I’ve been very intrigued by the way some Indian brands have recently started to use social networking as a tool for themselves. The Sunsilk GOG has been the most prominent of these, with its high decibel advertising on TV, print, and even outdoor.
I am not sure if such high spends work for the brand – ofcourse getting into social networking may help the brand position itself as much younger and ‘with it’. But will it really translate into sufficient additional sales? It would be interesting to know how HLL measures the efficacy versus conventional sales methods.
My own hitch with this tool is that they are quite tightly defined by the brand’s needs rather than user’s. Users often create their own communities at places like orkut and myspace, where they define what they want to do, how they interact with others. Do brand owned spaces really offer that option? GOG for example, is clearly a girls-only space. Plus, the design, focus on beauty etc means that it is primarily meant to lean towards fashion, conventionally girlie talk. By definition, this is restricting. I mean, how much can girls get together and talk about “girl-only” topics? If we assume that there is a limited amount of time that each individual has, then he/she would rather spend it at a more open space, where one can meet all sorts of people. Sites like GOG and the recently launched spillurdil.com are probably more “lurk” sites where people stay for a bit, then the interest wanes off. Going through the message boards and the “gang blogs”, one really gets very little sense of any camaraderie or shared interests here.
If Sunsilk really wants the site to have not just “registered” but active users, maybe it makes sense to have some bloggers recruited by them, who participate on the site with a better quality of writing and thus pull more active users. Think someone like the Fugly Team! Then atleast, the site really seems like a fashion leader, rather than a dull sort of place for girls to do pretty much nothing. Lets face it, most average users are not going to contribute sufficiently for the site (and therefore the brand) to be a “hot place”. (One sees comments on the message board, about the site going cold….)
It could be a function of the execution ofcourse. Theoretically, a brand could probably create a more inclusive space, but then, would it answer the brand’s own needs? Cornetto currently is all about romance, hence spillurdil. It would be interesting to see how that develops. Will it develop into a space for all young adults? Its not clear really what advantage they offer over places like fropper, which have the advantage of being advertising free. (Well most of the brand owned sites don’t advertise directly, but the discreet presence is there nevertheless)
I still haven’t really made up my mind regarding these initiatives. It seems as though there must be some benefit to them, but its not clear really, what GOG does for Sunsilk, as opposed to say, trendy advertising for haircare products like Garnier….For a more detailed review, read this excellent piece on the WATblog on all of HLL’s online initiatives.