Monday, August 11, 2008

Terror and Horror: Remedy and Comedy



Terrorists by themselves cannot function and survive. They need people and resources to carry out the front end and back end operations. A powerful vision, network, dedication and perfection of execution are a rough summation of all that’s involved.

They have already conquered Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Surat and Hyderabad in the recent times. Though the scale of loss in terms of life and property may not be huge; the impact of course was tremendous. A feeling of insecurity, helplessness and fear has certainly encroached the minds of the people.

ATC(Anti-terrorist cell), STF(Special task Force) and OCG(Other Govt Agencies) have failed to do anything more than press releases and press conferences after the blasts ad other acts of terror. Their excuse is that the terrorists are more equipped, sophisticated, skilled, educated and armed.

Though one community is being blamed, the problem lies with the system that is involved in identifying, re-locating, training, transforming and inspiring potential and existing targets for carrying out terror. Very simply stated, the complexity of the problem is more complex than can be imagined and thought of.

And the police Dept, investigation dept and ATC that are not equipped with necessary information systems, necessary gadgets, necessary training, necessary resources (both human and monetary) can possibly achieve nothing much. Young engineers, scientists and management grads have to be recruited and involved in the tracing and curbing of terror in addition to the existing people. Because, it’s these kinds of people who plan, organize, direct and execute terror today. YOU NEED A THORN TO REMOVE A THORN!

What more, politicians today are merely involved in allegations and cross allegations like those in the parliamentary sessions on the N-deal. They need to be constantly reminded of these issues in the public, by the public. Probably another blast in the parliament or the parliamentary premises would do the needful.

And as far as the public is concerned, all of us have to engage actively in the enforcement of law and asserting police authorities to take action. And, yes we also need to educate others and ourselves in countering terror. Complaining if any suspicious object is left in any public place unattended, carefully scrutinizing and crosschecking student credentials during admission, recruiting and while renting homes or commercial space.
ALWAYS BE ACREFUL IS THE ABC THAT WE NEED TO PRACTISE TO COUNTER TERROR EFFECTVELY AND ESSENTIALLY!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Catching in the MOTHER’S DAY; Cashing on the MOTHER’S DAY:


Wish you all a very Happy Mother’s Day!!!!
Waking up to the TOI, whoops, I found about 7-8 one fourth page mommy-daughter or mommy-son ads, and yes, the best one was probably the Zero-B ad(That’s my choice of the day because of the spacing and the placing)
Products and services are catching up and cashing on the opportunity. All in all, TOI had about 35 mommy senti ads (including the Classifieds and the Bangalore times section). Well, that’s a very good number.

Mommy related advertising is mainly applied in the following areas mainly:
1) Diaper 2) Clothing 3) Water purification 4) Toys 5) Household items including electronics like washing m/c, refrigerator etc 6) Baby food 7) others..... {IT JUS GOES ON AND ON......}
Constantly, the trend of “cashing on” occasions and events like the Mother’s Day, Children’s Day, Martyr’s Day, Independence Day, World Mohan’s Day {World AIDS Day}. Etc to promote services and products is intensifying and magnifying.
The fine art of influencing existing and prospective customers with constant persuasion is being perfected as an art and as a science by companies today. And yes, it’s being realized that by being a part of the celebration, you are a part of the family and the heart of the individuals of the family. So you’ve got to capitalize on this opportunity!!!
And ya, many companies have taken care of this opportunity. But then there’s a hoard of companies and product/service categories that have been left behind. Bingo! The point is that, the race has started but then the runners are very few. And yes the creativity and innovative concept in this “Occasion” concept has not yet developed.
Ex: Matrimonial service, Furniture and so on.
How to do that?? I leave it to your conscience to decide ... OOOOlalah> :<>

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Brand -ambassador-quagmire!!!!!!


The brand ambassador Quagmire:

With niche marketing getting more focus than ever before, the puzzle of hiring, managing, changing and associating brand ambassadors is a major ponder point for companies.

Brand consultant Harish Bijoor is of the opinion that brand effectiveness differs with different stages of the product life cycle and is subjective to the segment and company goodwill. Further, Prof.C.K.Prahlad has given out his opinion that companies need to ensure n=1, and R=G. That’s mass customization and individual focus to ensure higher satisfaction amongst customers and promote loyalty. It’s further stated in a few cases that brand ambassadors involvement for product/service promotion is very much necessary. But then, I sincerely feel that this kind of phenomena is noticed in a mere 2-3% of products (FMCG, clothing etc) and high involvement goods, luxury goods are absolutely independent of celebrity endorsement (Jewellery, housing, furniture, automobile etc).

Further, increased product comparison in all forms of media, rating scale, opinion buying and significant market awareness has led to a choosy, careful and educated buyer.

In case of low value goods too, the trend seems to be rapidly changing. The star value of a cricketer/actor could change substantially over a small period of time and that could affect the brand perception. Though there are a few exceptions to this like SRK
(If at all one film of his is a flop the next one at least will surely be money grosser at the box office). This is because these kind of stars have a consistent fan following. And this fan bank has no chances of depletion. The only take is appreciation and increase in the fan bank which in turn could (not necessarily) lead to an appreciation in the brand value. But, brand endorsement can play a very big role in damage control. (Dairy milk and Big B effect for the record).

Celebrity endorsement/Brand ambassador involvement can have substitution and a smooth transition is always possible without any damage. Brand endorsement fund can be effectively transferred to better R&D, product promotion in discounts and freebies and events etc. This would definitely work over a period of time and companies could use this to ensure sustained growth.

STARS IN THE SKY ARE BEAUTIFUL BUT CAN’T BE USED. PEBBLES AREN’T THAT BEAUTIFUL BUT YOU CAN USE THEM TO DECORATE YOUR AQUARIUM.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The attitude side of life

It’s so strange and so obvious that attitude matters so much. With protests happening in New York protesting against the Chinese policy of Tibet when the Olympic flame entered NY or models protesting naked for PETA or people in Carolina protesting against pollution people in that part of the world seem to be doing a great job compared to our people who have only been fighting each other over Hoggenkal, over language over caste and so on.

The attitude side of life becomes very important and we need to realize that burning buses, breaking street lights, burning vehicles is not at all the solution to any of our problems. On an estimate the Govt of India has lost about 65 crores due to rioting and damage to govt property in the year 2003.(Data for succeeding years is not available).That again translates to the fact that we pay taxes, they get buses or street lights, we burn them and govt collects the booty again!
It pains me, time and again to say “MERA BHARAT MAHAN”. It is simply an embarrassing situation top be in. The only medicine for all this is “change in the attitude/mentality of people” and this will not easily come by. And for this to happen, the educated, informed, tech savvy India has to come forward to educate people at all levels and create awareness. And all resources have to be pooled in, all channels have to be used for the process. Well, I do not want to convert Bengaluru to LA or Chennai to CA but only the attitude has got to change .. So nxt time around a riot or a strike happens, plz keep all the above things in mind! And for a country to be developed the most important matter According to me is, “CHANGE IN THE ATTITUDE SIDE OF LIFE"

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

“Seeming SEXY is not enough; it’s more about BEING sexy”

Appearances do matter they say, but it’s not all about appearances. It is also about the content. The more evolved the better. Ok…… Wondering why all this gyaan?

Yesterday I overheard two housewives (Who are usually louder) speaking to each other on branded tea. This happened when I went to buy some household items at a kirana store nearby. For our convenience let’s assume their names to ‘Ratnamma’ and ‘Nagamma’ ie; Rats n Nags for short. Here goes:
Rats: I wonder why we have to buy branded tea like “Taj Mahal” and “Red Label”.
Nags: That’s extremely simple. It’s because they’re branded and that means quality assured.
Rats: But then there are local brands like “X” that are equally good in terms of quality and you can literally get twice the quantity for the same price. Howzzat?
Nags: But still by buying a local product you could be giving scope for error.
Rats: Well, the fact that a brand did well last time and the fact that it’s a well known “brand” does not ensure it’s performance every time in terms of quality and quantity. Further, when there is no seemingly large difference, why bother?
Nags: Ya, I have to agree to this point. It’s very much valid and definitely has a lot of food for thought.

The above conversation between Rats and Nags ie; Ratnamma and Nagamma kept me pondering. As a student of marketing for the last three years, I have been learning about branding, the power of branding, and the charisma in branding and so on. And now I was in a big quandary. All that learning has to be probably unlearnt and new things learnt and re-learnt.

The conversation between these two women taught me a lot many things. In India, brand consciousness has been developing recently and phenomenon like brand imitation, spurious brands do reflect that. But then, people will surely not be taken for a ride! For me the conversation marks the beginning of a new era in itself. A thoughtful, careful, educated, and also empowered customer. An average Indian on street wears about twelve brands (Source: Harish Bijoor’s address at Brand-alore, Nov-2007.) Compared to improved countries like US, Canada which have people wearing at least 30 brands on street, we still have a long way to go. But companies have to learn a lot about the customer since India is a very diverse and different market compared to other international companies.

‘Brands’ are exceedingly vulnerable to several entities. They tend to attract competition, attract raised eyebrows and also attract “CASH”. With impetus on the term “profit margin” rather than the term “profit”, brands, just like horses have to improve timings over performances, mere “victories” are not enough!!!!!!!!!Brandophoria????????? Gottcha! SEEMING SEXY IS NOT ENOUGH IT’S MORE ABOUT BEING SEXY.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Holy-Day, The holiday, The HOLI DAY!!!!!!!!

Business and Festivals:-“Holi-Day”

People all over the world fail to understand the logic behind celebrating ‘festivals’ on a day-to-day basis. In India, each day is a festival of some sort. (Read Festivals are an excuse to celebrate each day, each moment). Festivals rather signify and mean prosperity, joy, unity and much more.{Celebrating festivals has got health reasons too}

At the same time, each festival brings with it business opportunities. This Holi, India is expected to spend Rs.10 crores on mere colors solely. And at least Rs. 4 crores on Holi related purchases like masks, apparel, toys etc is expected to be spent. This Holi-day is definitely going to be a holiday, the 19 Mar 2008. And this relates to all market segments.
Holi related products could mean toys, rangoli, masks, holi specific apparel and so on. And the fact that the same period coincides with Good Friday and Id-e-Milad is the icing on the cake. Marketers are all set to ‘Blaze off’ their products and services. The new ‘Pulsar’ ad, the ‘Hunk’ ad, and hordes of Telecom services ads (read Vodafone, Airtel and so on) all depict hard core intention of the marketers. The whole ‘aura’ of Holi depicts tremendous business to flow in.

And then there is this bunch of small time sellers whom I term “ADAPTERS”. That’s because these people change their products according to the market scenario/ Festivals/seasons like they sell colors in Holi, lamps in and crackers in Deepavali, candles in Christmas, sweets in Ramnavami and Ganesh Chaturthi, greetings in the new year season and so on. Or, on an other sense of categorization, umbrellas in rainy season and ……..you know what! And definitely, they gain from the pricing, the range and of course, their ability to ‘connect’ well to the people to whom they sell. viz; they may have to sometimes modify their accent, change their language or appearance/dressing. On an average, they tend to earn at least 20% more than the average/regular small sellers {reference Seema Goswami’s article on small scale selling}.
The underline message here is very simple and obvious. With festivals coming into the scene, it’s not just the large business corporations, but small scale sellers “ADAPTERS” who actually gain a lot! So the next time around you’re either buying colors in Holi or lamps and crackers in Deepavali, “ADAPTERS” are the ones who gain substantially and ya, they do facilitate quality, unbranded products(mostly) reaching us and making celebrations all the more enjoyable!
Well then,
I wish you all a very happy holi, Good Friday and Id-e- Milad. Before going to play colors just apply some coco oil all over your body so that you can go to college/office all new and fresh, (as if you never touched colors).
Ending note: My holi song
“Do me a favor let’s play Holi,
Rangon me hai pyaar ki boli”
Source: Akshay Kumar and Priyanka Chopra starrer.



Well then, here I sign off, Enjoy absolute, Hip-hop Hurray!!!!!!!!!!

The Holy-Day, The holiday, The HOLI DAY!!!!!!!!

Business and Festivals:-“Holi-Day”

People all over the world fail to understand the logic behind celebrating ‘festivals’ on a day-to-day basis. In India, each day is a festival of some sort. (Read Festivals are an excuse to celebrate each day, each moment). Festivals rather signify and mean prosperity, joy, unity and much more.{Celebrating festivals has got health reasons too}

At the same time, each festival brings with it business opportunities. This Holi, India is expected to spend Rs.10 crores on mere colors solely. And at least Rs. 4 crores on Holi related purchases like masks, apparel, toys etc is expected to be spent. This Holi-day is definitely going to be a holiday, the 19 Mar 2008. And this relates to all market segments.
Holi related products could mean toys, rangoli, masks, holi specific apparel and so on. And the fact that the same period coincides with Good Friday and Id-e-Milad is the icing on the cake. Marketers are all set to ‘Blaze off’ their products and services. The new ‘Pulsar’ ad, the ‘Hunk’ ad, and hordes of Telecom services ads (read Vodafone, Airtel and so on) all depict hard core intention of the marketers. The whole ‘aura’ of Holi depicts tremendous business to flow in.

And then there is this bunch of small time sellers whom I term “ADAPTERS”. That’s because these people change their products according to the market scenario/ Festivals/seasons like they sell colors in Holi, lamps in and crackers in Deepavali, candles in Christmas, sweets in Ramnavami and Ganesh Chaturthi, greetings in the new year season and so on. Or, on an other sense of categorization, umbrellas in rainy season and ……..you know what! And definitely, they gain from the pricing, the range and of course, their ability to ‘connect’ well to the people to whom they sell. viz; they may have to sometimes modify their accent, change their language or appearance/dressing. On an average, they tend to earn at least 20% more than the average/regular small sellers {reference Seema Goswami’s article on small scale selling}.
The underline message here is very simple and obvious. With festivals coming into the scene, it’s not just the large business corporations, but small scale sellers “ADAPTERS” who actually gain a lot! So the next time around you’re either buying colors in Holi or lamps and crackers in Deepavali, “ADAPTERS” are the ones who gain substantially and ya, they do facilitate quality, unbranded products(mostly) reaching us and making celebrations all the more enjoyable!
Well then,
I wish you all a very happy holi, Good Friday and Id-e- Milad. Before going to play colors just apply some coco oil all over your body so that you can go to college/office all new and fresh, (as if you never touched colors).
Ending note: My holi song
“Do me a favor let’s play Holi,
Rangon me hai pyaar ki boli”
Source: Akshay Kumar and Priyanka Chopra starrer.



Well then, here I sign off, Enjoy absolute, Hip-hop Hurray!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Growing with brands

Many a times I tend to wonder how and why we stick to brands or change brands.Though, volumes of books have been written, discourses n speeches been given on this subject, it still seems to b a grt mystery.The memories of Parle Kismi, Shaktimaan, Lakhani,Camel crayons,Hero pens and all those brands still linger on. We grow with brands. Some stay, some get replaced and some of course, outline all others (classic ex: Cherry blossom shoe polish) and a whole "generation shift" happens with a 'brand set' shift.
It's essentially transformation from Famous Five, Amar Chitra Katha to "X bOX" and so on. The transformation is moreso, gradual. Further, brand behaviour is very peculiar. They are vulnerable to several factors like brand ambassadors, brand expenditure and so on. An evolution of sorts keeps happening. Today, though my 'Parle Kismi' is mostly replaced by a 'Munch' or a 'Kit Kat' the memories still linger on.
Frankly, sometimes I sneak out of my room desperately searching for a 'Parle Kismi'(That's when I remember childhood), when I get one, I return back. Silently put the 'Kismi' in my mouth, careful enough not to bite it. Slowly, sipping in the embrosia. And I ponder over the change that's happened in me over the years and the change that happened 'in Kismi', 'to Kismi'.
It was then, and now, a perfect package of fascination, joy n sweetness, neatly packed in bright red,white and black..... The memories still linger on !!!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Idli-Vada lesson

The lessons that can be learnt from small time,street side idli-vada vendors are indeed grt. They give you lessons in JIT, Working capital management and in segmentation, targeting , and positioning and many more concepts. Well, each day morning before attending my class at 8.00 a.m, I have my breakfast at one such street side vendor, MURUGAN's. I am a part of his growing list of loyals,. which surprisingly includes executives from companies like Wipro,Convertgys, TCS and so on. He caters to the tummy needs of about 150 people each day. He opens his small store(which is actually the fuse room of an apartment, sized 15feetX15feet) at 7.00 a.m in the morning and closes by 11.00 a.m.His menu list is as follows:
1)1 Idli-Rs.2.50
2)1 vada-Rs.2.oo(small)
3)Dosa-Rs.4.oo
4)Chitranna-Rs.8.00(A rice based dish)
5)Puliyogare-Rs.8.00(A rice based dish)
UNLIMITED SAMBAR AND CHUTNEY FREE!
Well on an average each customer has a breakfast worth Rs.20/-, that totals to Rs.3,000 per day and Rs.90,000 per month ! the dishes are cooked before your eyes and washing takes the treatment(Everythin is very much visible). Further, strict cleanliness standards are adhered to and the plate is covered with a disposable polythene foil! And pure drinking water is served.Thats as good as 3 star, except for the fact that you dont get to sit and eat.. Well for me , the daily dose of Idli Vada from Murugan's has become an addiction! Coming back to numbers, He earns Rs.90,000/- per month(GROSS REVENUE). He works along with his nephew and wife. Cut 60% as overheads and cost and he still has Rs. 40,000/- as net profit ie; Rs. 13,500/- per head, that's as good as an entry level salary minus pressure in an IT/ITES firm. Astonishingly, this eatery doesn't even have a name! And it's located in Jaynagar 9th block near the bus stop adjacent to the Hot chips store. Ask any local guy in the 9th block for this idli vada dosa eatery and he will guide U to this eatery.As for me it has been happy eating and happy learning at his hotelia...Lessons learnt, unlearnt nad relearnt at a small UNBRANDED STORE!!!!!!! What lessons? U know now.

The Vandalism of corporates

You would be probably wondering , wat kinda title for a blog is this ... But ya , the mad rush for revenues has made corporates today , something like vandals .. Reading between lines . AM talking bout job cuts and down sizing .. Reference TCS , etc ..