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Showing posts from August, 2007

Lifestyle channel launch

From exchange4media : NDTV has joined hands with VijayMallya’s Kingfisher to launch lifestyle channel ‘NDTV Good Times’. A free-to-air channel, NDTV Good Times will be available to viewers across India from September 7, 2007.

The channel will target a largely cosmopolitan, socially upbeat audience that lives in style and enjoys every moment of life. Among the various shows offered by the channel, there would be a wide range of aspirational lifestyle programming on health, fashion food, travel, luxury and more.
This is a first of its kind media alliance for the promotion of a new television channel in India.

Compulsive buying behaviour in India

A study, titled, Compulsive buying behaviour among Indian Consumers and its impact on credit default' found that, Credit card users in aggregate ‘neither agreed nor disagreed’ to materialism and have ‘rarely’ engaged in compulsive buying.

They ‘moderately agreed’ that they are high enhanced credit card spenders, but at the same time they ‘rarely’ indicated compulsive buying, which is a positive outcome. They ‘disagreed’ to high credit card financing behaviour, which again demonstrates the fact that they ‘spent and financed their spending’ cautiously, keeping track of 'mental account' as a self control device against environmental factors, like retailing avenues, availability of credit and so on. 'Emotionally stable extroverts' tended to have a steady spending behaviour and external influences did not impact them much, as the study showed.

Read the complete paper here.

The Diana effect

Michael Elliott in Time : ...In Diana's funeral week, what had been considered the virtues--the Roman virtues, an earlier generation would have called them--of restraint, stoicism and quiet, private mourning were tossed overboard. For Diana, you were allowed public gestures and declamations usually reserved for the final act of an Italian opera. That this happened in Britain of all places--home of the stiff upper lip and the sort of strangulated emotional life that has provided Hugh Grant with endless paychecks--only added to the oddity of the events. Those in other nations who thought they knew the British wondered what sort of people they had become...

'Can't get you outta my head'

From Dakshina's blog post :

Research in the US has found that songs get stuck in our heads because they create a 'brain itch' that can only be scratched by repeating the tune over and over. In Germany, this type of song is known as an "ohrwurm" - an earworm - and typically has a high, upbeat melody and repetitive lyrics that verge between catchy and annoying.Songs such as the Village People's 'YMCA', Los Del Rio's 'Macarena', and the Baha Men's 'Who Let The Dogs Out' owe their success to their ability to create a 'cognitive itch', according to Professor James Kellaris, of the University of Cincinnati College of Business Administration.
A cognitive itch is a kind of metaphor that explains how these songs get stuck in our head. Certain songs have properties that are analogous to histamines that make our brain itch. The only way to scratch a cognitive itch is to repeat the offending melody in our minds.

Self-Destructive Habits in India

From JagdishSheth's Blog :

Self Destructive habits of good companies -
Denial Arrogance ComplacencyCompetency DependenceCompetitive Myopia Volume Obsession The Territorial Impulse'Is India as a nation likely to acquire some of the bad habits?
Is India's IT sector already showing signs of bad habits such as arrogance and complacency?
What should the leadership in Indian organizations do to avoid or break these habits?
In answer to the first two questions, yes, any large organization is at risk to fall into the pattern of bad habits. As I highlight in my book, these habits follow naturally from early successes.

As for the last question about what leaders can do, I would emphasize two important strategies:
Leadership should constantly remind themselves and others to remain humble.
Early successes cannot be taken for granted because of emerging competition from Eastern Europe, Vietnam and Latin America.

Dropping consumer confidence

From : Consumer confidence weakened in August in the United States as Americans focused on turbulent financial markets, a decline in home prices and tighter credit standards.

The New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday its Consumer Confidence Index, declined to 105.0 from a revised reading of 111.9 in July, which was still a six-year high. Although the index was down, it was slightly stronger than the 104.5 that Wall Street analysts expected.
The survey is closely watched because consumer spending represents two-thirds of the U.S. economy and confidence levels tend to influence spending. The consumer confidence survey from the Conference Board is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households to measure consumer sentiment on present economic conditions and the spending outlook for the next six months. The index was based at 100 in 1985.
The dip in consumer confidence is not restricted to the US. In Germany too, consumer confidence has dropped.


The newest Chinese duplicate of Apple's prize phone is called the P168. Incidentally, in case you're wondering why it's called 168, the numbers 168 sounds phonetically similar to a "get rich" phrase when you pronounce in Chinese, kind of like how high school broads say "h8" in all their text messages to Travis.It has six speakers for "surround sound," 3.5-inch touchscreen, face keys, 1.3-megapixel camera (even though it SAYS 2.0-megapixels on the back), microSD slot, and various other things that aren't nearly even as good as the Meizu Mini One—which our commenters have dubbed the Jeezus! phone. – Jason Chen

P.S. - Thank you, Dakshina, for the info.

Reference group influences in a restaurant

Dr. Perry had a recent interesting post titled ‘Irrational Restaurant Behaviour’ about how people eating at restaurants invariably take the help of a stranger (the waiter/waitress) in deciding what to order from the menu. The post shows how ‘irrational’ the act of asking for help is.

It’s interesting to delve into why people take this sort of help from complete strangers. Take Bangalore for example. Getting around the city, especially when trying to locate some place new, is like trying to a find your way out of a maze. While doing do, drivers find it absolutely normal to stop their vehicle, roll down the windshield and ask a perfect stranger for directions.

Why this ‘trust’ in strangers?

Decision making is always susceptible to influences. Take the case of consumers. The prime influences that consumers come under are while making a purchase decision are , a) A firm’s marketing efforts and b) the socio-cultural environment within which the consumer operates.

The different components of th…

M & A failures

From FE : Over 80% of M&A deals in India do not actually fructify. According to a study by international M&A deals tracking firm ‘mergermarket’, India has emerged as Asia-Pacific's second-biggest target after China in terms of official or unofficial intentions expressed for takeover deals from across the world this year.

However, the conversion rate, measuring the proportion of news headlines actually converting into deal announcements, is the second-lowest for the country in the region. India was the target for as many as 561 potential merger and acquisition deals in the first seven months of 2007, trailing China with 824 potential deals. This translates into a daily average of about four deals in China and 2.6 deals targeting India during the 212 days between January and July this year.

However, the study says the number of final deals was just 95 for Indian companies (one deal in more than two days), giving a conversion rate of just 17%- the second-lowest in Asia-Pacific …

Floral carpet

Pookalam, designed and laid by students of the PG Program at Alliance Business School

Wasting time Inc., a leading provider of on-demand compensation management in its 'Wasting Time Survey' revealed that the average employee wastes 1.7 hours of a typical 8.5 hour work day. This is the third year has conducted the survey and, while the amount of wasted time has steadily declined, companies are still paying billions in salaries for which they receive no direct benefit.

As in previous years, personal Internet use (34.7% of respondents), socializing with co-workers (20.3%) and conducting personal business (17.0%) remain the leading time-wasting activities. Respondents also report making personal phone calls and taking long breaks to run errands while on the job.
Interestingly, the reasons for wasting time cover both extremes. While many employees admit to wasting time because they ‘don’t have enough work to do’ (17.7%), the second most popular, and somewhat contradictory, response is ‘my hours are too long’ (13.9%). Employees also cite being underpaid (11.8…

Spiritual solace

Percentage of Indians who say they have a spiritual guru : 45
Percentage of Indians who say they lean on their spiritual guru in times of crisis : 2
Percentage of Indians who say they lean on themselves or their family and friends in times of crisis : 59 & 23

Source : Business India magazine

Blinded by colour

In India, it makes sense to churn out a yesteryear classic, 'in colour'. Consider the 60s classic Mughal-e-Azam. Re-released in 2004, in colour, it grossed over Rs. 10 crore at the box office. The film not only recovered the estimated Rs. 3 crore that went into digitally colouring it, but also brought in decent profits.

What must be done to replicate the success of the 'coloured version' of Mughal-e-Azam?

One, ensure that a yesteryear blockbuster is picked. Also make sure to pick a film that brings back nostalgic memories, as the present day consumer is fed up with the rehashed 'run of the mill' movies that sorely eat into his sense of common sense.

Movie Poster :

Petrol Prices (in Indian rupees / per litre)

In India :

New Delhi - Rs. 43.85
Mumbai - Rs. 48.41
Kolkata - Rs. 46.90
Chennai - Rs. 47.48
Bangalore - Rs. 50.62
Hyderabad - Rs. 48.82

Worldwide :

Amsterdam - Rs. 84.01
London - Rs. 80.72
Paris - Rs. 73.44
Hong Kong - Rs. 69.99
Tokyo - Rs. 46.48
Johannesburg - Rs. 41.70
New York City - Rs. 33.50
Los Angeles - Rs. 31.90
Houston - Rs. 28.71
Riyadh - Rs. 5.32
Caracas, Venezuela - Rs. 2.13

Happy Onam

Wishing everyone, a Happy Onam !

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Consumers love companies that participate and co-opt with them in the design of products and services. Keeping consumers out and then locking them in, using technology is not a great idea. It spawns a breed of users who then try and break the ‘lock’. If they are successful, other users cheer them on, the larger consumer set grins, knowing that another ‘arrogant firm’ just bit the dust.

Sample the ‘cracking’ of the iPhone code. Armed with a soldering iron and a large supply of energy drinks, a slight, curly haired teenager has developed a way to make the iPhone, arguably the gadget of the year, available to a much wider audience.

George Hotz of Glen Rock, New Jersey, spent his last (northern hemisphere) summer before college figuring out how to "unlock" the iPhone, freeing it from being restricted to a single carrier, AT&T.

The procedure, which the 17-year-old posted on his blog on Thursday, raises the possibility of a cottage industry springing up to buy iPhones, unlocking …

Global rise in Hotel room rates

HRG UK’s 2007 half year hotel survey has revealed continued growth and a strong average rate performance for the hotel industry worldwide. Moscow once again achieved the highest average room rates, alongside significant growth in the rapidly developing markets of Dubai and Mumbai.

Key findings include: Moscow remains the most expensive city with average room rates of £236.06 compared with £220.57 in 2006
Mumbai again showed rapid growth, with an increase of 30% over the last six months following an uplift of 49% in average rates achieved for the full year 2006
Of the key European cities, Barcelona grew by 18%, rates in Berlin were up by 17% and Stockholm increased by 10% between January and June 2007
London continued to perform well with 5% rate growth in the first 6 months of 2007, compared to average rate growth of 7% in 2006
Of all the regions worldwide, only Africa noted a decline in average room rates

Birthday Biggie

From Forbes : Big Mac, the triple-decker burger, which helped breed America's super-size culture and restaurants' ever-expanding jumbo meals, is turning 40.

The Big Mac was first introduced in 1967 by Jim Delligatti, a McDonald's franchise owner in Uniontown, Pa. A year later, it became a staple of McDonald's menus nationwide. The sandwich has become a veritable pop culture phenomenon, spawning everything from an impossible-to-forget jingle ("Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame-seed bun," anyone?) to a currency-evaluation index created by The Economist. McDonald's estimates 550 million Big Macs are sold each year in the U.S. alone. Do the math and that's about 17 per second. Weighing in at nearly a half-pound, with 540 calories and 29 grams of fat each, that's enough to make nutritionists cringe. Love them or hate them, the Big Mac has grown from its humble beginnings to become a cultural unifier.

Nokia India

From today's TOI : Nokia, the world's top cell phone maker, said that India overtook the United States in the second quarter as its second biggest market after China.

Nokia, based in Espoo, Finland, accounts for more than half the handsets sold in India, the world's fastest-growing wireless market. The nation has 190 million users, including the record 7.34 million added in June, faster than China's 7.05 million. Globally Nokia sold 100.8 million phones in April-June and according to research firm Gartner had a market share of 36.9 per cent.
Nokia and rivals such as Motorola Inc, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics expect to sell as many as 93 million handsets in India by the end of March next year, according to the Indian Cellular Association. Less than 18 percent of 1.1 billion Indians have access to mobile phones.
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Chick Magnet

Livescience reports : Guys with bulldog-like faces have been chick magnets throughout human evolutionary history. A recent study of the skulls of human ancestors and modern humans finds that women, and thereby, evolution, selected for males with relatively short upper faces. The region between the brow and the upper-lip is scrunched proportionately to the overall size of their heads.

Among the men who fit the bill: Will Smith and Brad Pitt.

Men with "mini mugs" might have been most attractive to the opposite sex and thus most likely to attract mates for reproduction, passing along the striking features to the next generation and so forth, said lead study author Eleanor Weston, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London.

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Billed to leave you speechless

AT&T's iPhone bills will leave you speechless. Literally. 'Cos by the time you finish reading them you will be outta breath. Literally.

NY Times reports that Justine Ezarik, a video blogger in Pittsburgh, found on her doorstep, a 300-page, double-sided, excruciatingly well itemized bill from AT&T. Ms. Ezarik, made a one-minute video that shows her flipping through the voluminous bill and posted it to YouTube and other video-sharing sites. The video has since been viewed more than three million times.
For the last several weeks, iPhone users have been by turns amused or enraged over the sheer heft — some are the size of small novels — of the bills they are receiving from AT&T. In response to Ms. Ezarik and scores of others, AT&T’s wireless business sent text messages to all its iPhone users to let them know that it will be sending them summarized bills from now on.
Cartoon :

Car for the Masses

From today's ET : Tata's 1 lakh Car -

The Rs 1 lakh car will probably sport a 660 cc engine and crank out between 30-33 horses . And yes, it will offer both diesel and petrol drivelines. German Tier One component major Bosch is developing “a brand new” common rail direct injection (CRDi) solution that will be compatible with the Tata Rs 1 lakh car.

That’s just the beginning. According to vendor sources, the Tata Rs 1 lakh car will be rear-engined (unlike most cars on Indian roads today which are front-engined ), four-door and four-seat . The strip down base variant will not offer air-conditioning or power steering, say sources. The prototype is ready and may world premiere at the Auto Expo next January. Like the Indica, the new car is being designed by Italy's Institute of Development in Automotive Engineering (IDEA). And like the Indica, it will come in a cute egg shape with the same kind of rear light arrangement as the group’s first passenger car. And yes, it will sport a…

Dame Qurratulain

Remembering Qurratulain Hyder, the grand dame of Urdu fiction. (1926 – 2007)

Pic : Wikipedia

Two swallows don't a summer make

Was Intel being racist with its recent controversial ad? I doubt it. Note the question. It asked if Intel was racist. If the question had been, ‘Was the Intel Ad racist’? The answer is ‘Yes’.

Why then did Intel risk its reputation with an Ad that could be construed not just as a racist ad but also risk Intel being branded racist. The answer is the same as the one to questions; Why did Ronen Sen make the ‘headless chicken comments?; Why did Mel Gibson rant against the Jews under the influence of alcohol?…

Momentary lapses into stupidity is not just the hallmark of human beings but also of organizations. After all, organizations are people. If people tend to be stupid at times, the same is applicable to organizations.

Intel has invited on itself, scorn, due to actions of people who habit its Marketing Communication department, who got it horribly wrong while collaborating with their Ad agency.

Note, there may be people at Intel who are racist just as there would be such people in any organi…

'Left In The Past'

Ronojoy Sen, in the TOI,

...The unbending hostility of the Indian Left towards the US is, however, anachronistic at a time when world politics has lost the certitudes of the Cold War era. The Left seems to have learnt nothing from events elsewhere. Even as China and Vietnam's trade and economic ties with the US keep increasing by leaps and bounds, the Left pretends to look the other way.

What distinguishes the Left's rhetoric is its remarkable lack of faith in the Indian people and the nation. How does it matter to them that every other family in India has at least one member in the US or someone packing his bags to go there? The leaders of the Left know how best to safeguard India's sovereignty - by keeping Indians away from the contamination of America...

Coded for Colour

A new study by scientists from Newcastle University gives substance to the old adage 'Pink for a girl, blue for a boy'. Evolution may have driven women's preference for pink, according to the published study.

The study, which is published in the latest issue of Current Biology, provides new scientific evidence in support of the long-held notion that men and women differ when it comes to their favourite colours. The study is the first to show that colour preference can be broken down into two elements: red-greenness and blue-yellowness. These are the biological mechanisms that underlie colour. Girls and boys differ in the emphasis they give to these two fundamental components.
In the test, young adult men and women were asked to select, as rapidly as possible, their preferred colour from each of a series of paired, coloured rectangles. While the test revealed that the universal favourite colour appears to be blue , the researchers found that females had a preference for the …

News on the Net

According to a study, entitled 'Creative Destruction: An Exploratory Look and News on the Internet', by Harvard's Shorenstein Centre on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, news audiences are ditching television and newspapers and using the Internet as their main source of information, in a trend that could eventually see the demise of local papers.

In the past year alone newspaper circulation has fallen by three per cent, broadcast news has lost a million viewers. Meanwhile, the numbers of people using the Internet as a news source have increased exponentially, in some cases. Traffic to websites that post news produced by a third source, including search engines and service providers, aggregators, such as or, which use software to monitor and post web content; and blogs, increased across the board between April 2006 and the same month in 2007.

Shiny Happy People

Shiny happy people laughing
Meet me in the crowd
People, people
Throw your love around
Love me, love me
Take it into town
Happy, happy
Put it in the ground
Where the flowers grow
Gold and silver shine
Shiny happy people holding hands
Shiny happy people holding hands
Shiny happy people laughing


According to an extensive survey which had more than 100 questions asked of 1,280 people ages 13-24, conducted by The Associated Press and MTV on the nature of happiness (what makes you happy?) among America's young people, it was found that 'spending time with family' was the top answer.

That sure must come as a relief to parents who would have had, drugs, booze...on their minds as probable answers.

Next was spending time with friends, followed by time with a significant other. And even better for parents: Nearly three-quarters of young people say their relationship with their parents makes them happy.

Other results are more disconcerting. While most yo…

20 reasons to bypass the brats...

From Times online : Corinne Maier, in the book, 'No Kid: 40 Reasons Not to Have Children'.

20 of them - Childbirth is torture
You will become a mobile feeding bottle
You will struggle to continue having fun yourself
You will lose touch with your friends
You will have to learn a language of idiots to communicate with your children
Your children will kill your desire
Children sound the death knell of the couple
Having children is conformist
Children are expensive
You will be duped into thinking that there is such a thing as a perfect child
You will inevitably be disappointed by your own child
You will be expected to be a mother before you are a professional and a woman
Families are a nightmare
Children will put the seal on your childhood dreams
You can’t stop yourself wanting complete happiness for your progeny
Staying at home to look after children is breathtakingly dull
You have to choose between motherhood and professional success
When a child appears, the father disappears

Quick & Flupke

From IE : While Tintin, the cutesy boy reporter, acquired iconic status, two trouble-making street urchins of Brussels were abandoned and their antics remained mostly unknown. But this November, in the birth centenary year of their creator Georges Remi, popular by his pen name Hergé, Quick and Flupke will be rolled out in a 12-volume series of comics for the first time - from India.

In fact, to start with, the series will be available only in India, which is known to have a phenomenal Hergé fan-following — the books will be priced Rs 199 each. The cartoon series is about two goofy boys who unintentionally cause trouble much to the annoyance of their parents and the police — it had a parallel run with Tintin in the Le PetitVingtième for nearly a decade.

Intel Outside !

Intel, the world's largest semiconductor company, was forced to apologise after a print ad circulated by the company around blog-land invited wrath from around the world over its racist connotation.The ad shows six black sprinters crouched in the start position in front of a white man wearing a shirt and chinos (khaki pants) in an office.

In a statement on its website on Friday, Intel said: "We made a bad mistake. I know why and how, but that simply doesn't make it better." It was intended that the advertisement "convey the performance capabilities of our processors through a number of visual metaphors", Don MacDonald, director of global marketing for the company, wrote.

Ad :

Organised Retail manpower requirements

ET reports : Organised retailing in India, which is set to grow to a $24 billion industry by 2010, will require 500,000 trained manpower to run hypermarkets, super stores and wholesale cash and carry facilities in major Indian cities, a national think-tank has said.

Proliferation of retail will require at least half a million trained people in the next three years, while supply chain management will become a strategic issue in the industry that will witness cut throat competition. The bulk of the workforce to be employed at the front-end and back-end operations of the retail stores would be picked up from economically lower strata of society.

According to a recent CRISIL study, the Indian organised retail industry is set to treble to 24 billion dollars in the next three years. While the government has not allowed foreign direct investment in retail, major domestic industrial houses like Reliance Industries, Future Group and the Rahejas are expanding their retail network. Besides, the Bh…

Baby's day out

A survey by researchers at the University of Washington, just published in The Journal of Pediatrics, has found that for every hour of baby-video viewing per day, children ages 8 to 16 months knew six to eight fewer words than those who watched no videos. Videos are indeed being shown in many households with young children. And yes, some parents mistakenly believe that the videos are going to ratchet up their children’s I.Q. But watching hours and hours of baby videos is not the norm.

Only 17 percent of 384 babies in the survey were put in front of videos for an hour or more each day. The average baby watched only about 9 minutes a day. Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests that the national average may be a bit higher — about 13 minutes a day. And babies’ total screen time, including television, DVDs and even computers, according to Kaiser, is higher still — about 49 minutes per day. But the alarming finding from the University of Washington survey applied only to baby video…

Junk food Junkie?...Mom's to blame

BBC News reports : Mothers who eat junk food during pregnancy may be condemning their children to crave the same diet, according to animal tests. Royal Veterinary College researchers found that when pregnant rats were fed a diet of biscuits, crisps and sweets, their babies ate more unhealthy food.

Scientists have already shown that, in humans, diet in early life can literally shape your future, setting your risk of obesity and heart disease. However, the latest research suggests that, in rats at least, eating too much of the wrong food while carrying a child could be potentially harmful.
However, a research nutritionist from the University of Sheffield, said that in the absence of strong evidence that the same effect was present in humans, it would be wrong to make women feel guilty about eating some unhealthy snacks during pregnancy.

All that glitters is Gold

In India, Gold is not just used as jewellery but is also considered a safe investment. The appetite for gold is so strong that almost half of what all the mines in the world produced during a quarter is bought by Indians. TOI reports that global demand for gold, which hit an-all time high during April-June quarter, was driven by Indians. They bought 317 tonne or 3.17 lakh kg of this much-sought-after metal.

During last quarter, a strong currency leading to a fall in gold prices in rupee terms, a booming economy putting more money in buyers' hands and a successful festival season - all combined to a 91% rise in demand for the yellow metal in India, the latest report by World Gold Council (WGC) noted.
The report also pointed out some emerging trends in India, the single-largest market for gold. It is not only the demand for gold jewellery that pushed total demand. WGC data showed that Indians are lapping up gold even as an investment option. During the quarter under consideration, in…

60 Years of Independence

"Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity."

Listen to Pt. Nehru's addresshere.

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Russian Pepsi reports : PepsiCo Inc., the world's number two soft drinks maker, is in talks to buy Russia's top juice maker Lebedyansky, which is being auctioned, people familiar with the matter said on Monday. Russian business daily Kommersant said PepsiCo had agreed to buy over 76 percent of Lebedyansky for $1.5-$2 billion. The sources would not confirm terms.

PepsiCo, like rival Coca-Cola Co., is focusing on emerging markets to help offset weakness at home, where people are choosing healthier drinks like bottled waters and teas over traditional soft drinks. PepsiCo controls around a fifth of the Russian soft drinks market and around a third of potato chip sales, but currently controls just 2 percent of the Russian juice market through the Tropicana brand. CocaCola controls over a fifth of the Russian juice sector after the $530 million purchase of producer Multon in 2005.
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Retail roadblocks in India

Its not the easiest of things for retailers to set up shop in India. The 3 major roadblocks they face ?

One, An underdeveloped supply chain, lack of a strong cold chain, poor warehousing facilities and storage are areas of concern, especially for perishable goods. So, retail chains in India have to start from scratch. Typically, in the more organised markets, retailers prefer to outsource the supply chain to specialised companies. However, in case of India, they will have to develop the entire infrastructure on their own.

Two, The high real estate cost, which shows no sign of stabilising. In the developed economies, a hypermarket spends less than 5% of its revenue in real estate. Conversely, in India, a one-lakh sq. ft. hypermarket in the NCR (National Capital Region) would end up paying 10-12 % of its revenue on real estate costs alone. In case of smaller formats, the spend on real estate is as high as 25-30 %. The industry believes that the present real estate costs are a result of ar…

Adam vs. Eve

Gina Kolata in the NY Times : EVERYONE knows men are promiscuous by nature. It’s part of the genetic strategy that evolved to help men spread their genes far and wide. The strategy is different for a woman, who has to go through so much just to have a baby and then nurture it. She is genetically programmed to want just one man who will stick with her and help raise their children.
Surveys bear this out. In study after study and in country after country, men report more, often many more, sexual partners than women.
One survey, recently reported by the federal government, concluded that men had a median of seven female sex partners. Women had a median of four male sex partners. Another study, by British researchers, stated that men had 12.7 heterosexual partners in their lifetimes and women had 6.5.
But there is just one problem, mathematicians say. It is logically impossible for heterosexual men to have more partners on average than heterosexual women. Those survey results cannot be corre…

Sixty Years....

VinodMehta, 'Sixty Years of Latitude';

.....The advance publicity to the run-up to Wednesday, August 15, unfortunately, relies too heavily on self-congratulation and self-promotion. I would have preferred to see a little breast-beating and honest reassessment.The backslapping, let me quickly add, is not entirely unwarranted.

In the past 10 years, India's tentative steps into the brave, new world of economic reform and globalisation have yielded handsome results. All the talk of attaining "economic superpower" status may be premature and pompous but the boost to the country's self-confidence and self-esteem (best summed up in that awful phrase: "India can do it") means the middle-class native can roam the world head held up high, even though it may still be necessary to line up like the shivering Boat People at international airports. Happily, we have crossed the glass half-full or half-empty stage, our march forward is no longer a matter of perspectiv…

How free are we?

'Hungry Tidings', featured in the Outlook Magazine

Irritating success

Why does an album that features a song voted 'the most irritating song' sell 11 million copies? In fact, the album was announced as the new century’s most successful album by a British artist.
The album? 'Back to Bedlam', the artist, James Blunt. An article in the Times, tries to answer two questions. 'How – or, perhaps, why – did James Blunt become such a success? And what has this success done to him?'
Lets look at the first question. James Blunt describes songwriting as an 'emotional outlet, where he says, to strangers what he feels; He can’t express it in conversation, but he expresses it through this magical medium of music,’ and they respond, that’s just how they feel too. That's why they buy his albums. No prizes for guessing what the ones who didn't buy felt.
Now this is a lesson marketeers can learn while marketing 'creative outputs'. That is, they can't follow a staid standardised formula to churn out an output that would then be …

Footballer's Cars

Soccer elite's 10 most popular drives :
BMW X5 (£47,525)Range Rover Sport (£57,495)Mercedes McLaren SLR (£313,465)Aston Martin Vanquish (£166,000)Aston Martin DB9 (£103,000)Bentley Continental (£110,000)Aston Martin DB7 (£104,500)Porsche 911 (GT3 £72,750)Ferrari 360 (Around £80,000)Ford Ka (Around £4,425)Story / Pic :

Funny is good; but not if you are a lady :)

Mike Huckabee, the Arkansas republican giving his shot at the American presidency came in second in a straw poll reportedly due to his funny crack that went down well with the republicans.

NY Times reports : “I can’t buy you — I don’t have the money,” Mike Huckabee, the Arkansas Republican seeking the presidency, told Republicans at the Iowa Straw Poll this weekend. He offered a mock frown. “I can’t even rent you,” he said. The crowd, which had been rustling, burst into warm laughter at a pointed joke intended to remind them of Mr. Huckabee’s earnest underdog campaign. Five hours later, the voters rewarded him with 2,587 votes and a second-place finish in the poll — surprising, it would seem. Men, it seems score well with humour. But then what about women who store an arsenal of wisecracks? They frighten men away :). Research published some time ago in a leading academic journal confirms what many female comics - and funny women - have long suspected: men are frightened by their brand…

Quick & Casual dining

'Keep it simple, Keep it quick', seems to be the mantra that indigenous Food and Beverage outlet chains are latching on to, in India.

The reason behind the success of providing value for money quick meals is simple. That's what the mass consumer wants. Most sit downs are pricey in India and that dissuades the middle and lower middle class from frequenting them. In fact eating out in such pricey places is a rare indulgence practiced maybe just once a week or even less.
But now, most food and beverage outlet chains are introducing 'value of money' meals expecting footfalls to increase as a result. There's a strong possibility they will. The idea is to get people gorging on street fare to sample the fare available at a branded food and beverage outlet without it burning a hole in their pockets. Nirula’s, the Delhi fast food chain founded in 1934, has embarked on a national expansion plan to bring its menu of curries, pizzas, and mutton and veggieburgers to other ci…

TOI Editorial : Barbarians At Work

The attack on Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen at a book-release function in Hyderabad is best described as barbaric. The assault makes a mockery of the liberal and secular values enshrined in the Indian Constitution and is an insult to all Indians who abide by it. What makes it worse is the fact that members of the Andhra Pradesh assembly led the attack. Those who are supposed to be custodians of law turned savages, attacking the author with chairs, flowerpots, books and anything else they could lay hands on. It's ironic that the attack, orchestrated to muzzle Nasreen's voice, took place in the Press Club...

...That legislators broke the law they are meant to keep is disturbing enough. But their defence of the incident gives more cause for concern. Akbaruddin Owaisi, an MIM MLA, is reported to have said "We are not bothered about our MLA status. We are Muslims first. And it's our responsibility to test those who have said anything against Islam in whichever way poss…

Controversial recall

The BB blog had an earlier post about 'controversial' ads that had been banned by the government. BS conducted a short survey to see the effect of these controversial ads on brand recall and on top line sales. They found that nine out of ten people responded, “Oh, the brand with that woman washing a man’s undies?”

That meant that all the controversies surrounding the ads and commercials did help recall. But in the long run did such controversies help? BS wanted to know.

What did the experts say? Most of them felt that in the long run if Ads turn out to be offensive they harm the brand.

What do I think?

Its not as simple as that. The reality is that public memory is absolutely short. One controversy is replaced with another. What's important to note is that most people exposed to ads or commercials forget what they have seen unless the message they have been exposed to is reinforced through repeated exposures.

No repeated exposure. No memory. So a brand that has faltered with an…

Popular Anonymity

If its popularity you seek, its better to be anonymous than to be known. The less people know of you, the more they want to know. Once they know, they are bored. 'Cos you turn out to be just another man, as vulnerable and frail as the next.

Reminds me of a Louis L'amour novel, where the cowboy is asked why he leaves the woman after a whirlwind romance and rides into the sunset. His answer, If I spend my life with her, she would know me as just another cowboy, who puts on his trouser legs one at a time, who wakes up looking like a rag.....But if I ride away, she would always remember me as the dashing cowboy who got her heart to skip and dance...
At last, someone has cracked one of the technology world's biggest mysteries — the identity of Fake Steve, a sharp-tongued blogger who had tech aficionados in stitches with a satiric diary purporting to be from Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Brad Stone of the Times outed Dan Lyons, a technology editor at Forbes, as the author of "The Sec…

Brands. vs. Non-brands

My previous post was about the power of brands. But then, are there cases where brands fail to entice a consumer into making an actual purchase?

Sure, there are. Take the PC markets in India. The Indian PC market crossed 5 million units last year. A growth of 25 per cent year-on-year in unit shipments over the previous year. In India competition is rife between branded PCs and assembled ones. Assembled machines are for the moment doing much better than the branded ones.

According to IDC, a markets analyst firm, the share of assembled desktops, also known as ‘white box’, shipments has declined from 41 per cent in the third quarter of calendar year (CY) 2005 to 32.7 per cent in the first quarter of CY 2007. However, the dip in the numbers has to be co-related to the fact that the desktop PC market has had a flat growth for two years. Though the year-on-year growth of the assembled PC has been flat, it has not lost its market share of close to 40 per cent of the over all desktop PC in Indi…

Brand Power

Would an adult buy a can of Coke sans the familiar red and white markings and the logo? Again, would it taste the same, should the buyer drink it, if it came off the same unmarked can?

My bet is, NO, in both cases.

Interbrand - Businessweek Global brand survey puts Coca Cola right at the top, valuing the brand at $65,324 million. McDonalds, ranked No. 9 is valued at $29,398 million. According to William Dillon, associate dean for academic affairs and Herman W. Lay Professor of Marketing and Statistics in SMU'sCox School of Business, Coca Cola's greatest success comes from selling its brand. In fact Prof. Dillon's work in branding demonstrates that a consumer will pay extra for a cup of Starbucks coffee simply because it's Starbucks, and not because the product is intrinsically better. On the other hand, if consumers believe that Starbucks uses a higher-quality bean, or that its brewing methods produce a better-tasting coffee, their choices are based on the product effect…

Pace of Life

Prof Richard Wiseman, author of Quirkology, has announced the results of an international study in collaboration with the British Council to measure the speed of life. The experiment was conducted by British Council researchers who secretly timed thousands of pedestrians’ speed of walking in city centres across the globe, including London, Madrid, Singapore, and New York.

A study carried out in the early 1990s demonstrated that pedestrians’ speed of walking provides a reliable measure of the pace of life in a city, and that people in fast-moving cities are less likely to help others and have higher rates of coronary heart disease. Using identical methods to those employed in the previous work, the present day research teams discovered that the pace of life is now 10% faster than in the early 1990s. The biggest changes were found in the Far East, with the pace of life in Guangzhou (China) increasing by over 20%, and Singapore showing a 30% increase, resulting in it becoming the fastest …

Gulity Pleasures

A new survey in Britain reveals just how much women spend on 'secret wardrobes' their husbands know nothing about.
Research by Debenhams has uncovered the fact that British women own £1.4 billion worth of clothes they feel guilty about and the purchase of which their husbands or partners know nothing. Only around one in five of my new purchases is officially presented - usually the genuine bargains. The rest are gradually assimilated into the secret wardrobe. Other women apply different strategies, including the pretence that they've owned the new clothes for years - "since before we were married, darling".
According to Debenhams, 17 per cent of Britons pretend to their spouses they've owned new clothes for years. Some adopt a high-risk strategy - high risk for the clothes - of putting the new purchases straight into the wash to age them instantly.

So why the guilt? Women pull their weight financially, so if they chuck their disposable income at leather accesso…

Business thugs

The BB blog had an earlier post on banks using bullies to recover credit card payments from consumers, titled, 'Credit card bullies'.

In spite of a Supreme Court ruling against using thugs, banks don't seem to be falling in line. The latest is a case of a harassed consumer being driven to suicide. TOI reports that a transporter was driven to suicide on Sunday after loan recovery agents of State Bank of India allegedly abused and threatened him at work, in public and finally in front of his family because he had missed just two loan repayment installments.

Forty-year-old Manabendra Mondol was found hanging in the very garage where he dreamt of setting up his own transport business. The Belgachia resident had taken a Rs 11-lakh loan from SBI's Shalimar branch to buy a new truck and had made all his payments on time — but for the last two. His family members allege that the bank's "security staff" threatened him thrice in the last week and even tried to force …

Farmers reap as organised retail blossoms

For all those concerned about the 'impact' of large format retailers in India, spare a thought to what's happened and what may happen to the farmer. Competition between Reliance Retail and Kelloggs has raised the 'farmer's produce's realisation' in the process. Most big time retailers source directly from the farmer. Now these firms are slugging it out to have their hold on the farmers' produce by offering to pay more.
ET reports that while Reliance Retail has already initiated a price war in direct sourcing of wheat from farmers in Madhya Pradesh, it is expected to start the process in 2-3 more states later this month. Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are reported to be on its radar for wheat. Though the price being offered by the company could not be confirmed, sources say that to counter Reliance’s bid, Kellogg’s has doubled the offer to farmers to an incredible Rs 2,700 per quintal in Madhya Pradesh. This is more than three times the official minimum suppo…

'Crappy' facts

The average person spends 3 years of their life on the toilet.Only 30% of people in the world use toilet paper.The average person visits the toilet 3,000 times a year - about 8 times a day.'Krapp' is a Swedish brand of toilet paper.World Toilet Day takes place on 19 November each year.40% of the world's population has no access to toilets.World Toilet Organization has set up a World Toilet College in Singapore.Toilets in homes were first made compulsory in 1519 by the provincial government of Normandy in France.The first separate toilets for men and women was at a party in Paris in 1739.The first Public Toilet was constructed in Paris, France, in 1824.Toilet paper was first made for the Chinese emperor in 1391. The British Perforated Paper Company first produced toilet paper in Great Britain in 1880.Americans use an average of 69 sheets of toilet paper a day. If they go 8 times a day, that's over 25,000 sheets a year!If stranded on a desert island what "necessity&…

Green..? Better flush that toilet away...

A study conducted by Maj-Britt Quitzau, an environmental sociologist with the National Environmental Research Institute of Denmark suggested that the Western World's dependence on flush toilets could be its environmental downfall.

Toilets that use less water, such as the "squat toilet" in which one squats over a hole in the ground, are prevalent in parts of Asia, Europe and Africa are more environment friendly. The study also suggests that after decades of flushing, it will take radical innovations for the mainstream West to adopt any new system.
Scientists have long known that flushing away human waste comes with environmental consequences, such as using precious, potable water. Each year, a typical person will use almost 4,000 gallons of drinking water to flush away 75 pounds of feces and 130 gallons of urine, according to a 2001 study by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. While drinking-water shortages plague millions in such places as India and …

War and Brands

As long as consumers aspire, brands will live n thrive, and marketers can breathe easy.

Now is that forever? Dunno. Sure, the 'filthy rich gurus' can extol the virtues of renunciation, of throttling the vice grip that desires have on our lives. But then, can desires and aspirations ever be culled? In fact the desire not to have desires is desire itself. Isn't it?

Truth be told, the desire of brands thrive even during the most chaotic times. Take the Iraqis for instance, many Iraqis today have developed a taste for American-brand products, which were banned under Saddam Hussein and these brands are becoming increasingly popular. Rice, salt and canned goods are among the most popular American products at the Al-Ameer market as American items have a great reputation and quality. Iraqis want them in the markets because they are bored with Syrian, Jordanian and Iranian items.

Iraqis feel comfortable buying products from well-known companies because they trust that the items are hi…