Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dead products???

I read a very interesting piece if news in Business standard today, it was about the manufacture and sale of typewriters. The article says that Godrej is manufacturing and selling 12,000 typewriters annually, and one of the two remaining manufactures of typewriter in the world. I thought of sharing it , because most give typewriter as an example of a product which has died, which may actually happen in a few years time ....

Link to the article

Some More Books

1. Wikinomics By Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams
2. The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

These two books in the list are more about the impact of internet on business, but felt that they give one very good insights into how the business will evolve and adapt ....
3. Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille

Not something directly linked to marketing or business but essentially with the close link of marketing and culture a must read

4. The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Likert

Again and all time favorite, gives insights into the wroking of Toyota , though there are umpteen
books on Toyota this book has been appreciated by many...

5. Witch Doctors by Micklethwait and Wooldridge

Must be the oldest book in the list, written somewhere in the late 90's, the authors take a critical view of management theories. Management graduates and teachers should read the book as it helps us to rethink on various theories of management which we take as given and don't question them....

6. In Search of Excellence by Tom peters and Waterman

No i was wrong this is the oldest book in the list written in 80's a book which has had a lot of impact on management thinking and has been listed as number one book on management for many years. Though many companies which were studied as being excellent are no longer excellent, the book provides us many insights into the working of organizations which were greta at one point in time...

7. The Black Swan by Nicholas Taleb
8. Fooled by Randomness By Nicholsa Taleb

These are th two book written by Nicholas taleb, one can listen to many of his podcast's and watch him on TED. His book black swan was among the top sellers in 2007

9. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Has spawned a series of books on economics credits should go to Steven Levitt...

10. The World Is Flat Thomas L. Friedman

Was in the best seller list for a long time , and readers have been captivated by his style of writing which sadly is missing in most of Indian authors...

The good thing about the authors and these books is the fact that most of them have a blog through which they keep updating the readers about their new ideas and how they are progressing on a day-on-day basis. Some of the authors like Chris Anderson wrote the whole book on the blog first and then published it!!!!!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Marketing and Service Linkage....

In theory one reads a lot about how post-sales service is a critical component of customer retention and building a reputation in the marketplace. but in practice we have to look really hard to find instances wherein companies exhibit such behavior towards their customers.

In his latest post Seth Godin writes about his experince with a service provider who ended up not finishing the job propoerly, which spoiled an overall good experince.In India we face such situations day in and day out . The problem with our distribution and retail networks is that they have been designed to handle one way traffic, focusing on making a sale, and they are not willing to even consider a situation wherein the company might also have to take back goods or help consumers out in situations like the one in which my friend was stuck a few days back. He had lost his mobile phone and wanted to get the number blocked and a duplicate SIM card issued. The service provider is one the biggest in the country with a very good market presence whom I would not like to name.

My friend had to run around the city to get the things done, a trip to the nearest police station, then visiting 5-6 of the vendors, who only gave him some numbers to contact , where obviously there was no one to respond to his queries. The executives at the vendor and franchisees were least interested in helping as it had nothing to do with additional revenue coming or selling a new SIM card which would helped them in their targets .

The experince would have been totally different had the person visited the outlets to purchase a new connection, he would have been pampered and treated like a king, but the same person is disowned when he has a problem. The problem is both at the level of attitude as well as systemic, with the kind of growth we are witnessing in the mobile services no one is bothered about a old customer with a problem with so many new customers wanting connections... and I doubt if there would be any set procedures on how to handle such a situation.

But in the process the customers who go thru the expeirnce end up carrying a very negative impression about the company and would probably wait till number portability starts in India...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Market Update 24.1.08

An update on the links for the week

Strategist this week is focused on cars with a story on Nano, and an attempt on deciphering Hyundai's strategy in introducing i10.

It also carries Airtel's attempt to create a iconic brand...

Brand Equity

British Airways and it strategy for openskies, Link

Coca Colas New Packaging Design, Link

Brand line of Business Line has a very good article on the need for marketers to customize thier products regionally in India , link

And also an update on the latest strategy of Kellogg's in India

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Consumer Promotions : Are they really relevant?

Though we have been talking about increasing accountability of marketing expenditure and working on metrics to show the return on marketing investment not much progress has actually been made. We have not moved much further from the era when people use to claim that half of the ad expenditure is waste but no one knows which half. I thought of relating the issues of results to expenditure on consumer promotions as quite a substantial part of money is spent on consumer promotions.

I would like to share examples of a couple of consumer promotions schemes which I found to be either inappropriate or inadequate. I am regular Bru Coffee drinker, and I buy 50gms every month. Last moth they were giving a free air-tight container was with 50 gms pack. Same day evening I found that along with the double pack of Britannia Biscuits they were giving a plastic bowl free (which is a weakness in Indian consumers which has been exploited by marketers for a long time), free is something which is hard to resist so obviously I took the free gifts from both the companies. But then later on I thought what was the benefit of running the scheme, I buy the same brand and same quantity, so why did the company give me free gifts,

Consumer promotions should either encourage the regular buyer to buy more quantities or attract new ones. Schemes where in free buckets were given with 5 Kg packs of detergents made sense. In these schemes at least they could lock-in a customer for a longer time, hoping that he will get used to the brand and when the scheme is withdrawn he might still continue with the brand (though the advantage is lost when all other player come up with similar schemes).

Maybe best consumer schemes would one which would force the consumers to switch brands, so that you are able to increase market share based on consumer promotions. There are examples of these kind also, but far and between and gets copied very fast. One which I can remember is the "Britannia Khao World Cup Jao Campaign"...

But I guess such schemes need a lot of original thinking and effort so the easy way out is the examples which I have mentioned earlier....and by the way this time I got a free coffee mug with the 50gms Bru.....

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mountain Dew - Brand Evolution

Mountain Dew is the number three brand in the US after Coca Cola and Pepsi, more than $5 Billion . The brand has evolved over the years from a rural focused brand to being a brand which could connect with the young population through its association with adventure sports. Mountain dew and linkage of building a iconic brand through connecting the brand with a myth and the cultural trends of an era has been documented by many , I thought the story of its evolution could be depicted through the ads which it has changed and adapted to suit the changing cultural trends,

hillbilly character - Willy used in the 1960's , to symbolize the power of the drink to change attitudes in a heartbeat

The Mid-1980's ad where corporate executives done cowboy gear

One more in the series

Next Came the 'Do the Dew" Series

Then the ads for the Superbowl in 1999,

1. Cheetah Ad - Which was also used to launch the brand in India

2. Mock Opera Ad

Mountain Dew Ram Commercial

This Ad was used in India too, but was not very successful
The ads were changed to "Dar Ke aage jeet hai" in India

Latest Ads of Mountain Dew

Are they trying to connect to the consumers who are addicted to the game consoles at thier homes??

For more of their new ads visit

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More More on Nano

I know most of you would be tired of reading on Nano as all newspapers and blogs are full of rave reviews of Nano-the one lakh rupee car launched by the Tata's in the Auto Expo. But the fact it is a quintessential Indian Car manufactured by an Indian company with a team of Indian engineers makes it even more special.

People have called it "if not reinventing the wheel, at least reinventing the automobile", anticipating the impact it is going to have on the overall automobile market. The city corporations across the country have expressed their worries about the impact Nano could have on the urban infrastructure and the overall impact on our dependency on fuel resources. But leaving out the negatives I personally feel that it is a time for celebration and acknowledging the prowess which has been exhibited by an Indian company in coming up with the world’s cheapest car, and with almost no negative reviews about the car it seems that Tata Motors has pulled it out, A car which would obviously change the way Tata Motors is and the auto industry, giving sleepless nights to both car and two wheeler manufactures alike....

Whoever I spoke to have been talking about the possibility of buying more than one nanos, we obviously will see a long waiting list and other delays which would happen as happens with most new launches, hopefully it would be handled well by Tata Motors.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Nano Tata 1 Lakh Car Unveiled in Auto Expo 2008

We have been following the developments related to the launch of the Tata 1 Lakh Car in the blog so thought should post something on it's launch. I have posted only the photos and the article links, will post comments on the issue later..............Links of Coverage in Economic Times Business Standard and Business Line..
More information on tatapeoplecar
Update : Ratan Tata's Interview on Nano in Economic Times

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives by Indian Corporate Houses – The Way Ahead

The world business council for sustainable development defines “Corporate social responsibility (CSR) as the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large”. Most corporate houses in India have full fledged CSR initiatives, which are being managed by their trusts or foundations. When one glances through the recent annual reports of Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) and ITC one can see the increased interest and coverage that such initiatives are getting.

Within the CSR initiatives one can see two distinct categories, one is the pure CSR initiatives in which the company has no business objectives attached to it, on the other hand there are the quasi initiatives, wherein there is a profit motive attached to the initiatives, though may not be in the short-term. Initiatives in education of Azim Premji Foundation and Infosys Foundation would fall into the first set of classification and so could be the Shiksha initiative of P& G. In the Quasi categories are initiative like Project Shakti of HUL and e-choupal of ITC, in both the cases though the initiatives are not totally profit oriented, they are linked to their businesses. In the case of Project Shakti HUL is using the Self Help groups in villages as an alternate channel of distribution and in e-choupal ITC is setting up kiosks in villages for procurement of agricultural commodities.

The positives of a CSR initiative are that it can draw upon the internal resources of the organization both in terms of finances as well as managerial talent and also attract right people to work on the initiatives. They also help in providing opportunities to field-test ideas and become a source of innovation in addressing pressing needs and problems of the society. The draw back is in terms of the scale of their initiatives which normally tend to small and benefits localized. The problems related to scaling up are also constrained by the fact that the value created by these initiative are not getting reflected in the market and thus there is a need to ensure that these initiatives are driven by market forces and not inspired by corporate conscience alone .

Thus looking at the initiatives by Corporate India one feels that the Indian society expects more from them and thus there is an urgent need to address the scaling-up the various CSR initiatives and also a need to build a mechanism through which such efforts are recognized and rewarded.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Mobile Telephony - Intiatives in Rural Areas

The telecommunication initiative in rural areas in the past have largely been driven by government initiatives and is more or less restricted to fixed land lines. It is the very recent past that companies like Airtel have started talking about focusing on rural India , which probably is driven by the fact that rural tele-density is still very low and offers the opportunity for growth as and when the urban markets saturate.

Surprisingly till now none of the private operators have made any serious foray into rural areas in India. But that is not the case in other developing countries, in Africa according to a report by Vodaphone, initiative is driven by private operators and predominantly cellular technology based. Another successful case is that of Smart Communications Inc of Philippines which introduced pre-paid services at very low denominations and used over the air payment system to overcome the availability problems, which has lead to increased penetration and usage of telecom services in rural India.

One of the possible reasons why we have not seen any serious initiatives from private operators in India might be the pace at which the urban market is growing , once the urban markets near saturation we might see more rural telecom intiaves.

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