Communicating a brand to even the most fragmented target audience is made easieronce the 'Universal Integrators' are identified
ANAND KURIAN have been raised in a small town - you enjoy its charm and intimacy but then move to the city for graduation. Later,you also spend two years learning business management in a secluded campus. You land your first job in the same country. You perform well and then, God and the boss smile at you. The bo~1.' ells you, "You t are off to oversee things in Borneo~kiddo! You will


be in sole charge, so best of luck!" Of course, you are thrilled with the thought of the career jump - you are going to be the head honcho! But Borneo? You know nothing of it, save excerpts from a tattered school textbook. .. something about oil and a wealthy potentate. And, now, you have to look after your company's business there! In a world that is increasingly inter-linked, my 'Universal Integrators' model is a marketing management enabler that helps overcome barriers as

products, services and concepts cross boundaries. The, world is getting smaller, '0£' course, And there is the rare case where' youhave to beam a single message to people all over theglobe. But this is very rare. unless youare an Obama. Her'e,Maslo,vts Hierarchy of Needs comes in handy:. Maslow saw human needs arranged like rungs on a ladder.The most basic needs, at the bottom, were P'.hy....sical - air , 'water food and S'D, on, ··· -, "'" Then, came safety needs - security and stability













- followed by psychological or social needs - be'longing, love and acceptance, And ,at the' tOPI of it all were the self-actualising needs - the need to , fulfil oneself, to, become all that O'De is capable of .,..··.eco1mlng. · b This seems right only 'up to a point, Fori an amorphous, worldwide audience, Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs could steer you through the concept of the roessage and the construction ,of its communication. ....~. But what do you do whenyour work requires







you to reach out to sub-universes? India is a subuniverse and, moving closer, Kerala and Rajasthan are sub-universes too. The Jain community within Mumbai is a further sub-universe. So, what do you do when this sub-universe is your audience and, as is the case when you are shipped off to Borneo, you know almost nothing about it? The first step is to stop thinking of it as a subuniverse. Borneo or Kerala or Mumbai's Jain community is now your universe. You must unload the. cul tural baggage that you have accumulated - all that you have learnt, studied and experienced. Borrow two strategies from the anthropologist. One, adopt his objective, non-judgemental approach (when studying cannibals, the anthropologist will put aside his moral repugnance; that would hinder his study). 'IWo.learn participant observation - the anthropologist studies tribes by becoming one of them - just as you should learn tp do. Now, you start exploring, tentatively at first, to find out the 'Universal Integrators' of the particular universe that you are interested in - what is


A. In the world as a universe, Maslow's Hierarchyof Needswould apply B. In the country as a sub-universe, the 'Universal Integrators' in India, for instance, could be Bollywood and cricket
C. In Mumbai city, money and

bhelpuri WOuld be such integrators

D. Among the Jains in Mumbai, it would be vegetarianism E. In professional circles, there are numerous. unwritten integrators dress codes, for instance -an adfilm-maker would seldom be seen in a tie F. There would be, of course, other sub-universes - the cosmopolitan lifestyle of the Sandra suburb in Mumbai, for example

it that binds a~d integrates every member of that group together? What are the 'Universal Integrators' of India? Is it religion? No, we are said to have nineteen religions. Language? We have twenty-two languages and eight hundred and forty-four dialects. And then, as you explore, there it is, staring you in the face: BoUywooq and cricket - the two 'Universal Integrators' that bind all of India. This is how !lgiant multinational like Pepsi enters India. Ob~~rve how skillfully it has put the 'Universal Integrators' to work. Nearly every piece of its communication employs Bollywood, cricket or both. Now, that seems rather simple and obvious, does it not? But it was not quite as self-evident years ago when it came in. Its study of the Indian market was unbias~dand neutral and it set out to participate in the Indian spectacle whole-heartedly. Pepsi discovered the 'Universal Integrators' of its target audience' and put it to work for the brand. Of'course, it seems far easier to address your au-

dience when you are in your own homeland Oris it? Let us rewind just a bit; with a slight change this time, however. Your boss says, "We've been having problems in Trivandrum - you are being sent there to look after things, so, best of luck!" And, the very next day you find yourself on the first flight to Kerala! You are still in your own country - but you were born in Ludhiana, raised as a hard core Punjab da puttar, read Economics at St. Stephens, Delhi, and then management at Ahmedabad. You know nothing of Kerala. So,even in your Own country, you will need 'Universal Integrators' - whether the target groups are Trivandrumites in Kerala or the Bishnois in Rajasthan. Sub-universes tend to be mote complex chiefly, because they overlap and intersect. Thus, a Keralite could be living in Murnbai, be a part of the advertising profession and a resident of the upscale suburb of Bandra; a Jain could be an avowed atheist and a socialist. Professional tribes will intersect with religious tribes; that could

As Barack Obama
amply demonstrated, elections are gigantic marketing exercises. The political machinery could use the 'Universal Integrators' model to advantage

further intersect with residence and so on. .So, we need to refine and redefine our target group further - you need to look for the identity that is dominant. With which tribe does the person most identify? If he sees himself predominantly as an ad man, that is essentially who he is - so tailor your messages accordingly. If he sees himself as a socialist revolutionary, then target that aspect. Members may intersect but generally cultures, mores and lifestyles (and buying decisions, in particular) will be determined by one group or the other, seldom both. Central to every tribe is its set of'Universal Integrators'. Each tribe will have its own. Among the .Jains, it could be vegetarianism; among residents of Bandra, the cosmopolitan lifestyle. Some integrators may seem to be small and trivial, but they actually are not - nearly every Mumbaikar identifies with the roadside bhel puri and wada pao (food is a significant 'Universal Integrator' nearly everywhere). The 'Universal Integrators' concept applies

wherever we need to market and communicate with groups; the audience can heas vast as a nation or as small as your recalcitrant family. We have witnessed two of thelargest spectacles in the world - the Indian parliamentary elections and the American presidential election. As John F. Kennedy first showed, and BarackObarna amply demonstrated, elections are gigantic marketing exercises. The political machinery could use the 'Universal Integrators' model to 'advantage; in a three-tier campaign, they could use it to bindelectorates first in every constituency, then in every state and, finally, in the country. 1M

Anand Kurian is a writer and marketing cernmunications professional. Along with two former dean~ of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, he has developed a new subject, 'The Culture of Business',for management students. This article is adapted from lectures attheUMs, the Film & Television Institute of India and the National Institute of Design.

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