Saturday, July 21, 2012


Food Television?

Eating with your eyes

By Harish Bijoor

Q: India has a deep heritage of jewellery. Yet, it has not been able to generate a true-blue global brand as yet. Why? What will it take?
-Swapnil M Mehta, Mumbai

A: Swapnil, the reason is a simple one. The jeweller of India has always been one who has viewed his market with a very narrow view. His market has essentially been one that has been defined by geography. This geography has been one that has been restricted to the region where he started his business. The Indian jeweller has been a conservative jeweler. He has defined his brand, his personal core-competence and the ambit of his jewellery business in a rather narrow format, rather than a broad-spectrum format, which International brands use as a starting template.

India will produce excellent brands in the space of jewellery, only when the horizons of the jeweller expand. Even today, the best brands of Indian jewellery are home-names that feel rather shy to test overseas waters. Even if they do, they prefer the B2B route rather than the aggressive B2C route.

India produces some of the best jewels in the world as of today. Current design competence is excellent, with in-house home-bred names. Add to it the ancient Indian heritage in the space of jewellery, where jewellery-lineage goes back into centuries. All this must add up to an equation of at least a few International brands that compete in every market there is to compete. This is not so today. There is a spirit of shy reluctance in jewellery space today. We need to let go of this conservative mindset.

I do believe the first few International brands will be created by corporate names rather than region and city based jewellery businesses. This is unfair really to the fact that the jewellery business of India is really one that has been created, sustained and grown by city-based jewelers who work with passion in this space. The corporate names will overtake them all just because of one reason: the spirit to brand and the spirit to spend the right amount of money on branding, quite ahead of the curve of delivery.

When I look at current corporate names, Tanishq from Tatas show a lot of promise. I do believe we need more Corporate brand sin this space. Is Reliance listening? Is the Aditya Birla group listening as well?

Q: How important is personal branding in a corporate set up? How does one go about creating it?

-Dhanu Mishra, Delhi.

A: Dhanu, I personally do not believe in personal branding. I do believe branding is a natural process when it comes to human beings in a corporate set-up. My advice to those looking for a personal branding tip: DON'T.

Be who you are and enjoy being just that. No point in thrusting upon yourselves a persona or a set of traits that do not belong to you. Never borrow styles and habits. Be original, and I think you are doing great on your personal branding then.

 Be completely original and sincere in show-casing who you are. Dedicate yourself to understanding who you really are. Portray your original persona without any charades and make-up. You will do well and thrive. In an era when everyone is behaving like everyone else, if you are original and just YOU, you will thrive. You will be a refreshing change in a clonal corporate environment.

Good branding, when it is genuine and represents the true persona behind the branding, helps. Anything else does not!

Q: A lot of food is being shown on television. Why?
P Visalakshi, Vijayawada

A: Visalakshi, I am sure you are not complaining. A lot of people are today hooked onto food shows on television.

The basic truth is that food is totally intrinsic to our being and living. Something as intrinsic as food therefore requires the requisite amount of television time and space. TRP’s of such programs are showing up the fact that food can be exciting for all. En and women included. Master Chef Australia possibly has an equal gender skew in terms of viewership. And that’s today’s reality.
If I am to trace how all this happened, it would go thus.
In the beginning food was food. It was basic and it was all about what grew around us. And exotic food was everything that did not grow too close to us. And seasonal food was everything that came in and went out of season, quite like the Indian mango, which makes the Indian summer bearable and awaited eagerly.

And then food became more than food. It became something that got processed, packaged and aggressively branded. This came through super-market counters. And then food morphed to become a service from a product it was. In came restaurants of every kind. And now, food is not food and not a service. It has gone beyond. Food is something that you view on a channel that is dedicated to it.

Many of us eat more with our eyes than with our mouths. It is this socio-physical reality that is spurring food channels forward. A big chunk of people who watch these channels are of an older age profile. The point is simple. If you cannot eat it all anymore due to health reasons, salivate and watch it being made and eaten. This might sound bizarre, but I strongly believe a lot of people eat more with their eyes than their mouths. Touche!

Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

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