Monday, December 6, 2010

Why is Nano not selling?

This question has been bogging me ever since I read the news that they have been able to sell only 500 odd Nanos for the month of November. This is a figure which has surprised many, including me given the fact that Nano is the cheapest car in the world. Nano had in fact brought India and the Indian automobile industry into highlight as no other event had dine earlier, there were worries that Indian roads will soon be full of Nanos and the already congested road infrastructure would fall apart . I myself has written a post earlier in how Nano is perhaps a car for the BOP consumer..

I tried speaking to a few others to understand the possible reasons for the low sales, I will just briefly list the possible reasons ,

Price on road is much higher than the initially 1 lakh tag and many consumer feel that they can always upgrade to a Alto by stretching a bit more.
Not being seen as a car , because of it's looks and the fact that it cannot be driven beyond a certain speed..
The fire incidents have only added to the perception of quality and safely issue with the car.
Inadequate credit facility to push the sales of the car, especially to be upgrade the two-wheeler owner to upgrade (he is the target consumer)
Maybe the car buyer in India has upgraded, they don’t want to buy a low-priced car and would want to start with the next level of cars.
The issue of low-price itself could be the one which is hampering the sales, as a car is seen as a status symbol and a low-priced car defeats that basic purpose of owning a car.
Even the issue of delayed deliveries may have added to the problems and many consumer have felt disheartened by the long waiting periods initially..

I might have left out some more reasons, but still find it very difficult to come to terms with the fact that in country of our size a product like Nano could not find more than 500 buyers, I think there is bound to be some thing is not getting covered, and perhaps in the coming days we will be able to understand the issue better...

Even Carl-Peter Forster, managing director and CEO, Tata Motors said “These are new ways of marketing the Nano. To be frank, we are learning as we do. We market a passenger car to customers that are either never there to dream of a passenger car or they couldn’t afford a passenger car. It’s a very different way of marketing. It means new channels for the dealers.”

Friday, December 3, 2010

Raining Cars in India

I have written earlier that cars and economic growth were connected, at least they were during the last fifty years , though now things are changing. But even then one can observe how the increasing prosperity in India is getting reflected in the type and number of cars which are plying on the roads today. Every month we find that the car sales touching a new record level in terms of numbers , and the only aberration perhaps would be the low sales figure of Nano in November, apart from that for almost every car company sales have been good..

The segment which saw maximum activity in the initial days of liberalization was the entry level, the 800's , Alto's and Santro's, but now the focus is slowly shifting to the next level which is defined by cars like Swift, i10, i20. And we have a lot of players who are looking at this segment which is just above the entry level. Players like Toyota and Honda have their new cars entering this segment and knowing both the companies and their reputation one can foresee the life of entrenched players like Maruti and Hyundai getting more and more difficult in the coming days and the consumer spoilt for choice. Toyota Etios is predicted to be a game changer in the segment ...

At one time a company like Maruti could afford to continue with the same model for more than two decades, but those are days which have gone and the marketer of today can hardly afford to relax, he has to respond and be on the treadmill of continuous improvement to just retain its place in the market...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Does season influence a marketer's mood?

With the advent of winter in the plains of north India, I was thinking how two of my marketer friends would react to this change,one looks forward to it with a wide smile and other one is looks depressed and is cursing the cold winds which are sweeping the place. Both of them are in the beverages business , but one is with soft drinks and the other one sells tea. The change of season has a different impact on the sales of both the product categories...

There are many other product categories where this shift happens, Air conditioners, you can see the sales guy dusting his stock of room heaters and getting ready to sell, the street vendors also shifting from selling of cucumbers to boiled eggs, the street side cloth shops shifting from cotton to woolen...

But what is interesting to note how the mood of a marketers also gets influenced, if you talk to my soft drinks friend he is all cheerful when the summer is at its worst, it maybe also a reflection of how involve one is in his business, and how far your job influences you..

Monday, November 29, 2010

Online Shopping - Over promise and underdeliver!!!!!

Some say we are at the inflexion point with regard to online shopping in India. People like Kishore Biyani of Pantaloon retail are betting big on the sector with a target of 1000 crore from their recently started online venture.

I personally am a great believer in the power of Internet the impact it has had and will have on shopping (overall marketing) , and I personally have shifted most of my book buying to Internet. But the test of these things when there is a glitch in their operations, system or rather the faith in it gets tested when there is a problem......

I will share the recent experience which I had with, while buying books. I have been buying on the site for last one year, and the service has been very good. They have sent the books at the promised time and I have recommended the site to a few of my friends who are also happy with the site.

Then last Saturday night I wanted to buy a few more books, and did my usual net banking transaction only to find that the money was transferred from my account but the flipkart site said payment not received. I knew that these kind of glitches do happen and so I checked their site where they had given a helpline number saying you could call it 24X7 on any day of the week. So i called on the number and , was put on hold saying the operator would attend, and then no response.... I tried a couple of times and then mailed their customer care, there at least I got a email after a few hrs saying they are looking into the issue and would get back to me in 24 hrs , and response. I ultimately after more than 48 hrs I tried calling the number again and this time (being Monday) some one responded and was able to get the issue sorted out. Hopefully will be getting the books in a few days.

Looking back I was trying to understand why was I getting frustrated by the experience as the issue was sorted out in less than 48 hrs, which could be considered a very good response time, from what we have been used to till now, but then the problem is because of the promises which the vendor was making , a 24 hr helpline (paid, not a toll-free!) which does not work on a Saturday and the customer support saying that it will respond in 24 hrs or less and then you are the one who has to again call up and get a response. Do not promise something which you cannot deliver- if we look many other helplines, they mention the timing 9am-5pm on weekday and we do not expect them to respond to my phone call on a Sunday....

I hope to listen more from reader on their experiences and opinions on online shopping

Friday, October 29, 2010

Road side vending of Tea and Coffee

Yesterday I saw this initiative by Brooke Bond on a busy intersection in the city. The guy was vending hot tea and coffee to people on the move. I spoke to him and had a cup of tea which was very good ...

People have been speaking about redefining your competition; here an organized player not only acknowledges competition from street vendors but also goes down to compete with them. It creates a very good touch point directly with consumers, which could be leveraged to strengthen the brand....

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shopping habits are changing ?

I was wondering if our shopping habits have changed ? Especially in the context of grocery buying....

If today you were to ask a typical married male the prices of various grocery products my guess is that he would be able to give more accurate answers than a similar profiled person a generation back.

The reasons would be the fact that as many of us shift to buying from organized retail, grocery buying which used to be in the exclusive domain of the lady of the house has also shifted and now has become a sort of joint family activity

This has implication for marketers as till now for many categories communication has been targeted at the house wife, but when the buying habit shifts should the focus of communication also shift??

Monday, September 13, 2010

Credit Card usage in India

Read an interesting bit of news that use of credit cards is going down, and that of debit card increasing link

People belonging to a generation before were strictly against debt, the saying "keep your legs within the blanket" which meant that live within your means was what they believed in... But the younger generation , was thought to be the one which did not seem to care much about swiping the card and making purchases. Spend today and pay later was seemed to the order of the day..

But the data from RBI, shows a different picture, consumers not using their credit cards and moving on to debit card use. Is it just a blip and consumers would again switch back to their credit cards is something which needs to be seen, but maybe the consumer is also getting smarter in realizing the high interest rated being charged....

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Link to my article in Economic times on Managing Customer Expectations

Sharing the link to my article in Economic times on Exceeding Customer Expectations, Link

Monday, August 16, 2010

Car Sales and Production Delays

Last few months have been really good for the car Industry, we have seen record sales happening(July saw a 38% growth). With India becoming the fastest growing automobile markets in the world, this is in the backdrop of the sales stagnating in the US market. The growth is fueled by the series of new models launched by car manufacturers, especially in the B segment of the market, demand from rural markets, and with the Indian market entering the beginning of the festive season I think the next few months are going to be even more exciting for the automobile industry. Most of us get into the serious shopping mode only during the festivals and companies also wait to launch best of their schemes during this period, or is it the other way round ...a chicken and egg situation!!!!

But what surprised me was the news that both Maruti & Hyundai will not be able to match the demand due to capacity constraints. It is a window of opportunity for the many other players in the market who have always been wanting to get that extra market share, but seeing it from the number one and number two car makers in India, seems strange, because this growth is something which has been happening for some time now and suddenly you do not have production to cater to the demand?? Loyalty for a brand is good thing to bank on , but how long will someone wait for a car , especially in an era where we have got used to the off-the-shelf availability across many categories.

And once a consumer switches and picks up a car from some other manufacturer , he may never give you another chance. I think Maruti & Hyundai need to watch out ...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Brand India - Impact of CWG Scam and Super Bug Controversy

The last few weeks have been bad for Brand India, and the reasons being the way Common Wealth Games are been handled and the Super Bug origin theory.

Coming to the first issue of the Common Wealth Scam, though the full reports are awaited and like many other scams they might also be pushed under the carpet after the conclusion of the games. But the impact that this scam on the overall image of the country is a very high price to pay , and hopefully we should be able to salvage some pride by conducting the games successfully. It is shameful that our neighbors used the opportunity of hosting the Olympics to showcase the country's entry into the next league and our people here .......

Coming to the second controversy, attributing the origin of the super bug to India, and even naming it after the capital New Delhi-Metallo -1 (NDM-1) is something which will again go a long way in damaging the reputation of the country. There are many sides to this story and maybe it might turn out that the reports were doctored to suit the interest of a few companies or people in other countries, but my feeling is that the damage is done.

Both these incidents reinforce the idea of India being a corrupt and developing nation with poor facilities is not a good news on the 64th Independence day.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Link to my article in Economic times on companies innovating for Indian consumers

Sharing the link to my article in economic times on companies innovating for Indian consumers, link

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Successful Marketing is Easy in ....Hindsight

It has been said the strength of a great idea lies in its simplicity.

And we can similarly about successful marketing - ideas, campaigns and products. Once it has been successful, it is very easy to go back, dissect it and decide why it was successful,,

The other day I was having a similar discussion, when some one came up with a short one-line explanation for the success of CCD (Coffee Cafe Day), how it started as a small cyber cafe in Brigade road in Bangalore and has close to a 1000 coffee shops today. The idea was to provide youngsters an option between a pub and a typical Darshini (a quick service option in Bangalore). A simple idea with a lot of potential.

The only alternative coffee lover had before CCD was the Indian Coffee house , which today, interestingly has a very specific segment of people who come there, anyway that is another story by itself..

For CCD the timing also helped, because we had the young crowd take over the country including the coffee shops, with high disposable income and so on.... (people interested in knowing more about CCD's success can read BT's cover story, link), and rest all as they say is history.

CCD's success, is also because of the vision and risk-taking capacity of an entrepreneur to bet on a future he believed in. Because, in 1996 if anyone were to be told that there is a potential for Asia's largest chain of coffee shops in India , with coffee selling at a price 10 times more than what one can get in the next-door Darshini ....

So though it is easy to talk about success ingredients 20 years after ... think the challenge lies in identifying it well before others do and hang on to it..

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Simple..Yet Difficult

This post is triggered by a sad event, the death of seven month old child of our gardener. What was more painful for us was that the death was caused by 'Simple Diarrhea', which is something which is not unmanageable.

But the fact of the matter is that the 'Simple Diarrhea' is the second leading killer of children in the world. Just to emphasize the impact of these so called simple preventable diseases,

With over 240 million children under the age of five, India contributes 25 percent of the world’s child deaths….. It is believed that easy measures could prevent 90% of diarrhea deaths, 62% of pneumonia deaths, 100% measles deaths 92% malaria deaths, 44% HIV/AIDS deaths and 52% neonatal fatalities. For example, Simple measures like exclusive breastfeeding for six months can prevent child deaths by a good 16%.......(Unicief India)

And, the task itself is very simple, communication, when I hear about diarrhea the first thing which comes to my mind is the communication which used to aired by Doordarshan on what needs to be done, the simple things like giving the child water and salt combination, or tender coconut water and so on. I fear that that kind of communication has been lost in the deluge of channels and programmes these days. For people interested in knowing more about prevention of diarrhea should visit,

In the book The Checklist Manifesto, author Atul Gawande explains how following simple steps or checlists can in a host of issues rirght from handling an aircraft in the event of an emergenecy to help bring down infection levels in Hospitals. The more interesting study which he quotes in the book is the role of simple hand washing with soap in Karachi slums leading to a 52 percent drop in the incidence of diarrhea, 48% fall in cases of pneumonia...and when others things remained more or less same.

I am sharing these thoughts here as I feel that the domain of marketers in India in much wider than any other place , as it includes rural India and the huge number of urban poor and we can do a lot by simply improving communication and helping bring in social change....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mother Pious Lady- The book on Understanding India

Was reading Santosh Deasi's 'Mother Pious Lady Making Sense of Everyday India, and thought that I should share something about the book. This is not a formal review per se, but more of the first-cut thoughts on the book, which I am doing because I have liked the book immensely and want others to read it..

The name is a bit deceptive , Mother Pious Lady , will not play spoil sport and explain what it means, but spread across 14 chapters and 380 pages , the author shares more than 100 small articles which he had written over a time in various newspapers on India. Each of them not more than 3 pages in length.

The topics are varied, from writings on the street food in the country to Indian Traffic. The best thing in his writings is his ability to see meanings in ritual and practices which one has been following for a long time, he provides us with a different lens to understand ourselves.

To give an example from the book, the author writes about the meaning of thali in one of the write-ups, by drawing analogies between thali and the pluralism which exists in our society, and how it contrasts with the western society. How thali is able to accommodate all in one go. According to him thali tells the story about the Indian ability to create harmony out of discordance and find pleasure in chaos.

Though the number of topics which have been covered can be seen as a strength, it also lends some weakness, because at times one feels not all articles are equally good. And even the common binding thread feels weak in some cases, but then overall the compilation is a good read. And a final word, this book is not one of those which you would want to read cover to cover , in fact I think one can derive more pleasure if it were to be read slowly and randomly.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Indian Mobile Handset Market - Smaller Players Making a Dent!!!

It is predicted that India will have a mobile subscriber base of 1.159 Billion by the end of 2013 and become the world's largest market, from the currently fastest growing. For one who has seen the growth of the market from close quarters (though more as a consumer..) it has been a industry which has come from nowhere and gone on to become huge, though the scene on the service providers front is not very rosy especially looking at the future and the fact that the call rates are among the cheapest in the world make the life even more tough for them.

But what has surprised me in the recent times, is the emergence of strong local players in the Handset market. The structure of the market is very clear, you have a dominant player in Nokia with more than half of the market under its belt and then you have a host of players jostling for the second place. And we would have cover stories devoted to players who would gain 1-2% market share to become the number two player in the market. Just to give you an idea of how competitive the market is, 28 new vendors have been added in a space of one year. So in such a competitive market how easy or difficult is it for a new player to gain market share???

There is a detailed story of How MicroMax Mobile did it in Business Today. The story goes on to tell how Sharma who founded the company saw two features battery life and signal reception being the ones which were the number one priority for many of the low-income consumers, and capitalized on the opportunity. Now this insight is not something for which you need McKinsey's study???

It was not that the emergence of these local vendors was something which happened overnight, they were making their presence felt through local ads, and I could see many people slowly buying them, like my gardner has recently brought a Lava phone. But it was this IPL which brought the focus, with many of them capitalizing on the opportunity to highlight their brands..

We have known about the first mover advantage, though the evidence on the advantage is not very clear, but it seems intuitive that if there is a gap in the price-value equation it should be the existing players who should be able to see it first and capitalize. I can understand when it happens along with a shift in the technology, but....

But it definitely provides a lot of food for thought smaller players suceeding in an extremely competitive market. And the mobile handset market is only going to become more and more crowded with time, and success of MaxMobile is only going to add to the rush...

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Saw this ad in the front page of Lucknow edition of TOI, could not make much sense....

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Indian Post and the Internet generation...

Postal services across the world are fighting for their survival, under the combined impact of technology and market savvy courier service agencies. And many of them have made attempts at stemming this decline by doing a re-branding exercises to transform themselves and emerge in a new avatar...

Even Indian Post went through a similar exercise a couple of years back, but then the results ........

If one were to list the strenghts of Indian Post, number one is their reach and volume which is unmatched in the country, more so in the far-flung rural areas of the country. The next on the list would be their staff especially the ubiquitous post man who is their customer facing arm , who interacts with the customers on a daily basis and knows them by name and is more than a messenger. I am not sure if this holds true today in all places in the country. And then comes the range of product offerings from areas in Banking , Insurance, and of course the postal services.

If I were to pick-up one issue which needs to be tackled by Indian Post on a war footing would be how to attract younger generation post offices. I do not know how many of you would have been to a post offices in the recent times. For me today's visit to a post office came after many years, and one of the first things which I observed was we were among the only young people around, we totally surrounded by senior citizens (average age not less than 65), though it might also be influenced by the fact that we went there on a month end. But it was as if young people were not welcome to a post office.

I have identified this as the number one issue because it is essential that the younger generation is able to connect , associate themselves with a post office. I am still part of that generation which even till a few years back was used to waiting for the post man to deliver letters and have copies of many letter which I had exchanged with my friends, but the Internet generation which is used to sending IMs and sending updates on the facebook would feel as if they have landed in a alien land if they were to ever walk into a post office, and this is something which should worry the people at Indian Post.

As with many other things in life, it is easy to say that 'x' needs to be done , but then the moot question is 'How'.............

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Simply Fly - Captain Gopinath's Story

The story of Air Deccan is something which is close to many of us, it in a way symbolised the impact of liberalisation on the common man. It was with this curiosity of getting an insiders view into the story of Deccan Air that I eagerly picked up the book 'Simply Fly', though most of my expectations were met , then I wouldn't say I was fully satisfied. I would start with the reasons why I was not happy, then look at the positives, which outnumber the negatives.

First complaint is with the expected coverage on Air Deccan Story, looking at the length of the book, running into more than 350 pages , I was expecting more on Air Deccan , but then Captain Gopinath has devoted about one third of the book to that venture which might be ok looking at the number of new ventures he started from his farm , to hotel, to politics, to aviation , but I personally felt that he could have devoted some more pages to Deccan Airlines, and the abrupt end to Deccan Air story also leaves me unsatisfied with a feeling that he has not shared the story fully , which maybe prudent from his perspective looking at the fact that the story is too recent and some of the details might hurt his image or that of some of his partners. And another minor complaint was the lack of dates and timeline in the book , which makes it a little difficult to read at times.
But then looking at the positives, reading through the book gives one a very good insight into how an entrepreneurs mind works, and the sheer variety of businesses that Captain Gopinath started and succeeded. Through the stories of his various ventures he gives us an overview of the business realities in Indian market and the challenges which are there in the present context. His constant struggle with the bureaucracy is some thing which should serve to forewarn new entrepreneurs, but then he also share the incidents where he could get things done by sheer persistence.
I think what attracts most of the readers to books of these kind if the 'rags-to-riches' angle, but I feel there is much to be derived out of the book in terms of the variety and number of opportunities which exist in Indian market. And I think anyone who wants to do business in India should read this book....

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Save Our Tiger Aircel Campaign - Leveraging CSR

"Save our tiger campaign" is one more of the recent campaigns which has generated a lot of buzz . The interest is because it has managed to touch consumers emotionally on the issue of saving our national animal. My interest is more in the CSR angle to the campaign, as it is a campaign by Aircel in partnership with World Wild Life Fund. Actually there have been many more campaigns in the recent past which have tried leveraging social issues to work in favor of their brands, and the Tata Tea Jaago Re Campaign would top the list. Others which come to my immediate memory are, Idea trying to leverage issues like saving trees and 'walk-when-you-talk', Nokia and old mobile...

Though earlier I have been critical of the disproportionate benefit that companies are able to derive out these sort of campaigns, or as put bhat in his post on the issue 'advertising in CSR skin' but now with more and more companies adopting a similar approach, I think one needs to look at the situation more dispassionately. I have made an attempt here,

First and perhaps the primary stake holder in such campaigns would be the company, and though the direct benefits are difficult to pinpoint (which would be true for any ad campaign), but the impact on recall (as in the case of aircel) and awareness would the bare minimal expectations that they would have. For brands with high awareness, they can hope to build a positive brand association , as maybe the case with Tata Tea. Infact Tata Tea has reported growth in the market share across the last few years when the campaign has been running, but then how much of that can be attributed to the Jaago Re Campaign?

And next is the benefit to the cause which they are supporting , be it the tigers or corruption or saving water (HUL had a campaign where they spoke about saving water) . Specifically if one were to look at the save tiger initiative, with many initiatives over the years that have not yielded much results I see so no harm if some wants to make one more attempt, but then saving tigers maybe more of a operational/policy issue than some think linked to increasing consumer awareness . Though the idea would be that increased awareness would mean stronger policies which would help save tigers. But .....

If you look issues like increasing the awareness with regard to voting rights and making it easier for the younger people to register for voting is some thing more concrete.

One thing which is favor of these kind of campaigns is the ease with which these campaigns can be extended on to the Internet, through websites and communities and making it more interactive...

Coming back to the issue of why this sudden interest in linking your brand with a social cause. I think it is driven by the fact that today the traditional ways of differentiating your brand are becoming harder to sustain, and brands are desperately on look out for issues through which they are able to hang of consumers attention.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rin Vs Tide ad, ethical ?

It took me some time to actually believe that HUL was directly comparing Rin with Tide. Digged the ad out of youtube to see it again and then today's ET had a new item on the same. Link

Not that sort of comparison has not been done at all , Complan vs Horlicks ad controversy is still fresh in our minds. Many years back it was pepsodent versus colgate ads (but even then no direct mention of brands), and it is said that it took the marketing heads of both the companies to sit together to end the money being wasted on comparative ads.

But at a very fundamental level, marketing as an activity which is 'relative', firmly anchored against competition , be it USP or differentiation the point of reference is competition. And what has been happening till now is that companies avoided directly naming the competing brand , but use a similar coloured or looking product in their ads. But in the Rin ad the line has been crossed and HUL has very clearly shown the competing product. And people like Harish B who writes a popular blog on Indian brands, observed that by naming Tide in the ad directly 75% of the time in the ad was devoted to Tide than Rin. Link for more on his post on the issue.

On the legal front praveen , points out the small disclaimers during and at the end of the ads, should help HUL's case in the courts, but then raised the question of why such an ad in the first place. Now that P&G has gone to the court against the ad, other resort would be to go to ASCI , the body which looks into these kind of issue, but it is more of recommending agency, with no regulatory authority..

On the issue of whether it is right or wrong, ethically yes, we question the ad, but then how right or wrong is it to use a similar looking product without actually naming the competitor? or other forms of comparative advertisements that we have been seeing. But as they say too much of anything is bad, even too much of attention or focus on competition is also bad as in the process you might lose focus on your own customer???

Lastly an observation on the maturity of the blogsphere in India, there are more than 5-6 blog posts on the issue , since the ad was aired, so I thought I should also jump into the discussion :). There are discussions going on the issue on facebook, twitter and other social networking sites ...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rural Marketing Videos

While searching for videos on rural marketing I found this three part video (storyboard) edited by Dalip Sehgal, MD of Godrej Consumer Products limited. The series was shot in Nov 2009 and it includes the interview with Adi Godrej and others of the group who share their insights on rural markets, then a set of interviews with retailers and consumers. Thought it was worth sharing with my readers,

Part One - A reality check in rural markets of Punjab, link
Part Two - Rural Immersion for Top Management at Godrej, link
Part Three - Experiences of Airtel, M&M and Hero Honda, link

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Moving beyond sachets to products for rural masses

This post was triggered by the exchanges we had on twitter a few weeks back (@futurescape, @RGambhir) on the issue of whether rural marketing in the country has evolved to the stage where companies have started designing products exclusively for these markets. Till recently most popular approach most urban marketers had towards rural was do some cosmetic changes to the product, mostly the packing (smaller ones) and then push them in the rural markets. And to be fair to them even this sachetization lead to a boom in these markets. But then it was still giving a step-treatment to the markets which has 70% of our population.

In the recent past Nestle and GlaxoSmithkline Consumer Healthcare (GSK) have launched products that have been exclusively designed for rural. GSK's Horlicks Asha is — a low-cost variant (40 per cent cheaper than Horlicks) for rural markets only. Asha tastes slightly different and is priced at Rs 85 for a 500-gram pouch pack -– close to half the price of the original. And Nestle has launched Rs 2 and Rs 4 products — Maggi Masala-ae-Magic and Maggi Rasile Chow, meant for rural/semi urban markets to provide low-cost, light meal fortified with iron. There have been more attempts of these kind earlier , but they have been more part of a CSR initiatives, but companies like GSK and Nestle are looking at these products as profit making intitaives. More towards the BOP than the Social Business philosophy.....

A few more examples which would fit in would be 'Tata Swach' the low cost water purifier launched by Tata. For more refer the post @emergingfutures on swach . Even Tata Magic would fall into the same category...

Hopefully with this we can see many more similar initiatives in the future .

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Moving on to the Mc and Pizza Generation

I was watching a small kid , not more than three year sitting on a typical stool in a McDonald's restrurant, waiting paitently for the Happy Meal being brought by father. The photo above was taken there which shows that the place is almost full, and the fact is that a large number of these customers are young kids who are coming more and more regularly to these joints . With almost 20 years after the first reformist budget we can see the impact of opening up of the economy, for many of these players have done the waiting period and will plan for rapid expansion in the next decade.

But apart from the growth that these Macs and Pizzas vendors can would look forward to , I was thinking about what would that small kid prefer to eat when she grows up? My guess is that the generation would grow up on Burgers and Pizzas and continue to patronize it heavily, which is a very happy situation for these companies, especially within home markets either saturating or becoming more and more health conscious...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Co-Creation in Indian FMCG Domain

50 lakh prize money and 1% on the turnover , is the new promo campaign for anyone who comes up with a new flavor for lays, this is in essence the idea of co-creation wherein you are involving the consumer ( one of the stake holders) of your product into it's development. This is actually an extension of Frito-lay's effort to increase the involvement of the consumers, earlier they had the 'fight for the flavor' campaign where they wanted people to rate flavors ......

Incidentally when I was looking for more info on the topic I came across their blog,, which shares the happenings in their office here in India. It was good to see the blog and the posts , for ex- it had a post where the MD clarifies against the rumor which was floating around on the web, that if you were to burn Kurkure it would turn into plastic and therefore is harmful for health....

Coming back to the main issue of co-creation, it has also been used by Maggi noodles where they are asking consumers to share their experiences with the brand thru the website, out of which some of them are later converted into ads. I think the idea here again is to bring the brand closer to the users and tap into the feelings about the brand maggi, and because you make the users partners in the process you increase the authenticity of the brand experience.

When the idea of co creation was introduced around a decade back,very few of us could see the relevance and the wider application of the idea, the examples here are from plain fmcg products, if one were to look into the Internet domain then the number of examples are numerous....

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Visit to a Desi Retail Store - Sarvanna Stores

Though I have named it as a Desi Store, it is considered as a pioneer in retailing in the country. I had heard about it quite a long time back and wanted to visit it. Though I had been to Chennai during my sales days and had food at the Sarvanna Bhawan , but had never taken time out to visit Sarvanna Stores. The interest in the stores was further piqued by it's mention by Kishore Biyani in his book "It Happened in India" as being the role model for Big Bazaar. So this time when I was in Chennai's T Nagar market I made it a point to visit one of the stores, Sarvana Selvarathnam, which was store exclusively focused on Textiles.

It is a huge store spread over seven floors including the basement and had a mind boggling variety of stuff which was on display. The target was value-conscious consumer, infact the taxi driver who dropped us to the shop said he was planning to shop for towels to be put as seat covers on his car at the store....

The layout of the shop was very simple, so were the billing and price tags on the products , no sophisticated bar codes - the prices were hand written. I could see what inspired Biyani , the store was competing for share from the middle and lower middle income consumer, and the competition was just a few steps from the store in the form of vendors on the streets ...

Overall the visit to the T-Nagar market was a eye-opener, the mass of people moving in and out from the various traditional shops made us realize the vibrancy of traditional retail and their strong hold on traditional segments like Sarees and Jewellery. It was also the Christmas eve so the rush , but I was told that market was crowded on most of the days...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Plastic usage in Everyday life - Marketing Implications

I thought I should start the new year by writing on something which would become a prime concern for marketers in the years to come - 'environment consciousness' . World over there is an increased concern on the role corporates/marketers play in maintaining the environment and accepting responsibility towards their actions and its impact on the society at large.

Though there is a lot of talk and discussion happening on global warming and climate change, many a times we tend to see these issues happening at the Macro level, something about which we as individuals cannot do much about. I will share a recent experience which made me realize how we as consumers add to these problems and perhaps have to think a way out of these issues.

The example is from our recent trip to Andaman, where the islands have a policy of zero plastic usage, if you walk into a general store you will not get a plastic bag and rather shown the policy (though some of the shopkeepers will give you a plastic bag, but then insist not to tell where u got it from!!!). There are notices in all beaches on don't use plastic and so on, the photo above should give you an idea of how well it is being followed...

Being a nature lover we have been consciously avoiding leaving plastic around , but this time around we thought we will be more strict in our plastic usage and try and monitor it. So we started the exercise of keeping all the plastic we used in a day in our back-pack and disposing it back in the dust-bin when we would be back to the main island after our trip. And we were surprised and guilty about the amount of plastic two of us were consuming every single day. We use plastic in everything.... whether we eat a pack of biscuit , drink water, eat chocolates, consume soft drinks, you name a product and inevitably it is packed in plastic....We were made aware of how much dependant we had become on plastic in our everyday life.

And future marketers need to look at this issue very seriously, because we need to find ways to break our dependence on plastic as the main source of packaging and move towards a more environment friendly material...

I just thought I will share this as a food for thought to start the new year, will look forward to more comments from you...

Wishing all of you a very Happy new year...

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