Minimalistic Marketing and its Relevance

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 4004 , Published on 04 January 2014

"Who strive - you don't know how the others strive

To paint a little thing like that you smeared

Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,

Yet do much less, so much less

Well, less is more, Lucrezia: I am judged"

When ‘Robert Browning’ penned down these words in his 1855 poem titled, “Andrea del Sarto (The Faultless Painter)”, little did he know what this would mean to us, some 150 odd years later. Of course he wasn’t talking about any of the marketing concepts back then but definitely he had laid a stone to incubate the same in our grey cells.


It may be an audacious statement to make but as complex as marketing has become in the present era with brand wars at every bend of the road, it’s the simplicity of the brand message and the product that hits the mind point blank and wins. As perceived by masses, the latest and the greatest stuff doesn’t do everything. It just makes sure you feel the same while pondering your mind over it. In fact, the latest and greatest stuff does probably one simple thing but yes, it does that well.

This paper will talk about a “Simple” yet “Intricate” terrain of the marketing world, a terrain where only a few battles have been fought and those who have dared to fight have catapult themselves as market emperors. The figure below describes a typical market scenario where in the core product is bombarded with embellishments to please the consumer but today’s consumer is smart enough to remain focused on the core benefit he desires and finally chooses the product, going by only the use and not the adornments.



Market Offering Consumer Demand Consumer Choice


What does the consumer want?

In today’s era of minimalism and simplicity, nobody wants to be thrown into a maze of pages with keywords floating the home page and barging onto your face saying “listen to what I have to say and then thou shall walk ahead.” In nutshell, the brands that are rule the online world are scaling back and making the consumer experience as minimalistic as possible.

So we can say this with aplomb that the crux of the consumer behaviour is that he is moving through the content at a voracious speed and yet the marketers keep pretending that everything they’re publishing is some kind of destination in the consumer experience and he is liable to stop at each and every pit set up by them and be thankful to them. Alas! That’s a big time misconception. Marketers need to adapt to the new reality and adjust their attitudes to the new age where in the customers’ attention span has become less and the demands have risen with shortage in time to fulfil them. Phew! This roller coaster graph needs for the marketers to sit back and align themselves to this new minimalistic era and rather than stacking the homepage with the corporate stock price, news feed, product updates and more, they need to tell each other, “Keep it simple, silly”, of course the “Rockstar” has told that plethora times  on national TV. Imagine it’s your girlfriend’s birthday and your surprise party is ready with candles and a dark room and the video of memories about to play; and suddenly, your desktop somewhat looks full of icons and you got to drill out the video from the desktop. Phew! You are dead.


This what marketing has become now a days, a clutter. As Seth Godin puts it, “We create clutter and then to remove that clutter, we create more clutter”.

How minimalistic marketing concept has been cashed?

What more, ‘Google’ barged into the Oxford dictionary banking on this strategy. Mr. Page was smart enough to realize that a search engine be kept the same rather than adorning it with advertising embellishments where in some skinny girls pop out of your screens at some awkward time saying, “let’s be friends”, thanks to the Big Data Analytics that has become a Beige Book of our personal lives.


Nevertheless, to be taken away, is the feed, that a consumer needs a clear value chain of his needs rather than a marketer’s excitement of what he has to offer.

You don’t need what’s not needed

When we talk about needs, in Poussin's painting Landscape with Diogenes, 1648, the ancient philosopher is depicted casting away his last possession, a water drinking bowl. He realises he doesn't need that after seeing a youth cupping hands to drink from a river. This is what the consumer has realized today. He has the clear picture of his need and is as focussed as Arjun’s arrow to not sway away from it. So at best what marketers’ should do is, give him the Fish’s eye and not lure him with the Cod Liver oil.


Guinness Beer evolved not as a product but a pack to connect with the customer with a minimalistic approach.

Also when we talked about Diogenes earlier, Steve Jobs may be called a reincarnation of same. He redefined simplicity by abolishing the tic tack buttons on a phone; who would have dared that some years back? But Jobs and Apple presented the world with a “Simple yet Sophisticated” product that was dearer to them than their families. This is the wand of simplicity for you.


The simple philosophy

It is said, “If you can get a consumer hooked onto one, simple thing, odds are that you can rinse and repeat the same process”. Practically true, but sadly treated as a fallacy. Minimalism doesn’t mean less of services but rather loads of them in a layman’s hand, and now it’s a game about who keeps the layman glued to them, definitely by satiating him.

Kelly Johnson’s KISS, “Keep it Simple, Stupid” principle may be admired a lot, but seldom do the marketers realize the dire need of the same to be implemented and the amazing opportunity the market industry has for them.

The fruit company would have been anything but “Apple”, had it not been for Job’s minimalistic and simple thinking.

“Think Simple. Think Bare. Think Minimalistic.”

The article has been authored by Mohit Pal Singh Sehgal, NMIMS Mumbai.


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