Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Books on India II

Over the last couple of months I have got a mixed collection of books on India, thought of sharing five of the books with my readers,

Would like to start with Narayan Murthy's ' A Better India A Better World' which is a collection of speeches given by him on various occasions when he was invited, from convocation addresses across the world, to memorial lectures. It is a collection of thoughts of one of the most respected business leader in the country, in which he shares his passion and conviction about India and youth. Infact he says in the book that he never misses out an opportunity to speak out to the youth to impress upon them some of the ideas which he feels are critical in today's world. In the book he acknowledges his son for pursuing him to put his work together in a book. Companion website for the book, link.

Second book in the list is 'India's Global Power Houses' by Nirmalya Kumar. An out and out India success story book, covering more than 10 companies which have managed the transformation from domestic to global players. Covering company case studies from Tata Group to Infosys, Arcelor Mittal and Bharat Forge. A good resource for people seeking info on Indian companies too. The companion website is

Third book in the list does not form a part of the set as it is not about the positive and feel good side of India which has been written by the first two authors. The book 'The Caged Phoenix' by Dipankar Gupta looks at the limitations of the Indian success story. He raises the question of growth versus human development. In the book the author says he has made an attempt to sound the warning bell with the hope that at least intellectuals and members of the concerned public will take a second look at Indian growth story.

The last two books in my list include books which are not ones which talk about the current status of Indian market, not linked to the growth or success that the country has achieved in the recent past but are infact historical and sociological in nature. 'India after Gandhi' by Ramchandra Guha is a close-to 1000 page compendium on History of Democracy in India starting from the British onwards. There are many reviews which have been written on the book and a lot of recognition which has come its way, some the reviews, NY Times, Hindu, The Guardian.

The last book in the list is 'Oxford India, Srinivas' a collection of the best of M N Srinivas's writing, one of the most distinguished sociologist of the country.His writings give us insights into village life, caste and social structure, religion and cultural and social change in India. Ramchandra Guha in writing the foreword for the book says that the book should on the shelf of every thinking Indian.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Twitter Updates 28.07.09

  • Needs for ads to break the clutter to grab attention
  • Floating Supermarket in kerala
  • Blogs and business schools
  • Airtel Special five offer, and the logic
  • Dabur India and its entry into skincare
  • The IIPM story, does not come as a surprise at all
  • 30 Great Advertising Professionals to Follow on Twitter
  • RT @tweetmeme Phones outnumber radios among poor in South Asia
  • Reading: "Four videos about noise, social and decency" (
  • Indian telecom getting gains from their rural forays,
  • Social Networking in India and its impact on entertainment,
  • Air India and it's branding woes,
  • Rama Bijapurkar, has written on understanding Indian Consumers in Today's ET
  • Companies finding toon characters much better than celebrities :))
  • Interesting innovation from a banker turned farmer, check out NET POT on
  • New Blog Post on my blog: Marketing in India abt farmer buying habits
  • Reading M N Srinivas and his work on Indian villages , must read for anyone interested in India,
  • More on Brand endorsement India,, ,
  • who is driving the new Nano's ?
  • Indian elderly consumers not attaracted to reverse mortgage has more to do with culture than anything else
  • Microsoft has shown interest in partnering with govt on unique id project,
  • @imaginingindia last post on his blog :(
  • Makeover for Lux and Wheel in the pipeline
  • More secure online trasaction could mean lower ecom,
  • Profits , Maruti up 25% ITC up 17% airtel up 24%
  • Dadiseth Ex Chairman HUL takes over as Chairman Sony India
  • @SDEntrepreneur , reading 9 Advanced Twitter Tips | Tech N' Marketing
  • seems a little dated but anyway, reading 'Ten Things you Must Know before Using Twitter'
  • RT @guykawasaki 10 Tips for creating secure passwords: AC
  • check out new free classified services at
  • RT@marketingisus David Ogilvy's best advice for business ..
  • @tweetmeme @smashingmag Reading '50 New Beautiful Blog Designs'
  • Netbooks in India,
  • The issue of pack size and the movement towards smaller packs,
  • Why Esteem was replaced by Dzire
  • Dettol gains mkt share in fragmented soap market,, & santoor becomes number one in South
  • Debit Card holders to be allowed to withdraw money directly from POS, implications for ATMs and Banks?
  • Mallya uses KIngfisher brand to raise Rs 2,000 cr from SBI!!!!
  • Havells - Indian brand transition story from B-B to a consumer brand
  • Pilots caught drunk , inspires a lot of confidence
  • RT @alltop Alltop - Top Sales News
  • RT@GuyKawasaki Yahoo! Redesigns! Home Page!
  • RT @guykawasaki How to Change the World: The Top Ten Lies of Guy Kawasaki
  • RT@TomZiglar A smile is the most powerful social tool we have at our disposal. Zig Ziglar
  • New Blog Post : Marketing in India, Are we entering the era of return on marketing investment?
  • RT @guykawasaki 100 funny and unfortunate website naming disasters: AC
  • Successful brand launches for 2008,
  • Brand Endorsements in India,
  • relationship between rainfall and car sales

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tractor Buying Farmer and his buying cycle

As marketers we tend to have a lot of interest in understanding consumer buying process. The latest that we are falling back on is observation and neuroscience to take a peek into the consumers mind while he is making the purchase decision, but one can also use more mundane ways to get genuine insights into his mind by talking to retailer or dealer who meet and interact with consumers on a day-to-day basis, even your sales people can be of significant help.

I had one such interaction with a senior person who has been taking care of tractor sales for a well known tractor company, and my discussion with him gave me many insights into process through which a farmer goes through before decides on which tractor to buy. Will try a share a few of those insights,

One of the things of interest is the time which a farmer takes to arrive at the final decision, which from the dealer perspective is the specific brand of tractor he buys. According to him the whole process from need identification to the final buying can take anywhere between 6-9 months, which is quite long even for a product like tractor which is both a expensive as well as a long lasting product for the buyer, making a very high involvement purchase .

And in his experience the 'one' thing which the farmer relies the most to come up with his final decision is WOM , which he gets from users of tractors of the same or the competing company. This infact is I would say the most important insight gleaned from my talk, because this has critical implications for both the marketer and sales people. Most of the dealers and sales people would like to move on from the last sale and look for new prospects, but the very fact that the new tractor buyer would base his 'buy' or 'No buy' decision on the feedback from earlier customers is sometimes lost in the haste to get more sale. It also has implications for service as the tractor would come keep coming back to the dealer for regular servicing which would mean new touch-points of good experience which the farmer can carry back.

Infact the farmer has become a true king with the number of companies offering him tractors close to 15-16 . Though it has also created a lot more confusion, from the earlier days of either M&M or Escorts sort of a situation. But then lack of competition does not mean loss for the consumer but even the company operating in a such protected environment also ends up becoming sterile??

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Digital Marketing

Found a very good presentation on Digital Marketing thought of sharing it,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Is Marketing in India Also Entering the ROMI era

Return on Marketing Investments (ROMI) is a concept which has gained a lot of attention in the last few years, and rightly so. The basic idea behind ROMI is that one should be able measure results of investments made in marketing (read as ads and promotions). On simple terms if I were to spend 1 crore on a TV ad what would be the proportional increase in sale that you can guarantee me??

The difficulty with this idea has been though very good on paper, but how to translate it into practice. Because we have to measure the results in the marketplace , which is not a closed system, marketing expenditure is only one variable in the scene, many other would be operating and influencing the results. A sample of what all can influence your marketing expenditure/investments - competitor reaction, overall economy (monsoons), slow down, .....

I think the problem with the concept has been that we are stuck at two ends of the spectrum, in terms of arguing that you give me a straight forward relationship between the marketing investments and results and at the other saying that it is a creative process and we are not in control so you cannot hold me responsible for results. There has to some effort made to strike a balance between the two positions.

Earlier days it was said "I know half of my ad expense is a waste, but I don't know which half", we have moved on from that situation and there has been a lot of effort in developing marketing metrics, one good resource is "Marketing Metrics:50+ Metrics Every Executive Should Master"

What is the status in Indian market? According to recent news HUL and Coke India are planning to link ad payment to sales. In the news item a Coke official is quoted saying “This model is about paying agencies for results, not activity,” . From the news item it is clear that the idea is still in conceptual stage and it would be some time before some clarity on how it would be implemented.

One more interview which adds to the discussion would Branding Guru John Philip Jones interview where he shared his thoughts on short, medium and long term impact of ads, and many other issues. Interview.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Maggi Noodles India the journey continues..

I have been sort of following up on 25 year celebrations on Maggi Noodles in India, and in the Sunday Times of India saw the print ad which sort of follows up on the Meri Maggi theme where consumers write back on their own stories with the brand, a very good way of bringing out how consumers have developed a very close bond with the brand in the last 25 years. The campaign has a 360 degree coverage , spanning web, OOH, TV , Mobile and newspaper. Thought will share the print ad with my readers,

My earlier post on Maggi Noodles, Link

Friday, July 17, 2009

Twitter Updates 18.07.09

have shifted most of market updates on to twitter, thought will update some of that to the blog,

Difficulty with service delivery

I have written earlier on the kind of service we are used to getting in India, and the saga sort of continues. One can listen to frequent horror stories of how a customer gets treated in Shopper's Stop when he wants to exchange a shoe which he bought a couple of days back. The typical service levels at our banks are again not something which one would actually want to talk about, and obviously it is not just the public sector ones which excel at that.

In this context I would like to relate a service experience albiet a positive one for a change. This happened with one of my friends when he went to get his car serviced. He went for his regular service and was not happy with the service gave his feedback to the company complaining about the tardy service which he got without expecting much to happen, but to his surprise within a matter of a few days he had people from the company, the dealer rushing to him with apologies and gifts. At the end he was more surprised than happy with the experience and was wondering what had happened to our service standards, have they really changed...

Though we tend to acknowledge the fact that because services are people driven there would be a lot of variation in the levels of service being delivered, but one has to experience that to realise how critical it can be as happened with us in our recent trip to uttranchal. We spend close to eighth days across four rest houses of KMVN ( a government tourist facility) and found the behaviour and how helpful the front desk people where at the place made a lot of difference to your overall experience at that destination and you also come up the conclusion that some people are stuck with a job (service job) which they should have never come to in the first place...............

Thursday, July 9, 2009

"Meetha" Cadbury Dairy Milk and "Thanda" Coca Cola

The latest series of ads of Cadbury show the context of pay day and eating of Cadbury Dairy Milk. A visit to their web page gives us some idea of the thought behind the campaign.

Directly from the website - Sanjay Purohit, Executive Director - Marketing, Cadbury India Ltd said, “This new campaign takes the concept of celebrations to yet another level. With Pappu and Miss Palampur campaign, CDM created a space for itself during the big, community celebration moments. This commercial keeps the core promise of happiness while introducing another 'moment of joy' in one’s life. The new commercial highlights the celebratory occasion of payday, which is an important event in the life of every middle-class Indian.” For more visit Cadbury India.

The second ad or rather series of Ads which I found interesting is the Aamir Khan series of "Thanda Mathlab Coca Cola". Most of us would remember the series, both because of Aamir Khan and the good story lines behind the series. A link to one of ads for those who would like to refresh their memory, link.

The basic idea I felt behind both the campaigns is to go out and occupy a distinct space in the consumer's mind , and as has been said before if you are able to occupy a distinct space in the consumer's mind then it become very difficult for a competitor to dislodge you, the essence of positioning. And it might be easier done if one is able to capture a word in the consumer's mind which already exists , in the case of cadburys that word is "Meetha" a generic to represent all and any kind of sweet. Similary in the case of Coca-Cola the attempt to build an association with the word "Thanda" which means in common parlance any drink which is served cold , be it the ubiquitous lemon based Nimbu pani or a soft drink. The only problem with this approach is it is long term and one has to stick to the same message.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Rural Retail Options - Traditional Vs Emerging

Thought will share the presentation on rural retail options, over the last couple of years have shared the presentation with many students so thought might as well put it on slideshare to a wider audience,,

Friday, July 3, 2009

Indian Car market morphing ???

Car market in India is going through rapid transformation, though the same can be said about many other sectors of the Indian economy, but then cars tend to attract more attention than others. In the last few months itself we have seen a slew of new launches by manufacturers, and the Indian consumer is spoilt for choice as he has never been before.

I will try to list the number of new cars which have been launched recently , starting with the obvious - Tata Nano which perhaps hogged most of the limelight, but then there were two new ones from Maruti Stable, Ritz and A-Star, and i20 from Hyundai. Honda Jazz and Fiat Grande Punto adding to the list in June. At the super premium end Land Cruiser by Toyota and Land Rover by Tata. One could also add Mahendra Xylo to the list . I personally have never seen these many launches in such a short period of time, so the scene is changing very rapidly, from the era of Ambassadors to Maruti 800 or Alto vs Santro to a more complex world....

One more observation which I have made is the sudden rise in interest among various car manufacturers to come out with alternate fuel (low-cost fuel) versions of various models. The LPG versions of various cars like Santro and Maruti WagonR, 800, spark make sense bu, but now we will soon have the option in premium cars also , like Toyota Corolla, SX4 , Skoda Octavia. Some food for thought on how Indian market differs , in the developed context maybe these would be seen as environment friendly and so on , but here it seen as option to reduce fuel cost.

One can see the various trends and changes in the car industry and obviously this is just the beginning ..............

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