You step into your neighbourhood shop to buy your weekly loaf of bread, say Modern Bread. The shop owner tells you about a new Britannia bread that, he claims, is better and worth trying. He even offers to take back the open pack of the bread if you didn't like it. You decide to try it out.
All these days that you had been routinely picking up Modern Bread, you were exposed to a simple "sales" activity. In agreeing to try-and possibly switch to-a new brand, you also experienced "marketing". This rather simplistic explanation of the difference between sales and marketing lies at the heart of the corporate world's biggest and most interesting battles-battles that decide the fortunes of companies and influence the purchasing patterns of consumers. That's why, starting 2004, Business Today has been profiling some of India's most successful and instructive marketing initiatives every year. This year, we decided to expand and deepen the exercise and present it as our cover story. You will find stories of a company daring to take on video piracy, an iconic soft drink brand's strategy to capture market share, an individual redefining how cricket is marketed and played and a politician marketing his state brilliantly to counterbalance his discomforting political legacy.
As you go over these fascinating stories, keep two things in mind. Business Today's list is not the exhaustive and final list of all good marketers. And not every successful marketing strategy leads to financial success-though most eventually should and do result in financial gains. Neither of these two conditions takes anything away from the relevance of our 11 case studies. In fact, their relevance is enhanced in times such as these when marketing challenges are going to get tougher, courtesy the still-raging global financial crisis.
The crisis continues to churn economies around the globe. It's time now to estimate where this ever-changing economic landscape is likely to take us in the coming months. Five leading players from corporate India answer precisely this question (Meltdown Impact). Also, don't miss our stories on the great FII exit and the soundness of Indian financial institutions.
In our Reporter's Diary section, we present a feature that is every marketing genius's challenge (Losing Steam). The story is about a business that is teeming with customers and yet, running into staggering losses. In fact, its sales are less than 5 per cent of its expenses. Maybe lessons from our cover story can turn around this 100-year-old business located in one of the most picturesque places in the country.