Scarcity thinking in marketing

A brand could be defined as a perception in the mind of a consumer, based on his/her/others’ experiences. These experiences could be either of the product/service itself, or its marketing communication. Earlier, in a post in a different context, I had alluded to the framework of choice during consumption. To elaborate, what are the factors that influence a customer’s decision to buy/not buy? The basic 4Ps of the marketing mix cover a lot of ground in this regard. But it does not really acknowledge (even when it is extended to 7Ps) the one thing that is increasingly becoming the most scarce commodity – time.

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The Road to Character

David Brooks

The concept of the book is something I could easily relate to. In fact, it reminded me of a favourite concept from the Mahabharata – Jaya and Vijaya. Vijaya is victory over others, and Jaya is victory over self. In this book, the author writes about two sides of our nature – one that is ambitious and career oriented, and another that is more concerned with the moral battles within.

He calls the former the ‘Big Me’ culture, where the focus is on the individual – be it consumption, or self actualisation. The alternate is where the individual has the humility to understand that he is part of a much bigger picture and through what the author calls ‘eulogy virtues’ builds relationships and moral standards. Using examples across history, walks of life, gender and race, he illustrates how some people have built themselves a moral fibre slowly but surely. He then uses the lessons from these as a contrast to the excesses of our age – from contexts that range from parenthood to social media.

The journeys of the individuals are in themselves fantastic reads. The chapter titles are a clue to the thrust of the arguments within – self conquest, struggle, self mastery etc – and the author does a great job of tracing the tribulations, and the moral ascent of the people involved. My favourite would be George Eliot. Across the vast stretches of time that separates us, her words spoke to me. More

Néih hóu Hong Kong! (Day 4)

Contd from Day 12, 3

A wonderful late start to the day. We just about made the breakfast deadline! The first task was to add currency to our Octopus – that was easily done at the customer desk in the East Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station. We then walked through the subway to get to the Star Ferry Pier. After some excitement, thanks to me dropping the hotel access card on the ferry waiting bench and the gates getting locked, we hopped on to the ferry to cross from the Kowloon to the Hong Kong side of Victoria Harbour. Getting to IFC mall from there was easy, thanks to the directions on the way, but inside the mall was a different story!

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Néih hóu Hong Kong! (Day 3)

Contd from Day 1, 2

Disneyland! The day D was most excited for! Our route and the time taken was pretty much a replica of the previous day, except we got out at Sunny Bay and took the special MTR rail to Disneyland – the one which had Mickey Mouse handles as D had been excitedly mentioning since the day before. We had booked our tickets earlier  – directly on the site, because for a change the deal was better than Klook. (lunch was included) D had done her research well, and we hurried through Main Street soon as the park opened directly to Hyperspace Mountain in Tomorrowland. This was all Star Wars, so I had nothing to complain about. D isn’t really a fan of rides, but she help up very well and actually enjoyed it. The next ride we went on was Grizzly Gulch, mine cars and this time, unlike the dark tunnel of the previous ride, we could actually see what was happening. I quite liked this one. Mystic Manor was next, and I really liked this too, since it had a magical innocence to it. After we got out, we got lucky with a small line and D got her main wish – a photo with Mickey and Minnie!

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Néih hóu Hong Kong! (Day 2)

Contd from Day 1

We got up at around 7.30 with an aim to leave the hotel in an hour and a half. The standard Continental breakfast at Xi was absolutely good enough to begin the day. Mandy at the reception promised to help us follow up on the lost baggage. Ngong Ping was the plan for most of the day. The journey including MTR transfers and the walk took less than an hour. Might have been lesser if we’d known about the passage directly from the Tung Chung MTR to the cable car. We’d bought tickets for a guided tour via Klook and could therefore bypass the queue. If you reach early, you could probably wait in the queue a bit and buy. The instructions were clear and after a short wait, we boarded the crystal cabin- this one has a glass bottom – a real one which is cleaned after each trip. D remained poker faced and refused to comment on her previous experience with such things. The views from the cable car were spectacular – we could catch the giant bridge to Kowloon that was under construction, the airport, and as we neared the Ngong Ping end (20 mins) the Tian Tan Buddha (aka the Big Buddha).

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Néih hóu Hong Kong! (Day 1)

My introduction to Hong Kong beyond just a name was thanks to James Clavell and Noble House. But that was more than a decade and a half back. As we were making the arrangements for the trip, I finished reading Flood of Fire, the final book in Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis Trilogy. It makes references to many real life characters, one of whom is William Jardine, of Jardine Matheson & Co., most eminent among Hong Kong business conglomerates from the time of the First Opium War to this day. The final pages of the book deal with the auction of land lots in Hong Kong, and the origin of what is now one of the most important nerve centres of the system of the world. Reminded me of the Amitav Ghosh book connection during our Penang trip in 2014, and set up the trip very well.

We ditched Meru for Uber this time and it did turn out cheaper. Surprisingly Malaysian Airlines had worked out better than Air Asia in terms of time and cost, and given the chances of adventure with the former(!), we took the midnight flight to Kuala Lumpur, which was delayed. We just about made the second flight and finally reached Hong Kong almost an hour later than scheduled. The good news was that we weren’t lost in transit, the bad news was that one of our bags was – the one with the clothes for the first couple of days! The delay also meant that our special lunch plan was sabotaged. We made peace with that, and after getting the currency exchanged, proceeded to make the first and most important transaction – the Airport Express Octopus Card. The Octopus is a payment card with tentacles everywhere – restaurants, transport, shopping and so on. We chose this particular card because our plans included a lot of MTR (mass transit rail, not South Indian dishes!) but you could buy a card of lesser value and use buses, trams etc too.

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Pulimunchi

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Given the dearth of seafood options in Indiranagar, it shouldn’t be difficult for a restaurant serving coastal cuisine to mussel its way in. That’s perhaps what prompted a Sadashiv Nagar original to seek new shores. (map, this is above Beer Cafe) The fabulous décor does a fantastic job of reeling you in as soon as you enter the place. The elegant and comfortable chairs and benches, the photos in distressed frames, the wall art, the tastefully selected floor tiles and lighting, and my favourite, the tiled roof that recreates the charm of an old world home, are all elements that provide the perfect ambiance for the cuisine being served. Given that we had a lot of ground, and water to cover, we began in right earnest.

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The Shadow Lines

Amitav Ghosh

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.” ~ Steven Moffat. This probably best describes the narrative structure of the book – it moves forward and backward in time, sometimes seeking parallels, and sometimes closure, it would seem.

Many books in one, that’s a way to describe this work. It is Tridib’s life and relationships, seen through the eyes of the narrator. It is the narrator’s own story – in Calcutta where he grew up, in Delhi where he studied and then in London. It is his view of the world he lives in, the people who inhabit it and his changing relationships with them. It is also the relationships within the Datta Chaudhari family and with their friends – the Prices. But across these, I could see at least a couple of common threads. One, the aspect that gives the book its title (I assume). Places, events and people have lines connecting, and sometimes disconnecting them, but these lines exist only in some perspectives. Hence, shadow lines. In this book, I felt the focus is largely on places – the boundaries between nations are lines, and the connection between Calcutta and Khulna seems much stronger than between Kolkata and Srinagar though the latter pair exist in the same country. The second aspect that offers a connection is the end of the story, it is something that brings closure of sorts to all the three narratives I mentioned earlier. More

Cult of impersonality

Koramangala rarely disappoints. This time, it was the Uber ride, and the thoughts it sparked. From Whitefield to Koramangala, I repeatedly watched the driver refusing to learn from his mistakes. e.g. sticking to the right lane and getting stuck behind cars waiting to take a U turn, when we had to go straight. Advice was futile. This (the behaviour, not the driving!) took me in a couple of directions.

First, our species’ (generalising, of course) refusal to rethink belief systems even when new data presents other possibilities. In the last few weeks, I have seen two levels of this. One is at a (public) personality level – from Modi to Tata. While I have little reason to doubt the Prime Minister’s intent in the entire demonetisation exercise, I see the absolute lack of empathy (no, crying and listing one’s sacrifices doesn’t count) and the failure to course correct as arrogant and cruel. When multiple sources indicate that Ratan Tata’s governance wasn’t really spotless, shouldn’t he be attempting a better route than allowing the spat to be drawn into something as silly as Twitter hashtag wars, especially when the claim is that the organisation’s legacy (and not his own) is paramount for him. In both cases, ego could be the barrier. More

Farzi Cafe

Such was the hype around the opening of the place, that it seemed like our farz to drop in. Given that it meant going to Bangalore, we delayed it a bit though! meanwhile, bad wordplay aside, somehow, the word farzi had come to denote ‘fake’ in my mind, but in this context, I had connected it to Persian. However, as per their website, the connotation here is “creating an illusion”. Gotta say that with it being perched on the top floor of the UB City mall, the connect (illusion – UB – Mallya) was rather funny.

We tried to reserve for Saturday night a day before, but apparently the tables were all reserved, so we shifted the plan to Sunday. The place was packed by the time we got there, and folks were being turned away. Lesson – make a reservation. Most of the tables are around the large bar, and that’s where  we got ours. High tables, with bar stools. If you don’t like those, it might be a good idea to specify that when you reserve. They have more standard seating too, but these are mostly with a higher seating capacity. Speaking of illusions, there is quite a lot of mirror play, giving the illusion of size, and with those lights, it must make a pretty picture at night.

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