Monday, that is December 28, could have been yet another boring beginning to the week. But Uber Bangalore brought cheer to the city residents with their Uber Puppies programme.
It appeared to be fairly simple on the face of it, but involved enormous logistics. The app-based taxi booking service had opened a window between 12 pm and 3 pm on Monday, when people could call the company and get a 15-minute cuddle from puppies! It was a great move, which went viral on social media, with excited riders sharing their experiences and images on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
There was also a social objective to this initiative, as they hoped it would eventually result in people adopting stray puppies at a later date, after they get to know what it’s like to bring up a puppy. For this, Uber had tied up with ‘Voice of Stray Dogs’ (VoSD). Often, an incident sparks something in your own memory and strikes a chord with you — I had a similar déjà vu moment with this programme.
All my life, I have grown up with dogs. I had lived with them and loved them — till I got married. As my wife couldn’t handle these furry creatures, I lived without a dog for several years. But I managed to get a backdoor entry for a canine through my second son. (You can call it emotional blackmail, which is very common in marriages). Today, several years later, my wife is the biggest dog lover in the family! Who knows how many families will benefit from Uber Puppies day?
But there is no doubt that the brand benefited from this initiative, as it did from others like the chopper ride and luxury car rides that it had organised recently.
This brings me to the crux of what I am attempting to write — that consumers are a fickle lot, particularly younger ones who are constantly looking for excitement. Youngsters seem to get tired of their girlfriends quite easily, so where does that leave brands? This is why young brands like Uber succeed; because they keep upping the excitement quotient. It is probably because of the many things they keep doing that they are rated as the most disruptive brand in the world .
The slimmest watch in the world
But if you think that doing disruptive, innovative things is the prerogative of only new age companies like Uber, think again. Older, well-established brick-and-mortar companies did the same earlier as well. My mind goes back to 2002 and Titan Industries, another company that I admire enormously.
Titan was going through a slight trough then, and nothing was happening after a great, momentous start. In a sense, the brand was at an emotional low, if you can call it that, and then, the company did something truly disruptive — it came up with the slimmest watch in the world.
It was an astonishing piece of engineering and the advertising stated the powerful proposition in a manner that was simple and distinctive. Watch the commercial about the watch which made waves. This was a breakthrough in more ways than one, as the company suddenly rediscovered its lost steam and made the market sit up and take notice. There was another interesting side effect of this game changing strategy — its employees too realised their own enormous potential and the things they could do to change the category.
So where’s your next excitement?
Today’s consumers are a spoilt, promiscuous lot. They are not even loyal to their spouses, so brands are a poor second.
Brands have to do things dramatically different and do them often, so that consumers remember and value them. Those like Uber keep doing different, out-of-the-box activities frequently. They keep raising the consumer connect bar, constantly surprising their patrons as well as competitors.
Many brands do things differently as well but sadly, they do these too few and too far apart; they keep talking about the one innovation they made in 1942.
So the question you must ask is, “When was the last time you did something exciting for your brand, that left your consumer saying ‘wow’? When was your brand’s last wow moment with the consumer?”
Excitement can be hard work
Whether it is a Titan or an Uber, you can read about it and maybe even feel good about it for a short while. But when it comes to your own brand, it is not so easy because your competition too is trying to do something different with its brand.
Sadly, in the world of brands, it’s a winner take all scenario. If you are to be the winner, you must be paranoid about not only your brand but also your consumers. Keep observing them; discover hidden, unspoken, unmet needs and work towards satisfying them.
Who knows what you might become tomorrow?
To read more from the Third Umpire section, click here .