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The 3 Fs of marketing

india Updated: May 30, 2010 23:25 IST
Anisha Motwani

Today’s environment is questioning all known tenets of marketing principles, whether it’s the ever-changing consumer or ever-changing environment. The internet has been a significant inflection point as it enables the rapid dissemination of ideas and development of products around the globe.

In effect, it acts to shorten the lifecycle in many categories. Products emerge, surge, diffuse and are purged. With changing consumer tastes and preferences, some products become popular relatively quickly but are also losing popularity dramatically and are replaced by the next best promise. Couch surfer

All this has led to the product lifecycle curve becoming steeper today than ever before, indicating that an increasingly large proportion of sale occurs soon after the launch of the product. A narrow window of opportunity occurs to earn profits on a new product before competition catches up and margins begin to shrink.

But with technological advances the quality of products is improving greatly, resulting in an interesting paradox for marketers — while the products are lasting longer, the time in which they are outmoded is growing shorter.
This brings us to relevance of the 3Fs of marketing:

Form
Quantum change in technology and innovation is not as frequent a success as marketers would want it to be. However, the manner in which we invite consumers to consume categories is very important. The i-pod is not just another mp3 player — notice the simple difference the colour of the earphone wires makes to the perception of the category. The car industry is perhaps one of the most prominent examples of the criticality of form.
One base gives birth to many models. It is true even for services and “formless” products such as life insurance. Form drives desire. A focused investigation into the form that we serve our product or service in is a critical initiative.

Function
Consumer expectations of a product category and its use are fast changing. In just a decade, the bulky mobile phone that could only be used for calls and SMSes has been replaced by the sleek mobile phone that enables life on move — phone, sms, e-mails, music, photographs, videos, address book and even networking.
This change in ‘function’ has not only changed the way mobile instrument brands are being positioned but will also change the ways digital cameras, computers and brands in many other categories need to look at their lifecycle. The consumer is normally pretty clever in discovering the true function a product has in his or her life.

Flexibility
Environments can change extremely fast. Add to this a consumer who today has a point of view and expects it to be taken seriously and impact the fortunes of the brand. There is a ‘me’ within ‘we’ waiting to be discovered.
The digital explosion has enabled a single view to multiply super fast. A proactive desire for constant change is driving today’s consumers. Brands too need to have flexibility in form and function to constantly meet changing consumer needs.
Gone are the days of sticking to the line. Today is the day of having a small consistent core and values which invite engagement and consumer co-creation. And this is a monster that marketers need to tame.

The writer is Chief marketing Officer, Max New York Life Insurance