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Showing posts from September, 2007

Indian Trade Unions

From IE : The BJP-affiliated BMS and the Congress’sINTUC remain the top two unions in the country. CPM'sCITU which was at the third spot now has been taken over by CPI’s AITUC, which increased its membership by over 24 lakh since 1989. The Hind MazdoorSabha (HMS) remains fourth largest, but is closer than ever to the third position.

CITU slips to the 5th position as has lost more than 82 per cent of its members in large states such as Punjab and Bihar, it’s losing its turf to other unions even in West Bengal. CITU had 8.70 lakh members out of 27 lakh workers in the state in 1989; now it has 11.27 lakh out of the 43.65 lakh workers. UTUC (LS) had 3.58 lakh members in 1989, but now has 10.66 lakh.

Retail backlash in India

Its truly worrisome when Retail chains like Reliance Retail face the ire of politicians and traders in various parts of the country. What's at the stake is the freedom for businesses to operate in a liberalised scenario that has been welcomed by all quarters, especially consumers. Yes, the communists and those that are afraid that their days of monopolistic business hegemony (read, traders) are over, will protest. But then, what else can your ever expect from the likes of the communists?

HT reports that, peeved by the treatment meted out to its retail venture by UttarPradesh and Orissa governments, Reliance Industries is understood to be shelving its estimated Rs 13,000 crore roll out plans in the two states, putting at least 10,000 jobs at stake.

Reliance Retail had planned to invest around Rs 8,000-Rs 10,000 crore in UttarPradesh for retail operation, including about 200 'Reliance Fresh' stores in three years as also the back-end logistic chain. However, in the wake of st…

Tiger vs. Dragon, Doing Business 2008

The World Bank has ranked China way ahead of India in doing business but South Asian economic giant has done better than its neighbours on six of the eleven counts, including access to credit, attracting investors and dealing with licences. In its report, Doing Business 2008, the World Bank has ranked China at 83rd whereas India occupied the 120th place. However, India's score is better than China in terms of starting a business (111th versus 135th), dealing with licences (134th vs 135th), getting credit (36th vs 84th), employing workers (85th vs 86th), protecting investors (33rd vs 83rd) and paying taxes (165th vs 168th). India is below China in registering property (112th vs 29th), enforcing contracts (127th vs 20th), closing business (137th vs 57th) and trading across borders (79th vs 42nd).

Comparisons among cities within a country are even stronger drivers of reform. The time to obtain a business license in India ranges from 159 days in Bhubaneshwar to 522 in Ranchi. The time …

Permission Marketing

Permission Marketing is anticipated, personal and relevant.

Anticipated - People look forward to hearing from the marketer.
Personal - Messages are directly related to the individual.
Relevant - The marketing is about something the prospect is interested in.

Five steps to 'dating' your Customer-
Offer the prospect an incentive to volunteer.Using the attention offered by the prospect, offer a curriculum over time, teaching the consumer about your product or service.Reinforce the incentive to guarantee that the prospect maintains the permission.Offer additional incentives to get even more permission from the consumer.Over time, leverage the permission to change consumer behaviour toward profits.Source : Permission Marketing, Seth Godin

Democracy, Nirvana, in Burma

...The vocation of the Buddhist Order is certainly other-worldly. But in their role as citizens, their agenda is unequivocal: democracy. A protesting monk poignantly summed it up: “I’d rather have democracy for our people than nirvana for myself.” For the monks, democracy will mean the right to change the rulers peacefully and to improve the economic conditions of the people....

MaungZarni, writing on Timesonline. Read the complete article here.

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The Erotic History of Advertising

One thing is certain: fragrance marketers play to people's fantasies. A study in 1970 conducted by marketing analyst Suzanne Grayson revealed that sex was the central positioning strategy for 49 percent of the fragrances on the market. The second highest positioning strategy was outdoor/sports at 14 percent. In Grayson's analysis, sexual themes ranged from raw sex to romance with the fragrance positioned as an aphrodisiac-an aromatic potion that evoked intimate feelings or provoked behavioral expression of those feelings. According to Richard Roth, an account executive for Prince Matchabelli, "Fragrance will always be sold with a desirability motif." Roth's prediction, made in 1980, proved accurate as desirability, attraction, and passion remained central themes in fragrance positioning through today. What did change, however, was the content and expression of the desire motif over time. For one, as the Paco Rabanne repartee demonstrates, women became equal partn…

Interruption Marketing

There are two typical responses to interruptions posed by marketer driven media messages. One, in most cases, is to ignore, and the second is to be irritated by the interruption which may even lead to anger. In India, the second possibility is generally seen during cricket matches where, when the last ball of an over is bowled, without waiting for a replay the transmission cuts to a commercial.

Interruptions are never effective. Permissions ensure greater receptivity to the message. The number of marketer driven media messages that consumers are subject to, are on the rise in India.

Tim Manners writing in the FC magazine, says, 'As a marketer: network. Help people. Advise. Create value and add to the conversation.

Nobody has really figured out how to do that yet. But it's worth considering the possibility that smart marketers won't even attempt to be part of the conversation, much less interrupt it. It could be that the real marketing potential of online social networks is li…

Drink your sorrows away? Fat chance!

Research suggests drinking in moderation may increase the ability to remember, whilst "drinking to forget" may make things worse.

Studies at The University of Auckland have shown that moderate levels of alcohol consumption, equivalent to a glass or two of wine a day, can enhance memory. In contrast, high levels of alcohol decrease the ability of new brain cells to develop and mature, and cause an impairment of memory except at times of heightened emotion, when memory is increased. Results of the study are published in this week’s Journal of Neuroscience.
The study also identified the mechanism by which low dose alcohol improves memory. A very important brain receptor, called NMDA receptor, appears required for this process. When rats that did not produce sufficient NMDA receptors were given alcohol, memory improvements were not observed. On the other hand, rats with increased numbers of NMDA receptors mimicked effects of low dose alcohol. Cartoon :

Top 100 Academic Blogs

Buyer Behaviour has now been listed by as among the 'Top 100 Academic Blogs Every Professional Investor Should Read'.

Check this listing here.

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State of Hockey

LIMOW has articulated exactly what I intended to say. As the euphoria over India's win in the T20 world cup dies down, spare a thought for cricket's poor cousin, hockey. The Indian hockey team did the country proud by winning the Asia Cup thrashing the Koreans, 7-2. In spite of this creditable feat, there were no recognitions forthcoming.

A CCN-IBN news discussion last night touched upon this step motherly treatment that hockey gets. What got my goat going is the decision on the part of Hockey Federation to award Rs.1000 for every goal scored on the field and deduct Rs.2000 for every goal conceded! Disgusting! Even more so when compared to what Yuvraj got for the six sixers. A crore of rupees and a Porsche 911. What's pathetic is to listen to someone like KPS Gill defending the measly 50,000 rupees doled out to hockey players by saying that the amount was quite a sum. Wonder what a policeman's doing, running hockey.

Its sad to the see the state of neglect that Hockey has…

Kamasutra Country

The Durex ‘Sexual Wellbeing Global Survey’ has shown that almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of Indians surveyed are comfortable with telling their partners what they like in bed way above the global average of 58 per cent and the UK with just 49 per cent.

The survey further points out that two-third of Indians (68 per cent) think their love lives are exciting, a sharp contrast with 38 per cent for English lovers and 36 per cent for famed lovers in France. Moreover, 63 per cent of Indians say they have enough variety, compared with 47 per cent in the UK and just 9 per cent in Japan.

The future of Twenty-20

Everyone's talking 20-20. Is T20 here to stay?

Purists scoff at the rising popularity of this format of the game. That's 'cos the purists make exactly same mistake that marketers sometimes make. In marketing lingo, the mistake is termed 'Marketing Myopia'. The inability to look beyond the present and see opportunities of the future. The simple reason why marketers fall into this trap is their obsession with their own products and services, refusing to look beyond, at what consumers may really want. They forget that its never about their products or services but about consumers' needs and wants and the solution to those needs and wants.

The same is the case with the purists. Their refusal to look at what cricket viewers want is why they scoff at T20. To the millions of viewers in India, T20 offers greater excitement and lesser boredom. Imagine spending close to a whole day watching a game. But, that is not to say that Test or One-day cricket will ever fade away. T…

Growing clout of Retailers

Naveen's comments on my post on Sales Promotion raises an important issue that pertains to 'the growing clout' of organised retailers. It has indeed become difficult for manufacturers to get away from offering trade discounts and consumer oriented promotions, as these are demanded by organised retailers who know that their bulk orders make up a significant part of the the manufacturer's turnover.

The case of Frito Lays and its exit from Big Bazaar and Food Bazaar due to it not toeing the retailer's line demonstrates the dilemma faced by FMCG companies. Discounted selling does erode Brand Equity and this is not something manufacturers would want.

This battle between manufacturers and retailers is only going to get sharper in the coming future. The one to benefit is the consumer.

More power to the consumer!

Sales Promotion Boom in Retail Stores

As India sees a Retail wave (Organised retail, which is 3% of the whole currently, is pegged to grow to $64 billion by 2015), within the Retail chains springing up around the country, we will witness a Sales Promotion boom. More of advertising money is now going to be channelled into sales promotion. There are very strong signs around that point to the fact that this is already happening. Most supermarket shelves are abuzz with promos inducing consumers to buy the brand with the promo. Categories include, soaps and detergents, juices and beverages, biscuits and confectionery and their like. Most shoppers too hunt for bargains on supermarket shelves.

The reasons for Sales Promotions to rule the roost are -
The growing power of retailers
Declining brand loyalty
Increased promotional sensitivity among buyers (saves money)
Brand proliferation/commoditisation of brands
Fragmentation of consumer markets (mass media based advertising is ineffective)
Short Term focus of Marketing on immediate sales…

Desi Luxury - Indians prefer local Luxury Brands

A new survey at the Time Magazine has shown that when it come to Luxury, Indians prefer desi brands.

Three of the six most often mentioned luxury brands in India are local and cater primarily to men. Survey respondents who were asked to name the most familiar brands off the top of their head listed menswear labels—which can be explained by the fact that the majority of Indian women wear traditional saris. As foreign brands go, Swiss watchmakers have made the deepest inroads into this market, and only one foreign fashion label—Gucci—made the Top 10.

With so many Indian consumers still opting for the traditional sari, it's not surprising that menswear would be the fashion category leading the subcontinent into the world of luxury. There are other factors, like the climate, that explain the popularity of menswear brands like Louis Philippe and Crocodile. In India, shirts are considered outerwear, and these two brands are well-known shirtmakers. Other high-scoring local brands such as P…

Internet Branding

The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding (Al & LauraRies) :

1. The Law of Either/Or - The Internet can be a business or a medium, but not both.
2. The Law of Interactivity - Without it, your Website and your brand will go nowhere.
3. The Law of the Common Name - The kiss of death for an Internet brand is a common name.
4. The Law of The Proper Name - Your name stands alone on the Internet, so you'd better have a good one.
5. The Law of Singularity - You should avoid at all costs being second in your category.
6. The Law of Advertising - Advertising off the Net will be a lot bigger than advertising on the Net.
7. The Law of Globalism - The Internet will demolish all barriers, all boundaries, all borders.
8. The Law of Time - Just do it. You have to be fast. You have to be first. You have to be focused.
9. The Law of Vanity - The biggest mistake of all is believing you can do everything.
10. The Law of Divergence - Everyone talks about convergence, while just the opposite is happening.

Remember Burma

Pray for the Burmese democracy movement. Read the story on Burma's largest anti-government protest in nearly two decades here.

Pic/Story :

'Boss' touches the 100 mark

Yahoo News : The Rajnikanthstarrer blockbuster Sivaji - The Boss which released in June this year, had a dream opening. Theatres ran into packed houses even a month after the release of Sivaji.

And now the film has hit the 100-day mark. With 800 prints released worldwide Sivaji has set the record for completing 100 days in the most number of theatres ever – 105. It released in about 800 theatres globally. Now there's information that in South Africa two theatres are running to 100 days.

Sivaji is not only high on records but its also 'The Boss' when it come to entertaining the audiences.

Lessons from a Car shopping experience

Why is it not surprising that across the world, customers go through similar experiences while dealing with organisations (the people within) that sell products or services? Most of our experiences are far from satisfactory. What's truly shocking is when the product or service in question is among the biggest brands around the world. True, there are shopping experiences that leave us delighted. But they are few and far in between.

As the experience you are about read shows, trying to collect data, analyse it so as to achieve customer relationships actually leaves sour tastes in the mouths of most consumers. Why is it so difficult for firms to understand that its not about data analytics or database marketing, that its about man to man experiences that customers have while dealing with various personnel of a firm, from the greeting at the door to the sales pitch to the after sales service response?
Don't blame you, guess, its truly baffling!
Sample Brian's experience (from the…

Buying 'cheap' wine

From NY Times : For most consumers, wine-buying is an emotional issue. The restaurant industry has a longstanding belief that the lowest-priced wine on the list will never sell. Nobody wants to be seen as cheap. But the second-lowest-priced wine, that’s the one people will gobble up.

Buying retail is a slightly different experience. Most people don’t feel as if their retail purchases are windows into their ignorant, miserly souls, the way they do in restaurants, and so are less inhibited. Still, rationality doesn’t often enter into buying decisions. For some, money is meaningless, whether that’s true because of huge credit lines, daddy’s millions or success in business. These people will buy whatever is most expensive. Others, in a vinous form of anti-intellectualism, insist that no wine can be worth more than — pick your figure — and that only dupes will spend more.
Whichever the case, the issue of value — the ratio of quality to price — rarely enters into it.
Wines with the small Price…

Five faces of Femina

From Agencyfaqs : The magazine, Femina, for the first time in its history, has come up with five covers for one issue (dated October 10, 2007).

This effort has been undertaken with the business objective of pushing up sales, as more covers means more shelf space on retailer’s outlets, as well as on newsstands. PoS activities and prominent displays at cash counters in outlets such as Landmark and Crossword are also being leveraged.

Nothing funny 'bout 'Bingo'

Since its launch a few months ago, the snack from ITC stable, Bingo, has had a good run. Some reports seem to suggest that Pepsi's Frito Lays bore the brunt of Bingo's release in the market, with market share plummeting from 60 to 45%.

The latest Bingo commercial to hit Indian TV screens tries to convey the 'crispy' characteristic of the chip using humour. Sadly the effort results in more of nausea than laughter. Over the years, Brands have tried to use 'humour' in their communiques to catch the attention of the consumer. Humour can put consumers in a positive mood, increasing their liking of the Ad itself and their feelingtowardthe product or service. Humour can also distract the receiver from counter arguing against themessage.

But if not handle well, the humourous communique can fall fat and prove to be totally ineffective. Research shows that, Humour may harm recall and comprehension in generalHumour does not aid in persuasion in generalHumour does not aid so…

Scouting Report 2007 - Best places never heard of

Price Discrimination

Price Discrimination occurs when a firm charges different price to different groups of consumers for the same product or service, for reasons not associated with costs. The conditions required for price discrimination to work are -

a. Difference in price elasticity of demand between markets
b. Barriers to prevent consumers from switching from one supplier to another

Apple, Universal and Sony BMG are now fighting to stave off charges of price discrimination. Apple, the American electronics group, and the music companies Universal and Sony BMG will defend themselves today against claims by the European Commission that iTunes’ pricing across Europe disadvantages British consumers.

At issue is the pricing of songs on iTunes. Consumers in Britain pay 79p, but customers in the eurozone pay 99 cents, the equivalent of 54.8p. The Apple online stores do not allow Europeans to shop at stores in other countries, meaning that British customers are forced to pay more.

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Food n' Wine from Down Under

Indians have always admired the way the Aussies play their cricket with guts. The admiration for cricket is now extending to Aussie food and wine. ET reports that, from cookies to red wine, the rising economies of India and China are feasting on Australian fine food and wine. Food and beverages exports to India rose from A$115 million in 1997-98 to A$201 million in 2006-07.

As far as wines go, South Australia's Bleasdale Wines has reportedly predicted that India will one day be its largest wine market. Australian companies like Gloria Jeans and Cookie Man are doing well in Indian retail markets through franchising arrangements. Australian exports to India increased 37 percent in 2006-07 as against 22 percent in 2005-06. In the past five years, Australian exports have increased at an average annual rate of 41 percent. Australian merchandise exports to India are worth AU$10.1 billion.
Wine :

Smell and the nose of the beholder

MSNBC : When it comes to a man’s body odor, the fragrance — or stench — is in the nose of the beholder, according to U.S. researchers who suggest a single gene may determine how people perceive body odor.

The study, published online on Sunday in the journal Nature, helps explain why the same sweaty man can smell like vanilla to some, like urine to others and for about a third of adults, have no smell at all.

Researchers focused on the chemical androstenone, which is created when the body breaks down the male sex hormone testosterone. Androstenone is in the sweat of men and women, but it is more highly concentrated in men. How one perceives its smell appears to have a lot to do with variations in one odor receptor gene called OR7D4.

Read the complete story here.

Numbers for numbing prices

Today's HT : If flamboyance is understood anywhere, it surely is in Punjab. If one businessman in Ludhiana flaunted his Rs 1.55 million-(Rs 15.5 lakh)-worth mobile number, there are now at least 100 others who will tell you that they bought their mobile numbers for anything between Rs 100,000 and Rs 1 million.

The craze among prosperous Punjabis to own such fancy or VIP numbers is actually sending mobile companies laughing all the way to the banks.
The state-owned BharatSancharNigam Ltd (BSNL) is the latest mobile company to get richer by nearly Rs 10 mn this week by letting number-crazy people bid for such fancy numbers. So a number like 9864000005 went for a whopping Rs 900,000 to a successful bidder. The mobile numbers 9864000018 and 9864000001 went for Rs 850,000 and Rs 750,000 respectively.
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Fear Appeals and Social responses

The Karnataka Government's communication campaign to spread awareness on wearing seat belts and not using the Mobile Phone while driving is laudable. The number of accidents on Indian roads are on the rise. Road rage is too.

For a social awareness campaign that uses 'fear appeal' to work, it must take into consideration four cognitive appraisal processes (Protection Motivation Model) that mediate an individual's response to the threat; ie., the individual's appraisal of ,

a. information available regarding severity of perceived threat
b. perceived probability that the threat will occur
c. perceived ability of a coping behaviour to remove the threat
d. perceived ability to carry out the coping behaviour.

Poster :

'Mash'ed In

Yahoo's on the social networking bandwagon with Y!Mash.

Saul Hansell in the NY Times profiles Y!Mash; The site, which began an invitation only preview Friday, is quite an homage to Facebook, but it adds one significant new wrinkle: users can edit each other’s profiles, redecorating, changing information, and adding features. Think the Wikipedia version of a social network.
Read Brian Solis' take on Mash, here.
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Brand's Core benefits for consumers

What is the core benefit that a brand delivers to consumers?

The core benefits that brands can deliver are either functional or emotional in nature. For Mass consumer brands, the benefit is functional. Can marketers club emotional benefits too with functional ones and deliver this added value to mass consumer segments? Sure, they can, but if the added emotional benefit comes at a greater cost to the consumer, and if the consumers were unwilling to pay for this added benefit, it would be smarter for the marketer to drop this added emotional benefit and concentrate on providing greater functional value at no added cost to the consumer.
When it comes to Niche brands, value perceptions are solely driven by emotional benefits. The functional benefits are a taken, they are by default assumed. Differentiating the niche brand in a way it is perceived as unique may be crucial to its success. The subsequent increased costs would not too much of a problem for the target consumer segment.
Pic : www.…

Cool Brands 2007

CoolBrands – the brainchild of international organisation Superbrands – has revealed Aston Martin to be the UK’s coolest brand – beating off stiff online competition from YouTube, Google and eBay to take first place.

Cool Brands 2007

1. Aston Martin
2. iPod
3. YouTube
4. Bang and Olufsen
5. Google
6. Playstation
7. Apple
8. Agent Provocateur
9. Nintendo
10. Virgin Atlantic
11. Ferrari
12. Ducati
13. eBay
14. Rolex
15. Tate Modern
16. Prada
17. Lamborghini
18. Green & Black's
19. iTunes
20. Amazon

Search Engines & Perceptions

Hasta's note on Guruji, the Indian Search Engine pointed out how Guruji aims at being the best when it comes to India centric searches.
Of course, that's truly a possibility. But what still needs to be noted is the power of perceptions that dictate purchase or use, maybe not in all cases, but surely for the first purchase/use.
All first purchase/use is based on perceptions. No consumer ever knows for sure what value would he/she would get on consumption or usage. The same applies to Search engines too. Perceptions about 'relevant quality searches' are for the moment loaded heavily in Google's favour. These perceptions have partly been built by the fact that Google returns maximum number of results and takes minimal time. This may not be relevant to user as Hasta pointed out, but still is potent enough to drive perceptions about Google's supremacy.
As the risk of usage of a new search engine is non existent for any user, Guruji would be tried by users when it come…

Where's the pulp, Where's the consumer?

The now running communication campaign by Coke’s Orange pulpy, ‘Where’s the pulp’ is modeled after the successful Wendy campaign, ‘Where’s the beef?’

Though similar in nature, in reality, the differences are stark. Wendy’s campaign focused on letting the consumer know that the beef patty in their burgers was truly chunky with lots of beef unlike its competitor’s patties, where the beef content seemed to be shrinking. The Campaign went down well with consumers as they agreed to the Wendy’s observation about shrinking beef content in burgers and it then led them to wanting the Wendy burger which they believed did not shortchange them, when it came to 'beef'.

Orange Pulpy’s campaign has some similarities. It draws consumer’s attention to the fact that Orange Pulpy is the drink with fresh orange pulp unlike other juice drinks which obviously don’t have pulp, thus are not the ‘real’ juice. The idea behind the pulpy campaign has indeed differentiated Orange Pulpy from other juice bas…

Gum sans the 'stick'

Times online : A non-stick chewing gum has been invented that may solve the multimillion-pound problem of removing unsightly deposits from pavements.

Researchers developed the gum by manufacturing a water and oil-loving copolymer that they added to the ingredients. This changed the gum’s properties so that a layer of water or oil formed around its edges, making it harder to attach itself to surfaces. The gum, given the working name Rev7 by its creators at the University of Bristol, is expected to go on sale early next year.

Pavement blight -

3p - Average cost of a piece of gum
10p - Average cost to remove each gum blob from a pavement
100C - Temperature of water used for high-pressure jet in removal
300,000 - Number of blobs of gum removed from Oxford Street in recent clean-up
£100,000 - Price of removing gum in Westminster annually

Source: Westminster City Council


From IndiatimesInfotech : Yahoo Inc has begun publicly testing two Web services that are the fruit of intensive, one-day internal programming competitions the company has been hosting to foster employee innovation.

One of them, MapMixer, will let users take the millions of maps on the Web and overlay them onto the same locations on Yahoo Maps - creating hybrid maps that work independently of the underlying format or structure of the different maps. While certain spots can be denoted on maps from Yahoo and rivals Google Inc, Microsoft Corp, and AOL, MapMixer gives non-technical users a way to merge a map of a college campus or a group of local landmarks or a historical map of a town with a Yahoo road or satellite map.

A second application Yahoo is introducing is “Shop by Colour,” a feature to make it easier to search by colour for products on its shopping site. It was created by Yahoo Shopping employees HayroKolukisaoglu and SundeepTirumalareddy. Online shoppers will be able to f…

Mobile Phone ban

Karnataka government has decided to ban use of mobile phones by school children aged below 16 and sale of handsets to them in order to protect their health. The decision was adopted at a meeting of Education and Health Department.The measure comes in the wake of several studies which pointed to adverse effects radiation from mobile phones will have on the brain and the IQ level of children of this age group.

Bu then, a new study has found that using the gadgets does not cause biological or adverse health effects in the short term. The finding is based on the conclusions drawn by The Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) Programme - UK's largest investigation into the possible health risks from mobile telephone technology carried out over a period of six years by boffins led by Professor Lawrie Challis, Emeritus Professor of Physics at The University of Nottingham.

The researchers found that not only did studies on volunteers show no evidence that brain function was af…

Musical battle

From Yahoo Music : 50 Cent may be getting hip-hop's equivalent of a gold watch next week. Early reports have Kanye West beating 50 in their much-hyped battle of album sales: West's "Graduation" is on pace to sell about 575,000 to 700,000 its first week out, while 50 Cent's "Curtis" is on track to do 550,000, according to Billboard magazine.

As of day one, Kanye had sold 437,000 copies to 50's 310,000, according to Nielsen Soundscan.
Both albums came out Tuesday, and a confident 50 Cent famously announced that he would retire if West outsold him in first-week sales. But it looks as if 50 underestimated the power of West, and perhaps, overestimated his own appeal.
Pic : Yahoo music

Amul's revamped Chocolate strategy

From BS : Dairy major Amul is reworking its strategy in the chocolate category to push its chocolate product sales. Although, the company has maintained a chocolate portfolio for more than 20 years, the dairy products major never posed a threat to market leaders such as Cadbury and Nestle.

Now, with a new product portfolio, the home-grown foods giant is planning to create a space for itself. In the chocolate business, Amul's strategy is to identify the market gaps and try and fill them. They have done this in the past with their Sugar free and Choco Zoo, both of which have been appreciated by the consumers. Now. Amul intends to concentrate on the niche segment when it comes to the chocolate range.

Company executives say that by occupying niche spots such as the shape-based chocolates segment, Amul can dominate the segment. In the overall category, Amul has a market share of roughly 10 per cent compared with 70 per cent share of the market leader, Cadbury.

Pic : http://www.vishalpatel…

Media Language

Media today plays an important role in influencing languages we use. The imagery and sounds beamed in, tend to leave imprints on our conversational conventions. Slang words creep into the confines of our private expressions.

RajrishiSinghal, writing in the ET, says, 'Two iconic lines have now even become part of our argot: “We’re like this only” and “It’s different”! These two popular phrases have now come to define much more than what they were originally intended to achieve. They have become emblematic of Indian ethos, culture, work habits, state of governance and the economic architecture...

But, at the same time, the two phrases that we began this piece with have also evolved into a handy excuse to explain away all our infirmities, incapabilities, inefficiencies and failings. Whenever we slip up or fall short on promises, we shrug away our deficiencies by saying “We’re like this only” or some such...'

Second Life

Why would people want 'second lives'?
The second lives 'lived' by the likes of Janine Hawkins as Iris Ophelia helps her 'be the beauty with flowing hair and flawless skin, keep a list of things she wants to buy: the latest outfits from the virtual fashion mecca Last Call, a new hairstyle from a Japanese designer, slouchy boots and when she receives her monthly salary in Linden dollars, the currency of Second Life, she spends up to four hours shopping, clicking and buying. After a year and a half, she now owns 31,540 items.'
This opportunity for 'fantasy' is wholeheartedly embraced. They turn even more consumerist with a weakness for the designer goods. When people are given the opportunity to create a fantasy world, they can and do defy the laws of gravity (you can fly in Second Life), but not of economics or human nature. Players in this digital, global game don’t have to work, but many do. They don’t need to change clothes, fix their hair, or buy and f…

Divine Intervention needed

God’s own country now requires God’s immediate intervention. Once hailed as a ‘model’ state, today Kerala is not a model worth emulating. The most literate state in country through decades of ‘socialist’ policies ensured that Industrial value creation through products and services was never encouraged or supported and if ever a brave soul did try 'something', militant labor ensured that it was shut down in the blink of an eye. This resulted in countless migrations to cities across India and across the world.

NY Times Story; Plagued by chronic unemployment, more Keralites than ever work abroad, often at sun-scorched jobs in the Persian Gulf that pay about $1 an hour and keep them from their families for years. The cash flowing home now helps support nearly one Kerala resident in three. That has some local scholars rewriting the Kerala story: far from escaping capitalism, they say, this celebrated corner of the developing world is painfully dependent on it.
“Remittances from glob…

Estilo rising

Today's ET : Unlike in India, within three months of its launch, Zen Estilo has become the largest selling car in Indonesia with a staggering market share of 65-70%.

Maruti-Suzuki has raced ahead Chery Automobile’s QQ, Atos from Hyundai Motors and Kia Motors’ Picanto to emerge as the largest selling compact car in the Indonesian Market. QQ is the second largest selling car with 12% market share, followed by Picanto with 8% and Atos with 6%. MSL had launched Zen Estilo in Indonesia in May this year and has already exported 5,500 units so far. The car is priced around $10,000.
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Targeting Religious Market segments

From Economist : A new study by JWT, an advertising agency, points out that the 6m or so Muslims in America are, on average, richer and better educated than the general population. Two-thirds of Muslim households make more than $50,000 a year and a quarter earn over $100,000; the national average is $42,000. Two-thirds of American Muslims have a college degree, compared with less than half of the general population. Muslim families also tend to have more children. So the perception that marketing specifically to Muslims is not worthwhile would appear to be wrong.

According to JWT, food, finance and packaged goods are the three consumer markets most affected by Islamic law. The global halal market is worth some $580 billion annually. In America an estimated 16% of sales in the $100 billion kosher industry comes from Muslims who lack adequate halal options.
The Burqini—a full-coverage swimsuit has been sold internationally, mainly online. As the name implies, the polyester suits are a cr…

Anatomy of pain and rememberance

If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill .
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth

if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.

Psalm 137, v. 5,6

Customers tend to remember painful or dissatisfactory experiences with products and services, especially those that result in a feeling of having survived a 'calamity'. Take for example a harrowing plane ride, or an exploding battery, which may have resulted in physical injuries. Among dissatisfied customers, some tend to keep the memories longer than others. Researchers have now found a reason why.

Rare events that might have an impact on an individual's survival or reproduction should have a special fast lane into the memory bank—and they do. It is called the α2b-adrenoceptor, and it is found in the amygdala, a part of the brain involved in processing strong emotions such as fear. The role of the α2b-adrenoceptor is to promote memory formation—but only if it is stimulated by …

Cafe' Chains in India

No. of Outlets* : Cafe' Coffee Day - 430Barista - 160Java Green - 40Mocha - 12Qwiky's - 11Java City - 7* Source : Businessworld / Industry estimates; Pic :

Digital Papyrus

NY Times : Two new offerings this fall are set to test whether consumers really want to replace a technology that has reliably served humankind for hundreds of years: the paper book.
In October, the online retailer will unveil the Kindle, an electronic book reader that has been the subject of industry speculation for a year, according to several people who have tried the device and are familiar with Amazon’s plans. The Kindle will be priced at $400 to $500 and will wirelessly connect to an e-book store on Amazon’s site.
That is a significant advance over older e-book devices, which must be connected to a computer to download books or articles.

Also this fall, Google plans to start charging users for full online access to the digital copies of some books in its database, according to people with knowledge of its plans. Publishers will set the prices for their own books and share the revenue with Google. So far, Google has made only limited excerpts of copyrighted books availab…


If a firm intends to build relationships with its customers, it must staunchly stand by those that first put their trust in the firm's products. The earliest of buyers are termed 'Innovators' followed by 'Early adopters' and they are primarily responsible for the growth of mass markets for a firm's products. Their 'good word' is imperative to set the 'ball rolling'. Any bad reviews by these 'first buyers' can sound the death knell to the growth of a firm's products.

Apple's just made the mistake of alienating its loyal first buyers of the iPhone. People who had rushed to buy the Apple iPhone over the last two months suddenly and embarrassingly found that they had overpaid by $200 for the year’s most coveted gadget. Apple has made few missteps over the last decade, but it angered many of its most loyal customers by dropping the price of its iPhone to $400 from $600 only two months after it first went on sale. The angry first buyers…

'Healthy' Sale

NY Times : A grocery store chain based in Maine declared success yesterday for a year-old experiment in using a rating system to direct customers to healthier food items.

The chain, the Hannaford Brothers Company, said that the program had a major impact on steering purchases in the expansive packaged-food section of the store, including cereals, soups and breads. The system that Hannaford developed, called Guiding Stars, rated the nutritional value of the grocery items in the store on a scale of zero to three stars, with three representing the most nutritious products.
After analyzing a year’s worth of sales data, Hannaford found that customers tended to buy leaner cuts of meat. Sales of ground beef with stars on their labels increased 7 percent, and sales of chicken that had a star rating rose 5 percent. Sales of ground beef labeled with no stars dropped by 5 percent, while sales of chicken that had a zero-star rating declined 3 percent. Similarly, sales of whole milk, which received…

Battery blues

From ET : Nokia's battery blues seems to have translated in rich pickings for some of its biggest rivals in the Indian handset turf. Nokia’s biggest competitors Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Samsung have all reported a jump in their handset sales in August even though they refused to attribute this to the market leader’s battery fiasco that made international headlines a fortnight ago.

According to sources in telecom operators associations, there had been a perceptible downturn in the handset buying sentiment nationally coupled with a decline in average revenue per user (ARPU) levels across mobile operators in August.

ColorPlus Woman

Bharat Textile News : Textile and apparel company Raymond Ltd has entered into the Rs 800 crore premium women's western-wear market with the launch of ColorPlus for Women. Raymond plans to open 175 stores in the next three years to retail the range of ColorPlus apparel.

ColorPlus Woman has been fashioned into an assortment of shirts, trousers, dresses, capris, t-shirts, skirts, jackets, denim jeans etc. The newly launched brand offers five lines of clothing, including daywear, sports-wear, business-wear as well as formalwear.

The premium-wear range starting from Rs 900 to Rs 1,900 will be available at ColorPlus flagship store in multi-brand outlets and large format stores across the country. The company plans to open five exclusive ColorPlus women-store as well as 12 lifestyle stores by the end of 2007.

Affluent spending

From ChinaPost : The affluent young and elderly in the Asia-Pacific region are expected to account for 83 percent of spending on luxury goods and services by 2016. Older people are forecast to hike their spending on luxury items by 2.7 times to US$800 million, said MasterCard's Worldwide Insights Report.

Spending by the well-off young is set to grow 2.2 times to US$1.1 billion in the same 10-year period that started in 2006. Apart from China and India with their masses of young people, demand from premium consumers over the age of 60 and in the top third of the market by household assets is seen as outpacing growth from the young premium consumers, those in the top third of income earners with no children.
With the rapidly aging population maintaining good health and more time to enjoy it, the demand characteristics of this segment are changing. Instead of looking for items to buy, they seek enjoyable experiences, with many leading active lifestyles and travelling. The definition o…

Yuvraj, saved by a whisker

What a thrilling win!

India won its third best chase ever, thanks to brilliant knocks by Sachin and Sourav. Robin Uthappa was the icing on the cake. This is a lad who has guts and great temperament. A future captain, maybe.

The most interesting feature of the match for me had something to do with Yuvraj. His post match histrionics for the camera betrayed his relief at India winning despite his last over costing us thirty runs.

Yuvraj won't go the 'Chetan way'. The reasons that have bailed him out are, thankfully for him, Mascarenhas missed out on the first ball of his over, after which he thumped the next five balls for sixes. More than anything else what's truly bailed him is, India won. Else he would always be remembered as this decade's ChetanSharma.

Pic :

Saint of the Gutters

Remembering Mother Teresa, Saint, epitome of godly love (August 26, 1910 – September 5, 1997)

Shut up n' Listen

From Strategy+Business : Researchers at the Human Dynamics Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, analyzed the speech patterns (only the physical voice signal: the measured variations in tone and pitch) of the operators on call center floors and found that they could predict accurately, after only a few seconds of listening, the ultimate success or failure of almost every call.

Successful operators, it turned out, speak little and listen much. When they do speak, their voices fluctuate strongly in amplitude and pitch, suggesting interest and responsiveness to the customer’s needs. Operators who speak with little variation come across as too determined and authoritative, but by speaking invitingly, being responsive but not pushy, a skilled operator can let callers find their own way to a sale.

This finding throws down a profound challenge to the prevailing views of organizational effectiveness. Most explanations of human behavior in the business world presume tha…