'Don't spend a scanty 2 per cent on POP, spend at least 10 per cent' : Harish Bijoor - POP ASIA 2005 chairman (Steering Committee)

He talks of a "marketing meltdown" in the country. FMCGs are his real targets. Harish Bijoor does not mince words while reasoning a greater 'autonomy' for the POP industry, especially in India.

Acoustically buoyant about the first POP Asia, he is the Chairman of the steering committee POP Asia, Harish Bijoor CEO Harish Bijoor Consults carves a case for a greater focus on one is to one branding. He justifies this by giving example of the imminent failure of advertising to sustain the top line and the bottom line of a brand. caught up on the sidelines of the recently concluded two day expo POP Asia at Nehru Centre, Mumbai.


How did POP Asia go? Has it been successful enough to meet your expectations?

It has certainly met my expectations. I have been looking at creating some degree of evangelism in it. POP as an industry has always been a neglected medium. We have always been besotted, as a country, with above the line. Several years ago I started talking about below the line propositions. Everything we did was below the line oriented. It convinced me that it is hard work but it is very very efficient. And therefore what I was looking forward with POP Asia as forum was to bring more and more people on to a unified platform. This year we have had 450 odd people. I am sure it will be much more next year.

Why POP Asia? Why not POP India or say POP International?

Fundamentally Asia is where the problem is. I do work in Vietnam which is a very nascent market in terms of POP. I work in Korea where North Korea is an advanced market while South Korea is completely a different place for POP industry. Singapore has a very advanced POP market. But you see these are just the top three numbers we are looking at. There are core markets like Indonesia and China except for Shanghai. Therefore as you see Asia is evolving as a big economic battle ground. The potential is enormous for the POP industry to grow. And we are at a junction where POP is evenly poised to arrive in a big way.

What is your take on the Indian POP scenario? Investments in POP are more or less stagnant.

We all know 70 per cent of the purchase decisions happen in store. But 80 per cent of the spend takes place out of stores. Now logic needs to meet somewhere. I am not saying that marketers start spending 70 per cent of their budgets on POP. All I am saying is let there be a better equity. Don't spend a scanty 2 per cent as you do today on POP. Spend at least 10 per cent. I believe that is the right direction to go. I have been watching Indian marketing at a very micro level. The issues are really deep and big. There is this great marketing meltdown which is hitting the oldest marketed categories in India. They are in deep trouble because top line is not growing; the bottom line is also not growing. Then what's the purpose of the brand.

What is the reason for this 'marketing meltdown'? Especially in the FMCG sector. HLL has become quite a case for this.

You see all of us need to be besotted with brands and we must protect the bottom line of the brand come what may. Overall what is really happening is 'the discounting mania'. The mania to get the top line at whatever cost. I feel these are big issues. And they need to be avoided at all cost.

Then how do you fight the competition?

I think you need to build brands which are on the ground levels. Don't build it with media. Build it with customer interface. There is something called one is to one branding and there is something called one is to many branding.

What is your understanding on brand building through POP?

POP creates excellent one is to one branding. You go to a store you look at a POP, you get swayed by it and buy the product. I have done a study in seven centers of India. Out of every 100 people who walked into the store 83 got swayed by POP. Only 17 came to the store pre decided to buy. So the question is that "Is Advertising working"? No. Advertising has stopped working. It is not working as efficiently as before. I think in today's context and with the amount of clutter around advertising is only good for awareness.

But there is so much of clutter in an average Indian retail outlet?

Look at clutter which happens in the retail outlet today. Our kirana stores are full of clutter. Despite that there are many entities who are able to make a very focused pitch for your retention. Look at what Surf is doing in the retail outlet. Creativity plays a key role. I think there will be more clutter on advertising than POP.

Are you giving direction to advertising?

Today the advertising pie in this country is Rs 117 billion. Out of that 46 per cent goes to Television, 41 percent goes to print and rest goes into outdoor, rural publicity vans and POP. I am just saying that bring some method to madness. You are already having a problem of top lines not growing; bottom lines not growing. Apply what is more efficient and cost effective.a

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