Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies in Digital Marketing

Businesses today have been extensively integrated with digitization, promising convergence of people and businesses, while disrupting existing business models. A new age of digital marketing has arrived where extensive campaigns are pushing new products through platforms such as websites, e-mails, apps and social networks. With over seven billion people and businesses, and a millions of technologies bringing a new world together, digital marketing plays a major role in empowering businesses with the much-needed edge to thrive with the competition.

Digital Business Development Path

 Rapid change is fueling digital marketing. Within the last decade we have seen technology giants driving businesses such as Facebook and Twitter. Mobile marketing and advertising marketers have begun focusing on consistent and contextual without being interruptive.  Change is the one thing that is constant, with changes being made faster than ever before. However, impact due to the change is highly dependent on it’s temporal context. For example, wearable technology like Google glass has gained a lot of news coverage when in fact, Steve Mann had already developed a similar device, ‘EyeTap digital Eye Glass’ in 1999. This is a prime example showcasing the importance of analyzing the visibility of a product with time for organizations to capitalize its technological and business resources to make the best marketing sense.

Hype Cycle

 The Hype Cycle is a branded graphical tool developed and used by IT research and advisory firm Gartner for representing the maturity, adoption and social application of specific technologies (See Figure 1). The hype cycle map how technologies move through different phases of hype and indicate whether certain technologies and products are good for the company in short term and long term. Marketers need to understand how and when to derive value from a product and also when to dispose of it when new things come along.


Fig 1: Five Phases of the Hype Cycle (source: Gartner)

What’s new in 2014?

Marketing Talent Communities: Marketplaces have come up that support organizations and marketers to find and hire qualified freelance talent on-demand. A lot of time is saved in the process of recruitment of a variety of qualified writers, designers, strategists, data-analysts etc. Bloomberg Institute is one such example which financial employers approach to hire talented college students through a normalized screening test called the Bloomberg Aptitude Test.

Marketing Technology Integrators: The scope of digital marketing has expanded broadly. Digital marketers can’t claim to address the digital marketing needs solely through offering new Web Content and Experience Management or Portal platforms. As a marketer, the time and attention required to solving technological solutions takes time away from their focus on target customer. Thus, marketing organizations are hiring services and products that design and implement software and increasingly integration-oriented implementation data solutions.

Transactional Ads: This is an example trying to connect marketing with productivity and conversion. Online ad units that are activated by gestures, present a secure transaction or coupon. This reduces the time consumption of the viewer by enabling a person to request information or to buy the advertised product without leaving the webpage on which the ad appears. If old companies can figure out a way to associate more with transactions, they can boost their chance of surviving in the online market. [3]

Quantified self: It is a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition aspects of a person’s daily life in terms of inputs, states and performance. Applications or services on mobiles and wearable technology that provide self-tracking analytics contribute to self-knowledge through self-tracking with technology. Biometrics have been identified that people never knew existed making data collection cheaper and more convenient than ever before. Recently, companies like Google and Zomato have begun to use location data of a user’s phone to recommend suggestions to buy things based on the proximity to various shopping outlets.

Social co-browsing: Collaboratively sharing of the web space with one or more parties from a social network, regardless of the physical locations of the partners. In real-time, multi-user experience isn’t just slapped on top of an application, it’s directly built into the core experience. Companies would have to redesign their user experience to support social co-browsing so as to provide a natural extension of for users to communicate and interact to enrich their real-time, collaborative experience. [4]


Future Implications

Most of the technologies at the peak of their hype cycles today, will plateau in terms of productivity within the next two years. The window to gain competitive advantage in this fast-paced environment is limited. Thus companies must adapt themselves for speed, agility and rapid customer response.

Content marketing can be very resource intensive. Organization should use marketing talent communities and agencies as an escape valve for demand as a way to scale elastically as demand comes online.  The in-source and outsourced roles must be carefully mixed together in order to optimize productivity. Organizations should appoint strong leadership to ensure the success of their elaborate content marketing strategy.

Common view of digital-savvy customers should be kept in focus to ensure tight coordination of marketing activities in sync with the changing customer needs and reactions. Emerging architectures of digital marketing hubs should be carefully reviewed periodically to best utilize resources for most productive outcome.

With increase in social-marketing hype, the social marketing objects should be tied to the corporate vision of the companies. Analysis of how each social marketing activity will support that goal and provide a high return of investment. Gain from adapting to emergent technologies can lead to savings on media from improved efficiency or lift in sales from improved effectiveness of a company’s budget.

B2B management investments should be made into multi-channel, taking advantage of accessible areas in data mining, segmentation and behavioral analytics. Useful analytic results should be incorporated to the marketing strategy to further boost performance.

Criticism about Hype Cycle

Several disadvantages of Hype Cycle have been brought to light. Firstly, it is very difficult to objectively estimate the current location of a technology in its hype cycle. Secondly, terms such as ‘disillusionment’ and ‘enlightenment’ are misleading for people as they give a wrong idea about how exactly and to what extent a technology can be used for an organization. Also, there is no mention of how a technology transitions between phases and what all factors influence the shift. Lastly, several technologies are heavily correlated in terms of advancement through the different phases. The hype cycle does explain the cause-effect relationships between technologies and their impact on acceleration of technology progress and generation of excessive hype for a product.







Mumbai Dabbawalas – business and beyond

‘Mumbai Dabbawalas’, a commercial trust has delivered 6 sigma standard supply chain excellence using traditional and non-conventional modes of operation. Building on their operational excellence, the dabbawalas are constantly reinventing their services to touch  lives across Mumbai more meaningfully.

Business Operations:

‘Mumbai Dabbawalas’, meaning ‘lunch box delivery men’, provide a highly specialized service of delivering around 260,000 lunchboxes through 5,000 dabbawalas in Mumbai. Although the service originated during British times in the 1890s, the commercial arm of this trust was registered in 1968 as ‘Mumbai Tiffin Box Supplier’s Association’. The dabbawalas charge as low as INR 450 per month for their services. They have an annual turnover of more than INR 50 crore. Every dabbawala is an equal shareholder in the trust and earns around INR 10,000 per month.

A collecting dabbawala, usually on a bicycle, collects dabbas either from a worker’s home or from the dabba makers. The dabbawala then groups the lunchboxes as per locality and the grouped boxes are transported via local trains. At each station, boxes are handed over to a local dabbawala, who delivers them to the final destination. The empty boxes are collected later and sent back to their respective houses. The 5,000 or so dabbawalas in the city have an astounding service record. Every working day, they transport more than 130,000 lunchboxes across Mumbai, the world’s fourth-most-populous city. That entails conducting upwards of 260,000 transactions in six hours each day, six days a week, 52 weeks a year (minus holidays), but mistakes are extremely rare. Amazingly, the dabbawalas—semi-literate workers who largely manage themselves—have achieved that level of performance at a very low cost, in an eco-friendly way, without the use of any IT system or even cell phones.

Exhibit: Mumbai Dabbawalas – Daily Supply Chain activities


The Mumbai dabbawalas have maintained their immaculate service and impeccable delivery even in the harshest of times. The notorious Mumbai monsoons or the frequent strikes in the city have never impacted their service in the past 50 years. While sticking to traditional methods of transportation, they have also leveraged technology by offering SMS based services to ensure maximum customer satisfaction. They are constantly in touch with the fast changing business environment and leverage technology to meet the needs of their customers. In 2005, Harvard Business Review found the reliability of Mumbai dabbawalas to adhere to a six sigma standard. This means that the dabbawalas make less than one mistake in every six million deliveries. To sum up, the Mumbai dabbawalas are a perfect example of leveraging indigenous modes of operation with modern technology practices.  


Pillars of Success:

The dabbawalas have an overall system whose basic pillars—organization, management, process, and culture—are perfectly aligned and mutually reinforcing. In the corporate world, it is not very common for managers to strive for this synergy. While most, if not all, pay attention to some of the pillars, only a minority address all four.

1. Organization:

The organization of dabbawalas is relatively flat with 3 levels of hierarchy: the top level management that runs the trust, the mid-level employees responsible for planning and operations and the delivery men who form the backbone of the entire organization.

2. Management:

The management philosophy considers the mid-level managers as neither leaders nor supervisors. They are architects who design and fine-tune systems that enable the delivery workforce to perform at optimal levels of efficiency.

3. Process:

The process defined by the dabbawalas focuses on a single measure – customer service and satisfaction. All other considerations like cost, schedule, etc. revolve around the objective goal of maximizing customer service levels.

4.  Culture:

Since most of the managers have a direct stake in the dabbawala organization, the culture within the organization emphasizes managers to nurture their organization as a closely knit community. This helps the organization take care of their employees and also helps maximize productivity and creativity. Overall, an inclusive culture that seeps across the dabbawala organization is essential to create a sense of accountability at all levels that is the driver of their impeccable operations.

Organizational Structure:

The Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association (MTBSA) is a streamline 120-year-old organization with 4500 semi-literate members who provide quality door-to-door service to a large and loyal customer base. MTBSA is a three-tiered organization: the governing council (president, vice president, general secretary, treasure and nine directors); the mukadams; and, the dabbawala. MTBSA is also the uncontested institution that regulates activities of all the dabbawalas and solves possible conflicts between them or with customers or authorities. It also has the authority to fire “bad” dabbawalas or give fines to those who commit errors repeatedly. With a relatively flat and organic organization, most of the decision making is decentralized. Also, the span of control is generally very small within the organization. This helps the dabbawalas drive higher agility and responsiveness in their organization.

Marketing Ventures: the way forward

The dabbawalas have found global recognition right from Prince Charles to Sir Richard Branson for their supply chain brilliance. The recent Hindi film ‘The Lunchbox’ has brought the much-feted dabbawalas or tiffin carriers of Mumbai into the reckoning once again. They are a unique feature of the city, as they go about their task of delivering food from point A to point B. Capitalizing on this popularity, Mumbai dabbawalas are going beyond the conventional barriers of their delivery business. They are increasingly taking up new roles and responsibilities far beyond their traditional business of delivering tiffin boxes. They are foraying into newer avenues across the industry to find newer ways to generate revenue. Marketers see the Mumbai dabbawalas as a perfect medium for advertising in a city like Mumbai.

One such example is that of the German conglomerate Siemens, which embarked on its global campaign ‘Answers That Last’ in order to get the B2B brand closer to people. The campaign aimed at narrating stories of how Siemens improved lives, cities and businesses. This campaign was launched on a global scale in over 80 countries. For each country, the chosen stories were localized to make them relevant for the country. Specifically for India, Siemens identified dabbawalas as a pivot for their launch. The company sought the help of a dabbawala named Kiran Gavande to narrate his story of how Siemens’ technology had made life simpler for him.

The dabbawalas also get repeat customers from marketing organizations. They have done multiple stints of roadside awareness spreading marketing campaigns with companies across wide domains such as McDonald’s in the food industry and Colors in the television industry. The campaign with the dabbawalas sporting Amitabh Bachchan masks during the launch of a new Bigg Boss season was a high point  in their latest marketing endeavours. Confectionary major Perfetti also effectively sought the services of the dabbawalas to create buzz for their ‘Mangofillz’ candy a couple of year back.

The dabbawalas have been very careful while taking up assignments related to advertising and marketing. They have made sure that they always stick to their core values of excellence in customer service and any added work activities are only complementary to the same. Advertising has to be not just media-neutral but also media inventive, and the ubiquitous dabbawalas provide a new avenue for precisely that by blurring the lines between media and message.

The dabbawalas have become icons of hard work and dedication. They are here for the long haul and over time will only get better. Mumbai dabbawalas have truly revolutionized application of simple concepts with their innovative and indigenous cost effective solutions to solve larger problems of supply chain management. Also, with their appetite for higher growth and an outlook to diversify operations, Mumbai dabbawalas will only become more prominent in the city over the next few years.

Himanshu Pandey is a PGP1 student at IIM Ahmedabad, and a member of the Consult Club. Prior to joining IIM-A, he worked with Procter & Gamble in the Supply Chain function as a capacity planner and project manager. He holds a Bachelors degree in Aerospace Engineering from IIT Bombay.

The Cause Related Marketing Bandwagon in FMCG

FMCG GrowthThere has been strong growth in the Indian FMCG market over the years. The sector’s revenue reported a CAGR of 17.3% over 2006-2011. Consequently, today’s marketplace is flooded with brands in all product categories of the FMCG sector. With ever-increasing competition, a company is expected to do business in such a way that it stands for not just the financial returns, but for comprehensive social and economic returns to the society at large. Gillete’ Soldier for Women, Dove’s Real beauty sketches, Proctor & Gamble’s Thank you mom and Tata Tea’s Jaago re are a few examples of attempts made by leading corporations to do well financially by doing good socially. These campaigns are launched under a marketing strategy called ‘Cause-related Marketing’.

What is cause related marketing?

Cause related marketing is a marketing strategy wherein a product/brand/company is marketed in association with a ‘cause’. This identified cause is generally an issue that is prevailing in customers’ mindset. It can be social like child welfare, environmental like wildlife conservation or even abstract like uniqueness etc. Cause marketing campaign is used by companies strategically to create brand differentiation by enhancing brand equity and credibility. It can be employed by a company to achieve a number of marketing objectives, mainly, visibility, increased sales, repeat purchases, increased brand recognition, broadened customer base etc.

Now, more than ever, the companies are realizing the potential of aligning themselves with a cause. Earlier it was used mostly to increase sales and profits, but now it is used as a great brand positioning contrivance as it works on vitalizing brand equity and enhancing corporate image with sound economic and community impacts.

Cause-related marketing: differentiated from CSR

Cause Related Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are often used interchangeably but there exists a vast difference between the two. CSR is primarily the philanthropic activities carried out by the company, generally in domains of social welfare or environment. The essential objective is to project the company as a responsible corporation resulting in positive brand image in eyes of consumer. Cause Related Marketing on the other hand is a marketing strategy done with a sole objective of building profit through goodwill. It is done by associating with a designated cause and is characterized as a profit-motivated giving. Unlike CSR, it is more targeted approach and a less selfless philanthropy.

Cause marketing practices

Cause related marketing is a flexible tool and can be employed in varied ways. Some of the common forms adopted by FMCG firms, of providing assistance to cause organisations are:

Transactional programs: This is the classic form of assistance to cause wherein a company donates a part of every sale of the affiliated product to the cause organisation. Many examples can be cited for this practice, a popular one being ITC’s INR 4 donation for the education of economically underprivileged students for every 4 Classmate notebooks sold.

Propaganda programs: Under these programs, the cause is promoted and contribution, in forms other than monetary, is made by the company. An example is Tata Tea’s Jaago Re campaign where the company promoted anti-corruption and encouraged the youth to vote. 

Time frame of the program

Cause marketing campaigns can be either strategic (long-term) or tactical (short-term). Long-term campaigns are generally found to help with enhancing brand loyalty, improving brand image and lowering apprehensions regarding company’s motivation. Proctor & Gamble’s Shiksha campaign has been contributing to the cause of child education since 2004. However, short-term associations are preferred by the companies at times, as they call for limited costs and bigger impact advantages. Lifebuoy’s ‘Roti Reminder’ at the Kumbh Mela 2013, which promoted the cause of hygiene, falls in this category.

Choice of cause

The fit between the selected cause and the profile of the company is an important variable in determining its impact.  For instance, Maggi’ Atta noodles promoting Taste bhi health bhi has high cause-company coherence, with the cause being health. In contrast Coca-Cola’s Arctic Home has rather low coherence. Generally, high coherence impedes the apprehensions arising in customer’s cognition and hence mobilizing the purchase intent due to higher urge to benefit the cause.


Cause related marketing fills a crucial void in society by giving the individuals an opportunity to contribute to the causes they feel for. If executed creatively, by carefully pairing cause and company, it can emerge as a rare and strong marketing contrivance which would converge social and corporate interests, favouring both equally.

Arushie Mangla is a PGP1 student at IIM Ahmedabad and a member of the Consult Club. She is a graduate from IIT Delhi in Civil Engineering with a minor area specialization in Business Management.