A product needs promotion to extend its use in the existing application areas and also to explore new areas of consumption.
A product needs promotion to extend its use in the existing application areas and also to explore new areas of consumption. During its life cycle, the product loses its market share to some of the competing materials which gains acceptance due to its improved features at a competitive price, regular availability and better branding. Many a times the same product fights back to regain its share in a specific segment and can successfully retain it. Does the product promotion get a lower attention when the market is up.
This question does not find a quick answer as in a difficult market, the curtailment of costs becomes a prime objective and market promotion is perceived to be associated with extra costs. Finding out the right moment of launching product promotion particularly when the product falls under the category of basic inputs to a plethora of end uses is a difficult proposition.
Talking of steel, which is an essential ingredient of a good number of manufactured items and forms the backbone of construction and infrastructure uses, the promotion as a homogeneous entity requires a thorough analysis. In the modern world the use of a product in various application areas is guided by the specific codal guidelines prescribed by the government. The buyer segment is predominantly guided by the use of standard product categories backed up by BIS norms.
The availability of BIS Codes precludes its further investigation as the codal provisions match the requirement details of the specific segment with the chemical and mechanical properties of the product as specified in the codes which have been drafted by technical experts and validated by another group of professionals. For instance, the application of steel concrete composite designs in building road over bridges (ROB) and its superiority over concrete road bridges have been highlighted in the code:IRC-22.
It gives a much faster construction, elegance in structure, less carbon footprints and cheaper in life cycle analysis. As the road contracts involve bidding in EPC (engineering and project construction) mode, there is no compulsion to go by IRC-22 mode and instead adopt normal concrete structures whose initial construction costs are competitive.
Although it is commendable from the point of view of steel producers and users, it is not known if the code for more use of steel has indeed contributed to use of more steel in road architecture. Neither the research bodies nor the roadways agencies gather or develop any methods to capture the actual application of this code in constructing bridges. The inability of the current data system to capture this data has deprived the authors of this code to derive intellectual satisfaction of applying their knowledge in practice.
At the same breadth, it can be concluded that application of steel composite designs in other uses like in real estate also entails capturing the data to monitor the role of steel in the current usage pattern and here also the lack of data availability does not permit any conclusive evidence that the user segment has widely accepted this.
The same predicament also applies to the impact analysis of any awareness campaign a number of which has been organised on pan-India basis on the existing and prospective users and induce others who have been hitherto not using it. It has been the practice to hold seminars and workshop for eulogising the good properties of steel and to display how it has helped develop innovative designs and develop many new profiles in tune with the changing pattern of consumption, which ultimately goes to bring down the cost of construction and improve the quality of life.
It is regrettable that we do not bother to check if in the post-seminar period any new construction by adopting steel concrete designs has actually taken place to enhance the consumption. Abroad, there is a standard practice to measure how much square metre of construction has taken place in a month in the country, which may further be reviewed to determine how much of this space has gone for steel use. We are way behind to capture this type of data to demonstrate if holding seminars and workshops is actually leading to more use of steel.
The lack of impact analysis is indeed a major bottleneck to realise the efficacy of awareness campaign in the form of media, print and voice publicity. The technical support in favour of more uses of the product and its superiority in improving the finished product features is laudable and must be encouraged to the full.
However, it also becomes the responsibility of the technologists and other stakeholders who are incumbent to devise ways and means to establish a time-tested method of measuring to what extent the codes, standards and campaign undertaken to promote its uses has actually led to more purchases and procurement of the product. The development of a measurable index to capture the results of product promotion is eagerly awaited.