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Showing posts from January, 2008

Big Bazaar Freedom Sale; change in customer preferences

Moneycontrol reports that this year the Big Bazaar Freedom Sale raked in the moolah; Rs 300 crore over a three-day period versus Rs 150 crore last year. But what was notable in this year's sale was the clear change in customer preferences.

People spent a lot more money on travel and electronics, which was a clear trend witnessed in the previous ten months. Also there was a lot of 'youth driven' consumption. Sales zoomed in jeanswear and young fashion category.

Big Bazaar sold over three lakh pairs of jeans, 50,000 DVD players and 25,000 microwave ovens. In all, the fashion, electronics and travel segments made up about 70% of sales. Last year, these categories made up only about 60%. The CEO of Future Group, Kishore Biyani believes that Indians are now spending more on non-essentials.

Class of 2008

Welcome to Class of 2008 (Jan.) at Alliance
Carpe Diem !
Pic : http://www.sfsu.edu

Do increased discounts erode brand equity?

Naveen questions whether Big Bazaar's 'Sabse Sasta Din' promotion run on the 25,26 &27th of January in any way corrodes the brand name, coz he says 'at big bazaar there are discounts on a daily basis and so how can the 'sabse sasta din' help in building store loyalty n' patronage and as to whether its different from any other day?'

Let me first address the 'brand corrosion' part. The worst thing that can happen to brands is when they slide into becoming commodities. When does that happen? When the brand cannot differentiate either on prices or on its product/image.

Take a look at all the low price retailers in India. The rush of discounted sales that we witness all around have turned them into players who are in no way different from one another. In such a scenario, an even greater discount offered (sabse sasta din) helps Big Bazaar cut through undifferentaited clutter, establishing them as the 'best discounter' when it comes to retail…

Ratio of Good news : Bad news

Sandeep, an avid reader of Tehelka recently refrained from picking up another of their issue as it was filled with 'bad' news. He goes on to pose a question. If this were to happen more frequently would 'bad' news never see the light of day?

The answer? No.

As humans we have a fascination for the 'morbid', in varying degrees.

Take Chanel for example; She asks, ' Why are we so fascinated with the “bad” stuff?....We cling to every heartbreaking clip, every shocking picture, and every nauseating piece of news, forcing ourselves to sit through a blow-by-blow account of what happened, what is happening, and the implications of everything that has happened thus far. It leaves us feeling sad, sick, angry, upset, and every other conceivable negative emotion, and yet we still watch.'

The 'average' person, I guess, to a certain extent, needs his dose of 'bad news'. The problem starts when its an overdose, and then the laws of economics apply. Too much…

Lessons Australians must learn

As the Australian media cries hoarse about ICC turning toothless in the face of the financial might of BCCI, they conveniently forget two realities that must come to terms with.

One, when you dish it out, you must be ready to take it when its dished back. After all, what goes around comes around. The Australians' take on why its different when it comes to what Harbhajan said, does not cut much ice as they do not understand the cultural context within which such terms are uttered.

Two, they better get used to accepting a 'reality' that is global. And that is, financial muscle is what runs ventures, whether in business, politics or in sports all around the world. The ones with the 'moolah' hold better positions when it comes to bargaining.

Now that's settled, lets get on with the game.

Pic : http://www.smh.com.au

Advertising expenditure during recession

In fact, forecasters disagree about advertising spending in 2008. UBS, a bank, predicts that expenditure on ads will increase by 5%, whereas Goldman Sachs, a rival, forecasts that it will decline by as much as 5%. Most, however, agree on one thing: underlying growth in ad spending will come mainly from emerging economies and from advertising on the internet. Emerging markets now represent one-fifth of global expenditure on advertising, and are contributing ever greater sums. The price of ad-space has risen quickly in some emerging markets, such as Russia and China, and growth is slowing there. Even so, ZenithOptimedia expects developing countries will add $50 billion in new ad-spending in the next three years whereas developed markets will add only $38 billion—the first time that emerging markets have come out top over such a period.

- 'Hard Sell', Economist

Google is not invincible

Techcrunch reports that While Google dominates the top slot in search both in the U.S. and worldwide, with a global search market share of 62 percent, there is still a lot of elbowing going on below, especially when you look beyond the U.S.

In a comScore ranking of the top-10 global search engines as measured by number of searches during the month of December, 2007, Yahoo comes in at a distant No. 2 with only 13 percent of global share. (Although, in the U.S., Yahoo actually gained a half-point of share in December, whereas Google dipped 0.2 percent). The big surprise, though, is the strength of local search engines in countries that don’t use the Roman alphabet. No. 3 on the list is not Microsoft, but Chinese search engine Baidu (with 5 percent share, versus Microsoft’s 3 percent). No. 5 is Korea’s NHN Corporation, which operates the Naver portal and search engine. Creeping up on Ask’s No. 8 spot, is Russian search engine Yandex. And Alibaba (which may include Yahoo China) brings up t…

Global opportunity analysis

Top Marketing trends, concepts for 2008

Read the complete story here.

Global Grocery Store choice survey

The Nielsen survey reveals that the ‘Location, Location, Location’ mantra used by retailers as the critical success factor may need to be revised. Globally, consumers have revealed that Good Value for Money is now the most important factor in determining where they buy their groceries.

Nielsen found an overwhelming eighty-five percent of the world’s consumers ranked Good Value for Money the most important consideration when choosing a grocery store, with the most avid value-seekers hailing from the Philippines, Singapore, Portugal, Germany, India and Austria. The second most important attribute for the world’s shoppers was a retail outlet that offered a Better Selection of High Quality Brands and Products.

Rambo - 'Body count' data

Source : Defamer.com

Selectively hearing 'bad news'

Has the booming economy turned Indians into selective listeners? At least that's what Anil Dharker feels. According to the media critic, "Psychologically, Indians are on such a high with the economy booming. They are in no mood to hear bad news."

Explains why Indians have shied away from reading Tehelka. The magazine that is struggling as it sells 'bad news'.

Selective hearing is a nice way of saying that someone only listens to what they want to hear, or, worse, masks everything they hear with what they expect the other person is really saying. Regardless of what the true expression of the other person is, the selective hearer only ever hears within their own frame of reference.

According to Lowri Turner, 'Selective hearing is an exclusively male domain'. Selective hearing is a remarkable and exclusively male phenomenon that allows chaps to sleep straight through a baby's bawling, no matter how loud or insistent.

Cartoon : http://www.wittyfish.com

Retail Consumers and consumption patterns in India

Also read the Business world story on the Big vs. Small Retailer battle in India, here.

Gorge on the burger and don't you worry...

Thisislondon reports that a pill is being created to let hamburger-and-chips lovers eat their favourite fatty foods without putting on too much weight. It could reduce the need to eat large amounts of vegetables with a meal, would be cheap to buy and could be on sale in Britain within a year.

As a side-effect, the pill will cut the risk of developing cancer by mopping up free radicals, the substances that damage body cells. The pill contains polyphenol chemicals, which has shown to reduce the amount of fat absorbed into the blood.

IPL and need for city-centric viewers

The BCCI is guaranteed the moolah for the moment. But for the money to keep flowing in, for IPL to sustain, Indian viewers must start to identify with their city team and turn passionate about their city team's fortunes.

Now is that possible?

For the moment, BCCI revenues are four fold. Sale of media rights for the matches; Title sponsorship of the tournament & licensed merchandise; the amounts bid by the franchisees and revenues generated by the franchisee rights.

Is the gamble on the part of the franchisees justified? Regionalism in India is definitely on the rise. But its more political than anything else. Plus its largely driven by linguistic differences that have in the past resulted in the creation of 'states' in India. Cities on the other hand are melting pots of various linguistic backgrounds. Take Bangalore for example, the city has a sizable population of Tamilians and Keraliites. Assuming that the Bangalore team will draw players from all the southern states, w…

Hail the Republic, remember the sacrifices!

January 26, 2008, India celebrates its 59th Republic Day. Pic : Wikipedia

Holiday shopping & Social networking

According to a recent American Marketing Association survey, more Americans are taking their holiday shopping to social networking sites rather than the mall and the gifts they are buying come wrapped with a bow that supports a good cause.

The survey revealed that,
Nearly half (47 percent) of all respondents said they would go to a social networking site to download coupons or search for gift ideas if those services were available. Nearly as many said they would visit a social networking site to find out about upcoming sales in stores or discounts on products (45 percent); while fewer (31 percent) said they would buy products, if given the option. Twenty two percent of respondents would read or write a product review on a blog. Additionally, 26 percent would post or view videos, if those services were available.

Consumer share of top Indian Portals

Top Indian online portals

Online Travel - Makemytrip, YatraMatrimonial Search - Bharatmatrimony, ShaadiSocial Networking - OrkutJob Search - NaukriPhoto-sharing - FlickrVideo-sharing - YoutubeReal Estate - MagicbricksLocal search - Google LocalImage : http://www.dkimages.com

The Indian Aviation pie

Also read the BT story on Deccan-KF merger here.

Automobiles as lust objects

"The automobile is a lust object. Intellectualising the car business is a big mistake. We've refocused on the important ingredients of style, like proportion and stance. Where we used to shoot to be competitive, we now shoot for best in class."

- Robert Lutz, Vice Chairman of Global Product Development, GM

The purpose of your Life?

Heath Ledger's death is another reminder of lives without a purpose. Listen to Rick Warren talk about 'purpose' on TED here.

Book Cover : http://www.jesus-is-savior.com

The McDonaldisation of Starbucks

Starbucks, the world's best known coffee chain is in trouble and some of it has to do with McDonalds. Diluting the 'coffee experience' (switching from hand pulled expresso machines to the automatic ones, diminishing the spectacle of coffee making) has alienated some customers. Having recorded its first ever year on year decline in customer visits in America, Starbucks by bringing back Howard Schultz is trying the stem the tide.
Starbuck's travails can be attributed to, Overexpansion in a saturated market, no innovative products and services compounded by poor control over its ever expanding network of cafes.
Price rise prompted by rise in costs of food commodities
Threat from McDonald's plan to add Starbucks style coffee bars to nearly 1400 of its American restaurants.Read the Economist article titled, 'Coffee Wars'here.Pic : http://www.economist.com

Irrational rationalisations, why people are at times 'bull-headed'

People desperately want things to make sense. That helps them find some element of closure to events that would otherwise linger and cause them discomfort. When people find no rational explanation to why some thing happened they would even concoct irrational reasons for why that something happened. They would lapse into counterfactual thinking, saying, 'if only.....'.

All of this explains why the traders and investors in Mumbai wanted the statue of the bull outside the BSE building to be pulled down. To the onlooker that's lunacy but to the protester, its his desperate attempt at irrationally rationalising the market mayhem that had him lose a substantial part of his savings.


Pic : http://predicto.blogspot.com

Blu-ray vs. HD DVD

What brands can learn from 'American Idol'

The American Idol continues to be a huge draw because it gets two things right.

One, it gets people in hordes to buy into the feeling that this is their genuine chance of glory. Doesn't matter what they sound like when they sing. They still would like to give it a shot. The rest of the world joins in the highs and lows of the journey that contestants take.

Two, the program draws extreme reactions. Either you hate it or love it. Either way, you watch it.

The lesson for brands? One, Get consumers to genuinely buy into whatever it is that the brand offers. Maybe its a chance to 'look like a princess', maybe its about making 'life that much easier to live'.

Two, get consumers to love you or hate you. Neutral attitudes are dangerous. The brand gets ignored. The ones that love you, buy you. The ones that hate, spread the word, some even buy. Don't be too bothered about that 'cos the listeners may get curious enough to try the brand and maybe even turn loyal buyers, i…

Dubai Shopping Festival

The Dubai Shopping Festival gets underway tomorrow. Complete with the finest possible entertainment and shopping opportunities, DSF visitors will be treated to a period of non-stop festivities for 32 days from January 24 to February 24, 2008.
Details here.

Retail shopfloor service & repeat store patronage

Vidooshak raises the issue of 'inept shop floor personnel' that is a major put-off for most in-store customers.

The issue raises a few uncomfortable questions that every retail firm must ask itself. Do the front line staff lack training or is it case of lack of motivation? Lack of supervision, perhaps? Or maybe its an attitudinal problem? Whatever the reason, the end result is loss of customers. The worst thing that can happen to a retail outfit is getting people into the store and then not doing well enough to keep them coming back.

JR Katzenbach and JA Santamaria in their work on front line employees titled, 'Firing up the Front Line' indicate as to why these employees commit themselves to the organisation. They state the reasons as,They (front line employees) are proud of the organisation's aspirations, accomplishments, and legacy; they share its values
They know what each person is expected to do, how performance is measured, and why it matters
They are in control …

Global Retail Shrinkage

Total global shrinkage (stockloss from crime or waste expressed as a percentage of retail sales) cost retailers in the 32 countries £49,808 million (US$ 98,630 million), equivalent to 1.36% of their retail sales. Globally, shrinkage and crime rose from 1.34% to 1.36%. One-half of the countries suffered increased shrinkage, although Asia-Pacific retailers reduced shrinkage by 4.6%. Retailers in most countries thought customer theft (shoplifting) was their biggest problem, responsible for 42.0% of shrinkage or £20,906 million ($41,504 million). But the US, Canada, and Australia perceived employee theft to be larger than shoplifting.Across the 32 countries, disloyal employees cost 35.2% of shrinkage or £17,464 million ($34,671 million) internal error and administrative failure (e.g. pricing or accounting mistakes) was 16.5% (£8,184 million or $16,248 million), and supplier or vendor theft and fraud was 6.3% of shrinkage (£3,126 million [$6,207 million]). Retailers apprehended almost 6 mi…

'Tis the season of depression

'Online searches for "depression" are among the most popular searches sending traffic to the 5,900 sites that we track in the Hitwise Health and Medical category — but the peak is not in January. According to our Internet behavior, our depression spikes reliably in mid-November every year, right in time for Thanksgiving, the launch of the holiday season...
Depression during November is an affliction primarily of the young and the old, but not of the middle-aged. The two age groups that account for the largest portion of site visitors are 18 to 24 (26.2%) and over 55 (27.6%). Visitors to Lexapro's site also tend to have average to above-average incomes: 51% of visitors come from households earning between $60,000 and $150,000 per year, while 20% come from households that earn over $150,000 — a sample, perhaps, not of the depressed in general, but of those who can afford to seek treatment.'
- Bill Tancer, 'The Most Depressing Day of the Year'
Pic : http://medi…

Market Mayhem

From FT : Stocks plummeted across Asia for a second day on Tuesday on unrelenting fears that the US, Asia’s most important trading partner, is heading into recession.

Indian shares sank more than 11 per cent as the market opened, resulting in a one-hour trading suspension. Hong Kong had its worst two-day fall since the aftermath of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis. Worries about recession in Japan and a strengthening yen pushed the Nikkei down more than 5 per cent and below the 13,000 level for the first time since September 2005. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 recorded its biggest fall since the index was launched in 2000, closing 7.1 per cent lower. The drop compared with a 7.2 per cent fall in the rival All Ordinaries index in October 1997.

Retail Shrinkage in India

ET reports that Industry circles estimate loss from shrinkage accounts for nearly 3-4% of an Indian chain’s turnover, nearly double their Western counterpart. This translates into an annual loss of about Rs 9,000 crore for the industry.

This has resulted in Indian Retail players players turning keen on investing in shrinkage control mechanisms, such as installing RFIDs, sensors, IT solutions and training employees.

Flyer : http://www.snellville.org

The brand or the product; what comes first?

The brand before the product works only because of a single reason. The credibility of the buzz. The credibility in turn holds because it emanates from parties other than the marketeer. If the source were marketeers, consumers would choose to ignore. At least the majority would.

This is why brand Nano has arrived much before Nano the car. Communiques are a necessity if brands have to be built. In a world where communique overloads create clutters that raise perceptual threshold levels, it is imperative that marketeers get neutral parties to talk. That may even include critics. 'Cos all their talk will be lapped up eagerly by audiences fed up of listening to marketeer babble.
Sign : http://www.woldcreative.com

Visits to Buyer Behaviour

The Indian Male, south n' north of the Vindhyas

So, what then makes a South Indian? In a Kerala small town, the Mallu is direct and vocal with his needs. But outside the state, he's polished, urbane.... "That's just how men are—regardless of geography, caste, colour or culture. See a smart, sexy woman and most men would love to leer or better still, strike it lucky. Guys in the big cities just mask it better,"

-DivyaSreedharan, 'Arriving...Madras Male'
'Nothing is lost in translation. The pursuit of women, animals and biceps, the convenience of arranged marriages, the insecurities of men and the frailties of women...the talk moves in loops and lurches, but is moored around the idea of virility and machismo.'
- ShefaleeVasudev, 'India Da Jones '
Pic : www.michaelyung.com

Organised vs. Small retail, FDI and India's Retail pie

The fall of Mom n' Pop stores and the rise of consumer freedom

For all those shedding a tear for the 'mon n pop' store, spare a thought for how organised retail formats have radically changed the way we shop. I clearly remember as a young boy what my mother told me every time I went to the corner store to buy provisions. Note, then there were no organised retail format stores. She reminded me to be careful and always watch while the shopkeeper picked provisions asked for, and put them into paper cone containers. 'Cos If I batted an eyelid, the shopkeeper would slip in a shoddy item which would only be discovered once I got back home and when the packages were opened.

Look around now. The greatest gift the organised retail store has given the consumer is the freedom to pick and choose what he wants. No one's gonna slip in a 'bad one'. It may sound exaggerated, but this is true consumer freedom. Now, has this 'free to choose' facility permeated into all retail formats. Not yet. My experience at a IBP petrol bunk demon…

How to get customers to buy more

Getting customers into their stores may be not be easy for retailers. But what they can and must do is ensuring that once the customer is in, to get him to buy MORE.

Jeffrey Strain's article 'Six Ways Stores Trick You Into Spending More' is aimed at getting buyers to be careful about 'overspending' in stores. But it also is a pointer to what retailers must do to get buyers to increase their 'spend' once inside their stores.
Buyers end up spending more if retailers - Offer Double Discounts
Price items at $9.99 vs. $10
Offer 'Three for $9.99'
Offer 'Buy one, get one free'
Run a 'sale' that doesn't actually mean discount prices
Put things at eye level

R.I.P., Bobby Fischer

"Bobby Fischer has died at age 64. Like the 64 squares of a chess board."

- Olivier Tridon

Gender play in retail shrinkage

According to the latest in-depth retail crime research report, not only do more men end up in prison for shoplifting and staff theft, but they are predominantly older, more organised and are often stealing higher value goods to order which explodes the myth of store theft being a largely opportunistic and 'harmless' offence carried out for a dare or an adrenalin kick.

The independent research carried out by the influential Centre for Retail Research (CRR) shows that there is not much to differentiate between the amounts stolen by men and women - averaging £83 per offence, but as they get older the gap widens. For example between the peak ages of 21 and 23 men steal an average of £163.64, compared to £92.84 for women, although female retail crime tends to carry on longer.

Again, small-scale theft account for less than one third of the total customer theft while around 22 per cent is theft of items of more than £500. In gender terms what people steal is a differentiator with women…

Airline cartels 'fix' prices

'There is also need for more transparency in pricing of air tickets. The Rs 500 throwaway price displayed by airlines on their websites is only about one-fifth of the final price a traveller has to pay, because of a plethora of levies and taxes — fuel surcharge, congestion surcharge and taxes. Why can’t the entire amount be displayed upfront? The pricing gives the impression that air fares have not gone up. In fact, they have more than doubled on many sectors over the last two years.'

Read the ET editorial titled, 'Need more transparency in air fare pricing'here.

'Are you being served' India report

According to the ‘Are You Being Served’ (AYBS) India Report, a nationwide survey on customer service levels in key sectors conducted by UK-based The Grass Roots Group PLC, sector-wise, the automotive sector tops the list (with 81% satisfaction score with overall service level) with food & grocery retail (60%) at the bottom of the heap.

Quick Food Service (QFS) chains (77%) and big cellphone & consumer durable retailers (77 % and 70 % respectively) also score well on service levels across the country. Citywise, Hyderabad (72%) and Delhi (72%) top the list, with Mumbai ( 69.7%) and Bangalore (69.5%) close behind


Coulrophobia

Coulrophobia is an abnormal or exaggerated fear of clowns. Its believed that children's fear of clowns may have less to do with clowns per se and more to do with being unsettled by something as unusual-seeming as a clown.

Read the story on why clowns are scary here.

Pic/Story : http://news.bbc.co.uk/

Prospect theory & Vintage Wines

Daniel Kahneman's Prospect theory focuses on how human beings view decision-making. Kahneman suggests that human beings have perceptual weaknesses built into their cognitive structure. Decision making can be intuitive (system 1) or reasoned (system 2). The degree of interaction between the two can result in changes to the way people make judgements and decisions.

In the Ames Room experiment, Kahneman looked at perception from perspectives that he referred to as 'intuitive' and 'preference'. The former happens almost automatically and is difficult to control and change - for example, the eye tells a person that the room is rectangular, but the latter involves reasoning, judgement and control - the person knows that the room appears rectangular but in reality it cannot be because the visual cues - the children in the room - suggest something is wrong.

How much of the intuitive versus reasoning perspectives of perception have to do with high price making wines taste bet…

What Indian Fast food can learn from McDonald's

Ashutosh raises an obvious question as a response to my post on India turning a Fast food nation. He asks 'Why cant we have a fast food chain of our own? For instance, why cant we have a fast food chain serving paanipoori, samosas, etc. - on a large scale? Is the competition so high that one would not be able to survive in the market having local vendors for the same?'

According to me the reason why we can't have a chain of Indian fast food has more to do with our not having grasped the reasons behind the success of the big daddy of it all, McDonald's. This fast food behemoth has turned the lowly burger into an enduring business that almost epitomises what the so called western invasion of cultures is all about. The key to this explosive growth has been the creation of a system with minimal human input (machine driven) that ensures that a standardised burger is churned out by thousands of 'assembly lines' around the world.

Indian food businesses must develop comp…

India's booming economy

I was recently featured in a story on the Indian Economy titled, 'India’s Booming Economy Is on An Upward Surge' by Voice of America's SubhashVohra.

Read/Listen to the complete print story here, and the audio here (MP3) & here (Real).

Data : www.rediff.com

Know the 'Indian Male'

Consumption Habits -
37 percent describe themselves as highly materialistic; Chennai records a high of 69 percent
49 percent men are highly price conscious; Delhi exceeds the average at 63 percent
50 percent men in North India would like to be rich enough to buy anything they want
42 percent men are highly brand conscious; Chennai beats other cities at 71 percentSocial Instincts -75 percent men cannot say what level of support they can expect from children
56 percent men believe arranged marriages are the best
50 percent men believe women should stay at home
42 percent 55 year+ don't know what they will do after retirementWorkplace Worries -63 percent men said money is the most important criterion in choosing their employer
63 percent men measure their success by the kind of career they have
64 percent married men worry about job security; 9 percent worry about their physical appearance
80 percent men in North India believe hard work is no guarantee for successRef : BT-MaRS Survey

'Penny wise pound foolish' in Business

Charging a customer Rs. 20 as parking charges and as a result losing his business, probably forever, is classic 'penny wise pound foolish' business folly.
The classic flaw in this decision by Star Bazaar has occurred as a result of them looking at retail purchases from the 'transactional' angle and not the 'relationship' one. If a business concern were concerned about building relationships with customers, it would not evaluate a customer based on a purchase, but from the present value of all his possible future transactions. This radical change in mindset is the the genesis to CRM.
How can a company decide whether to charge or waive the costs of a service provided? The business firm needs to ask itself whether its customers would be willing to pay for that service if they were given an option of whether to pay for it, if they knew it was part of the shopping price. If they would likely refuse to pay if given the choice, or would take their business elsewhere to…

What I want from my Bank

'I want a bank that will let me interact with it seamlessly by telephone, by ATM, from my hand held Palm Pilot, and over the Internet. I want to be able to get cash anywhere in world anytime of the day. I want to see all my account information consolidated in a single electronic up-to-the-minute statement. I want to be able to look at my bills electronically, question a line item if necessary, and authorise and schedule their payments. Then I want the resulting expenses organised according to categories I specify, totaled by month, and compared against my original budget. I'd like to be able to see the current value of all my investments. And I want to be able to easily transfer money among my accounts, my investments, and any other banks or investment firms with which I may have dealings.'

- Patricia Seybold,'Customers.com; How to create a profitable Business strategy for the Internet and beyond'

Should Star Bazaar charge me a parking fee?

I am not too sure if I'll go back to Bangalore's Star Bazaar anytime soon. Tata's impressive foray into the hypermarket business has brought Star Bazaar to Bangalore.

The store is pretty impressive with a great shopping ambiance. The stock layout and variety is again impressive. I don't know about the prices as they seemed similar to other competing stores. But what's not getting me back there is what I encountered when I drove into the store car park. I was charged Rs. 20 as parking fee. Now I can't understand why. Especially when I feel they should be bending over backwards to have me patronise their store. Again, more so, 'cos just a few blocks away is Big Bazaar which has zero parking charges. Another competitor is Fabmall that's again in the nearby Forum Mall. The mall parking charges are Rs. 20, but that allows me to visit multiple stores.
Now Star Bazaar may through the parking fee want to ensure that only serious buyers come in. Well, I can put up…

Download free audio Bible

As a response to my earlier post on Biblical illiteracy, audio bible adds that 65% of Bible readers have never read the entire New Testament. And, 50% of teens believe Jesus may have committed sins!

Its easy to figure out why teens believe thus, considering the earlier statistic of Bible readers never having read the entire New Testament.

Interested folks can download free audio bibles at FaithComesByHearing.com.

Pic : http://www.sxc.hu/

India - Fast food nation?

India is among the top 10 most frequent consumers of fast food in the world. The top 50 percent consume 80 per cent fast food in a market that is Rs. 40,000 crore-strong and growing at a robust 40 percent annually.

Over 100 million spend close to $1 billion (Rs. 4000 crore) annually on fast food. No wonder global chains are re-inventing themselves and expanding networks in India. If McDonald's offers McAloo Tikka, at Pizza Hut it is chicken tikka masala toppings. If KFC plans 1000 restaurants by 2014, Subway is gearing up to invest over $40 million. Home grown chains like Pizza Corner, Nirulas and Haldiram's and Not Just Paranthas are also growing in strength.

Source : India Today

The Holy Bible & Biblical illiteracy

Over 100m copies of the Holy Bible are sold or given away every year. Annual Bible sales in America are worth between $425m and $650m; Gideon's International gives away a Bible every second. The Bible is available all or in part in 2,426 languages, covering 95% of the world's population.

Americans buy more than 20m new Bibles every year to add to the four that the average American has at home. Yet the state of American biblical knowledge is abysmal. A
Gallup survey found that less than half of Americans can name the first book of the Bible (Genesis), only a third know who delivered the Sermon on the Mount (Billy Graham is a popular answer) and a quarter do not know what is celebrated at Easter (the resurrection, the foundational event of Christianity). Sixty per cent cannot name half the ten commandments; 12% think Noah was married to Joan of Arc. George Gallup, a leading Evangelical as well as a premier pollster, describes America as “a nation of biblical illiterates”.

- 'T…

'Orderly chaos' in India

For all those concerned, including the elitist greens, about the lack of infrastructure to support the flood of TataNanos expected, don't be too worked up.

Indian systems, infrastructure included, are great examples of what is known as 'orderly chaos'. Nothing is ever planned. Systems have in most cases never been designed. Instead they have emerged out of the chaos that ensues once an act is put into motion. The 'order' that emerges is thanks to nobody.

Systems that you encounter, whether social, political or business have all, more or less, been conjured amidst the chaos. This will continue for the Nanos' impact too. Infrastructure will develop along the way. The access to cheap private transport will result in habitations moving to far flung areas. That will automatically reduce congestion. Business concerns will then set up on the outskirts with townships around them.

All this will happen 'on its own'. The miracle that is India!

Private vehicles - the lifeline of transport in India

I agree with Swaminathan Aiyar when he says that 'sanctimonious greens call the Nano disastrous because of its affordability— millions more will now clog roads and consume more fossil fuel. This is elitism parading as virtue. Elite greens own cars, but cannot stand the poorer masses becoming mobile, since the consequent congestion will eat into the time of the elite!'

But I don't agree with him when he says that 'we must abolish subsidies and raise taxes on vehicles and fuels to reflect their full social cost. The biggest but least visible subsidy is for parking, and we should start there.'

His reasoning is flawed as his comparisons to how costly it is to maintain and use a car in the West doesn't make social sense. The Western world is blessed with a public transportation system that is widespread and accessible. Compare that to what the average citizen has to put up with, in India. Making the use of private cars costly in India will in no way affect the elite…

'Honour' in cricket

'It is tragic that the significance of the boisterous assertion of swabhiman (self-esteem) by India's cricketosphere isn't understood by our political class. Caught in a time warp, many of those who made policy pronouncements at the PravasiBharatiyaSammelan didn't realise the changed equations between India and its diaspora.'

-SwapanDasgupta, 'India arrives'

'My question is: Does 'national honor' get violated only by outside agencies? Does it have an entity, let alone champions, when it gets kicked around by our own guys? Forget the year-round humiliations of everyone beyond the gilded gates of India Swaggering. Just look at what kept happening throughout the very days when this cricket-sicket triggered all that the jingoistic barrel-thumping. Across the country women of all stripes kept being attacked by packs of wild dogs', not Ponting's, but wholly Indian.'

- BachiKarkaria, 'National honour' and other disgraces

Eve

More women than men blog in India.

Cartoon : http://www.smsn.vic.edu.au/

Insights on genuinely 'new ideas'

Evan Williams, the founder of Blogger and Twitter and his accidental stumbling on three insights on genuinely new ideas;

First, genuinely new ideas are, well, accidentally stumbled upon rather than sought out;
Second, new ideas are by definition hard to explain to others, because words can express only what is already known; and,
Third, good ideas seem obvious in retrospect.

Tata Nano and its targeted market segments

Tata Motors has truly scored with the Nano. What's brilliant about the release is the consumer segments it can appeal to. Unlike what the honchos of other car companies in India think, TataNano will cut across and appeal to a cross section of consumer segments in India.

Take the Great Indian Middle class, for instance; further divided into Upper, Middle and the Lower middle class.

For the lower middle class, the Nano will be their first car.
For the middle-middle class, it will their second car, wheels they can take to the local market.
For the Upper-middle class, Nano will possibly be the third in their garage, for their 'baba-log' to ride around.

Now that's a first, not just in India, but around the world, a first for a product to appeal across market segments.

Income and consumption inequality

'But consumption numbers, too, conceal as much as they illuminate. They can record only that we have spent, but not the value—the pleasure or health—gained in the spending. A stable trend in nominal consumption inequality can mask a narrowing of real or “utility-adjusted” consumption inequality. Indeed, according to happiness researchers, inequality in self-reported “life satisfaction” has been shrinking in wealthy market democracies, America included, suggesting that the quality of lives across the income scale are becoming more similar, not less.'

'The new (improved) Gilded Age', The Economist

The rise and fall of Malls

Even as the mall culture rages on, in India, in the United States, malls are on their way out. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, Indoor Shopping, malls are so out of favour in the US that not one will be built before 2009 at the earliest.

The reasons stated for the demise of malls are twofold. One, having proliferated too quickly in the 1990's they cannibalised each other. The spawning of discount stores, factory-outlet stores and speciality stores compounded the problem. This in turn resulted in middle aged shoppers shunning malls.

A second reason is that, once suburban malls were seen by whites as a the last bastion that withstood racial diversity, which again after a while vanished. Today the US is seeing a drift in the 'opposite' direction; ie., suburbs are being populated by the racially mixed, whereas cities fill up with hip, affluent whites.

Though the second scenario listed may not be witnessed in India, the threat of cannibalisation and comp…

Common man's cars

The five cheapest cars in the world -

1. Nano. Produced by Tata Motors in India.
Price: $2,500 (£1,250)

2. QQ3. Produced by Chery Automobiles in China
Price: $5,000 (£2,500)

3. M800. Produced by Suzuki-Maruti in India.
Price: $5,200 (£2,600)

4. Merrie Star. Produced by Geely Automobiles in China.
Price: $5,500 (£2,750)

5. S-RV mini SUV. Produced by Geely Automobiles in China.
Price: $5,780 (£2,890)

Sources: Reuters; Business Standard Motoring (India), Chinese auto Web sites ($1=39.3 rupees)

Bizzare Brew

'In this world, bigger is always better, and why not? Hummers rule the road and 16 percent alcohol pinotnoirs rule the wine ratings. Why not a beer like Stone Ruination I.P.A., so-called, the brewery proudly asserts, because of the ruinous effect of “this massive hop monster” on your palate. Are you man or woman enough for this beer?

Many beer lovers are aghast at the creative liberties American brewers are taking with traditional styles, feeling that the bigger-is-better principle is reducing American brewing to the equivalent of a frat party.
But to the brewers themselves, it is a matter of creative pride, not to mention patriotism.'

Read the complete NY Times story here
Pic : NY Times

Aromas drive shopping splurges

A new study at the National University of Singapore has revealed that the aroma of a mouth-watering dessert can make a shopper splurge money on unnecessary purchases. The study suggests that exposure to something that stimulates the appetite can make a person more impulsive with unrelated purchases.

The study also found that an appetitive stimulus not only affects behaviour in a specific behaviour domain, but also induces a shared state that propels a consumer to choose smaller–sooner options in unrelated domains.

The Good & Bad of India-Australia tiff

The good?
ESPN-Star Sports has hiked spot rates for the third test match at Perth. This match is expected to rope in ratings 2-3 times higher than what is normally recorded in Test matches.

The bad?
Indian marketers and advertisers directly associated with the Aussies seem to be in no mood to entertain Ponting and his men. From footwear major Puma, which has a global tieup with Adam Gilchrist, to Seagram, which has Ricky Ponting on board for Royal Stag, to Timex, which uses Brett Lee, no one is in the mood to risk associating their brands with the Aussies, at least for the moment.

Paradox of Indian consumption

'The spending pattern of Indian consumers presents a great paradox to today’s marketers and retailers. On one hand is the increasing discretionary income (Rs 3,800 – Rs 7,000 per month) but on the other hand is the typical Indian need of ‘value for money’.

This spending power has not necessarily translated into higher value of purchases. This brings forth the question of how retailers and marketers should address this great opportunity without losing sight of the mass market that India offers.'

- Pinakiranjan Mishra; 'Youth Drivers: Uniqueness, Contemporariness & Value'

Pic : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com