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Showing posts from July, 2007

World's cheapest car

Tata Motors' Rs. 1 lakh car, the world’s cheapest car will be unveiled just six months from now at Auto Expo 2008 in New Delhi.

The Tata dream car will sport a rear-engine and at a time when the market is gravitating to high-powered engines, with even entry models from Maruti moving from 800cc engines to 1,000cc-plus engines, Tata’s car will have only 667 ccs of power — not much more than the 500cc powering Royal Enfield’s Machismo motorcycle.

Who's doing what in Kids Retail in India

Monalisa, the Versace of kids is coming to IndiaGlobal lifestyle brand Nautika is bringing Nautika KidsInternational brand, Zapp has tied up with Raymond to foray into Kid's apparelDisney has launched exclusive chains which stock character - based stationery.Pantaloon's joint venture with Gini & Jony will set up a retail chain to market kids' apparel.Swiss kids wear brand Milou is collaborating with Tirupur based SreejahosieriesTurner International India Pvt. Ltd. will launch Cartoon network Townsville and Planet POGO - two theme parks designed around its channels - in National Capital region.Sahara One Television has signed an MoU to source content from Spacetoon media Group, Middle East's largest kids' entertainment b rand for animation and live content.Leading the kids' retail revolution is the apparel business, which accounts for almost 80% of revenue, with kids clothing in India following international trends. According to research firm KSATechnopak, t…

Nasal crooner

....It's tempting to explain this via that classic, persuasive, politically incorrect logic: that liking or disliking Himesh boils down to the "class" thing. That he's the kind of guy who people either love or hate: the auto drivers love him; those who drive around in swanky cars hate him. You hear his songs in neighbourhood barbershops, never in chic 'salons'. That he's Bollywood's latest proletarian hero and favourite whipping boy of the aristocracy. Except that there are too many of those who pretend to hate him even as their stereos blare his pop qawwalis behind closed doors—and, admit it, they can be annoyingly catchy....

NamrataJoshi on HimeshReshammiya, in the Outlook Magazine.
Read the complete article here.

Irrational or Stupid ?

Consumers are as irrational as they are rational when they take decisions regarding purchase of products or services. Rationality implies that consumers select goals based on totally objective criteria whereas Emotional motives imply that selection of goals by consumers is based on personal or subjective criteria.

What may appear as an irrational assessment to an outside observer may be perfectly rational in the context of a consumer's own psychological field.

Now, are people downright idiotic at times? Sure!

Consider this case of a godman who stands on little children to bless them. Imagine the psychological state of parents who bring their children to be subject to such a practice. The motivation behind this, on the part of the parents is, that their children are cured of some ailment and are blessed enough to be guaranteed a prosperous future.

There is at times a fine line between faith and stupidity. In this case the line's been crossed.

Watch the video on this godmanhere. Than…

Rural retail 'ticket size'

It now makes financial sense for retailers to go rural. That's because the single-largest bill till date of Rs 1.5 lakh comes from a Big Bazaar store in little-known town of Sangli in Maharashtra, and not from rich metros like Delhi or Mumbai.

'Bharat', or Eural India is fast emerging as a retail goldmine, with small towns like Sangli, Alwar, Ambala, Raipur, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Indore, Panipat, Haldia, Durgapur, Salem and Meerut expected to contribute 30-35% of retail revenues. Little wonder then that all retail biggies are setting up shop in small towns, and even doubling the numbers. Most of the retail chains offer fresh food and vegetables, staples and grocery and fast moving consumer goods in stores which typically range from as small as 1,000 to as large as 25,000 square feet.
A few other retailers offer right from fresh fruits and vegetables, staples and groceries, FMCG, personal care, electronics, toys, books, music, pharmacy, delicatessen, while Future group's…

'Immortal' Author brands

Author of the acclaimed 'Bourne' series, Robert Ludlum died six years ago. Yet books published under the name of the actor-turned-novelist who specialized in thrillers built on a foundation of paranoia continue.

Twelve Ludlum books have been released since his death, with a 13th due out in September. The business is deployed now as a kind of film studio, presenting books completed by others or new ones written using his name. Since early 2006 there have been three alone: “Robert Ludlum’s The Moscow Vector,” the sixth in the “Covert-One” series of paperback originals; “The Bancroft Strategy,” and “Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Betrayal,” by Eric Van Lustbader.
Jeffrey Weiner, the executor of Mr. Ludlum’s estate said that people expected something from a Robert Ludlum book, and if they could publish Ludlum books for the next 50 years and satisfy readers, they would.
Now how would fans react to books not written by the 'master' himself? Considering the fact that quite a few ha…

Tap Water

From NW : So you thought that water in your Aquafina bottle came from some far-away spring bubbling deep in a glen?
Try the tap.
PepsiCo Inc. is the latest company to offer some clarity about the source of its top-selling bottled water as it announced on Friday it would change the label on Aquafina water bottles to spell out that the drink comes from the same source as tap water.
A group called Corporate Accountability International has been pressuring bottled water sellers to curb what it calls misleading marketing practices. The group has criticized PepsiCo over its blue Aquafina label with a mountain logo as perpetuating the misconception that the water comes from spring sources. Pic : www.fotosearch.com

Credit better than cash

Car dealers in the US. don't take too kindly to a customer buying using cash. Why?

Because buyers who pay cash, whether they write a check or borrow the money elsewhere and bring it to the showroom, provide car dealers with fewer opportunities to make money on a car deal.
That ranges from the cut they get from arranging a lease or loan, to options like extended warranties or anti rust coating that buyers are more likely to choose if they can fold it into the amount they borrow. In some cases, those extras account for up to 75 percent of a showroom’s profits.


The quantum of customers doing cash deals in the purchase of a car is going. Who & Why is this happening?
One big reason for the recent rise in cash-paying buyers is the introduction of small and less-expensive cars into the American market
Because many consumers purchase small vehicles as second and third cars, and have a car loan for their primary vehicle, a number are choosing instead to pay cash rather than take on another …

Descent into hell - Zimbabwe

Is the tipping point imminent in Zimbabwe?

The latest inhuman police action on mothers with babies shows the 'madness that is Robert Mugabe' ( watch a video clip titled, 'Victims of Mugabe's regime on Times online)

Zimbabwe’s descent into chaos gathered pace yesterday as many shops ran out of food and thousands of workers were left stranded when bus drivers were arrested for allegedly overcharging.

State-imposed price controls that force retailers to sell goods for a fraction of their value have left supermarket shelves bereft of groceries. The crisis deepened when the Government closed all private abattoirs in an attempt to take control of the supply of meat. By yesterday meat products had vanished from sale around the country after the Government cancelled the licences of the private slaughterhouses because they had stopped delivering meat they had been ordered to sell at half price.

Source : Times Online

Monetary value of Cultural images

Bloomberg reports that, a Chinese painting with a Coca-Cola Co. logo has been valued at almost 50 times its cost for a $10 million London auction in October, showing how fortunes can be made by buying contemporary images from other cultures.

New York collector Howard Farber said he paid $25,000 in 1996 for Wang Guangyi's ``Great Criticism: Coca-Cola,'' which shows revolutionary soldiers stabbing at the logo. Phillips de Pury & Co. has a $1.2 million top estimate for the political pop artist's 1993 critique of U.S. consumer culture in its Oct. 13 sale, with 44 of Farber's works valued at $7 million to $10 million. Lithograph : www.mbergerart.com

To ban or not to

The Indian government has banned two underwear advertisement for indecency and vulgarity. The Information and Broadcasting ministry has directed all television channels to stop screening advertisements of 'Lux Cosy' and 'Amul Macho' with immediate effect.

The BB blog had earlier mentioned 'Lux Cosy' commercial as being in very poor taste. But does that mean it must be banned?

In the movie, 'The People vs. Larry Flynt', Larry Flynt's lawyer makes concluding remarks for Larry while defending him against a charge of 'obscenity' on his 'Hustler' magazine.

Those remarks, made by Alan Isaacman (played by Edward Norton) are relevant to this present case too.

'Ladies and gentlemen of the jury...

you've heard a lot here today and I won't try to go back over it all.
But you have to go back in that room and make some decisions... and there is one thing I want to make very clear to you before you do.
I'm not trying to convince you th…

Live earth : Green?

Officials with both Live Nation, the event’s Beverly Hills-based promoter, and Live Earth, couldn’t say whether the carbon offsetting or renewable energy purchasing extended to the municipal activities associated with the concert. Were the local police at the Giants Stadium show who provided security for the event covered by the green umbrella? Were their emissions being offset? Was the New Jersey State Police helicopter circling above running on bio fuel?

No one could say.

And as for the overall efficiency of the event, other than mentioning some new computer software being used to ratchet down energy consumption at the stadium, members of Live Earth’s green team couldn’t say how it compared to similar events held at Giants Stadium. Did they have a goal of achieving a certain percentage of energy efficiency?

They did not.

Read the complete article here.

Candidates beware, 'boss from hell' ahead...

Tara Weiss in her article 'Who's interviewing who' suggests a way to find out if the mild mannered 'future' boss who is also the interviewer would turn out later to be the 'boss from hell' skilled at making his/her subordinates' life miserable.

'If everyone involved has their best face on during a job interview, how can a candidate tell whether the potential manager is a decent person to work for?

Caroline Nahas, a managing director at the human resources firm Korn Ferry, suggests asking a simple yet direct question: As you look at people with whom you've worked, what kinds of skills and experiences have they had and which ones have been most successful?

In answering that question, a job candidate learns if the boss prefers working with a self-starter or someone who takes direction; a team player or someone who works independently; a workaholic or someone who paces him or herself. It also indicates whether he or she is mainly interested in numbers …

Obesity & college attendance

A new study conducted by University of Texas at Austin sociologist Robert Crosnoe found that obese students had a worse experience at school than their thinner peers and were less likely to attend college, and that the effects of being overweight hurt girls far more than boys.

Obese girls were only half as likely as non-obese girls to go to college after high school, and were even less likely to enter college if they went to a high school where few other students were overweight, says Crosnoe. But obese girls who went to high school with a sizable overweight population — where heavy girls represented about 20% of the student body — had normal odds of attending college.

Alternatively, obese boys were immune to what Crosnoe terms the "college effect" and were just as likely as normal-weight students to go to college. Crosnoe thinks the difference has to do with the fact that body and appearance are more central to girls' self-concept than to boys', and that the negative …

iPhone, Sivaji and Harry Potter & the deathly hallows

What's common with the 'iPhone', 'Sivaji' and 'Harry Potter and the Deathly hallows'?

All of them were veiled in a shroud of secrecy while in the making. The buzz generated on all of them has been huge. And each of them has tasted commercial success, at least till now.

Brings us to 2 important issues.

One, to generate the buzz silence the trumpets. For word of mouth to spread ensure that the veil of secrecy around the product or service remains and is guarded thoroughly. That gives people something to talk about. And they will, in droves.

This is a lesson most marketers find hard to learn. They would rather waste their advertising dollars and have the consumer bombarded with as many communiques as possible. Sure what needs to be remembered is that all the three products mentioned, did have a 'past' to bank on. A past where advertising did have a hand to play. In fact Harry Potter sales took off only after the release of Book 4 (Goblet of fire) and since…

Telemarketing

How & why is it that telemarketers pick the most inconvenient of times to call a prospect and ensure that they are not listened to ?

This, in spite of comprehensive database support systems worth millions of dollars.

symbol : www.aiga.org

Ditching national pride for a sale

Anytime a producer needs to sell a product or a service, the one entity that matters most and matters all, is the consumer. Imposing restrictions on how the product must be, in line with the producer's psyche, will get the product nowhere.

Culture has always been an important factor while designing products and services. But the culture that 'matters' is the one held dear by the consumer not the seller or the producer.

Italy today, is no longer insisting on maintaining the 'Italianness' of Alitalia. All it wants is a buyer.

Italy is happy to sell Alitalia to anyone willing to turn the loss-making national airline around - no matter whether the new owners are Eskimos or Chinese, an Italian minister said.
Embarrassed by the collapse of Alitalia's auction last week when the last bidders pulled out, Rome is now scrambling for new options to sell the airline and prevent it from being shut down.

Several bidders in the seven-month auction had pulled out citing restrictive…

The Russian Vodka quagmire

The Russian vodka market has been the undoing of foreign players. Foreign companiestrying to sell their vodka in Russia have had to face numerous problems, some due to their own doing and others due to the market itself.

Russia is the world’s biggest market for hard liquor. According to the market research agency BiznesAnalitika, last year 2.4 billion litres of vodka were sold in Russia, to the tune of $15.7 billion (not counting public catering). But it is quite an ordeal to work on the highly competitive Russian market — last year it had 250 producers and more than a thousand brands. The five leading breweries control over 70% of the beer market, whereas the five major vodka distillers have a modest 27% of the spirits market. For the time being, global companies have achieved nothing to boast of in Russia — the share of imported vodka is going down. Ukrainian producers are the only exception. They have gained a firm foothold in the premium sector, selling half-litre bottles for 150-2…

Me, my possessions and I

A game played on an English FM channel in Bangalore had participants SMS'ing in their mobile phone brand name & model no., after which the radio host would try and describe the owner's personality based on the mobile phone the participant owns.

Though the game was to be taken lightly; do possessions say something about their owners?

They sure do.

In fact possessions are considered extensions of the self. Its been proposed that possessions can extend the self in a number of ways, namely,


1. actually, by allowing the person to do things that otherwise would be very difficult or impossible to achieve.
2. symbolically, by making the person feel better or 'bigger'.
3. by conferring status or rank
4. by bestowing feelings of immortality by leaving valued possessions to younger family members.
5. by endowing with magical powers ( possession of good luck charm passed on by some one the person trusts).

Do consumers try and alter their selves through the use of products and services?…

MP3 ed Barbie

If humans are deeply connected to their gizmos, why not the dolls?

'Barbie' now has a docking station. A new doll hitting retail shelves this week in the U.S. is familiar in many ways — she’s got outfits galore — but she also has some unusual features: this Barbie, who is smaller and less shapely than her standard namesake, functions as an MP3 music player. And when her feet are plugged into the iPodesque docking station that she comes with, she unlocks pages and pages of games, virtual shops and online chatting functions on the BarbieGirls.com Web site.

The new doll is a roundabout way of charging for online content. Instead of asking young Web surfers to punch in their parents’ credit card numbers, BarbieGirls.com and other sites are sending customers to a real-world toy store first. Some of these sites (like the Barbie one) can be used in a limited way without purchasing merchandise — the better to whet young appetites — but others, like the popular Webkinz site, are of litt…

Pottermaniacal losses

The seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series looks on course to become the fastest and the largest selling Harry Potter edition ever.

A spokeswoman at Bloomsbury, Potter's British publisher, was quoted by the Observer newspaper as saying British sales of the final instalment could reach 3 million copies in the first 24 hours, up from 2 million with Half-Blood Prince. Borders Group Inc, the second-largest US bookseller, says it sold about 1.2 million copies in the first day at its 1,200 Borders and Walden books stores globally, compared to 850,000 copies of the sixth Potter book in its first day. Online retailer Amazon.com received 2.2 million pre-orders for Deathly Hallows, up 47 per cent on book six.

But all these sales have not cheered bookstores. Deep discounts being offered on the latest Harry Potter book may mean that many bookstores will struggle to turn a profit from the jamboree. Online retailer Amazon.com and Wal-Mart in the US have slashed nearly 50 per cent off …

Consumer wants

iSuppli market Watch reports that, nearly two-thirds of consumers want their televisions to link to the Internet, a sentiment that will help propel rapid sales growth for network-enabled consumer electronics devices in the coming years.

In line with consumers’ desires, home networking is migrating beyond its PC-centric beginnings to incorporate a variety of entertainment-oriented consumer-electronics devices, including DVD recorders, cable modems, Digital Televisions (DTVs), multi-room Digital Video Recorders (DVRs), digital media adapters, set-top boxes and video game consoles. Shipments of these network-equipped devices, along with consumer PCs and home network bridges and gateways, are expected to rise to 732.9 million units by 2011, more than triple the 225.3 million that were shipped in 2006.

iSuppli also found that,
Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and multi-room DVR demand is driving cable, satellite and telecom operators to consider a variety of new high-speed home networking …

Indian Consumer Electronics market

BB blog had earlier noted how MP3 players have flooded the Indian market. Now, Market Intelligence company, iSuppli has predicted that the consumer electronics industry in India is poised for major growth in the coming years as the country's more than one billion strong population gains more disposable income along with consumer confidence.

India's consumer electronics market should grow to $4.5 billion in 2007, and will then increase at a compound annual growth rate of 10 percent to hit $6.59 billion by 2011, according to a report from iSuppli. In addition to the boost in disposable income, the firm said that more easily available financing schemes, increased local manufacturing, expanding distribution networks, and sporting events, such as the Cricket World Cup, will all fuel India's growth in the consumer electronics realm.

Indian 'conservativeness'

'Conservativeness' is sometimes a better word for 'hypocrisy'. In India, this is all the more true when its about young women trying to find a place to live, on their own.

This story featured in the Time Magazine throws light on the young single woman's battle to find a place to live in.

'India may have aired Sex and the City on TV and celebrated Cosmo girls on the newsstand, but it remains a distinctly unfriendly place for anyone who wants to live alone, particularly a woman. Single women making their way in the world are frowned upon in India's traditionally conservative society, and landlords often refuse to rent to them....

Economic liberalization has certainly brought new freedom to Indian society. Middle class households are now bombarded with American TV serials such as The Bold the Beautiful, The OC and General Hospital, and these, together with Indian equivalents, offer a palette of aspirations for modeling their lives. Young Indian women are starting…

India's first Woman President

India will soon have its first woman president.

Given the numbers it's a foregone conclusion that the country is going to get its first woman President. UPA nominee PratibhaPatil, backed by the Left and the BSP, can expect over six lakh votes.

Jo Johnson, writing in the FT, opines, 'Thursday could have been another day to celebrate the many wonders of Indian democracy. Few, however, are cheering the fact that India, which already boasts a Sikh prime minister, a dalit (formerly known as “untouchable”) Supreme Court chief justice and, in Sonia Gandhi, a Christian at the head of the largest party, will almost certainly for the first time elect a woman as president and head of state.'

Pic : www.answers.com

Brand Recall

In his book, The Advertised Mind, Erik duPlessis, talks about what determines whether a shopper will buy a brand or not. He says, 'What determines whether a shopper will buy a brand is largely memory, and memories derived from advertising are among the memories that are liable to come to mind'.

For an advertisement to come to mind, it either has to be brilliantly conceived and executed, like the Mentos Ad, leaving an impression behind, or be such a terrible one, that its remembered because of the dislike consumers associate with it, like the annoying Lux Undergarments Ad.

Life Lessons

N R Narayana Murthy, chief mentor and chairman of the board, Infosys Technologies, delivered a pre-commencement lecture at the New York University (Stern School of Business) on May 9, 2007.

It is a scintillating speech, Murthy speaks about the lessons he learnt from his life and career. Read it here.

( Thank you, Sarala.)

An older girl’s guide to husband hunting

From Times online,....witty.....Read it here

'The point is that women, especially those for whom time is running out in the procreation sense, are extremely vulnerable to this stuff. I should know. Having got married for the first time in my forties, I am officially the most interesting person among my own sex. At parties, I am constantly hauled over to meet single women, expressly to impart the details of my miraculous, last-minute sprint across the line. I am a freak of nature, living proof that nubile doesn’t necessarily always get the bloke. People long for a hidden secret: something I did that I hadn’t done before; a deciding factor that tipped the balance. So, here are my personal tips on how to get a man to marry you in your forties.'

Anti Gladwell

From the FC Blog, 'The Anti Gladwell' :

'But my favorite line from Creamer's piece is this: "An irony of our age is that, though everyone acknowledges consumers are in control, marketers still believe they're running the show, right down to trying to plan for virality as any creative told to "just go make a viral video" will lament. Virality is an outcome, not a channel to be planned." It's similar to a point I made in "Down the Rabbit Hole," a November 2006 story that deconstructs the labyrinth campaigns the Blair Witch Project's stunt-men architected for Audi and Sega. Creating a tipping point phenomenon is not just some algorithm on Google or a magic widget you can click--it requires tireless hard work and attention, relentless strategy and creativity, and a deep respect for your audience so you can give them want they want, or better yet, what they don't even know they want.'

Bathroom Singer

Joe Sugarman, in his brilliant work, Triggers, says that if he had to pick one major psychological factor that makes direct marketing successful, it would have to be curiosity.

This trigger, 'curiosity', would be sole reason why people would tune into the reality show on Filmy, titled, 'Bathroom Singer'. 'Bathroom Singer' is a new singing contest on the Filmy entertainment channel that will zero in on an untrained performer who's good at singing in the shower and can enthral viewers. Contestants, who have to be 18 years and above, will exercise their vocal cords in a studio set that replicates a bathroom with tiled walls, showers and taps, but will not appear undressed.

But what remains to be seen is whether this 'curiosity' on the part of the viewer is sustained over the length of the program. For that the show would need to innovate to keep the viewer engrossed. The show organisers intend to provide themes, situations and costumes as it progresses.

Monsoon Tourism : Turning 'off season' into season

From today's BS : The monsoon, which is traditionally seen as an off-season in the tourism industry, has taken off very well this year.

Monsoon tourism, as it is known, has performed beyond the expectations of tour operators, garnering a 50 per cent increase in both in-bound and out-bound traffic. Last year, the industry saw an increase of only 15-20 per cent in monsoon tourism.

While Goa and Kerala ( note the brillaint Ad campaign titled, 'Sometimes it takes water to kindle a fire', by the Kerala Tourism Authority) remain the top domestic destinations, West Asia is still a favourite with travellers heading for international destinations. Over the years, the number of international tourists visiting India during the monsoon, especially from the Gulf countries, has almost doubled.

Pic : www.keralatraveler.com

One Man Industry

Since the year 1995, Rajinikanth has generated over 500 crores in revenue from his films.



Year - Film - Revenues (crores)

1995 - Baasha - 27
1995 - Muthu - 35
1997 - Arunachalam - 28
1999 - Padayappa - 40
2002 - Baba - 20
2005 - Chandramukhi - 75
2007 - Sivaji : The Boss - 350*

* projected
Source : BT / Pic : www.indiafm.com

Second shaadi

Though overall, the divorce rate in India is lowest around the world at 1.1%, the rates are climbing. Statistics released recently show that 25 out of every 1000 marriages in Bangalore city end up in divorce and a majority of these break ups are among those working in the IT sector.

Secondshaadi.com is a result of this scenario. Headed by Vivek Pahwa, an MBA from the Indian School of Business (ISB), this site calls itself India's No. 1 site for second marriages. Considering the fact that they are the first one off the blocks in capitalising on this 'business' opportunity and with a site name that would register with everyone on the lookout for a partner, a second time around, secondshaadi indeed is poised to grow.

What else has this portal got right? Easy to navigate, no frills approach in keeping it simple, FAQs that explain everything in detail, tips thrown in..etc., this portal has been designed and constructed well.

Pic : www.justice.gc.ca

Tastes

'Ah yes, you mock me. But perhaps one day when you've awoken from a pleasant slumber to the scent of a warm brioche smothered in marmalade and fresh creamery butter, you'll understand that life is not solely composed of tasks, but tastes.'

- Leopold ( Kate & Leopold, 2001)

Consumers bear the brunt

A recent study by ASSOCHAM revealed that in Retail in India, middlemen have walked away with most benefits, while consumers have bore the maximum brunt of price rise in the past five years.

The study says the average difference between wholesale prices and the minimum support prices (MSPs) during 2002-07 was 33 per cent, while the consumers paid 60 per cent more than the wholesale price.

The gap hit hard both farmers and consumers with all the benefits reaching traders as farmers receive the MSPs, decided by the government while consumers pay rates, decided by traders. The price differences are unlikely to be reversed.

'Recall' to prevent disaster and build credibility

Its important for companies to pull off defective products from market places. Many companies have done this in the past. Such 'Recalls' help -

1. Manage any possible disasters due to usage of the defective product
2. More importantly it also builds credibility by getting consumers to build perceptions of ethical behaviour resulting in greater trust towards the company's brands.

Gerber Foods' recent recall of all packages of its organic rice and organic oatmeal cereals last Friday because of potential clumping of the baby food, which could have posed a choking hazard, will go a long way in reinforcing trust in its products and also prevent any possible choking disasters. Gerber had earlier said that had received complaints of choking but no reports of injury.The company said a "limited quantity" of the cereals could contain lumps that do not dissolve in water or milk. The cereals were distributed nationwide and to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean

Suppressing Emotional memories

A new University of Colorado at Boulder study shows people have the ability to suppress emotional memories with practice, which has implications for those suffering from conditions ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to depression.

The study, which measured brain activity in test subjects who were trained to suppress memories of negative images, indicated two mechanisms in the prefrontal region of the brain were at work, said CU-Boulder doctoral candidate Brendan Depue, lead study author. The study may help clinicians develop new therapies for those unable to suppress emotionally distressing memories associated with disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive syndrome, he said.

Would marketeers ever be able to erase unpleasant experiences consumers have had with their brands?

Cartoon : www.cartoonstock.com

Plight of highly skilled immigrants

How can highly skilled immigrants land good jobs in the US.? 'Learning how their industry works in the United States, finding out about openings, talking up their assets in a way that appeals to an American employer -- those steps, simple to someone educated in the United States, can block the path between a newcomer and work she/he is well-trained to perform.' Read the story here.

Starbucks in Forbidden City to close

CNN reports : Call it globalization gone crazy, nationalistic nonsense or just a storm in a coffee cup.

The opening of a Starbucks in Beijing's Forbidden City is brewing a storm in China, with outraged local media reporting that 70 percent of people would rather not sip the American chain's frappuccinos in the footsteps of the Son of Heaven.

"This is no different from slapping China's 1.2 billion people and 5,000-year traditional culture in the face," said the China Consumer Journal. "Some people's anger is no different from their feelings when our embassy was bombed."

U.S.-bashing has been in vogue since American warplanes bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade during NATO's bombardment of Yugoslavia during the 1999 Kosovo crisis, triggering an outpouring of fury in Beijing. But the media backlash against Starbucks took officials at the 600-year-old Forbidden City by surprise. Now they are considering revoking the coffee chain's one-year licen…

Editorial on Kerala's policy on Retail

IE Editorial :

'Coke poisons people. Highway tolls exploit them. Fiscal discipline starves projects that can better their lives. So, of course, big retail chains, as Kerala’s Left explained to this newspaper on Monday, are anti-people. V.S. Achuthanandan’s revolutionary wolf of a government in the clothing of democratic sheep is nothing if not consistent, although some shine must have gone off the ban-retail-investment Bill on account of its sponsorship by a CPI minister.....

The fine theory behind the bill is that ration shops will come up instead of retail stores and people will be delighted. We fear Kerala’s consumers may decide that shopping in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, which shockingly has no bar on big retail stores, may be a profitable activity. Profitable both as a consumer as well as an arbitrager. Since it is typical of “anti-people” big retail stores to offer lower prices, Keralites may spot an opportunity for some inter-state informal trade......

Who’s a capitalist subvert…

Indian Retail : Conflicts within

The emergence of large format organised retailing in India in the future spells good times for farmers. They are expected to sell directly to the retailers and realise better returns off their output vis a vis the scenario today where they have to go through middlemen and traders.

Yet the ones who would be badly hit with emergence of these very same large format retailers would be the middleman/trader and the 'mom n pop' stores.

Now who should the consumer side with? The answer is another question. Is there any reason for the consumer to want to maintain retail status quo and remain a patroniser of unorganised retail stores, when he has a chance of enjoying rock bottom prices at organised large retail stores. The answer this time around is simple. No reason at all.

For years the consumer has been at the mercy of unorganised retail stores that have made a killing with sub standard products and faulty weights. This has to change and will do so in the future. There also must be no s…

The future

' If a company is interested in understanding the future, most of what it needs to learn about the future, it is going to learn outside of its own industry'

- Gary Hamel, 'Reinventing the basis for competition'

Teen Survey in the US

The Teen Topix survey by OTX (Online Testing eXchange), the leading global consumer research and consulting, taps into the complex lives of the 13 -17 year old set -- what's important to them, their behaviors, and their outlook on life. 750 teens across the country were surveyed.

(Findings)

What Teens Sacrifice for Dating -

Watching TV 58 %
Surfing the Internet 54 %
Playing video games 47 %
Listening to music 42 %
Hanging out with Friends 39 %
Reading 39 %
Homework 37 %
Sleep 34 %
Family time 32 %
Playing sports 26 %
Going to religious services 20 %

Where Teens go on dates -

Movie Theater 87 %
Mall 64 %
Restaurant 58 %
School Dance 53 %
Drive/walk around 53 %
Park 51 %
School event (sports, play, etc.) 49 %
Concert/live music 34 %
Coffee shop 22 %
Professional sporting events 14 %
Town Recreational Centers 12%

Pic : www.jupiterimages.com

Tweens & Teens as Consumers

A tween is vaguely defined as a prepubescent between the ages of 8 to 14, 9 to 12, or 8 to 12, depending on whom you believe. (Some industries, such as the wireless sector, categorize the age as an unbelievable 6 to 12 years old, prompting one to ponder, "in between" what?) Regardless of the exact age definition, most agree that the breaking point of a "child" becoming a "tween" is by the American fifth grade (approximately ten years old), when he/she rejects more childlike images and associations and aspires to be more like a teen.

The economic power of most tweens is dependent on parents and other family adults through allowances and gifts, versus the independent purchasing power of teens through after-school jobs. (360Youth.com puts the teens-with-jobs number at 63 percent.) For as much industry talk as there is about tweens being the decision-maker driving purchases, ultimately it is still the parent in control. Of the reported US$ 51 billion spent by …

Cars in our lives

According to a recent study commissioned by BMW, cars mean very much to us. The reports helps understand why.

Cars are no longer just vehicles: they are our homes, even extensions of ourselves. We think of them as lounges, refuges and “objects of emotion”, according to the study, based on interviews with 90 men and women drivers.

The report quotes Dr Peter Marsh, a psychologist from the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC), who talks about how riving can represent an everyday escape in the sense that the car absolves the driver of any other responsibility to be anything more than a driver for the duration of the drive. Half of those questioned valued the car as a refuge so much that they spoke of relishing the isolation of the daily commute.

'Road rage', according to Leon James, a professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii, is our expression of anger at our 'territory' being invaded. The more cars are tied to ideas of individual freedom and self-esteem, the more …

Cash reigns, plastic fares poorly

The BB blog had an earlier post titled, 'Plastic nation', where society's usage of plastic cards to transact was illustrated (an article by Robert J Samuelson). But there are places where cash still reigns supreme. Take China for instance. This Time Magazine story talks of usage of paper currency in China, which in fact was the source of the same (paper currency), in the year 600 A.D..

The Chinese are believed to have issued the world's first paper currency around 600 A.D., and fourteen centuries later, cash remains king. Cars and houses are bought, and even salaries are often paid, with thick envelopes of bills. To date, banks have issued only slightly more than 50 million credit cards to a population of 1.3 billion, according to a recent study done by the payment processing company First Data International. Credit card debt remains minimal — 85% of cardholders pay the full balance off each month. By comparison, Americans possess 640 million cards — more than double th…

10 Years of Blogging

From today's WSJ :

........... The consumption of blogs is often avid and occasionally obsessive. But more commonly, it is utterly natural, as if turning to them were no stranger than (dare one say this here?) picking one's way through the morning's newspapers. The daily reading of virtually everyone under 40 -- and a fair few folk over that age -- now includes a blog or two, and this reflects as much the quality of today's bloggers as it does a techno-psychological revolution among readers of news and opinion .........

'Credit' never due where deserved

I guess most of us have been in situations where we watch agape someone else walking away with credit they don't deserve. This happens in our social and professional lives. In Business too this is common.

Take the case of farm credit. In India, farm credit never reaches those places in desired quantum where return on farm credit is the highest. In this report from IE, its been found that the North-East and Jammu and Kashmir have emerged as the best performers in the India in terms of the value of agricultural output generated compared to agricultural credit consumed.

According to “Agricultural Gross District Domestic Product 2005-2006” figures compiled by Indicus Analytics, 19 of the North-East’s 72 districts and four of Jammu and Kashmir’s 14 districts have credit to agricultural output ratios of more than 50, implying that the value of their outputs is 50 times more than the value of the credit consumed by them.

What may startle many, including agriculture experts, is the fact tha…

Political correctness - A business must

If you need to learn how to cultivate friends in politics, throw your lot with every one in the race. This is important because political environments have a strong impact on how businesses function.

Who better to learn this from that the legendary Warren Buffet. The Nebraska billionaire appears to be enjoying his role as an unaffiliated kingmaker, raising money for Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton while promising to do the same for her chief rival, BarackObama. He has even heaped praise on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who recently left the Republican Party and might join the race as an independent.

Though Buffet can't be faulted as being opportunistic (he's made his millions and is giving it away), he definitely demonstrates a lesson businessmen can learn.

Cartoon : www.cartoonstock.com

The Urban divide, within

The urban divide should not be confused with the urban-rural divide in India. The urban divide is about the gulf between the Americanised Urban dweller and his conservative counterpart, both rubbing shoulders on urban streets in cities like Bangalore. That gulf seems to widen by the day.

For marketeers, this divide poses a bigger dilemma than the one that keeps rural India away from their urban counterparts. In the urban-rural scenario, the distinct groups are well defined with members of each sharing common characteristics with each other within the group. Creating product and services for such distinct groups and managing pricing, distribution and communications is easier as compared to doing the same for the split within the urban segment. How can marketeers create varied offering for the cool Americanised types and the conservative types, and then get both groups to buy in successfully to the offerings within the same geographical space, urban India?

This divide has been illustrate…

The 'real' Yoga

From the ET,

There is nothing to achieve by practicing Yoga. You will be shocked to hear this. Many people have told you that Yoga will cure you of asthma, it will cure you of chronic pain, it will cure you of high blood pressure and so on. Perhaps it does; but not because of what you practice, but because you believe.....

It is the process of Yoga, the practice of Yoga that unites the mind-body-spirit system. What unites is not the exercises that you perform. This again will shock you. It is the intention. You create a memory in your muscles and that gets embedded....

Just by sitting comfortably in any position with your spine erect to allow energy flow you can derive the result of any asana through intention and visualisation. This is the truth. However, this is too simple for you to believe. You need something more tangible, more strenuous to prove to yourself that Yoga works....
Pic : www.queencreekyoga.com

Execution as a PR exercise ?

The TOI reported on the execution of China's former Drugs chief thus (FT reported it differently) : 'China has responded to worldwide criticism about poor quality food and medicine exports by executing its former controller of drugs. Beijing, which is worried about its image as a quality conscious government during the countdown to the Olympic games, also announced a plan to upgrade food safety.'

My reaction is to TOI's version of this story. What a flawed way to react to a tarnished image. Tarnish it further. Sure, the Chinese government must do something about poor quality food and medicine which has lowered its image around the world. But should that involve executing someone even though he/she may be guilty as a perpetrator? Definitely not.

Reminds me of companies that do exactly the same. Follow an act that has tarnished its credibility and image with another that further compounds the problem by tarnishing its image even more. Companies must respond quickly with a…

Who's doing what in Retail in India

Gitanjali Group to invest Rs 100 crore in Luxury Connexions and Luxury MallsWills Lifestyle to increase stores to 100Dabur India plans tie-up with kirana storeMahindra & Mahindra may tie up with British grocery giant TescoGodrej to launch 20 speciality boutique stores by 2010 Spencer to open 1,000 stores by 2009 RPG Group for Rs 1,000 crore expansionSubhiksha stores touch 1,000Future Group to open 225 Big Bazaar storesBharti Retail to have supermarkets and hypermarkets; will partner with kirana stores through franchiseReliance Mart in Bangalore and Gujarat; 169 Reliance Fresh stores; may buy 13 per cent stake in France's CarrefourRef : The Week Magazine article

'Sarin' Soup

It pays to keep one's mouth shut. As much as people, brands too should let others do the talking. Guess why publicity is more credible than advertising.
The BB blog has discussed the potency of 'publicity' as a marketing communication tool before. Brands should let publicity drive their visibility, not advertising. Sure, advertising has it's own uses in creating recall, but lacks credibility to dictate 'positive attitudes' of consumers' towards itself. The furthest it can go is to initiate the first purchase by the consumer, nothing beyond.
Arun Sarin's recent comments on the Indian bureaucracy has not gone down well. Sure, again, it may have been the truth, but why articulate it? Does that mean never to raise the issue. No, do raise it, but be careful about the forum and the choice of words. That's the same with brands too. They have to be visible at the right times and at the right places, and get others to notice their presence and talk about it. …

'Pop' won't save the planet

Why Pop won't save the planet, from Times Online :

...... Indeed, on a day when Paolo Nutini got a bigger cheer than Al Gore, you had to wonder about the efficacy of events like this. The indifference that met all the awareness-raising films couldn’t have been in more marked contrast to the atmosphere here at Live Aid 22 years previously – when the medium and the message seemed entwined in people’s minds. Next time they’d be better off simulating the conditions of a huge landfill and locking everyone in for the day while Madonna, Metallica, Foo Fighters et al attempt to distract us from the stench. Because this idea that good behaviour can be mollycoddled out of audiences by pop music is beginning to seem a little quaint.

Read the complete article here.

Taj wins...does it matter?

Taj Mahal being selected to be a part of the 7 wonders has been received well in India with celebrations. But what are the real payoffs? None, except the fact that the media frenzy generated by this event has putTaj Mahal and it's incredible beauty under the spot lights for everyone around the world to see. The voting has also helped a few other of the 7 wonders, some of whom are not very well known, garner publicity.
But then, will publicitygenerated drive tourist traffic to Agra? I doubt it.

For any tourism destination be coveted after, strong complementers must be in place. A term coined by Andy Grove, former CEO at Intel Corp., it is a term used to describe businesses that sell a product (or products) or service (or services) that complement the product or service of another company by adding value to them.

For tourists to flock in droves, to the Taj, transportation & hospitality infrastructure has to be vastly improved. Only then would it propel greater tourist arrivals to I…

Why companies can't innovate

A recent professional engagement helped me understand why it's difficult for most companies to innovate. The primary reason is, opportunities are missed in the industry in which a company operates due to it's refusal to look outside of the sphere (industry) within which it operates. To close one's mind to learning that comes from the outside can in many cases sound a death knell to innovation within.

This mindset of not opening up to learning from companies who may not be in the same industry is why a lot of opportunities remain unseen. In fact these are then spotted by firms operating on the outside.Take the Internet, which opened up opportunities for a lot of brick and mortar companies to capitalise on. Did they?
It wasn't ABC, NBC, CNN, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Business Week, or Newsweek that created the most successful information site on the Internet. It was Yahoo.It wasn't Barnes and Nobles, Walden books, or Borders that creat…