Purple cows in India
Aug 10 2012, 19:08 | By Entrepreneur
By Harsh Pamnani and Shekhar Gurav
The year was 2001. It was just another hot afternoon for most Mumbaikars carrying on with their busy lives. Well, that was until the concentration of thousands of pedestrians and traffic-stuck drivers was broken by giant elephants ambling at their own lethargic pace right in the middle of the road. Each elephant carried a huge logo of Mouthshut.com painted in bright colors on flex material on their bodies. And there were 20 of them across Mumbai! Soon, the media got interested in the spectacle. Thousands clicked pictures; millions probably watched it on TV or read about it in newspapers. In marketing lingo, Mouthshut.com just created the proverbial Purple Cow-massive customer awareness at one fell swoop.
So, what is a Purple Cow?
Why? Because there was something remarkable about that cow. The same concept applies to your product or service. Today, every brand is fighting to capture the attention of its target consumers. And most of the generic market spaces are populated with thousands of brands and niche spaces with hundreds. How do you compete then? Or how do you compete successfully?
The strategy of buying millions worth of ads on TV and print doesn't guarantee success anymore. On top of all this, if you are a startup, you can never take an industry incumbent head-on by buying traditional marketing media-you'll soon run out of money. Purple Cow thinking can give you some useful perspectives. We will discuss three ways you can incorporate Purple Cow thinking in your product/service/brand development process.
Build something worth noticing
Instead, invest that marketing budget in your products' design or use it to build a killer feature as part of your service. This way you would build a marketing script right inside what you are selling and don't need a separate campaign to market it; word-of-mouth marketing would work for you.
Venky, Founder of the Goli Vadapav chain, did just that. Vadapav is the Indian equivalent of a burger and creating a chain of vadapav-selling stores on the basis of McDonald's is Venky's dream. In Mumbai, street vendors sell vadapav at almost every corner. Venky spent his money and energy in creating clean shops (remarkable service) selling hygienic vadapavs (remarkable product). He created more than 10 distinct variations of vadapav and struck a deal with Vista Inc (suppliers of McDonald's). Goli Vadapav is known for best-in-class products and service.
When every other ice-cream chains sell standard flavors or allow two flavors at most to be mashed, Hokey Pokey has created an experience for its consumers out of making an ice-cream. You visit a Hokey Pokey shop, go to the counter where you can choose from a number of flavors, then they chop and mix all those flavors, garnish with nuts and cookies-all in front of you. Voila! You are sold.
Ditch traditional media
MouthShut.com logos in all major cities of India. In Mumbai alone, on any given day, there are more than 10,000 rickshaws with MouthShut.com logos. Mouthshut.com gets about more than four million unique visitors per month. The medium used to get the word out itself was a Purple Cow.
Venky of Goli Vadapav latched on to the opportunity to serve his vadapavs at TiE Summit 2009. His stall was well-noticed. He offered his vadapavs to industry icons and also spoke about his Goli story in a session on desi jugaad. Media and investors noticed him. Influencers enjoyed his vadapavs and started talking about the product. Word spread very fast and soon Venky started giving talks at various forums and prestigious institutes such as the Indian School of Business (ISB) and soon Goli became a brand. Today, Goli Vadapav is India's largest ethnic fast food chain and has 140 stores in four states of India.
How much money is required to make a song a super-duper hit? The answer would be Rs. 1 crore or Rs. 2 crore, but Sreekant Dass, Creative Strategist, Jack in the Box Worldwide, made this possible with zero money. He and his team didn't follow the traditional marketing medium to promote the song Kolaveri Di, rather they used social media, a Purple Cow strategy. People were viewing and sharing and more than 41 million views happened across 220 countries.
On November 21, 2011, Kolaveri Di became the 'most searched video' on YouTube. Around two million caller tones were downloaded and online buzz pushed TV and print media to talk about the song. Blogs, newspapers, news and radio channels covered and played Kolaveri Di. This Purple Cow earned more than Rs. 6.7 crore of media coverage with no money spent.
Find your script and tell it to the sneezers
Coca Cola came up with the slogan Thanda matlab Coca Cola and Cadbury came up with Kuch meetha ho jaye. These slogans are nothing but the scripts.
Worth the remarks
This story appeared in the July 2012 issue of Entrepreneur.
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