Sunday, October 28, 2007

India Faces The World

The cover story of the latest Asia edition of The Fortune is about India . Not surprisingly stellar Indian companies like Suzlon , Bharat Forge , Mahindra & Mahindra are featured . Then there's the mandatory article about Google in India .
While India has , in many ways come of age and recognised globally - the recognition is in specific sectors ( and rightfully so ) e.g India is seen as a manufacturing / sourcing hub ranging from commodities to finished products and of course IT services . Indian companies / business groups have acquired businesses in various parts of the world to consolidate and complement their exisiting businesses . The overseas businesses acquired by Indian groups range from manufacturing operations to brands .
India is not yet seen as a country that is the origin of brands - fashion / lifestyle products , consumer durables , services . I.e brands of Indian origin which retail internationally .
Within India - everyday a new brand seems to be getting launched in some category or the other. Cumulatively the options for consumers are getting better.As the brands evolve perhaps they will seek to expand their offerings internationally * .
(*this excludes international forays made by some of the Indian brands seeking to reach out to the expatriate Indian community in the target country. e.g Amul butter being available in New Jersey stores , to Raymond / Louis Phillipe/Van Heusen/Arrow in Sri Lanka , M.East etc . While it can be a starting point for the international foray - the real test is for the brands to become preferred brands within that country beyond the expat community )
Hopefully a Fortune issue on India in 2010 ( and all subsequent issues from then on) will find the issue incomplete without a section on worldclass Indian brands that would have made an impact on retail and consumers internationally . This is not just about scale and whether an Indian brand would have grossed 1 $ billion in international retail sales or not . It's about making a powerful impact in the chosen category . Several Indian companies have the capability to do so . Here's hoping that at least some of them will.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Mobile Store

I continue my search for the successor to my present mobile . Should the day arrive when I have to change the handset immediately I should be very clear on which brand and model will be the chosen one .
( my reluctance to change hand sets frequently stems from environment concerns and the quantum of data transfer it invariably involves )
A few days ago I visited a retail outlet that specialises in mobile phones . Enquired about a particular model . Was informed that it was not in stock . They noted my contact details . Before leaving the store I asked for a store card . I did not hear from the store .Today I pulled out the card to call and check if they had received a set . The card of The Mobile Store has only one solitary land line number ! I turned the card around few times to look for a mobile phone number that should logically be on a card of The Mobile Store ( or any mobile store for that matter ) . I tried calling on that number only to find it engaged for the few times that I tried .
Looked at the card again and noticed that this enterprise is a venture between Essar and Virgin.2 large business groups in their respective countries have joined hands to market mobile phones in India . And the retail store ( at least the one I visited ) does not have a mobile number as a contact . They have put in considerable effort to create a brand identity . The stores externally look distinctive , the team at the store all wear T-shirts with the brand logo , the visiting card has the brand logo . Hopefully someday soon they will start to use the product they market .
This is more than just about whether The Mobile Store uses a mobile or not . It's about the convenience for customers , being accessible to customers , missed opportunities. Instead of waiting to get through on a land line one could message . And the store could respond . If I don't get through to the store and I don't therefore know whether they have stock of the set I want I could easily go to another store and make the purchase. Worse , I'm imagining ' what if I buy a product and then need to get in touch with them for some query or to solve a problem ? '
Completely obvious ?

The Population Myth

Interesting article by Amit Varma in MINT .

...All human beings , if allowed to express their creativity , add more value to the world than they consume .

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The completely obvious...

My mobile phone has started to malfunction with an regularity that now demands that I investigate the option of changing it . Few days ago I received a mailer from the phone company with an interesting exchange offer . I called them to find out details . All terms were ok except the fact that data on the existing phone can't be transferred to the new one ( except what would be there on the SIM ) . As per the company I could try to sync the old phone to my computer and then move that data to the new phone . After this tortuous exercise all that will be accomplished is transfer of the address book and calender !
When mobile phones are being equipped with esoteric features - camera , net browsing , gaming , email etc in an attempt to provide PC like functionalities - is it too much for phone companies to make data transfer from one phone to another a simple yet safe process ? e.g enable data transfer by means of a cable or memory chip . Make the process password protected to reduce risk of data pilferage .
Does anyone buy a computer and have to even think whether all data from the earlier computer will get transferred or not ? Mobile phones these days have become important information storage devices for most consumers esp business users . The data transfer ideally should be possible across all mobile phones allowing consumers the freedom to switch phones without loss of data . As a start phone companies can at least begin to offer complete data transfer between their phone models .

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Gift wrap

The obscure we eventually see . The completely obvious it seems takes a little longer . Words that apply particularly to retail in India .

A small example being the service of neatly gift wrapping a product should the consumer request for it . Most stores in India whether stand-alone stores or department stores tend to approach gift wrapping with a reluctance that is mystifying . Gift wrapping if done well can exponentially enhance the experience and the value for the purchaser as well as the recepient . It can convert 2 people at least into repeat customers if not evangelists . Yet this is ignored by retailers .
This manifests in various forms :
- Packaging of various brands finds it's way to the gift wrapping area . So you could spend megabucks and buy a shirt from brand A only to find it being packed in the box of Brand D . Finally the damage is compounded by wierd looking decorative paper ( this can range from teddy bear motifs to the garish logo/signature print of the retailer ) . Should you choose to go with it your relationship with the recepient of the gift will need mending ( the colleague who receives a shirt wrapped in pink heart motifs may speculate if you meant to covey something other than birthday wishes ! )
- Sorry , we don't gift-wrap
- The gift-wrapping would be done so shoddily that one would regret the time spent waiting for it . And the time that would need to be spent in scouting for appropriate material to DIY .
Retailers in India seem to prefer to pour money into ad-campaigns/promotions to draw customers into their stores. And ignore the opportunity that lies within reach to covert a customer in the store into an evangelist .

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The expert

" The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second-best swordsman in the world .
No , the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before ; he doesn't do the thing he ought to do , and so the expert isn't prepared for him ; he does the thing he ought not to do , and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot . " ......Mark Twain

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Not lost in translation

Few shirts are as useful as the International Translation T-Shirt ($15) from Threadless. The next time you find yourself wandering the streets of Tehran and need to quickly find a bathroom or phone, just point and let your tee do the talking !
( found on Uncrate )