Google+ Consumer Psyche: February 2010

Leader

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lord!

Just a crazy herd of thoughts going helter skelter in my mind.. leaving with a prayer...

Rest in the Lord, and tell Him all your sorrow;
Trust in the love, so boundless, full and free;
He will not leave, nor will He e'er forsake you;
Rest in the Lord, and sweet your rest shall be!

(Fanny J. Crosby, 1823-1915)
From SOB

Friday, February 26, 2010

Impossible is nothing. 80 & counting!


Hibernating is painful. That is a fact. Especially when you travel. Living sparingly on a liquid diet to strain the body and lose some extra fat accumulated over the last decade is tough. I am told this is not the right way to do it. I mean the weight loss. Now that I am doing it for the past 10 days while going to work, traveling to three states being exposed to cuisine you would be gulping otherwise is... Hmmm... Irritating to say the least.

While I strive to reach my target of 76 kgs as my BMI tells me is normal, my advice for you is to stay hungry, feed on fruits, indulge in leafy vegetables and go for a walk/jog everyday. For the last four months, since October 4'th 2009, I have intensified my struggle in to war mode and lost around 20 kgs. What really helped was jogging for four kms everyday and cutting down on intake.

Not that my work stress(Marketing Stress so to say), personal commitments, reading books, writing articles, working on a P.hd thesis, MA Business Economics exams, setting up new businesses, reaching targets, making an angel fall in love everyday didn't help. But the glee on my face when I try a 40'' slim fit shirt or a 32'' jeans at the store is awesome. For a change I can hug someone and not just neck for there is no tummy tussle! The pain and endurance was worth every inch. Those four km jogs on the beach early mornings paid off. Interestingly MJ repeated what my Mom exclaimed when she saw me after these four months... 'Where is the other half of my son?' Now if that is what I get from my mom, I should have made some progress! Oh! yes, the angel still has to see me like this.

I am writing this post from my Blackberry, sitting at seat no 55, coach no S2 in Chennai Mail (name of the train) on the way to Chennai from Calicut and trying to keep my nostrils and taste buds busy while people around me are gluttonly feasting on veg pulav, chapatis, parantas, peas pulav, chicken fry, fried banana chips, halwa, meen (fish) curry, sipping coke and laughing out. I silently sip salty butter milk as a reassurance to my taste buds on a bland tongue and growling tummy that the lavish food mongling days are yet to return. Indulgence, my friend, is easy.

Now that they know the food isn't coming, my senses are super active and I can smell the passing wafts of french fries from the platform, sense a pinch of more salt could make the chicken biryani in the seat no 59's plate more palatable and so on... I guess you get the drift by now.

Isn't it surprising that our body is like a wild animal? Taming it needs a lot of patience, grit and will power. No wonder many fail in this battle. Consumer psyche is amazing and interesting. Setting out something, a brand, beyond your limits and telling you can't have it will make you yearn for it more. Telling you how you can get it will make you think you should try. Making the path difficult to take and long enough to drain your will power makes it coveted. That is what an Audi ad in a newspaper tells you. That is what a curvy semi nude girl hugging a Ducati tells you. That is what an apartment ad in posh locality in Bangalore tells you. That is what a chiseled hunk tells you when he says he is just jockeying. YOU CAN'T. True that the few might actually want it but trust me the few that are behind your brand are going to stay forever. Covetousness is a good tool for marketing.

Do you have it in you to be coveted? Can you be in the top 1% of what you do? Like I said, taming a wild animal is easier than taming the human brain. I am trying to tame mine. They don't call me Tiger for nothing. What about you?

[ Did I mention what I would gift myself when I reach 75 kgs? A Volkswagen Polo ;) ]

Sent on my BlackBerry® from Vodafone

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sachin's Rating by his manager ;)

Kiran sent me this...


Agree you have done GREAT……

BUT BUT BUT BUT

25 x 4s = 100

3 x 6s = 18

IT implies that you have done 118 Runs in 28 Balls.

And 12 x 2s = 24

58 x 1s = 58

IT means you have done all 200 Runs in only 98 balls

So you have wasted 147-98 = 49 balls

Considering only 1 run scored on each of these balls you could have earned 49 valuable RUNS FOR OUR TEAM

MANAGER’S COMMENT: So you only met the expectations and NOT EXCEEDING (though anyone of our team could not do it) and your rating is 3

All managers manage.....!

Saluting Tendya!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday blues: Compliment someone today


Compliment someone and let their happiness rub off on you. Giving people compliments really helps someone to work harder and do a lot better. Just by saying You look nice today it makes a person feel good in the inside and see that even other people that you don't really talk to much are complementing you. It's a good feeling and it's also nice to give compliments to others like your friend. Give a true heartfelt compliment and make someone's day happy. You will find smiles multiply faster. Have a great day at work.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Indian hiring trends: January

You can read the full Naukri JobSpeak report here. Overall highlights of this report:
  • 4% increase in hiring activity: The Naukri JobSpeak index at 743, indicates that hiring activity accelerated by 4% in Jan '10 as compared to Dec '09
  • Hiring in Mumbai at an all time high: The index for Mumbai at 748 in Jan '10 is noted as the highest index for the city in the last one year
  • Uptrend witnessed in all sectors: Hiring activity increased across most sectors in Jan '10 after the holiday season lull in Dec '09
  • Good news for IT and Sales professionals: Professionals in IT, BPO, Sales and Accounts saw increased demand, while the demand for professionals in production and maintenance retracted

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Baby come back



Spending all my nights
All my money going out on the town
Doing anything just to get you off of my mind
But when the morning comes
I'm right back where I started again
Trying to forget you is just a waste of time

Baby come back, any kind of fool could see
There was something in everything about you
Baby come back, you can blame it all on me
I was wrong, and I just can't live without you

All day long, wearing a mask of false bravado
Trying to keep up the smile that hides a tear
But as the sun goes down
I get that empty feeling again
How I wish to God that you were here

Baby come back, any kind of fool could see
There was something in everything about you
Baby come back, you can blame it all on me
I was wrong, and I just can't live without you

Now that I put it all together
Give me the chance to make you see
Have you used up all the love in your heart
Nothing left for me
Ain't there nothing left for me

Baby come back, any kind of fool could see
There was something in everything about you
Baby come back, listen, you can blame it all on me
I was wrong, and I just can't live without you

I was wrong, and I just can't live

Get Tiger a good PR

Will blog on this soon, consider this as a thought. Tiger was worth a fortune. Worth more media moolah once the scandal broke. Worth much much more now. Just needs a good PR. What do you think? Got any crazy ideas to do that?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Keep your mask on


[If you feel the tone of this post is strong, skip the last para]


I am sure you would have faced this. You spend time together, talk and do things together and after a point think you know the other person in and out. Usually after this point your confidence and trust on the other person has reached such a state that small aberrations would skip being noticed and even if they are, they wouldn't matter much to you. But you think you know someone until you find out things that scare you. Some people are so good at acting, tricking and cheating that if there is a doctoral certification, they would be eligible for honorary bestowing. Ever heard of wolf in sheepskin? Well there are too many phonies in sheepskin around and I hate that.

Does this mean I am asking you to doubt everyone and everything? The answer would be no, a firm NO. But shouldn't you be careful? You can act most of the time but somewhere your real attitude would come out and you are busted. You can't fool all the people all the time. The best thing is to stay what you are. If you hate it so much, think of how you could change. Pretending as someone else and showing off a false attitude wouldn't help you for long. There would be temporary gains and fun but the aftermath is usually worse.

How would you handle this? Especially when you see the actual colors of someone you trust come out before you? Depends on how important the other person is for you and how long you could cope with that. How would I handle this? Hmmm... lemme see... There would never even be a question of the person being important or not, close or not. Better keep your mask on or be far away. Really really far away.

Pic

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Toyota's integrity move




Sorry. We goofed up. But we are ready to stop what we are doing and set things right for you because we care.

What else would you expect a company to do more than this? Toyota teaches us an important lesson. Integrity and transparency will rule our world. Relationships based on TRUST have future. And trust pays!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Vampire to sell

Chicago Business reports...

James Bond has inspired sales of Aston Martins and BMWs with his super-cool onscreen wheels. Now a vampire who drives a Volvo is getting the attention of young drivers.

Since the release of "Twilight" in 2008, teens and young adults have been drawn to the Volvo C30, driven by the character Edward Cullen.

"All these teenagers were going crazy about the C30," says Carmelo Scalzo, general manager of Volvo of Oak Park. "After the movie launched, we saw this spike in C30 sales. We didn't know what had happened until we put two and two together."

Mr. Scalzo helped market the newer XC60, featured in the series' second film, "New Moon" (2009), after Volvo caught on and tied the car to the movie through advertisements and guerrilla marketing.

The XC60, at $32,995, has not seen the same spike in sales as the C30, at $24,600, Mr. Scalzo says.

But for some, just seeing one is enough.

"I have people coming in with their kids who are taking pictures with the cars," say Pat Hubert, general manager of Fields Volvo in Highland Park. "These are younger kids, probably 12 or 13 years old. Their parents say they'll come back when they're older."

Franz Mausser, manager of Barrington Volvo, reports a surge of interest in both models.

"We have seen an increase in interest in both vehicles by the youngest of drivers, teens and twentysomethings, and beyond," Mr. Mausser says. "Young parents also have been engrossed with the plots and story lines of the movie."

Monday Blues: Raise the bar

You can raise the bar or you can wait for others to raise it, but it's getting raised regardless (Seth's blog)

Take a task that you have been doing over the last few days, months or even years that has become a routine. Rethink and do it so well, so better than you did today. Do it better than others, than expected. Make it a point to do it this way from now on. Once you raise the bar on this, take another task and repeat.

Be a leader, no a better leader. Today.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's day: Love and loyalty

Love is one such wonderful feeling that is easy to fall into but hard to survive. The initial sheen wears off in sometime and you are left with the kernel, the hard fact that tells you what you bought. It is very important to be as lovable or at least try to be as much and win over once the sheen is off. Especially as the case here is something not to be changed. Rants come up, behaviour and responses change, patience is thinner and understanding is more complex and it is here that the actual kernel is out. If a person or couple succeeds in remaining as faithful and lovable even in this stage, then there is a chance of being together for the rest of their life. To set these thoughts to a brand, being able to please me after I wear off all your pre-purchase promises and advertising is critical for my satisfaction and loyalty.

Brands should try and tell me( read the consumer) what is real and what is not, what they promise and what they can't and set realistic assumptions. You can fool me once to buy, may be a second time but my loyalty in buying your product would have nothing to do with the initial appeal(which happens pre-purchase) and everything to do with how I feel post-purchase. Reassuring the consumer that the decision taken was wise and that is the best is very important. Brands that take note of this are the ones that have repeat purchases and loyal customers, most importantly happy ones.

You know how to build and sustain a good relationship? Then you go to be good at this. Happy Valentine's day!

Don't go breaking my heart



Don't go breaking my heart
I couldn't if I tried
Honey if I get restless
Baby you're not that kind

Don't go breaking my heart
You take the weight off me
Honey when you knock on my door
I gave you my key

Nobody knows it
When I was down
I was your clown
Nobody knows it
Right from the start
I gave you my heart
I gave you my heart

So don't go breaking my heart
I won't go breaking your heart
Don't go breaking my heart

And nobody told us
`Cause nobody showed us
And now it's up to us babe
I think we can make it

So don't misunderstand me
You put the light in my life
You put the sparks to the flame
I've got your heart in my sights

Friday, February 12, 2010

What is a process?

Found this interesting definition online.

A process:
  1. Has a Goal
  2. Has specific inputs
  3. Has specific outputs
  4. Uses resources
  5. Has a number of activities performed in some order
  6. May affect horizontal or vertical
  7. Creates value of some kind
Try applying this to your plan. Does it follow?

FMCG firms still stuck to TV

The number of TV ads in the personal care, food and beverage categories increased in India last year, a trend fuelled by major players like Hindustan Unilever and Coca-Cola.

According AdEx India, the research firm, the volume of television commercials promoting personal care brands climbed by 64% in the fast-growing economy over the course of 2009.

Hindustan Unilever, the FMCG giant, was responsible for almost a third of these spots, having boosted its adspend by two-thirds during the last quarter.

Reckitt Benckiser and Colgate Palmolive both generated totals of 9%, followed by Pond's India, a sub-unit of Hindustan Unilever, on 8%.

This compared with figures of just 4% recorded by other multinational operators such as Procter & Gamble, L'Oréal and Johnson & Johnson.

In terms of specific products, "toilet soaps", examples of which include HUL's Lux and Wipro's Santoor, were the most widely-advertised goods in this sector, with a 38% share, ahead of toothpaste, on 15%.

As previously reported, "fairness creams" are attracting heightened interest from both consumers and manufacturers like Nivea and Emami in India at present.

These offerings contributed 13% of all personal care ads in the last 12 months, with Vaseline Healthy White Body and Fair & Lovely among the brands vying for shoppers' attention.

AdEx also reported that the amount of TV advertising for companies in the food and beverage industry expanded by 45% on an annual basis last year.

Within this, products in Coca-Cola's portfolio enjoyed the most on-screen exposure, with Cadbury's confectionary goods in second, and PepsiCo, which owns brands like Desi Beats and Aliva, in third.

"Aerated soft drinks" was the largest single category in the food and beverage segment overall, with a 19% share, with milk drinks on 10%, chocolate on 9%, and biscuits on 8%.

Services, a wide-ranging group which included pay-TV and internet service providers, as well as fast-food chains, registered a 20% increase in its television output in 2009.

Tata Sky was the most prominent player in this diverse area, according to AdEx India, with Dish TV, Bharti Airtel, McDonald's and Yum Restaurants also all making the top ten.

via Warc

Teachnology blues

Got this as a forward from FFO. Very apt. Ain't it?
[Click on the image to see full size]

5 Things Avatar Can Teach You

Avatar is a world-wide phenomenon and is currently the top grossing movie of all time*. How can you learn from its success and apply it to your own projects (even if they aren’t billion dollar movies).

  1. avatarTechnology Matters. James Cameron first wrote Avatar in 1994, but he ended up tabling it until 2005 because he felt the technology wasn’t there yet. Figure out what your idea needs and how you can make it happen. If your current idea won’t work well, put it on hold and work on something else.
  2. Love Your Idea. This movie finally came to fruition 15 years after Cameron’s initial idea. He didn’t just forget about it, he waited for his moment and made it happen. And now he’s very rich (er, richer).
  3. Get Fans, Not Just Viewers(/Users). Avatar was so successful because you didn’t just go and think “good movie” and go to sleep. You wanted to tell everyone you knew about it. After watching this movie I immediately started telling my family and friends they had to see it. Now.
  4. A Little Controversy is Good. Avatar’s a commentary on the war in Iraq. And our treatment of the environment. And a critique of the military. And advocates polytheism. And deals with racial issues. Or maybe none of the above, but it made you talk about it, didn’t it?
  5. Make it Beautiful. Avatar is a cinematic masterpiece. It’s gorgeous. Don’t settle for less with your iPhone app. If your iPhone app is the best looking thing I’ve ever seen I’ll not only use it but share it with everyone I know.

*Okay, so this actually depends on whether or not you count inflation. In any case, it did very, very well.

Source: Megan's post

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Johnson & Johnson focusses on stress

During routine focus groups, Johnson & Johnson came to a realization: Mothers are stressed out. Seems pretty obvious, but why wasn’t anyone doing something about it? So, the company departed from its normal business model and developed upliv.com, a stress management website. For a subscription fee, the Upliv Web program provides a stress-test, advice for relaxation, and shipments of spa products. The overall price is hefty, but the company argues that it’s less than what women currently pay to de-stress. Any moms have thoughts?

Read the full story at the New York Times.

Via Twitter.

Tiger to beat dragon?

Why India Has an Advantage Over China?

An interesting article by Raywat Deonandan, professor of Global Health and Development, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ottawa University, Canada.

"In the comparison of Chinese and Indian economies, a practice increasingly popular in the parlor rooms of academics, China seems to win according to every traditional metric. But there are qualities that hint at a dramatic shift in coming decades. I would like to respectfully suggest that it will be India, not China, which will take the world’s economy and culture by the collars and shake it till the human race takes note. Assuming that a global economy still exists, and assuming that climate change or some other apocalyptic event hasn’t ravaged humanity back to the Stone Age, I predict that the close of the 21st century will see India as the world’s leading nation".

Read full post here.

Try this

Who sells the largest number of cameras in India?

Your guess is likely to be Sony, Canon or Nikon. Answer is none of the above. The winner is Nokia whose main line of business in India is not cameras but cell phones. Reason being cameras bundled with cellphones are outselling stand alone cameras. Now, what prevents the cellphone from replacing the camera outright? Nothing at all. One can only hope the Sony's and Canons are taking note.

Try this. Who is the biggest in music business in India? You think it is HMV Sa-Re-Ga-Ma? Sorry. The answer is Airtel. By selling caller tunes (that play for 30 seconds) Airtel makes more than what music companies make by selling music albums (that run for hours). Incidentally Airtel is not in music business. It is the mobile service provider with the largest subscriber base in India. That sort of competitor is difficult to detect, even more difficult to beat (by the time you have identified him he has already gone past you). But if you imagine that Nokia and Bharti (Airtel's parent) are breathing easy you can't be farther from truth.Nokia confessed that they all but missed the Smartphone bus. They admit that Apple's Iphone and Google's Android can make life difficult in future. But you never thought Google was a mobile company, did you? If these illustrations mean anything, there is a bigger game unfolding. It is not so much about mobile or music or camera or emails?

Read more at MJ's blog

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Recession proof sectors in India

As every business sector is affected by present global crisis and everybody is talking of slow down in business, still in India there are few sectors which will grow in this adverse situation. Lets have a look at Azaz Motiwala's list of top 10 sectors that would continue to grow even in recession.
  1. Food
  2. Railway
  3. PSU Banks
  4. Education
  5. Telecom
  6. IT
  7. Health care
  8. Luxury products
  9. M&A & Marketing Consultants
  10. Media and Entertainment

Standing out


Even during the Arirang Mass Games in North Korea, the ultimate expression of the state ideology, an individual can still sometimes stand out from the crowd and break free of the collective. If only just for a moment. (Photo and caption by Brendyn Zachary)

The time factor

Like most of the fads, blogging is losing popularity especially by teenagers and young adults who have dropped by half over the past three years as texting and social networking are picking up. A study released by the Pew Internet and American Life project also found that fewer than one in 10 teens were using Twitter, a surprising finding given overall popularity of the micro-blogging site.

According to the report, only 14 percent of teenagers who use the Internet say they kept an online journal or blog, compared with a peak of 28 percent in 2006 -- and only 8 percent were using Twitter.

According to the study, 73 percent of teens who were online used social networking sites. Much of the communication between young people now takes place on mobile devices, which don't lend themselves to long-form writing.

Teens may be shying away from Twitter because they see it as designed for celebrities, and because of reluctance to put their thoughts on such a public forum when they can post them to their Facebook page instead. Blogging among adults has held steady since 2005, Pew found, but it has dropped among Internet users between the age of 18 and 29 -- while rising in those over 30. "Older people are becoming more comfortable with the online environment and young people in the meantime have moved on to social networking and text messaging," Smith said.

Tiger rocks !!??

Kesav's cartoon says it all.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lack of "excellent" coffee blends

Is there an excellent or very good coffee blend? The answer seems to be a no! After tasting 37 different blended coffees, Consumer Reports couldn't find one that measured up to its "excellent" or "very good" ratings.

The less-than-glowing report follows a year that saw tight supplies of high-quality arabica coffee beans in Colombia, followed by steep premiums that caused some roasters to look for cheaper and more available options for their blends.

Ranking at the top of the list of 14 caffeinated blends -- earning a rating of "good" -- are the Starbucks House Blend, calculated at 26 cents per cup, and Green Mountain Signature Nantucket Blend Medium Roast, at 23 cents per cup.

Blends are the best-selling type of ground coffee and contain beans from at least two regions or countries, the publication said.

The highest score for the 13 decaffeinated coffees also failed to reach the top two categories. The better scoring varieties included Allegro Organic Decaf, Blend Medium Dark, Peet's Decaf House Blend, Caribou Daybreak Coffee Morning Blend Decaf and Bucks County Decaf Breakfast blend.

Consumer Reports has a rating criteria in which the tasters look for specific characteristics including the flavor and aroma.

The publication advised coffee drinkers not to count on familiar brand names or expensive price tags, noting that the cost doesn't accurately reflect the cost per cup due to varying grind densities, and recommended ratios of coffee to water.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union, an independent nonprofit organization that does not accept outside advertising or free test samples, it said in a release.

Hari Sadu - Redux falls to Weber Curse



Hari Sadu is back. Read why it falls to the Weber curse at the BBB :)

Go rural

The potential of the rural market in India is huge. Even after all these years of studying and understanding the rural consumer, distribution channels still remain one of the biggest challenges of working in rural India. When compared to the consumerist urban society, the rural consumer's choices are need driven first, which results in him being a thrifty cost-conscious buyer. There is a conscious effort to spend less but this doesn't mean good quality products don't get picked up. In fact the rural market absorbs huge amounts of products and in certain categories they are faster than their urban counterparts. A study by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) threw up some interesting facts. The rural market accounts for:
  • 53% of FMCG sales
  • 59% oc consumer durables sales
  • Almost 100% of agricultural product sales
With the current slowdown ringing death bells n several firms, the focus has shifted towards Indian villages and custom made products to suit these consumers are being sold. This is a good sign. Like I said in the beginning, Indian rural consumer holds a lot of potential and is worth a look.

Fear of failure






The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Radically overdeliver

One way to think about running a successful business is to figure out what the least you can do is, and do that. That's actually what they spent most of my time at business school teaching me.

No sense putting more on that pizza, sending more staff to that event, answering the phone in fewer rings... what's the point? No sense being kind, looking people in the eye, being open or welcoming or grateful. Doing the least acceptable amount is the way to maximize short term profit.

Of course, there's a different strategy, a crazy alternative that seems to work: do the most you can do instead of the least.

Radically overdeliver.

Turns out that this is a cheap and effective marketing technique.

--- From Seth Godin's blog

Interested or committed?


[The tone of this post might be a bit strong so you can choose to skip]


I love to hear people telling me that they love doing something but not finding time to do so. Things like I wanted to do that professional course, wanted to paint, lose weight, start playing violin again, paint, start blogging again and so on. The whole thing is discussed as if it is their life time dream and the evil dark forces are all against you to stop doing it! Not that these dreams are things that need a lot of pieces falling in place at the right time or need some 20 yrs of hard work and extremely good luck to achieve. Things which can be done if you spare an hour or two a day, things which can be done unless you are lazy. Shows why you are still there not doing what you love doing. What is the point of dreaming when you don't have the zeal or enthu to go and convert it to a reality? I know it is very difficult to do what you love with the responsibilities of work, home and other pressures pinning you down. But frankly speaking, are you not just giving an excuse? Nothing is worse than an excuse.

Dare to dream. But have the guts to go and convert it to reality. Too many dreams are lost when you don't even care. Make a commitment that you will achieve what you wanted to do. Then DO. It is a simple three step process: Dream, be ready to achieve it, Enjoy the fulfillment. Then dream again.

The difference between interest and commitment is your attitude. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when it's convenient. When you're committed to something you FIND time to do it. More importantly there are no excuses, only results.

Excuses are for losers, people who never achieved anything in life. History doesn't remember excuses. List things which you are just interested or committed and prioritize. Did you achieve what you wanted to? Well, about your commitment, it shows.

Yellow metal imports rise

Business Line reports that India’s gold imports surged the most in three months in January as falling prices lured the stockists to book to their capacity in anticipation of an imminent rebound.

Data by the Indian Bullion Market Association (IBMA), the trade body representing Indian gold jewelers and importers, show that the total gold import during January rose to a three-month high at 37 tonnes as compared with 27 tonnes in December and 30 tonnes in November 2009. In October, however, gold’s arrival into the country was recorded at 48 tonnes on occasional demand from retail jewelers.

However, last year, in the same month, imports had virtually dried up as the price hit Rs 14,000 per 10 gm in India. In January and February 2009, imports were almost “nil”. Retail consumers and jewelery makers stayed away for a while, though, but returned to the market due to the lack of other asset classes for safe haven investment.

Gold has offered 18 per cent return in the last one year. However, other investment options including real estate, currencies, among others underperformed in the same period.

Gold prices rebounded in the last three days as standard variety of the yellow metal (.995) jumped 2.8 per cent to close on Tuesday at Rs 16,710 per 10 gm. The precious metal, however, stabilized on Wednesday to remain at Rs 16,700 per 10 gm as retail buyers remained absent from active purchases.

After hitting the support level of $1,080 (Rs 16285 per 10 gm in Mumbai) on January 29, gold prices turned to hit $1,123 an ounce on Wednesday. But, the metal got good support from dollar’s weakness as 10 per cent increase in the US unemployment rate in December put a check on dollar’s strength against major global currencies.

Early December, gold price had hit an all-time high at $1,215 an ounce in London pushing the metal in India to Rs 18,220 per 10 gm (Rs 18,340 per 10 gm of pure gold).

“Price-sensitive consumers always plan their investments in the yellow metal when it looks attractive for them. Also, Indian consumers check the potential before passing purchase orders and hence, price variation is directly proportional to gold’s retail buying in local market,” said a trader.

Meanwhile, retail demand of gold halved in the last three days with regular buyers staying away for the time being. Need-based buying, however, continues due to ongoing wedding seasons. But, sales are not remarkable as prices have again started rising, said Ketan Shroff, director of Pushpak Bullions and member of the Bombay Bullion Association.

Much of global purchases were done during the second fortnight of January when prices were a bit low. Since, analysts were bullish towards gold even at this level, a majority of Indian buyers filled their order book position during that period, said Shroff.

Mundu!

Kerala, God’s own country, has not earned this name without meaning. There is an air about it that justifies its warm and affectionate existence.

Keeping in tune with the phrase 'do in Rome as the Romans do', I order some extraordinary crafted dhoti and sari to be worn... The sari, of course, for the ladies in the house.

The ‘dhoti’ in all its pristine glamour, tied up around the waist by shear will power and some dextrous use of the stomach muscle, else it slips down and opens up !! It is just a piece of cloth, no buttons, no belts, no clips nothing. Simple elegant convenient and with its own characteristic charm and above all - air conditioned at all times !! The fall of the main design as a strip down the front to be positioned on the right hip and just around the right knee. Rules of culture.

From Amitabh's blog

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Save me


My friend Ajay Abraham sent me this link about saving tigers and I instantly signed up. As of now only 1411(including me) of us left. Check if you are interested and help in preserving me :)

Click here to know how you can lead the change.

BTW, Ajay is a talented photographer. Check out this gallery on his site.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Good job



Was recently watching Hancock with a friend and every time Will Smith said 'Good job!', it would evoke peels of laughter from her. Funny but true. How often do you see people appreciating the work you do? How important is it for an individual to get appreciated? May be your colleague, your team member, your boss or just the guy who ushers your car in to the parking lot. Appreciation is not for the job they do well or out of their way. It is for the job they do right. I have seen people in the simplest of jobs(read low paying, least appreciated, etc.) do it well, with full enthusiasm, zeal and energy that I feel motivated with the kind of profile I handle and people around me do. What you do might not be as important as the next guy but the question is the ability to enjoy what you do, when you do... no matter what. Unless you have this in life, you are not happy. Not that I say you should be stuck to what you do and stop dreaming, but the ability to enjoy what you do is pretty important.

Appreciation goes a long way to boost a person's morale and win you respect too. Just try doing it to every one you meet in your daily chores. The autowala, chaiwala, printer, steno, etc. everyone who adds something to help you do your job well. Appreciating people at home is important too. How many times have you thanked your mom for cooking you good breakfast, being so nice and wonderful for all those years and taking care of you? You don't need a Mom's day to send her a card.

Sometimes simple gestures talk more loudly than actions. Still not convinced? You should see the look on the maid who cleans my desk everyday. She knows as much English as I know Malayalam but when I thank her, her eyes shine like she knows what I meant. You should try :)

I'm so tired

Beatles croon from my iPod...

I'm so tired, I haven't slept a wink
I'm so tired, my mind is on the blink
I wonder should I get up
No, no, no.

I'm so tired I don't know what to do
I'm so tired my mind is set on you
I wonder should I call you but I know what you'd do

You'd say I'm putting you on
But it's no joke, it's doing me harm
You know I can't sleep, I can't stop my brain
You know it's three weeks, I'm going insane
You know I'd give you everything I've got
for a little peace of mind

Friday, February 5, 2010

Adopt Twitter to stay in sync

Gartner analysts have predicted that by 2012, over 50 percent of enterprises will use Twitter, and by 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 percent of business users.

Greater availability of social networking services both inside and outside the firewall, coupled with changing demographics and work styles will lead 20 percent of users to make a social network the hub of their business communications. During the next several years, most companies will be building out internal social networks and/or allowing business use of personal social network accounts. According to Gartner, social networking will prove to be more effective than e-mail for certain business activities such as status updates and expertise location.

By 2012, more than half of the enterprises will use activity streams that include microblogging, but stand-alone enterprise microblogging will have less than five percent penetration. The huge popularity of the consumer-microblogging service Twitter, has led many organizations to look for an "enterprise Twitter," that provides microblogging functionality with more control and security features to support internal use between employees. Enterprise users want to use microblogging for many of the same reasons that consumers do to share quick insights, to keep up with what colleagues are doing, to get quick answers to questions and so on.

Middle class blues

Being middle class has never been carefree. Families have worked hard, saved and sacrificed, and they occasionally endured tough times. But generation by generation, the middle-class lifestyle has gotten better and better.

It did so because of the triumph of capitalism. As the great economist Joseph Schumpeter put it: "Queen Elizabeth owned silk stockings. The capitalist achievement does not typically consist of providing more silk stocking for queens but in bringing them within the reach of factory girls for steadily decreasing amounts of effort."

Innovation and trade continually drive down the real cost of goods and services and increase the productivity of each hour of work. As this capitalist engine churns onward, the scarcity that plagued mankind for millennia has given way to the abundance that's the foundation of today's vast middle class.

The capitalist system literally created the middle class, and the best way to maintain and improve our living standards lies in keeping it functioning at peak efficiency. Government largesse, no matter how high-minded or well-intended, isn't going to do much for the majority of middle-class families. They have to pay their own way – as always.

Courtesy: W. Michael Cox is former Dallas Fed chief economist and director of the William J. O'Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom at Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Services in India, growing fast

Mint reports, business activity among Indian services companies expanded at its fastest pace in 16 months in January, rising for a second straight month on sharp increase in new work orders, a survey showed.

The HSBC Markit Business Activity Index, based on a survey of 400 firms, rose to 58.96 in January, its highest since September 2008, after rising to 57.41 in December.

This is the second successive rise in the index, which has been above 50 that separates expansion from contraction for nine months as the economy shakes off the impact of the global slowdown.

Before that, it had shrank for six months, hitting a trough of 40.3 in February last year.

“The key business activity index continued its march deeper into expansionary territory in January and is once again consistent with double-digit output growth in India’s service sector,” said Robert Prior-Wandesforde, senior Asian economist at HSBC.

“With the manufacturing PMI also strengthening further over the last couple of months the ex-agriculture segment of the economy looks to have well and truly shaken off the spillover effects from a drought-ravaged agricultural sector,” he said.

India’s manufacturing in January grew at its fastest pace in almost 18 months boosted by a sharp rise in new export orders that underpin a recovery in the industrial sector, the HSBC Markit survey showed.

The business expectations sub-index snapped a two-month fall and rose to 66.58 in January from 65.56 in December.

Favourable market conditions, advertising campaigns and strong reputations for quality were the key reasons for positive sentiment given by respondents, HSBC said.

On and on

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Now far ahead the Road has gone
And I must follow, if I can
Pursuing it with eager feet
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet
And whither then?
I cannot say.”

- J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

Delivering a Wow

Robin's words echo my thoughts, though in a different situation...

In my mind, Lady Gaga is the new Madonna. Love her music or not, part of her genius is pushing the envelope and being so entertaining that everyone around the water cooler the next day is talking about just one thing: Gaga.

1. She's herself. Leadership means doing your vision (even if you're title is janitor - be a visionary janitor and create wow in your work). Leadership means staying true to your self. And leadership means, well, not following. Lady Gaga doesn't behave in a way designed to please the crowd. No, with those wild costumes and stunning theatrics, she sets her own course. And then leads.

2. She knows her customers. The best companies create what I call "Fanatical Followers" - customers who are so in love with who you are and what you do that they have crossed the boundary from loyalty into outright fanaticism. Lady Gaga knows what her fans want - and she delivers it to them. Every time.

3. She puts on a show. When you get to work every day, it's showtime. No one cares if you have a cold or if you're feeling off or if you had a fight with your best friend. We are paid to do great work. And the best businesses offer their customers an experience, not just a product or a service. Gaga's shows are experiences.

4. She Leads Without a Title. Much of my new book, "The Leader Who Had No Title" is all about the opportunity every single one of us has each day to shift from victimhood into leadership. To transcend our current circumstances to play in the rare-air of excellence, mastery and genius. This isn't hype. There are people who have learned to do this and I share their process in the book. But the key thing to remember is that Lady Gaga was just an ordinary person, chasing a dream in New York City, not so long ago. But through talent, hard work, ingenuity and leadership, she shed the shackles of ordinary and grew into extraordinary. You can do the same, in your work and within your life. Starting today.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Economy limps back

Imports moved back to the positive terrain for the first time since the financial crisis, clocking a 27% growth in December,indicating that the domestic economy was well on its way to recovery, aided by rapidly improving exports that grew for the second successive month.

“Trade has now fallen in line with all other indicators of the economy that had already started improving,” said Crisil chief economist D K Joshi, adding that trade was the last indicator to improve as it is linked to the global economy. The strong 22.4% rise in non-oil imports, after a steady fall for more than a year, reflects an increase in manufacturing and investment activity in the country, as the bulk of imports is industrial inputs and capital goods.

Economic Times reports capital goods accounted for nearly 16% of imports in the year 2008-09. The near double digit growth in exports in December 2009 from a year ago, albeit from a low base, suggests a demand pick-up in the Western markets, including both the EU and the US. The pick up in exports should boost manufacturing and thereby the overall industrial growth, which was a strong 11.7% in November, 2009.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Kurkure's health pitch

Kurkure has become one of India’s most loved snack food brands and created a new category of ‘tea time’ ‘snacks. ‘It’s become a lovable family brand, examining Indian traditions with a perspective that is new and different,” he says.

Kurkure, according to Vyas, has been a brand of many firsts – from packaging to flavours keeping Indian tastes and preferences in mind. In 2009, for instance, Kurkure went regional with a vengeance with flavours like ‘Mumbai Chatpata’, ‘ Parar Tok Jhal’ and ‘South Special’, which are targeted at the western, eastern and southern parts of the country. On the anvil are Kurkure Funjabi, Kadai Masala, made with rajma (kidney bean) for the north Indian consumer.

The positioning, analysts say, has been unique. For example, last month, Pepsico came out with a print campaign which told readers how Kurkure is made from what can be found in any Indian kitchen, underlining that the ingredients are as wholesome as what goes into home-made food. Kurkure now on will be less about flavours and more about ingredients.

What it means in terms of branding is that Kurkure will have another differentiation from FritoLay's other brands (Lays, Aliva et al), apart from staving off competition from a growing tribe of roasted snacks, including Aliva, Parle Product's Monaco Smart Chips and Parle Agro's Hippo.

Kurkure has also managed to snack its way even into the highly-lucrative festive season in India, with new tamper-proof packaging along with an online gifting option, where consumers can now send a gift pack of the product via the internet.

Features such as these, say analysts, have helped the brand carve a special place for itself in the Indian snack food market, which would be hard to replicate not just by competitors but also by the company itself. “Kurkure is a classic example of exemplary product innovation and a good marketing strategy. The purely Indian outlook and taste has helped it make a mark on the minds of the consumer”, notes Purnendu Kumar, senior analyst. Technopak India.

Pitching the product on the health platform has also helped Kurkure. While the claims are not direct, the company's statement that Kurkure has zero per cent trans fats and no cholesterol and that it's made from corn, rice and gram flour, have helped the product give consumers a ‘guilt free eating’ experience, according to analysts. Its Snack Smart initiative has cut out trans-fat from its products and changed the oil used for Kurkure to rice bran which cuts saturated fat by 40 per cent. An attempt to control portions consumed by users has seen it launch Rs-3 packs. This has pushed sales in the lower-tier towns.

These and the first-mover advantage are reasons why Kurkure enjoys a virtual monopoly in its category. While ITC tried to compete with 'Tedhe Medhe', the impact has not been encouarging so far. While ITC did not respond to queries, Anand Ramanathan, sector analyst from KPMG, says “ITC has a great distribution network. But 'Tedhe Medhe’ is not doing well because ITC couldn't add anything different than what Frito-Lay's Kurkure alreday had.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Indian consumer segments

Mint is running a series of 33 articles on distinct Indian consumer segments. Very interesting information which can be used.

With a population of more than 2 million, B3 segment households represent those urban well-educated families, who are settled in life. Almost three-quarters of these families own the house they live in. With the median household income at Rs5.5 lakh, these households would be quite representative of India’s middle-aged urban middle class. Yet, around 20% of the households at the top end of this segment earn more than Rs15 lakh a year.

B3 segment households are small households, 69% have just one or two children and less than 20% have senior citizens staying with them. The children are in their late teens or older, almost all would be studying in college. In fact, 8% of the household budget is spent on education services, the second highest share among all consumer segments.

The chief wage earner in these households is typically around 45 to 54 years of age, has a college degree or diploma and holds a regular salaried job. Most of the chief wage earners are employed in financial services or in public administration, with basic graduate degrees giving them the passport to an executive or managerial post—57% of the households fall in this category. Those with engineering related degrees would be largely in manufacturing sector, which provides employment to 17% of the chief wage earners in this segment.

Monday blues: Awaken the leader in you

An exceptional leader lies inside you. This leader is usually silent down playing the opportunities to convert a situation into a wow experience. Weaving leadership skills needs a lot of patience and positive outlook which comes with practice and enthusiasm to create an environment where the dormant leader in every person gets more active and steps out of the closet in to the limelight.

Far too many such opportunities are disguised in the form of hurdles which we choose to ignore as it takes an extra effort from us to attract that leadership quality and use this card. The other option is much easier when you let the inspiring level of leadership stay calm and let some tag or designation on your visiting card do the job. As a manager it is your responsibility to make sure your employees are transformed into exceptional leaders they can be. As a colleague you should encourage such behavior while exhibiting that yourself.

This applies to every role you play as an individual in your family, friends, at work and even in your personal life. Is the exceptional leader in you sulking or is proud? What have you changed today? Have a great week ahead.

Adapt