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Showing posts from May, 2010

Luxury Market rising

The luxury market seems to be emerging out of recession, and luxury retailers have the 'ultra-affluents' to thank for that. 'Aspirational affluents', on the other hand are still cautious with their spending. Read more of the story here.

'Eurozone has failed'

'I have never questioned the fact that the exchange rates of the countries joining the eurozone more or less reflected the economic reality in Europe at the time when the euro was born. However, over the last decade, the economic performance of individual eurozone members diverged and the negative effects of the “straight-jacket” of a single currency over the individual member states have become visible. When“good weather” (in the economic sense) prevailed, no visible problems arose. Once the crisis or “bad weather” arrived,however, the lack of homogeneity among the eurozone members manifested itself very clearly. In that sense, I dare say that—as a project that promised to be of considerable economic benefit to its members—the eurozone has failed.'

- Vaclav Klaus, 'When will the Eurozone collapse?'

We are but creatures of our senses

Whilst travelling with luggage on buses in India, people prefer to stash their luggage at an overhead open storage compartment. Though I've seen buses equipped with storage space below the seats, people prefer to put their stuff at a place where they can keep an eye on it. In fact, taking a peek at their overhead luggage at times is reassuring. After all you can't be slack on an Indian bus. You wouldn't know when the damn suitcase is gonna disappear.

As people we are at our calmest best when our senses take in stimuli we seek. We are okay if we can see the luggage. Out of sight is disconcerting. Its the same for us at home. When Jaden wanders away into another room, we're okay if we can hear him. Its our way of knowing he's all right. If we can't hear him for some time, we call out and wait for his response.

Depriving our senses of stimuli is disturbing, at times even nerve wracking. That's why solitary confinement is worse than simple confinement as a punish…

A time to grieve

Our sorrow's just doubled. First it was the crash from the skies, then it was the tracks. That's two in two weeks. I think it'll be a while for us to recover.

Despite the pain, life goes on, must go on. Even Marketing life.

But then its always good we acknowledge the difficult times these are. Marketers too. That means staying silent so people can grieve. This is lousy time to be vocal. For us, as for marketers. Take for example today's headlines and the picture that accompanied it. A li'l girl being lifted out of a mangled train makes for depressing viewing. The story that follows tells us about two li'l girls, twins, found dead in each other's arms, within the mangled mess. Its heartbreaking. Numbing.

And then as you scan the page and move down, you see an advertisement. Your mood's like a dark heavy cloud. The last thing you want is to be talked to by marketers. All you want is to be left alone to grieve.

As much as its important to know what to talk, wh…

Communism & the canard of Social upliftment

That's it. This was last straw. Maoists (alleged for now) blowing up rail tracks to cause collisions which takes sixty five innocent lives reveals these commies for who they really are. Thugs.

When was the time commies ever did anything about social upliftment? Other than uplifting their own lives to levels of unbelievable wealth, when the rest of the country lived in penury, they've done nothing. Oh yes, I mustn't forget. In the process they butchered millions of innocents. Wanna know more? Look to the erstwhile communist nations and their leaders. They're the best examples of murderous thugs who wiped out entire generations whilst enjoying unbelievable wealth.

Imagine being named after a murderer like Mao. What kind of social upliftment can such a band of people bring? Tell you what, their actions are proof to their intent. Stop us citizenry from going about our lives as producers and consumers. Foist a murderous regime to rule over us and loot our hard earned wealth. …

The queue to Indian Behaviour

'This is nonsense. Of course we Indians know all about queues. And to prove as much, I was right there waiting in a queue, with about 3,827 of my fellow citizens. Or what seemed to be 3,827 of my fellow citizens, though in actual, arithmetical fact there were probably only seven or eight of us. How come, then, that the queue i was waiting in seemed to consist of 3,827 people? Could it be because it wasn't a long queue but a wide queue?

That's when an insight dawned on me. In other countries and climes people form what might be called vertical queues, i.e. queues that start at the top of the line and then go down vertically, so to speak, to the bottom of the line. This is the normal, conventional, common or garden queue. Or vertical queue, as we shall call it, to distinguish it from the ingeniously creative variant found in India, which is the horizontal queue...

Unlike other societies where linear reasoning (as exemplified by the vertical queue) has imposed the illusion of a…

Our vulnerability as consumers

Any loss of life is tragic. All tragedies universal. Yet when tragedy occurs close to home, the impact's greater.

Where we are, we're still numb from the Mangalore airplane accident. It seems almost all people on board have lost their lives. This tragedy is as close to personal as it gets. Its also a reminder of how despite all the breakthroughs in technology we are still vulnerable as consumers. Note, today is a day that's succeeded one that had man playing god with an 'artificial life' breakthrough. But I'd say, hold on. Life's way more than we can either imagine or contain. Despite everything, God's in charge and his ways are mysterious.

For now, praying for the victims and their families, and grieving every lost life.

What we can't be is what we want to be

There's no need to fret. In fact I think its the best that can happen to Mark Zuckerberg. A Hollywood film will portray him as a ruthless and untrustworthy sex maniac. What could be better?
Why?Because Mark Zuckerberg the Facebook founder is plain bland. But Mark the sex maniacal Facebook founder transforms into fantasy material. And that's the genesis to a legend. Both as people and as consumers we are forgetful. We have too many things on our hands to remember other things. So we end up remembering only what matters, and what's caught our attention in a riveting manner. The proposed Hollywood movie will present Mark in a rememberable manner. Maybe for the wrong reasons. But as they say, all publicity is good publicity. All recall's good recall.If I were Mark's PR guy, I'd tell him to sit back and grin, and watch the legend unfold. For you see, what we can't be is what we want to be. Mark's what we can't be. Mark's what we want to be. Hollywood&…

Tweens: Rites of Passage

6 Rites of Passage

MAKEOVERS: From dressing up their dolls, pre-teen girls have moved on to adorning themselves. Shaving their legs is the biggest indicator of young adulthood. For boys, it's using hair gel and deos.

SLEEPOVERS: It's a night of gossip and giggles. Who is dating whom? Who has a crush on the cute drummer from high school? Who has started wearing a bra already? Strictly for the girls. Boys have their own version. It's the wilderness camp.

MALL MANIA: Girls meet for coffee and discuss what to wear at the next party. Boys meet for bowling, catching movies or just checking out girls.

SIBLING RIVALRY: Sisters fight over clothes, make-up and boys while brothers try to establish their domination. The elder one gets upset if the younger one is already a 'Bond' in school.

GAMES THEY PLAY: Truth and dare is the favourite pre-teen game, where one is dared to kiss their secret crush or admit they have one. Boys love to have day-long Playstation matches, which allow t…

Why Iron Man's robbed Robin Hood

The problem with 'Robin Hood' is akin to what advertisers face. Wearout. Trying to establish low involvement brands requires advertisers to associate the brand with an entity that provokes an unconditioned response. Associate the thus generated response by the featured entity on to the brand to evoke a buy. That is, to get someone to try your soap, show them a smokin' hot movie star in a tub with suds flying. The resultant 'wow' can then be associated with the soap, getting people to believe maybe they'll be smokin' hot if they indulge the soap. The soap brand gets the buy.

But the story goes sour when the suds flying scene is repeated one too many times. Advertising wearout quickly follows. Consumer fatigue lingers close by. Brands to arrest this, change content but hold the central theme alive. It may do some good, and maybe consumers stay to watch.

Robin Hood is Russel Crowe in another 'familiar' avatar. Its now one too many times and so quite bor…

Think trade's helped, then 'like' this video

Trade's a great thing. Its what helps us enjoy products and services that we wouldn't otherwise have had if we stuck only to what we as a country produce.

Mathew's got this great video based on his research on how trade's facilitated among countries and how it can be made more efficient. The video's also up for a research competition. To win, it has to have maximum no. of 'likes' in its favour. To take a watch please go here.

In order to register your 'like' for the video this is what you can do. On Facebook, (you should have an account) you have to first become a fan of the AIT group. To do that, you have to take your cursor on the video (accessed from the link above) to the top left hand side where you'll find a small box which says, 'become a fan of Asian Institute of Technology'. Once you've done that, you would have to refresh the page. And once the new page has been loaded you will find the 'like' option for the video (th…

Nota bene

To our Parents,

We think there's a chance Jaden's like Kal-El, 'cos there's all indications he's going the superman way. Also, a second doctor told us his weight's absolutely fine. So could you all quit worrying. Please! :) I know, me and my big mouth! :)

Entertainment Product or Racist Propaganda?

When a movie turns into propaganda and treads with deliberate intent into law and order territory, it ceases to be an entertainment product. It also means its time it is dealt with.

Its about time 'Machete' was dealt with. Despite its gory content, in principle I have no problems with violence on screen. After all, as consumers we have within us the right not to consume, to not watch a movie if we so think. But like I said, 'Machete' goes beyond being just an entertainment product. It turns into law breaking propaganda. The movie trailer features its lead actor Danny Trejo mouthing an obscene warning to Arizona, the state that's currently under siege for its tough immigration law. Machete's movie content glorifies race wars in a manner that's deeply disturbing. What's even more outrageous is the public funding that went into making the movie. Imagine that. Tax cuts extended so we can feed on bloodshed mongering.

When products and services go rogue, plus f…

It wasn't Free Markets, stupid!

"But," you say, "it was the free market that led to all this -- you know, unregulated credit default swaps and derivatives and such." No it wasn't. You have no idea what caused the financial meltdown. While government regulators are quick to say that lack of regulation was the culprit, too much regulation was likely the real culprit.

You want specifics? OK, take the Recourse Rule, adopted by the U.S. and Europe in only the last few years before the Great Recession. It forced banks to invest more than they otherwise would have in mortgage-backed assets. Or how about "mark to market," which came with Sarbanes-Oxley in 2002 and froze credit because banks had to valuate their assets based on temporary and unrealistic current market prices? Or maybe it was the way Andrew Cuomo, Bill Clinton's HUD Secretary, forced Fannie Mae into the subprime mortgage market in the first place.

I just gave three specifics of over-regulation or government interference tha…

The opportunity in Failure

The other day, a visit to Jaden's Doc. had him telling us Jaden looked two (he's three and a half years old) and two kilos short. I, for one, took his reprimand with a pinch of salt. I've been watching Jaden's motor and cognitive skills to know he's at his peak. Plus is it any coincidence Alphy looks eighteen and I twenty (yeah...vanity...thy name's...)?

But Alphy didn't handle the feedback well. Once out of the doctor's office, she let the floodgates open and I for once didn't know what to do. Thankfully she recovered, though after much assuaging.

The incident reminds me of how potent the fear of being judged a failure is. For Alphy, the doctor's comments meant she had failed as as mother. That's a catastrophe personified, for her. What do I think? She's near perfect! Jaden and me are eternally thankful to have the amazing her. But I guess at that time nothing mattered. Alphy had nothing on her mind than what the doctor had said. That sh…

What Volkswagen Polo got just right

Trying to sell a car to the Upper middle class consumers in India? Go big on driving home functional value, on as many parameters as possible. Throw in the lure of a premium brand at a competitive price, and you have a winner.

Who do I think is doing this near perfect?

Volkswagen Polo. In India.

Culture be damned, its the Law that matters

'So far as their demands of banning same gotra/village marriages is concerned, we should respect their custom and emotions. The culture of villages is opposite of what we see in cities; hence, there should not be any comparison between the two. Prohibiting such marriages is part of our culture and customs; how can such marriages be allowed against the sentiments of villagers, especially those in villages?'

That's Naveen Jindal's take on Khap panchayats. I think I am going to be sick. Sentiments of villagers, huh? Such sentiments if they come in the way of the law of the land, they can go out of the window along with the culture they represent. The problem with such cultural interpretations is they open a window for many such warped logic to worm its way into modern day society.

I have already in the past written about the idiocy in letting morality guide anything. Instead its the law that must hold, and be above everything else. Its the same when it comes to business to…

Aurangabad's Merc Club

For the idiots in marketing who think lesser known cities in India don't have wealth and so shouldn't be on their radar, the Aurangabad-Merc story will come as a shock. Well, its better late then never, so there's still hope in tapping into such small town wealth.
Read about Aurangabad's Merc club of 140 here.

Cultural Diktats in Honor Killings

'To combat the epidemic of honor killings requires understanding what makes these murders unique. They differ from plain and psychopathic homicides, serial killings, crimes of passion, revenge killings, and domestic violence. Their motivation is different and based on codes of morality and behavior that typify some cultures, often reinforced by fundamentalist religious dictates...

One might argue that the stated murder motive of being “too Westernized” may, in a sense, overlap substantively with the stated and unstated motives involved in Western domestic femicide. In both instances, the woman is expected to live with male violence and to remain silent about it. She is not supposed to leave—or to leave with the children or any other male “property.” However, the need to keep a woman isolated, subordinate, fearful, and dependent through the use of violence does not reflect a Western cultural or religious value; rather, it reflects the individual, psychological pathology of the Weste…

Care for a healthier chip?

The key to getting your brand's positioning right starts with knowing what it is that motivates consumers to consider a purchase. Zero in on a flawed motivational factor and you'll see the brand not taking off.Take Parle Monaco Smart Chips for instance. The idea its hawking is to get people to care about a chip that isn't fried, therefore healthier, and so not piling on the pounds. The question is do chip consumers care enough to switch to a healthier alternative? Parle's smart chip's targeting all (note the commercial), but chip eaters mostly are youngsters. Lays and Bingo in India take the 'fun' route keeping that in mind. Smart Chip intends to take another. The other day, I thought I'd try Smart Chips. It was available at the store. When I checked the package date, it was a month old. I went back to Lays. I must say, that ain't good going for Parle. Wonder if there's a turnaround in sight?

How Rich folks get their Water & Ice

From the FourBlockWorld.

Why Barack won, Nick Clegg didn't

Nick Clegg's poor showing wasn't expected, at least not the way it turned out for him and his party. But then it seems to prove what's logical. That smooth talk alone cannot pull it off for you in a parliamentary system of government. It could have, should it have been the presidential kind. After all, didn't community organiser Barack sweep the American election?

I have to be careful in pronouncing death to personality and its influence in the parliamentary electoral system, because in India, I firmly believe part of Congress party's pull came from them having a decent, dignified Dr. Manmohan Singh as the Prime Ministerial choice.

In the UK, as in India, its local issues that will drive local choice of representatives. This means any campaign has to be customised to respond to local issues. For example, in India I can't think of any issue that's pan Indian. Almost all are specific, and local.

Marketers too, when they face a consumer populace in a country like…

Its the package that sells

Packaging may not be the clincher when it comes to adults buying, but it is for kids. For adult buyers, packaging may be the reason why the brand's noticed and picked from among its competitors at a shelf. This consideration via packaging may not always translate into a buy. But if its a li'l kid, and he's fixed on a package (which is all too often), bet its a buy.Jaden's choice of chocolates, fruit juices and snacks has everything to do with the packaging. He insists on a chocolate with Mickey on the cover, a juice that sports Mickey n Minnie, and Chester the cheetah plays a vital role in his choice of Cheetos.The younger consumers are, the more a visual element plays a role in brand judgements. So if its a li'l kid you want as a consumer, put as much of your money on the package. For its the package that sells.

The one act causes ruination

Gordon Brown's 'bigot' gaffe seems to have been the biggest nail in Labour's coffin. The nails for now, keep getting hammered in. The latest has been Guardian's support for Liberal Democrats.

GB's gaffe couldn't have come at a worser time. In fact what its done is turned the fence sitters away. The reason why the bigot comment's effect will be acute is because its come quite late in the campaign, and so there isn't enough time for people to forget or forgive. The recency effect has kicked in, so the comment will be fresh on voter minds.

What's of particular interest to me is how people make judgements solely based on a single incident. Gordon Brown will be be judged solely on that comment. Voters will not remember anything else. Gone into thin air is everything good Gordon's done.

Its a lesson to brands. It won't seem fair, yet consumers will make judgements based on a single encounter or an incident. They may walk into your retail store an…