Playing monopoly

Google being synonymous with Internet search is just one example of brand monopolies; these are the brands that have channeled their business on consumer insight and owned the category with their solution. Increasingly, the only way to succeed, especially in hi-tech sectors, is to be a brand that is a monopoly, reckons ad guru turned investor, Mahesh Murthy

DIVYA M. CHANDRAMOULI

MAHESH MURTHY, FOUNDING PARTNER, SEEDFUND

Advertising your brand is so yesterday. Today, brands that really make it big own their category. When a guy who’s spent a good portion of his life as one of the most creative minds in Indian advertising tells you this; you pay attention. At the recent Brand Owners’ Summit in Chennai, Mahesh Murthy entertained the audience is his inimitable style, while sharing his thoughts on building an everlasting brand. The founding partner of Seedfund also let us in on his process to picking nascent brands to invest in.

Google. Facebook. Twitter. Zara. Starbucks. In all these brand categories, it’s hard to name the guy who’s number two leave alone anyone else that follows.

The underlying theme of Murthy’s talk was this; be original and build a novel business based solely on insights from the consumer for there’s no point building a business in competition. When you’re a me-too brand, you fight on price, you fight on talent and you end up short changing all stakeholders. So, simply put, go where there’s no competition and build a monopoly, preferably in a micro-niche space, which allows you great dominance. To drive home his point, he spoke of India’s e-commerce players waging their price wars, standing little to gain in monetary terms at the balance sheet level.

The big fat marketing whoop

As Murthy continues to throw examples of monopolies who rule their micro-niches, he takes time to point out that not one of them, especially in their infancy, spent a dime on advertising. In fact, the likes of WhatsApp didn’t even house a marketing team at the time of acquisition, he says. So how did these brands get people talking? By being remark worthy through their business proposition. And this is possible even in mundane product or service categories. Murthy talks of his experience in investing in the dental chain, My Dentist. One of the insights the team gathered while establishing the chain was the uncertainty in the consumer’s mind on service charges at the dentist’s clinic. To assuage this doubt, MyDentist put up pricing lists outside each of its clinics and this brought in consumers. No advertising, just fantastic word-of-mouth generated by reading consumer behavior. While on this subject, Murthy asserts that research and experimentation will tell you, the entrepreneur, where the consumer is. It’s up to you to move consumer behavior.

Your product is never ready

With over 500 million users, Gmail was still in beta. Point being; your product or service must constantly evolve and adapt to stay relevant to the consumer. The day Gmail offered its users a space of 1 GB, over 30,000 new users signed up and the company effectively wiped out the likes of Hotmail. The rest, as they say, is digital history.


Key Takeaway

When you’re a me-too brand, you fight on price, you fight on talent and you end up short changing all stakeholders. So, simply put, go where there’s no competition and build a monopoly, preferably in a micro-niche space, which allows you great dominance.

Advertising Branding Mahesh Murthy Marketing RedBus Seedfund Startup Marketing