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Showing posts from October, 2008

HT Mint endorses Obama; Why am I not surprised?

I can understand the kid, green behind the ears, endorsing Obama. After all that's what youth's supposed to be about, lotsa energy, not much sense. But then when a Business Newspaper like HT Mint endorses Obama by stating, 'Eight years of Bush have altered the world for the worse. The time to repair this is now. The Democratic Party candidate is the man for the job'; I gotta guffaw and maybe take back what I said about the 'young'. Age ain't a criterion, 'blindness' afflicts the young and the old.

Let me now get to HT Mint's Obama endorsement. I quote;

'Today’s America is one whose health is weak and, more importantly, whose morale is low. For good reason. Under eight years of post-Bill Clinton Republican rule in America, some five million citizens of that wealthy nation have fallen into poverty while seven million more citizens are now without health insurance.'

In response let me quote from Ben Stein; 'But the advocates for poor and b…

US Economy shrinks in 3Q

AP reports: The US economy jolted into reverse during the third quarter as consumers cut back on their spending by the biggest amount in 28 years, the strongest signal yet the country has hurtled into recession.

The broadest barometer of the nation's economic health, gross domestic product, shrank at a 0.3 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. It marked the worst showing since the economy contracted at a 1.4 percent pace in the third quarter of 2001, when the nation was suffering through its last recession.

The deterioration reflected a sharp retrenchment by consumers, whose spending accounts for the largest chunk of national economic activity. Consumers ratcheted back their spending at a 3.1 percent pace in the third quarter, the most since the second quarter of 1980, when the country was in the grip of recession.

Why 'credibility' matters, in a message

Obama may have taken over major networks, prime time in America to run his half an hour infomercials, and maybe that's good enough to maximise his exposure, but what about the message he wants to propagate? Who's buying? For messages to be heeded to, they must carry credibility. And the greatest credibility that a message can carry is when the listener/viewer does not identify it with the marketer. Obama, the suave marketer behind the infomercial is what ensures the message ain't credible. What's he supposed to say that ain't glossy? And I am supposed to fall for that? Especially since I am the fence sitter and I guess that makes me a rational thinker who's weighing my options carefully.Contrast Obama's infomercial from the YouTube video titled, 'Dear Mr. Obama', that at a measly 1 minute 55 seconds (the Obama infomercial is half an hour long) ensures that it's short, simple and powerful. Powerful because the man behind the message ain't no …

Barack Obama, Made in Hollywood!

The Hollywood nitwit brigade for Obama seems to only get bigger. Take Spike Lee for example. In an interview on Tuesday, he saidthe election of Barack Obama is "pre-deortained", a word that really doesn't exist, at least in the heads of sane people.I used to wonder why. Now I get it. To be an artist one must park one's brains outside, 'suspend reality'. That's so much a must to turn 'creative'. That's so much a must again, to vote Barack. And aren't the Hollywood brigade supposed to be that, I mean, creative? Oh and yes, add airheads like Springsteen to that list. Now that the Hollywood nitwit brigade has an excuse, I'm thinking, what about the college going youth and the intellectuals in America? What's theirs?

Why customer 'trials' are critical

Am in Cochin till the weekend. My every retail encounter in Kerala leaves me bemused at how Retail-illiterate the state of Kerala is. But then I am reminded of how the Barack Obama type wealth redistribution, anti-industry policy that has been practice here, in the garb of social justice, has left Kerala business-bankrupt.

Take my encounter at Varkey's, a leading supermarket chain in Cochin. I picked up a business magazine at the store and was browsing through the same, when one of the store personnel came up to me, and told me that, reading in the store wasn't allowed. I put the magazine back and decided not to buy despite the fact that it contained reports I was interested in.

The assumption that retailers make, I guess, is that, if one were to read through a magazine, one wouldn't buy. I wonder why not make the opposite assumption? If the customer were to browse through a magazine, the probability of purchase becomes that much higher. At least that's the assumption th…

The fallout of employee performance measures on consumers

There's a great book on the subject by Harvard Business School professor Robert Austin -- Measuring and Managing Performance in Organizations. The book's central thesis is fairly simple: When you try to measure people's performance, you have to take into account how they are going to react. Inevitably, people will figure out how to get the number you want at the expense of what you are not measuring, including things you can't measure, such as morale and customer goodwill...

But anyway, back to Austin, the Harvard professor. His point is that incentive plans based on measuring performance always backfire. Not sometimes. Always. What you measure is inevitably a proxy for the outcome you want, and even though you may think that all you have to do is tweak the incentives to boost sales, you can't. It's not going to work. Because people have brains and are endlessly creative when it comes to improving their personal well-being at everyone else's expense.

As some …

Go, John, Go!

Consumer Credit & the Indian Middle Class

WSJ: Consumer credit, whether cards or car loans, is relatively new to India. Fifteen years ago, even home loans were hard to come by. As regulations on lending were relaxed and India's urban middle class swelled with 20-somethings hungry for the latest cellphone model, credit expanded to meet the need.
Banks went too far, analysts say, issuing cards indiscriminately to people in rural areas and lower-income groups without regular salaries. The number of credit cards in India, while still only a fraction of the population, has more than tripled in the past five years, to almost 30 million. In the year ended March 31, Indians charged more than $14 billion on their cards, more than three times the amount charged four years earlier.The amount of unsecured loans and credit-card receivables more than three months overdue is about 7% to 9% of total loans outstanding this year, and is about to head as high as 15%, according to ratings agency Crisil Ltd. in Mumbai.

Why Indians should stop fawning over Obama

This is for the woolly headed Indian media fawning over Obama. For Pete's sake, get a hold on yourselves and read this!

Shut up, me the Proffie!

Indian institutions prefer students to be obedient listeners. Our educational system, barring a few exceptions, encourages a hierarchical relationship between teacher and student. The former controls knowledge and the latter is expected to submissively accept what is handed down. The argumentative Indian thrives despite the system. This may look like an anomaly because a competitive political democracy like India’s should have facilitated an educational system that is cool about arguments and dissent.

Or, is the lacuna in the educational system a reflection of a flaw in our democratic culture? We have regular elections and our political space teems with parties subscribing to a rainbow of ideologies. But is this space sufficiently democratic so that people get the leaders they deserve? Family, clan, caste, religion — a range of identities influence our choice of leaders more than their understanding of public policy. Beneath the trappings of democracy, the old social order, where cast…

Who's hit harder, the retailer or the manufacturer brand?

A month ago I had the misfortune of buying a pair of Lee Cooper leather sandals from the Westside store at Forum. First the stitches give way, then the buckle breaks and both times, while I am on the road. I guess its happened to all of you out there, and you know how irritating it is to try and walk with sandals that have given way.

Now I am trying to figure out who's earned my ire, more? Westside for having the brand in their store or Lee Cooper for manufacturing a lousy pair of sandals?

From the consumer's perspective, both need to worry. Lee Cooper, 'cos maybe I won't try the brand again and Westside, 'cos now I think they stack sub-standard stuff and so maybe I won't visit them again. The Westside crew may put up their hands and say the brand isn't theirs, but does it matter?

Techno-Ready Marketing

Every time I see 'n hear someone moaning the 'disruptive' use of technology, I am tempted to say, 'Don't fight it, Adapt!'. But then I stop, as I know it would fall on deaf ears; its the 'generation gap', you see.Marketers must leverage technology to their advantage. It becomes even more important if their target consumer segment happens to be the present generation. Take for example, mobile telecommunication in a country like India. According to TRAI figures, India crossed the 10 million mark in monthly wireless subscriber additions with a record 10.07 million additions in September 2008 against 9.16 million in August 2008. Leveraging the reach of this technology becomes an absolute must for marketers. And it must be done in a way that its welcomed by the receiver (subscriber-user) rather than being seen as an 'interruptive marketing message'. The power of technology is virtually unstoppable. Countries like North Korea try their best to control…

Who do you want as President?

'Who do you want answering that phone at 3 a.m.? A man who's been cramming on these issues for the past year, who's never had to make an executive decision affecting so much as a city, let alone the world? A foreign policy novice instinctively inclined to the flabbiest, most vaporous multilateralism (e.g., the Berlin Wall came down because of "a world that stands as one"), and who refers to the most deliberate act of war since Pearl Harbor as "the tragedy of 9/11," a term more appropriate for a bus accident?

Or do you want a man who is the most prepared, most knowledgeable, most serious foreign policy thinker in the United States Senate? A man who not only has the best instincts but has the honor and the courage to, yes, put country first, as when he carried the lonely fight for the surge that turned Iraq from catastrophic defeat into achievable strategic victory?'

- Charles Krauthammer; 'McCain for President.'

Ruraldom rules!

ET reports that demand in rural and semi-urban areas has managed to delink itself from the financial crisis. As a result, products that have a rural focus—like bottom-end two-wheelers, entry-level cars and utility vehicles as well as lower-end gizmos—are all doing well.

Consider the stats. Demand for cars is down to just over 5% in the first half of the current fiscal. But utility vehicles and motorcycles, which have a strong rural/semi-urban spread, are up 12.53% and 12.58%, respectively. That’s the highest growth in the entire automotive spectrum, except for three-wheeler passenger carriers, another bottom-of-the-pyramid product. Ditto for consumer durables. Marketers say that while the usual festival fervour is missing in larger metro markets, rural demand has been the big face-saver this season.

Mumbai 'depressed'!

Sometimes its a hypothesis bias, and that's what I am tempted to attribute this one to. It seems financial slowdown's the reason why there's a spurt in the sale of anti-depressant drugs in the financial capital of India, Mumbai.
ET reports that Mumbai has recorded a 30% growth in the sale of anti-depressant medicines in the 12-month period ended August. This is much more than the 8% growth in the national market which is estimated at Rs 464 crore. Even in the month of August, when the sales of the anti-depressant segment dropped from Rs 41 crore in July to Rs 40 crore nationally, Mumbai was the only city which posted an 18% growth in sales of the drug. It grew from Rs 2.2 crore in July to Rs 2.6 crore in August.

Incredible India; You sure?

Sure, Crayons, Euro RSCG, Span Communications and ZenithOptimedia may have won the global account of Rs250 crore for Incredible India from Ministry of Tourism, and maybe they are going to do a great job at 'communicating' India to the rest of the world, but what about the product in question, India?

As a country India woth its diversity is truly incredible. But with infrastructure not being able to keep pace with economic growth, Indian cities are literally crumbling. Take Bangalore for one. Road infrastructure is pathetic to say the least. Bangalore the most visible face of tech. India to the rest of world paints a sorry picture in terms of urban infrastructure in spite of its Information Technology prowess.

Marketers must remember that its not just about communicating, its about ensuring that the buyers who are brought in the communique, be overwhelmed post the product usage. In the case of tourism, its about a host of industries, complementers to each other, functioning as a…

Hope floats

Read about it here. (Click the chart to enlarge.)

BOI 'hijacks' Hindu Businessline front page

Bank of India rules the front page on Hindu Business Line. The complete front page has been turned into an Ad. page for BOI. Let me describe the Ad to you. Headline; 'Despite odds, BOI stays true to form'. The page is dominated by copy with numbers declaring how profitable and how well BOI has grown in comparison to last year. It also shows how well managed the bank is, by quoting NPA figures which are low and have declined. The 'back' of the front page is even more denser with figures.At a time when people are tightening their purse strings and are wondering if their money is safe in their banks, here's one that comes out big time to state how well they are doing despite the 'odds'. The communique scores heavily on two factors, its and big and bold and therefore a sure attention grabber, and its provides just about the right details to the consumer who wants to 'know the numbers' when it comes to banks.Good going, BOI!

India to the Moon!

Read about it here.

Office space absorption...going...gone..!

According to a study by global commercial real estate services firm CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), Office space absorption in the country has gone down by 41.11% cumulatively in the three quarters ended September this year, as a fallout of the global economic slowdown.

The total office space taken up between January and September this year stood at 5.3 million sq ft as against 9 million sq ft in the corresponding period last year. According to the report, rentals in the National Capital Region are likely to remain stagnant for the next few quarters.

Repo rate cut impact on loan takers

ET reports that Middle-class households across Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore spend around a fourth of their monthly take-home income on loan EMIs — housing, auto, durables and personal loans. And around two-thirds of these households have taken a personal loan only in the last two years. Take exposure to stock markets, for instance. Although at a national level it is a low 3% of all households, around a third of all socio-economic class (SEC) A & B metro households invest in stocks.

The Repo rate cut should come as a relief to home loan takers as the loan rates are predicted to fall. A half percentage cut will slash EMI by Rupees 35 on every lakh of loan. On the downside, getting that home loan will get tougher. Sources say that with property valuation dipping, the loan on offer has also shrunk. And that in turn has impacted the overall disbursal levels.

Impact of meltdown on Indian labour & consumer markets

This must come as a relief to many, especially B School students right in the middle of placement season. ET reports that even as economists and government officials are busy revising India’s GDP growth estimates downwards, demand slowdown, it appears, is yet to hit India Inc. An ET study of early birds — companies who have announced their financial results for the quarter ended September 30, 2008 — shows that aggregate net sales for 175 firms have grown by a healthy 32%, which is marginally more than the 31% topline growth in Q2 FY08. Sales growth in the past five quarters is in the 27-34% range. Rising interest costs and high fuel and power expenses have resulted in the quarterly net profit growth shrinking to a modest 12% for the companies in the study during Q2 FY09 as against 32% growth during Q2 FY08 and a sizzling 48% growth during Q3 FY08. However, the good news is the aggregate profit growth shows a rebound in the quarter under review. Net profit growth of these firms had slu…

The 'Bradley effect' lesson in Research

Why I always take Consumer Research results with a pinch of salt is 'cos many a times they tell me about consumers who prefer to reveal nothing of how they actually consume, but more of what looks best in terms of their 'image' as consumers. For example, ask consumers if they are the bargaining type and you think they are gonna own up that, at the cost of looking miserly?The Bradley effect best demonstrates this when it comes to voter research. The Bradley effect, is named after a black gubernatorial candidate for California in 1982 who was predicted in the exit polls to win by a double-digit margin, went on to lose it by 50,000 votes. The Bradley effect describes a problem with polling methodology rather than racism as such, since many respondents were clearly embarrassed to admit they had not voted for the black guy. As Ann Coulter notes in her explanation on the Bradley effect, 'Named after Tom Bradley, who lost his election for California governor in 1982 despite a…

It just ain't the decision, its how you carry it!

I couldn't agree with T N Ninan more when he says, 'You can—indeed, should—criticise both NareshGoyal and VijayMallya for their ego-driven decisions to expand beyond all logic, and to launch international operations when neither had a profitable domestic base. So, even if it is rather late in the day for them to be coming to their senses, it is entirely to be welcomed that they are canceling flights, scrapping aircraft orders, and (yes) retrenching staff. If they didn’t do that, and both companies folded up, it is not 1,900 but 19,000 people who will be out of work.'Again, I am all agreement when he states, 'Yes, Jet did the retrenchment without grace, and with no thought to common courtesies. So it has on its hands a public relations disaster and, worse, a rollback of the decision after tough talk and threats from Raj Thackeray. Where does that leave the cash-strapped airline, or Kingfisher which too had been preparing lists of people who would be asked to go?' To…

The lure of the 'outsider'

'Sarah Palin is the one real outsider among the four candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency on the Republican and Democratic tickets. Her whole career has been spent outside the Washington Beltway.

More than that, her whole life has been outside the realm familiar to the intelligentsia of the media. She didn't go to the big-name colleges and imbibe the heady atmosphere that leaves so many feeling that they are special folks. She doesn't talk the way they talk or think the way they think.

Worse yet, from the media's perspective, Sarah Palin does not seek their Good Housekeeping seal of approval.'

Being the outsider and not being the media darling doesn't win you points. Yet it may win you the admiration of the 'thinking' public. The ones who can can cut through the fluff and the see the 'real substance' in you. In case of Sarah Palin, I guess 'those ones' don't include American college going kids, the Hollywood elite and the l…

Conference on Global challenges in Management

Just finished my duties as an evaluation panel member at the International Conference on 'Global challenges in Management' organized by the Nandha Engineering college's Dept.of Management studies, at Erode. Its absolutely wonderful to note the overwhelming response in terms of paper submissions.

I thoroughly enjoy the 'spirit' of places like Erode (my first time here), that are wired differently from places like Bangalore. The enthusiasm and effort put into the papers presented have been exemplary.

Erode to me presents a face of South India that many metro livers can't understand or decipher. The potential that such places hold in terms of commerce needs to be seen, to be believed. This is where the marketer must work his magic for consumers of the future. The challenge lies in weaving product and services into the fabric of social life as seen in such places.

My experience with the college personnel has been heart warming. The hospitality has been superb. My than…

My home Idiot Box tragedy

The greatest tragedy of the Idiot Box in my home is that I have to listen to news room liberals mouthing pro-socialist propaganda passed off as news.I just finished watching the final presidential debate on BBC News. And that's the only international news channel other than CNN that's on my Cable. You may have guessed how CNN and BBC report, when it comes to Obama and his drive to take America away from it Capitalist ways.Such a pity.

When is Non-consumption an opportunity?

The critical question is why so many people don’t send email messages on their mobile phones. If they are truly scared off by complexity, hard-to-use keyboards, or overpriced data plans, Peek has a chance of success.

There’s another explanation, however. Perhaps the need to send email away from the office or home actually isn’t that important to the mainstream consumer. In other words, the reason why they aren’t consuming is not because existing solutions don’t get the job done; it is because the job simply isn’t that important to them...

This discuss raises a natural question. Beyond talking to family members, how can a company actually figure out the “why” behind nonconsumption? Well-crafted market research is one answer. Our experience is that the most productive research probes problems facing consumers and barriers that inhibit their ability to solve those problems.

This approach contrasts with the natural tendency of most companies to test the concept itself, asking people question…

Despite the layoffs, will Jet fly?

Laying offs always leave a sour aftertaste, but they are at times necessitated by economic conditions and at times by airheads in the HR department employing hiring practices that leave you, mouth agape. Remember the whiz kids hired at 'crore' salaries?!Jet's layoff has made front page news. The layoff was in the coming. With passenger traffic falling both on domestic and international routes, costs had to be pared. As a part of that paring, the axe's fallen on cabin personnel at Jet.Will driving down costs, up traffic? Don't think so. It will help ease the pressure on shrinking margins, but I doubt if it will do anything for the top line, unless and until cost reductions are passed on the consumer as lower prices, never mind the margins shrinking, again.Take my travel to Cochin for example. A Two tier AC train ride that takes around twelve hours, (overnight, and that's important 'cos I still don't lose a day) at a price of Rs. 987, to be exact, is perf…

Adiga's Booker accomplishments

Arvind Adiga winning the Booker is impressive because of two reasons. One, this is his first work of fiction and two, he was the youngest of the finalists plus he is the second youngest after Ben Okri to win the Booker.

What's also interesting to note is that unlike other Booker wins that don't necessarily turn out to be commercial successes, this one is predicted to rake in a fair bit of moolah.

Congratulations! I guess this would a go long way in inspiring young writers in India to go pen that tale.

Am I listening?


To Slash or up Ad expenditure this Diwali?

Data from New Delhi-based media agency Zenith Optimedia, part of the Publicis Groupe, show that 31% of the total ad budget for print, television and radio in 2007 was spent during the festive months of October to December.

Consumer durables accounted for 40% of this ad expenditure; packaged goods, 25%, cellular, 31%, and corporate advertising, 3%. Zenith Optimedia predicts that there will be an increase in expenditure on ads this festival season, too, and expects Rs4,500 crore to be spent. However, this increase will be well below original expectations, with automobile and durables players slashing ad expenditure by 70%, says a Zenith Optimedia spokesman.

The dilemma that marketers face this Diwali is whether to up or slash Advertising expenditure considering weakened consumer sentiment all around.

My take? Don't. But know that the splurge wont be as seen before and so the only way to get consumers to empty their pockets is by promising them 'more for less'. I am talking Adve…

The Marketing funda in Krugman's Nobel

Never mind the quality of Paul Krugman's work and the Nobel awarded for the same, what makes front page news around the world is that he is a Bush critic (the liberals sure are rubbing their hands in glee; note, Krugman follows in the line of liberal Messrs., Jimmy Carter and Al Gore) . Now there's a lesson in there that marketers must admit to; no matter how much you try and describe your brand to your consumers, they will in all probability identify the brand with ONE benefit (and hopefully, there's one that matters to them).A big mistake that a brand can make is to be 'too many things' to its consumers. In spite of the effort you may put in to try and be 'many things', your brand will still be remembered for that one characteristic. And so quit trying to be everything, find that one benefit that matters and is unique to your brand, and hammer it home with consumers.Take Big Bazaar for instance. Its been hammering home the message that its got the lowest …

Who's watchin' 'W'?

Based on a survey on W's viewership, conducted by Fandango, one of the Internet's biggest movie ticketsellers;

57% are male 58% are ages 25-49 66% say they want to see W because of its controversy surrounding the film 34% say they voted for George W. Bush in a previous election 27% say they will vote for McCain 53% say they will vote for Obama 66% say they want to see “W” because of its controversy 80% have seen at least one of Oliver Stone’s previous movies.

Happy B'day, Jaden!

Regulated de-regulation...whatever!

Just finished watching the 'Big Fight' on NDTV, where the discussion centred on whether Capitalism would survive. I am shocked at the prescription put forward by the few corporate honchos and leftist economists on the discussion forum. They seem to advocate 'regulated deregulation'!

Did I hear right? It seems the 'regulated' environment is what saved India the blushes. Sure, lending policy, for example, in India may be far more 'conservative' as compared to what happens in the US., but nothing can be far from the the truth, as far as 'Regulation' goes.

Note what George Mason economist Walter Williams says,'The financial collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is not a failure of the free market because lending institutions in a free market would not have taken on the high-risk loans. They were forced to by the heavy hand of government. The solution is not a taxpayer-financed bailout. The solution is to let them fail and allow the people who inv…

The Word's flat? Round, I say!

I sometimes wonder how somebody so naive writes a book that becomes a bestseller? Maybe there's marketing lesson in there somewhere. Tell you what, surely there is. Take for one, its title. 'The World is Flat'. Never mind the world being anything but flat, the title's smart enough to arouse anyone's curiosity. Two, its got lots of Bangalore. Never mind, Bangalore being nothing like India, (at least, I must know, I live in Bangalore), the place arouses the same sorta curiosity as the title does..... and so on...

Thomas Friedman in his article, 'Palin’s Kind of Patriotism' writes, 'If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first.'

Well Sir, I am ready to pay my taxes. But I am not ready to believe the governm…

The real reason why Colors is No.2

It pays to take the 'reality' route. It gets the channel in question the GRPs. At least that's what its done for Colors. And the result has Star Plus worried.

The reality shows that have hit the jackpot for Colors are 'KhatronkeKhiladi' and the voyeuristic 'Big Boss. Latest numbers from TAM Media Research shows Colors taking a huge leap, making it the clear No 2. among entertainment channels, with only 28 gross rating points (GRPs) separating it from the genre leader, Star Plus.

Obama fiasco, Ahoy!

Moving along to a little ventriloquism. Study his mouth carefully, folks: It looks like he's saying "I'll stop the special interests," when in fact the words coming out are "Welcome to Washington, friends!" Wind and solar companies, ethanol makers, tort lawyers, unions, community organizers -- all are welcome to feed at the public trough and to request special favors. From now on "special interests" will only refer to universally despised, if utterly crucial, economic players. Say, oil companies. Hocus Pocus!

And for tonight's finale, the Great Obama will uphold America's "moral" obligation to "stop genocide" by abandoning Iraq! While teleported to the region, he will simultaneously convince Iranian leaders to peacefully abandon their nuclear pursuits (even as he does not sit down with them), fix Afghanistan with a strategy that does not resemble the Iraqi surge, and (drumroll!) pull Osama bin Laden out of his hat!

Read t…

Steve Wozniak on the 'future' of iPod & iPhone

I begin to wonder whether he was even briefed by the Apple press office when he predicts the imminent death of the company's most popular product, the iPod. "The iPod has sort of lived a long life at number one," he says. "Things like, that if you look back to transistor radios and Walkmans, they kind of die out after a while. "It's kind of like everyone has got one or two or three. You get to a point when they are on display everywhere, they get real cheap and they are not selling as much." ...

If consumer technology spending plummets, and the indications are it will, Apple should be better placed than others to survive as many of their customers buy their products with almost religious devotion.

Steve Wozniak makes two points worth noting. One, Innovations no longer remains thus, once everyone's got a piece of it. Therefore its important to innovate on a continuous basis (obviously not an easy task).

Two, its the innovators that breed die hard loy…

Made in India Fashion; any takers?

Is this politics? Fashion is political. Is this a die-hard positioning Indian fashion must take? No. Instead, it should learn strategies of production, display and retail from global fashion brands.To coexist, it must compete. This is not a brand war. It's marketing sensibility at a time when the same luxury malls can be used to showcase an Assamese Geecha or the royal splendour of a jamaavar.

Made in India is a powerful term. It's now a label from the hungriest, largest and most important emerging market in the world. Not something you cringe at when you spot it on a linen shirt at Macy's, New York. Good enough to give the masterweavers—the underbelly of Indian fashion—photo-ops in style magazines. It's not about giving livelihood to the downtrodden at the cost of fashion. It's about long overdue success for designers and weavers because fashion is now fashionable in India.

Sure, Ms. Shefalee, Its an admirable thought, but I am not so sure about its feasibility, &…

Watch out; Qantas, in descent!

The worst that can happen to a brand is when it fails on its core value proposition. Think flying, and the most important factors are timeliness and of course safety. An airline's core value proposition lies in its handling of timely arrivals and takeoffs and its safety record.
Qantas with its fourth safety mishap this year has messed up on one of those core value proposition, safety. And that effect is now being felt. More than 60% of Australians believe the safety standards of Qantas have slipped, according to a poll released on the same day as another incident involving the national carrier. Now this is indeed bad news for Qantas. Fliers will move away from Qantas in droves, unless it completely eliminates its shaky safety record.Hopefully it can, not just its own sake, but for the sake of its fliers too.

Deflation ahead?

Six central banks, in a co-ordinated move have cut interest rates by around 50 basis points. Will the bailouts combined with the interest rate cuts spur financial markets?
Stock markets in Asia have taken major beating today falling to levels not seen in the past two years. Oil price has now settled at $90.06 a barrel .With this kind of a global financial backdrop, are we looking at a 'deflationary' scenario, sometime soon? Seems so.

The danger in 'reasons to buy'

The findings of Tybout and her colleagues suggest that practitioners should exercise caution when developing messages that seek to engage the audience by challenging people to generate reasons to buy their products. The optimal number of reasons that should be requested may vary as a function of the target audience’s knowledge base. Requesting a large, rather than a small, number of reasons may increase liking for the product if the target audience is composed of either novices or experts.

However, this strategy may backfire if the target audience has moderate knowledge. The authors’ research also suggests an approach that may succeed regardless of the level of knowledge. In one of their studies, they show that playfully asking participants to “imagine” reasons (rather than challenging them to think of reasons) results in equally high evaluations regardless of whether one or 10 reasons are requested from moderate-knowledge participants. It seems that a more creative, genial frame make…

Who's the Hypocrite?

'For as long as I can remember, the hypocrisy of America has been the subject of debate, especially in developing nations frustrated by its exertion of muscle (Iraq), its inexertion of muscle (Darfur), its willingness to open trade to some (China) and not others (Iran, Cuba).'

Hypocrisy, Mitra?

Hypocrisy is, when one does it, its okay, when someone else does, its an outrage. Oh, and by the way, ever heard 'Realpolitik'?

Obama's Hope vs. the Marketer's

"The Rising" is about both resurrection and insurrection. In spite of all the terror it reflects, it is a song of hope. It is a song about the amazing new things that are possible when men and women of goodwill and sacrificial spirit turn their backs on the failures, follies, and tragedies of the past, and join hands together to build a new life for themselves and for those who will follow. As Springsteen also sings in "Long Walk Home," one of the songs on his newest album, it's never too late, for individuals or for nations, to begin again. But that takes real work, and every "rising"--whether it be an insurrection or a resurrection or some curious synthesis of the two--also has within itself a bit of the subida, the oftentimes steep and arduous climb.

Bruce Springsteen sells the same kind of empty hope that Obama does through his rhetoric, never mind what Reality really is, and never mind that it takes men with substance to face that reality.

What dif…

The lesson in the desire for Dzire

Though Maruti Suzuki is struggling to keep pace with demand for its cheapest sedan Swift DZire, there's a lesson in there for marketers. According to market sources, the booking orders for Swift DZire have been piling up, resulting in a waiting-period of over six months for the model.

Swift DZire represents 'value for money' for the consumer segment that wants to graduate from the 'Santro' type car mid-segment small car to the next level. Swift DZire drives value at two levels. Its a Sedan. Note that driving a sedan raises thestatus level for this set of consumers, wanting to graduate from a lower level 'small' car. Two, that Sedan status doesn't burn a hole in their pockets. At 4.49 lakhs, its quite the buy.

Swift Dzire drives value at a psychological and at a function-price level. That's an winning combination. A combination that's become an imperative in these recessionary times. No wonder there's a waiting period for a the Swift Dzire bran…

What's universal & what's modified in Globalised markets

With liberalisation, we in India, have had a flurry of new products entering the market over the last 17 years. And if we look around, what Prof Levitt said is possibly more true than ever before. A youth in India is using a Nokia mobile phone, a Lenovo laptop, Nike shoes, pulls out a Coke can from a Whirlpool refrigerator, wearing Levi jeans, hops on to Honda Motor cycle wearing Rayban sunglasses ...

But in one critical element Prof Levitt was wrong. Most of the above mentioned products were possibly developed for the Indian market and may not be available in any other parts of the world.

Was Prof Levitt wrong? That brings into focus the issue of 'Customisation'. As a verb, to customise means'to modify or build according to individual or personal specifications or preference'. What's to be noted are the words, 'modify' and 'build'. Prof. Levitt's prophesy must be seen within the context of these two words. Most 'customised' products aroun…
With liberalisation, we in India, have had a flurry of new products entering the market over the last 17 years. And if we look around, what Prof Levitt said is possibly more true than ever before. A youth in India is using a Nokia mobile phone, a Lenovo laptop, Nike shoes, pulls out a Coke can from a Whirlpool refrigerator, wearing Levi jeans, hops on to Honda Motor cycle wearing Rayban sunglasses ...

But in one critical element Prof Levitt was wrong. Most of the abovementioned products were possibly developed for the Indian market and may not be available in any other parts of the world.

The Underdog advantage

Sarah Palin didn't disappoint. With the spotlight on her, she delivered a performance that may have not been high on substance, but was packed with a style that got her endearing persona, across, loud and clear. Sure, the presidency is not about persona, but that's critical in driving perceptions about candidates, that may ultimately be what counts, come election day. Palin's sealed the quintessential tough cookie image, that embodies what the 'middle class' is about.

But what's of interest to me is the 'spotlight' part. Being the underdog, she always has had the minutest of scrutiny by the media. That was in a way good, because the public then train their senses on what she does. They wanted to know how she would perform at the debate, knowing fully well that a lot of liberals expected her to fall flat. She turned in a strong performance.

Being the underdog brand ain't all that bad. The spotlight's trained on you, 'cos everyone wants to know …

Smoked out!

Its indeed the worst of times for tobacco companies in India. As the smoking ban in public places comes into effect. they are now going all out to stub out the smoke in their own offices.
Cigarette-makers including big boys like ITC and Godfrey Phillips India have put up ‘No Smoking’ boards across all their offices, removed ash trays and sent notifications to every employee that the no-smoking ban is here to stay. Well, the only silver lining to all of this, I guess, is that tobacco companies can go easy on complimentary smokes for their staff. After all there's going to be no lighting up anytime soon in any of their offices.

Marketers & the moolah trail

Marketers must follow the moolah. Marketers must also get the timing right to grab that moolah. Well, that's what Maruti intends to get right. The sixth pay commission recommendations is gonna put a lot of money in the hands of government employees. And many among these public servants will be looking to spend it on products and services. That's when Maruti will pitch their brand of cars to them.

Maruti has launched a marketing campaign, 'Wheels of India', to reach 5.5-mn government employees who would shortly get handsome arrears, thanks to the recommendation of the Six Pay Commission. It has asked dealers to appoint four-member teams to start the campaign to woo government employees.

At a time when car makers around the world are grappling with dropping demand, Maruti sure has found a way to keep its coffers, if not full, at least not empty.

The logic to 'regulation'?

'There is no doubt that Fannie and Freddie enabled the subprime neurosis, but for certain conservatives they are virtually the only malefactors worth noting. The dirge goes like this: Fannie and Freddie were buying up subprime mortgages, and they were doing it for (liberal) political reasons. Mortgage originators thus had no choice but to hand out mortgages like candy. Had market forces been in charge, loans would, no doubt, have been administered with a rigor and sternness to make John Calvin blanch.

I asked Bill Black, a professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and an authority on the Savings and Loan debacle of the 1980s, what he thought of the latest blame offensive. He pointed out that, for all their failings, Fannie and Freddie didn't originate any of the bad loans -- that disastrous piece of work was done by purely private, largely unregulated companies, which did it for the usual bubble-logic reason: to make a quick buck.

Most of the mista…

Customer Service ain't as easy as it seems

If you think customers are always right, then watch this. Customers at times can be rude, some are downright jerks and some even turn violent.

Having spent a major part of my career working for Retail concerns, I know what's its like, to face customers, day in, day out.

My thank you to all Customer service personnel who brave gruelling hours to make our shopping experience a memorable one.

The 'Marketing pitch' in $700 billion Financial bailout

The bailout package which may now even cost $ 850 billion (on paper, $ 700 billion), has now gotten through the American Senate, 74-25. The House too is expected to pass the same, as opposition to the plan has now softened.

I too don't believe in bailouts. Why bailout firms that are irresponsible in their financial practices? Just as these firms would never bailout their consumers who are irresponsible, say, with their credit card usage. But then with a severe economic downturn looming ahead, something needs to be done. However, what interests me, is the way the bailout's been pitched to the American public. This 'pitch' takes an extremely important form as perceptions formed in the minds of average Americans will turn critical when American lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats come up for re-election, this November.

So what's the pitch? The bailout's not as much about rescuing irresponsible Wall Street firms, its about 'saving' the Main street. Its about…