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Showing posts from March, 2007

Magnum Opus

The most awaited movie in India at the moment ?
Sivaji !!
Sivaji is superstar Rajinikanth’s magnum opus under the direction of Shankar and the music of A.R.Rahman. The audio of this most awaited movie is all set to be released on April 4th with a small in house ceremony at AVM.

Bed & Breakfast Scheme

The 'Incredible India Bed and Breakfast’ scheme introduced by the Ministry of Tourism is aimed at providing comfortable Home Stay Facilities of Standardized World Class Services to the tourists, and to supplement the availability of accommodation in the Metros and tourist destinations.

For this, Ministry of Tourism will classify fully operational rooms of Home Stay Facilities as “Incredible India Bed and Breakfast (B&B) Establishments”. The basic idea is to provide a clean and affordable place for foreigners and domestic tourists alike including an opportunity for foreign tourists to stay with an Indian family to experience Indian customs and traditions and relish authentic Indian cuisine.

This is a great opportunity for Indian families to try their hand at an entrepreneurial activity. Whether there are a good number of takers for this opportunity needs to be seen. The Ministry has gone on a communication campaign that includes airing commercials on prime time channels.

Luxury conference

The Hindustan Times Mint Luxury conference is a reflection of a growing niche consumer class that's driven by hedonistic appeals of products and services. Is their ilk a flash in the pan phenomenon or is it here to stay ?
The answer is pretty simple. It surely is here to stay.
Take Bangalore for example. The city is home to over 10,000 individual dollar millionaires and 60,000 super-rich people with an investible surplus of Rs. 4.5 crores and 50 lakh respectively. These include professionals, entrepreneurs, consultants, US returned Indians and expats. According to a study conducted by American Express, there are 83,000 HNIs and 7,11,000 super rich people in India.

Hyperrealism

Ton Mueck is an Australian hyperrealist sculptor.
His works blows you away with an impact that's almost haunting. The sheer genius of artists like Ron is breathtaking.

May his breed increase.

Sanjaya - ed

SanjayaMalakar still draws the votes. Around 3o million. For some one who is billed as being weak when it comes to singing, that's a lot.

American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe defended controversial contestant SanjayaMalakar as someone with "guts." Malakar's extended run has become a lightning rod for controversy during this season of American Idol. His cuteness is undeniable; his singing ability, to some ears, is marginal at best.

Lythgoe pointed out that America loves all-around performers, and the wild-haired Malakar certainly knows how to work a crowd. "I think we're going to have this thing called the Sanjaya effect," Lythgoe said. "And I feel as though, myself, last week, I was 'Sanjaya-ed.'

Space Tourist

Santosh K George, entrepreneur and traveller, is set to become the first space tourist from India in the year 2008-09. His cost for this flight of a lifetime would to the tune of 1 crore. He says ' Isn’t it worthwhile to spend Rs 1 crore for a once-in-many-lifetimes trip than buy 10 cents of land in Kochi?'

He has a point there.

Leading Brands in India

The latest Business World magazine cover story is about consumer responses ( satisfaction/loyalty ) towards various brands in India ( research conducted by CSMM, Customer satisfactionmanagement and measurement, an arm of IMRB International ).

The results show the leading consumer satisfying brands to be -

Apparel - Allen Solly
Sportswear - Planet Sports
Air conditioner - LG
Television - Samsung
Washing Machine - Videocon
2 Wheelers - Hero Honda
4 Wheelers - Ford and Honda
Refrigerator - LG
Insurance - LIC
Credit Cards - AM EX
Retail Banking - SBI
Housing Loans - SBI
Fast Food joints - Pizza Hut
Coffee Outlets - Cafe Coffee Day
Airlines - Kingfisher
Lifestyle & Fashion Store - Westside

70 % of e mail, spam, in Asia

Symantec Corp. in its excerpts of its Internet Threat Security Report has Asia that almost 70 percent of all electronic mail from Asia is "spam", or unsolicited advertisements.

Philippines had the worst record with 80 percent of spam mail. Although the Philippines had the highest proportion of spam, China was the largest source of spam by sheer volume, the report said.

Tourism Industry hit hard

India's exit from the World cup is all but sure. Except if Bermuda beat Bangladesh which is highly improbable.
The Tourism industry has been hit hard with cancellations pouring in. Most travellers to the Caribbean had planned on watching later round matches, have now cancelled their bookings.
Industry sources estimatethelosses to be in the tune of 30 crores.

Pall of gloom gives way to anger

A pall of gloom has given way to anger at India's meek surrender to the Lankans at the cricket world cup. Fans across the country have lashed out at the attitude of Indian cricketers accusing them of being more concerned about commercial contracts with advertisers.

The fallout of this loss will be as big in business circles with viewership expected to drop for the remaining matches. When the dust settles we will finally come to know of actual losses in terms of advertisers pulling out.

All in all, a very depressing scenario, all around.

Retail space hots up in Bangalore...

Reliance has kicked off its Bangalore foray by opening 11 stores Fresh stores. These are in addition to 80 stores across AndhraPradesh, Jaipur, Chennai, Delhi/NCR and Ranchi. The chain professes its strength to be its supply chain with the aim of "farm to fork" with no middlemen and direct procurement from growers.

Each store would have around 20 trained personnel, including students offered part-time jobs, and the non-vegetarian foods would have a separate section with its own entry.

Diversified Product offering

The Apollo Tyres group has a new Service offering to Indian consumers. The group has entered the promising health care services in India with their super speciality hospital in Gurgaon.

Christened Artemis Health Sciences (AHS), the 260-bed hospital over 8.3 acres of land will open next month. The group plans to concentrate on cardiology, oncology and orthopaedics in the hospitals.

A joint study by the Confederation of Indian Industry and McKinsey on the Health Care industry shows,
At the current pace of growth, medical tourism, currently pegged at US$ 350 million, has the potential to grow into a US$ 2 billion industry by 2012.Health care spending in the country will double over the next 10 years. Private health care will form a large chunk of this spending, rising from Rs 690 billion (US$ 14.8 billion) to Rs 1,560 billion (US$ 33.6 billion) in 2012. This figure could rise by an additional Rs 390 billion (US$ 8.4 billion) if health insurance cover is available to the rich and the middle …

Son of the soil

AmitabhBachchan is quite vocal in his assertion that UttarPradesh has a crime rate that is among the lowest. This claim, endorsed by Amitabh as brand ambassador of the state of UttarPradesh has been met with skepticism. This is because, in terms of statistics the crime rate in UP may be low as compared to other states. Yet, recent events, such as the Nithari killings are fresh in every one's minds. And so the claims made by AmitabhBachchan on behalf of the UP government does not go down well with the public who watched, just a few months back, the horror of Nithari unfold in front of their own eyes.

Are celebrities credible as brand endorsers?

The Q scores ( Q Rating ), a rating of likeability developed by Marketing Evaluation Inc. in the 1960s helps rate celebrities on factors of 'familiarity' and 'appeal'. According to Marketing Evaluations, the factors affecting a celebrity’s Q-Score relate to measures of familiarity and appeal. When combined these measures resul…

Is there hope...?

India beat Bermuda comprehensively with a margin of 257 runs, a world record margin in One Day Internationals. This win surely will boost India's confidence. But a hurdle still remains. India has to beat SriLanka well.
Is that possible?
Is there still hope?
All of India prays for a miracle. The media and advertisers are hoping for the same, albeit for another reason.

Captive Audience at airports

Advertisers have targetedairport security lines, where they find captive audiences for their messages.

SecurityPoint Media of St. Petersburg, Fla. places its ads in the bottom of the trays where passengers put their belongings when passing through security, Advertising Age reports. SecurityPoint provides airports with free stainless-steel tables and carts with wheels for holding the plastic trays, and in return the company and the airport share revenue from ad sales.

Aviation consultant Michael Boyd doesn’t think the ads are a good idea. “Why would you want your product advertised at a point where consumers’ anxiety, fears, and maybe even anger are at a peak?” he told Advertising Age.

But SecurityPoint President Joe Ambrefe said more than 22 million travelers at the four airports have been exposed to the ads, and so far the firm has not received any complaints from passengers.

India loses, Broadcast media suffers

India's loss to Bangladesh in the Cricket World Cup has come as a blow to broadcast media, especially SONY TV, as most advertisers seem to be shying away from taking spots during the cricket world cup matches.

TOIreports that, ' a 10-second slot, which was sold between Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh for matches involving India in the Super 8 stage, may be forced down to Rs 1 lakh if India fail to qualify. This may mean a drop of up to Rs 150 crore in advertising revenue for the broadcaster. The total on-air advertising revenue for the Cup is currently projected at Rs 400 crore. Ad rates for non-India matches too are expected to drop if the Men in Blue crash out at the league stage.'

This is because of the possible elimination of India in the first round itself. If that were to happen, viewership in India will drastically drop. Advertisers then would lose out on their audience and so pulling away is logical.

Everyone, especially broadcast media is praying for a miracle. That India…

Foreign Education in India

Foreign education will come to India, but with mechanisms that can regulate the conduct of foreign universities in the country, reportsOutlook.

The regulating mechanisms in the bill state ,

1. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has been entrusted with the task of regulating the entry and functioning of foreign universities.
2. FEIS will have to register with the body within six months of the bill turning law.
3. Franchising of educational institutions will not be allowed.
4. Foreign education providers will be expected to follow national laws, including those on reservations.
5. All FEIS would be accorded deemed university status.
6. The secretary, UGC, will be the ex-officio registrar of foreign educational providers; FEIS would be subject to all conditions of the UGC Act applicable to deemed universities in India, including fee fixation, admission, teaching standards.
7. A Rs 10-crore deposit has been put in as a safety clause in the bill to safeguard against fly-by-night operators.
8. R…

Advertisers keep away

The BB blog had raised the issue of viewership of World cup cricket matches a few days ago. A recent report in the Economic Times talks about FMCG biggies keeping away from TV spots during the world cup cricket telecasts citing lack of market. The companies that have kept away include, P&G, Henkel, Dabur, Marico, ReckittBenckiser and Perfetti. The logic in keeping away is that the series would be played through the night when their target audience, the housewife, would be asleep.

Unsocilialised Zombies

IIT students seem to shun hanging out to being on the world wide web. This should not seem surprising considering that this is a globalized phenomenon. In China, latest reports suggest up to 2 million children between the ages 15-20 being addicted to the internet. These kids' parents are trying everything possible, including some unheard of methods to get them to break this addiction. In fact Chinesenetizens surf online for an average of 137.8 minutes per day.The Indian internet usage report shows that Internet users in India reached 37 million in the month of September 2006. During the same period the number of active users rose to 25 million, according to recently released survey reports from the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI-IMRB).

Future estimates -

Sept 2006: 37m ever users and 25m active users
March 2007: 42m ever users and 28m active users
March 2008: 54m ever users and 43m active users

That's truly big!

Technology made simple...

I have always wondered why people buy technologically sophisticated products, yet not fully ever try and understand all the possible applications. Take for example a lovely student of mine. She bought this sophisticated laptop, but never bothered to learn all its possible uses. The most she used it for were for its word processing applications and I guess 'power points' too. When quizzed, she said she watched movies, surfed the net...was on Orkut most of the time.

By Jove, how boring...at least for me. But for her, extremely interesting!!

The lesson learnt is that products and services have to be designed for consumers. Technological sophistication is fine. But it has to be managed in way that the product in question has to be ''Icarus paradox' (coined by Danny Miller) is at play in such situation causing a downfall.

Cricket World cup viewership

The Cricket World Cup is around the corner.

Played in the West Indies, matches start 0930 local time. That works out to be late in the night in India. Would that affect viewership? In a country where cricket is almost religion, will timings affect viewership? Viewership analysis done for certain matches of the 2003 world cup do provide interesting statistics. For the moment there doesn't seem to be a dearth of advertisers. But will their communiques reach the intended numbers?

The 1 lakh car to be costlier...but that's still cheap

India is quite intrigued by Tata Motor's '1 lakh' car. A recent report states that the 1 lakh tag would be ex-factory and that the showroom price would be Rs. 1.25 lakhs. Variants would be priced higher.

But that's still cheap. Compare this to the average price of 2 wheelers in India, and it would still be value for money.

Who are the potential buyers of this car? Obviously, people in the lower income group segments who, up till now could only afford to buy a 2 wheeler. But, hold on, don't count the middle / higher income group out. The car promises to be an excellent second car ( purchase ). Especially if it delivers on great mileage. The higher / middle income group consumers would use the first car for longer duration journeys, and the 1 lakh car for city driving.

Don't count competition out. Watch out for the response of the likes of Maruti Suzuki Motors and Hyundai Motors.

Women as Decision makers....

Is there a long way to go before Indian Women take consumption decisions on their own ?
I think, yes.

Take the basic issue of how women are treated in India. A recent report on domestic violence reveals startling figures. Over 37 per cent married women in the country were victims of physical or sexual abuse by their husbands with Bihar topping the list ( TOI, March 4, 2007 ). That is pointer to how empowerment has not been extended in society to include women.

In a report dating back to 2003, it was found that men dictated most of the household purchases.

Women as decision makers is still a long way off in India.

Can creativity survive ?

Craig Fernandes' note, 'A tradition betrayed', in the Business Standard poses an issue that has been debated long. Though the article specifically deals with 'music scenario' in India, it also takes upon itself an issue that has wider implications. Craig bemoans the state of 'sound' emanating from artists in India at the moment. He talks about how 'traditional sounds' that were distinct and unique have given way to crass 'remixed' music.

Is he right ?
I don't know. But what I do know is, that the consumer decides what he wants to hear. No one can force him otherwise. The fact that 'crass' music is played, could be a result of listeners taking to it more than the glorified music of the past. Sure, consumers are not purists. They may never know or understand the fine nuances of music, but they do know what appeals to their sense of hearing and they go after that. That is not to say, traditional music won't appeal to the listener&…

Technology will change our lives...constantly...

Technology will redefine the way we live, very so often. Just the thought of myriad possibilities that exist, though latent ( therefore not even 'visibly known!' ), should send our pulses racing.
MaulikParikh's article in the Outlook magazine talks of 'what's possible in science as interesting and what's not as fascinating!'

Take a look at PC World magazine's 20 most innovative products of the year (2006)-
1. Microsoft Office 2007
2. Intel Core 2 Duo
3. Parallels Desktop for Mac
4. Nintendo Wii
5. Samsung 32GB SSD
6. Sony Reader
7. YouOS
8. Dell XPS M2010
9. Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 750GB
10. T-Mobile Dash
11. Pioneer Inno
12. Farecast
13. Sony BWU-100A Blu-Ray Disc Rewritable Drive
14. Olympus EVolt E-330
15. Google SketchUp
16. Sony PlayStation 3
17. RIM BlackBerry Pearl 8100
18. Rhapsody 4.0
19. LogitechNuLooq
20. Shure E500PTH Sound Isolating Earphones

Union Budget and Consumption

Will this Union Budget raise levels of consumption ?

No!
The Finance Minister has done nothing to leave more money in the hands of the consumer. Yes, at the retail level, certain items have gotten cheaper, whilst others have turned costlier.
What gotten cheaper ?
Biscuits, Instant Food, Water purifiers, Umbrellas, Footwear, Plywood, Cement, Bio diesel.
Whats costlier ?
Cigarettes, High-end Car models, Hardware product ( may rise )
What remains the same , Oil and Gas prices.

Overall, The consumer has nothing to cheer about.