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Showing posts from November, 2009

Fiction fuels Reality

'First of all, most fiction is not just fiction, and this is certainly true of Twilight. Fantasy aside, fiction still communicates ideas, values, and messages, and these in turn, affect the day-to-day activities of readers and movie watchers. Throughout The Twilight Saga, both Edward and his family, and some werewolves too, are depicted as living absolutely awesome, exciting lives. The "coolest" thing is that they all have specials powers beyond average mortals. It is this lure of power, and the promise of it, that tempts real teenagers and adults today to explore the mysterious world of occultism.

They're doing it now, in record numbers.

- Steve Wohlberg, 'The darkness of Twilight: Hidden perils behind today's vampire craze'.

Is Brand avoidance anti-Brand?

Brand avoidance supposedly is a phenomenon where consumers choose to stay away from established brands, to move to a 'local' establishment even if the 'movement' means a rise in price. Its so done as consumers are beginning to 'worry about the larger social and economic impact of brands'.

Does that mean we are seeing the beginning to the end of brand domination? This should have Naomi Klein delirious with joy. But I say, bunkum. Consumers don't care for anything other than themselves. The supreme quest for any consumer is to maximise personal payoffs through acts of consumption. And just so you know, there's nothing wrong with it. In fact, its their love for themselves that's good for society in general, because it propels consumption. Consumers spend, so they can better themselves, in turn generating income for others to spend.

Consumers moving to 'local' shouldn't be looked at as an anti-brand act. Instead it should seen as a lesson to b…

Throw the boor offstage

Alphy flipping channels, with me taking a peek saw the screen fill up with an award function. Cyrus Broacha seemed to be in charge of 'announcements'. The supply side scarcity that I mentioned in the post below seems to be true for comedy too. In India

The guy is worse than horrible. But I guess he gets away with his brand of disgusting humour thanks to the concept of 'supply scarcity'. Guess we have only the likes of such boors around. But then again, I take comfort in the fact that I have the POWER! To change channels. To log on to SNL online and watch what I call real comedy.

I wish more Indians do that. Because then we can finally throw the boors off stage.

'Regulated' Quality ain't 'real' Quality

That the servers crashed on the first day of the CAT shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, Murphy's law has a way of sneaking in. But the fact that there is still a horde of aspirants (note, there's been a drop in CAT registrations this year) looking to get into the IIMs should be of concern. Because it points to an artificial supply side scarcity when it comes to Post Graduate business education in India. In defence one can say that the 'horde' is a pointer to top quality education services being offered. But tell you what, in a regulated environment, competition-driven quality is hard to come by. The 'quality' available for purchase is thanks to government driven regulation. In fact, the ones that rule the roost do so in manners, unchallenged.Change that and you will have even better quality to products and services for consumers. That includes Post Graduate business education. And for once there won't be the hordes 'pining' to write an exa…

Is the Shorba thin, or grainy?

'The Dal Shorba, which came first, was refreshing but once I began sipping on it, a bit of the grainy texture typical to pulses hit my palate. I reckon they could have made it a bit thinner for the right consistency'.

Well, that's a food critic writing in DNA newspaper about the soup served at Lobby Cafe in Bangalore. So, should the shorba go thinner?

I think not. Drop it any thinner and you will have idiots fuming as to why they have to pay a bomb for flavoured water. This is classic 'food dilemma'. Should the shorba stay grainy, upsetting the likes of a food critic, or go thinner, risking being labelled gutter water?

The answer is, the critic and idiots can got to the blazes. So can 'purist' authentic food. It ain't about either of them or about authenticity. Its about who your target consumer is and what he wants. If he wants the damn shorba thin, oblige. If he wants it grainy, repeat the former.

Critics are paid to say what they have to (or maybe they a…

Parallel Universes

'Fakery and chutzpah, ruthlessness and greed, made an amazing emirate and a £30-million human brand. Both dazzled, confused and glinted with moral ambiguity. The world approved of neither, but at least they were better than the alternative. Dubai was built by migrant Indians and Bangladeshis, virtual slaves, passports confiscated, living in distant labour camps, who frazzled and fainted with heatstroke off the sides of the Sheikh’s skyscrapers...

Dubai is to freedom what Jordan is to feminism. She might represent the worst excess of porn culture, a sad and sordid role model for womankind. But you can’t deny she’s rich. She’s one sister who’s done it for herself...'


- Janice Turner, 'Jordan and Dubai, parallel universes collide'.

Look the part, Learn from a stumble

I think it funny. I guess, others think so too. That a couple of aspiring reality-TV stars from Northern Virginia crashed the White House’s state dinner Tuesday night. They got through layers of security with no invitation, to mingle with the likes of Vice President Biden and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Smart. Funny too.
The lesson in their 'breakthrough' is twofold. One, that if you appear classy and confident, the best are fooled and convinced that you must be someone big. That you should be let through. Two, even the best systems in the world are susceptible to a clever someone who knows exactly how those systems work and react to 'incidents'. The clever uns know if they play the 'pretend' part to perfection, systems lose their ability to detect something's amiss. Of course, in the long run, fake will be out. But till it lasts, its so much fun.
Brands too must always put up that 'confident face' to consumers. If brands appear the part, …

Then & Now, and Toys

'Personally, I think a child needs two dolls - so that they can go on adventures together - a pencil, and a notepad. That's it. Everything else is decadent Western corruption. When I was a child, we made our own amusements: drinking vinegar pretending it was whisky, flooding the garden with a hose, spitting contests. Punching each other really quite hard. Permanently mentally disturbing each other with constant, low-level psychological warfare. We didn't have Hannah Montana wigs, or Pixel Chix, or, or ... Puppies In Our Pockets. We made bows and arrows out of Rosebay Willowherb (that were rubbish), glue out of flour and water (that was wholly ineffective) and papier mache objects that, for some reason, never really dried out, and rotted on the windowsill, emitting horrible, oddly turnip-y odours.

That's why I want to - throw all the kids toys away! Genuinely. Well, everything except the Polly Pockets and Barbies, which they play with very nicely, and the dollshouse, whi…

Our Thanksgiving

'This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.' (Psalm 118: 24)
Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Give, to one who doesn't seek

'There is one more duty...that I ask of you before you go home.

What would you have me do, Caesar?

I want you to become the protector of Rome after I die. I will empower you to one end alone---to give power back to the people of Rome...and end the corruption that has crippled it. Will you accept this great honor that I have offered you?

With all my heart, no.

Maximus...that is why it must be you.

But surely a prefect, a senator...somebody who knows the city, who understands her politics.

But you have not been corrupted by her politics.

And Commodus?

Commodus is not a moral man. You have known that since you were young. Commodus cannot rule. He must not rule.'

That's Caesar asking Maximus to shoulder the responsibility of giving Rome back to its people, in the movie, 'Gladiator'. The exchange is a brilliant demonstration of why someone who doesn't seek power should be the one entrusted with it. Its the very lack of lust for power that made Maximus, in the eyes of Ce…

Lest we forget

Remembering the lives lost on 26/11.

Pic: The Indian Express

Why mind matters

I've always been one who's believed in 'consumer sentiment' and how that has an impact on consumption patterns, which then have macro repercussions.

Note an earlier post, 'I fear the biggest fallout of this recession would be on consumer sentiment. People, cutting back on purchases, on speculating on a depressed economic future. That would be dangerous as it would then 'down' disposable incomes, down consumption and that cycle surely will lead to a catastrophe.

So instead of looking at the recession as a correcting mechanism, at least in India, it should be feared as a phenomenon that can depress consumer markets with repercussions that will send the economy into an even worse spiral!
'

Niranjan Rajadhyaksha, writing in HT Mint reinforces the importance of understanding the workings of consumer minds and its implications. He writes;

'Another recent provocative piece on a similar issue is by Paul De Grauwe of the University of Leuven in Belgium. He argues…

Credibility Sells, so does Cute

I can’t help but feel proud when I hear and watch Dr. Manmohan Singh talk at the White House. Here’s someone who’s the finest specimen of a thorough gentleman. To me, Dr. Singh epitomizes what a leader should be. In fact, according to me, he’s the best we’ve had as Prime Minister, since independence.

But what interested me even more at the bilateral talks I witnessed, was the contrasts in the two men involved. Both hold top jobs in their respective countries. One’s the President of the United States and the other’s the Prime Minister of India. Both are study in contrasts. Especially for the reasons behind their respective rise to the top.

To understand this contrast better, one has to look to the concept of brand endorsements and how the choice of endorsers is the key to building right brand attitudes. Let me explain. If the brand in question provokes lower levels of ‘elaboration’ on the part of consumers, the endorser must be one who’s highly attractive and so can garner ‘identificatio…

The Psychology of Warranties

'So why, asks a paper published in the December issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, do so many consumers still buy extended warranties?

... They concluded that the decision to buy a warranty had a great deal to do with a shopper’s mood.

If a customer is about to buy something fun (ie, a plasma television rather than a vacuum cleaner), he will be more inclined to splash out on extra insurance. This is because consumers value “hedonic” items over utilitarian ones, regardless of the actual price tag. This is especially true if the item is on sale, as finding an unexpected bargain leaves buyers feeling flush and pleased. The study also found that poorer consumers are more likely to buy “potentially unnecessary and overpriced insurance”, because they are more worried about the expense of replacing a product if it breaks.

The popularity of warranties should logically depend on the likelihood of a product’s failure, says Mr Kalra. But although most policies go unused, he admits that…

Image is Everything, almost!

I surmised it was the Hobson's choice for her. An image or none. And I thought for a successful corporate career, it had to be the former. At least to make it past the first set of assessment tools, namely the Group Discussion and Interview. But then there's a tinge of remorse for my recommendation. Because I told her, a change in image would mean changes in exhibited personality. It would mean a stronger tone for the voice, a stiffer body language, maybe even piling on a few more pounds. Recommending the superficial doesn't come easy to me. But then again, the consolation is a greater possibility of a job offer.Some people are born with a physical form that's great default material for the 'right' image. Some aren't. Some among the former make best use of it and appear on silver screens. Many cheer. Many swoon. And riding on the adulation they go on to advise us on how we must live our lives, when they themselves walk deviant lines. The latter, sans great…

As always, 'Old Wine, New Bottle'

'Actually all assertive messages in the media that seek to relaunch a backward area as a newly arrived miracle require a serious rethink. Relaunching anything from a flagging product to a failing state in India, mostly turns out to be an exercise in pouring old wine in attractive and expensive new bottles by clever copy writers.

Flights to all state capitals today carry tieless, fast-talking young ad agency reps, summoned to devise a saleable product relaunch. They then congregate to enact an expensive ritual behind closed doors in the best hotel in town, also known as a “presentation”. Despite their utter lack of ground knowledge or of the local languages, their presenters deliver hypnotic sermons in English, to an audience of Hindi or Bhojpuri or Maithili-speaking clients in all high seriousness using mysterious abstract terms such as— “brand identity”, “brand value”, “market share” and “core value”, just as the wily Brahmin priests once used terms such as swaha, swadha and namo…

Rebel to Reckless is a thin line

According to publisher HarperCollins, Sarah Palin's memoir sold 300,000 copies its first day, among the best openings ever for a nonfiction book. Pretty impressive considering it even topped first day sales of Hilary Clinton's 'Living History'.Its only fair to assume that the Palin book will remain on the bestseller list for some time to come. To me, this is the 'real' launch of brand Palin. The earlier exposure of Palin to America and the rest of the world can at best be called an 'introduction'. One that didn't go down well with many. As much as well with many others.Hence on, its a different ball game. This is Sarah Palin's 'blockbuster' entry into mainstream politics. Its bound to get tougher with greater scrutiny. And for Sarah Palin to come off it looking like a Presidential nominee, will require as much of managing perceptions as being who she really is.Its best to remember that most judgements are made on perception. Not reality.…

Dawkins gets a taste of Divine Justice

Now Prof. Dawkins and the Humanists' ambition in life may be to 'push' people as far away from God as possible. And so they do what every other brand does. Use Marketing communiques. Though I must add, unlike Dawkins, brands look to creating a 'pull'. Dawkins through his communiques tries to tell people to keep kids off religion and let them choose for themselves.
Call it divine justice (The Prof. would call it an unhappy coincidence), or whatever, the kids featured in the Dawkins Poster happen to be Christians. The idea was to get kids who look happy to be featured on the poster. Unwittingly, the pictures of the 'happiest' of kids (Charlotte, 8, and Ollie, 7) turned out be pictures of kids of a former drummer of a popular Christian band.
Note what the dad, Brad Mason had to say, “It is quite funny, because obviously they were searching for images of children that looked happy and free. They happened to choose children who are Christian. It is ironic. The hu…

Why its Sniffles for me, not the Rumba

The sniffles I've had for what seems like an eternity is getting worrisome. A fever seems to be round the corner. Looking back, I have only me to blame. After all, this is sniffle season. The onset of winter brings along ailments that are all too common. Its a pity I didn't take the right precautions when the transition happened. From higher to lower temperatures. From dry weather to one heavily laden with atmospheric moisture. In fact, I now know its the wobbly transition, that is fluctuating temperatures and weather that did me inTransitions are difficult times. For it needs a shedding of the old for a new. What worked for the 'old' now has to be abandoned for what is necessary in the 'new'. In my case what was important was a change in clothing that could have warded off the incoming cold.For Businesses too, transitions are difficult times. And transitions come in varied ways and hues. For example, a business could face a transition in terms of a changing de…

Boon n' Bane in Vertically Challenged

Being 'vertically challenged' has at times been a problem. But at other times its such a blessing. Like when I was young, some girls thought it cute. But now that there's 'greying at the temples', and 'perking up at the sides', cute's out.

Hold on. Comfort's in.

Travelling out of Cochin by train last night saw us huddled on what's known as the 'side' seats. The ones reserved for us was Side-Lower and Side-Upper in the compartment. Now I guess the railways didn't have any basketball players in mind when they came up with these seats. 'Cause they wouldn't fit. But Alphy and me did. Barely. Thanks to the 'vertically challenged' state I was talking about.

So much for 'short' perks.

What's interesting is, at times for brands too, not 'standing tall' (read, minimal marketing communiques) stands in good stead. Here's how. One, it keeps the attention of the biggies in the market, off you. And two, you are …

Its the system, stupid!

The David Headley affair in India has been a worrying one. To have an LeT operative roam the streets with impunity surely sets off alarm bells. Yet the response of the administration to its aftermath reminds me of similar responses, in the organisational context. How most organisational administrative systems respond to crisis.

The response almost always is focused on the outcomes. Never on the 'root cause'. That is, the mad scramble by the authorities, post the Headley fiasco, has seen them target the 'usual suspects'. Business places he visited (read, cyber cafes, health clubs, hotels) and people he engaged with (read, at places he was at). Now I am no expert at investigations, but common sense tells me if a suspect were to roam the streets with legitimate documentation that bails him out, how are business places and people supposed to know he's the dangerous kind?

The 'real' problem lies deeply embedded within failures in the intelligence and law enforceme…

The limits to a Regional Identity

There's a marked difference between regional brands and niche ones. Before I get to what sets them apart, let me state what makes them similar. Its just one count. Both attract a limited audience.

Regional brands play into geographic variables and appeal to consumers of a particular region. That's what limits their appeal. Their choice of geography as a variable. Not so for niche brands. What limits them isn't geography. Instead its income, lifestyle and other such socio-economic variables. This in effect ensures their appeal cuts across geographies. Let me illustrate. A Rolex or a Ferrari may not command a wide audience, yet in a way they do, across countries and regions. The rich and powerful desire it, buy into it. Doesn't matter where the rich reside, its a Rolex they sport, its a Ferrari they drive.

Contrast that with a Kerala based soap brand like Manjal. It takes its name after turmeric, that's good for our skin. Yet its identity limits its appeal beyond the s…

Why is this man bowing?

'Obama's breach of protocol is of a piece with the substance of his foreign policy. He means to teach Americans to bow before monarchs and tyrants. He embodies the ideological multiculturalism that sets the United States on the same plane as other regimes based on tribal privilege and royal bloodlines. He gives expressive form to the idea that the United States now willingly prostrates itself before the rest of the world. He declares that the United States is a country like any other, only worse, because we have so much for which to apologize...

Ashamed of his country but arrogant about himself--what a disgusting combination.'

- Scott (Powerline Blog), 'Why is this man bowing?'

Stoop, for the Bow's back!

I am not surprised servility comes easy to Obama. His pathetic bow, repeated for the umpteenth time is but natural to someone who's a flag bearer to BIG government. After all if you believe in more government, you should also cultivate with it, the skill to bow, umpteen times.

Having lived through what was socialist hell in India, I know the value of a 'bow'. Wanna buy cooking gas so you can have food on the table? Bow to the government babu at the Agency. Wanna get an electricity connection, water running through your taps? You know who to bow to. They sit at the hallowed electricity and water board offices. What about a passport so you can spend your own hard earned money to buy a ticket to fly to another country, that's if you get a visa? Again you know where to go and who to bow to. The list was endless.

Bowing was your ticket to whatever it is you wanted, in the Government Raj.

Obama's knows it, so practices it. Makes a spectacle out of it.

In an economy where p…

Jesus the Capitalist

'Who is this capitalist exploiter of workers who thinks he can pay people whatever he wants?

Most theologians will tell you this landowner represents none other than Christ himself. The names, currencies, and exact quotes have been changed, but the essence of the story Christ told in Matthew 20 hasn’t. It’s a helpful story to remember when Michael Moore is out telling us that capitalism is anti-Jesus.

Moore’s statement is one of two grave theological errors that liberals commonly make when recruiting religion to their cause. At best, he’s doing eisegesis, where, rather than trying to figure out what stance the Bible takes on an issue, the debater comes to the Bible with a point of view and then cherry-picks scripture to support that view, ripped from any context.
'

Adam Graham, 'Jesus the Capitalist'.

Love's good, Hate's better!

Sarah Palin's book in the 'real' is almost here. The book's legend already, because on Amazon its raked up most pre-release sales. I am looking to read it too, though I know it may be some time before I can do that. I will read it for the reason I can get to know someone who I deeply admire, better. Here's a woman who's everything she shouldn't be, in liberal eyes. Especially I may add, liberal lady eyes. She hunts, talks her mind, takes on the establishment, chose to have Trig, her baby with Down's syndrome. Which means she refused to abort. All that's taboo for the bra-burning kind.

But that's my heroine.

It can't be hard for anyone to guess that it wont just be the likes of me buying the book. Palin haters will also make merry. They will buy, read the book and spew venom. They have done it in the past and will be at it, post the book launch.

Brings me to the point I want to make. The best thing that can happen to a brand is what's happen…

Vegetarian by choice?

Ribbing vegetarians comes easy to me. I know, that isn't nice, but the wicked me can't control the urge. Like yesterday a student was telling me she was vegetarian. My ribbing got her to retort it was 'out of choice'. That she enjoyed being a herbivore. That the sinful pleasures in being a carnivore wasn't strong enough a temptation. That she wouldn't budge no matter how much her carnivore friends tried.Fair enough. In fact, I think beneath the ribbing I have this grudging sense of admiration for ones who can keep off, what's staple for the likes me. But then again, was her choice truly hers? The 'Theory of Reasoned Action' suggests that, a person's behavioral intention depends on the person's attitude about the behavior and subjective norms (BI = A + SN). If a person intends to do a behavior then it is likely that the person will do it. Furthermore a person's intentions are themselves guided by two things: the person's attitude towa…

The Myth of Unconditional Love

Discussing the merits of my previous post on 'Faith & Belief' with Prof. Asha led to another, on 'Unconditional Love'. My colleague's view was that the closest we can get to such an 'unconditional expression' is when we experience a mother's love. In other words, a mother loves her child unconditionally.

At the cost of sounding improper, I must say that isn't the case. If you were to ponder carefully, you would discover that most expressions are far from unconditional. Even that of a mother's. They are in fact very much the conditional kind. I would even go so far as to say that most contexts out of life are pretty much transactional and therefore unconditional applications are a myth. Its just that it may seem like a one-way act of 'giving' only because the give-take exchange may not play out at the same time. I mean, the 'give' happens much earlier than the 'take'.

Most parental love is conditional. The giving of love…

Bigoted Notions

'Dream-makers have always projected idealised and unattainable images of women - to create insecurities and stimulate desires. That's what they do. And, sadly, countless non-white women can't resist their pernicious influence. They believe that skin colour can make or break you. And that can even include what shade of brown or black your skin is.

Surveys in the U.S. have long shown that all things being equal, lighter-skinned black people get more job and life chances than do those with darker skins...

...now we have a world where American morality and media impose their standardised Western notions on every corner of the globe. And a surge in 'ethnic' self-loathing and self-mutilation has emerged in its wake. What is different now is the absence of any political or social fightback against this. The message seems to be that race is dispensable, can be wiped out if you can pay for the privilege. Then what?

Do Jet and Umi and all those other young women think they wi…

Faith gets the first Buy, Belief seals Loyalty

An interesting discussion had me thinking about Faith and Belief. Especially in religious matters that have a 'God' implication. Faith is what takes one to God. Belief is what keeps him there. Belief is the post experience outcome. Faith is what leads to a trial.In India religion is big. I mean its practice is varied and widespread. Crisscrossing the country are various religious places of faith. In fact religious places in India are known for particular reasons with particular practices. For example, the practice of Attukal Pongala sees more than 1.5 million women throng the Attukal Devi temple, where they prepare a concoction called Pongala (rice cooked with jaggery, ghee, coconut and other ingredients) in the open, in small pots to please Goddess Kannaki (the deity at the temple). This particular religious practice has its own reason. What's fascinating is, the throng only seems to get bigger by the years.A consumer's dalliance with a brand too has parallels to reli…

Is Boo Hoo, Boo Hoo a good idea?

I am glad the Karnataka crisis seems to be petering out. Though yesterday's blubbering Chief minister on TV has done neither himself nor the party any good in terms of image. In fact, I think a weepy Karnataka state CEO has only furthered an image of weakness.That brings me to an important question. Is blubbering in full public glare a good idea? Forget what new age pop psychologists say about having a good cry, I say, Perish the thought. Save for one condition. Let me explain.Blubbering souls that come to my mind when I think about it are, Kapil Dev, Vinod Kambli and Paul Gascoigne. All sportspeople. Two of them messed up. One got it right. Kapil's blubbering came across as pathetic. Because it seemed as if he wanted his tears to have us believe he couldn't be bought. Vinod's blubbering was again ill timed. His crying when India forfeited the stopped match against Sri Lanka seemed to suggest he needed our sympathy. I guess we didn't do him that favour because we k…

How Capitalism Will Save Us

'Nations that liberalize their economies, that allow people greater economic self-determination, end up moving, sooner or later, toward democracy. Since the nations of the world began to liberalize their economies in the mid-1980s, the percentage of democratically elected governments has surged from 40 percent to more than 60 percent today. China, for example, is not yet a Western-style democracy. But the nation is freer today than it was during the era of Mao Tse Tung and the repressive Cultural Revolution.

Despite all the gloom and doom voiced by its critics, the free-enterprise system is--and has always been--the best way to unleash the creativity, inventiveness, and energy of people and mobilize them to meet the wants and needs of others. That's because free-market transactions, far from being driven by greed, are about achieving the greatest possible mutual benefit, not only for the parties directly involved but eventually for the rest of society.'

- Steve Forbes & …

Language or Prejudice?

Note Debarshi Dasgupta's two questions (to Genesis Global School);'Why can’t Kantabai be my child’s guru?
And why should some opinionated and prejudiced faculty member at Genesis be instead my child’s guru?'
My answers; Of course, Kantabai can be your child's guru and, sure, some opinionated and prejudiced faculty doesn't have to be your child's guru. That's your democratic choice. But also note, it doesn't have to be any other's. I mean, its a free country we live in and so we are free to choose. Now, I have no idea if the school intended the Advert in question to denigrate Kantabai's choice of language. But one thing's for sure. The Ad agency behind the communique has crafted smart, though in poor taste, copy that sears into the psyche of Indian parents. Again, let me state, I am all for languages of the varied kind flourishing, but I am not too sure if I appreciate moralising on choices made either by marketers or by consumers. Debarshi sh…

Shopping Emotions

'There are a couple of emotions that determine shopping behavior. The fundamental of them are greed, altruism, fear and envy. Greed drives a customer to purchase more than what he or she needs. A wide range of options, better products and lower prices generate that increased desire to purchase. Often, a customer would consider it a good opportunity to buy more than what she needs and to gift others as well. Higher purchase is also driven by the fear that the current offer may not be available for long and so the product has to be purchased right away. And envy sets in when one sees others buying and making the best out of a deal. 'Sabse Sasta Din' was successful because we were able to effectively capitalise on all of these emotions. The prices were great but they were on offer only for a day. Customers noticed everyone else - friends, colleagues, neighbours heading to Big Bazaar and they didn't want the opportunity to pass by. With all these emotions working in compl…

Is it the rolls, or is it me?

Breakfast today needed me to dig into Paneer rolls that Alphy had packed, to take to work. Unwrapping the silver foil and taking the roll out saw a minor disaster unfold. The stuffing spilt out. The li'l mess it created irked me. And I wondered why Alphy couldn't have sealed the roll on any one side which would have prevented the spill.A moment later something else struck me. Maybe I could have held the damn thing other than in the bazooka style. Maybe that could have prevented the mess that had irked me. Maybe I could have been more careful rather than have expectations of Alphy.Its instinctual for us the believe the other's the transgressor. Because that protects us from our own frailties. Its helps keep the illusion that we have about ourselves alive. Pity, because such foolish behaviour is what stops us from truly knowing ourselves. And our lives turn into a quest towards finding who's wronged us, rather than searching within.Now, such attitude is no-no for markete…

Passion can do what Onida can't

Brands supposedly take consumer experiences beyond what's functional. That is, functional performance is a taken. Its the psychological that's the add on, that blooms on purchase. I mean brands connect on the emotional front.But what if the brand goes kaput on functional performance and what's almost a non-brand does well on that very parameter? Let me illustrate. A few years ago, we bought an Onida DVD player with assurances that it will play all formats, even scratched DVDs. Tell you what, it didn't. Recorded DVDs had a hard time playing. On our part, we didn't heap any blame on the brand thinking its a DVD problem. A few weeks ago, visiting parents brought with them a DVD player that they had received as a gift for having subscribed to a Cable channel. The player was a brand called PASSION. Never heard of it. It didn't even have the sleek look Onida had. But guess what it did? It played all those 'recorded' DVDs that were gathering dust. More than be…

Bangalore Weather & Sales Promos

The Bangalore weather reminds me of Sales promos. Neither does the weather leave me be fully well (been down with the sniffles for what seems like forever) nor does it strike me down. Promos too are similar. They don't give you anything substantial though they make it seem as if its the deal of a lifetime. Nor do they leave you empty handed. I mean it isn't just the product that you get for your money. There's always something that's close to worthless that comes along.Its the 'neither here-nor there' syndrome. Better off because of the promo? No. Worse off? No again.Sick? No. Well? NO!

The mobile phone lesson

Its seems the four metros in India have crossed 100 percent mobile teledensity mark. Meaning, the number of mobile phone connections in these cities are higher than the number of residents. Now, despite the fact that in India statistics are always shaky, this one has important consumption behaviour implications.Two, in fact. That if technology creates products that enhance our lives, we will take it to it wholeheartedly. Mobile phones personalise conversations. Plus they help us communicate without the limitations of geography. And of course, they let us talk. Also, if technology ensures that costs to consumers drop, they will up consumption. In India, falling rates see people talking more. Falling handset and connection costs see people taking to more than a single phone and connection.The lessons? Its ain't 'new' products that are needed. Its products that understand our ways of life and help us enhance our experiences that will see mass adoption. Also, its products that…

Questions with no Answers

At times, people ask me questions, and then before I can gather my wits and answer, they lapse into a monologue that tells me what the answer should be. If I take the cue and answer the way they expect me to, its a 'win-lose'.

Win for them, because they hear what they want to. Lose for me because I feel like the idiot. Though there are times, when I have this wide grin in my head. Guess then I should tag it a 'win-win'. They've got their answer and I am grinning.

Customer exchanges too can at times, turn out like the exchange above. The customer gets into a retail store to buy a product and then lapses into a monologue, telling the shop floor person what's the best buy. This calls for 'smart' judgement on the part of the sales person. If the choice of the customer is a good one, breathe a sigh of releif. If it isn't, decide whether to correct or not. I'd say, in most cases, don't. After all, there's no guarantee he will heed to you and eve…

Who gets the lion's share of dessert?

At work, for a change check this out. When at an informal place like the cafeteria, notice who the servers respond to with a sense of urgency. I mean, who do they bend backwards to serve? There's gotta be some people at your company who command that kind of response. Tell you what, these important Uns may not necessarily command greater power via the organisational hierarchy, yet they manage to call the shots, especially in places like the cafeteria.

Why is that?

The answer lies in what's called perceptual interpretations. That is, the servers at the cafeteria may have no clue about what's on the hierarchical chart. Yet, they know some people are more important than others. They infer that because they see these people hobnobbing with powers that be and overall, their demeanour will seem to exude power. They move about purposefully, adopt commanding mannerisms and so on.

Never mind reality. In corporate life, despite what formal hierarchies dictate, some people tower over oth…