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Showing posts from January, 2011

Dalit Capitalism

'Too often do policymakers treat capitalism as a system of economics and finance. Too often do they ignore its potential for social transformation. The truth is the tenets of the market and Manu Smriti cannot coexist. When the market's influence increased after 1991, the Dalits did not wait for the state to guide them towards entrepreneurship.

Dalit capitalism today is akin to the origins of a mighty river. The spirit of adventure will find its own course, the journey will take a long time and it will be turbulent. What is certain is this - the Dalit capitalist will be an effective catalyst in ending the community's mental bondage —that is the belief they are inferior, their plight is linked to birth and that the government alone can raise them up.'

- D. Shyam Babu, 'Defying Manu: The Rise of the Dalit Capitalist'.

Liberty & the Marketplace

India it seems is the most over-regulated country in the world. This despite the much touted 'liberalization' program that started more than a decade ago.

Imagine that.

In simple words that means bureaucracy can drown you with paperwork. Bad news to those trying to do business. Good news to those who've been around for years, and know how to fix the system. Remember the lousy products and services we were saddled with pre-liberalization? Remember the nightmare we experienced as consumers? I wonder what the business schools of those times taught?

The consumer nightmare has surely gotten better. Though its nowhere near what it must be! The answer to better consumer life in India? Kill government regulation and usher in free markets!

I know, easier said than done.

Celeberating the Republic

What's going on between those ears?

Wanna read an excerpt? I am not surprised. Its superb stimuli material that's bound to arrest consumer attention.

In trying to elicit consumer response to marketing material, the first hurdle is clinching wayward consumer attention. Simon and Schuster has done a brilliant job in crossing that hurdle with their 'Presidential' novel. The O with ears is outstanding! So is the 'whodunit' (read, mystery author)!


Nano thinking is zero Marketing thinking

In response to my post on Tata Nano's tactical fixes, this is what Ramesh had to say;

'The "fixes" aren't just tactical in nature, they are more strategic and fall in line with the brands philosophy. If we dive a little deeper there is an underlying insight to it - The new commercial, extended warranty, maintenance package, BTL etc. All these fixes speak the consumers language - they get close to the consumers actual needs. Nano will be a first car of many of its buyers,therefore assurance is what the fixes like extended warranty, maintenance package take care of Whereas, The communication on the other hand makes the car aspirational for the one's who would have not thought of buying a car, otherwise.

Backed by BTL - which will take care of trials and hands on experience of the TG with the brand. It's big Thumbs up for Tata Motors, for blending the rational and emotional messages very well.

My Take:

I completely agree that the Nano's 'altered' bra…

I like

Bad Omen for the Kizashi?

The problem Suzuki Kizashi will face in India won't be a product one. It'll be perception problems the car will have to battle.

In the premium sedan segment, a car buy is very much an 'esteem' buy as it is a 'functional' buy. Meaning buyers will not only look to the car's technical features but also the status it brings along. On that count, Suzuki doesn't score in India.

Remember the Baleno flopped. SX4 is eking out a bare minimum living. Plus the competition in Skoda, Volkswagon, Toyota and their like, and you have ominous signs on the horizon for the Kizashi. Oh and yes, currently the Kizashi is struggling in China.

Bad omen ahead, you can say.

Will Mahindra 'Rise'?

Sure, Mahindra's'Rise' can be its rallying cry, the way Anand Mahindra put it. In fact, I think its a good move to have a singular concept around which to rally internal resources. Unity in purpose and direction is as much a positioning term as it is an organizational act.

But then there's something else to consider.

'Rise' won't matter a bit to consumers if its aftermath sees no enhanced value propositions being extended to them. I mean, 'Rise' is an internal rallying cry that's symbolic and aspirational. But, tell you what, what's internal must be so because it creates value for the key external stakeholder, the consumer. From a positioning perspective, a single positioning term could aid better consumer recall, but my guess is straplines don't matter much to consumers. Bet they don't even remember most. The symbolism 'Rise' is may harness greater synergies and focus within Mahindra, translating maybe into greater efficiencie…

Coddling or Teaching?

'I have the opposite problem with Chua. I believe she’s coddling her children. She’s protecting them from the most intellectually demanding activities because she doesn’t understand what’s cognitively difficult and what isn’t.

Practicing a piece of music for four hours requires focused attention, but it is nowhere near as cognitively demanding as a sleepover with 14-year-old girls. Managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinction between self and group — these and other social tests impose cognitive demands that blow away any intense tutoring session or a class at Yale...

Chua would do better to see the classroom as a cognitive break from the truly arduous tests of childhood. Where do they learn how to manage people? Where do they learn to construct and manipulate metaphors? Where do they learn to perceive details of a scene the way a hunter reads a landscape? Where do they learn how to detect their own shortcomings? Where…

The Google Geese and the possible Ducks

'But I have a different concern.

When I ran sales and marketing at Intel, I used to teach marketing classes to aspiring sales and marketing employees. One of the topics I discussed was pricing. I used to explain to them that we should price our products based on the value to the customer. When our products were new and unique the value of those products was determined by the opportunities they created for our customers. I would then explain that once those products matured, others would copy them or offer different products that could perform similar functions. At that point the value of Intel's products would be determined by what others charged for their products. If enough alternatives existed in the market then those products would be sold based on their cost to manufacture and if enough capacity and alternatives existed, the price would get uncomfortably close to the manufacturing cost. When that happened in the words of Gordon Moore, another Intel founder, Intel's gol…

It happens only in India?

Sex surveys do more to titillate than to reveal to us sexual behaviour. After all in India if people talk about sex you can't expect them to articulate anything other than hypocrisy or a bunch of lies.

Having said that, I must say the survey still makes riveting reading.

Read the results of the Outlook-Moods Sex Survey 2011 here.

Who's behind change?

I am surprised its only now Tunisia is seeing a people rebellion. Read about the Ben Alis, including Leila, and you wonder why Tunisians put up with them. But as they say its better late than never.

Plus there's another factor that contributed. Social Media. It facilitated the organising of people protests. And just so you know this isn't the first time Social media is facilitating political change. Now amidst the the social media story, one thing mustn't be lost. That the real harbinger of change isn't social media or even technology, but people. Its people who propel change. Its easy to get lost in believing technology drives changes. If you look carefully at the heart of change, what you'll find is people power.

Its true to the consumer world too. Bettered value proposition for consumers are always the handiwork of people. Smartphones were the result of marketers using technology to give consumers better communication solutions. Sure computer programs may perform …

The Mentally Ill

'I don’t wish to be misunderstood. I have no sympathy for what Loughner did. Even those suffering under severe mental illness can usually distinguish right from wrong. I could, even when it was at its most severe. I imagine Loughner could as well. Unless he turns out to have been completely delusional, he is morally responsible for what he did...

The truth is that mentally ill people are often regarded as, for want of a better word, disposable. One would not ignore someone who was suffering from cancer, or blindness, or pneumonia; but people do ignore, and worse, people who are suffering from mental diseases just as severe. If a man collapses in the street from a heart attack, people call 911. But if he laughs inappropriately or posts nonsense on the internet, he is considered a scary weirdo and ostracized. The result is that worst of all things: unnecessary suffering. All the more so because, properly treated, this suffering can be enormously reduced. I will not repeat the well-me…

What's Starbucks without coffee?

Starbucks drops coffee from its logo. Not many are pleased. Some think it will affect the Starbucks brand badly. My take?

I don't think it will matter much. After all its 'Starbucks' that has recall value, not the word coffee. Sure, Starbucks means coffee to most and that's why I think Starbucks' problem won't be about the word drop, instead it will be convincing consumers they are something other than coffee.

Now the idea behind the name drop is to make it easy for people to identify Starbucks with things other than coffee. But on that count it'll be a rough ride for the brand. Because even without the word coffee in the logo, Starbucks still will mean coffee!

For whom the bells toll

'Both industries (Movies & Music) have shown enormous contempt for wide swatches of their audiences, even as they’re also still riding out the technological trend created by the rise of the Internet and other forms of demassified media. The traditional music and film industries were created during the first half of the 20th century, when media meant mass media — by the 1950s, you had three channels on your TV, a handful of radio channels, and a couple of local movie theaters within easy driving distance.

Today you have YouTube, Blip, iTunes, Netflix, DirecTV, etc.'

- Ed Driscoll, 'Meanwhile, Back in Old Media…'.

A novel that's a guidebook to Economics

I am not surprised most people live boring lives. The reasons' simple. Most of what they do is patterned and repeated forever. Nothing's new. Not at home. Not at work. Now this is true even at schools and colleges. Kids are bored out of their heads. Not surprising again. After all most classrooms are drab for the content that's spewed day after day.

Of course, there are exceptions. There are times when a subject comes alive in a classroom. When a course gets the students' rapt attention. I bet the reasons lie firmly in the content and the presenter.

Someone I know who's done something on such lines in making learning exciting is Paul McDonnold. Paul's someone who's taught Economic courses. And now he's done something unconventional. He's written a novel of Economic Terrorism. How many Professors do something like that? How many write fiction and deftly weave in academic concepts into the storyline?

Pauls' done it and that's why his work of fict…

The beginning to the end of Kirana?

I have always presented the Indian Kirana Stores story differently. Read about it here and here. I mean, I've never been a fan of the kirana and also believe they survive solely on the 'emergency purchase-convenience' reason. At least that's true for the Indian 'mobile' middle class that can access an organised format retail store on the weekend for a week's purchase.

Its important to know the simple-straightforward reasons behind the Indian lower middle class' retail store patronage. They go where the prices are low and the produce and variety is good. That's it. No more. Atmospherics can go to hell. Else they wouldn't be queuing up in the maddeningly loud and cramped Big Bazaars in India.

And now something else is egging them even more to go to the Big Bazaars of India, in the process abandoning totally the neighbourhood Kirana. Food inflation. ET reports, 'Shalini Sharma, a New Delhi-based homemaker, has started visiting large food retail …

Non-Nano sized Tactical fixes

The New Year's starting well for Tata Nano. December sales have been good. In fact, they've been a leap from a measly 509 units in November to 5784 units in December. The reasons for the seeming turnaround? Tactical fixes. The product's 'flaming' problem's been fixed. Mass Media communication via print and broadcast is garnering brand awareness. Distribution and Merchandising is getting better with stall sales being planned. An extended warranty of four years and a maintenance contract of Rs. 99/month is helping. So is easy financing of up to 90 percent within 48 hours.Tata Nano's tactical fixes haven't been nano sized. They have been meticulously planned. No wonder the results too aren't nano sized.