Hard Selling

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Master's January 2002

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When hard-sell is a soft option Kanika Datta In the eighties, most big consumer companies in India earmarked less than a quarter of their marketing budgets for sales promotions. This didn't even begin to compare with the 60 per cent that companies in the West set aside for the same purpose. Of course, Indian companies didn't need to match their western counterparts in those days. Relatively closed markets meant that companies could afford to use sales promotions sparingly. This suited most companies. Though marketing theorists tend to pay it little attention, the sales promo is probably the most potent tactical weapon in a marketer's arsenal. But to be successful, it requires an exceptional degree of planning and organisation. Today, though there are no ballpark figures available, it would not be wide off the mark to say that consumer companies in India are probably much closer to western norms in terms of spends on sales promotion.

It is hard to escape the hard sell these days: free butter with the cheese you buy, the promise of thousands of rupees if you buy a soft drink, mouth-watering exchange offers on everything from mosquito mats to refrigerators and television sets ... even the humble packet of tea and atta comes with a freebie attached. Marketing consultants will tell you that this is all a sign of the growing competition, that companies have to constantly "agitate" the market to stay in front. Margins are being squeezed, the cost of new launches is soaring, so it is a fair bet that more and more companies will increasingly turn to the sales promotion as a standard combat weapon. Ironically, the problem now is that the crowds are growing in the sales promotion business. That means that companies will have to work even harder to make their...