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Showing posts from February, 2011

What Cricket tells us about us

I am glad India tied the match. No, not for me, but for those who would have had a sleepless night last night, should India have lost. Despite the fact that cricket's downright boring, I must say the saving grace is the crowd. Its far better if you get to see the crowd than the match. Plus it can teach you so much about the way we are in India.

Lapsing into trademark silence was what the crowd did when England took to batting. And I wasn't surprised. After all cricket's seared into India's collective psyche. Whether in our drawing rooms or at the ground, cricket and our response to it as a game amply demonstrates us for who we are. Applauding an opponent player's pull that reaches the boundary doesn't come easy to us. In fact doesn't even cross our mind. Now you know all about the lapsing silence and pregnant pauses the crowd took last night. Winning is so important, 'cos that's our only hope at self esteem. Every where else we are battered into subm…

The Impossible

The Fruit Story

The other day, while talking about marriages someone told me this, 'I was looking for an apple and what I got was an orange. Never mind, at least I got a fruit!'

Now that's what I call positive attitude. Remember the glass half-full, half-empty story? This one's the fruit story. To not moan about an apple, instead take to the fruit is as much a 'glass-half full' perspective. Like I said, superb attitude!

I wonder how it is with consumers? Do they get apples when they seek apples? Or peaches, perhaps? My bet is, it sometimes is even worse. For apples, they get coconuts! Imagine what that means for marketers?! To get to the consumer all you have to do is to give an apple when its sought! Sure, its only satisfaction territory. But at least its better than dissatisfaction. And sure, there's delightful strawberry territory that firms can get to, but first they've got to get their apples right!

And I can say that for spousal territory too. Get the apple right an…

What if I Man up?

'After 45 years of being told they are pigs, sexist, and good for nothing, men have quit trying to please others, so they slap on a baseball cap and don’t talk much. And with good reason. According to Hymowitz, these child-men are all used to a freewheeling life of going from girl to girl and video game to video game. Hymowitz mistakenly believes that men are suffering from the limits of American individualism.

Though she reluctantly admits that the “materials available to young men are meager, and what is available contradicts itself,” she comes up with this ridiculous conclusion: “At bottom, they are too free, a fact epitomized by their undefined, open-ended, and profoundly autonomous pre-adulthood.” She ends the book suggesting that young women will have to get a better understanding of the limitations imposed by their bodies (Huh?) and young men need to man up.

My question to her: Why should they?

What do you have to offer these men you call child-men if they do man up? Are you g…

What's common to Politics & Consumption?

I am not surprised Baba Ramdev wants to join politics. After all, what are you supposed to do when you're cash rich and don't have a clue about anything other than yoga?

But then there's a question that's worth the ask. Should he? Well, the chances of getting that answer right heightens if one understands the discipline that 'Consumer Behaviour' is. The technical question is, how relevant is the Ramdev brand in politics? Sure his incredible ability to get his body to do calisthenics has made him over a thousand crores, but will it help in getting people to cast their lot with him at the voting booths?

First things first. Its a myth that voters want a clean system. The kind that Ramdev is promising. Voters actually seek a system that's conducive to their own selves. Not one that's 'clean'. Clean's good only as long as its good to me. And so the question is, will the Ramdev brand of politics be good for me? In short, what can he do for me? Yoga…

What awaits

It blows me away to know there's so much I don't know. And not just information-wise. There's so much I haven't felt, seen, heard or tasted yet! Means there's so much more excitement that awaits, this life.


It again blows me away to know there's so much consumers don't know. For instance what the solutions of tomorrow will be. And what those solutions might do to better their everyday lives. Of course, it isn't just products or services. Its experiences too. The best news for marketers is that consumers haven't yet experienced what they may, through consumption acts. At a simpler level it could even be just the way they've been treated. Bet there are millions of consumers who haven't yet been 'delighted' by marketers. Imagine that. It opens up a world of commerce opportunity.

Tell you what, the businessworld will hold opportunities to pilot 'newer' consumer experiences till kingdom come. So will the world. For us.

The Community Organizer's Solution

'The remedy is always adolescent — the perceived government program and entitlement are demanded without any worry about who is to fund them or how. The community’s perceived “needs” are the sole point of contention, not society’s ability to meet them. The assumption of the community organizer is that there is an amorphous “they” (so often white, male, heterosexual, upper-middle class, Christian) who have done something wrong, or whose ancestors have done something wrong, that both results in their own present privilege and requires appropriate redress, in the moral sense.

The logic is circular — more public money to deserving constituents ensures political support and in turn requires higher taxes from others to pay for it, a two-pronged redistribution plan of taking from the undeserving to allot to the more worthy. Absent from the community organizer’s ideology is any sense that the individual might in some cases bear some responsibility for the ensuing inequality — encounters wi…

Why we'll hunt forever for the Remote

Bet your TV remote is always missing. And you can't remember where you last put it. Its frustrating. Now the only you can remember where you left the TV remote is by first noticing that you had it with you. You see, the contraption is so a much part of us, we fail to notice it as being with us.

The TV remote is now so omnipresent in our homes that we are blinded to it. Our senses (read, sight and touch) adapt so much they hardly see it or feel it. And that's why we are always hunting for it. In an over-communicated world, sensory adaptation's the greatest challenge marketers face. Sensory Adaptation is why we can't remember commercials we see on TV. Or billboards that we pass by. The only way left for marketers to break the 'routine' is by introducing stimuli that's compelling enough to arrest attention. And then holding it long enough for us to remember.

I agree, easier said than done. Which is why we'll still keep hunting. For the remote.

Some Men

Criminals aren't complicated, Alfred. We just need to figure out what he's after.

ALFRED: With respect, Master Wayne. Perhaps this is a man you don't fully understand either. A long time ago, I was in Burma and my friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones, but their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never met anyone who traded with him. One day, I saw a child playing with a ruby, the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.

So why steal them?

Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just wanna watch the world burn.

- 'The Dark Knight.'

Je t'aime

The Right To Know

'The statistics on quantitative expansion of media in China are mind-boggling: more than 400 million internet users, 220 million blogs, 800 million mobile-phone subscribers, more than 2000 newspapers and 9000 thousand magazines, some 2200 TV stations and more, all increasingly commercialized. Still, the party remains in control...

Censorship is an organic part of the party-state and will no doubt remain a crucial weapon, but its usage is increasingly exposed as the Chinese internet society becomes aware of the extent to which entrenched party interests determine their access to information. As a consequence, an idea of a “right to know” is taking shape in China’s rapidly growing online civil society and this could, in Shirk’s analysis, become “the rallying cry of the next Chinese revolution.”

While internet freedom clearly is not about to be declared, civil society and new technology will over time push limits beyond the axiomatic boundaries of the party-state. A critical point will…

Coca-Cola's recipe doesn't matter one bit!

They're saying Coca-Cola's secret recipe isn't anymore a secret. Its there for everyone to see. I am saying it doesn't matter one bit.

In fact Coca-Cola could taste like sour grape juice (sure, that's an exaggeration) and it still wouldn't matter. Because the secret to Coca-Cola isn't in its taste. Its in the brand. Its in what the brand does to consumers in their heads. How much ever the company would like to tell you their concentrate is a secret, it isn't so much about guarding a taste, its more about building and maintaining a perception.

When people drink Coke, they aren't ingesting a taste, they are experiencing a brand that does something to their heads, not tongues. Sure, the product can't like dishwater. But it isn't the product that drives consumption experience. Its the brand. Its the sum total of what the brand stands for. Remember the New Coke story? A better product failed! Also know blind tests prove people can't tell Coke f…

The Marketing promise of the future

Isn't it funny that two out of three of us wears ill-fitting clothes? But then an understanding of why this happens helps us see past what's funny.Why do consumers not tailor their clothes? After all, that would make them look better. And all of us want to look better, don't we?! Three reasons; One, it isn't as convenient tailor-making clothes as buying ready-made ones. The thought of the tailoring process puts most people off. Two, tailoring isn't always the cheaper option, and three, what's the guarantee tailored clothes will turn out to be better fitting? Tailors can be nightmares!The solutions consumer seek are those that promise, if not the optimum, at least the better solution. What's the implication to that? The prospect of better consumer solutions almost always exist. The ones who see it are the ones who will innovate for the future. For marketers, consumer pain points provide for opportunities for a superior solution. Which means the market for ha…

When Love Takes You In

Where love takes you in and everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in...

Alphy, you took me in... :)

The speech that Krishna made

India's External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna says there's nothing wrong with his speech goof-up. Of course, there's nothing wrong. But there's still a problem. It isn't as much the 'wrong' in what he did that's having an impact. Its the 'comedy' its become. I guess more people in India guffawed when they read the news than curl up in anger.

Think about it. What do you remember from SMK's tenure as Minister? Bet, almost nothing. And now you have something you won't ever forget about the Minister! In fact this incident may forever define his career. People won't recall anything other than this faux-pas.


But then there's a lesson. That you or your brand won't be defined by what you painstakingly do. Instead you or the brand will remembered for a story the media ran. Imagine that. Its a nightmare scenario for businesses. They take years to build a brand by running countless commercials on TV. Yet no one will remember any of…

Suicide State

TOI: Suicide Statistics from Kerala -

The suicide rate among Kerala's youth is one of the highest in India.
Increase in suicide and attempted suicide among schoolchildren.
Male suicide was 72% of all suicides; female attempted suicides accounted for 60% of all attempted suicides.
78% of suicide victims were married, unlike in the West where suicide rates are higher among unmarried and divorced people.
Hanging was the most common method — 50%, followed by poison, 32%.

Mnemonical Violence

Sociologist Shiv Visvanathan explains the hold of such cases on the public psyche. "Each deals with the violation of the body and in doing so threatens the state of normalcy," he says. "You can have genocide and riots but they will not bring a tear that an individualized story at the core of the great Indian family would bring. Statistical violence does not threaten, it belongs to a graph. But a violation of a norm represented in the violation of a body creates a threat, an anxiety and a disturbance which needs public rituals to restore a sense of the norm. They become almost a calendar of mnemonical violence."

- Atul Sethi,'Our Chamber of Horrors.'


Egypt is free?

Egypt's taken its first steps to being a Democracy. But it won't be easy. Transitions are difficult because you are moving into unfamiliar territory. Plus abandoning the shackles of the past isn't always the easiest of things. The vacuum Mubarak's exit has created is a dangerous one. Hopefully the Army will keep things stable till elections. And hopefully the radical elements will be rejected come election day.

The worst case scenarios for Egypt in the future are these. The radical elements take over, or Democracy doesn't deliver and we have Putin like puppetry being practiced.

The cautionary tale for Egypt is one about democratic government. It must be one by the people and for the people. Leaders and Bureaucrats (read, Government) in a democracy can turn out to be as stifling and oppressive as it was under an autocrat. Which means Government must be kept in check and minimal. Enough to provide stable governance. Enough to ensure there's a level playing field fo…

Learning what others won't know

'I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.'

- Louis Armstrong,'What a Wonderful World.'

At five months, Brooklyn's a learner. A fast one that that. She judges us well to know what cry she must belt out so we pick her up. The tones change depending on what she thinks will have an effect on us. Her goal? Get into our arms so she doesn't have to lie in her cot all by herself.

Babies learn. They watch us parents, take it in, and then learn what to do. So they can have their way. Adults unfortunately can't do as much. Because they settle into patterns and see nothing beyond. The voyage of discovery even if once pursued, is now forgotten. Dead and gone, I must say.

Marketers must have the minds of babies. So they never settle into patterns. So they always focus on the consumer, knowing the unthinkable can happen. And when it does …

Profit Making's different from Profit Sharing

So much for Michael Moore and his socialist ramblings and capitalist expose's. He going after the Weinstein brothers for more money alleging there's been a breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud arising out of the audit of his controversial war on terror documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. Moore is now seeking at least $2.7 million from the Weinsteins in what he claims are "rerouted" and unpaid profits.

Personally I don't have a problem with Michael being greedy. But the axe I need to grind is one that's go to do with his hypocrisy. On Capitalism and Profit Making. But then again, that's classic liberal behaviour. So maybe I shouldn't be surprised.

Profit making, so you know, is a legitimate act. The fact is, its the only act that sustains the process of value creation. Its what keeps businesses going. Which in turn keeps jobs in the running. Stop making profits and businesses go bust. And that's worser to the cause of humanity as it puts …

Stuck With Each Other

Racy isn't Crazy

Rihanna's made a racy video. That's rubbing countries the wrong way. Eleven of them have banned her video. Even YouTube's put an age restriction on the video.

Wow! Rihanna's hit jackpot. At a time when brands are spending billions in interrupting consumers so they can get their message across, here's someone who will have consumers searching for her. I mean, the video.

The ban and the restricted viewing must be the best thing that's happened to Rihanna in her career. For one, it stimulates viewer and listener interest. Two, it gets them to seek her video out. And three, traffic for once will move away for YouTube on to her personal site. 'Cos there'll be an unedited version of the video waiting.

Clicked the link (above) as yet? :)