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Showing posts from March, 2011

Why this win's different

I am glad India won. But even gladder the way the match was won. No one walked out of the game a demi-god. Meaning post match, no one did the swagger walk or talk. Fact is, no one could, the way the match was won. The existing god Sachin scratched around with immense luck to get the runs he got. Yuvraj, prone to the swagger did the duck walk, though he compensated with the ball. Zaheer couldn't spit fire as he was swatted around the park. The list goes on.

I am hundred percent with Mukul Kesavan when he describes Dhoni as the guy who's level headed and worth emulating. Win or lose he's got the guts and the grace to take it in his stride. But not so, many others in the team, and of course not the jingoistic fans. Its them this match has silenced. They've thankfully lost out on an opportunity to go Pak-bashing. After all, the Pakistanis did play well, and gracefully.

Not going overboard with either extreme exhilaration or grief doesn't come easy to many. Thank God it d…

Why Cricket's personal

Nothing in India gets as personal as cricket. This despite the match being played by eleven players in a team. God forbid, the Indian team loses to Pakistan tomorrow. If they do, logically it should be taken as the team having lost. But it won't. Instead half of India will internalize the loss and take it as a personal one. This will then be followed by a plethora of emotions being expressed including anger, disgust, and of course deep sorrow.

I wonder why? Why would Indians take the loss if it were to happen, personally?

The answer's simple. Tomorrow's match will be played as much in Mohali, as in Indian living rooms. There will be people in Indian homes swaying, screaming and doling out advice as if they were part and parcel of the match being played. One half of India will be watching (read, playing) the match in an extremely animated fashion. So should it be a surprise if they take the outcome personally?

Its things we internalize that become part of us. Part of our lives…

Preserving us by defending others

I guess the obedience experiments are well known. But I wonder if anyone's studied the reactions of the 'obedient' when they are posed with evidence that lays bare an untruth they took to?

Let me explain. And let me also caution this is conjecture territory. Jaden's pretty hung up on keeping his class teacher happy. In fact he takes care he matches up to her expectation. Every evening he's pumped up on doing his home play 'cos he's eager to present it to his teacher the next day. Now I think that's nice. But then there's a slight hitch. One day he comes home and matches the word Y to a picture of a Yacht, and then says 'Y for Ship'. I correct him and say 'Y for Yacht'. He isn't pleased. He insists, 'Y for Ship'. I ask why? Exasperated, he retorts, 'cos teacher says so!' Now I am not so sure how I can get him to have a change of heart. He's intent on sticking to what his teacher told him, plus I can spy disappo…

Are people corrupt?

'Let me end with my little submission on why the politician blames the ' people' and calls them corrupt. In essence, he does so because when you call people corrupt, you garner greater legitimacy to remain corrupt. It gives you a license to do what you are doing so well -- making money. The argument would go: when the basic block of our democracy is corrupt how could you possibly single me out, the politician, for all the disenchantment and degradation? It is like some newspapers saying that the readers want titillation on frontpages and that's the reason why we dumb down. All this could only be a clever bid for an exoneration and general amnesty. A bid to bypass the moral posts that exist. People can never so easily be quantified.'

- Sugata Srinivasraju, 'People are corrupt.'

Breeding Socialism means breeding free-loaders

I'd say round up the anarchist-thugs who rioted in London and ship them to Cuba or Venezuela where government runs all 'programs'. After all, isn't that the kind of place they want to be?

Protesting against government public spending cuts isn't about protecting government programs from closure. Its more about ensuring tax money is wasted on freeloaders who make merry working in such programs. Programs that we know from experience benefit no one except the ones working in them.

Socialism promises you an equitable society but does exactly the opposite. In the socialist world (the kind India was in the past and is still is in many ways) people working in private businesses slave at their jobs with zero security while government funded institutions use the private citizen's tax money to breed freeloaders who enjoy total job security with zero accountability. Imagine that. They (government workers) make hay on a sun that blooms on our (read, workers in private firms) …

My lights stay on!

Funny, they tell me its earth day. A year's passed? Well, that was quick!

Anyway, a year passed has made no marked difference. Like I mentioned last year, I still won't switch anything off (Abhishek can, and so can this year's proponent, VidyaBalan). In fact I am still taking faithfully to Kenneth Green's advice on consuming more on Earth Day.

Oh, and did you know like all other green hypocrites, Thomas and Ann Friedman, according to the Washingtonian own "a palatial 11,400-square-foot (1,060 m2) house, currently valued at $9.3 million, on a 7½-acre parcel just blocks from I-495 and Bethesda Country Club? Wonder what sized carbon footprint comes out of a house that big?

Plus did you know, as Kathy Shaidle suggests, that maybe “long-time Earth Day advocate Ira Einhorn took the whole “recycling” thing a little too far when he ‘composted’ his girlfriend’s remains in a trunk in his closet…”?

Not funny anymore?

Jar of Hearts

When insanity is better

Though I think 'living in denial' isn't at all helpful, at times I believe its a lifesaver. I mean, suppose you did admit to what you were denying all along, and then can't do a thing about it, how does it help? In fact such helpless admittance will only frustrate you even more.

But then the only problem I see is if you could truly do something about what you're enduring, but choose not to, denial is serving no purpose. In fact, I recommend admit, get frustrated and then maybe, just maybe you'll do something about it.

Consumers too come close to practicing 'denial'. The act's referred to as reducing cognitive dissonance. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that consumers are prone to trying to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions. Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying. For example, a car that promises great mileage and doesn't deliver may not be ranted against. Instead …

The Origins of Postmodernitis

'To summarize. Master narratives by which we seek to elucidate the history of man and civilization are spurious and must be jettisoned in favor of the parochial and insular. There is, so to speak, no Church, only an indefinite number of discrete parishes, all different from one another and all equally warranted. Additionally, the belief in the lingua franca of truth must be set aside and replaced by a multitude of humble vernaculars. As Adorno suggests, the picture of “a chair in oblique perspective” is just as valuable as, or even more valuable than, “a picture of the Battle of Leipzig.” And from these two maxims follows the travesty of the doctrine of cultural relativism (aka multiculturalism).

We may notice a peculiar paradox simmering in this therapeutic thought-world, a dialectic of sameness and difference that does not conclude in the harmony it envisions. All cultures are essentially the same in that each strives to find its optimal adaptation to the challenges of existence.…

The hope in Cognition

Having said what I said in my previous post I must add there's also a cognitive act that precedes exhibited behaviour. This is in addition to the influence 'previous learning' has on what we do. I mean, behaviour isn't always influenced or dictated by what we draw from memory.

For example, a disastrous previous date may still see me risk another. This is because despite the lousy memory from my previous date I do some thinking and conclude one's too less an encounter to make a judgment about what may happen on future dates.

Now this is welcome news to marketers. This means as a customer I may still buy the Cheetos snack for Jaden. Because when I think about it, I know one unpalatable pack may just be an aberration. The next one I buy will turn out fine.

Or at least that's the hope.

What cuts both ways!

What we remember is because we draw it from long term memory. Why what gets into long term memory is because we encode stimuli material thus retaining it. Its either a conscious act or an unconscious one.

As human beings, the problem with long term memory is, the material retained starts to turn into a prism through which we see and make sense of what we encounter in the world. For example, an unforgettable disastrous date ensures we harbour an abnormal distaste for the opposite gender. Every time the prospect of a date comes up, memories of the disastrous one floods in and forces out any further attempts at the twosome act. Now this is long term memory working against us. The opposite could happen too. Remembering a motorbike accident means you may take to helmets. And that ensures you are safer every time you hit the roads.

Drawing from long term memory helps brands too. It helps to the extent brands become part of a consumer's consideration set when a purchase is considered. Bei…

Oh, we object? But, who's listening?

What is personal can happen at the level of a group. Vice-versa too. In fact, what happens at a personal level is why it happens to a group. Again, vice-versa too. Meaning if men seek esteem, collectively, groups do it too. At a greater aggregate level, you can say nations do it too.

Nations seek to display their importance through symbolic acts. Its a national display of ego. And as a trickle-down, it helps feed the psyche of its people. For example, yesterday broadcast news channels feverishly screamed via 'breaking news' that India has 'regretted the air strikes by US-led coalition and called upon all parties to abjure use of force and resolve their differences through peaceful means.'

Wow. Admirable, I guess.

But then, who's cares? The last I heard, no one heeds us. Now if our response is strategic, I hope to God Gadhafi doesn't fall. Because if he does and the rebels take over, we're in big soup. At least with the Libyans. Me thinks at such times, its bet…

Why I switched After-shaves

I switch after-shave lotions. Its Park Avenue to Axe. Frankly I don't care about either. Then why the switch?

Its got to do with the the 'mouth' of either bottles. The former has one that's too broad and so every time I try and pour out a bit, its as if the floodgates have opened. The lotion spills out. Axe on the other hand has a narrower opening and a stopper and so I can dispense the amount I want without any excess or spillage.

I even think Park Avenue's trying to be smart. By ensuring I dispense more every time I use it they think they'll get me to buy more often. Now I don't know if this is by design, and if it is, that's downright dumb. Outsmarting me or any other consumer isn't the way to go. Because it sure gets me peeved. Enough to make me switch.

Solving consumer problems is part of crafting great solutions. Trying to be one-up on consumers means you're digging a grave for your brand. Now you may score with a sale the first time, but the…

What's common to a Phone & Roast Chicken

Pop psychology means you get to hear ludicrous stuff. Like for example, if its couples not being able to get along we hear exhortations to open up greater channels of communication. Meaning they've got to talk to each other, more.

Really? That will help?

Me thinks increased bouts of silence is what could help. Why? Well, if there's something that's most misunderstood, its conversations. I mean, are we really smart when it comes to talking? Do we talk knowing well there's so much a probability we will be misunderstood? Especially if its spousal talk. For example, I may say I wanna help with the roast chicken. And my wife responds, 'you don't like my cooking?'C'mon, it was talk aimed at genuine help, and look where it got me!

Communicating ain't easy. It requires that we be highly perceptive when it comes to the other person's psyche. Understanding and empathising is what puts us in a league where we end up acing our talk.

Its the same with marketers.…

Omana Penne

Senseless behaviour & its consequence

Can it get any more senseless?

Baby Hadas who is all of three months old, her brothers Elad and Yoav (3 & 11 years old) along with their parents, Udi and Ruth Fogel are stabbed to death by those who are supposedly fighting Israel's 'unlawful' occupation. Also, how do Gaza residents respond to this brutality? They celebrate with sweets!

What's equally pathetic is how the liberal media has chosen to report this unimaginable brutality. The likes of NY Times ran the story without the names of the dead. Plus they wrung hands on how Israel's response of more settlements will impact the peace process.

Freedom by the blood of an infant is in fact a cursed journey into barbarity. For such freedom doesn't set anyone free. Instead it imprisons the human mind and bars it from knowing what freedom truly means.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!

Consumers & Social Media

'Unlike traditional media that is used to broadcast one-way messages, social media turns the traffic discomfortingly two-way. Traditional recipients of marketing and other content now turn into content creators and propagators.'

That's from my article on Social media featured in the Hindu Business Line. Read the rest of the piece here.

Its admiration and prayers for Japan

I've always admired the Japanese. And that feeling grows. Amidst the destruction, Japan's still holding it together as a nation of people who care for each other. Reports on no looting post the devastation is pointer to the nation's admirable character.

Note what Ed writes, 'And solidarity seems especially strong in Japan itself. Perhaps even more impressive than Japan’s technological power is its social strength, with supermarkets cutting prices and vending machine owners giving out free drinks as people work together to survive. Most noticeably of all, there has been no looting.'

Or Kay, 'This writer asked why there was no looting -- perhaps it was a rhetorical question. My father worked for a Japanese bank for many years and I spent several summers working there as well as a college student. Banking didn't take for me as a professional career choice, perhaps much to my father's dismay, but I learned a great deal in the process.

The employees who had co…

Our Jekyll n' Hyde lives

At times I am confused about myself. I wonder about the choices I make. Is it because of the way I am, or has it got to do with who I want to be? I mean, consider my choice of wear if I were to go to the mall or even elsewhere. Never mind the occasion, demins and Ts work for me. Plus no sneakers ever. Only sandals. Alphy's torn her hair out seeing me in this attire, more so because occasions don't seem to change me or my wear. And she thinks that's mighty rude.

Again, is my choice because of me or is it about who I wanna be? My guess, its the former. I couldn't care less to be prim n' proper. That's the way I am. Denim n' T is me! Now that's not to say I don't make choices that turn me into what's apt for a certain occasion. Like do the deadpan act with the 'right' wear so people think am dumb. Its interesting for me to see, sometimes its me, other times its the 'made-up' me.

The lesson?

Its important we recognise we live Jekyll n&#…

Our pleasure in our pain

Its funny at times help's exactly what we DON'T want! Help only brings with it grief. Take our god-beliefs for example. Despite most gods having told us to junk practices that are, or border on being self-flagellatory, we don't seem to heed such 'helpful' advice. We still go through with our versions of self-flagellation. We climb hills, stay hungry, sport facial hair, and so on. Why? I believe that's the way we come to terms with what otherwise becomes too easy, and therefore in our eyes, not too valuable. After all, how can salvation come easy? There has to be something to pay! So we make sacrifices that's all too personal. We feed our psyches with the absurd so they stay sane.Now you may be prompted to think this isn't the case when it comes to consumption. That any 'lack of help' will only dissuade us from consuming. Sure, that may be so in most purchase categories. But know that in others the lesser the 'ease', the keener the desire…

Lies, damned lies, and ...

Note what Rana has to say about the usage of statistics in response to my post on Research;

"Researchers" believe that their credibility goes up if they use statistics. Unfortunately, this is quite true if you wanted to publish in Journals (including American). So, what's the easiest way out? Cite some published paper and use sample size, sampling and even justifiable ratios of your choice to get your work published.

This is a quote from a book "Fooled by Randomness" by NN Taleb that comes to my mind,"It is a mistake to use statistics without logic, but the reverse does not hold: It is not a mistake to use logic without statistics". I am sure one would enjoy the book. In the book he has shown how flawed logic leads to wrong conclusions, something that you talked about.

The 'Change' sequence

At a personal level, going through 'change' will see you traversing four stages. I hope I don't sound like the new age gurus who mouth inanities and use it to take others to the cleaners. Anyway, here goes.Stage one's 'realization', followed by 'affliction', 'rehabilitation' and finally 're-incarnation'. That means change requires that you first realise you need it. This will then be followed by a state of struggle and anguish. If you get through it hopefully with help, you'll start the healing process which is your rehabilitation. Finally you emerge, reborn as a new person.If you are wondering what this has to do with consumers and their behaviour be rest assured this is what happens to us as consumers too. Look at what liberalisation brought with it, in India. New products and services and of course, new attitudes that forced a change to the way we live. Many, especially the pre-liberalised generation couldn't handle the change…

Is it me or is it just lousy research?

I know as an academic I have to research and publish. But I can't help but saying there's loads of research out there that's pure bunkum. Of course, it isn't research that's the problem, it's people who do it.

Like for example this latest one which says parents with kids are probably delusional. Because they tend to fool themselves into believing that having kids is more rewarding than it actually is. Then there's research that shows its the stage of the parents' life that dictates their state of happiness.

Whatever, I have a question. How do we know for sure childless couples are happier? I mean when you say parents would have been happier if they were childless its similar to saying childless couples are better off the way they are vis-a-vis if they had kids. Remember happiness is being measured on a relative scale. So the comparisons can be threefold. Childless couples versus parents. Or parents vis-a-vis if they were childless. Or again, childless cou…

This One's For The Girls

'Ah, Marcotte! Where were you when I began marching for civil rights for African-Americans in the early 1960s and tutoring black children in Harlem? It's not your fault, but you weren't even born yet. Have you read any of my books? If you have, you cannot call me a "racist." Read 'em. Go on, I dare you. Read all or any of my articles about what life is like for women in the Middle East and in central Asia, read my studies about honor killings and about the work I've been doing on behalf of girls and women who have applied for asylum in the United States and who are in flight from being honor murdered.

These girls and women are not white women. They are all women of color. Do you believe that men of color have the right to treat "their" women barbarically? And that we are obliged to collaborate in sexism in order to be on the right side of racism?...

But here's the point: Your refusal to tell the truth does, potentially, make you a racist. As a…

Troublesome Threesome

Think about it. Has you service experience been marred or enhanced by other recipients of that same service? My bet's a yes. I mean the last time you felt your flight was a nightmare had nothing to do with the airline, and everything to do with the boor who sat next to you. Who slurped his drink and monopolised the armrest. Bet it was few hours of pure terror despite zero turbulence in flight. Now the opposite could also be true. Your last time at the cafe' gave you a high. Not for the overpriced cappuccino but for the cutie at the next table who took an interest in you! You even got her number!

Service experiences aren't limited to what happens in terms of delivery and receipt, between a provider and the consumer. There's a third participant who has as much a stake in what gets tagged as 'consumer experience'. Other consumers. For they can dictate what gets 'experienced'. I may not curse the airline I flew, but I could be miffed at my flight because of …

Do fish notice its wet?

'If you asked the fishes to describe what its like to live at the bottom of sea, they would probably neglect to mention that its extremely wet. Sometimes the most important features of our environment escape our attention simply because they are ubiquitous. Our mental environment is much the same. Some theories are so universal, so taken for granted, that we fail to notice they are even theories.'- Joseph Heath & Andrew Potter, 'Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture'.