Showing posts from 2012

Tale of Missed Opportunities - Are Loyalty Programs Serving the Purpose?

I fly a lot on the domestic circuit. I fly on airlines which have the frequent flyer programs and also on those which do not have. Since I also fly on value airlines like Indigo, Spice, Go Air etc., simply because of the convenience of timing, I was moved down a tier on Jet Airways as I did not fly on it that often. There were also instances wherein I flew a cheaper airline at the same time as the difference between the fares of Jet and the others was huge.
The moot point is I lost a tier and I lost it for some reasons. However Jet or for that matter any other airline is not bothered about it. - Maybe, I as a customer flew other airlines (which were the case); maybe I found the fares on other airlines cheaper - which were the case sometimes. There could be many reasons why I did not travel that often on Jet.
Just a few months back I was a member of the highest level/ tier on Kingfisher. This certified to other airlines that I travel a lot, but they tended to ignore the fact even though …

HP or Hewlett Packard - The Conundrum!

An $8.8 billion write-down of its latest acquisition - Autonomy seems to be the latest mishap in the HP saga. And with it comes proof that HP has been following a path which is heading south.
From the exciting times of Lewis Platt and John Young to the bleaker times started by Carly Fiorina, HP has lurched from disaster to disaster. And the list looks endless. Fiorina decided to move to reorient the company to a marketer of computer equipment and enterprise systems. Her acquisition of Compaq Computer so that HP- Compaq would be the leader in low-cost personal computers was a disaster.  She tried to focus simultaneously on high-end enterprise systems. Luckily or unluckily she had bid for the business consulting practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers, but lost to IBM.  NCR's Mark Hurd followed her and appeared to appeal to the stock market. The efficiency expert, he focused on short term sales growth and cost reduction, doubling the company’s earnings and stock price. His notable acqui…

Replacing Yourself - Let Your Job be Taken!

Unless an employee is altruistic and has reached a fair level of self-actualization, I am sure he/ she would like to see her career grow in terms of responsibility, authority and financially.

While in some disciplines, organizations can make do with individual contributors, the business requirement is largely skewed to teams and teamwork. Teams would require a manager/ leader. One of the responsibilities of the manager would be to equip their team members/ subordinates with skills & knowledge which lets them mature and enable them to grow higher within the hierarchy.
Unfortunately many managers/ leaders have a tendency to be threatened by such subordinates for a variety of reasons.
a) Insecurity of the idea of giving someone a chance to take their place Some bosses are suspicious of their subordinates of someone taking their place. What if their failings are found out? What if the subordinates are better?
b) Protective & selfish of what he knows Ownership is good when people n…

The Vaginal Dialogues - And the Hypocrisies

"18 Again" launched with much consternation and hype a vaginal tightening cream. I am not going to talk about the efficacy of the product and neither is it to ridicule the product per se. Frankly, I don't care. This is more to do with the hypocrisies associated with a product like this.  The positioning of the product along with the commercial And more importantly sexual intercourse / sex is still looked as a matter which I dare say, most people enjoy but something which cannot be talked about in the open. What the f#@* (well ...fuck!)? 
Positioning of the Product
'Like a virgin' - the heroine croons in the commercial. But unfortunately this advertising reinforces the sexist view in India that pre-marital sex is something to be frowned upon, a taboo which is even seen as sinful by some. 
According to the company the cream empowers women but rather than empowering women it will reinforce the patriarchal view that is held by many here that women should be virgins on the…

Why is the Transition from Product to Experience Brand Difficult?

Commodities > Products > Brands > Experiences
From a marketing standpoint there has been an evolution of sorts. As customers’ expectations move up, so do the expectation of benefits. To elucidate this further, it would best be explained by a product close to my heart - Coffee. First we had raw green coffee beans which were traded across the world ( and it still is) - a commodity. As the expectation of the customers grew then we had varietals like different types of roasts, monsooned coffee, instant coffee and so on - products. This entered the next phase when the expectations of customers increased along with aspirations. This led to brands for example - Nescafe. In effect these were product specific brands. However as tastes and the expectations evolved further, customers wanted more and hence did not look at just the brand but the whole ceremony around it - Starbucks is an apt example and closer home Cafe Coffee Day.
(While the transition in expectations has happened, it does…

Get Real, Get Human - Brands as Humans!

When I was in B- school I was taught about brand personality and to the people who are still confused about it (and believe me many still are!)- 'Brand personality is the way a brand speaks and behaves. It means assigning human personality traits/characteristics to a brand so as to achieve differentiation. These characteristics signify brand behaviour through both individuals representing the brand (i.e. it’s employees) as well as through advertising, packaging, etc. When brand image or brand identity is expressed in terms of human traits, it is called brand personality" ( I do agree that there is a difference between brand image and personality but for convenience we will stick to personality)

Ages ago when I was a part of the advertising business, I remember being asked to describe the target audience vividly. Give a face to the target audience! Make them real.

Given the fact that we want to make the brand as human as possible, it is only natural the people also treat those …

Flying Just Above the Ground - Thoughts on the Airline Industry Ecosystem

The airline industry in India has been going through an enormous amount of pain. It has seen more downs than ups. At a time when the economic outlook is far better than the US or European geographies, the whole business is going through a crisis of sorts; some due to its own doing and some due to extraneous factors.

Market In recently announced statistics, the domestic market has increased 1.1% year-on-year in Mar-2012 to 4.87 million passengers. This is the slowest month of domestic passenger growth since May-2009 when passenger levels declined 4.4%. Passenger traffic increased 6.55% in 1Q2012 to 15.3 million. For 34 consecutive months the market has seen growth however it is the third month in the same period which has seen a single digit growth. There has been 16 months of double digit growth prior to that.
The drop in traffic can be directly attributed to the reduction in coverage by Kingfisher Airlines. Till such time, India's growth rate was among the highest in the world. I…

Dialogue Over Monologue - The Key to Customer Relationships

The old paradigms have changed. To build a relationship with a customer, a brand has to engage with him/ her through various means and one way of doing so is to interact with them. But one of the better ways is letting them talk back to you.  An essential component of a brand-customer relationship is the 'humanness' of the relationship and the interaction they have through communications. 
In simple words - 'Enter into a Dialogue'.
A dialogue by its very definition is an attitude or orientation towards communication wherein each participant possesses genuine concern for the other and it is this concern which drives interaction. Atleast on the face of it, dialogue is free from any ulterior motive like financial gain (there is a thin red line though!). A dialogue is based on such factors like care, trust, sensitiveness, sincerity, openness, empathy amongst others. This is devoid of manipulations of untruths, coercion, exploitation etc. In effect, the more transparent and h…

Living Together - Does Your Brand Have a Relationship With Your Customer?

The dream of any business is to have committed customers who treat their relationship (with their brand) - more than just a brand-customer interaction but show a commitment which is emotional and creates 'feelings'. As brands transcend from a benefit orientation with their customers to an emotional connect, the benefits for the brand grows exponentially. These stand the test of time and in the minds of their customers the brand stands for values beyond functionality.  Customers of such brands rate them much higher in their value systems.

Apple, Harley Davidson and Triumph are some of the few examples who transcended the barrier to create diehard fans/ lovers. For example - Apple’s commitment to their Mac User Groups. Apple interacts with them regularly and constantly integrates their feedback in the new products/ software thereby respecting the relationship. This not only helps them from a marketing standpoint as a 'brand which listens' but also helps improves their o…

Corporate Arrogance - Hara Kiri, the Price to Pay

While we pay our respects to a blue blooded brand "Kodak", I can't help but think what led to its dismal performance and downfall. People may blame it on disruption, creative destruction and ofcourse the irony of the digital age, but to me it reeks of something deeper and more innate - leadership arrogance.
In his book 'The Sacred Art of Soul Making', Joseph Naft had said 'Arrogance - Those to whom much has been given sometimes suffer from arrogance; or rather the people around them suffer. Arrogance is doubly a pity, because the talents of the arrogant serve primarily themselves. The arrogant assumes his views and opinions are The Truth. In arrogance, natural confidence goes sadly awry. Rather than the self-assurance born of knowing his own strengths and limitations, arrogance admits no limits. The arrogant brooks no weakness in himself and may even secretly rejoice to find flaws in others. But imperfections are inherent in being human, so the arrogant, like …