Mother of all Brand Surveys!

27 Nov,2015



You’ve read about the Meaningful Brands survey on MxM already. Here’s a link, if you missed it: Last week, we met Anita Nayyar, CEO of Havas Media India and South Asia at her office in Gurgaon, Delhi NCR, for a freewheeling discussion on the study and more. The study is so consumer-centric, that there is a valuable lesson in there for companies and their CMOs on how they can improve their brands’ standing, Nayyar told Pradyuman Maheshwari


There are brand surveys and brand surveys. How is this different from the others?

This is the mother of all brand surveys. The Meaningful Brands Survey looks at a brand in totality – how it is meaningful to people, the community or the market place. I think this is a complete study, and it doesn’t have the ‘most liked’ or ‘most popular’ brand type of thing.


Except that what is meaningful to me may not be meaning to you and vice versa…

So the study pans across three parameters – personal well-being, collective well-being and the marketplace. As a consumer, I need to figure out how a brand is more meaningful to me; collectively, how it is meaningful for society at large, and finally, does the marketing manager actually think his/her brand is far more meaningful try to project the brand in the marketplace that way?


But how does the survey help a brand apart from the fact that it looks on the CMO’s CV?

We don’t do this study for it to appear on the CV of the CMO. But we do take a lot of attributes into account when we do the survey: Pricing, packaging, whether the brand contributes to good health or not, whether it makes any difference to people’s lives, how it is doing versus its competitors and such. These attributes can be interestingly used by marketing, not only to look at brand health, but also in the communication for the brand. For instance, if the pricing is low, is it perceived as a low quality brand? When you get into the details of the study, you can get lots of cues from it that brands can use [to improve themselves].


But in your Top 10 you do not have brands from the Tata, Birla and Ambani groups –brands that one would think are an integral part of the economy and are hugely trusted…

This is the third year of the study and as we go along, we will add more brands. Last year, the Tata Group was also one of the top meaningful brands but as we added more categories, like food, [groups like] Amul became more relevant. The study also allows for year-on-year tracking, so I could figure out the meaningful brand index core for Tata, Amul or LIC. Whether they are going up or down or what is the attachment score for these brands. So, today, Amul is the most meaningful brand out of the 100 brands [we have considered] across the country, but LIC has the highest attachment score. That means if LIC vanishes tomorrow, then 86-87 per cent people will be worried and concerned.


In the past few years, private insurance players have been creating some great advertising around their brands. Surprising, that this does not necessarily make them more meaningful in the eyes of the consumer…

Yes, good creatives do not make you meaningful, good actions do. Take the case of LIC. When the Uttarakhand floods happened, LIC was one of the companies who was there doling out insurance monies and reimbursements to [the affected] people. When addressing why LIC is a top brand, we take into consideration, for instance, the ease of getting your reimbursements, the presence of that company during calamities and such. Today, getting insurance cover out from a private company is a nightmare. The ease of transacting business, the security people think a brand brings to them and obviously the trust, has led the brand to becoming a very meaningful one over time.


Globally, Samsung is the No. 1 brand, but it’s #10 in India. Why this variance between the Global and Indian Top 10?

That will always be there because brands which are important in one country may not be important in another. The relevance of the brand matters in the market. The classic example again is LIC; nowhere else is insurance as relevant as it is in our country.


How come brands like Dettol or Colgate, which are such an integral part of our lives, and are also meaningful and helpful, don’t figure in this list?

The oral care category is not covered. Like I said earlier, you have to look at the categories that we have covered. I am sure when we add more categories you will find Colgate or Pepsodent or Dettol or Lifebuoy there.


Speaking of meaningful, shouldn’t some public undertakings, like BEST buses in Mumbai or the Delhi Metro, also be considered since they are important in the lives of consumers in these places?

They should. But like I said, we will definitely add on more brands in the coming years. Three years ago when we launched the study, we had just 25 brands. This year, we have a hundred.


As costs go, having 13,000 respondents across the country means this is an expensive endeavor. So are people paying for it?

One of the issues with research – and this is not country specific – is that it costs a lot of money. We have not been funded by anybody to do this research, but invested a lot both globally and in the India perspective. Three years ago, we had just 25 brands. We have increased it to a 100 now, and in our fourth year, we will have 150 brands. So it costs us a lot of money and once we have more funds, we will be able to make the study more elaborate. We would definitely be happy for brands to take a little financial load off us, but we will continue to do the study nevertheless.


A part of this interview first appeared in dna of brands on Nov 23. Don’t miss the interview with Anita Nayyar on BrandStand on Zee Business on Saturday, Nov 28 at 1.30pm and Sunday, Nov 29 at 7.30pm


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