Term Paper on

CULT BRANDING

Submitted to Prof. Ramanujam Sridhar on 3rd Aug 2009

Submitted by Saurav Chakladar (PGDM-8044) Deepansh Agarwal (PGDM-8073) Diptikanta Satpathy (PGDM-8074) Kapil Kapoor (PGDM-8081) Jithin (PGDM-8079)

Cult Branding
Introduction
In this paper, we have discussed about brands that have a very loyal customer base. These brands do not just treat their customers as customers but forge a very special relationship with them to win them over for a lifetime and make them very active evangelists for the brand. These brands do not just sell products. They sell an all engrossing lifestyle and offer solution for what a customer wants to achieve. These brands are called Cult Brands. We have also tried to identify certain brands in India that have a potential of becoming a cult brand and the steps that these brands have taken and should take in order to develop a very loyal customer base. We begin the study by examining what a cult is.

What is a Cult?
Cult refers to a cohesive social group and their devotional beliefs or practices, which the surrounding population considers to be outside of mainstream cultures. The surrounding population may be as small as a neighborhood, or as large as the community of nations. They gratify curiosity about, take action against, or ignore a group, depending on their activities, perception of people about them and other factors like reputed similarity to cults previously reported by media. Cults can be divided into two types based on their activities and perceptions that the outside population forms about them:

Negative cults
These are the cults that harm, hurt, manipulate, and often brainwash their members. The leader of a destructive cult doesn't really care about the well being of the members. Some of the examples of such cults may be Ku Klux Klan, Nazism etc.

Positive cults
These are the cults that help fill the emotional needs and wants of their followers in a positive way. They and their followers enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship, with both receiving a real sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, belonging and enlightenment from the relationship. Some of the examples of such cults may be Red Cross, PETA etc. Now that we have discussed what a ‘cult’ actually means, let us also find out what the word ‘brand’ stands for.

What is a Brand?
In the words of Bolivar J. Bueno, the co-author of ‘The Power of Cult Branding’, “a brand is all the emotions and ideas associated with a product or service that create a distinct customer experience. It includes all things real or perceived, rational or emotional, physical or sensory, thought or felt, whether in form or function, planned or unplanned.” Simply put, it means a brand is what it does. Therefore, a brand refers to all the instances when a product or a service interfaces with a customer and all the good and bad or worst still, neutral perceptions that exist in the consumers mind regarding it. Successful brands are credible, meaningful, unique, holistic, sustainable, clear, and consistent. They add value to the customer experience across all touch points, and are trusted because they consistently deliver their promise. Today brands have become such an important factor in people’s lives that brand affiliations seem to decide who you are. Brands, rather than just becoming a tool for differentiating one product from the other have become the extensions of a person’s personality. Brands are being used by people to convey to the world what they stand for and what they want to achieve. Therefore, the scope for brands is becoming narrower every day and they

need to be sharp enough to understand their target audiences lifestyle and habits and adapt to them flawlessly. Brands need to realize that the days of ‘one size fits all’ are over and if they want to exist in the new world, they need to be much more focused and dig in deep to find out their target customers’ real needs and desires that are beyond the obvious reasons for their purchasing a particular brand. In such a changing atmosphere, what every brand strives for is customer loyalty. The reason is pretty obvious. It takes five times more efforts to make a new customer than to sell to an existing customer. Therefore in the rapidly changing world of ours, if a brand is able to develop loyal customers or as Bolivar J. Bueno says, brand lovers, the job of the brand become five X as many times easier. Imagine selling to a customer base that you know very well and that very well knows what you stand for. But wait, the best is yet to come- they love what you are giving them! We hope you have got the message. Now, let us find out what cult branding is and how it can help in developing loyal customers that are enthusiastic about the brand.

Cult Brands
Bolivar J. Bueno, the co-author of ‘The Power of Cult Branding’ has defined a mentality that he says plagues most of the companies’ brand managers. According to him, most companies try to build brands that no one will hate instead of brands some people will love. He further says that most marketers live in a world where they are constantly searching for the flashy, the splashy—in short, the trivial, often-meaningless brouhaha that has very little to do with the core of the brand. Cult Brands understand that their brands belong to the customers. Only the customer’s voice counts. A successful Cult Brand embraces its customers by anticipating

their basic human and spiritual needs. As a consequence, Cult Brands achieve a level of customer loyalty unprecedented in traditional business. Cult Brands therefore focus and embrace their existing customers and deliver such an exhilarating experience to them that they become evangelists of the brand. However, doing this is not easy, as on every touch point where the brand interacts with the customer, the distinct experience has to be preserved and delivered. Now, we will try to differentiate among different businesses that are their in the market from the customers’ point of view and put those with similar characteristics into same segments so as to get a broader idea of what kind of brands exist in the market.

1. Companies with no brand
This is perhaps the most crowded category out of all the categories we are about to define. These are companies that are undifferentiated and do same type of work like thousands of others. They may have no proper idea of what they stand for and what their objectives are and even if they have it, they do not communicate it. These companies are very vulnerable as their consumer recognition is very low and in case of tough competition, they may be completely eroded from the market.

2. Companies that just have a name
These are companies who may have a brand name, logo or a tagline but do not know what they mean to their customers. So many kirana and medicine stores in the vicinity of our homes come in this category. Most of these companies are similar in nature and similar in their product offerings and therefore are dispensable for their customers. These companies do not practice the idea of differentiation.

3. OK brands
These are the companies that are not specific in their message to the target audience and therefore confuse them. They advertise themselves but due to inability to focus on what the target customer expects, the brand dilution occurs. For e.g. Vimal, Liberty etc.

4. Good brands
These are the brands that we all love. They are a part of our culture and enjoy great brand recognition. They are the top of the mind brands and constantly monitor their target customers’ expectations and perceptions and monitor their image. They are generally the market leaders in their categories. Some of the eg of these brands are McDonalds, Pepsi, Microsoft, Britannia etc.

5. Great brands or Cult brands
These are the brands that make us feel special whenever we buy their products. They do not just sell us a product. In fact, they sell us something that enables us to achieve our goals and fulfill our ambitions. These brands go to great extents to give us an exhilarating experience and find out ways to make us feel special. Some of these brands are Apple, Southwest Airlines and Harley Davidson etc. These brands are profitable even in the most adverse market conditions because of the powerful relationships they have forged with their customers. Now, we will look at the seven golden rules of cult branding laid down by Mathew W. Ragas and Bolivar J. Bueno in their book ‘The Power of Cult Branding’. The rules offer insights into how brands can go even closer to their customers and develop meaningful relationships with them and turn them into loyal brand evangelists. So, the seven steps are:

The Golden Rule of Social Groups
Consumers want to be a part of a group that is different This rule has come from the Maslow’s hierarchy theory of needs and is the third basic need of human beings after physiological and safety needs. Why is it that social networking websites like Orkut and Facebook get so much traffic? Why is it that a simple question like ‘What are you doing’ can spring up a multi million dollar Internet portal called Twitter? The answer to all these questions is simple. The answer is that we human beings have an inherent social need to talk to each other and form social groups. We need social groups to enjoy ourselves, share our fortunes and misfortunes, show off and what not. But in today’s changing circumstances, the traditional social groups like family and neighborhood are not that strong. We are witnessing a continuous increase in divorce cases and home violence. People do not even know the names of their neighbours in many metropolitans. But the need for social interaction and social groups is still there. In fact, in such circumstances people look for other sources of social groups and communities. The task for managers is to create involving and creative brand communities for their target customers. The communities can be real or virtual. The idea is to make the consumers feel that they are a part of a team or a special mission. Some of the points to be kept in mind while forming communities should be: It should have a shared consciousness that connects members to the brand and one another. For e.g. Mac users value aesthetics and creative lifestyle that differentiates them from others. • It may be a good idea to uphold rituals and traditions that involve public greetings to recognize and acknowledge fellow brand lovers.

It should preserve a sense of moral responsibility among the members. For e.g. Mac User Groups is a rewarding way for you to share your expertise. Someone may have helped you learn about technology; now you can repay the favor while meeting new people and making new contacts.

We should also remember that brand communities exist in the minds of the customers and therefore a sense of belonging can transcend both physical as well as virtual spaces. This is important for global brands as it shows that if Internet is used effectively as a medium, an engrossing brand community can be created for the target audience across the globe. To sum up we can say that brand communities are both social and psychological. The communities may be created by the brand or by the users but in any case, the brand should promote them. Some of the steps that brands need to take before forming brand communities are: Determine how your customers are emotionally connected to your brand. For e.g. Hidesign understand that their customers’ handbags are an extension of self, keeping life’s necessities within reach. • Determine what your brand symbolizes in the minds of your best customers. For e.g. the Harley icon showcases a flying eagle—a dynamic symbol of power, choice, and freedom. • • • • Support the community so that it reinforces the psychological attraction customers have towards your brand. Whenever possible, create a space where your customers can meet and interact with one another—either in person or online. Sponsor social events that reflect your brand’s mission. For e.g. Pulsar Stunt mania. Set up conditions for a fun, playful environment where friendships can be made. The stronger the bond members have to one another, the stronger the bond members will have with your brand. • Don’t control the community. Instead, participate as a co-creator.

The Golden Rule of Courage
Cult Brand inventors show daring and determination Cult Brand inventors are courageous people. They are high-risk takers and high reward seekers. They believe in their ideas even in the face of stiff opposition or neglect. They are willing to work hard and stare in the face of convention. It is their courage and ability to challenge and defeat the system that inspires so many people and makes them their followers. They believe in the product or services they provide and their courage makes their products stand out in the marketplace. Let us consider Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs as an example. Steve Paul Jobs (born February 24, 1955) is an American businessman, cofounder and CEO of Apple Inc. He has always been courageous and has challenged the system. He started 30 years as no one but dreamt of challenging the ‘big brother’ IBM that was the king of the computer market at that point in time. Steve Jobs, had a tough start in life - he was put up for adoption at an early age, dropped out of college after 6 months and returned coke bottles for 5 cent deposits to buy food. Despite all of that he went on to start Apple Computers and Pixar Animation Studios, and is now one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time. He even had to resign from his own company’s CEO position after a power struggle with its board. Jobs' history in business has contributed greatly to the myths of the idiosyncratic, individualistic Silicon Valley entrepreneur, emphasizing the importance of design and understanding the crucial role aesthetics play in public appeal. His work driving forward the development of products that are both functional and elegant has earned him a devoted following.

The Golden Rule of Fun
Cult Brands sell lifestyles To become a cult brand, rather than selling the product, the companies should focus on selling a lifestyle to people. Cult brands focus on people’s high level

need for self-actualization in order to fulfill the dreams of their customers. The aim is to make a customer think better about himself. They inspire people to chase their dreams and provide them ways to make the journey easier. They assert a certain lifestyle. According to Wikipedia, a lifestyle brand embodies the values and aspirations of a group or culture. A successful lifestyle brand speaks to the core identity of its customers. Individuals each have their own sense of self, based on their background (e.g. ethnicity, social class, subculture, nationality, etc.). A lifestyle brand provides a powerful supplement to this core identity, by allowing the individuals to publicly associate themselves with the brand. Let us take an e.g. of Harley-Davidson to explain this. Harley-Davidson is an American motorcycle manufacturer. Founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during the first decade of the 20th century, it was one of two major American manufacturers to survive the Great Depression. Harley-Davidson sustains a loyal brand community that keeps active through clubs, events, and a museum. Licensing of the Harley-Davidson logo accounts for almost 5% of the company's net revenue. But what exactly is Harley selling? Is it selling motorcycles? Yes of course, but what Harley is selling is not only a motorcycle but also something much bigger than that. It is the opportunity to experience the feelings of raw freedom and empowerment that one receives from strapping on some leather and riding a bike down the open road. These are feelings common to Americans of all ages, races, and backgrounds. Harley knows how to appeal to this inner desire of the customer. That is why Harley is a cult.

The Golden Rule of Human Needs
Listen to the choir and create cult brand evangelists Cult Brands focus on serving the wants and needs of the customers they have. They don’t get sucked into the trap of building products and services to attract new customers—they serve the congregation of customers their

brands already have. Respect your choir. Value their opinions. Reward them. Listen to them. Never ignore an enthusiastic follower of your brand. Remember that core followers all want to believe, but first they need to see miracles in the form of unexpected gifts and surprises. Do extraordinary things for your choir, and they’ll become incredible brand evangelists.

The Golden Rule of Contribution
Cult Brands always create customer communities According to Boliver.J.Bueno, Cult Brands always give back. They are adamant about continually finding new ways to show love and appreciation for the passion and devotion of their customers. Unlike faceless corporations, Cult Brands are humble and personable. They never take their customers for granted. Cult Brands build strong, ongoing relationships with their customers by developing and supporting customer communities. Cult Brands aren’t afraid to use today’s profits to create customer communities for generating powerful long-term goodwill for their business and their brands. These brands always try to do something extra that goes beyond the expectations of the customers that generates customer satisfaction and ensures a long-term relationship of the customer with the brand. These brands are extremely customer centric and make products as per the requirements of its customers. They are open to any changes that should be made in the product. These brands interact with the customer directly and online through customer communities. The example is Sunsilk which created a community for its customers where Sunsilk users interact among themselves and share their problems and solutions. We do not want to say that Sunsilk is a cult brand. An individual after physiological and safety needs always looks for belongingness and love as per Maslow’s need hierarchy. People exhibit these needs by become a part of a community, a member of a gang, or joining a

club. This is the level where the support systems of modern society begin to break down and fragmentation increases. To marry a brand, customer’s social needs should be fulfilled. For example “Harley Davidson In 1983 CEO Vaughn Beals announced the launch of the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.), which he saw as a grassroots way to reconnect Harley’s brand and lifestyle with its most faithful customers. Despite an initial lack of acceptance, within a few years H.O.G. chapters started appearing around the country. The spread of these groups was gorilla marketing at its best: membership was generated primarily from inexpensive promotions at dealerships and word-of-mouth. H.O.G. groups gave enthusiasts a structured way to meet, swap stories, and schedule rides with other evangelists. Harley made a wise move in requiring every H.O.G. chapter to have a dealership sponsor. The result of this stipulation was a tighter relationship between Harley dealers and the customers, as well as an increase in parts and merchandise sales.

The Golden Rule of Openness
Cult Brands are inclusive Cult Brands are incredibly open and inclusive. They don’t build imaginary profiles of ideal customers. They don’t discriminate. They openly embrace anyone who is interested in their companies. In fact, exclusivity isn’t even in the vocabulary of the Cult Brander. Instead, Cult Brands welcome with open arms customers of all ages, races, creeds, and socioeconomic backgrounds. This openness gives these brands a point of differentiation from other brands. There is an aura of friendliness in such brands. Cult Brands prove to their customers that they are indeed open and inclusive by helping to fulfill the deep human needs that we all share, including belongingness and selfesteem. Cult brands become giant support groups for like-minded individuals.

The Golden Rule of Freedom
Cult Brands promote personal freedom and draw power from their enemies The need for freedom is a product of self-actualization: we all cherish our freedom. Cult Brands promote underlying themes of freedom and nonconformity with memorable sensory experiences (like holding Apple’s sleek, cool products and packaging; or watching the Oprah show) for their customers. Additionally, they stay fresh in the “diary of the mind” with brand consistency and nostalgia marketing. Cult Brands draw strength and unify their brand lovers by identifying and targeting an archenemy—an opposing brand, person, or group—that conflicts with the Cult Brand’s values or goals. Now, we will evaluate the cult brand status of Apple to understand how a cult brand behaves in respect to the rules that have been mentioned before. This is being done in order to get a better understanding of what a cult brand stands for and what are the factors that make it a cult brand.

CULT BRAND STATUS OF APPLE

For more than 20 years, Apple has provided new and innovative solutions for people with disabilities, allowing them to access — and enjoy using — advanced technology products such as the Mac, iPod, iPhone and Apple TV. In recent years, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has used the phrase "One more thing..." to indicate a surprise product announcement towards the end of

his keynote presentations. Apple works hard throughout the year to provide guidance, support and training to its dozens of Mac User Groups (MUGS). Rule 1: Consumers want to be part of a group that’s different All apple users take the credit of belonging to a special category. Apple products are not only different from their counterparts on features but also they provide an altogether different touch and feel aspect that makes the customer community so special. Rule 2: Cult brand inventors show daring and determination Almost all the apple products have been new inventions be it an i-pod, be it an i-phone. Apple always tends to be a fighter and winner, the quality inherited from its founder Steve Jobs. It helps apple knock customer’s general attitude and liking to be associated with winners. Apple always gives its customers a sense of achievement and a sense of fulfillment. Rule 3: Cult brand sell lifestyles Owner of apple products satisfy their innate passions by owning an Apple appliance. The soothing effect of the product takes user into a comfort zone. Working becomes a fun for them. Rule 4: Cult brand will make the customers as brand evangelists Apple has always focused on the needs of their existing customers and give regard to their feedback, rather than expending energy to win new customers. Apple works on enriching the customer experience and treat the customers as King. Even the company goes to the extent of involving their customers in the designing process so that the final product becomes a customized one. Rule 5: Cult brand always create customer communities Apple brand believes in giving back to their customers the value for their passion and devotion. Apple has always tried to develop and support

customer communities, thus forging lifetime relations with them. The company goes for Mac users conferences at different places to strengthen the relationship. Rule 6: Cult brands are inclusive Apple is open to one and all. It has been indifferent to all socio-economic backgrounds of customers. They fulfill the human desire of caring, sharing, bearing and belonging. Rule 7: Cult Brands promote personal freedom and draw power from their enemies. Cult brands promote personal freedom and draw memorable sensory experience. Apple promotes the underlying themes of freedom and nonconformity with memorable sensory experiences.

Cult Banding in India
Now, we plan to discuss cult branding with respect to some of the well-known brands from India from across the industries. We have attempted to classify each of these brands on the basis of seven golden rules. These brands have been selected keeping in mind their popularity among the targeted customers and steps that they have taken that may enable them to be a cult brand in future. These are the brands that we feel may have the potential to make it big if they play their cards well. However each of these brands still has a long way to go. Some of these brands are:

Cult Brand status of “Bajaj Pulsar”

The Bajaj Pulsar is a package for young brigade and is a powerhouse with sensational top speed. The bike performs well at all speeds and cornering is something commendable. The bike is using Digital Twin Technology Ignition (DTSi), Ignition with Digital CDI, Twin Spark Plugs and a third-generation Throttle Responsive Ignition Control System. Rule 1: Consumers want to be part of a group that’s different Pulsars are designed for guys that love high-speed action on road. These are the group of bikers who distinguish themselves as style, look and speed conscious people. The Bajaj Pulsar provides this group with these features and makes them more associated not only with the brand but also the group. Rule 2: Cult brand inventors show daring and determination The Pulsar portrays itself as a brand that is daring and has determination. It comes out with newer models with improved technology and better looks which appeals the target consumers. The man behind Pulsar, i.e. Raiv Bajaj is a very courageous person. For somebody who rose up the ranks to become joint managing director, Rajiv's frequent clashes with his father are well known. With the company's research & development (R&D) department being his favorite hangout, he was against the company hiring management consultants McKinsey & Co. And when McKinsey advised Bajaj senior to scrap Rajiv's pet

project --the Pulsar -- he is said to have threatened to quit. Today, with the Pulsar's fantastic run, Rajiv stands vindicated. Rule 3: Cult brand sell lifestyles The target consumers of this brand consider that Pulsar has not only created a lifestyle of its own but also has influenced the users to change their lifestyles. The consumers actually enjoy and relish their new lifestyle by owning the Pulsar. Pulsar stands for speed, thrill and enjoyment in the minds of an Indian consumer. Pulsar is not just pulsar, it is a way of speeding up and being ahead of the competition for Indian consumers. Rule 4: Cult brand will make the customers as brand evangelists Pulsar focuses on serving the customers they already have. They don't try to attract hypothetical new customers. They look to the congregation, value their opinions, and reward them. Do extraordinary things for them like providing improvised technology, looks and style, and make them incredible evangelists. This group of users influences their friends not only in the purchase but also in creating the desire in owning a Pulsar. Rule 5: Cult brand always create customer communities Pulsar customers have created several Bikers’ Clubs in several parts of India, where the bikers meet and share their common interests. Bajaj Pulsar conducts various events like Stuntmania etc. that give a chance to all the brand enthusiasts to come together and celebrate the spirit of speed and freedom. This deepens the affection that these enthusiasts have in their mind for Pulsar and they start loving the brand even more. Rule 6: Cult brands are inclusive Since Bajaj Pulsar does not discriminate its ideal customers, therefore it can be referred to as an inclusive brand rather than an exclusive brand.

Rule 7: Cult Brands promote personal freedom and draw power from their enemies Pulsar is a brand that stands for freedom. It not only gives its customers an ability to move from one place to other but also provides them a way of escaping the troubles of life and attaining freedom by carefree biking.

Cult Brand status of “The Hindu”

The Hindu is a leading English-language Indian daily newspaper. With a circulation of 1.27 million, The Hindu is the second-largest English daily in India after Times of India, and slightly ahead of the Economic Times. It has its largest base of circulation in South India, called especially Tamil Nadu. Headquartered in 1889. Rule 1: Consumers want to be part of a group that’s different Throughout nearly a century of its publication The Hindu has exerted wide influence not only in Madras but also throughout India. Conservative in both tone and appearance, it has wide appeal to the English-speaking segment of the population and wide readership among government officials and business leaders. These customers would like to discuss about the issues published in The Hindu regularly. Rule 2: Cult brand inventors show daring and determination at Chennai (formerly Madras), The Hindu was

published weekly when it was launched in 1878, and started publishing daily

The Hindu can be proud of having the image of daring & determined Newspaper. The Hindu has been through many evolutionary changes in layout and design, for instance, moving news to the front page that used to be an ad kingdom; adopting modular layout and make-up; using large photographs; introducing color; transforming the format of the editorial page to make it a purely 'views' page; avoiding carry-over of news stories from one page to another; and introducing boxes, panels, highlights, and briefs. Rule 3: Cult brand sell lifestyles The customers of The Hindu believe that it has greatly influenced and changed the lifestyle of its readers. Rule 4: Cult brand will make the customers as brand evangelists The customers of Hindu consider the brand as one among member of their family. They don’t even consider other newspaper to read. They also influence their friends to read it. Rule 5: Cult brand always create customer communities In this aspect, though there is a huge customer base but there are hardly any customer communities where the readers meet and discuss their readings. Hindu needs to improve in this regard. They can create communities on the net as slowly we are moving towards an age where we read most of the news from the net. Rule 6: Cult brands are inclusive The Hindu gives News for all ages and across various income and occupation categories. Most of the customers believe that it is universal and inclusive. They do not identify with the particular group.

Rule 7: Cult Brands promote personal freedom and draw power from their enemies The Hindu is considered a daring newspaper that is willing to talk tough. This ability gives their readers a power to exert influence and at least talk about events that affect their life thereby promoting personal freedom.

Cult Brand status of “Kingfisher”

Kingfisher beer is an Indian Beer brewed by United Breweries Group. With a market share of 29%, it is India's largest selling beer and is currently available in 52 countries outside India. Rule 1: Consumers want to be part of a group that’s different Kingfisher Beer has portrayed itself as a young, vibrant and stylish brand over the years. Its consumers believe that the brand provides them with the same feeling and make them different from users of other brands of beer. Rule 2: Cult brand inventors show daring and determination Vijay Mallya, the inventor of the Kingfisher brand embodies the spirit that the brand stands for. He comes up as a smart and stylish individual who believes in getting the best things in life. He bets on horses, buys Formula one and ICL teams and therefore portrays a lifestyle that includes passion, thrill and courage as necessary traits for success.

Rule 3: Cult brand sell lifestyles Kingfisher Beer has created a particular lifestyle for its consumers. Its consumers are generally visualized as the fun loving, young and vibrant. Rule 4: Cult brand will make the customers as brand evangelists The brand serves its existing customers by providing quality products at affordable prices. Rule 5: Cult brand always create customer communities The brand had created a community in its consumer base, as they prefer KF Beer to several other brands. The company organizes several events that help in attracting and creating new communities. Rule 6: Cult brands are inclusive In this aspect Kingfisher beer scores less as it has a well defined target group and it reflects the energy, youthfulness and freedom that are characteristic of the brand's target consumer and reiterates its contemporary positioning. So it is more exclusive as a brand. Rule 7: Cult Brands promote personal freedom and draw power from their enemies Kingfisher promotes personal freedom as a part of the lifestyle it associates itself to. It talks to people who are young and vibrant and who want to enjoy their freedom. However, Kingfisher has failed to draw power from its enemies as they have failed to recognize what stands against their culture. Defining an enemy will give the brand more edge in the market place.

Cult Brand status of Fastrack: One for the fast generation

Fastrack, the accessory brand from Titan, continues to be non-committal. For a brand that was re-launched four years ago, Fastrack has come a long way. After the agreement between Titan and Timex was dissolved and Timex moved out independently, Titan had a gap to fill in the contemporary wrist wear space, which is when Titan Fastrack was first launched in the year 1997. In the year 2005, after some introspection on the part of Fastrack, certain changes were brought about; the wrist wear brand was re-launched as an accessories brand, without the name of the mother branding its branding. Rule 1: Consumers want to be part of a group that’s different All Fastrack users take the credit of belonging to a special category. Basically they feel energetic, youthful, dynamic and fast. It provides them a sense of fulfillment. Rule 2: Cult brand inventors show daring and determination Fastrack tends to be a fighter and winner, the quality inherited from its parent company Titan or Tata. It helps Fastrack knock customer’s general attitude and liking to be associated with winners. Rule 3: Cult brand sell lifestyles Owner of Fastrack satisfy their innate passions by owning Fastrack Watch. The sense of being youthful and being different from the lot takes the customer into a fun zone.

Rule 4: Listen to the choir and create cult brand evangelists

Fastrack has been continuously focusing on the needs of their existing customers and gives regard to their feedback. Fastrack is even going to the extent of involving customers in designing the product. Rule 5: Cult brand always create customer communities Cult brands always create customer communities. Fastrack is trying to forge a strong relationship with the customers. It is trying to provide them what they should get for their loyalty towards the brand. Rule 6: Cult brands are inclusive There is no discrimination of the customers. It is a brand for all in a vast country like India. Any new customer is greeted to the community of Fastrack user group. Rule7: Cult brands promote personal freedom and draw memorable sensory experience Fastrack promotes the underlying themes of freedom and non-conformity with memorable sensory experiences. It is always an experience in itself using a Fastrack accessory.

Conclusion
At the end we would like to say that Cult brands are brands that become a religion for the individual. We saw all the seven parameters to test if the brand is a cult brand. We discussed foreign brands that are cult brands and why are they so. There are no cult brands in India right now though there are brands which have the potential to become one. We’ve taken examples of Bajaj Pulsar, The Hindu, Fast track and Kingfisher beer. We tested them on all parameters and saw how they are trying to get closer to their customers and have the potential to become cult brands. The parameters in which these brands are failing can be achieved and these brands can emerge as cult brands in future. These parameters are more easily said than executed because it requires every individual to feel the same way about the brand and

every customer should feel that the brand they are using is the correct representative of their personality and it fulfils all the needs discussed above. So to make a brand a cult brand, make it a customer’s brand.