Google+ Consumer Psyche: December 2011


Sunday, December 18, 2011

In Christ alone

All depends on which side of the counter you are in

When I was a young boy, my father often used to ask me to buy some postcards on my way back from school. We lived in a small dusty town in West Bengal. The man behind the counter in the post office was the slowest human I have ever seen in my life. There would be no flicker of expression on his face on seeing me coming to the other side of his table, obviously asking for postcards. He would talk to the woman in the next table about Sunil Gavaskar's dazzling performance and how Bengali cricketers were discriminated and politically excluded from the team. After a straight 10 minutes, he would see me, open his table drawer and fish out, not the postcard, but a betel nut and paan, elaborately design it with buntings and put it in his mouth. Only after the full taste of paan had reached his central nervous system would he look at me and ask ummm?

Invariably he would not have small change, and would tell me how bad government made such problems before I was permitted to leave.

On Saturday evenings, I used to accompany my mother to the ration shop for our quota of sugar and rice. It would be a long queue. Once, the post office man was just behind us. He was so perturbed by the process that he was venting his anger by telling people close to him in the line about the problems of the rationing system, till he was loud enough to be heard by the ration assistant who made it clear that anyone not liking to stand in the queue could go home. After all, he never asked us to come and queue up. It was funny. It all depends on which side of counter you are — in life, in post-office or in the ration shop. The Congress tries to pass a bill and the BJP is against it. The CPI (M) government tries to set up industry and the Trinamool fights tooth and nail. I think it all boils down to which side of the counter you are.

That, according to me is the first law of counter. Your authority depends on which side of counter you are. And that obviously leads you to the second law. The subject continues to be on the same side of counter till disturbed by an extraneous force like retirement or election, as the case may be. But once you are pushed out to the other side of counter, life changes, often drastically.

I know of a police officer who became depressed, needing psychiatry support and finally committed suicide. Not lack of money, not family problems, but he could not do with the lack of power, the absence of police car, the missing uniformed driver and the salutes. All that comes as long as you are on the inside of the counter.

And one last thing. It may not be logical and always true, cannot be put forward as a law, but just a belief I have. Every action, done when you are on the inside of the counter, has an equal and opposite reaction once you are out on the other side, today or tomorrow. The laws have been proven and validated umpteen number of times. Well, why is it then that they are not in the textbooks? It took decades before my predecessor's laws were accepted. And if Newton could wait, why not me?

(Open Page: The writer is Head of the Department of Cardiology, PRS Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram. His email id is:

The perils and peculiarities of perfectionists

Perfectionists are a breed by themselves, not ready to fit into the ordinary mould and mode of life easily. They are a species apart, courting controversies at times, and, recoiling shyly into a shell the next moment.

Practice makes perfect, goes the adage. Unfortunately, one who is perfect normally finds the going tough. Leading life turns irksome for perfectionists. Being sensitive, they suffer for myriads of reasons. They are normally stamped as argumentative, uncompromising, complainants, weeping aunties, doubting Thomases, pessimists, party spoilers, rule-minded and what not. Persons not so well-organised generally find others tough nuts and stumbling blocks.

The other day, I was travelling by train in a 3-tier AC coach. I have no false claims or qualms of being a perfectionist except that I held a bona fide ticket. No sooner I settled into my berth quietly than a youngster appeared on the scene and asked me whether I would mind shifting to an adjacent coach (Thank God, not to the next train) as one of his friends (out of a party of six) was (sinned? and) allotted berth in the next compartment. He almost swooped to shift my luggage arbitrarily from the leg space, taking my coercive nod for granted. A man of fragile frame, I could not have resisted him physically though.

I did not wish to contaminate their bonhomie. I checked with him whether the one he was offering me was also a lower berth, as I had to alight at a mid-point station during unearthly hours. He said it was a side-upper berth. I said it would be inconvenient for me as I was six feet tall. (Not that I would have ungrudgingly hopped to that berth if I had grown a foot less). Half smilingly and twisting his body uncomfortably, he very humbly queried what I could have done had I been originally allotted a side-upper berth in the first place. He had a logic, quaint and queer, nevertheless. I did not wish to prolong the ordeal for him. (Anyway, at 59, I was also an odd man out in their company) I obliged him (though not merrily) as it meant buying peace (I could also simultaneously dread how turbulent and troubled my journey would be if I did not pay heed).

As the berth exchange was settled for good, I thought I could steal a pretty nap which I badly needed. It was not to be so. While I was about to mount and lodge myself in the newly acquired (cabinet?) berth, a middle aged woman resting on the side-lower berth below asked me whether I would barter mine for the opposite upper berth assigned for her son as the child tended to roll over and fall while asleep. (I learnt the rudiments of railway dynamics for the first time that falling from a side-upper berth was safer than tumbling down from a regular upper berth.) I did not ask her, out of civility, what if I darted on to the coach floor in my slumber from the upper berth she was offering.

I acceded to her request. As the train moved out of the platform and the commotion inside the compartment subsided, I found to my dismay, in the middle of the night, that both child and mother were sharing the same side-lower berth, leaving the side-upper berth vacant but for their luggage positioned there. (Did she perceive me as a potential nocturnal threat that she shifted me to an opposite one? My ego suffered a mild bruise).

I had a boss in the bank where I served. He was principled and also a strict disciplinarian. He never tolerated anyone using wrong words. He once asked me whether I could switch on the “artificial wind blower.” I looked frantically for such a hitherto unheard-of equipment existing in his cabin. He chided me for not even knowing the correct phrase for a “fan.” (According to him, “fan” is too general a term to be used for an electrically operated ceiling fan.) He always called a spade a spade. (Of course, a spade cannot be called a goat unless when one is mentally deranged).

Once when he wanted me to go out and meet a client I told him politely that “It was raining heavily outside.” He admonished me that it should rain only outside and it was enough if I conveyed, “It was raining.” He always corrected me whenever I said “concerned department.” He would say, “Department concerned.”

A young visitor once knocked at his cabin door and asked, “Can I come in, Sir” My boss retorted: “Try, if you can.” The visitor disappeared into thin air instantly.

My father-in-law was also one such perfectionist who found the going arduous. Even at home, whenever he volunteered to help the womenfolk with family chores during festivals and ceremonies, they would make fun of his perfectionist attitude. When he was allowed to cut vegetables rarely during occasions, he would, of course, bring an old geometry box and measure the length of each vegetable so that it was cut into uniform pieces to counter and balance any possible uneven frying or boiling. My mother-in-law would simply snatch away the vegetables and the cutting apparatus from him, pungently remarking that at his pace of precision-vegetable-surgery, food would be ready only the succeeding year. Poor man used to abandon his mission and switch to other tasks not relevant to the kitchen.

My father-in-law once hired a worker to climb the coconut trees in the backyard of his house and pluck ripe nuts. The labourer crawled up the tree and started plucking unripe ones. My father-in-law lost his cool at the sight and yelled at the man from below, “Don't you have brains? Didn't I tell you to pluck the ripe ones?” The workman got wild at this rebuke and murmured inaudibly, “If I had brains, you would be here on the top of this tree and I would be in your place, lording from below.”

A man in his forties once happened to meet my father-in-law during a train journey and befriended him. Asked what he was doing, the man replied, “To be honest, Sir, I am unemployed.” My father-in-law turned to me and asked, “What has honesty to do with his unemployment?” My mother-in-law always dreaded and trembled at the prospect of fist fights that might follow as her husband would not take idiocies in his stride during his outings. She would take the lead in hiring and negotiating with autodrivers and porters and also buy things from vendors en route to scuttle grammar wars and contradictions.

Perfectionists are a breed by themselves, not ready to fit into the ordinary mould and mode of life easily. They are a species apart, courting controversies at times, and, recoiling shyly into a shell the next moment. Their art of living is peculiar though it may appear odd and eccentric to other specimens.

(Open Page: The writer's email ID is

The silly side of facebook

Call it the FB mania or FBism, the “in-thing” today. Every other person surely has an FB ID whether or not has a Pan ID, Voter ID, Smart Card ID or Passport ID. Be it teenagers, youngsters, the middle aged and now even senior citizens (out of compulsion to be in touch with their NRI children) are all falling into this culture called FB.

I believe what attracts them about Facebook are : F: free; A: advertising of oneself; C: campaigning for one's ideas, with E: entertainment on a B: big scale, giving O: opinions, O: opposing at times and K: knitting strangers.

Facebook provides the free opportunity to advertise oneself by uploading hundreds of photographs; I wonder if any friend would have the time and patience to see all these photos and comment on the same. The most common comments are, “How sweet”, “Awesome pic”, “Excellent pic”, “Soooo sweet” or “Lovely pics”, with hardly even 10 per cent of sincerity and truth in the comment. The sole intention is — I commented on yours, now you comment on mine.

Facebook allows campaigning for one's ideologies through posting uninvited, unsolicited comments, emphasising views and thoughts vehemently and ending up in a war of words between absolute strangers.

But what excites me is the daily status updates. Anything is posted in the name of updating status. Following are some of these: “feeling low today”, “I am having a running nose”, “had idly, vada, sambar and icecream yesterday”, “want to go for a movie”, “made potato curry today.”

Sometimes, the status updates have a picture as well, specially during festivals. A proud display of home made diwali sweets, krishna jayanti sweets and, at times, the daily cooked meals, sometimes accompanied with recipes. And the comments for these are, “I wish I could eat it now”, “looks delicious” (wonder what would happen if the friend really tasted it), “please send it across.”(so that they could skip cooking on that day.)

The most amazing one was the status update of a woman with the ultrasound scan picture of her foetus, posted as her profile picture.What a pity even the unborn is forced to be a part of the facebook!

Last but not the least, the number race for having the highest number of friends lures them into accepting and sending friend requests for and from aliens; however, they may avoid their own relatives fearing breach of privacy. Also, such people have trouble saying “hello” to their neighbours, but the irony is the same neighbours who live just a few yards away are the best of friends on facebook and are found commenting on each other's pictures and perhaps chatting.

God save these jerks! Not excluding myself — a victim of this FB fanaticism. Why this FB veri di?

(The writer's email id is:

Friday, December 16, 2011

Can't wait to see this

Image is from here.

Flavored air with potato chips

Sarah and me bought a pack of the family/party pack of chips today and she was wondering why they need such a big pack for so few chips and I mentioned this article. Am sure you would love reading it too.

Mumbai. Lay’s, the premium producers of packaged flavored air, faced a major crisis today when a production glitch resulted in far more potato chips being put into every pack of air than the “normal” level. Potato chips normally fill around 5% of the packet volume and they are helpful in adding flavor to “packaged air”, which is the flagship product of the company.

The production glitch caused this level to go up to 75%, sending the top management of the company in a tizzy. Before the Quality Control supervisor could detect it, hundreds of thousands of packaged air with “Magic Masala” flavor were already in the market and the news about the production glitch spread like wildfire.

“It was unbelievable!” 15-year-old Ravish Kumar exclaimed as he munched a handful of chips, “I bought the packet, slipped it in my school bag, and waited for my friend to go away before opening it, so that I don’t have to share those 12 chips with him. When I opened the packet I saw that it was full of potato chips! I immediately went back to the shop and bought five packets more, yes, can you believe it? Packets full of chips!”

People couldn’t believe their eyes when dozens of potato chips came falling out as soon as they opened the bulging packets.

Ravish claimed that it was the first time when he tried putting more than two wafers in his mouth in one go.

“I would normally put one at a time as I wanted to enjoy each one of those 12 valuable chips. But sometimes I’d put in two, as no one can eat just one. But boy, the human mouth is capable of taking in at least 12 chips in one go, see!” said Ravish as he enthusiastically crushed a bunch of 12 chips with his 32 teeth.

Hundreds others like Ravish too found out about the high amount of chips level in Lay’s flavored air packets and soon every general store was besieged by hordes of customers and chips enthusiasts, forcing police to resort to a mild lathicharge to disperse the crowd.

“Well, yeah, we always knew that they were packets of flavored air, but we bought them for those little chips,” claimed Ankit, a customer with lathi bruises on his left foot and 20 units of “defective” flavored air packets in his hands, “You know, it’s like some people buying eggs only for the egg white.”

Realizing that a high level of chips in a packet meant for flavored air could have adverse impact on consumers’ health, Lay’s has decided to recall all the defective packets of flavored air. The company has also issued a public apology.

“It has always been our goal to provide people with the finest flavored air that is becoming rare due to urban pollution. This is an aberration and we promise that such mistakes will not be repeated again,” Kareena, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Lay’s told Faking News.

Sources suggest that the production glitch happened when an employee accidentally changed the “Chips in Packet” (CIP) setting from “Commercially Available” to “For Advertisement Only”.

Lay’s PRO dismissed rumors that the top management had beaten up the erring employee because of whom Lay’s profit margins risked being wafer-thin.

“The official position of the company is that we treat our employees well. That particular employee fell down a flight of stairs after he had slipped off on a banana peel in the section where we are coming up with a banana flavored air,” Kareena clarified the “truth” in a press statement.

“There has been a mistake and the company will learn from it, No one will be Lay’d off! We do not give up so easily when the chips are down!” she added.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Aakhir dil hai Hindustani

Ranjith's guest post. Despite his tough schedule he could come out with something this wonderful :) Hail consumergiri!

Sundays are a great way to spend one seventh of your life.

So as I sit here at Costa Coffee CMH road, sipping on a chilled peach-passion-fruit-cooler and feasting on a warm fig-and-walnut cake, looking at the babes that walk by from behind my big black sunglasses (specially bought for this exclusive purpose :), I’m thinking quite hard of what to write for Tiger’s blog.

Tiger and I have a strange history together – we’re fellow bloggers who had come together for the Indiblogger Bangalore bloggers meet and the subsequent newspaper report covering the event had our pictures together for a article humbly titled ‘Superstars of Blogosphere’(yes, seriously! :). And as is the norm in the world today, we fb friended each other and then later, we pretty much went back to our individual worlds. Till he gave me the honor of guest posting in his blog last week.

So, what do I write?..........hmmm…..

I look at Tiger’s blog and see the words ‘consumer’, ‘sales’, ‘service’ and the sorts… hmmm.. interesting,...... So, what do I write?..........

And I take another nibble of the warm cake….

It is quite yum actually…. And I realize that it’s my first time here at Costa. I’ve always been a CCD guy and have been a regular at the CCD on 100 feet road, Indiranagar, Bangalore and have been a sucker for its amazing location – it’s surrounded by huge green trees, overlooks the classy 100ft road, is at a good viewing distance away from all the traffic and the food was good too - I’ve probably had a hundred and one chocolate fantasy cakes and cappuccinos there with friends, family and favorites. But of late, I’ve been quite disillusioned by CCD’s service (or rather, the total lack of).

And that is the consumer in me talking. I’ve been a consumer to CCD for a while but now have happily changed loyalties to somebody else who gives me better bang for my buck. And come to think of it, we’re all infected with the same syndrome – we’re all consumers every day. And we are very careful about whom we choose to hand over our hard earned money. In the shining version of India today, brand loyalty has become a shaky concept considering the flood of brands we’re exposed to. Brands that do not get their act together will be rejected outright, no matter how big they may be elsewhere in the world. Even the world’s most favorite brand, the mighty Apple did not find many takers for its latest iPhone 4S in India recently, mainly because we did not find it worthy enough at such costs.

We Indians are a peculiar lot – we want the best but we won’t pay the best. And that’s not really a bad thing at all. But mind you, we’re not after cheap products- we still look down upon the ‘made-in-china’ ware – we Indians seek value, not cheap. And brands, that have identified this quirk of ours as an opportunity, have succeeded. Cases in point –
  • In the Indian automobile sector of today, almost every player has realized the importance of India-centric cars. Gone are the days when India was just a dumping ground for foreign also-rans. Today global players like Hyundai make cars for the discerning Indian consumer and if it clicks here, it’s then also exported to foreign shores. Almost every player has brought out a made-for-India-car: Ford’s greatest success in India is its India car, Figo; Toyota too gave an Indian grill to its cars with the successful Etios; Honda responded to the Indian challenge by slashing the price of its Jazz and bringing out its pocket friendly Brio. To satiate the Indian consumer’s search for value, cars have also started coming out with their diesel versions much faster than before.
  • Telecom – One of the biggest drivers for value is open competition and the best Indian example for this is Indian telecom. I can’t even tell you how consumer centric the Indian telecom market has become once it was opened to open competition – Indian telecom has today one of the lowest rates in the world and to cater to this market dynamic, telcos have turned themselves into much more efficient versions by fine tuning their operations. And in response to their troubles, we have rewarded the telcos by becoming one of the fastest growing telecom markets in the world and stand today as the country with second largest number of mobile users in the world. Indian telcos like Airtel are taking their rich experience of profitably catering to the value conscious Indians to strike gold in other markets like Africa. Vodaphone’s India arm is considered as one of its best performing units. Next year, a new set of rules are slated to make the telecom industry even more competitive and thereby, even more consumer centric (are the FDI-in-retail opponents listening?).
  • Apna fmcg market is rife with examples of companies constantly evolving their value proposition. The shampoo categories got revolutionized with the low cost sachets, driven by desi brand Chik. Firangs companies that got this right later extended the concept to the detergent segment and now also to food: categories like biscuits and chocolates have started offering products at the ever declining price points. Retailers like Walmart and Tesco are feared from entering India for the awesome value play that they can bring to the consumer that will squeeze the politically connected middle men out of business, hence explaining their opposition to the consumer centric FDI in retail.

Consumergiri. Well, few instances of our consumergiri that I could think about, embedded deep within the dil of the hindustani consumer are:
  • Show me the value and I’ll show u the money: We already have an idea what value is. Some companies cut down on quality/size/both to reduce price in their quest for value– and it does work in many cases but is never a sustainable solution – in fact, it’s also one of the best ways to kill a brand – remember Akai TV. Similarly, I know a lot of people who refuse to buy electronics from EZone, because of the owner’s focus on being sabse sastha (maybe a totally untrue belief). But brands that have mastered the art of justifying their high price with value have been phenomenally successful. For example, P&G’s flagship products, Whisper and Pampers, are the undisputed leaders in their respective categories in spite of their higher prices. The operating word in the Indian side of life has always been value, which is not just a reduced price tag; and brands that understand and respect this have had valuable experiences in India.
  • I’m smart, in case you still haven’t noticed: Some great dude once said that ‘the consumer is not an idiot – she is your wife’. And many brands and services think they can outsmart us to a royal ride by serving shoddiness. Think of auto drivers – why is Rajnikanth from Baasha the only auto driver we ever liked? – but seriously, auto guys have never really been a liked bunch out here (in Bangalore at least). Cos we already know how much it really costs to get us there – really! Mantri mall in Bangalore has started a pre-paid auto service and the rates that have been printed on the sheet are mostly inflated by at least 30-40 bucks. You think we did not know? So what do we do? We just walk outside the mall for a little while and get another auto who charges us more reasonably. Or better yet, we get the red a/c bus. We still get home while the auto guys pay the exorbitant mall parking charges – so who’s the real loser out here for the over smartness? We are the land of the jugaad – defined as the gutsy Indian art of finding opportunities in the most adverse circumstances – we will find another way; it’s in our blood to do so. Respect our intellect and we’ll give you your chance, you savvy?
  • Mere paas social media hai: There’s this interesting story that when Farah Khan did not find Pampers at her neighborhood, she tweeted about the shortage and the resulting backlash prompted P&G to send her a month’s supply of diapers within a day. Similarly, facebook has as much a role in damaging brand equity as much as making it too – remember the recent story when most admired telecom brand Vodafone got enmeshed in a whole episode of negative publicity when V decided to slap legal charges against a customer who posted about its pathetic network on fb (yup, “he’s always on facebook”..;)) – the resultant negative publicity that grew on fb against the brand was something Vodafone could really have done without. And today as we speak, Kapil Sibal’s anti-democratic directives to websites have met with widespread uproar from the junta on social media. Moral of the story: In the inter connected world of today, news of bad service as well as good, travels at the speed of net.
So ultimately, the one word that sums the coziest brand-consumer relations anywhere is just one simple word – respect; respect me and I’ll respect you back. And this is what makes up brands like Tata, Infosys, Amul tick – they respect the hindustani in us, they respect our consumergiri, they respect us as we are – they make us a promise and deliver it.

So let’s go back to the Costa – CCD face off with which we started this post with. Why do you think they’re both doing what they are right now?

Well, here’s my take –

Most people don't realize it, but the world’s largest restaurant chain, McDonald's is not just a restaurant chain; it is one of the world's best real estate companies -> franchisees make the burgers while McDonald's gets to own the best commercial property all over the world. CCD has probably realized that their real worth is not only the money it makes by selling coffee but the valuable real estate it keeps buying all across. Bangaloreans will know that CCD joints have come up at prime properties on MG road, and it’s actually a good thing cos ur favorite coffee is just a tad closer to your favorite hangouts. But me thinks that all this just made CCD lazy on its USP. At the crux of all this is that the once amazing experience they used to provide with great location, great food and drinks –their USP – got lost somewhere along the way. Also another thing I’ve noticed is that CCD is now focusing on their premier outfits like the CCD Lounge and the CCD Square, where I’ve found the prices quite high but the service great. Maybe (just maybe), CCD is just busy buying land and upping their service quotient only at their higher priced new formats in the hope of upgrading their consumers to these higher priced ware, overlooking their earlier format.

But what CCD did not account for is that the gap that CCD created was simply taken up by Costa. And Costa today reminds you of what CCD used to be when it started off – a great place with great food. I sincerely hope that CCD does something to bring back the magic in their joints, especially at my once favorite one at 100feet, Indiranagar, Bangalore. And ironically, even if they don’t pull up their socks, I know I won’t be bothered at all as there’s always Costa… or Barista…or Gloria Jeans .. or Java….or a whiff of news of something called Starbucks coming along…. so on guard, CCD!

And I take another nibble of the warm yummy cake…. and a sip of the superb chilled peach-passion-fruit-cooler…

Aaah… Sundays …..

Pure Bliss…


Monday, December 12, 2011

How Good A Boss Are You?

Mostly forwarded but rarely practiced.

As we discovered in 7 Signs You May Be a Bad Manager, bosses aren’t usually aware that they are bad bosses. The fact is that nobody wants to believe they’re the problem. Nevertheless, there’s a bell curve for all things involving people, which means there are few really bad bosses, few really good bosses, and most of you fall somewhere in the middle.

To me that says, for the vast majority of you, there’s lots of room for improvement.

So, if you’re not exhibiting any of the 7 Signs, that’s great, pat yourself on the back. Still, if you really want to up your management game, maybe even vault into the executive or ownership ranks someday, you’d better start doing at least a few of these 10 Things That Good Bosses Do.

Incidentally, this isn’t from some academic study. These are real attributes of real bosses, culled from decades of observation, which motivate and inspire employees to perform at their best.

1. Pay people what they’re worth, not what you can get away with. What you lose in expense you gain back several-fold in performance.

2. Take the time to share your experiences and insights.Labels like mentor and coach are overused. Let’s be specific here. Employees learn from those generous enough to share their experiences and insights. They don’t need a best friend or a shoulder to cry on.

3. Tell it to employees straight, even when it’s bad news. To me, the single most important thing any boss can do is to man up and tell it to people straight. No BS, no sugarcoating, especially when it’s bad news or corrective feedback.

4. Manage up … effectively. Good bosses keep management off employee’s backs. Most people don’t get this, but the most important aspect of that is giving management what they need to do their jobs. That’s what keeps management away.

5. Take the heat and share the praise. It takes courage to take the heat and humility to share the praise. That comes naturally to great bosses; the rest of us have to pick it up as we go.

6. Delegate responsibility, not tasks. Every boss delegates, but the crappy ones think that means dumping tasks they hate on workers, i.e. s**t rolls downhill. Good bosses delegate responsibility and hold people accountable. That’s fulfilling and fosters professional growth.

7. Encourage employees to hone their natural abilities and challenge them to overcome their issues. That’s called getting people to perform at their best.

8. Build team spirit. As we learned before, great groups outperform great individuals. And great leaders build great teams.

9. Treat employees the way they deserve to be treated. You always hear people say they deserve respect and to be treated as equals. Well, some may not want to hear this, but a) respect must be earned, and b) most workers are not their boss’s equals.

10. Inspire your people. All the above motivate people, but few bosses have the ability to truly inspire their employees. How? Bysharing their passion for the business. By knowing just what to say and do at just the right time to take the edge off or turn a tough situation around. Genuine anecdotes help a lot. So does a good sense of humor.

All this adds up to an environment where people feel appreciated, recognized, challenged, and appropriately compensated. So what do you think? How do you measure up on the good boss scale?

Monday Blues: Spend some time with your family

Keeping the Monday blues away and making sure all the deliverables are on time is tough especially after a good weekend. Here is how you can motivate yourself and finish your work on time and get going. Get yourself to spend some time with your family. It can be your children, partner parents, friends, your dog or just yourself. Get out there and have some fun with once you are back home. Am not talking some home-based, couch bound fun on TV or your lappie. Get out and get some fresh air, sweat out and relax. Why should we be sad on a Monday?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Consumer Psyche: Feed an orphan initiative

Thank you for the wonderful response to our Feed an orphan initiative. I have received some mails and text messages asking as how and why we are doing this. Let me explain.

I was looking for a logo to be designed for my blog and some marketing to be done and allocated a budget for the same. Then I started scouting for people who can do the logo and design it in a better way so that I would stop using the free templates. It was a modest budget as I never try to make money from this blog and never will for myself. That is when we realized that we were ready to spend thousands on rupees on a logo and seo which could be very useful for some other reason which is much more worthy.

That is when we decided to come up with a campaign to help an orphanage. I was searching for a good orphanage which actually does some work and then found one in Puttenahalli, Bangalore. There are about 85 girls there. These girls aged between 2 and 19 (with majority being 3-7yrs) are all either orphans or street kids picked up and are being provided food, shelter, education and good care. So every like on our facebook page: Consumer Psyche earns a good meal to these kids.

Thank you once again for your support and we are happy with the 46 likes we got in three days and counting to 200!

I don't remember the where I had downloaded this picture to credit.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How to survive the next decade

A looming market downturn and changing focuses from the field isn't a good sign for any of us. This is a good time to check our focus and see how we can survive the next decade. Here are a few thoughts.
  1. Increase sales of existing products
  2. Improve existing products
  3. Go Green/Eco Friendly
  4. Develop new products
  5. Keep manufacturing at a state of the art level, lean and effective
  6. Evaluate and adapt new and innovative process technologies
  7. Save at least 12% of your present income
Can you add more?

R.I.P Dev Anand

Dev Anand also had a success mantra that today's actor can follow. "I read somewhere yesterday in the media where he was talking on his life to an eminent senior journalist that to remain a star you needed never to change your style and manner. Do not surprise your audiences and fans too much. Keep within the range that they identify you with. I doubt people went to see his films to discover a character change. They went to see Dev Anand and they got what they wanted all the time," shared Amitabh.

Bollywood ki aasmaan se kho gaya chand. R.I.P Dev Anand.

Consumer Psyche: Handicrafts Exports up by about 32%

Indian handicrafts market got a boost this year, especially in October with an increase in orders from new markets like Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. The exports jumped by about 32 percent year-on-year to USD 55 million in October on the back of rising demand from emerging markets like Latin America and the Middle East. The country's handicrafts exports stood at USD 41 million in October last year, according to the data provided by the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH). However, demand was sluggish in Western markets like the US and Europe due to fragile economic growth, he said. The US and Europe together account for about 60 percent of the country's total handicrafts shipments.

During April-October, 2011-12, handicraft exports grew by 20 percent year-on-year to USD 1.2 billion. Among the items that registered the maximum growth in overseas shipments, woodwares exports increased by 46 percent in October, while handprinted textiles and scarves exports grew by 44 percent, artmetal ware exports by about 33 percent, shawls as artware exports by 30 percent and imitation jewellery exports by 29 percent.

The council expects handicrafts exports to touch USD 2.7 billion in the current fiscal. During April-March, 2010-11, handicrafts shipments jumped by about 26 percent to USD 2.3 billion in comparison to the previous fiscal. Moradabad, Jaipur, Saharanpur, Jodhpur and Narsapur are the major handicraft hubs in the country catering to world markets, employing one million people.

There could be several reasons why this is happening. While the major reason could be the quality and cost effectiveness when compared to the competition, it is also the reach of the handicrafts to the buyer across the borders. With more manufacturers increasingly willing to push their wares online and soliciting trade, it is easier to be spotted and provides a wider choice.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Defy logic, define trend

Sometimes you need to take away all the logic and think differently to come up with a good marketing idea. It is not so easy as it seems to think out of the box. Many people have a difficulty to think within the box, if there is a box.

What triggers creativity? What impresses the consumer? Most of the times it can be an outlandish theory and need that the consumer hasn't even thought of or knew he wanted. That is where great minds come to work and great brands have been brought out. Consumers appreciate all the efforts if the product is outlandishly cool. Most of the times you may fail but then isn't it worth trying?

There can be only one brand as wonderful as Rajni. Rajni probably doesn't fit the marketing corners but could easily encompass the whole. I love this video as it tells me that to think differently is sometimes normal.

Nothing new would have been invented if everyone thought within the box.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Blues: Be amazing

Often we excel at being a moron and a tough-guy act and get away being that. There is absolutely no need to be that today. Why don't you take it easy and be amazing instead? Can you? I guess you can. So try and make things comfortable to your team, your customers and yourself.

Mondays are very amazing. They are the ones to denote you have a job and get going :)

Pic is from CoffeeTicks.

Deciphering Kolaveri

Sometimes nonsense is more sensible than sense itself. And you have more followers for the nonsense than sense. Yes, you can relate this to the mob behaviour and how fire catches on. Yes, I am talking about the Kolaveri effect and how it might be different from a regular viral. All pundits and people I spoke to have said that this would die down and cease to exist and it has already seen its best times. I would have agreed but for this is a different case altogether. Kolaveri shouldn't be categorized as a normal viral. There are several offspring versions to it and a multitude of languages, forms, lyrics and situations can be ascribed and the tune can carry. Though their life can be lesser than the original, they will still be there with a reminder about the original song.

How did this happen? There are practically no lyrics in the song. So you can fill whatever you want. There is no sense, so you can decipher as you want. There is a silly/stupid attitude which is welcome. It is like a blank canvas with outlines for you to fill in.

As a marketer I would love to create an effect like this and get it done to my brand. But guess what? It is not going to be an orchestrated one. It has to happen. If you want a hit on web, I have a question you might like. Which one of the following videos would get maximum hits? A video with a nice guy doing something normal or a guy being punched in the face?

Here is a good analysis of Kolaveri you should read.

Pic is from here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Someone is listening to you. ALWAYS!

Today's headline and open ed pages in The Hindu, a leading newspaper in India caught everyone's attention. After reading the article its déjà vu!

Now that you know the government is listening to you for your security or at least to help you, what if the technology falls in to the wrong hands? Scary. Such technology should be kept very very safe and out of the hands of miscreants and marketers ;) But given that you are already giving out a lot of information yourself, I might not need to listen to you all the time after all.

Here is a post I wrote in April this year and here is the bit you might like.

Did u get text messages and mails asking you to buy a site, car, loan, camera, etc.? Try talking about buying something on phone and you get these messages. Try speaking about eating out and you will get messages about dining and restaurants. Try speaking about parties, birthdays and you will get offers about gold, etc. You get the drift? Technology intrusion can be appalling.

This information allows me to see when you would feel low and have ice cream or down yourself in booze or call that particular friend, watch that movie, shop! I can understand your profile, your behavior, your psyche and us it to my advantage. I, the marketer, would be glad to shell out greens to have access to that information.

Scary? I feel so. Careful what you type on your Facebook status!

Where's my privacy? It ends where the next person's starts!

Pic is from The Hindu.

Consumer Psyche: Feed an orphan initiative

God has been good to me, my family and I am sure to you as well over the last year. This Christmas, it is good to give something back as a thanksgiving to God and share your happiness with people who weren't so blessed. From Consumer Psyche, we have decided to share some love with orphans and by feeding them with a good hearty meal. As a part of this initiative, we would love to have you play an important role.

What should you do?
Now you can feed an orphan with every new Like on
[While I want to feed as many children as I can, this initiative is valid for the first 200 Likes only]
Feel free to share with your friends.

Pic courtesy: Thornybrown

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mineral Water vs Tap water

Harsha sent me this. I love the concept of self-sufficient communities. Clean water is our right and should be so. Plastic is a huge waste that takes innumerable years to degenerate and should be treated with diligence.