There couldn’t have been a luckier Marketing batch at BIBS than the one that attended the Masterclass that was held on 28th November 2020 and organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry. In fact, very few B-school students get to experience what happened that day. World renowned American author and consultant, Prof. Philip Kotler- the man behind every marketing book considered as biblical in B-schools of India and the rest of the world, gave the students precious four hours of his life sharing his wisdom with the students.
Mr. Kotler began the session by thanking the organizers from CII and then went on to openly profess his love for India. He had first come to India in the year 1955 along with his wife for a research project sponsored by the Ford Foundation and stayed for a full one year. He particularly loved his time that he spent in the cities of Bombay (now Mumbai), Delhi, Jaipur, Agra and Calcutta (now Kolkata).
He described his visit to India as a mind-opening experience and this was probably the reason why he returned for 6 more visits to the country for one-day or two-day business conferences. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Mr. Kotler understands the Indian population and culture on a deeper level.
Mr. Kotler has been the undisputed marketing guru for the last 5 decades and has penned books like Marketing Management, Marketing of Nations and Marketing Insights from A to Z. Therefore, it was pretty obvious that when he presented the slideshow, students listened patiently to what he had to say.
Mr. Kotler began his presentation by focussing attention on the importance of brand imagery and illustrations. He explained how brand image takes precedence over the product itself by quoting the Advertising guru, David Ogilvy who had explained it with an example of Grand Dad and Taylor- two kinds of whisky.
At multiple points in the presentation, Mr. Kotler very skillfully displayed how important branding can be for marketing and those products which fail to do so end up being restricted to just being commodities. He took the example of two brands of cars- One Toyota Corolla and the other Chevrolet Prizm from a particular case study. In that case study, it was found that despite being identical in features and Toyota being more expensive, it was Toyota that sold higher than Chevrolet. This is how impactful branding can be! People will always prefer the name over affordability.
Another example of powerful branding that he mentioned was that of Harley’s. The way they have managed to sell apparel, beer, motorcycles, eateries, and pretty much anything under the roof, all because of one name, further establishes the power of branding.
Prof. Kotler himself is a brand in every right and therefore it was quite interesting when he mentioned the likes of Madonna and Calvin Klein, to explain how even people can become huge brands.
In this day and age, from services to retailers to corporations and even B2B companies that don’t usually interact with end consumers, are being branded. Brands today have to pay attention to every single detail about anything that is put out in the public domain. Whether it’s the right logo, the right slogan, the right theme, the right colours, and so on and so forth.
Another important and probably more important point that he covered is how brands today are no longer just about their contents but also about the experience they provide. The same regular cup of coffee that you would prefer to make at home and avoid buying outside, would become a more desired product if it comes in a Starbucks cup. Brands must focus on storytelling and touch the right senses and emotions of their target customers. If brands don’t want to be lost in the crowded markets of the 21st century, then it’s imperative that they find their own unique identity that is difficult to replicate.
Prof. Philip Kotler is synonymous with marketing books not just in India but also in the rest of the world. He himself is an example of a brand that people trust and easily rely on. His incredible work in the field of marketing and education has been revolutionary and his contribution unmatched. The students of BIBS will forever cherish this once-in-a-lifetime experience with the legend.