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Showing posts from May, 2008

The 'forgetfulness' that safety brings

'All this time Americans have been safe from suicide bombers, biological warfare and collapsing skyscrapers, while the rest of the world has been on red alert. And yet President Bush is regarded as the worst president in American history? Sorry, I must be missing something here...

Terrorism is now largely off the table in the minds of most Americans. But in gearing up to elect a new president, we are left to wonder how, in spite of numerous failed policies and poor judgement, President Bush's greatest achievement was denied to him by people who ungratefully availed themselves of the protection that his administration provided.'

- Thane Rosenbaum; 'The President Has Kept Us Safe'.

Warmed up Wackos

'Predictions of catastrophe depend on models. Models depend on assumptions about complex planetary systems -- from ocean currents to cloud formation -- that no one fully understands. Which is why the models are inherently flawed and forever changing. The doomsday scenarios posit a cascade of events, each with a certain probability. The multiple improbability of their simultaneous occurrence renders all such predictions entirely speculative.

Yet on the basis of this speculation, environmental activists, attended by compliant scientists and opportunistic politicians, are advocating radical economic and social regulation. "The largest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity," warns Czech President Vaclav Klaus, "is no longer socialism. It is, instead, the ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous ideology of environmentalism." '

- Charles Krauthammer; 'Moving Toward Energy Rationing.'

The hypocrisy in blaming a marketer

I wonder why it must always be the marketer who takes the heat? Well, this case is about kids taking to smoking.

A recent Indo-US study, conducted in Delhi and Tamil Nadu which included 11,642 sixth and eighth graders, found that nearly 50% of the kids had seen and remembered a tobacco advertisement. Current use of tobacco was five times lower among students who had not watched tobacco promotions.
According to the study, published in the May issue of the 'American Journal of Health Behaviour', which shows a clear connection between exposure to surrogate tobacco ads and consumption, cigarette companies are now trying to tap the youngest population by falsely associating use of tobacco products with qualities such as glamour, energy and sex appeal.
Sure, some marketing communication can be deemed irresponsible and may even be to blame for a kid's wayward ways. But what about the responsibility that rests on others? Say for example, parents whose lives have a major impact on …

Why services can help the small time retailer differentiate

There isn’t a product that’s completely a ‘pure’ product. All products have some element of service implications that go along. These implications could either be before, during or after the sale of a product. Now that must be relief to marketers who are constantly exposed to the risk of commoditization. It’s the ‘services’ that can bail them out. It’s the service implications that can help them differentiate.

I was unfortunate enough to be involved in a collision today, the aftermath of which had my car look like a boxer with a flattened nose. The ‘front’ end my car was boxed in, post collision. An immediate visit to the Santro service station didn’t produce the kind of service I was looking for. Maybe it was because I was driving a half a decade old 'base model' Hyundai Santro. Talk about professors ever hitting the pecking order when it comes to glamorous lives. Now you know it’s impossible, at least not with a worn out Santro. I guess I try and manage my low levels of estee…

Snitch your way to a No.1 bestseller

Pays to be a 'weasel' !
Gets you to be the No. 1 bestseller on Amazon. Read about it here.

The stinker in a deodorant

Bare feet? Shoes Ahoy!

Smelly? March in the Deos. Well. Don't say it, 'cos it aint easy to digest.
The real stinker is, if Russel Taylor's (Unilever’s global V-P for Axe deodorants) statement sees a backlash that affects brand Axe's sales in Asia. Personally, I don't see that happening. The 'noise' is just gonna die down eventually. The urban buyer who can afford the Deo will continue buying.
But Russel surely needs to learn a thing or two. That is, if he said what he said. One, People don't 'dig' Deos in India 'cos they can't afford it. Its the lowly scented Talcum powder that takes its place in most parts of India.
Two, Being part of a company that is truly global, reaching almost every place in the world, its only smart to be 'culturally sensitive'. After all, that much of cultural sense can be asked of, for crying out loud, from a VP!

Tracks over Flights; Bangalore to Chennai

Reasons why commuters in Bangalore prefer 'tracks' (read, Shatabdi Express) over flights, while making that trip to Chennai.
One, The actual flight duration between both of the cities may be 30 minutes. But if you calculate the reporting time, the time to check in, collect baggage, and reach the city from the Airport in Devanahalli, it could turn out to be longer than a five-hour Shatabdi Express ride. Two, A nice nap, no elaborate security checks, arrival in the heart of the city and a much lighter strain on the wallet are reasons for many passengers to skip the flights and opt for rail journey instead.Three, The train fare for AC coaches ranges from 550 to 1200 rupees. Air fare costs anything between 1600 to 7000 rupees, in addition to the cab charges of almost a two-hour drive to the city.In fact the commuters preference for the train to Bangalore has forced Southern Railway to operate more trains from Chennai to Bangalore, 10 on Wednesdays and Fridays and 8 on other days.

The Moral Challenge of Globalization

'Still, broad lessons are clear.

One is: Globalization works. Countries don't get rich by staying isolated. Those that embrace trade and foreign investment acquire know-how and technologies, can buy advanced products abroad and are forced to improve their competitiveness. The transmission of new ideas and products is faster than ever. After its invention, the telegram took 90 years to spread to four-fifths of developing countries; for the cell phone, the comparable diffusion was 16 years.

A second is: Outside benevolence can't rescue countries from poverty. There is a role for foreign aid, technical assistance and charity in relieving global poverty. But it is a small role. It can improve health, alleviate suffering from natural disasters or wars and provide some types of skills. But it cannot single-handedly stimulate the policies and habits that foster self-sustaining growth. Japan and China (to cite easy examples) have grown rapidly not because they received foreign aid…

Can he?

'Obama’s followers make high-tech videos, mindlessly chanting, “Yes, we can” instead of making bombs to blow up government buildings, or holding up armored trucks and killing police officers.

This new generation seems to have the opportunity to do now with mere votes what their predecessors tried and failed to do through violence. We can finally seal the deal on the real revolution — democratically. Obama, the Closer, is at hand.

Evidenced by his list of supporters, from Ayers Dohrn, Hayden and Fonda, to the New Black Panthers, the New SDS, the New Winter Soldiers, etal., the radical Left has anointed Obama as the One. Every aging, anti-war, anti-capitalist group and their new offshoots are flocking around Obama like moths to a flame.

He is the One they’ve been waiting for. Biding their time during the dark, dreary days of Reagan, throughout the self-absorbed Boomer years, into the Yuppie sellout decade, and on through the compromising Clinton years, they’ve waited and planned and ho…

Media and its ideal of 'proportionality'

This is even more relevant in the wake of reprehensible tabloidical like coverage that we have been brought to witness.
'The signature defect of modern political journalism is that it has shredded the ideal of proportionality. Important stories, sometimes the product of months of serious reporting, that in an earlier era would have captured the attention of the entire political-media community and even redirected the course of a presidential campaign, these days can disappear with barely a whisper. Trivial stories — the kind that are tailor-made for forwarding to your brother-in-law or college roommate with a wisecracking note at the top — can dominate the campaign narrative for days.Who can guess what stories will cause the media machine to rev up its hype jets?'- John F Harris; 'Media hype: How small stories become big news'.

The dilemma in differentiating a commodity

The rising commodity costs have hit commodity businesses, hard. Take Catch spices for instance. Unable to absorb rising commodity cost and increase in consumer prices, DS Foods, maker of Catch spices and water has stopped production of spices under its 'Catch' brand. Its been two months now since the company has shut down production of Catch spices that include salt and pepper.
The most difficult of all marketing exercises, is in differentiating commoditised products. Theodore Lewitt in his book 'Marketing Imagination' stated thus about differentiation; 'There is no such thing as a commodity. All good and services can be differentiated and usually are... The only exception to this proposition is in the minds of people who profess that exception... In fabricated consumer and industrial goods, competitive distinction is visibly sought via distinctive product features, some visually or measurable identifiable, some cosmetically implied, and some rhetorically claimed by…

Indiana Jones & the International Box office moolah

Paramount's Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull is piling up the box office gross. The foreign estimate for its first 4 days through Sunday is $143 million -- shattering the record for the Hollywood studio's best overseas opening previously held by the opening of another Steven Spielberg pic, War Of The Worlds ($102M).

The top 3 markets were UK with $21.5 million, France $14.1 million (obviously getting a boost from its debut at the 61st Cannes Film Festival), and Germany $12.6M. So, with North America's $126M take through Sunday, that's a nearly $270M worldwide total so far.
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Addicted to 'de-addiction' tourism

ET reports that there are now close to 400 de-addiction centres across India and the marriage of tourism with de-addiction has been drawing Gen Y to the hospitality sector.

Its not just Indians, even foreigners with drug abuse problems have been thronging these destinations to get a flavour of Indian tourism as they get treated across exotic locales of the country. Combining medication with meditation as one spends quality time amid tea gardens, backwaters or wilderness is not just an experiment of sorts - its supposed to transform a person completely. Charging Rs 2 lakh for customised packages that could last from one week to one month, the companies are targeting not just Indians but also those with substance abuse problems in Europe, US and Africa.
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The Free Trade Paradox

'...the very people who suffer most from free trade are often, paradoxically, among its biggest beneficiaries.

The reason for this is simple: free trade with poorer countries has a huge positive impact on the buying power of middle- and lower-income consumers—a much bigger impact than it does on the buying power of wealthier consumers. The less you make, the bigger the percentage of your spending that goes to manufactured goods—clothes, shoes, and the like—whose prices are often directly affected by free trade. The wealthier you are, the more you tend to spend on services—education, leisure, and so on—that are less subject to competition from abroad.'

James Surowiecki ; 'The Free Trade Paradox'.

Brand baggages and why they must 'fit'

Tony Stark's moral reawakening in the 'Iron Man' required that he be played by someone who's had similar experiences in real life. That would give the character greater depth, allowing viewers to identify and relate to the Iron Man. We now know that Robert Downey Jr. fit the bill and the result was stupendous success at the box office.
Robert Downey brought to the character his own 'personal baggage', not on screen, but in a manner subtle enough for the character he played to turn believable, almost touching an emotional chord within us.Brands too bring baggages along with them. Baggages that come from the business firms behind them, the names they carry and so on. All of these 'baggages' must strengthen the identity of the brand and not take away from it. Makes the brand stronger, believable and touches us in a manner that can even be termed emotional.Guess that's why Akon lied about his past. What would Hip-hop and Rap be if it didn't have the…

The Big fight for 'Big Bazar'

Read about it, here.

Consumers at the airport

The opening of Bangalore's new International airport may not be as welcome to passengers as it is to retailers. That's because of a captive consumer segment with disposable incomes that inevitably would be spent at stores in the airport.As per a 2008 IMRB International study, 71% of travellers spend one hour or more in the airport complex prior to departure, while 75% or more spend at least 30 minutes post arrival. The IMRB study also says that 42% of airline travellers frequently make purchases at stores or restaurants within the airport. The study shows that 99% of airport travellers own mobile phones, 71% own credit cards, 42% own home audio systems, 41% own automobiles and 32% own diamond jewellery . Various studies also indicate that 85% of passengers want shops easily accessible from the departures lounge. The IMRB study cites that 75% of travellers look at advertising displays at airports, and 73% of travellers can be reached at least once during a three-month airport a…

What must we do?

'Or this from Obama in Roseburg, Ore., last Saturday:

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK. That's not leadership. That's not going to happen."

We can't?! It's not?

By all means, let's roll out the hybrids and hold the fries, but are other countries now the judges of American lifestyles? Perhaps while human rights investigator DoudouDiene is in the United States the next few weeks probing racism for the United Nations, he can take a measure of American gluttony. What would Senegal have us do?

Obama isn't wrong that America needs to clean up, slim down and guzzle less, but let's hope Michelle isn't right about the requiring and demanding part. Free markets and private-sector innovation are beautiful things, as is voluntary sacrifice. Let's stay just cynical enough, meanwhile, to ask not what our country can do …


'As my generation journeys deeper into middle age, we talk about this quietly, live through our parents' passing and learn how little we know about the journey's end. Death will never be pretty--its sights and smells too close and crude. And it will never come under our control: it gallops where we tiptoe, rips up our routines, burns our very breath with its heat and sting. And yet while sorrow is certain, fear is not...

How is it that the one event we know with absolute certainty will occur is still one we improvise? Do we lower our voices, dress in black, save a lock of hair as the Victorians did and wove into jewelry? Do you let young children see a corpse--the very word suddenly cold and empty because his flesh and blood no longer matter, his meaning filling the space once his presence is gone?'

- Nancy Gibbs; 'The Light of Death'.

The Emotional Intelligence of IPL owners

When Charu advocates; 'there should be a seminar of the owners of the IPL teams. There they should be sensitised about what cricket means, what T20 is all about, the kind of personalities the players have, and the kind of adulation and hero-worship they have. They should be told what kind of expectations they can have from the game and the players and their business.';he's based it on the way he has been treated.

Now, that may be a tad unfair to the other IPL team owners. Though some may have found Shah Rukh's histrionics irritating, his 'hands-on motivational style' of engagement is something I have found refreshing. Plus I haven't seen the Jaypee group shriek hoarse, in spite of the Deccan Charger's poor showing.

Lack of sensitivity can never be restricted to a particular event or issue. In fact, generalise that 'lack', to every other sphere of a person's living. So if a class on sensitivity is recommended, don't do it so that an owner c…

'Differently Similar'

'One of the ways in which people are similar is in the lengths to which they will go in order to show that they are different. Over the years, slowly but surely, we have painted ourselves into a corner on a whole range of issues, where we can no longer say or do what makes the most sense to us, but only what is considered to be politically correct.

The great Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that a good catchword could stop people from thinking for 50 years. The big catchword this election year is "change"-- and it has already stopped many people's thinking in its tracks.'

- Thimas Sowell, 'Random Thoughts'.

The paradox of slack periods and lousy customer service

This is something that I learnt at my first job, which had me managing Food and Beverage outlets at the Taj. That service failures would be common during 'slack' periods at the restaurant. And its true. Not just for restaurants, but for any retail outlet.

Yesterday saw us 'traipsing' off to Big Bazaar for our grocery purchases. We chose a Monday 'cos we knew that it would be less crowded. Plus it rained here in Bangalore. And it was. Yet the downside was not having anyone respond to us, when we had a query. That's 'cos the floor staff just weren't alert to buyer needs. It was obvious why. 'Cos there weren't too many customers in. Ditto for our visit to a Bata Shoe outlet. No response from the store staff to the extent that we left.
Retailers must dread slack periods more than the busy ones. Not just in terms of lower revenues, but also for slack in customer service. What makes this even more dangerous is the fact the buyer is less forgiving when …

The Indian Netizen

According to online research & advisory firm JuxtConsult’s ‘India Online 2008’ — an offline survey of over 12,500 households across 40 cities and 160 villages countrywide to gauge the online behaviour of Indians; Every one in 10 urban Indians (12%) is now net connected. Over two-thirds (70%) of all internet users reside outside metros. And across urban and rural India, internet using population is evenly spread across all socio-economic classes (SEC). What’s more, over 70% internet users prefer to access the net in Indian languages, with English users at just 28%, down from 41% in 2007.

There are over 49-million internet users in the country. Urban users account for a bulk of it, 40 million, with rural net users numbering 9 million. Regular net users, defined as anyone accessing the net at least once a month, number around 35 million (30-million urban and 5-million rural). Internet penetration (as % of population) has crossed double-digit mark in urban India at 12%, up 3% from 9% l…

Sport above its stars?

I guess Prem has point when he says, 'its players that drive the popularity of IPL matches'. He goes on to point to the Chennai team not having any superstars from that state, yet having its matches in Chennai sold out. Yeah, I know Murali is a tamilian.

But the larger issue. Is sport at the end of the day about its stars and not about itself? I have heard many a times, purists (read commentators) pointing to sport being above its players. Is that really so? Sure its the politically correct thing to say, but then again, is it true?

What would tennis have been without the likes of John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Anna and Andre? How did Shoaib get Kolkatans to turn emotional? What about the likes of Beckham and Co.? In Japan, they have built a shrine for Beckham! Remember Mike Tyson?

Many a times, sport's not about sport but about the people who play them. And that's simply because we can't relate to something that's inanimate. We can, on the other hand, identify and r…

The 'redeemer' in a Democrat

'The alert among you will have noticed by now that what all these spiritually uplifting leaders have in common. They are all Democrats. Never in any of the chapters of this hagiography does a Republican, a conservative, appear in a remotely similar light. These alien creatures by contrast have always been portrayed as cartoonish representatives of the Dark Side of humanity, or, if they were really lucky, simply idiots, failed B-movie actors and irredeemably ignorant hicks with embarrassingly neanderthal views on women, religion and communism...

You will not see a finer example of the genre than the cover story of this week's Newsweek, which was entitled “The O Team”. This rhapsodic inside account of Senator Obama's campaign reads a little like a cross between Father Alban Butler's Life of St Francis and the sort of authorised biography of Kim JongIl you can pick up in any good bookshop in Pyongyang.

Mr Obama is portrayed throughout as an immanently benevolent figure. No…

The 'cheerleader effect' on Indian Society

'Every society has a vulgarity coefficient beyond which people start bristling. I might think that the cheerleaders are fine human instruments and admire their high kicks. You might think they are sexy sirens who are beyond vulgar. Brazilians might think there is nothing wrong with nudity on the beach. West Asian cultures would arrest you if you show much skin — on the beach or elsewhere.

In a global world with an overdose of information through CNN and other media, many of us are exposed to value systems that cause us to question our own. But social norms and mores are not a figment of a politician’s imagination. There are Indians who live in Coimbatore and Kollam who believe that excessive display of skin is vulgar and might “distract” their young son’s mind from his class X exams. Regardless of what you think, they are entitled to their opinion.'

ShobaNarayan; 'When spreading the cheer can be confusing'.
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Bucking the Price rise

ET reports that barring groundnut oil, prices of 13 essential commodities in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai retail markets remained steady during the week ended May 9, according the government statement.

According to economists, prices of some commodities have calmed down to some extent after the government has taken a slew of measures to ease the inflation which has shot up to 7.61 per cent for the week ended April 26 and has further risen to 7.83 per cent for the week ended May 3. Cost of living in metros is normally high and a steady price movement in food items is a breather to consumers. It also helps to keep inflation under control, experts said.

One person's smut is another's morning Latte'

Read about the outrage over Starbucks' new retro-style logo here.

Irritating Brand Crescendo and consumer desire for an anti-thesis

At times, a brand crescendo touches heights that gets consumers to badly wish for an anti-thesis. And at times their wishes are answered.

Take the case of the movie, 'Sex and the City'. Viewers tired of the rising hoopla round the movie are bound to take to the latest issue of New York's Time Out magazine, which has a reputation for capturing the city's Zeitgeist. The issue has hit stands promising a Sex And The City free edition (albeit using an image of the women on the cover).
Clever and Cheeky!
Mag Cover :

Leisure & Entertainment trends in India

The 'India leisure and entertainment trends 2008' report by The Knowledge Company, a division of Technopak, reveals that 'from 15 to 55, everyone in India is spending on leisure and entertainment. And the repertoire is wide, from TV to music, cinema to reading, outings to retail therapy, fitness and even religion. This also includes new age engagements like gaming and net-based activities.While TV viewing is the most favourite past time with 75% indulging in it, music too has become very popular with the coming of FM. The growth of retail is also contributing to shopping becoming another favourite activity. And cell phones have contributed towards increased socializing on the phone. The study also reveals the importance of prayer and religion in the life of youth in India. In fact, it shows religion is still a way of life in India. Rituals, worship, and visiting religious places scores very high in an individual's life. Seven out of 10 individuals say they consider vis…

Why the controversial Bollywood Blogs?

According to ET, the reason why we get to read about AmitabhBachchan rating Shah Rukh Khan's new reality show as 'Panchvi Fail', or Aamir talking about a mutt named Shah Rukh, on their blogs, is 'cos either they have been paid for the 'natty' stuff and so have to attract sizable readership or 'cos they always wanna hit the limelight.
Well, it seems they have been pretty successful at that, considering the media fell over each other to feature their 'stuff', prime time. Plus remember, the stars have embarked on doing what the media has been doing for years. Sensationalise. Now is that what the reader seeks? Yes and No. Yes, for the segment that responds to the fare that is dished out by likes of 'Times of India' and its broadcast channel, 'Times Now', where almost every news item featured is 'breaking news'. No, for the segment that swears by a newspaper like 'The Hindu'. Now, what the does mass consumer take to? Isn…

The Indian Woman consumer

A single Indian working woman spends 27% on apparel and accessories and 19% on books and gifts. The numbers are 23% and 15%, respectively for married women.Married working women with no children spend 14% of their income on financial products. the figure almost doubles in the case of working married women with dependent children at 24%.
Age brings with it a need to save. Married women with independent children save 25% of their income while single working women spend only 13% on financial products and services.
Single women spend just 2% of the total income on EMIs, compared to 11% for married women.
Single women splurge more on eating out frequently, 19%, than married women who spend only 12%.
While homemakers spend a minimal 35 on purchasing mobile phones and cameras, the figure almost doubles for single working women at 7%.
Homemakers spend more on fashion than working women with children. They spend 255 on accessories, while working mothers spend 21%.Read the complete report on the Ind…

Contrive 'real' for consumer attention

Meltdowns on TV are such fun to watch. Because for once we get to see the real person and not the carefully contrived image. As people we desperately seek the 'real' in a world where we are constantly subject to pretenses. Marketeers are viewed as 'pretense' creators. Marketing Communiques that 'seem real' at times work in arresting consumer attention. Guess why 'reality' shows work? But then push it too long and viewer interest sags, as in the case of the hit American Idol show. Watch the 'Top Ten Angry On-Camera Meltdowns' here. Hilarious :)

Who's the glutton?

Blogging Quake conspiracies

Times Online : 'As the death toll in China's Sichuan province climbs, the nation’s bloggers have joined together in the search for a scapegoat. Broadband connections across the country are pulsing with rumours of "earthquake omens" involving toads or butterflies - all allegedly ignored by the authorities. Some even talk of a vast pre-Olympic conspiracy.

One blogger from Shandong province, in eastern China, wrote that more than a month ago, he went to his local earthquake research centre several times to report that his animals had been disturbed and restless.'

Read the complete report here.

'India' in Bollywood movies

Having endured what can be described as pure torture while watching a Bollywood movie a few weeks back, I am not too sure if I agree with Rosch Christoph who says, 'I am planning to go to India and watching Bollywood films has helped me to know the country better, its society and culture'.
But its mighty interesting to note that Universities that include the University Of Manchester, University of California, Berkeley (UC, Berkeley) and Cardiff University are now offering courses on 'Bollywood'. In fact Stanford University has a student-initiated course titled, 'Running Around Trees: Exploring the Bollywood Song'.Interestingly, it's not just the colour and fun that's getting these students hooked to such courses, but serious aspirations to build a career in India. Overseas students eager for a career stint in India find Bollywood flicks a useful medium to enhance their knowledge about the country.I wonder if that's quite the wild goose chase. I am al…

The revenue potential of 'Ancillary' services

The importance of ancillary services is always understated. At times it is seen as a distraction that dilutes a firm's focus on its core products and services. But then, when incidental services have the potential to generate substantial revenues (can they, then be termed 'ancillary?), without diluting core services, or maybe even supporting core functions, they turn 'critical'.Take hospitality services in India. Lately, room revenues have been taking a hit due to drop in occupancies, partly prompted by increased competition. In such a scenario hotels have taken to promoting ancillary services. This makes good sense considering the rise in disposable incomes and the young Indian's taste for premium Food & Beverage, health clubs, spas and other services.Traditionally, room revenues contributed 70%, F&B 20-25% and the balance was contributed by ancillary services. Non-room revenues have started moving up over the last one year, with F&B itself contributin…

The Indian North-South divide on Brand localisation

For Brands with strong psychological appeal (read, non-functional appeal) to work, would consumers need to be irrational over rational in their evaluation of products and services? Across India, is there a North-South divide in the consumer's acceptance of a product's psychological appeal? North being more conducive as compared to the south of the country?
Considering the larger debate on localisation, must marketers localise when they are certain that the parent brand's appeal may not cut much ice with the 'thinking consumer' who then insists on the brand being modified to suit his tastes? Is that 'modification' more relevant to the south of India?ET reports that while MNCs are still struggling with localisation of their products to cater to Indian tastes, Indian FMCG companies have gone a step further by going regional with their brands. Companies with pan-India presence like Dabur India and CavinKare have already launched or are planning to launch product…

The critical role of Inside Sales

According to a new study from IDC's Sales Advisory Practice, inside sales reps are generating both higher sales efficiencies for vendors as well as increased customer intimacy. Inside sales is now on equal footing with outside sales and playing a pivotal role in maintaining current customers and driving new revenue.

The IDC study shows that the efficiencies offered by inside sales are compelling. For example, an inside sales rep can conduct four to eight professional interactions to an outside rep's single interaction, delivering significantly higher customer satisfaction and sales productivity. Moreover, most mid-market buyers are not interested in seeing a sales rep in person more than once or twice anyway, leaving inside sales in the ideal position to manage the relationship or opportunity in a highly efficient manner, in a way that many buyers actually prefer.

IPL decimates rivals on TRPs

Livemint reports that a viewership analysis by MindShare Insights has revealed that the percentage of people watching sports has jumped to 19.94% between 4 April and 12 April from 6.63% between 18 April and 26 April.
General entertainment channels that air Hindi programmes and include Sony, Star Plus and Zee TV, have seen their viewership share decline to 13.93% from 16.72%. Similarly, Hindi news’ share dropped to 2.85% from 3.49%, business news to 0.28% from 0.35%, and Hindi movie channels to 4.89% from 6.08%. The craze for IPL is such that even kids and English general entertainment channels lost viewership share to 3.87% from 3.91%, and to 0.15% from 0.22%, respectively.

Why is IPL an advertiser's delight?

I had earlier commented on the IPL identity problem. Its still too early to predict as to whether viewers will bond with any particular team (read players), especially since teams will see change of players every season. But within this spectre of uncertainty, comes succour, not to the organisers and owners, but to advertisers.

Prof. Sekhar has a very valid point regarding the risks that the IPL format poses to advertisers, as compared to similar risks when its the 'country versus country' game format. The latter requires India to win for viewer interest to be sustained. Remember the world cup debacle and the resulting drop in TRPs for the rest of the World cup games? Though advertisers theoretically can pull out of their future spots (during the world cup), in reality, pull-outs don't come easy or cheap.

Now, that scenario contrasts with the one posed by the IPL format, for advertisers. It doesn't matter who wins or loses. Viewer (for the ones watching) interest will be…

Icons and IPL's identity problem

Its ironical that Vijay Mallya does exactly what he accuses Charu of doing; 'give excuses'. The way I see it, it was his money and he could buy who he thought fit to be in the team, and not blame Charu and Dravid for getting him the team he is saddled with. I guess Dravid is bound to go, if Bangalore Challengers don't turn in wins. In fact TOI had reported earlier that ; 'According to BCCI sources, some of the franchisees have indicated that they be allowed to trade below-par performers for those the owners feel might be quality replacements. But Lalit Modi made it clear that "if the franchisees want to dispose off the icon players or the underperformers in the team, the owners will have to pay off the three-year contract money to them". Or else, they can be traded to some other teams when the IPL trading window opens next February.'Trading the 'icon' players would compound the IPL identity problem. In fact if the IPL teams hope to garner support …

Brand Recall of the 'Big B'

'So, even if you have not seen an Amitabhstarrer in a decade, you would still have seen him at least thrice a day—on TV, in newspapers and on billboards. The creation of Brand Bachchan, as cannily managed and promoted as a corporate entity, ensures that his recall value is unmatched by anyone else, past or present. Otherwise, the Big B, merely on the strength of his performances as a supporting star—which forms the bulk of his roles in the past decade—would surely not have bolted past other worthies to win the accolade of 'star of stars' in our opinion poll.'

- BishwadeepMoitra; 'Shadows On A Stream'

Bangalore votes

Polling began at Bangalore and other districts of Karnataka; Tumkur, Chikkaballapur, Kolar, Ramanagara, Mandya, Hassan, Kodagu, Mysore and Chamarajanagar at 7 in the morning.

Read the report on polling in Karnataka here.

Price changes and their effects on consumption volumes

The 200 ml. bottle of Sprite cost me Rs. 10. The 500 ml. bottle now has now moved from Rs. 20 to Rs. 25. In contrast, a few days ago, I bought a 2.25 litre Coke bottle at Rs. 50 (earlier 2 litre was at Rs. 50).How do I, as a consumer, respond? My 'immediate consumption' (read 200 ml.) makes a switch to fruit juices. My 'future consumption' remains with the bottle of Coke, but mind you, because its 2.25 litre at Rs. 50.My bet is, the price change will see drops in 'immediate consumption' volumes of soft drinks, but 'future consumption' volumes may rise.

The political costs of rising prices

Back in Mumbai, Yukti met up with her contractor. He told her property prices are going to come down in the next 2 - 3 months with a change in the ruling party. When she asked him why does he think that power will change hands; his reason was the rise in prices and how difficult it was for the aam junta (common man) to survive economically. When Yukti tried giving him her perspective about how much the Manmohan-Chidambaram team had done, he wasn't convinced. She thinks that its really difficult to have your pulse on the common man and the thinking man at the same time. And then she asks, how does one frame policies & to please whom? Is it based on which section of society has a larger influence on the votes? And again, she warns that the thinking audience not only has a smaller proportion among the total polity, they may also be cynical about voting! Hmmm...what can I say? The common man's not the thinking man and vice-versa? Maybe. Goes to show why 'intellectualising&…

Indus Pride's a beer

While going global, the 'transnational strategy' route requires brands to respond to both 'cost pressures' and 'pressures of local responsiveness' in certain markets. SAB Miller's India strategy seems to be adopting this very same route. Well, everything's hunky dory, till the time SAB Miller names its Indian beer offering 'Indus Pride'. Now what's that about? Christeners being creatively challenged? Imagine going into a restaurant and asking the server, 'A bottle of Indus Pride please'. What you then get served is a bottle of beer, for crying out loud! ET states the act as, 'a new, authentic Indian beer appropriately named Indus Pride and pitched against Kingfisher in the mainstream lager market'. Shouldn't they be saying, 'inappropriately named'? I guess hitting on the appropriate brand beats most christeners, whoever they are. Remember the amateurs who christened the IPL teams?What can I say, except, a 'bot…

The 'neither-nor' products

Products turn 'pains' when they try and be more than a thing at the same time and end up being neither.
Captain Capitalism on why the Blackberry is such a pain.
Note : Captaincapitalism blog was reached via Carpe Diem.

Indian corporate practice; Sack Charu!

Well, Indian corporate practices out in the open. Vijay Mallya sacks Charu Sharma, the guy who has the least to do with Royal Challengers' poor showing on the field. The way I remember, I didn't see Charu either throw a ball, or swing a bat. So how is he responsible? Oh yes, I forget, the 'strategy' part. Well the way I see it, the closest you come to 'strategic applications' in the game of cricket is when you ensure you've the got your best bowler bowling the last over in a one-day match. Remember Chetan Sharma's last over in a match that had Kapil Dev as the captain?Vijay Mallya does what comes naturally to the honchos in corporate India. Turn the guy who's got zero power to strike back into the scapegoat and sack him with fanfare. Wonder if Mallya's got what it takes to can Dravid, Kumble and their likes? Then he can kiss his sleep in Karnataka goodbye. Its a shame to see Charu go, not that it means anything to me, from a cricketing perspecti…

Computers in Cuba and the freedom of choice

Coming from a state where almost one half of the population holds up countries such as Cuba as models of prosperity, I wonder how my brethren would react to the news that Cuba has just put the first computers on sale for the public.I remember how the communists reacted to the advent of computers in India. They embarked on what they do best, hold states to ransom by imposing what is their favourite pastime, agitations and bandhs.It is time the citizenry recognised what 'professing socialists' truly want; control our lives by regulating and dictating what we ought to and ought not to buy. Which in other words is, denying me, my freedom of choice. Unimaginable in these ages, yet so true for millions of people languishing in countries where forced socialism rules the roost.

Cookbooks and ingredients on retail shelves

Its a great idea on the part of Nestle' to bring out a cookbook with recipes that require Nestle products be used. But then, it isn't a great idea if Nestle' can't stock up shop shelves with those products.

The other day Alphy bought a Nestle' cook book and embarked on changing our gastronomic lives by attempting to prepare the Indonesian Fish curry. Now the recipe required her to use Nestle's 'Maggi Lemon masala cubes' in its preparation. She rummaged high and low across grocery stores in Bangalore, but there was no sign of the damn 'cube'. The Fish curry now stands abandoned and we are back out to our staple fare.

The cook book's a great idea. It even sells at a price. But not backing up recipes with products on the shelves, marketers disappoint consumers who would have readied up for the use of such products. Imagine, if the curry were a success? You would have had a convert who could spread the good word about your 'cubes'! Soon, t…

Bush blames India...?

Now I know that President George Bush is not most popular of people, but is that reason enough for ET to title their story, 'Bush now blames Indian middle class for rising food prices'?

What the President stated was an economic fact. There was no 'blame', in fact his statement was a compliment to a country that is demanding better products and services for consumption. Judge for yourselves.

'Worldwide there is increasing demand. There turns out to be prosperity in developing world, which is good. It's going to be good for you because you'll be selling products into countries -- big countries perhaps -- and it's hard to sell products into countries that aren't prosperous. In other words, the more prosperous the world is, the more opportunity there is.

It also, however, increases demand. So, for example, just as an interesting thought for you, there are 350 million people in India who are classified as middle class. That's bigger than America. Their…

Microsoft-Yahoo update

Reuters reports that Microsoft Corp withdrew its offer for Yahoo Inc on Saturday as negotiations fell through on price, even after the software giant raised its bid by about $5 billion to $47.5 billion.

Read the complete story here.

Microsoft & Yahoo begin merger tallks

IHT reports on the merger talks here.

Logos :

'Beauty' aspirations of small town India

Its something I've said before. The universality of consumption aspirations. It cuts across the length and breadth of India sweeping with it, even folks from smaller towns and villages.
Take the beauty business. To want to look good is universal. HT Mint reports that cities such as Surat, referred to as tier II by most people because they aren’t as large as the metros or other big cities, nor as sophisticated as markets, were once considered conservative by companies selling beauty and beauty products. Yet, in Surat, the city’s women have surprised retailers and manufacturers with their desire to look good, their adventurousness in trying out new things, and their willingness to pay big money for beauty treatments and products. A soon-to-be-released study by the Future Group, of which Pantaloon Retail (India) Ltd, one of India’s biggest retailers, is part, and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) says the ratio of spending to earning is higher in cities such as…

Why Ads won't work on Youtube

ET states it as a 'scepter haunting Youngistan — the scepter of YouTube', and I can only laugh.

The only scepter that haunts me is that I have to at times, be subject to Ad. ideas that are so hackneyed and devoid of originality, that it makes me wanna weep. Or maybe I just need to accept that the fact I have hit the other side of thirty and so maybe I am just that bit less stupid, (wiser, perhaps?) :)

It is be noted that the eyeballs such commercials garner on Youtube is nothing to write about. But ET predicts better times in the future, stating, 'Though guaranteed eyeballs will still be lower (on YouTube) than the conventional media plan, it’s only a matter of time when penetration leading to increased Internet usage poses a significant threat to established media.'

Really? Has Prahlad Kakkar stumbled on a 'eyeball goldmine' when he says, “YouTube is a brilliant idea. In three days, it hits a target audience which is relevant. And what’s more, the posting is free…