Friday, May 30, 2008

Marketing success does not always depend on perfect marketing plans; it depends upon being alert to the environment

A person gets introduced to this brand quite early in life. It is possibly the first brand an individual gets to know of in his/her journey in life. It is the stuff of many a childhood pleasure and the infatuation with the brand stretches beyond the tweens and teens to early adulthood.
It is the Wrigley’s chewing gum !!

According to,William Wrigley of USA was trying to boost the sales of his premium baking powder by giving free samples of another product to the customers. This happened in 1891. The customers showed more interest in the free samples than in the baking powder. The free samples were that of Wrigley’s chewing gum.

The master marketer that he was, William Wrigley withdrew the baking powder from the market and concentrated on the chewing gum which as we all know had been a success for more than a century.

Prof P Guha
Globsyn Business School

Thursday, May 29, 2008


It is a boon to the marketers that celebrities are a dime a dozen today and they are all available for doing their bit for the marketing of products. The prime question is to find out which celebrities are the most ogled at. And the next question is to find out which part of the celebrity’s persona is most ogled at. The tennis star on a journey to the centre court at Wimbledon could fit the description of a star celebrity in July especially for a company that manufactures sports goods. Nike in its attempt to answer the second question imposed a certain condition on Monica Seles. An excerpt from the net ( is given below :

"In 1997 Monica Seles signed an endorsement deal with Nike. Among the terms of the agreement was a requirement that Seles sport the Nike logo... on her panties!"

There are other issues also that come into play in choosing the right spot for placing the logo. What would happen if an American sportsperson is photographed with the logo of a German company while accepting the highest honours in the field?

An excerpt from the net ( is given below:

"... at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, when Dream Team player Charles Barkley said he had 'two million reasons' not to accept a gold medal while wearing a USA sweatsuit bearing the Reebok logo (it transpired that he was actually getting $4 million that year); diplomacy prevailed in the end when team leader Michael Jordan wore the jacket with a US flag draped over the enemy's logo."

The above only goes to show that the entire exercise of ‘marketing’ is fraught with unexpected problems and the experienced marketer has to negotiate the minefields of controversy with aplomb.

Prof. P. Guha
Globsyn Business School

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


If we need a Shah Rukh Khan to tell us that Pepsi is good or an Amitabh Bachhan to tell us that Chavanprash is healthy, we certainly should be ready to pay for it. But then if the sellers didn’t have the services of the celebrities, the sales would have been much lower and that too would have jacked up the prices. Either way, we, the customers are at the receiving end!

Prof. Prabir Guha
Globsyn Business School

Friday, May 23, 2008

Shops on the pavement

A study of the Indian retail sector – an unconventional view
by Prof. Prabir Guha, Globsyn Business School.

The travel brochure says, “To see India, take a walk down the street. If the marauding motorists bother you, step on to the pavement.” The travel brochure should have said, “… step on to the pavement, if you can”! In most Indian cities it is well nigh impossible to walk on the pavements, which incidentally had at one time been built for the pedestrians.

Pavements today are not meant for walking. They are safe havens for the destitutes who do not have a roof over their heads. They, in fact draw chalk marks on the pavements to demarcate their own properties from those of their neighbours. Pavements also offer refuge to all urban animals, like the bovine, canine and feline varieties. Cracks in the pavements are ideal hideouts for hibernating reptiles and other such creatures. After sunset the pavements also become car parks in select localities. Whether they pay the corporation taxes is another matter!

More importantly, the pavements are shopping centres. From fake Rolex watches to genuine Bombay Dyeing bed-sheets, you name anything and it is available. Not only all kinds of goods, but also all kinds of services are available like medical advice, astrological predictions and car repairs. Besides all the wares, the pavements also offer entertainment. Small time magicians, contortionists, violinists and skull massagers all find place to do business.
The ubiquitous chai-shops are plenty with their customers hovering around the makeshift kitchens. The Indian cuisine is extremely varied and the only place they all converge is on the pavement. The south Indian dosa is sold in close proximity to the Punjabi tandoori and not very far from the Bengali rosogolla or the Mumbai bhelpuri. All these foods are however cooked and served on the pavements and the utensils are washed in the small no-man’s land between the pavement and the street that also doubles as the roadside drain.

The largest malls cannot match the variety of wares or services or entertainment that a two kilometers stretch of the pavement can offer.

But then what happens to the pedestrians? How do they walk? Well, they don’t! At least not on the pavements! They walk on the streets, jostling for space with the cars, the rickshaws, the cyclists and the many creatures of burden. The people walking on the streets cause accidents, but then that does not mean that the pavements will in the near future be handed over to the pedestrians.
Countless political parties in their election manifestos have promised to remove the shopkeepers from the pavements. I would stick to the term ‘shopkeepers’ and not use the derogatory term ‘hawkers’; because these retail outlets are just shops and these shopkeepers do not hawk their wares. They display them. They are not hawkers anymore. They have fairly permanent structures, conform to certain systems, have electric connections, pay taxes and are well recognized. The political parties, of course, at the time of forming the governments discreetly choose to forget what they promised. This however is not news! Sometimes one can see contingents of the police force armed with shields and batons come charging and demolish the shops, arrest the shopkeepers and cause momentary mayhem. Next day, things are back to normal again.

But why cannot the shops that crowd the pavements be demolished? Why is it that the governments and the police forces cannot do anything about it? What makes these shopkeepers so invincible? Is it their financial strength or is it their political clout?

The answer lies somewhere else. These shops cannot be demolished because the people want it that way. These shops occupy a certain well-defined niche in the Indian retailing sector.

The Indian shoppers are of a special breed; the like of which is not easily spotted in the rest of the world. They are very distance conscious. They abhor the idea of driving or cycling or walking a distance to get their things. They want their things at their doorsteps. They also like to be cajoled with the feeling that whenever they buy anything they always get a deal and get the better of the shopkeeper. Whether they get it or not is a different matter; but they usually do not like to go to places that proclaim doing business on fair and non-negotiable terms. They also like to have small conversations with the shopkeepers and exchange ideas on any subject under the sun, the graver the better. Time for shopping and time for socializing merge into one endless expanse of timelessness.

On top of everything, the Indian shoppers are price sensitive and would not like to pay a penny more than the minimum.

The shop on the pavement satisfies all these unwritten demands of the Indian shoppers. And that is why as soon as the new houses spring up in any virgin area, the shop on the pavement evolves out of the vast vacuum immediately – almost always before the roads and the pavements are made. The pavements are often built under the shops with special care to see that their daily business is not hampered.

But then, is there no way to rid the pavements of these shopping arcades? Can nothing be done to restore the pavements to their rightful users, the pedestrians? Yes, something can be done. The answer lies with the people.
The problem can be solved overnight. The people have to decide not to buy things from these shops on the pavements. If the people stop buying, the shops will move away to greener pastures. No shopkeeper worth his salt will ever stay at a place where the people do not buy. And with the shifting of the shops; the destitutes, the urban animals and the reptiles will also move away leaving the pavements for the sole use of the pedestrians. Oh! Wouldn’t that be wonderful?