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Showing posts from July, 2011

At my age, it's an auto ride

At times an autorikshaw ride in India is like doing the Dakar Rally. The thrills and spills are almost near death experiences. I should know because I took one such ride today. Considering there's family back home, I wonder why my rational senses didn't prompt me to speak to the auto driver. I see just one reason. The thrill of the auto ride blocked my sane senses. After all can I do the rally-sorta driving with my own car? Nah. Remember, there's family.

I guess the need for thrill never ever dies. Age's no bar. I bet the lure of danger never loses its appeal. But doing it runs the feasibility and the sanity problem after a certain age. That means the thrills must come from elsewhere. In my case it was the ride.

Not smart, huh? I agree.

To ask or not to...

The lovely thing about kids is, if they wanna know or need help, they'll ask. Jaden's been asking a lot of help today. To get his board duster from the basement drain (don't ask how it got there), his crayon from the music system (don't ask...)....its been a litany of asks.

Adults aren't the asking kind. They don't because either its too embarrassing to admit they don't know or need help, or because they think they can pull everything off sans help. Agreed the not asking's acuter in public, because then its a 'visible' loss of face. Consumers too may not ask for help in your store. They expect the store to be stacked in a way they can navigate it well to get to stuff they want. If they can't maybe they won't ask, be miffed, and take longer to find what they want in your store. That could mean they won't be back the next time around.

Extending help isn't easy for service providers. For not asking may not necessarily mean consumers n…

The double whammy in flawed targeting

What's the classic mistake in pitching stuff to me thinking I am in charge of marketing my institution? You got your target wrong. I am not in charge of marketing my School, I just chair the academic department of Marketing at the school.

Tell you what, in the businessworld this is commonplace. It really doesn't matter what the mode used is, marketers usually get their target wrong. The hope they live with is, amongst the audience that receives the communique, there's bound to be some that's the real target. Well, in addition to being ineffective, the problem with such an approach is its waste of resources.

Its wasted effort trying to sell me audio-visual equipment. I won't buy. What's worse is, you think you've lost the school as prospect on the basis of my lack of response. Now that's a double whammy you can ill-afford.

The act's on, the smile's off

I am astounded by the methods chosen to modify behaviour. Its always the easiest route that's taken. Coercion backed by bureaucratic authority seems to be the pet method. Does it bear desired results? In the short run yes, but what's forgotten is that the act always ends up in a losing trade-off.

Let me explain. Can bureaucratic threats get employees to 'commit' to what's expected of them? Sure it can. But then when a 'volunteer needed' scenario arises, guess how many hands go up? My hospitality days taught me this well. I could as a manager get employees to serve a customer. After all, that's what's expected of them. But could I get them to serve with a smile via the coercive route? Nope. Its almost like the volunteering thing. In a bureaucratic environment, when employees get a chance to hold back, they will. Its their way of levelling out the coercion they've experienced.

The best places for consumers will be those where the provider hasn't…

Its my bum that makes me glum

The Daily Mail says one in two women over the age of fifty find the task of discovering the right pair of denim more stressful than moving house. I am not surprised. Though I must add the stress isn't really about the denim, its how their legs and bums look in jeans that's worrisome.

Also, don't limit the denim story to women above fifty, or women alone. Its about everyone. For all of us, clothes aren't about covering up, they're about revealing us a certain way. Pert bums and long legs make up wish lists. So do six packs and stacked racks.

Thus know the denims that sell will be ones that can package us well.

The Bhajji baja is blowing

Frankly I didn't know there was a commercial on TV that features a Bhajji-lookalike getting slapped by his dad. But now that Bhajji is crying hoarse, I know. Plus I can't stop laughing. I thought the spoof was downright funny. Of course, Bhajji and company don't think so. And so the legal notice to UB.

Smart response? Hardly.

Why? Because their crying hoarse has only gotten more people to watch the Ad. It also shows they don't have funny bones which is a pity. Oh and yes, the brand in question featured in the commercial will at least for some time enjoy top of the mind recall. Agreed, it may not translate into consumer buys, but the recall itself is worth it.

The last I heard, UB hasn't reacted to Bhajji and company. Smart response? Of course. The publicity machinery rages and UB hasn't spent a penny on it!

Delhi Belly

'Delhi Belly is a juvenile comedy that gets some of its biggest laughs from the use of the vernacular for crap (‘tatti’) and from the Indian ‘lota’ system. Three guys share a dump in Delhi that gets just two hours of water every morning. The idea in the film is to give one guy the runs and watch how ‘tatti’ triggers major script development.

It starts off from Mr ‘Delhi Belly’ in the loo without a drop to wash. He ends up using his roommate’s cartons of orange juice (later, he complains that his ass cheeks stick together). When he asks the roommate to take a packet of his stool sample to the lab, the fellow mixes up packages and delivers smuggled diamonds to the lab and a tatti sample to the diamond mafia.

If you enjoy that kind of humour, Delhi Belly is the movie for you. Unfortunately, the ‘Adults Only’ rating has shut out the audience that would hugely enjoy this film—kids under 12—reminding them, as it does us too, of diarrhoea episodes while stuck in classrooms.'

- Ajit Dua…

The hitch in the Wish & the Pitch

Someone from Amex calls me the other day to wish me happy birthday. The wish is followed by a pitch asking me to be a Amex Card member. My initial pleasant feeling now turns slightly sour. I tell the Amex guy I got too many cards. He persists. I don't relent.

Imagine if Amex had just called me only to wish me happy birthday. Imagine. I'd be pleasantly surprised. Amex would have left me with me a grin, and in turn I wouldn't forget them that easy. The Amex card pitch could have followed a while later. Instead Amex clubs the wish and the pitch together to a disastrous consequence. I don't become a member, plus I am left thinking Amex is being too crafty for its boots.

Maybe its too tall an ask to expect businesses to care for real. But at least they don't have to be daft. Oh, and the other day they called, wasn't my birthday.

The mystery of the Chinese consumer

'After decades of deprivation and conformism, Chinese consumers regard expensive consumer goods as trophies of success. In public, they show off. In private, they pinch pennies. The owner of a gleaming new BMW will drive around for half an hour to avoid a 50 cent parking fee. And she will hesitate to spend much on interior decoration, because only her family sees the inside of her flat.'

Read more about Chinese consumers here.

Sh*t, Cussing's cathartic?

Shobhaa De's piece on cussing far from being insightful about taboos broken in Bollywood is actually classic liberal bu*****t (oops!). Sure, there may be good and bad cussing as described, and as she says maybe the latter's about malice, but what she conveniently misses, or maybe isn't aware of is what cussing's really about. Truth be told, cussing is classic lack of civility!

Shobhaa may sing paeans to 'Delhi Belly' and coo, 'How smart of Aamir Khan to zoom in on the last remaining frontier of 'taboo' in Bollywood (unparliamentary language). How smart of him to pepper the movie with 'dirty dirty' four-letter words...Aamir has sensed the shift in our sensibilities —it's desi abuses that score over phoren ones, folks. And Aamir has cashed in brilliantly on the altered vocabulary of the youth brigade. If 'DB' is being seen as a game changer, it is the rawness of the lingo alone that has done the trick at the box office.' She may…

What the Idiot Box does to our votes

Despite all the corruption brouhaha that's dented the Congress party perceptually, I still believe the party will emerge unscathed at the polls when they happen. Ascribe my belief partly to the TINA factor, and the rest to the 'screen' factor. the TINA story is about opposition parties that appear as rag-tag bunches, and who seem clueless about governance. But what compounds the problem for the opposition bereft of ideas, is the 'screen problem'.

Let me explain. The Indian voter's connect to politics comes via the screen on their idiot boxes. Broadcasters currently are basking on those screens. Their news anchors belt out cacophonous political analysis every evening. and the only party that emerges from such din looking a bit composed is the Congress. Consider their screen stars. The older lot comprises the likes of Abhishek Singhvi, Kapil Sibal, and Jayanti Natarajan. The younger litter has in it Murli Deora, Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia. Together they…

It's me, stupid!

'The irony is that Bono and his defenders, for all their good intentions, fail to see the deep and lasting harm they do to Africa when they lobby Western governments to bail out and boost up the Dark Continent. In the unexpressed but implicit worldview of Bono, Africans are helpless children, unaccountable for their own actions and in need of salvation from superior and compassionate Westerners. Bono wants us — the taxpayers of the West — to eradicate AIDS in Africa, when if they cared to do so Africans themselves could easily do so by embracing a culture of monogamy and responsibility, and it wouldn’t cost ONE red cent. But don’t hold your breath.

My view is that Africans, like all human beings, are responsible for their own actions. The corruption and misery in Africa is a direct result of African behavior, and will only change when Africans alter it.'

- Matt Patterson, 'Saint Bono and His Endless Crusade.'

The bureaucratic hurdle to a Pee

Bureaucracy brings with it a bit (or a lot?) of idiocy. Take the enforcement of a school uniform regimen for example. Established for a certain purpose the school uniform unfortunately can take on designs that do not allow for a kindergarten student to pee in peace. Jaden currently has to navigate through buttons and zippers before he can do the 'act'. Mercifully he's learnt the ropes quickly enough.

Bureaucracy also means consumers suffer the same idiocy. A few days ago I visit a Reliance Digital store so I can buy a PS II for Jaden. I notice there's an offer on MP3 players, but open only to students who can produce a valid ID card. At the store I try and strike a bargain. I tell them I too am a student, but of a PhD program. I ask if I can avail the offer on the MP3, whilst reminding them I intend to buy a PS II. The store guy refuses to extend the MP3 offer to me. I warn him about losing not just an MP3 sale, but a PS II too. He says he's sorry but the promo rule…

Who needs vacations?

'And worst of all is “social media.” Whoever gave it that name? It’s anti-social, in the extreme. Not only does it discourage talking to another human being personally, it’s put an end to looking at the world around us. Goodbye Wordsworth, goodbye Shelley, goodbye nature in general.

Yesterday, while walking through what’s known locally as the Grand Forest, an awesome agglomeration of Douglas fir and cedars with little creeks and bridges out of Hobbit-land, instead of staring at the wonders around me, I was mesmerized by the screen of my iPhone, answering a never ending stream of tweets, emails, not to mention alerts, one reminding me that I was in the Grand Forest and the GPS was on.

So what am I to do, dear reader? What is the cure? Every time I consider going cold turkey, I am flooded with “what ifs”? What if the stock market crashes? What if Israel bombs Iran? What if Obama resigns in favor of Sarah Palin? If I’m not fully wired, I will be the last to know. And I’m the CEO of a m…

With and without stuff

An extended weekend, an unending bout of common cold, and a broken down Internet connection meant I was alienated from the virtual world. Just as well, I guess. Interesting thing is, the aftermath of such alienation surprisingly wasn't at all bad. Sure the inbox overflowed, but not as much as I thought. Sure I missed the odd news story online, but again not much was missed. The best payoff to being disconnected was my realisation that the virtual world isn't that much of a daily necessity. Agreed it has its benefits, but not something I can't stay away from for a while. In fact I got my eyes some rest from staring at a screen, did some paper-book reading which was fantastic, and engaged in other home stuff that was downright refreshing.

Now I am not so sure if such 'bouts of alienation' is good news to marketers. They would prefer us glued to screens and other such stuff. For products and services to sell, consumers must believe their lives will be worse off without…