in the country and the ever faster speeds (10 mbps launched on 10/10/10) because of which online movies and episodes of the latest Indian or English sitcoms have become the trend to watch whilst free online. Indian movies are the most watched feature on internet with 3 Idiots being the top-most watched movie this year online. This trend is expected to continue even further this year.

The upcoming year appears poised to build on the strength of trends already in place: greater mobility, greener technologies, mobile technologies, more powerful hardware and web-enabled products and applications that focus on collaboration and interoperability. The marching advent of technology and telecom is shaking up the old and ensuring that Pakistan is coming of age in one of the fastest of the new growth industries. With that we bid farewell to 2010 and bring in 2011 with prayers for the prosperity of this great nation for one and for all.

Digital Marketing Workshop At Karachi Mariott Hotel, 17th March 2010


It’s finally here. I’ve decided to take the plunge.

I’m offering a comprehensive one-day workshop on Digital marketing for the people involved in marketing & branding. The workshop, which will feature proven techniques for engaging customers at every step of the purchase funnel will be held on March 17th from 9 AM – 5PM and will be hosted at the Mariott Hotel in Karachi, Pakistan. It’s the perfect solution for ongoing training and continuous professional development requirements for all levels of staff, from trainees to senior execs and heavyweights.

Course description

This workshop will provide a fast track understanding of Pakistan’s digital landscape and the elements involved in developing strategies as well as the high level considerations when implementing digital campaigns.

The workshop will look at trends in Pakistan’s digital landscape, what the impact of these trends are on consumers and their media consumption, industry best practices and standards as well as new and innovative uses of the technology in advertising. The workshop also addresses the issues and challenges facing agencies and marketers in adapting their organization to the new digital landscape.

The discussion group format will enable participants to be exposed to the latest in digital marketing as well share experiences and exploring common areas of concern or confusion in the adoption of digital tools.

Why This Workshop

The ad inventory that has been sold for the last 50 years no longer works and marketers have started to figure that out. With declining returns on traditional media campaigns, marketers are increasingly looking for ways to get more out of their budgets in a media landscape that fragments more every year. Digital offers possibilities to do that.

In this workshop you will learn why:

1. Digital Is Not About ‘The Internet’

2. Digital Marketing Is Not About ‘Online Banners’, ‘SEO’, ‘Social Media’, ‘SMS Marketing,’ and so forth

3. Digital Is About Behaviors, Not Technology

4. Digital Marketing Is About Stories & Values, Not Channels Per Se…

5. Why Every Screen, Interface or Object Is An Opportunity For Dialogue, Interaction, Response & Collaboration.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course participants will:

  • Have a sound understanding of the general principles of digital marketing.
  • Be conversant with relevant technologies, devices and opportunities for digital communications campaigns.
  • Have increased confidence and inspiration for the development of strategic and creative digital communication campaigns
  • Understand how to integrate digital into the overall marketing mix.

The e-brochure is posted below:

Digital Marketing Workshop Brochure

For registration please contact Mr. Arsalaan Haleem at arsalaan@corporatetrainings.biz. The course fee is Rs. 8500 ($100) only.

For the first time, instead of focusing on just one set of digital tools, this workshop will show the participants how they can engage their customers using the multitude of tools that digital offers at the different stages of the customer’s purchase cycle, whilst at the same time keep tabs on the bottom line.The workshop will also focus on how to integrate the digital experience into traditional marketing campaigns.

Here’s a Peek into what’s going to be presented at the conference:

Digital Workshop Journey

For comments or questions, do let me know. Looking forward to meeting you there.

From The Archives (2006) – Marketing To Kids


Branding Kids
Published In Dawn, Aurora Magazine, April 2006

by Umair Mohsin

Anybody who has ever actively chosen to watch kids shop in a super market will testify to the fact that it’s a fascinating experience. These ‘little angels’ are very much the devil in disguise and quite capable of toppling the mightiest brands in Pakistan. They have their own tactics of getting what they want. Kids are very likely e.g. to slip the product they like into the shopping cart, replace your product with a competitor’s (as countless exchanges of Lux for Safeguard soaps have shown), hand it directly to the cashier, pester either of the parents or the best one – throw a tantrum right there on the spot if they don’t get what they want. The use of such indirect influences termed ‘Pester Power’ combined with their own purchasing power makes them the biggest market in Pakistan and one that is the least understood.

To date there has been no study of the potential of the kid’ s market in Pakistan. However, a rough estimate can be devised. The 0-25 years old market in Pakistan comprises around 64.9% of the 153.96 Million (Source: Economic Survey 2005) people in the country. Slicing the same percentage from the approximately 60 Million people living in the Urban sector and taking out the 16-25 bracket comprising of 8.9 million individuals and the 12-15 bracket comprise of 4.1 Million individuals (Source: AC Nielsen Data) leaves us an estimated 25 Million kids in Pakistan out of which the 3-12 years segment can comprise of anywhere between 15-20 million potential users of all kinds of products ranging from juices, confectionary and even mobile phones.

In terms of direct spending only e.g. the average pocket money for the lower SECs (B,C,D) school going kid is Rs.10 per day. In the upper SEC’s, it can reach as high as Rs. 50 per day. Taking the conservative approach at Rs. 10, gives us a direct spending potential of Rs.150 million per day or an eye popping Rs. 54.750 Billion annually in just the urban sector.

Kolsen’s Slanty & Ding Dong Bubble Gum are two examples of the potential that lies in this segment. Slanty, the largest selling snack brand in Pakistan, sold more than 300 million packs in 2005. The sales of Ding Dong are estimated to be Rs. 2 Billion a year (Note: Hilal wasn’t available for comment).

Meet The New Kids

Almost every aspect of today’s younger generation is different from what we might have experienced in the past. They’re growing up faster, are more connected, are more direct and much more informed. They also have more personal power, more money, influence and attention than any other generation before them. With so much autonomy and decision-making power within the family, it follows that kids are vocal about what they want their parents to buy.

“This is the first generation to have a lifestyle and the segment is growing at a decent percentage. It is also the most global generation the world has ever seen. They’ve been exposed to both local and international trends since birth”, said Asif Iqbal, CEO, Post Amazers.

This is the generation which can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, if not via the landline than via an SMS, a chat room or an IM message and there is no doubt that this steady diet of information, available 24 / 7 through a whole variety of channels, is playing a major role in shaping this new generation.

Ahmed Iqbal, Marketing Manager, National Foods said “Generation gaps now appear as closely as 5 years. They can take more information, process faster since they’ve been exposed to more mediums.”

“The kids know about all the content available on channels now and parents have been unable to limit this knowledge. These exposures to so many mediums have made their thinking broader. Kids now are far more intelligent and clever. They cannot be pushed anymore”, said Sabin Talib, BM, Prince Biscuits.

Says Hatim Shaikh, BM, Slanty “The kids of today are more computer and technology savvy and their ability to absorb messages and recall things has increased phenomenally as compared to the previous generation.”

This generation expects replies to SMSes in minutes. If not they get bored and move on to something more engaging. They are also used to things happening instantly and growing up on instant gratification has meant that it is also more demanding.

All this awareness is turning these kids into a NOW generation. They want things to happen here and now. They want to solve their problems now, not tomorrow. They must make the purchase now, win the game now or learn what they want to know now. Thus this is a generation with little, if any, patience. How can you be anything otherwise, if the media presents a world where pop stars are created in 4 weeks and millionaires are made in half an hour.

As with two sides to a story, the media is not wholly to blame for this either. Parents today are willing to compromise to and buy more for their kids because trends such as smaller family size, dual incomes and postponing children until later in life mean that families have more disposable income. Guilt plays a role in spending decisions as time-stressed parents substitute material goods for time spent with their kids. The thought of nagging in the little time that the parents have with their children, is enough to open the wallets.

With all these information flows however, there are signs of worry. “The new generation is losing its creativity. Creativity now comes packed in a box. Young people once spent hours outside playing games in parks and friend’s places. They invented games, rules, played cricket, they played as leaders and war generals. No more. Nowadays, kids barely leave their bedrooms. Too few games now ask them to create the environment or the rules of play”, said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik. “Increasingly their behaviors, thoughts and attitudes are being created by the entertainment world”.

Marketing To Kids

Kids are the easiest segment to market to. Give or take a little, their interests are similar globally and unlike the adult markets where a thousand variables (and choices) can exist, the kids market on the other hand with few disagreements is a global one. Toys like Barbie, Pokemon, Beyblade or characters like Harry Potter are global trends.

Kids also make the perfect target groups, because they are old enough to have formed clear brand preferences, yet are young enough to be dependent on their parents and thus have the ability to directly influence their parent’s spending. They keep asking their parents over and over for what they want so they have a tremendous say over what gets bought in the household including major household purchases. In some cases of purchases by parents they have such an influence they may be thought of as the primary decision makers. No other generation has ever had as much disposable income as this one.

Kids are VERY MUCH brand conscious

Teens are active lobbyists when it comes to brands. Babies as young as six months of age can form mental images of corporate logos and mascots, brand loyalties can be established as early as age two and by the time children head off to school most can recognize hundreds of brand logos.

Their brands are the symbols for an identity, offering the opportunity to be trendy, cool, rich, rebellious, stylish even sexy and thus are an integral part of the way kids define themselves. It’s the way they express who they are at home, at school even on the net but that doesn’t mean they’ll regurgitate anything. This generation is very skeptical and they have a built in B.S. alarm that goes off quick and fast when they know that the advertiser is lying. They’re very media savvy and it’s getting harder and harder to market to them….their needs change at such a fast pace.

Sabin Talib commented “Mother’s can’t force their kids to eat something anymore if they don’t want to. Especially in confectionary and biscuits, after 6 years of age, the child will make their own choices independently.”

Thus, brands must continue to surprise and innovate in their communication to keep the brands fresh in the minds of kids because once a brand hits a peak, there’s no where to go but down.

Why is it worth it? Brand relationships formed in childhood do last into later years in adulthood, giving you years and years of solid, dependable growth and revenue.

Their Dreams And Desires – How To Reach Their World

“I Can’t Stand Britney Spears. My Friends Hate Her”

Kids want security. Whether boys or girls, kid usually feel very lonely and look for connections and relationships. Therefore a fundamental factor of a kid’s life especially as they reach their teens is peer pressure. They tend to follow the herd rather than their own instincts, thus popularity and fame scores high on their lists. If they aren’t after it for themselves, they’re deeply in love with those who do. This makes them less likely to develop loyalty to a brand unless it also appeals to their friends. But mass appeal does not elicit loyalty in any form. Kids follow their peers and equals. If their identified groups shift brands, then everyone else will follow without remorse.

“Mom, I Want My MTV”

Once upon a time, about twenty years ago, fifth- and sixth-grade boys were about as fashion-conscious as their pets. Come this generation and they scorn any symbols of their immaturity, cultivating a self-image that emphasizes sophistication. They’re very concerned with their “look,” and a growing minority have begun using hair mousse and baggy jeans. This young generation wants cool, hip, and sexy.

“I Want To Be Commander Safeguard When I Grow Up”

Kids want mastery. They love doing things their way and want the same control that they witness in their heroes which incidentally we have a dearth of in Pakistan. Marketing pundits wrongly assume that kids will relate to cricket or singers. They don’t.

“We don’t have local heroes or kids celebrities. There is a big gap. They’re not turned on by cricketers or by singers. That’s basically a teen forte”, said Asif Iqbal.

Kids are desperate for regional / local heroes. They want content to which they can relate themselves with their language, their style, their choice of names, etc. They may watch cartoons like Dexter or Tom & Jerry but they cannot relate to these characters. Local marketers will need to create our own stories specially customized for these kids.

“Ha Ha Ha… that’s funny Mr. Monster Man”

Humor easily reaches across to both boys and girls as does fantasy, providing the fantasy is not too unrealistic. Kids have their own special humor, intrinsically related to their own unique concept of fun. Making your friends laugh also generates acceptability and loyalty.

Fantasy on the other hand expands the imagination. The younger the child, the greater the capacity for fantasy. Kids spend a lot of their time pre-occupied with day dreams which often star themselves as a hero of one sort or another living in a boundary free world. Characters such as Batman, Harry Potter, Spiderman all have taken advantage of this tendency to create very strong brands.

“Whatever they see on TV, they follow. They live in a fantasy world. That’s why we’ve given Prince a new look. He’s now more like a friend for the kids and someone they look up to”, said Talib. “Since confectionary and biscuits are impulsive buys, if they like and associate with the commercial or character, they will go for it.”

“Due to the massive reach and popularity of TV, kids of today are inspired by cartoon characters and super heroes and want to emulate them in their daily lives as well as use products which are linked to these characters”, said Hatim.

A ‘Today’s’ kid’s room will make it increasingly clear that the role of toys too have changed. Where once you would have found traditional toys in a 10 year olds bedroom, now in all likelihood you’ll find gaming consoles, CDs, movies, etc. The only toys that kids know of now are those linked to branded shows, ones like Pokemon or Commander Safeguard.

The Answers To Breaking Into The Rs. 55 Billion Market

“Not That Again”

Slanty was the first of its kind snack, Squeezy is the first of its kind of packaging. Even the Squeezy ad was ‘different’. Thus to reach this segment, innovation is very important.

“It’s Good. I Saw It On TV”

The life of most kids esp. urban ones is of routine including school, study, madrassah. By 5pm, escape is their deepest desire. In those two hours anything which provides them entertainment is undertaken or watched. Thus television plays a central role in their lives. They absorb more details and faster than adults do and contrary to conventional wisdom they genuinely love good ads and talk about them in their schools, at play, etc. They actually expect ads to take them to a different place and show them things they aspire to see and become. Entertainment, humor, light action and friendship are very important to these segments and they’re attracted to them.

“They’re less involved with publications than one might believe. It’s another form of education and kids already have enough of it. That’s why TV viewership is definitely growing in this segment with channels like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network leading the way”, said Asif Iqbal.

Therefore the answer lies in Experience and Involvement. To build a deeper relationship, interaction is the key. An engaging and involving experience in which the brand plays the lead role is the key to building a successful relationship with this segment.

“The only reason behind the success of Commander Safeguard was that no one did something like this before. It was the first of its kind animated series and most of all it was in Urdu. Pakistani kids had never been exposed to anything like it before”, said Asif Iqbal.

Asif Javed, ABM on Squeezy said ‘The prime factor is fun. It is the platform you can easily target. Cartoon characters especially involve the kids”

Why characters? Firstly, you don’t have uncontroversial celebrities in Pakistan. Secondly, with us being an emotive nation, we hate and love in a sine wave.

“The day Inzi scores a duck we hate him and the next day when he wins the matches we love him. Same is the case with singers. There are over 500 groups in Pakistan and there is none who have ever composed anything for this segment. There is no poetry, rhymes, or famous songs. Comics again are in English and mainly restricted to ‘Archie’. There is no belongingness in any of this.” said Asif Iqbal.

Thus if characters are done well, in accordance with brand values, it has a great chance that the brand will shine through, since there is not much competition in the mascot area. Characters also represent your brand, are ideal role models and most of all you own something that is totally yours forever. These characters will never die and never age. Celebrities after 5 years would probably not be attractive enough to be use as brand ambassadors. Characters live forever.

“Your desired positioning is best driven through a character. Your brand values are depicted easily. Squeezy is Top of Mind right now and the sales targets are well on their way to being achieved. Kids have actually pestered parents to get them the product”, said Asif Javed.

“Music is about who I am”

Music separates and unites various groups and a clear indicator of brand preference. Brand preferences often correlate with musical tastes.

“Music does more than simply create emotions. It creates trends. When kids like a song, they also focus on the artist who’s performing. Thus, you’d have people following the artist’s looks, behavior, speech, dancing style, attitude as well as their opinions and recommendations. This is a whole new ball game.” said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik.

“Mom, You’ll Never Guess What Happened At School Today?”

Campus Marketing programs are also increasingly becoming the best way to reach this segment. Last year LU alone targeted 70,000 kids and 21 top schools. Sponsorships especially are a cost-effective way of getting your message across to this segment and involve them. The kids get a better event (e.g. School Mela) and the advertisers benefit through sampling and presence.

“What You’ve Never Played CounterStrike”

Internet and Gaming too are a fast growing area but neither will be a hit without specific programming of their own. The best option right to exploit these new media is through TV and branded entertainment.

Conclusion

Dealing with kids is dealing with your future in all manners & forms, even to the point where you have the power to shape the upcoming world. That is why marketers must follow ethical guidelines and practices when marketing to these segments, as these little people are special. Dishonesty in advertising, producing low quality products just to make the sales this quarter will result in a future generation impaired in some form. Remember, kids are not as cynical as adults. They trust… a LOT! That is why care must be taken and once you have the opportunity to work with them, keep your word and enjoy the company of fun filled, exciting people for years and years.

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Anybody who has ever actively chosen to watch kids shop in a super market will testify to the fact that it’s a fascinating experience. These ‘little angels’ are very much the devil in disguise and quite capable of toppling the mightiest brands in Pakistan. They have their own tactics of getting what they want. Kids are very likely e.g. to slip the product they like into the shopping cart, replace your product with a competitor’s (as countless exchanges of Lux for Safeguard soaps have shown), hand it directly to the cashier, pester either of the parents or the best one – throw a tantrum right there on the spot if they don’t get what they want. The use of such indirect influences termed ‘Pester Power’ combined with their own purchasing power makes them the biggest market in Pakistan and one that is the least understood.

To date there has been no study of the potential of the kid’ s market in Pakistan. However, a rough estimate can be devised. The 0-25 years old market in Pakistan comprises around 64.9% of the 153.96 Million (Source: Economic Survey 2005) people in the country. Slicing the same percentage from the approximately 60 Million people living in the Urban sector and taking out the 16-25 bracket comprising of 8.9 million individuals and the 12-15 bracket comprise of 4.1 Million individuals (Source: AC Nielsen Data) leaves us an estimated 25 Million kids in Pakistan out of which the 3-12 years segment can comprise of anywhere between 15-20 million potential users of all kinds of products ranging from juices, confectionary and even mobile phones.

In terms of direct spending only e.g. the average pocket money for the lower SECs (B,C,D) school going kid is Rs.10 per day. In the upper SEC’s, it can reach as high as Rs. 50 per day. Taking the conservative approach at Rs. 10, gives us a direct spending potential of Rs.150 million per day or an eye popping Rs. 54.750 Billion annually in just the urban sector.

Kolsen’s Slanty & Ding Dong Bubble Gum are two examples of the potential that lies in this segment. Slanty, the largest selling snack brand in Pakistan, sold more than 300 million packs in 2005. The sales of Ding Dong are estimated to be Rs. 2 Billion a year (Note: Hilal wasn’t available for comment).

Meet The New Kids / You’re In MY World Now

Almost every aspect of today’s younger generation is different from what we might have experienced in the past. They’re growing up faster, are more connected, are more direct and much more informed. They also have more personal power, more money, influence and attention than any other generation before them. With so much autonomy and decision-making power within the family, it follows that kids are vocal about what they want their parents to buy.

“This is the first generation to have a lifestyle and the segment is growing at a decent percentage. It is also the most global generation the world has ever seen. They’ve been exposed to both local and international trends since birth”, said Asif Iqbal, CEO, Post Amazers.

This is the generation which can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, if not via the landline than via an SMS, a chat room or an IM message and there is no doubt that this steady diet of information, available 24 / 7 through a whole variety of channels, is playing a major role in shaping this new generation.

Ahmed Iqbal, Marketing Manager, National Foods said “Generation gaps now appear as closely as 5 years. They can take more information, process faster since they’ve been exposed to more mediums.”

“The kids know about all the content available on channels now and parents have been unable to limit this knowledge. These exposures to so many mediums have made their thinking broader. Kids now are far more intelligent and clever. They cannot be pushed anymore”, said Sabin Talib, BM, Prince Biscuits.

Says Hatim Shaikh, BM, Slanty “The kids of today are more computer and technology savvy and their ability to absorb messages and recall things has increased phenomenally as compared to the previous generation.”

This generation expects replies to SMSes in minutes. If not they get bored and move on to something more engaging. They are also used to things happening instantly and growing up on instant gratification has meant that it is also more demanding.

All this awareness is turning these kids into a NOW generation. They want things to happen here and now. They want to solve their problems now, not tomorrow. They must make the purchase now, win the game now or learn what they want to know now. Thus this is a generation with little, if any, patience. How can you be anything otherwise, if the media presents a world where pop stars are created in 4 weeks and millionaires are made in half an hour.

As with two sides to a story, the media is not wholly to blame for this either. Parents today are willing to compromise to and buy more for their kids because trends such as smaller family size, dual incomes and postponing children until later in life mean that families have more disposable income. Guilt plays a role in spending decisions as time-stressed parents substitute material goods for time spent with their kids. The thought of nagging in the little time that the parents have with their children, is enough to open the wallets.

With all these information flows however, there are signs of worry. “The new generation is losing its creativity. Creativity now comes packed in a box. Young people once spent hours outside playing games in parks and friend’s places. They invented games, rules, played cricket, they played as leaders and war generals. No more. Nowadays, kids barely leave their bedrooms. Too few games now ask them to create the environment or the rules of play”, said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik. “Increasingly their behaviors, thoughts and attitudes are being created by the entertainment world”.

Marketing To Kids

Kids are the easiest segment to market to. Give or take a little, their interests are similar globally and unlike the adult markets where a thousand variables (and choices) can exist, the kids market on the other hand with few disagreements is a global one. Toys like Barbie, Pokemon, Beyblade or characters like Harry Potter are global trends.

Kids also make the perfect target groups, because they are old enough to have formed clear brand preferences, yet are young enough to be dependent on their parents and thus have the ability to directly influence their parent’s spending. They keep asking their parents over and over for what they want so they have a tremendous say over what gets bought in the household including major household purchases. In some cases of purchases by parents they have such an influence they may be thought of as the primary decision makers. No other generation has ever had as much disposable income as this one.

Kids are VERY MUCH brand conscious

Teens are active lobbyists when it comes to brands. Babies as young as six months of age can form mental images of corporate logos and mascots, brand loyalties can be established as early as age two and by the time children head off to school most can recognize hundreds of brand logos.

Their brands are the symbols for an identity, offering the opportunity to be trendy, cool, rich, rebellious, stylish even sexy and thus are an integral part of the way kids define themselves. It’s the way they express who they are at home, at school even on the net but that doesn’t mean they’ll regurgitate anything. This generation is very skeptical and they have a built in B.S. alarm that goes off quick and fast when they know that the advertiser is lying. They’re very media savvy and it’s getting harder and harder to market to them….their needs change at such a fast pace.

Sabin Talib commented “Mother’s can’t force their kids to eat something anymore if they don’t want to. Especially in confectionary and biscuits, after 6 years of age, the child will make their own choices independently.”

Thus, brands must continue to surprise and innovate in their communication to keep the brands fresh in the minds of kids because once a brand hits a peak, there’s no where to go but down.

Why is it worth it? Brand relationships formed in childhood do last into later years in adulthood, giving you years and years of solid, dependable growth and revenue.

Their Dreams And Desires – How To Reach Their World

“I Can’t Stand Britney Spears. My Friends Hate Her”

Kids want security. Whether boys or girls, kid usually feel very lonely and look for connections and relationships. Therefore a fundamental factor of a kid’s life especially as they reach their teens is peer pressure. They tend to follow the herd rather than their own instincts, thus popularity and fame scores high on their lists. If they aren’t after it for themselves, they’re deeply in love with those who do. This makes them less likely to develop loyalty to a brand unless it also appeals to their friends. But mass appeal does not elicit loyalty in any form. Kids follow their peers and equals. If their identified groups shift brands, then everyone else will follow without remorse.

“Mom, I Want My MTV”

Once upon a time, about twenty years ago, fifth- and sixth-grade boys were about as fashion-conscious as their pets. Come this generation and they scorn any symbols of their immaturity, cultivating a self-image that emphasizes sophistication. They’re very concerned with their “look,” and a growing minority have begun using hair mousse and baggy jeans. This young generation wants cool, hip, and sexy.

“I Want To Be Commander Safeguard When I Grow Up”

Kids want mastery. They love doing things their way and want the same control that they witness in their heroes which incidentally we have a dearth of in Pakistan. Marketing pundits wrongly assume that kids will relate to cricket or singers. They don’t.

“We don’t have local heroes or kids celebrities. There is a big gap. They’re not turned on by cricketers or by singers. That’s basically a teen forte”, said Asif Iqbal.

Kids are desperate for regional / local heroes. They want content to which they can relate themselves with their language, their style, their choice of names, etc. They may watch cartoons like Dexter or Tom & Jerry but they cannot relate to these characters. Local marketers will need to create our own stories specially customized for these kids.

“Ha Ha Ha… that’s funny Mr. Monster Man”

Humor easily reaches across to both boys and girls as does fantasy, providing the fantasy is not too unrealistic. Kids have their own special humor, intrinsically related to their own unique concept of fun. Making your friends laugh also generates acceptability and loyalty.

Fantasy on the other hand expands the imagination. The younger the child, the greater the capacity for fantasy. Kids spend a lot of their time pre-occupied with day dreams which often star themselves as a hero of one sort or another living in a boundary free world. Characters such as Batman, Harry Potter, Spiderman all have taken advantage of this tendency to create very strong brands.

“Whatever they see on TV, they follow. They live in a fantasy world. That’s why we’ve given Prince a new look. He’s now more like a friend for the kids and someone they look up to”, said Talib. “Since confectionary and biscuits are impulsive buys, if they like and associate with the commercial or character, they will go for it.”

“Due to the massive reach and popularity of TV, kids of today are inspired by cartoon characters and super heroes and want to emulate them in their daily lives as well as use products which are linked to these characters”, said Hatim.

A ‘Today’s’ kid’s room will make it increasingly clear that the role of toys too have changed. Where once you would have found traditional toys in a 10 year olds bedroom, now in all likelihood you’ll find gaming consoles, CDs, movies, etc. The only toys that kids know of now are those linked to branded shows, ones like Pokemon or Commander Safeguard.

The Answers To Breaking Into The Rs. 55 Billion Market

“Not That Again”

Slanty was the first of its kind snack, Squeezy is the first of its kind of packaging. Even the Squeezy ad was ‘different’. Thus to reach this segment, innovation is very important.

“It’s Good. I Saw It On TV”

The life of most kids esp. urban ones is of routine including school, study, madrassah. By 5pm, escape is their deepest desire. In those two hours anything which provides them entertainment is undertaken or watched. Thus television plays a central role in their lives. They absorb more details and faster than adults do and contrary to conventional wisdom they genuinely love good ads and talk about them in their schools, at play, etc. They actually expect ads to take them to a different place and show them things they aspire to see and become. Entertainment, humor, light action and friendship are very important to these segments and they’re attracted to them.

“They’re less involved with publications than one might believe. It’s another form of education and kids already have enough of it. That’s why TV viewership is definitely growing in this segment with channels like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network leading the way”, said Asif Iqbal.

Therefore the answer lies in Experience and Involvement. To build a deeper relationship, interaction is the key. An engaging and involving experience in which the brand plays the lead role is the key to building a successful relationship with this segment.

“The only reason behind the success of Commander Safeguard was that no one did something like this before. It was the first of its kind animated series and most of all it was in Urdu. Pakistani kids had never been exposed to anything like it before”, said Asif Iqbal.

Asif Javed, ABM on Squeezy said ‘The prime factor is fun. It is the platform you can easily target. Cartoon characters especially involve the kids”

Why characters? Firstly, you don’t have uncontroversial celebrities in Pakistan. Secondly, with us being an emotive nation, we hate and love in a sine wave.

“The day Inzi scores a duck we hate him and the next day when he wins the matches we love him. Same is the case with singers. There are over 500 groups in Pakistan and there is none who have ever composed anything for this segment. There is no poetry, rhymes, or famous songs. Comics again are in English and mainly restricted to ‘Archie’. There is no belongingness in any of this.” said Asif Iqbal.

Thus if characters are done well, in accordance with brand values, it has a great chance that the brand will shine through, since there is not much competition in the mascot area. Characters also represent your brand, are ideal role models and most of all you own something that is totally yours forever. These characters will never die and never age. Celebrities after 5 years would probably not be attractive enough to be use as brand ambassadors. Characters live forever.

“Your desired positioning is best driven through a character. Your brand values are depicted easily. Squeezy is Top of Mind right now and the sales targets are well on their way to being achieved. Kids have actually pestered parents to get them the product”, said Asif Javed.

“Music is about who I am”

Music separates and unites various groups and a clear indicator of brand preference. Brand preferences often correlate with musical tastes.

“Music does more than simply create emotions. It creates trends. When kids like a song, they also focus on the artist who’s performing. Thus, you’d have people following the artist’s looks, behavior, speech, dancing style, attitude as well as their opinions and recommendations. This is a whole new ball game.” said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik.

“Mom, You’ll Never Guess What Happened At School Today?”

Campus Marketing programs are also increasingly becoming the best way to reach this segment. Last year LU alone targeted 70,000 kids and 21 top schools. Sponsorships especially are a cost-effective way of getting your message across to this segment and involve them. The kids get a better event (e.g. School Mela) and the advertisers benefit through sampling and presence.

“What You’ve Never Played CounterStrike”

Internet and Gaming too are a fast growing area but neither will be a hit without specific programming of their own. The best option right to exploit these new media is through TV and branded entertainment.

Conclusion

Dealing with kids is dealing with your future in all manners & forms, even to the point where you have the power to shape the upcoming world. That is why marketers must follow ethical guidelines and practices when marketing to these segments, as these little people are special. Dishonesty in advertising, producing low quality products just to make the sales this quarter will result in a future generation impaired in some form. Remember, kids are not as cynical as adults. They trust… a LOT! That is why care must be taken and once you have the opportunity to work with them, keep your word and enjoy the company of fun filled, exciting people for years and years.