Anna and Competitive Response (3)

The competitive response to Anna has been very poor. It is bad retaliation and poor counter strategy. The competitive assault by dissenters like Ms Roy and people in power seem to miss the entire essence of on what the retaliation strategy should be based. All the counter assaults seem to be devoted  to fighting the Anna Brand’s manifestation- the person in flesh and blood. If brand Anna is equated with Anna, the person,then you get involved with the shadow or symbol. It is shadow fighting and it does not take you anywhere. If fact the more you fight a shadow the weaker you become. It is gross wastage of resources.
Brands are perceptual entities. Brands inhabit the perceptual space. Brand Anna has appropriated an idea which enjoys huge resonance with the people. For some it may also be a dissonant idea (people in disagreement) but probably these are few in numbers otherwise Anna would not be what he is today. He would not have been a serious challenge for the establishment. Anna in this context now owns a ‘first mover advantage’. In positioning terms he ‘identified a mental slot and filled it’. Now brand Anna singularly and very powerfully ‘owns’ a position just as Dettol owns antiseptic position and Nirma ‘economy’. Brand Anna not only resonates but it is highly different from current brand of political brands, be it parties or individuals. So Brand Anna is highly differentiated on a dimension that is significant for people. It is visible how Brand Anna is favorably discriminated by people.
Once a position has been occupied it is not a good idea to copy that or come near that position because the challenger becomes  dwarf in the mind of prospects. Therefore the brands that borrow ideas and copy, end up becoming shoddy ‘me too’ with a very low appeal. Now the opportunity for parties in power or opposition or people in search of establishing political credibility is lost. They probably cannot own ‘anti corruption or freedom from corruption’ position. When it comes to thinking  soap for beauty ,‘Lux’ dominates the mind and when one thinks of PSPO ‘Orient’ springs up. You can’t just ‘rub off’ the brand from the mind. It requires ‘unlearning’ which is extremely difficult if perpetual references are made to what one is trying to ‘unlearn’. You remember how ‘Devdas’ was reminded of ‘Paro’ when he saw ‘Chandramukhi’.The more she tried to occupy her positionthe stronger became the image of ‘Paro’.
You can’t fight a brand which resonates with its target audience. Brand gains its strength from the value delivery which could be physical or perceptual. Had it not been true all mega corporations would have killed all smaller players. There would not have been any Chik shampoo, Priya Gold biscuits and Action shoes, and Micromax mobiles. If the prospects have ‘made up’ their minds it is extremely difficult to change.
Many people argue that it is media created mass hysteria and frenzy. This thought undermines the human intelligence. As if people cannot make a conscious choice. If this were true then why could Coke not create mass hysteria for its New Coke which set the company poorer by close to $600 million. Why could Apple not turn Newton into a huge success? Why Sony lost on its Betamax technology? These are all big corporations capable of pumping in millions of dollars capable of whipping up hysteria. Out there, in the market cold blooded customer logic prevails. You either make sense or don’t. People are rallying behind Brand Anna probably not because he is a magician (‘gili gili gili and you are sent in a trance’) but because what he signifies makes sense, that too without paid advertising. Mind you, you are dealing with present day generation which is more discriminating (try getting a small child into liking what you want him or her to) and is better  informed. The information is just a click away.
For all times when ever the word ‘corruption’ would be mentioned the name ‘Anna’ would also get activated. These two are now closely tied in memory. So what are the options for the competition? Anna is imprinted in minds as ‘anti-corruption’ or ‘corruption less India’. This advantage belongs to Anna. It can’t be stolen like a physical object because Brand Anna belongs to perceptual world.
One of the strategies in this situation is not to contest rather to leverage upon the strengths of an established player. I am reminded of Avis when it faced a huge giant in the name Hertz, it impressed upon customers:
“We’re number two, we try harder”
There is no point in taking ‘against’ position because there is no slot like that. Instead build your brand by relating to Brand Anna, not by challenging but by relating.
Can you think of a proposition?

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2 thoughts on “Anna and Competitive Response (3)

  1. Dear Sir
    Your words reflect true image of INDIA TODAY. People from all walks of life are pro Anna . This itself defines the strong democratic sentiments of Indians that has propelled the parliamentarians to take steps in considering the Lokpal bill.
    Wonderful blog!

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