DY Works - An Outsider's Perspective

Is it an advertising agency? Is it a design house? Is it that space where creativity finds a home?  Or that room where strategy finds a platform?

As someone who has never been a part of the inner wheels of this elephant mechanism, the experience of visiting DY Works can be bizarre.  If you feel a trifle lost and largely overwhelmed, you are just experiencing the introduction anxiety which many face once they have crossed the glass doors into the main office.  The whispers from the cafeteria try to warn you of the energy which lurks in the corridors of the seemingly quite office space. Nothing can prepare you for the storm of thoughts and ideas which assault you upon entering the work space.

The passion behind every thought, the conviction behind every idea, and the greed for constructive criticism has you turning your mind over in attempt to be a part of the energized discussions. What at first glance looked like a chic, demure office space is now alive with activity. You long to belong. You resign to the idea of being a mere spectator of one of the most colorful carnivals and search for a sideline to retire to. At DY Works there are no sidelines.

Irrespective of whether you are a new recruit, an external consultant, a visitor or a client, you will find that space where you fit in so perfectly that you feel it was created with you in mind.

It is not a loud boisterous place which gloats about every idea which worked and did not. It is not filled with posters with wicked one-liners on the management or work ethics. It does not splash color like the world is about to run out of a couple of shades. Its demure, it’s subtle and it’s proud.

It is like a finishing school for Client thoughts.

It is where raw, half-baked ideas get processed through layers of understanding to evolve into a language which communicates with the desired TG.  The evolution of every thought follows an almost scientific process. Every space you step into you will find thoughts being doctored in their various stages of development.

It is a work space with an attitude which screams  “We’re fun people who take our work seriously.”

Contributed by Hitesha Deshpande, who is an avid blogger and author. DY Works had the pleasure of hosting her at our Mumbai office.


WHO IS THE CONSUMER? (Part 3 of 4)


The Importance of Culture for Brands

Individual behaviour stems from three encoded, inherited and learned, platforms:
  1. Universal Human Hardwiring
    This is the lowest common denominator of universal human truths where jealousy, love, maternal instinct etc are common to ALL humans. This is what tells brands that we all want to be admired or desired or envied.
  1. Cultural Context
    While the above tells us that there is a need to be admired, it is the cultural context that tells us that fairness is desired to ensure a ‘good’ groom or that we Indians perceive well ordered, great ambience supermarkets to be expensive and prefer the chaos of Big Bazar that gives us more value’ 
  2. Individual
    Individuals in the same family can turn out to have very different beliefs and value systems. While this is the most important of all for psycho-analysis, it is of very little use to the marketer. It is very difficult to engineer brands for individuals – and usually tend to be very niche boutique services.
In this context – for creating successful brands, it is important to learn how culture shapes behaviour. Culture is what helps us understand why processed ready foods fail in the Indian market. The Indian mother/ wife has to ‘perform an act of input’ in whatever she is serving. So, even the most successful processed food brand – Maggi – has to have vegetables added to it and has to be ‘made’ by her. It is culture that helps us understand why Margo with neem – with its bitter smell is largely successful in the south but neem’s more palatable face wash avatar as Himalaya, is the largest selling face wash nationally.
The Consumer Belief System
Studying Culture through Semiotics

How then do we study culture? There are many models used by sociologists and anthropologists – the Hofsted being among the more popular in recent time. We are the pioneers in the use of semiotics in the county. Semiotics is quite simply Semiotics is the study of visual and cultural signs to decode behavior.

The signs can be
  • Linguistic
  • Visual
  • Behavioural
These signs have to be moored in the context of a brand or a category. Let us take the Amul example and deconstruct that.

The Amul story is a rich tapestry of semiotic significance at many levels. The foremost Amul discourse is to do with nature of its business itself. Milk, Ghee and Butter have stood for abundance and goodness in the Indian context. Cows have been a symbol of wealth and have been and are revered in almost all parts of India since the Vedic times. I grew up on stories of my grandmother’s wedding where all the bulls in the groom’s party (they travelled in bullock carts) were fed ghee. This was proof of her family’s wealth and status as surely as the number of tolas of gold she received.

Milk and milk products have been akin to ambrosia. Being a provider of milk, therefore, is akin to divinity in the cultural context. Amul, as the primary provider of dairy products did not have to fight any battles of acceptance. The symbolism of milk and milk products is deep. Layered on it, the extraordinarily inspiring story of the formation of a co-operative that gave livelihoods to entire villages and raised standards of living across districts, and the ensuing self-governance of a complex supply chain led organization that increased yields and productivity dramatically,  of a commitment to values before profit (even today, in the event of a milk shortage – Amul diverts its supplies to milk at much lower margins, at the cost of high margin, value added and processed dairy foods), the vision of Dr. Kurien and his steering of Amul towards contributing to a white revolution in the country; the brand has won hearts and minds for many, many reasons to become the Taste of India.

Amul Butter is the product that epitomises the brand. B utter is the result of unadulterated milk and is by nature, pure. Bal Krishna’s love for butter was mythic, and is still celebrated. Krishna, as a child, has epitomised mother-child relationships. The natkhat  Krishna has become the iconic persona that all mothers seek in their child when they say with great pride that their son is “very naughty”.

In that context, the Amul girl is Bal Krishna! No wonder then, that the brand is among India’s most loved.

Whether deconstructing existing brands to ensure retention of key values or creation of new brands – semiotic study gives us deeper insights to ensure that we are able to craft brands which resonate with consumers.

Contributed by Alpana Parida - President, DY Works
PART 1: Conventional consumer segments are no longer valid
PART 2: Need for a new consumer classification method
PART 3: The importance of Culture for Brands


WHO IS THE CONSUMER? (Part 2 of 4)

Last week  we had looked at conventional consumer segments are no longer relevant. In Part 2 this week, we will look at exploring a new approach to consumer classification.

The Need for a New Consumer Classification Method

The Socio Economic Classification does not work. It creates too many biases and leaves out possible lucrative segments. I strongly believe that the world order has changed and we need a new system of consumer segmentation. We call it the DY Works Mindsets Classification. (DYW-MC)

This classification employs a very different cut for determining Age, Income, Education, Profession  and even Gender.


This is not about the real age of the consumer. However, consumers of different ages across the same age mindset – will show similar behaviour
  1. Young - carefree, seeking new experiences, youthful clothing and brands. A 40 year old person with this mindset would be using all the anti-ageing products in the world.
  2. Middle aged – settled, not experimenting, set in ways, not much that is radical. A 40 year old will have solid brands – Ponds, Lux etc. No too many categories – and does not buy new things every time.
  3. Older – simplifying life. Letting go of too much complexity. A 40 year old person would have a soap a shampoo and a moisturizer.

This classification is across income levels and very wealthy HNIs could also be reluctant to replace their mobile phone every six months – whereas a young shop assistant could be far more prolific.

  1. “I am worth it” – We came across a s shoe salesman in a hamlet outside Varanasi who smoked Gold Flake:  “Apni bhi koi ijjat hai”. This is the consumer who  wants everything here and now.  This is where you will see early adopters and real as has nothing to do with it. Men in their 50s who are buying the latest in laptops or cars are part of this mind set.
  2. “Others are worth it” – I will sacrifice to give the best to my family. This the person who we see on KBC, who is going to give his / her money to parents and relatives first. This is the woman who buys for husband, children, home – before buying anything for herself.  There is desire – but can hold off and wait for 2-3 years before buying the flat screen TV or the fully automatic washing machine. Even when buying, would buy an older model which is cheaper.
  3. “We cant afford it” – savings, ‘do I really need it’, seeking many validations and justifications. Seeks rational justifications  and prefers not to spend. Shopping is not a joy – and even post purchase, there is an anguish of guilt. They are simplifying their lives and are able to do with less.

This classification and sub-classification is greatly revealing about a consumer’s mind set and can exactly pin-point aspirations, value systems and more.

  1. White Collar
    1. Bramhins  - those from privileged backgrounds, brand name schools, colleges, jobs.
    2. Fast Track – the young MBA who gets the same salary as a person recruited for sales or operations. In a hurry. Looking for the next big thing – job or own business.
    3. Long Distance – Good dependable, solid – will grow steadily in job, will not change jobs often.
  2. Blue Collar
    1. Waiting to get out – hates the job, is dreaming big. Either own business, or a stab at reality TV/ game shows/ talent shows. Wants more in life.
    2. Work is worship – content. Few needs, dedicated, loyal, steadfast.
  3. Gold Collar
    1. Humble work – disproportionate money. Property Agents, Gas Station Owners. Typically do not have social Status – a visiting card that says – General Manager, Bajaj or a Govt. Designation. Their status is only visible from gold chains and expensive brand names on or about their person.
  4. Young and Restless
    1. First generation entrepreneurs fired by stories of entrepreneurs making it big. Big schemes, big dreams and lots of guts. Driven, passionate, energetic.

If we go beyond the simple gender divide, there is a layered understanding of roles and responsibilities basis the understanding of gender.

  • Metro-sexual  Female
    • Works in an mans world, takes financial decisions
    • Equal partner/ husband changes nappies, cooks as well
  • Metro-sexual  Male
    • Not afraid to show his sensitive side
    • Involved with his appearance – could get facials/ pedicures
  • Working Women
When we define the consumer in this fashion, we understand a great deal about them. But for their deeper truths, we need to understand them in a cultural context.
Contributed by Alpana Parida - President, DY Works
PART 1: Conventional consumer segments are no longer valid
PART 2: Need for a new consumer classification method
PART 3: The importance of Culture for Brands

Follow this space for Part 3 and  Part 4.