Brand

Factors Influencing Consumerism in USA

IMG_20151025_085435263_HDRI landed in USA on the 29th of September, 2015, and have been staying in North Brunswick Township, New Jersey for two and a half months now. This period has included multiple trips to New York City, and a bus trip along the roads of the Eastern States of New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania. I am penning this article based on my experiences, observations and general conversation with people around me.

Contrary to how outsiders look at USA, the country is not all about big cities with insanely terrific skylines. Most of the country resides in towns or cities that you would read about in a Stephen King novel or watch in shows like Smallville. This, I feel is the driving force behind the consumerism culture of the USA. This is the main reason why so many brands are competing for attention in a market that is nearly saturated. These two factors are driving innovation not only in USA, but the world over.

The Strip-Mall Phenomenon

Sun-City-Center-Plaza

A typical strip mall. Photo courtesy: suncitycenterphotos.com

People in USA mostly live in independent houses with a front and back yard. These houses, instead of being cramped in order to accommodate lots of people in a limited space, are spread out and often greatly interspersed. This has caused numerous strip malls to spring up. For those who are not aware, a strip mall is a commercial area within a city or town with 8 to 10 stores. These stores may include departmental stores, restaurants, saloons, tutoring centers, and everything else that serve the purpose of fulfilling a person’s day-to-day needs. Everyone has to travel to a strip mall if they want to buy anything because there are no other local stores nearby.

Automobiles

Automobiles aren’t a luxury; they are a necessity. Imagine you wake up one morning, and realize that you have run out of toothpaste. The nearest strip mall is 1.5 miles (2.4km) away. If you don’t have a car, it’s a 30-minute hike for you to get something as simple as a toothpaste. That too, without having brushed your teeth yet. Not a favorable prospect I assure you. However, if you own a car, it’s a 5-minute drive, and you’re back in time for breakfast.

• Largest automobile markets worldwide   new car registrations   2015

The public transport system is evolved enough to support commutation to and from certain places, but it would not give you access to every place very easily.

Automobiles are a factor that, I believe, leads to a high disposable income as well. The fact that cars are a necessity means that everyone has to be able to afford a car without getting strung out on the financial aspects of the purchase. This translates to the average disposable income of the people being above the average disposable income of the people in other countries for the same job.

 

Rankings by Country of Average Monthly Disposable Salary  After Tax   Salaries And Financing

Rankings by country of average monthly disposable salary (After Tax). Image Source: numbeo.com

 

Internet Infrastructure

According to Akamai, USA has an average internet speed of 11.2 MBPS, and 19% of the country has adopted IPv6. Most of the country has quick and easy access to information due to the extremely good internet coverage.

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These are three things that I believe influence the consumerism side of USA, and make marketing to the people of USA an attractive and often challenging prospect for all marketers. Here’s how:

People are always driving to places

What that means for marketers:

  • Large demand for cars. The domination once had by Ford and General Motors is now overridden by European and Asian brands, and every brand has to do its best to stand out among the competition and get the attention of their target segment.
  • Varied cultural backgrounds means varied taste in music. To address this, there are a large number of radio channels, translating to a large number of platforms, each with its own kind of dedicated audience

Strip-mall culture

What this means for marketers:

  • People from a specific area will usually turn to their nearest strip-mall for addressing their day-to-day needs. Having your brand in a strip-mall is the best way to increase local awareness. If I have a premium detergent brand, I would want to find shelf space in convenience stores of every high income locality. If I am starting an Indian restaurant chain, I would want to have a presence in every strip-mall which is close to a large South Asian community. Strip-malls are the easiest way to connect to people living in the American suburbs and make them remember your brand.

Good Internet Infrastructure

What this means for marketers:

  • People are always online, and while they have easy and quick access to information, marketers also have quick and easy access to data. Every move a person makes is stored as a statistic on the giant virtual cloud. Targeting is getting more and more precise as technology evolves, and marketers can show their products to the very person who they want as a customer.
  • When travelling to a strip-mall is inconvenient, online shopping satisfies the need. Virtual shelf space with any major retailer gives immense visibility. Good SEO and SEM means that your product will show up on the top ranking of any search result, guaranteeing visibility and allowing brands to be at the right place at the right time with the appropriate search.

I would like to close out this article with the disclaimer that I do not claim to be an expert about the country and its people and have just penned down my thoughts based on my experiences, and it is open to debate. The thing that I did realize, though, and I can say this with a high degree of certainty – the consumerism culture here is driving the world of innovation. Every brand is trying to outdo each other by providing that extra reason for people to buy. Toyota is competing with General Motors to give people the best car in its segment; Samsung is toe to toe with Apple to provide people with the most convenient phone; Adidas is constantly improving its products to beat Nike be the best brand in the sports goods industry. These immense innovations in so many varied product categories are taking every industry to new heights and forcing every company to perform better. Life is getting better and easier for consumers, and marketers are always in the game for their next big adventure.

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An Unstained Interview with Silus Reddy (Co-Founder, MyWash)

Nothing chains down the free spirit of a bachelor in a big city quite the way as the evil necessity of doing laundry. The mere thought of laundry crossing someone’s mind on a Friday completely demolishes all plans for Saturday morning. Even staying in bed till 12 is not an option. The same problem was faced by Balaji Ashok, Raghu Bharat and Silus Reddy. They took it upon themselves to solve the problem, and as they have articulated so elaborately on their website, www.mywash.in“We wanted an easy way to get laundry done. We couldn’t find one. So we built one.”

The Brandworms Team recently caught up with Silus Reddy, a.k.a HeaDShoT, and we tried to understand what it takes to make an idea that is so simple yet brilliant and elegant to really work in the real world. Here’s what he had to say.
  1. What ignited the idea of a start-up in this sector? 

    Raghu Bharat, Balaji Ashok, Silus Reddy - The co-founders of MyWash

    Raghu Bharat, Balaji Ashok, Silus Reddy – The co-founders of MyWash

MyWash is an on-demand dry cleaning & laundry startup. We are a tech startup trying to bring a change in how the laundry industry works. Even when I was studying in BITS Pilani we always had a dhobi coming once every week take our clothes and deliver them back (though the quality was horrible) and we never felt the wrath of doing laundry on our own until I started my professional career in Bangalore I had to go to laundry players here. In the days when house can be found at tap of a button, groceries can be ordered in a tap of button, I seriously looked for a good laundry service and we couldn’t find one. So I and my friends started working on this. The idea.

  • What are the problems you faced while pitching for the funding of your start-up?

The VCs are usually very cool and helping in nature. I will agree that they take time but they do take solid decisions. The VC firms we spoke to took decisions very quickly. Angels are usually slower and cautious. We never really faced any serious issues.

  • What is your target segment?

We target bachelors & IT professionals who value time and money alike. Doing laundry is such a pain even when you own washing machine. So we want people to work hard and party harder while we solve their complete laundry problems. We also believe that nuclear families are a good customer segment because of our only Iron & Dry cleaning services.

  • What are the opportunities and threats you foresee?

The opportunity is very big and right in front of the eyes. We can see so many thing we can do in this industry. We want to be like NETFLIX who started with selling DVDs and now make the movies itself. Probably we will get into clothes manufacturing itself in the future. The opportunity itself is too big. Threat is that customer it is getting difficult to meet customer expectations and our demand is more than we can handle right from day one. I foresee the same case for a foreseeable future.

  • What does your business model look like? Are you going to tie up with un-organized players in the market or completely own the business by yourself?

As of now we selectively choose vendors who are unorganized players in this market. We are still tuning our operations model.

  • How do you market MyWash? What has been the formula for success of marketing yet? 

Facebook has been our most successful channel. We try ads and actually most of the time our organic posts itself get huge traffic on the site. As of now are ranked 9000+ in Alexa, which is huge for a 2 month old startup.

  • What are the expansion plans in the future?

We want to quickly prove our model in Bangalore and expand the same across cities in India. We are currently actively raising funds and our expansion plans are tied up with that resource.

  • What advice would you want to give to the people taking step towards entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is awesome. Do take the jump. More than idea you need a team. In fact I first had a team and then we looked for problems and a solutions for it. I suggest people to do it. Having an idea and looking for team won’t work at all. Have a team first should be your approach. I am lucky to have found co-founders like Raghu and Balaji.

  • What does your revenue generation model look like?

We generate revenues right from day one. Our model is simple we do laundry & dry cleaning and the customer pays for the same.

  • How much profit do you foresee for the next financial year? 

We don’t want to disclose the numbers but we see a good growth for the future.

Branding an app? AskMe how!

Thanks to none other than the Android market, we have thousands of apps getting developed now-a-days. We can get an app for almost everything we do. The height is, an app will remind you to drink water. What else do you want in life?

Apps indeed have made life easier. These days, almost all the websites are coming up with their app. Reason, the interface on devices other than desktop or a laptop.

Apps make your search easy. Some are specific for particular offline landmarks like restaurants whereas some deal with online shopping.

Marketing of the apps is where they need to focus on. There are so many apps, they get lost in the crowd unless a strong identity or marketing is given to them.

I found an ad featuring Ranbir Kapoor in it. Then I got to know, it’s an app called ASKME. I was wondering how many of the apps do something like that for the marketing. Anyway, the ad indeed had a Ranbir touch in it.

 

AskMe Ranbir

Indian sentiments say, if your favourite actor endorses a brand, people will surely try it. I, being an Indian, did the same thing. Result, it was different and useful.

Good interface:

ASKME is very easy to operate and is user friendly. Shifting through various features of the app can be done swiftly. Once installed, it’ll get your location automatically. You can search for any categories, say for furniture. It’ll give you all the names of the furniture stores in your city.

Finding product information:

For different categories, it makes the search easier.  The cherry on the cake is, you get the best deals in town for various items from head to toe in the ask me bazaar which is one of the features in the app. You can easily select the item and can buy it filling up the simple and necessary details. The process is nowhere complicated and anybody can use it easily.

AskMe

review   Google Docs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pros:

After an item for a category is visited, it’ll give a description with the photos and catalogue of the respective item which is even more helpful for a person. Suppose you are searching a restaurant, it’ll provide you with menu, and photos of the food and restaurant. If you are searching for a t-shirt, it’ll provide pictures of it with a description. In my view, overall it is very helpful.

You can also give it a shot: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.GetIt

Author: Payal Rochwani