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April 25, 2011

First Anniversary of the Blog!

Hi Readers

24th April is a big day for me. It was on 24th April 2010 that I have started my blog and it is already one year since I started to blog. It has been an eventful year. The blog has picked up steam and has become quite popular. As on today I have had 22,068 page views and 172 followers. I have had visitors from more than 150 countries (This is only a guess, Google analytics only provides the top 10 countries’ page views and I hope they give me statistics of the other countries too. That would be very exciting. I could mark out the countries where my blog has been read on a world map).

The journey has been very exciting. Thanks to technology and Google I am now getting many readers from all over the world. I get a massive boast every day by seeing the number of hits and the countries from where the readers have accessed my blog.

A book named Marketing common sense has been published by my College, Siva Sivani Institute of Management, Secunderabad. Marketing common sense has 30 articles take from the blog. A second book is also on the anvil.

                                 Top Page views – country wise (Table 1)

Total views           
United States of America
Unites Kingdom                

The above table gives very interesting insights. 70 percent of the views are from India, USA and UK. The Top ten countries’ page views account for nearly 80 percent of total page views. The rest of the other countries views account for 20 percent of page views. (Pareto’s law in action!)

                                        Top Blog articles (Table 2)

Name of the Posting    
No of Views     
Date of Publishing
Newspaper Advertisements
Marketing terms:  TGIF, Pink Slips, WYSIWYG, GIGO   
Presentation tips for Marketers
Best Marketing practices –USA – V – Universal studios
More marketing concepts
Cricket Fans – the fickle gods
Unethical advertising
Best Indian Sales promotions
Recruitment and selection of sales personnel (Part I)
Effective segmentation and positioning – Horlicks 

The top ten blog articles out of 245 total blog articles account for 37 percent of all page views. The top five articles are bunched very close and frequently change places. Newspaper advertisements is a very popular article followed by Marketing terms, Presentation tips for Marketers, Best Marketing practices and More marketing concepts.   

Thank you readers for making my attempt at blogging so successful. The next target is to crack the 100,000 page views in a year. With your active support I am sure that we can do it. I love your feedback. Keep it coming thick and fast. Tell me what you like and more importantly what you don’t. We can make this blog better – together.

April 23, 2011

Costco - The Low cost Champion

Costco the retailing warehouse was founded in 1983 at Kirkland, Washington. Costco has stores in 563 locations spread across USA and many other countries (2009). It has revenues of US $ 71.442 billion and employs 147,000 people (2009).

Costco is the largest membership warehouse club chain in the United States. As of July 2009[update] it is the third largest retailer in the United States, where it originated, and the ninth largest in the world. Costco has locations in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and the United States.

In the United States where the concept of warehousing clubs is very popular the competitors of Costco include Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale Club. As of September 2009[update] Costco had 55 million members.

Costco focuses on selling products at low prices, often at very high volume. These goods are usually bulk-packaged and marketed primarily to large families and businesses. Costco does not carry multiple brands or varieties where the item is essentially the same except when it has a house brand to sell, typically under the Kirkland Signature label.

This results in a high volume of sales from a single vendor, allowing further reductions in price, and reducing marketing costs. If Costco management feels the wholesale price of a product is too high, they will refuse to stock the product.

Costco also saves money by not stocking extra bags or packing materials. To carry out their goods, customers must bring their own bags or use the merchandise shipping boxes from the company's outside vendors.

Lighting costs are reduced on sunny days, as most Costco locations have several skylights. During the day, electronic light meters measure how much light is coming in the skylights and turn off an appropriate percentage of the interior lights. During a typical sunny day, it is very common for the center section of the warehouse to have no interior lights powered on.

Most products are delivered to the warehouse on shipping pallets and these pallets are used to display products for sale on the warehouse floor. This contrasts with retail stores that break down pallets and stock individual products on shelves. Costco limits its price markup on items to 15%.

Typically the decor and the fittings are utilitarian and the stores are located in places where the real estate prices are low.

Costco is only open to members and their guests. Memberships must be purchased in advance for one year. Purchases made at Costco's website do not require a membership; however, a 5% surcharge is added to purchases made by non-members. Purchases made with Costco Cash Cards also do not require a membership, and there is no surcharge.

As of November 2009[update] membership fees at Costco are $50 per year for a Gold Star (individual) or Business membership, which can be upgraded to Executive membership for an additional $50 per year in the USA.

Costco memberships can be refunded in full at any time before they expire. Costco guarantees almost all of their products with a full refund within a reasonable amount of time. Exceptions include televisions, projectors, computers, cameras, camcorders, digital audio players, and cellular phones. These may be returned within 90 days of purchase for any reason for a refund.

After 90 days those returns must be done through the manufacturer according to the terms of the warranty. Costco has negotiated with manufacturers to extend the manufacturer’s warranty to two years for new TVs and computer

Over the years Costco has gradually expanded its range of  products and services. Initially it preferred to sell only boxed products that could be dispensed by simply tearing off the shrink wrap off a pallet. It now sells  many other products that are more difficult to handle such as fresh produce, meat, dairy, seafood, fresh baked goods, flowers, clothing, books, computer software, vacuums, home appliances home electronics, solar panels, jewelry, tyres, art, wine, furniture and caskets. 

Kirkland Signature is Costco's store brand, otherwise known in the retail industry as an "own-brand," "house brand" or "private label" It is found exclusively at Costco's website and Costco warehouses and is trademarked by the company.

April 19, 2011

Mosquito repellent market – Marketing innovations

So lets us see some innovation in the mosquito repellent products

Liquidator with a control: This is a new innovation. There is knob on the liquidator. The knob can be adjusted to be at a minimal level for fewer mosquitoes and at a maximum level for more mosquitoes.

Liquidator with a push button control: Some liquidators come with a push button control. When the push button is not activated it is for less density of mosquitoes and if the push button is pushed it is for more density of mosquitoes.  

Odomos without the stickiness: Odomos the cream ran into problems with its stickiness, the smell and the irritation that it causes to sensitive skins and to children. Odomos worked on its formula and came out with a new cream that is less smelly, lees sticky and causeS less irritation.  

Coils without vapor: Tortoise the brand that wake up the repellent market too had its share of problems with the smoke that it emits and the resultant pollution. Now a day’s coils emit less smoke and cause less environmental pollution. But coils are cleanly out of favor and they now being shifted to more off house platforms. That is coils are being used mostly for outside the home usage.

Tennis bat terminator: A new invention. This is a electrical item shaped like a tennis bat. During my evening walk I frequently hear the snapping sound of a mosquitoes perishing and find a  face of grinning man who has just eradicated one  of the many mosquito that have been irritating his for quite some time.

DDT and defogging: These are used by the government. DDT was supposed to be a wonder and it was said that it would wipe out the mosquitoes menace. But what is wiped out was natural fauna like the sparrows! The mosquitoes have proved to be resilient and have genetically modified themselves and have proved immune to DDT. Same with the defogger. It created lots of noise and smoke but no real reduction of mosquitoes have been observed in areas where defogging operation has been conducted.

Two-in-one (mosquitoes and cockroaches): A new innovation, some companies have come out with two in one eradicator. One spay will kill both mosquitoes and cockroach. Does it really work? It is anybody’s guess but it is a very clever marketing innovation.

Mosquito repellents sprays that can be used as room freshener too: I have not seen this innovation but is worth a try. Now a day’s most people are conscious about their surrounding and they spend lavishly on room fresheners. So why not have a room freshener that can eradicate the mosquitoes. but  the marketers have to mull over the positioning the product.

Would the marketers position the product as a room freshener that can kill the mosquitoes or as a mosquito repellent that smells nice and can be used as a room freshener? My bet is – go for the room freshener which can be a mosquito repellent. That would be a nice positioning!

Mosquito repellent market

It is said that only two things that will survive the third world war. Rats and cockroaches (popularly called roaches in USA). I can very confidently add one more species. The not so humble mosquito. Mosquitoes inflict horrendous damage and kill millions of people every year. They cause infectious diseases like yellow fever, dengue, hemorrhagic fever, many forms of encephalitis and the deadly malaria. As people become more aware of the diseases caused by mosquitoes, the demand for mosquito repellents will keep on increasing, which is a positive sign for the manufacturers, new entrants as well as the existing players.

The Mosquito Repellents market is very huge and valued at more than Rs 1600 crores in India and is growing at a healthy clip. This segment is characterized by low competition and high consumption. Mosquito Repellents segment is estimated to have more than 54 manufacturers with 72 brands in India alone.

The products covered in this category include

Coils: The early method of commercial mosquito repellents. Of course the earliest method has been to apply ash or some herbal creams. People have also used mosquito nets. But these have proved to be cumbersome and the mosquito nets restrict movement and many feel claustrophobic in mosquito nets.  Mosquito coils have to be lit up and emit smoke that will make the mosquitoes to go away. But inevitably most coils cause air pollution and cause irritation to the throat and the eyes. There is a danger of fire and all the windows and doors have to be closed when the coil is lit. But there is an advantage as there is no need for electricity for coils. Coils are mobile.

Mats: Need electricity. Some mats give off a slight smell but most don’t. They are convenient to use, small and very compact but they need electricity to use and are not mobile.  

Liquidator: Moving from the mat to the liquid has been a recent phenomenon. Here the repellent is in the form of a liquid which when switched on drives the mosquitoes away. Once the liquid is exhausted it can be replaced with another refill. The machine that operates the liquidator is reusable.   

Candle: A novelty. The specially made candle that repels mosquitoes is made of natural elements and is supposed to be environmentally friendly. A niche product it might do well in homes that have environment friendly citizens.

Creams: One of the early methods of mosquito repellents, a cream like Odomos (Odor that can stop the mosquitoes?) has been quite effective. Portable and convenient to use they are a superb method of mosquito repulsion when people are on the move and when one is camping. But the put-off has been the smell and the allergies that these creams can cause to sensitive skins and to children.

Spray:  in the form of aerosol cans. The repellent is in the form of a spray and these sprays are now available that can be used just like room fresheners. This product again does not need electricity to operate it.

April 16, 2011

Cloak and Dagger style functioning of IPL franchisees!

Laxshmipathy Balaji
Saurav Ganguly

Mohammed Kaif

 Can we blame the football and cricket players for all the bad things in EPL and IPL? They are only trying to maximize their earning capacity. We had the case of the Sri Lankan cricketers giving up on an English tour and playing in the IPL. Big players like Gilchrist, Hayden, Shane Warne have retied prematurely so that they can extend their careers and play in the lucrative IPL. The case of travel weary Australians landing up in various Indian cities to represent their franchises is reflecting the way things will shape out in the future. 

The first match of the IPL series four had an interesting side light. Harsha Bogle was interviewing Anirudha the Chennai Super Kings player and asked him whether the word traitor was mentioned when Laxmipathy Balaji was seen by CSK players. Why traitor? Poor Balaji played for CSK for three years and later went on to Kolkata Knight Riders for the fourth season.

Harsha was insinuating that Balaji being a local player has betrayed Chennai by playing for Kolkata. Come on Harsha you should know better. Poor Balaji I am sure did have a choice and had to take what was offered to him. We are not privy to any information as to whether it was Balaji who opted out or if was CSK who opted not to retain him. I am betting my bottom dollar that it was CSK who let Balaji go and not the other way round.  

The players are very small pawns in the entire IPL game. A player like Saurav Ganguly did not get a bid and Mohammed Kaif was only taken up only in the last minute. Pakistani players not even considered. They were not considered even when they won the 20 20 world cup! There were no instructions from BCCI but mysteriously none of the franchisees bid for even one Pakistani cricket player. And all the franchisees say that they are independent. Their functioning certainly does not merit such a claim.

IPL going the EPL way?

The way IPL is going things are getting very worrisome. The crassness of the entire thing is now frightening. More of that later. The thing that I am interested is whether the commercialization helps the development of the sport in the country. Does hosting EPL and IPL and getting famous players to play in the country help the game of Football in England and Cricket in India. EPL is played in England and IPL is played in India. IPL is very new for any type of research.

So I took the case of English Premier League. The league that is so popular that In African Countries people wait for an entire week to see the clash between Manchester United and Arsenal and pay astronomical amount to watch a live telecast. The league has billions of followers and is very lucrative. But has it benefitted the country that is England where the league is played? The League was started in the year 1992 and check out for yourself the English national team’s performance in all the FIFA football world cups from 1990.

FIFA worlds Cup               England Team performance
1990                                                       4th
1994                                                       DNQ (Did not qualify)
1998                                                       9th
2002                                                       6th
2006                                                       7th
2010                                                       13th

England’s best performance came in the year 1990. That was in the year when there was no Premiership league. England did not even qualify in the 1994 world cup, Finished 9th, 6th, 7th and 13th the later world cups. They made to pre quarter finals on two occasions and quarterfinals in two other. Not very flattering for a country that boasts of the richest football league. In contract Brazil does not have a great football league but continues to produce the greatest footballers of the world.

So what did EPL achieve? Lots of money for the clubs, TV channels, and the players. The players have benefited so much all the footballers are any how famous, even their WAGS (wives and girl friends) too are featured in page 3 of major newspapers. But apart from this nothing else has been achieved. The footballers have become more loyal to their clubs than the country that they represent. There are occasions when the players have not been relieved for national duty by the club or have feigned injury so that they don’t have to attend coaching camps for major national events. 

April 14, 2011

Innovative methods of marketing - Live-in Marketing (LIM), Wait marketing, Ambient marketing

Live-in Marketing (LIM) is a term used to describe a variant of marketing and advertising in which the target consumer is allowed to sample or use a brands product in a relaxed atmosphere over a longer period of time. Much like product placement in film and television LIM was developed as a means to reach select target demographics in a non-evasive and much less garish manner than traditional advertising.

Unlike traditional event marketing, LIM suggests that end-users will sample the product or service in a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. The idea behind this technique is that the end-user will have as positive as possible an interaction with the given brand thereby leading to word-of-mouth communication and potential future purchase.

Wait marketing: On public transport, in the doctors’ waiting room, while downloading a video from the Internet, consumers have proved 2 to 3 times more receptive to advertising than when sitting in front of their television. Wait marketing helps companies turn consumers waiting time into the perfect opportunity to communicate in an innovative and effective way.

When elevator pitch turns transforms itself into a plane pitch. Richard Branson has launched a  Wait Marketing initiative called Pitch TV. Entrepreneurs and marketing managers can promote their business in a 2-minute pitch that will be broadcasted on Virgin Atlantic Airlines flights!

Ambient marketing: may be defined as an activity of the business of creating brand recognition without necessarily pushing its product. The campaign is very often carried out by finding a thing that can be clearly connected with the business and by communicating the thing instead of the business itself.

Examples are messages on the backs of bus tickets, on hanging straps in railway carriages and on the handles of supermarket trolleys. It also includes such techniques as projecting huge images on the sides of buildings, or slogans on the gas bags of hot air balloons.

The marketers have turned a traditional and boring luggage claim belt into a giant roulette wheel at Venice Marco Polo Airport.

Ambient marketing on Internet may be performed in form of placing relevant thing (an image of a stylish shoe in case of shoe retailer) as an avatar published with blog postings, commentaries or on social networks.

Innovative methods of marketing - Experiential marketing, Tissue-pack marketing

Experiential marketing — interaction with product – also called Relationship Marketing was first defined as a form of marketing developed from direct response marketing campaigns which emphasizes customer retention and satisfaction, rather than a dominant focus on sales transactions.

As a practice, Relationship Marketing differs from other forms of marketing in that it recognizes the long term value of customer relationships and extends communication beyond intrusive advertising and sales promotional messages.

With the growth of the internet and mobile platforms, Relationship Marketing has continued to evolve and move forward as technology opens more collaborative and social communication channels. This includes tools for managing relationships with customers that goes beyond simple demographic and customer service data. Relationship Marketing extends to include Inbound Marketing efforts, (a combination of search optimization and Strategic Content), PR, Social Media and Application Development.

Brands are now also being driven by the customer themselves, through experiential elements like Converse's co-creation marketing or Nike's iD system, design your own shoes. Nike came up with an innovative idea to gauge customers by giving them an experience of being themselves. Customers can design their shoes according to their likes and dislikes, material, colour, shape etc… which was definitely creating an identity for themselves.

In India many companies have tried out the experiential marketing successfully. One Indian company tried out a concept called Create your Own paint. Many paint buyers find it very difficult to decide on the shades provided by the company. To give the customers more choice the company designed paint mixers. In these specially designed shops the customers can decide on a shade or a color by themselves using a computer. Once the shade or color is decided all that the customer has to decide the quantity and the exact shade desired. The paint would be delivered to the customer within a few minutes.  

Tissue-pack marketing: Companies use small, portable tissue packages to move advertising copy directly into consumers' hands. About 4 billion of these packages of tissues are distributed on the streets annually in Japan—largely outside of subway stations.

The concept of tissue-pack marketing was first developed in Japan. Its origins date back to the late 1960s when Hiroshi Mori, the founder of a paper-goods manufacturer in Kōchi Prefecture called Meisei Industrial Co., was looking for ways to expand demand for paper products. At the time, the most common marketing freebies in Japan was boxes of matches. These were often given away at banks and then used by women in the kitchen.

Mori figured tissues would have even wider appeal than the matches, and as a result he developed the machinery to fold and package tissues into easy-to-carry, pocket-size packs. The new product was marketed only as a form of advertising and was not sold to consumers.

Innovative methods of marketing - Wild Posting Campaigns, Alternative marketing, Undercover marketing, Astroturfing

Wild Posting Campaigns: Posters are put up at construction site barricades, building facades, in alleyways. In short any place that is available at construction sites. Although cost is relatively low when compared to other out of home advertising forms, wild posting is largely ineffective because the ad size is small and placement is only available on temporary construction site. Sites are not location specific and message is very hard to view unless the consumer is only feet away from poster. 
Alternative marketing: The Street Marketing is one of the oldest ways to advertise. Street marketing is handing out flyers when the prospect walking in the street.

It is a always better to be closer of the customer to launch a new product/service. To make it successful, the companies have to choose the best places, and have support material like stickers, free goodies etc. The low price of this type of advertising is an advantage. 

Undercover marketing also called stealth marketing:  An undercover campaign aims to generate buzz, is economical, and once sufficient buzz has been generated, is almost free, as consumers "market" the product to others, through a network of referrals which grows and grows.

An ideal consumer will not only begin using that product themselves, but will also tell their friends about it. Financial risk here is relatively small because such marketing approach requires fewer expenses and is usually more cost-effective as well. Undercover marketing is used when traditional marketing techniques have been exhausted.

It is the consumer's sense that this recommendation was spontaneous and unsolicited, and the resulting feeling that "one good turn deserves another", that drives the buzz. So, the "bought and paid for" aspect of the transaction must remain hidden.

Overall, the person doing the undercover marketing must look and sound like a peer of their target audience without any ulterior motive for endorsing the product—employees of the company cannot do undercover marketing, nor can celebrities (except possibly to other celebrities).

Sony Ericsson used stealth marketing when they hired 60 actors in 10 major cities, and had them walk up to total strangers and ask them: “Would you mind taking my picture?" The actor then handed the stranger a brand new picture cell phone while talking about how cool the new device was.

Astroturfing — disguising company messaging as an authentic grassroots mass movement. Astroturfing is a form of advocacy for a corporate agenda designed to give the appearance of a "grassroots" movement.. The term is a taken from AstroTurf a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to look like natural grass.

Astroturfers attempt to orchestrate the actions of apparently diverse and geographically distributed individuals. Astroturfing may be undertaken by an individual promoting a personal agenda, or highly organized professional groups with money from large corporations, unions, non-profits, or activist organizations.

Innovative methods of marketing - Reverse Graffiti, Presence marketing and Grassroot marketing

 Reverse Graffiti — clean pavement advertisements. Reverse graffiti, also known as clean tagging, dust tagging, grime writing, green graffiti or clean advertising, is a method of creating temporary images on walls or other surfaces by removing dirt from the surface. It is often done by removing dirt or dust with the fingertips from windows or other dirty surfaces, such as writing 'wash me' on a dirty vehicle. 

Reverse Graffiti also explored commercially as an original way of out-of-home advertising to reach consumers in an unconventional new way. Microsoft, the BBC and Smirnoff have advertised their products using reverse Graffiti.  

Presence marketing — marketing to the consumer who is at the point of Purchase (Marketing - for being there). Presence Marketing hinges on two fundamental in-store concepts: Presence Identification identifies a customer upon entry to retail establishment and session Metrics captures the duration of a customer’s shopping visit, departments visited, time spent in the various departments. It provides key insights such as lost sales -- when a shopper spends time in a department/store and does not purchase.

Consider the following example to illustrate the difference between Shopper Marketing and Presence Marketing. If P&G wants to provide a discount on Tide detergent it could use shelf talkers mounted near the shelves which carry the Tide product. The shelf-talker would present a coupon to every shopper who walks past the aisle. It has been reported that 60% of these types of promos actually cannibalize a brands own sales! So someone who was going to buy Tide and was willing to pay full price now gets it at a discount. This is shopper marketing.

In contrast “Presence Marketing” would take into consideration the shopper’s transaction history. So if the customer was buying a different brand’s detergent then a coupon could be sent to the customer’s mobile phone based on Presence Identification.

Grassroots marketing — tapping into the collective efforts of brand enthusiasts. Grass roots marketing is to market the company, organization, products or services on a local and on a personal level. Grass roots marketing is a best way to reach the customers on the basis where they get to know the company and the company gets to know them. Grass root marketing can b tried out using

Direct Phone Calls: This is the method where the company directly calls the potential customer. Better known as telemarketing, it really has garnered a negative stigma to it over the years. However, when direct phone calls are done properly, they are a great way to get to promote the company and its products or service.

Speaking Engagements: This method takes some inner talents to get in front of small and large groups to get the word across about whatever is being marketed. Public speaking may not be possible for everyone but if there is someone in the company that can do it effectively its is better to use that person.

Canvassing: This is the art form of going around in the neighborhood, speaking to people directly, placing flyers on their doors, putting up posters and so on.

There are so many ways more ways the company can implement a grass roots marketing campaign. Whatever the method the company should make sure that is reaching the potential customers on a personal level.

April 13, 2011

Sharpening the axe

       Sharpening the axe: If you have 24 hours to cut a tree, spend 23 hours and 30 minutes sharpening the axe. What it means is one needs to practice his trade. A circus performer always practices in the morning before he performs in the evening. For the first mistake that he makes will be his last. Take the example of Sachin Tendulkar.

Sachin Tendulkar once was playing a club level match. Club level matches are played only for fun and the run scored are not taken into consideration for records. Sachin came out in full gear including his helmet that had the Indian flag. There was lot of fooling all around Sachin. His team mates had their wife and children with them. But Sachin was in the zone. He was concentrating hard. He went to bat. He scored a few runs and was adjusted LBW (leg Before Wicket). As he was walking back a cricket reporter happened to see the expression on Sachin’s face. Sachin was extremely upset with himself. This happened in the year 1991. By that time Sachin was already a super star. He has nothing to lose but showed seriousness.

Sachin has a super killer instinct. He is so ultra competitive that he hates to lose in any game. It is said that he does not like to lose in any sport even in table tennis. His wife Anjali told Sachin to lose at least to his son. When asked how many times he lost to his son Arjun, Sachin innocently replied “well I lost may be 3 or 4 times when playing with Arjun. But mind you that was when he was small”

Ramnath Archekar the cricket coach of Sachin and Vinod Kambli believed that Kambli was more talented than Sachin. See where Sachin has ended up and where Vinod Kambli ended up. Vinod Kambli scored the fastest 1000 runs among all Indian cricket players but ended with another 84 runs more only. The total runs scored in Kambli’s entire career are surpassed by Sachin in a single year! Not once but many times over.

It is not enough to be supremely talented. That talent has to be translated into results. Sachin has played test cricket since 1989 that is for a mind boggling 22 years. To break Sachin’s records the next cricket prodigy has to start at the age of 16 and has to continue playing for the next 25 years.

Americans, Britishers and Indians: When a Indian sees another Indian, the first thing that one would ask the other is “what is your salary?” In India the salary drawn is very important and the pecking order in the society is decided by the salary. The higher the salary more is the respect that he receives in the society.

When a Britisher sees another Britisher he would ask “what is your designation?” In aristocratic Britain titles are very important and fancier the title more is the Britisher impressed.

When an American sees another American he would ask “what is that you do in the organization?” Americans are very practical people and get turned on by the type of work that one does in the organization. That is the precise reason why Americans do not find great charm in doing the mundane and iterative jobs that are plentifully available in the IT and the ITES sector.