Ipl Was Well Marketed Media

Essay add: 28-10-2015, 18:57   /   Views: 400

The game of cricket, before the launch of IPL was a little staid and long, and appealed mostly to youngsters in the subcontinent region. The two nations which played most the game earlier - England and the West Indies - have lost the flair for the game. But with the advent of IPL, we have an entirely new generation of audience who have embraced the game, its many differences with the more athletic counterparts still notwithstanding. 

And this is how IPL has managed to do it. It brought together players from various national teams, lured them with big fat pay cheques with the process of auctioning, tied up with big brands that advertised during premium times over televisions, added the cheer leaders and paved its way into the cricket calendar. Of course in the entire process, BCCI being the biggest revenue getter amongst all the cricketing boards in the world played the role of a catalyst. Thus, by a judicious mixture of managing the environment nearly perfectly and staging fantastic experiences every time a match was played, value creation was no more, the prerogative of a single entity. Instead, multiple stakeholders came together on a mutually rewarding platform and lavished the cricket loving crowds with some truly memorable fare. 

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Cashing on IPL mania

In true marketing terms, any offering in the market cannot sustain for long unless it meets the consumer specific needs. IPL could figure out that majority of the cricket fans no longer wanted to watch a day long match at the expense of their work; forget about the 5 day test match. IPL catered to the psychographics of the growing busy customers by shortening the length of the game in an innovative manner. The 20 over format was already existent, but IPL brought in the style of owning a club like in the case of English Premier League and have customers support their clubs irrespective of who was playing in the club. The experience was so tempting that the normal customer couldn't resist the offering. The business model was to sell the experience of 4 hours of cricket to a larger audience than to have an ODI that would be watched by hard core cricket fans. It was truly selling an experience rather than just a game.

This was one of the primary reasons why IPL could attract viewers from all demographics. The shortened version of the game, the celebrities, and cheer leaders sent the right intentions encouraging the small town cricket players to interact with their role models which have motivated them to perform even better. This had an implication in terms of getting everyone in the family to come together and spend every evening during the entire season following their favourite teams (or clubs). The advertisers captured the attention of the audience as the excitement in the T20 game was nerve gripping and switching channels was not thought as a viable option during the course of the game during the breaks.

The Experience of IPL

In 'Welcome to the experience economy' by B Joseph Pine and James H Gilmore, the authors declared that the consumers are into the experience economy after crossing the agrarian, goods-based industrial and services economy eras. In the authors' opinion, "to realize the full benefit of staging experiences, however, businesses must deliberately design engaging experiences that command a fee".

The experiences when compared to goods and services stay with the consumer for a longer period when they occur during a memorable event. IPL was able to leverage this to its benefit by pooling in celebrity stars, foreign players, favourite commentators, fashion shows post the matches etc. which gave everyone something or the other to cherish and have a memorable experience, which was different from one consumer to the other. In a way IPL followed the differentiation strategy and made competition irrelevant.

IPL adopted the model wherein they charged the customer for the experience they have gone through rather than for the ticket itself. Once this initial anchor was made, it was never difficult for the organizing authorities to increase the price incrementally - both for the tickets and for the prime slots for the advertisements as well. In this process, the hikes were still perceived to be credible by everyone owing to the success of the event.

If a 2x2 matrix was drawn with dimensions as customer participation and connection, IPL fit into the area where both the participation and involvement are very high. As audience, people would cheer for their teams and appreciate their efforts and believed that these could move the results in favour of their supporting teams. The proceedings of the game caught the attention of the viewer from the word go - the very first ball of the game.

The success of IPL was cricketainment (cricket as entertainment), whose customers knew what to expect from the games - absolute entertainment, the focal point around which other activities were built. Elements such as theme music for each of the teams, strategic timeouts during the game and the media focus have given positive cues to reinforce the attention that's paid to the game.

The popularity of the IPL can be measured from the number of people who buy and wear the t-shirts/jerseys of their favourite teams or their favourite players from their chosen teams. This is primarily due to the fact that such apparel is sold across cities throughout the year. Once a customer builds the loyalty towards a city/region, it's almost impossible to change that opinion even by the subsequent editions of the sport. They wear such memorabilia proudly as a representation of their support to their favourite teams.

E.g. Young men in Tamil Nadu wear jerseys of Dhoni who represents Chennai Super Kings and he is not a tamilian, but still the belongingness to a region has been developed by the customer/viewer.

Innovation

An article titled "IPL: The $2 bn brand" in Business Standard, listed IPL to be the one of the most innovative companies at number 22, ahead of Samsung and Microsoft. The list was compiled by Fast company which reports about companies working on innovation and digital media.

It can be said that some elements of IPL's marketing strategy have revolutionized the field of marketing experience and entertainment. The following are a few of them -

Screening of IPL matches in movie halls

The use of social media

Twitter - www.twitter.com/ipl 

Facebook - www.facebook.com/IPL

YouTube live streaming channel -www.youtube.com/user/IPL

Online fan club - www.thecricfanclub.com

Banner ads

Wikipedia page -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Premier_League

Official site - www.iplt20.com

Online booking for all matches

A huge number of tie-ups.

The word of mouth publicity.

The adoption of EPL style model to the Indian context.

 What was hit and missed from marketing point of view?

Though IPL in all its 5 avatars has been a marketing success, but declining popularity of T 20, which is evidently reflected in decreasing TV viewership and hence the TRP. Even the number of people going to stadium has also been falling year after year. So, probably there is needed to relook into the marketing effort of IPLs.

 Even in the earlier avatars of IPLs, there have been attempts to present IPL more as an experience rather than just a sport. It had been made a confluence of Hollywood, Bollywood, Dance, Drama, Skin show and obviously cricket too.  The huge spending by broadcasters to make IPL a success has been consistent year on year. The effort made to convert IPL an Indian version of European league has been a success to some extent.  It contains all the element of entertainment that an audience can ask for.  Now recently the stage performances by various artists have also started catering to this kind of need of entertainment.  Though I believe, catering to the need of particular segment many a times, the marketing efforts have been gone to too much length than actually needed.  As have been observed, skimpily dressed cheerleader and their dances are not much welcome to traditional society like India, where entire family watches TV together and still such a show of exuberance combined with excessive show of skin is generally a taboo.

IPL has successfully poached into viewership of TV soaps, as it was a welcome change and affect created was of mirth and merry and welcome break from Saas-Bahu's painful saga. IPL has been successful in bringing the entire family together as it has something for everyone. But it will be a challenge for IPL to retain the number of viewers year after year which has been decreasing on the successive avatars.

IPL has lost in retaining few aspects of cricket - the sport. Though it has been a huge success and has attracted crowd from various walk of life, but there has been a loyal segment of following of cricket- people, who understand finesses of cricket, who know the difference between mid-on and mid-off. These classes of people, who want to see cricket along with entertainment rather the other way around, have been dithering away from this new genre of cricket.

IPL has also failed in targeting the wide spread rural population, which forms the major chunk of audience for International cricket team. In this divide of team and hence the loyalty has left a huge mass of rural people from semi-urban and rural places looking for belongingness. For ex, a person from Patna, Bihar may wonder whether he should support Kolkata, being the neighbouring city or Delhi as the representative of all the northern states like Delhi, UP, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

Learning perspective

In 'Managing what consumers learn from experience' by Stephen J Hoch and John Deighton, the authors propose a framework of four stages - hypothesizing->Exposure->encoding->Integration - with three moderating factors - familiarity to learn, motivation to learn and the ambiguity of the information environment - to capture what consumers learn from experiences.  

IPL by its very design offered a high involvement experience to the customer. As customers tend to grant special privileges to the conclusions drawn from the experience, and since experience also promotes better memory because the information received is more vivid and concrete, any customer who watches an IPL match over the television or in a stadium experiences that entertainment he or she intended to.

Consumers tend to avoid information that causes dissonance during the post purchase scenarios. After shelling out a good deal of money for watching the game on the cricket field or spending quality time in front of the television, the human behavior tends to justify that its worthwhile to do so albeit it might not be correct. Consumers avoid situations where they might receive negative feedback about the IPL and get themselves amongst people who have a positive image about the concept and praise it. This is done very consciously by the consumers to avoid dissonance.

Conclusion

Was the IPL well marketed? The answer is Yes, the IPL was extremely well marketed but not as a cricketing event. It might struggle to find itself going in the right direction over a long run, without a core competency. Secondly, the aggressive marketing strategies of the IPL raise a very pertinent question. Can we term it as a best marketing practice when a popular brand expend large amounts of resources in the pursuit of larger gains and, knowingly or unknowingly, take the game beyond its right direction?

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