till it hurts
Q: What is charity
to you? And how much do you give to charity?
Shaili! Oops! This is a very personal question. A
question I have always avoided answering. I nearly didn’t want to answer it
this time round as well. But will.
My belief is simple. True charity is what you
contribute without telling anyone what you contribute. Every cause I contribute
to, I get one assurance back from the guys I send my cheque to. They will apply
the moneys to the advantage of the cause, and they will audit the effort and
report back to me when done with. The next contribution will happen only
when I am personally satisfied that every rupee has been used well, and used to
the cause. I do not represent any of these causes myself vocally as well.
Attaching my name to causes is not important. That kind of giving is not for
me. I do enough of that in my work. Why should I do the same when I wear my
"giving” hat? That would be insincere giving!
True giving is giving till it hurts. I am yet to get
onto that mode. Today, I give what I can afford to give, and what I think is
surplus to my bread, butter and jam needs. I am not sure whether I am capable
of giving till it hurts. Some nobler souls are. And I admire them. Few as they
Q: What’s with the wave of customization
hitting marketing? How far will it go?
-Rohith P Kesavan, Chennai
at one end of the marketing spectrum is the movement of massification, and at
the other end lies customization.
is a personal-delight oriented movement in marketing. There are hotels and
hotels. And then there are hotels that will let you customize your bed, your
pillow, your coffee, your hot-spa requirement, your menu, your anything
literally. Hotels are the first ones to offer this. Services start the
customization race. Products follow. With the intervention of technology and
the Internet at large, customization of products and services is that much more
moved from 1:1 to 1: Many, to 1: Very Many and finally to 1:All. When 1:All
does not work, one gets back to 1:1. That is exactly what is happening. People
get tired of ration-shop options. People get tired of wearing clothes that make
them look like uniformed soldiers of a brand dog tag. That is when you
wake up and demand the custom-tailored outfit. Look at it this way; ready-made
T-shirts and jeans are certainly creating clonal looking people on the streets.
If you want to stand out, get something tailored. Get something deigned for
yourself. And flaunt it to stand out from the mass of uniformed brand
A time will
come when people on our streets will look like the walking-talking
advertisements for Levi's or Bossini or Reebok or Adidas or Nike. That is when
the tailor and cobbler will rise from the ashes they have gotten into. Mass
branding works when customization is the sea. And customization works when Mass
is the sea.
Q: Where is group buying headed? What
can one expect?
-Rohini Devassy, Kochi
Rohini, group buying is going through nascent days in India as of now. At
present, the deals range across restaurants, health and beauty, recreation,
services and events.
The early low hanging fruit in this business opportunity is essentially from
businesses and enterprises of the local kind that do not indulge in
advertising. These are the restaurants and spas and resorts and adventure clubs
that exist with huge inventories that mostly go un-used. Most such outlets use
such group buying as initial promotion efforts that will act as a sampler.
The real meat of this business is yet to be explored. There is opportunity that
lies in every FMCG, consumer durable, home solution, personal care and
categories of their ilk. This is when bigger players start offering group buying
incentives on such sites for their oldest and most antiquated models for a
start. Companies also do have the opportunity to launch exclusive brands for
such portals. These would not be available in the market at all. The Private
labels in every category have a similar opportunity staring back at them. There
is just no glass ceiling to such activity.
If Mercedes Benz could sell 150 cars in Aurangabad on a group-buying format,
imagine what else could be sold through such efforts of an intermediary clubbing
together the group-buying might of the consumer.
Things will fall into place slowly. The first challenge for these
intermediaries is to establish credibility and build a large base of regulars
who shop through them. Wait for more action in this space.
Q: What is the
benefit of After Sales Service to the marketer?
-SS Sharma, New Delhi
A: Sharma-ji, most companies are very good upto the sale process and terrible
in after-sales. These are companies that do not understand where the sale
really starts and where it ends.
In reality, the sale begins when companies embark upon the process of making a
consumer aware of the product offering. This then continues, as the consumer is
made deeply interested in the product through the hard-selling process. The
desire is then stoked. This is also selling. Most of the time this is done through
advertising. The action of buying and selling is the real selling-in process.
And after this, in comes the after-sales process. This is the point when
consumers and their product dissonances are managed. This is a critical phase.
This phase could lead to good word of mouth for the product or bad, depending
on the efficacy of after-sales service.
actually helps bring in repeats as well. Sometimes of the same customer, or
more often than not, repeats from consumers referred to by the satisfied
customer. The importance of after-sales service cannot therefore be
is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.