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Independent Marketing Strategist, Children and Youth Marketing Expert, Visiting Faculty at Business Schools, Corporate Trainer, Social Media Marketing enthusiast. Google me for more. Check me out on: marketingpundit.com, indianroadie.in .  Connect, like or follow me on: Linkedin @ deepbanerjee, Facebook @ deepbanerjee.marketingpundit, Twitter @ deepbanerjee.

Friday, October 06, 2017

India gives away 27,000 FIFA U-17 tickets to avoid empty World Cup stands

India has given away 27,000 tickets to the opening games of the FIFA U-17 World Cup to fill empty stands in a desperate bid to avoid an embarrassing repeat of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The under-17 World Cup, which kicked off on Friday 2017-10-06, marks India's first attempt at hosting a FIFA tournament, but sales for the high-profile event have been poor, despite some seats costing less than a dollar.

Organisers scrambled to ensure that the 56,000-capacity Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi appeared packed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the opening games which saw India play the United States.

The organisers have given away 27,000 tickets to schools around the Delhi region. They also provided pick and drop facility. It would have been embarrassing for the organisers if the stadium looked empty.
The event, which runs until October 28, has been dogged by bad news, with Greenpeace issuing a report on Wednesday 2017-10-04 that said the poor quality of air in India's pollution-clogged cities poses a "serious health risk" to players and spectators during the tournament.

Twenty-four nations are competing in the event, which is being held in New Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Kochi, Guwahati and Kolkata.

(Image: BCCL)

Greenpeace said all the six cities "share dangerous levels of air pollution" but singled out New Delhi as the venue with the highest risk.

"Air pollution levels during the Indian tournament could be significantly worse than during the 2008 Beijing Olympics," the report warned.

India's capital will host its last game of the tournament on October 16, just before pollution levels spike around the Diwali festival, when Hindus celebrate by setting off huge amounts of fireworks.

Media reports said matches were deliberately kept out of Delhi after October 16 because of pollution fears.

India's Supreme Court has ordered authorities to take precautions ahead of the festival, and measures under consideration include pulling some cars off roads and closing polluting industries.

World Cup organisers did not comment on the Greenpeace report.

The event is among India's highest-profile global tournaments after the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010 which were meant to showcase the country's status as an emerging power but instead left memories of shoddy venues, empty stadiums and massive budget overruns.

(Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com dated 2017-10-06)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Mahindra & Mahindra's ‘Live Young Live Free’ ad campaign makes a comeback

The Mahindra & Mahindra campaign has been conceptualised by FCB Interface and aims to embody the emotions of freedom and adventure as suggested by the tagline, 'Live Young Live Free'. 

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (M&M), India’s SUV manufacturer, recently launched a sequel to its popular television commercial, ‘Live Young, Live Free’ to showcase its complete portfolio of SUVs, including all the recently launched SUVs. Targeted at those who seek varied experiences, the new umbrella communication embodies the emotions of freedom and adventure, and propagates the core value proposition of Mahindra SUVs to enable lifestyle enhancing experiences.

Inspired by the original ‘Live Young Live Free’ score from the first campaign, the sequel uses a melange of tunes such as Hard-rock, Dub-step, Carnatic, Hindustani & Folk, elevating it from a song to an anthem running across the nation. As the leader in the SUV segment in India, over the years Mahindra has built a strong portfolio of vehicle brands with differentiated positioning and brand values.

The Live Young Live Free 2.0 film brings alive the unique proposition that Mahindra’s sports utility vehicles offer and the film underlines the common Mahindra DNA, a thread that binds the entire portfolio of SUVs. This film showcases different people, from different walks of life enjoying their own adventures in a Mahindra vehicle across the breath-taking landscapes of Ladakh, the serene lakes of Shillong, the dense forests of Assam and enigmatic dunes of Jaisalmer. With its stunning visuals, the film aptly showcases the go anywhere capability of Mahindra vehicles.

Watch the spot here:

Speaking about the campaign, Vivek Nayer, chief marketing officer, automotive division, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. said, “The sequel to our already popular TVC ‘Live Young Live Free’ celebrates the emotions of freedom and adventure among our SUV owners, and propagates the capability of Mahindra SUVs to enable lifestyle enhancing experiences. Mahindra vehicles with their unique DNA are best suited to offer a fun filled adventurous lifestyle to our customers, and the film reflects this in a very aspirational but relatable way. The Live Young Live Free anthem further enhances the strong emotional connect and exhorts people to join this movement. Essentially this TVC further builds on the earlier one and dwells on the fundamental nature of the human spirit which aspires for the freedom to pursue one’s passions.”

Nayer further added, “As part of our consumer insight studies we also found that with changing lifestyles, one of the key emerging trends was the growing number of road trippers in India, and the consequent increase in the sharing of experiences through social media. Our customer value proposition is at the heart of this trend. Hence while we have our TVC, print ads and content marketing strategy to amplify the Live Young Live Free communication, the newly introduced LYLF app is an enabler to plan and share the experience of road trippers.”

Robby Mathew, chief creative officer, FCB Interface said, “This film celebrates the sheer joy of breaking free. Breaking free from the limitations of the road, and by extension, the limitations that we have set for ourselves. It is also a subtle reminder that we have but one life, and there is no excuse whatsoever to not live it to the fullest. Like they say, sequels always have it hard. We evaluate them much more ruthlessly than the original. Happily for us Amit Sharma (Chrome Films) has done a phenomenal job with the film, and Mikey’s music score is truly a breakthrough – an eclectic mix of genres and voices and styles.”

Source: ETBrandEquity  |  January 21, 2017, 08:25 IST

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Kolkata's street food is now available on online food delivery platforms

Move over biryani, daab chingri and Thai green curry. Now, Kolkata's street food is available on online food delivery platforms. From bhelpuri, soda shikanjiand papri chaatto rose khass, phuchka and even paan - everything can be ordered online and delivered at your doorstop.
The online menu of Sandip Soda Shikanji at Vivekananda Park now lists everything from rose milkshake and kachha aam milkshake to kala khatta and khass. Mouthwatering pictures of khatta meetha churmur , dahi pakora chaat and dahi phuchka are all available on line as are paans from Ashok Paan shop on Bondel Road.

"It's been three months since we started offering this service to keep pace with the digital world," said Rahul Kumar Chaurasia from Ashok Paan shop, adding that the app helps them deliver to places as far away as Tollygunje and Kasba.Most of his clients opt for gundi paan, which costs Rs 8 each, but there are also many takers for the special singara paan that costs Rs 50.

Delivery boy Bapi Roy says he delivers street food worth Rs 300-400 each day . "There is one client on Mayfair Road who has ordered lachha paan worth Rs 150 at least 25 times in a month!" Roy said.

Piku Pandit, who runs the popular Durga Pandit Ka Phuchka Stall, is upbeat about online delivery. "Clients who can't physically come down are happy to be served this way . On some days, I even get as many as 15 online orders,“ said Pandit, who packs extra chillies, onion and lime with every order. Sandip Das, the owner of Sandip Soda Shikanji stall, insists that it is important to ride the app bandwagon to survive. "This shop was set up by my grandfather. Elderly people might not understand apps, but I need to be savvy to survive.There are days when I get 50 orders through the app," Das said. He rues that he can't serve online customers his trademark golas because he hasn't been able to "get the packing right".

Advocate Tridib Sen drives down to Das's stall only to have the gola. The rest he orders online. "Time and distance are important. In my profession, it is difficult to find time to go and have food on the streets. Since these are now available online, why wouldn't I avail the facility? It costs approximately Rs 10 more per delivery but that doesn't pinch my pocket at all. In betwe en work, all I need to do is go online and order a masala ThumsUp or a shikanji and it's delivered within minutes," Sen said.

Piyali Saha, in-charge of an educational institute, places online phuchka orders at least thrice a month. “Of course, the fun of having phuchka on the streets is missing at home or office.Yet, it's better than not having it at all. It's all about adapting to the need of the hour,“ she said. There's one catch though.Customers can no longer cajole for a free sukhha puchka or a helping of bhujia to top the chaat. But that's a small sacrifice to make for street food delivered straight to your workstation.

(Source: The Times of India, Kolkata dt 2017-02-19)

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Ramesh is OLA driver partner of 2016

Congratulations Ramesh, (from Kolkata) on becoming the OLA driver partner of 2016 and winning a BMW 3-Series. He is the only winner in India.

We at Marketingpundit and MarketingGyanology appreciate this marketing and motivation enhancement initiative by OLA in India.

Friday, December 09, 2016

A Summer Project is NOT Agent Recruitment Project

I'm shocked at the way number of B-Schools in India are forcing their Marketing Management students to appear for campus interviews - for Final Placements as well as for Summer Training.

For Summer Training, private Insurance sector companies are awarding projects which involve appointment of agents for selling insurance products. The students are being paid a commission for the number of agents they manage to recruit. They are being threatened that if they do not appoint a bare minimum number of agents, they may not get their "certificate of satisfactory completion" from the company at all. Once these students pass out the following year, companies marketing branded products may not touch them with a barge pole. What these students do in the name of Summer Project for a period of 6 to 8 weeks is not a project at all.

Final year MBA Marketing students (with a background in Engineering) have been offered final placements (during campus interviews in February) in insurance companies with the job profile remaining the same as that of Summer Training. The insurance companies issue "Letters of Offer" to practically every individual who appear for the interview. What is worse is that, thereafter, the students were not even allowed to appear for other campus interviews by the college authorities between February and June. The final year students were not even informed about their job content, i.e. on what they were expected to do on joining the company. Final year students have also realized in June that the remuneration promised to them has a very very very high component of variable pay (in the form of incentives). No wonders there's a large number of demotivated fresh and young MBAs in the marketplace. Will someone counsel these youngsters properly, please? I'm keen to hear from youngsters incidents which are very similar to these.

Digital Dabbawalas in Mumbai - from delivering dabbas to offering click-based services

It’s been more than a decade that the world woke up to the reality that Mumbai’s lunch-dabba system is an act of urban genius.

Some called it as the most ingenious food delivery system in the world. The Forbes magazine gave the dabbawalas (lunchbox deliverymen) a Six Sigma performance rating or a 99.99999 percent of precision, which means they make one error in 16 million deliveries! In the last 125 years, there has not been a single instance of a lunchbox that has not been delivered to its destination. Come rain or shine, heavy crowded local trains or Mumbai traffic, the lunch box is picked up from home and delivered. This is the precision of their service – and all this without using any technology.

In recent times, with the world and India taking digital leaps, the dabbawala’s too have found the need to embrace technology and offer click-based services.

"Most of our staff is semi-literate. We earn around Rs. 10,000 to 12,000 per month and were looking for opportunities to have an additional source of income. Our Prime Minister is working towards Digital India mission, and when we got an opportunity from Anulom Technologies for rental registrations, we too decided to offer digital services," says Ulhas Muke, President, Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association.

Dabba delivery to digital services

Around 5,000 dabbawalas travel over 60 to 70 km daily to deliver over 2 lakh lunchboxes across Mumbai, and have earned a reputation for their meticulous operations, integrity and honesty.

In October 2016, with the launch of digitaldabbawala.com, they are now expanding their delivery from just lunch boxes to last-mile delivery of digital services. This is a combined initiative with Anulom Technologies, a government approved rental-agreement registration website.

Ad: India is the third largest breeding ground for technology start-ups focusing on digital innovation and disruption. Is your organisation fully digital?

"Today, everyone wants to work with a trusted facilitator for digital services. The first of such services by us has been around online rental agreement registration. Anulom directs our dabbawala to a customer’s doorstep with a laptop and a biometric device where the rental agreement format is shown, thumb impressions are taken with the help of biometric machine and documents collected if needed," says Jaising Pingle, Treasurer, Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association, and who is the first trained digital dabbawala.

Before launching this service, Anulom handpicked a 15 member team for process and laptop training. Each of these 15 individuals were chosen from different regions in Mumbai and Thane.

"We were amazed to witness that within two days this group had completely explored most of the laptop features and knew basics like turning it on, logging in and connecting to the net. Post this we held a two day boot camp in the evening for four hours to train them properly, both on the usage of laptops and biometric device working and also around the process of rental registration. We installed an app on their mobile devices. So there is no need to type a single letter. All they need to do is point and click and it is easily understandable. They are exceptionally fast learners," says Prabodh Navare, CEO, Anulom Technologies.

These people initially trained by Anulom have now become the building blocks of the digital movement and are training their fellow dabbawalas. Going ahead, digitaldabbawala.com is planning to launch services like making of Aadhaar cards, changing names on documents, marriage registrations or making other government documents.

(Source: Ashwani Mishra, ETCIO.com dated 2016-12-02)

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Durex condoms - will you choose condoms or an infant's feeding bottle nipples


How the Brain Processes Different Types of Content [Infographic]

Sometimes, the movie adaptation of a book is better than the book itself. Maybe it's the acting, maybe it's the special effects or the soundtrack, or maybe the story is simply better told on the big screen than in our imaginations.

The reason? Different stories are better told in different formats depending on the message they're trying to convey.

The folks at Main Path Marketing created an infographic to break down common types of content marketing formats and how they communicate information to your audience. And some of their insights may surprise you. For example, did you know that the human brain processes videos 60,000X faster than text? That's part of what makes how-to videos so popular in online search habits.

Source:Written by Sophia Bernazzani in Hubspot

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Beat smog with fresh air from Wales

Beat smog with fresh air from Wales

Sales Of Bottled Air From 'Fresh-Smelling' Places Take Off As Pollution Chokes More Cities.

Would you pay $100 for a whiff of Welsh air? In some of the world's most polluted cities, people apparently will: Sales of bottled air from fresh-smelling places are taking off. An Australian company is hawking six-packs of air bottled in places like Bondi Beach in Sydney or the eucalyptus-covered Blue Mountains. A Canadian firm sells containers of Rocky Mountain breeze as an antidote to smoggy skies ("a shot of nature," its marketing promises).

Aethaer, a British company , is hoping to turn packaged air into a popular luxury item in fast-growing markets like China. The company sells glass jars holding 580 ml (a bit more than a pint) of air from Wales -with a "morning dew feel", according to its website -for £80, or $97.
The company's 28-year old founder, Leo De Watts, said he hoped buyers would come to regard his product as a collectible, like a "sculpture or a limited-edition print made by an artist". "Clean air is actually a very rare commodity," he said. The market for all kinds of pollution-fighting tools is booming popular in many smog choked cities in China, India and Southeast Asia. Innovations abound, including air purifiers that are attached to bicycles and outdoor towers that are meant to suck up smog.

Bottled air is one of the least practical but most talked about ideas. It can hardly replace the local atmosphere -one person would require at least eight to 10 bottles a minute to breathe. But residents in smoggy places are snapping up the stuff anyway .

The Australian bottler, Green and Clean, plans to ship about 40,000 containers a month to China starting in December, and then expand to India, Malaysia, Chile and West Asia.

Some people purchase bottled air as a gag gift.Others buy it to inhale themselves, and say it reinvigorates them on days when the air is really bad. "It makes my lungs feel clean," said Pan Li, 37, who works at a technology start-up in Beijing and buys about six bottles a month. "It might just be my imagination, but I'm willing to try anything."

(Source: NYT News Service)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Why buy when the same can be cooked at home, new mantra of Indian consumers

While consumes are cutting down on eating pizza and burgers at stores like Domino’s, Pizza Hut or McDonald’s, they are cooking similar western foods at home.

While same store sales of western style foods have slowed down to less than 5 per cent over the past two years, companies which supply and sell western condiments such as speciality sauces, mayonnaise, dips, olive oils and other similar cooking aids are witnessing retail sales growth of anywhere between 25 per cent and 60 per cent over the past 12 months depending on the category, industry players said, quoting data from researcher Nielsen and internal industry estimates.

This indicates that while consumes are cutting down on eating pizza and burgers at stores like Domino's, Pizza Hut or McDonald's, they are cooking similar western foods at home. On the other hand, two industry officials said growth in sales to leading global quick service restaurant (QSR) brands have been growing at barely 3-4 per cent.

"Western condiments and cooking aids gained popularity because of QSRs and out-of-home consumption. It's this familiarity which has led to increase of in-homeconsumption of our products and triggered growth in usage at home," Yogesh Bellani, chief executive of FieldFresh Foods, a joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and Del Monte Pacific said.

Bellani said retail sales of Del Monte's base mayonnaise grew the fastest over the past 12 months — posting 65 per cent volume growth, while its ketchup grew 25 per cent. Quoting Nielsen, Del Monte said it was now the No. 3 brand in ketchup after HUL's Kissan and Nestle's Maggi. Its olive oil, meanwhile, grew 12.5 per cent up from 9 per cent the previous year.

To leverage the increasing in-home popularity of such products, this summer Del Monte rolled out eight new variants of mayonnaise, for which it is running high-decibel campaigns stressing on multiple uses of the mayonnaise as spread and dips.

Cremica Food, which sells sauces, mayonnaise, chutneys and dessert toppings among other condiments, is rolling out a series of new products tailored for the retail sector including vegetarian mayonnaise, dips and speciality sauces.

"Retail sales of our condiments has been growing 40 per cent over the last one year," Cremica Food Industries chairman Akshay Bector said. He attributed the improved sales to innovation and consumers taking to cooking western style foods athome.

Another small but rapidly emerging category which is resonating similar trends is olive oil. "The retail is growing faster for olive oils; the Horeca hotels , restaurants and catering) space is not happening so much," olive oils maker Borges MD Rajneesh Bhasin said.

He said Borges, with 35 per cent market share of olive oils, is spending 10 per cent of its turnover on advertising across cinema, television channels, cab branding and is in talks with a few airlines for inflight branding, to leverage the trend. Borges has now rolled out 100-ml PET packs of olive oil for the retail segment, which it is distributing in small towns, which Bhasin said, was getting 'very encouraging' feedback.

Some players said while out-ofhome consumption was also growing to an extent, the space has been getting too fragmented - which has led to sales being spilt between a large number of players. "The plethora of choices is tremendous - from Indian and western QSRs, to fine-dine restaurants to takeaways to neighbourhood delivery stores," Del Monte's Bellani said.

QSR category leader Jubilant FoodWorks posted its slowest same store sales growth (SSG) — 3.2 per cent year-on-year drop — across seven quarters in the April-June '16 period.

Source: ET Retail.com dated 2016-09-14.

Happy Kali Puja & Happy Diwali 2016. Stay blessed.

Wishing you & your dear ones a very Happy Kali Puja & Happy Diwali 2016.
Stay blessed.

Ratan Tata-Cyrus Mistry divorce settlement might cost $16 billion

This week's acrimonious separation between the chairman of Tata Group and its majority owners may now be heading for a divorce. Ratan Tata, who returned to head the conglomerate after ousting Cyrus Mistry, is looking for a partner to buy the ex-chairman's stake, Bloomberg News reported on 2016-10-27.

Should Mistry agree to sell, how much can he hope to get for his family's 18.4% of Tata Sons.

Bear in mind that following his dismissal, Mistry raised some very serious allegations about both the holding company and several of its biggest publicly traded units.

In hitting back at the board that fired him, Mistry said the group's net worth of $26 billion could be impaired by as much as $18 billion -- shrinking to just $8 billion -- should writedowns be needed at businesses like Tata Steel's European operations; Tata Motors' passenger car business (ex-Jaguar Land Rover, the jewel in the empire's crown); Indian Hotels' overseas Taj properties; one of Tata Power's plants; and a floundering wireless telecom venture with NTT Docomo.

As a seller, Mistry is unlikely to behave anything like a spurned chairman trying to score debating points. To maximize value, he might say he overestimated the risk of Armageddon. He might even admit the possibility that Ratan Tata's return to a conglomerate he chaired for two decades will reinvigorate the operating companies.

Maybe Tata can't repeat a near sevenfold increase in book value over the period 2004-2012, but if global steel demand stabilizes, there's a fair chance the group's assets could reach a book value of $28 billion after a year. In the base-case scenario, the coffee-to-cars-to-software conglomerate won't be any worse off, and its assets would be worth in 2017 what they are today: $26 billion.

Now suppose that status quo has a likelihood of 50 percent, while the probability of a massive writedown is 20 percent, and that of an improvement is 30 percent. That gives a one-year-forward book value of $23 billion. Considering that General Electric trades at three times its estimated book value for next year, and companies in the more diversified Tata Group sell at 4.8 times, Mistry could perhaps ask for a halfway-house multiple of 3.75 times, valuing his 18.4 percent stake at a little under $16 billion.

Only a patient investor who cares more about growth than current income would be willing to write that check. After all, the dividend received from operating companies yielded just 1.6 percent on Tata Sons' investment last year, according to the Economic Times. An investor who paid a multiple of 3.75 to relieve Mistry of his stake would earn a divided yield of 0.4 percent.

As for Mistry himself, at $16 billion, he would walk away with an annualized 4.5 percent return on the $200 million loan the Tata family took from outsiders 91 years ago. Include past dividends, and he might even have matched or beaten the 9 percent annual return from the U.S. stock market since 1928. That's hardly a divorce to feel unhappy about.

(Source: Bloomberg News l 2016-10-28)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Barbie's got a new and likeable body

In January 2016, Mattel announced its new Barbie Fashionistas line with petite, curvy and tall body types, seven new skin tones and various hairstyles.

Now the largest US toymaker is seeing the success of diversity with a worldwide sales increase of 15.8 percent in Q3 2016. Barbie sales jumped 16% compared to the same period in 2015 and, along with American Girl, helped power Mattel to net income of $236 million in Q3.

Part of its success stems from Mattel’s new campaigns like "You Can Be Anything" emphasizing the potential of women in various professions.

Mattel Creations also formed a multi-year partnership to develop cross-platform content by leveraging Tongal’s network of more than 120,000 creators.

The joint goal is to develop and produce "an amplified slate of content" based on Mattel’s library and intellectual property while Tongal uses its platform, marketplace acumen and experience to inform Mattel’s digital content strategy worldwide.

"Mattel Creations is dedicated to discovering new ways to share creative, captivating stories across all platforms. Our partnership with Tongal and its robust network of creators will enable us to build out an innovative, scalable offering of content for all channels and markets around the world," said Mattel CCO Catherine Balsam-Schwaber, of the announcment. "Tongal is re-defining the content model and we look forward to working closely with their team to further our brand strategies and build our storytelling platform."

Tongal has worked with more than 10 Mattel brands including American Girl, Thomas & Friends and Hot Wheels, as well as with LEGO, Nestlé, NASA, Unilever and General Motors.

Mattel continues to leverage the strength of its brands. In August 2016, it announced a multi-year partnership with Toys 'R' Us to open nearly 100 American Girl mini-shops within store locations to reach a wider customer base. Mattel products are also available in 1,100 Kohl’s locations.

Mattel has invited some mommy bloggers & media outlets to check out the new shop in shop.

Mattel continues to make some very good progress and continues to see real strength in core brands, according to Mattel CEO, Christopher Sinclair.

Barbie is proof that old dolls can learn new tricks—and that Mattel’s notion of diversity might be able to fill store shelves for a long time to come.

Why customers have the wants that they do

Friday, October 21, 2016

Paan turns over a new leaf as FMCG

The ubiquitous paan is quietly shedding its repulsive spit stains image and gaining cool quotient as an FMCG product.

The modern no-spit paan has approval of the food regulator, is assembled and packed at factories and comes with a shelf life of more than six months.

"We sell about a lakh paan pieces a month," said Pankaj Shah, fourth-generation entrepreneur of Chandan Mukhwas, a Mumbai-based supplier of mouth fresheners.

"Consumers want convenience and hygiene and paan is no longer frowned upon." Chandan Mukhwas sells a dozen variants from about 3,000 stores.

It also exports to nearly 30 countries, catering mainly to Indian diaspora. There are over a dozen other brands that sell paan, such as Dizzle, Yamu's Panchayat, Mapro Mazaana, Pethawala Agra, Surbhi, Dil Bahaar and Natraj.

Mukhwas or mouth fresheners is one of the largest categories within food, but largely unorganised. Retailers, however, expect sweet paan to outpace western desserts, if marketed well."Add shelf life, remove harmful ingredients, brand it and you have an Indian equivalent of After Eight mints," said Devendra Chawla, president of FMCG and brands at the Future Group that runs the Food Bazaar chain of supermarkets.

"This is category creation that can give chocolates a run for their money if positioned well. Indian consumers embrace traditional food products that are packaged well." There are an estimated 7 lakh shops nationwide selling the desi treat, which, according to the Bhagavata Purana, was even chewed by Lord Krishna. Paan has been retailing online in markets such as the US for about five years now.

Twist in the paan
So, what has really changed in India? As traditional recipes from aam panna to jaljeera are branded for organised trade now, the all male paan too has left the street corners and is sold at supermarkets and online stores. And women are a big customer segment.

"It reaches us mostly as a friend of tobacco and men. We're missing a trick there. Paan is quintessentially an Indian food and if placed on the food shelves and not near tobacco, would find its rightful appeal amongst families," said Damodar Mall, chief executive at Reliance Retail, which is doing a pilot study in the National Capital Region to present fresh chilled paan next to yoghurts.

Paan companies are also exploiting the halo effect from herbals. "Paan has medicinal quality and is used as digestives for centuries. We are just adding a cool quotient to it by packing it attractively," said BK Shaw, general manager at New Delhi's Yamu's Panchayat, which partnered Reliance Retail to list its products.

The company runs 56 paan outlets, many of them 'manned' by women. Sweet pan, lacking cured tobacco, is priced at Rs15-35, with a host of options, from chocolate-coated and strawberry paan to saffron and kiwi.

Although companies claim modern trade helps in creating higher visibility, margins aren't lucrative. Paan parlours sell fresh paan at Rs 10 to as much as Rs100 a piece. On the other hand, cost of branding and packaging can eat into profit unless volumes are large enough.

The flipside comes from the local 'panwadi.' "People will still prefer fresh pan as it can be customised and made to order rather than having a processed one," said Mahesh Tiwari, a local paan shop owner at Mumbai's western suburb of Borivali.

(Source: ET Retail.com dated 2016-09-17)

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Startups shifting focus towards baby products for better value

The winds of change are blowing for Indian parents, long used to leaning on an established circle of parents, in-laws and pediatricians for unsolicited and much needed advice on child rearing.

An unsolicited piece of advice stood out from all the social media noise that Prachi Arora, 31, a freelance writer and young mother, waded through every day.

On a Facebook group, another woman looked at a photo Arora had posted of her daughter and unilaterally declared that she might be autistic. Such a pronouncement came as a bolt from blue. “I lost sleep over it,” she says. Rather than panicking, she logged on to BabyChakra, a 22-month-old online platform for baby products and services to hunt for a solution. “My SOS was to a BabyChakra mother, who has an autistic child and also works with various experts in spreading awareness,” she adds. “A conversation with her helped me restore my peace and I also found a special needs educator who categorically ruled out this diagnosis.”

The winds of change are blowing for Indian parents, long used to leaning on an established circle of parents, in-laws and pediatricians for unsolicited and much needed advice on child rearing.

Parents today are getting more aware, using the internet to update their knowledge on the best products (and to hunt for the best services) for their children and shifting a market reliant on old networks.

Social change — with more young mothers returning to work quicker and joint families giving way to nuclear ones — is beginning to significantly change this market, with old and new companies jostling for a share of this segment — from the time a woman is expecting till the child turns five.

According to industry analysts and insiders, this isn’t an easy market to crack. For starters, some 90% of it is locked up with old-world offline baby product retailers — some 8,000 of them countrywide, according to one estimate. With fewer choices for their babies, Indians tend to buy fewer products or substitute adult ones. “From warehousing to last-mile delivery, everything associated with baby care is a difficult job,” says Supam Maheshwari, cofounder and CEO of FirstCry, a venture that has raised $76 million in funding from the likes of SAIF Partners, Vertex Ventures and IDG Ventures. “We are selling products — from diaper pins weighing 5 gm to car seats weighing 25 kg. Consumers want an expert and not a generalist to sell them these products.”

The Big Daddies
Perhaps the biggest obstacle, at least in consumer goods, is the domineering presence of Johnson and Johnson ( J&J), which owns nearly three-quarters of the market in which it operates.

“With our presence, historically, we have been the only brand trying to grow the size of this category,” says Ganesh Bangalore, marketing chief for J&J India. “There is a tremendous opportunity in this market.”

After being around for over a century (globally, and 70 years in India), J&J is looking to show that elephant can dance, by launching new products (Bedtime range, Top to Toe wash and Baby Milk soap, as well as more offerings for ailments such as diaper rash) as it seeks to hold its dominant position in this market.

Bangalore of J&J says that baby sleep is another area in which the company is interested. Indian babies sleep the least at night — for just nine hours — whereas American and New Zealander babies sleep around 11 hours. Indian babies wake up the maximum during sleep, at 2.07 times, as compared with babies from New Zealand getting sound sleep and waking up only .93 times followed by the UK at 1.06 times.

To try and improve these statistics, he proselytises the firm’s Bedtime products, which include a three-step ritual, beginning with a warm bath with Johnson’s Bedtime wash, followed by massaging the baby with a Bedtime lotion and then spending some quiet time with the infant/toddler.

Bangalore also says J&J has launched its Bestforbaby YouTube channel to spread worldwide learnings and tips from spending a century in the baby care business.

This behemoth’s looming presence and other complexities have already felled many players who have tried to enter this market offline in the last few years.

Offline, baby product retailers are dogged by concerns similar to others in the field such as high rentals, people turnover and slim margins. Online, companies need to build a large enough inventory and strong supply chain backbone to deal with the wide array of orders in this sector. “It is difficult for horizontal ecommerce companies to service this market,” says FirstCry’s Maheshwari. “Consumers, especially mothers, look for a specialist for their needs, not a generalist.”

Anupama C, 28, a banker, lives with her husband and two-year-old son in South Mumbai. Bringing up their son without the help of extended family means she’s constantly looking for new ways to save time with her parenting, even as she meets crazy work deadlines. In the last six months alone, she has ordered a car seat, diapers and baby clothes off FirstCry and, elsewhere, located a baby sitter and playschool too. “Food, diapers, toys… there’s a lot that’s constantly changing for the better and as parents we must keep up,” she says.

Charge of the Tiny Tots
According to an estimate by Research and Markets, the average amount an Indian parent spends on their babies is expected to double in the next four or five years. In turn, this is creating fresh opportunities for companies such as BabyChakra.

“We want to build a trusted platform for children and parents in India,” says Naiyya Saggi, a former rainmaker with management consultancy McKinsey, who used her learnings in the field of maternal and child health to start her fledgling venture.

“A massive opportunity stood out to disrupt the way parents made choices,” she adds. “We have 17,000 service providers listed across three cities (Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi), with 5,00,000 users logging in every month.”

These numbers mean that BabyChakra is building a platform that hopes to disrupt the way parents make choices. “We are focused on building the next wave of users that is going to drive how online markets and information works.”

So, BabyChakra’s services today cover everything from infertility experts to playschools, as it seeks to reel in more users to its platform. While Saggi is focused on increasing the number of users for BabyChakra, she is also looking to increase the number of people who stick to the platform and the frequency with which they log in.

Other companies are also looking at this information gap and changing family dynamics. One such area is nutrition, where young parents, mothers specifically, are hunting for quick yet healthy fixes to feed their children.

“As mothers ourselves, we struggled to find breakfast and snack options for our children,” says Meghana Narayan, a cofounder of Slurrp Farm, a provider of food for babies and (soon) young mothers.

“We are devising food you can prepare at home, without additives, focusing on just the basics of taste and quality.” For example, the startup has devised options such as a nutritious porridge with wholegrain cereals and readyto-serve cold milk breakfast options and cookies for teething babies.

“We eventually want to get into food for pre- and post-natal mothers. All our offerings are based on traditional recipes our grandmothers would have made,” she adds. First-hand experience proved handy for Narayan and cofounder Shauravi Malik.

“When we first conceived of this idea, we didn’t have kids and lived abroad,” Narayan explains. “We were besieged with requests from friends to bring back products for their kids.”

Sensing a gap, the duo set up Slurrp to devise healthy, organic, preservative-free options using quality ingredients.

“We learnt our lessons along the way — parents in India, for example, didn’t want completely ready-to-feed food for children. They were looking at ready-to-serve options, since they wanted control over the ‘last mile’ of what their children ate,” she says.

The company is gaining some traction with its products. Unlike in the West, Indian children have the same (or very similar) food that their parents eat. Then there are factors such as under and malnutrition — many kids irrespective of economic strata are eating too much of the wrong type of food and there’s an opportunity to set this right. The founders are talking to both online and offline retailers to vend their products and after an initial pilot with 20 stores, a Delhi and online launch are currently underway and they hope to make a bigger splash across Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai next year.

Already, the duo have snagged some loyal fans. “Slurrp Farm did a pilot last year, and not just my kids but the entire family loved their cookies,” gushes Shivani Gandhi, a parent.

“We prefer them to others because of the ingredients they use. Their products have a high percentage of ragi, whole wheat flour and real butter (not palm oil).”

At the other end of the size spectrum, consumer goods giant Hindustan Unilever is looking to extend the strength of its Dove brand into baby care.

“With growing disposable incomes and awareness, more and more mothers are beginning to use specialist baby care products,” says Prabha Narasimhan, vice-president, skin care, HUL. After building Dove into a `1,000 crore brand, she believes it can be extended to baby care.

“For over 50 years, Dove has been listening to women… Now, for the first time, Baby Dove will be doing the same for the most important person in a woman’s life — her baby,” she adds.

For a start, Baby Dove will focus on areas such as moisturisers for babies, before extending its brand beyond. “Babies’ skin loses moisture up to five times faster than adults and therefore it is important to choose products that replenish the moisture of delicate baby skin,” says Narasimhan.

“The new Baby Dove range has been created to support mothers… with products that go beyond mildness to replenishment.”

Then, in August this year, yoga guru Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved also joined the scramble by launching its baby care products (hair oil, massage oil, body lotion and body wash gel) under a new brand called Sishu Care. These products will be priced between Rs 70 and Rs 85 for 100 ml packs, a rate competitive with market leader J&J.

Baby Care Choices
Bengaluru-based Himalaya Drug Company — still best known for liver care product Liv52 — has been steadily building its baby care business and in the last couple of years it seems to have been given a growth booster.

In spite of the growth of its own portfolio and those of market leader J&J, HUL and Dabur, these companies have a long way to go. “Despite the growth of large companies and startups, baby and mother care is a vast and underserved market in India,” says Philip Haydon, president and CEO, Himalaya Drug Company.

Even at Rs 2,500 crore (an estimate from market researcher Nielsen which is double the more conservative estimate from Euromonitor), the scope of this market in India may be undervalued.

“Many people are using regular products for their babies — soaps in urban India alone is an Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 crore business, for example. There’s a massive opportunity to move these consumers to products more suited to babies,” he adds.

Already, Himalaya has a strong presence in segments such as pre-bath (massage oil), bath (soap, bubble bath) and post-bath (creams, lotions and curatives). And as consumer spend on babies increases, Himalaya is expanding its range. For instance, it has forayed into wet wipes and diapers.

Now, it is looking not just at babies, but at young mothers as an extension of this push. “We are looking at women during pregnancy and beyond,” says Haydon. “We are looking at products to pamper them such as massage oils, soothing baby butter and nipple care and anti-rash items.”

Some parents appear unsure which way to go. While they trust older brands (the likes of Dove and Dabur and Co have been around for decades) and buy their products without question, being increasingly aware of new trends has them torn.

After living in a small town in Tamil Nadu for years, Sandra S, 25, was used to advice from family and friends to use adult consumer care brands on her six month-old baby.

Then, she moved to Mumbai to discover a far larger range of baby-specific brands. “There are so many options here for us, but I have to rely often on knowledge from strangers to make a choice, rather than the familiar words of family,” she says. “This is a difficult choice to make, but a changing environment compels us to make fresh choices.”

Even for the largest companies, the biggest headache may be changing mindsets. “This is a challenging market, since Indian consumers are replacing trusted, age-old, homemade baby care offerings with our products,” says Rana Banerjee, head, marketing, healthcare, Dabur, the 132-year old consumer goods company.

With its recent Dabur Baby offering, the company needs to be more cautious with its launches.

“We need to be really careful at product level… babies are sensitive with skin, hair, oral care products and more prone to infections and other health hazards,” says Banerjee.

The firm spent the last two years building its new baby care business, and is keen to launch products in segments such as massage oils, soaps, shampoos and moisturisers.

Dabur also wants to extend its core ayurveda business into baby care. According to Banerjee, the relative lack of (safe) branded options is compelling Dabur to step on the gas.

“In sectors such as massage oils, organised players account for 11% of the market,” he explains. While Dabur is best recognised for its Lal Tel massage oil, company executives are keen for some fresh impetus to their baby care unit.

Compared with the presence of HUL, Dabur and Himalaya, Mohit Sadaani’s Amishi Life, a startup founded just a few months ago in May 2016, is a lightweight. Sadaani and his wife had their first child in the UK and were pleasantly surprised by the plethora of baby care options.

In contrast, the second time around, this time in India, they found much slimmer pickings. “For paranoid parents, there are not enough safe and natural baby care products in India,” he says. “Educated and aware parents are willing to look beyond big brands for their baby’s personal care needs.”

After raising a seed round of funding recently, Sadaani’s firm will shortly launch a series of personal care products, including bodywash, shampoo and lotions for expectant women and young mothers. “Indian mothers are willing to consider natural and safe products for their babies,” he contends.

If fledgling startups are looking for some inspiration, FirstCry could provide some answers. The company, which Maheshwari cofounded in mid-2010, started with barely 1,000 products on its platform.

Then he quickly realised that being only online wouldn’t get him far. Back in 2011, he set up his first offline store and today FirstCry has some 180 stores operational and over 1,25,000 items listed.

“There is a lot more awareness in the market today than six years ago,” says Maheshwari. “Parents have different aspirations for their children… more than what they get from the neighbourhood store.”

FirstCry labels itself as Asia’s largest baby care store, and expects to have 700 offline stores in the next three or four years.

Some startups are looking at other fragmented baby and child care opportunities too.

Meeta Sharma Gupta of Shumee wants to crack the toys market. The former researcher with IBM is leaning on new learnings from psychology, which push children to be discoverers with their toys and encourage them to learn. All of Shumee’s toys are made of wood (but not traditionally handmade ones), use safe paint and are safer for the environment, says Gupta.

“The market for toys is highly fragmented and products from global brands are limited and costly,” says Gupta. To try and cut it in a market dominated by the likes of Mattel and Hasbro, Shumee will primarily be focused online, even as it seeks to look for new avenues for growth.

At an event in Mumbai, its wares were sold out on day one, even as the company sells around five to eight toys a day (each priced around `1,500). Gupta has hired full-time designers and is planning international sales too.

With over 26 million babies expected to be born in India every year, companies big and small are jostling for a share of this fast-growing market. The action may just be getting started.

(Source: The Economic Times dated 2016-10-02)

Monday, September 26, 2016

ITC to scale up luxury chocolates Fabelle and premium coffee Sunbean

ITC Ltd, which recently ventured into the handcrafted luxury chocolates segment with brand Fabelle and gourmet coffee brand Sunbean, is focusing on scaling up their presence across key metros, according to Sanjiv Puri, COO of ITC.

The chocolates and coffee are retailed through boutique stores at its hotels, offering a range of handcrafted pralines, personalised chocolate cups, ganache and beverages.

"We have already launched our luxury chocolates in three markets — Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata — and hope to bring them to Delhi soon. We have also launched our premium coffee brand," said Sanjiv Puri, COO of ITC. "We are going to take these brands to key metros through our hotel properties. Over time we could look at selling them through other retail channels, but we will first focus on retailing them through our hotels."

The company has stated that it plans to achieve Rs 1 lakh crore turnover from its non-cigarette FMCG businesses by 2030, and has been aggressive with launches in the past year.

From dairy, juices, chocolates and coffee in the food segment, to handwash and antiseptic liquids in personal care, the company has had made an entry into several new categories. ITC also has big plans for the dairy segment.

"We have started with Aashirvaad Svasti Ghee and Sunfresh Dairy Whitener. We have a host of products in the dairy segment at various stages of development, which we will launch once plans are finalised," he said.

Replying to a query on key growth drivers in the FMCG business, Puri said: “Most of the categories that we are present in are big categories that have huge potential — whether they are agarbattis, personal care, food products or stationery. Each of these categories has huge headroom to grow. Within these categories, too, there are segments we may not be present in and will look to get in, besides looking at newer categories,” he added.

At the same time, the company has been looking at a strong wellness play, with products such as a sugar release control atta variant and digestive biscuits with no maida and no added sugar.

"Our strategy has been to address consumers’ wellness and nutritional needs, and to offer them products with functional benefits. Consumers will see much more of such products in the future," Puri added.

(Source: Hindu Business Line, Kolkata dated 2016-09-02)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Indians are now drinking more, but not to get drunk

Sales of hard liquor such as rum and vodka have shown a sharp decline in 2014-15, while whisky sales have grown marginally.
Among wines, sales of still light wine showed 17% growth in 2014-15, the highest among all wine segments, driven mainly by value lines of local brands.

Indians seem to have sobered down. Better still, they are making wise choices while fixing their drinks.
Sales of hard liquor such as rum and vodka have shown a sharp decline in 2014-15, while whisky sales have grown marginally. A change in tastes and a yearning for aspirational lifestyles have led to the increase in sales of wine and beer.
Youngsters have fuelled a boom in tequila, sales of which shot up by 10% in 2014-15.

"Gone are the days when youngsters would stay over at a friend's place and down a bottle of whisky or rum, in the fear that they would get scolded at home. These days, it's more about social drinking over good conversation with soft alcohol such as wine and craft beer," said Kapil Sekhri, director of Indian wine company Fratelli Wines. "In every sphere of life, the erstwhile feeling that 'alcohol is taboo' is fading away."

Among wines, sales of still light wine showed 17% growth in 2014-15, the highest among all wine segments, driven mainly by value lines of local brands. Growth of champagne, however, remained muted with demand for rose increasing.

Flavours are keeping the vodka category alive too. While sales of plain vodka is showing a decline, flavoured ones are soaring mainly due to demand from young consumers. It's the same story with rum, with flavoured variety finding favour with consumers and growing by 45% in 2014-15.
Aspirations are driving consumers to upgrade too. The trend is stark in whisky with the Indian-made-foreign-liquor (IMFL) category showing higher value growth than volume growth, as consumers have traded up to higher price points.

Source: Times News Network dated 2016-09-11.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Patanjali to launch Indianised jeans

Announcing that Patanjali would launch 'Swadeshi' jeans soon, Baba Ramdev on Sunday (2016-09-12) said the idea behind his expanding business ventures is to end the dominance of multinational corporations that have for decades been capitalising on the country's market.

"When we want Indians winning medals in sports, why can't we develop the same spirit in economic pursuits and excel in businesses on our own? My fight is against foreign companies trying to take over our economy," the yoga teacher said. There's a great demand from the country's youths for jeans, the reason why Patanjali has decided to launch "Indianised" jeans to compete with foreign brands, he said.
"Patanjali's plans involve getting into the garment sector, especially 'Swadeshi' jeans that the youth of the country are demanding. It also wants to enter edible oils and home products like toilet cleaners. There's a huge vacuum in the market for quality products and Patanjali enjoys enormous public loyalty that ensures success for all our products," Ramdev said.
Patanjali, Ramdev said, is set to go global with plans to set up units abroad.

"We've set up factories in Nepal and Bangladesh and are now approaching African nations. Profits earned would be used in those countries for development, and won't be ploughed back to India," said Ramdev . If permitted, he said he was willing to start units in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well.
"Our products have reached the West Asia and are popular even in countries like Saudi Arabia," Ramdev said. While manufacturing units would be set up in poor countries to boost local economies, we will also cater to rich nations like the US and in Europe through exports, Ramdev said.

On the proposed plants in Mihan here, Ramdev said it will be biggest unit in the country spread over 40 lakh square feet. It will be larger than the facility at Haridwar. The initial investment on infrastructure and machinery will be close to Rs 1,000 crore, he said.
Patanjali is also setting up units in MP , Assam, J&K, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh besides expanding existing ones in West Bengal and Karnataka. The company is eyeing a turnover of Rs 50 lakh crore in the FMCG market, he said.

(Source: Indiatimes.com dated 2016-09-12)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Kolkata restaurant Mocambo refuses to serve dinner to a Mumbai based corporate executive and her driver

Kolkata restaurant Mocambo refuses to serve dinner to a Mumbai based corporate executive and her driver!

"How shallow and inhuman have we become ?

Last night being my last day in Kolkata decided to try out this popular restraunt called Mocambo' at Park Street .I decided to go with my driver -Manish bhaiya here whose great service and care throughout my stay in Kolkata for a week was excellent . ( Also yesterday afternoon he missed his lunch because I forgot to tell him to go for lunch - uncertain about the time it would take me to finish the meeting -he missed his lunch )
Guilty of my mistake . I decided to go out for dinner with him .
As soon as I reached Mocambo at around 8:40 PM . I asked the staff to give me a table for 2.

Staff : There is a waiting of 15 minutes .

Me : *as excited I was to try out this popular joint *happily agreed

Staff :* by this time they observed I was with Manish bhaiya * walked up to me and said it will take 45 minutes for the table to get ready .

Me : *little confused by time communicated *earlier ...now eagerly asked but you said 15 minutes

Staff : yes the table was going to get empty but they ordered for more food

Me : *peeping through the glass windows *but I can see some empty tables inside .

Staff : they are four seaters.. today is Friday we cannot give that table .

Me: ok

After waiting for 10-15 minutes . When I see people who came after me getting the table .

Me : why are you not giving me the table ?

Staff : Maam we can't give you a table

Me : But why ?

Staff : who are you with

Me : subtly pointing towards Manish bhaiya .

Staff : aahhh....Maam he is not properly dressed .

Me : * he was cleanly dressed in a cream trouser and a shirt tucked out .. And floaters *

I asked what is your dress code ?
Staff : we don't have a dress code .

Me : then ??

Staff :No No he is not properly dressed it's a fine dine restraunt

Me : *agitated by now *what's wrong with his dressing tell me and is there a written dress code he is not following ?

By this time Manish bhaiya understood parts of the conversation in English and by the daunting looks of the staff -walks up to me and says - 'Didi hum Nahi Khaenge aap Khana Kha lijiyega na '

Me : * hurt with his innocence and inhuman inconsiderate behaviour of the staff at Mocambo *

Me : call your manager give me a valid reason why he cannot come in .

Staff : goes and calls another person

Me : sir why can't he come in ?

Staff : because he is drunk

Me : *furious and baffled with the audacity of the staff *How do you know he is drunk ?

Staff : because my other colleague told me he is so

Me : on what basis due you make such assumptions . Did he drink in front of you or did you even go near him * they were standing 2-3 meters apart *He is driving me around since 8 o clock in the morning leave apart being drunk he is not even had food

Staff : but I know he is drunk

Me : prove it then

Me : what's your name

Staff : I can't tell you my name

Me : why ?

Staff : No No I can't it's just I can't let you in with him

Me : I Don't want to get in to your racist restraunt walks away with Manish bhaiya with deep grief in my heart on how Inhuman and shallow the world has become :(

Manish bhaiya is one of the finest human beings I have met in a long time he took good care of me and did his duty with all his heart. He is a simple man make 275 Rs a day for 12 hours of driving and sends more then half of the money back home . he has a difficult life Still he laughs a lot shares a lot of stories and is more human and empathetic then any I know .
To Mocambo staff and restraunt at Park Street Kolkata Which doesn't consider human as human and differentiates, discriminates and stratifies them into classes just because he doesn't fit into your description of a perfect customer. (doesn't own a iPhone maybe doesn't talk in English) I m sorry you don't deserve a fine human like Manish bhaiya sitting and eating in your racist restraunt .
(Disclaimer : This is entirely based on my personal experience and has no relation with my organisation / profession)"

Copied verbatim from a Facebook post by Marketing Manager of Tata Motors, "Dilashi Hemnani on September 10, 2016 at 12:08pm, Kolkata"

Weblink of her Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/dilashi.hemnani/posts/1204126152972589

With this single reported act, the reputation of brand 'Mocambo' has gone down the drains.
Verdict: Mocambo owners, management, staff deserves Stick!
Dilashi Hemnani deserves Carrot.

Is there anybody who's unmoved and have no qualms about dining at Mocambo, Park Street, Kolkata in future?
Will you boycott Mocambo?

Friday, September 02, 2016

StayUncle and now OYO Rooms to help unmarried couples find privacy in India.

While the moral police and the actual police acted as vigilantes over couples who wanted privacy in their bedrooms, StayUncle launched its services exclusively for unmarried couples who wanted a space of their own. Their tagline 'couples need a room, not a judgement' was welcomed and publicized. OYO rooms, a hotel aggregator launched their very own relationship mode hotel finding service in the light of its customers' demand.
OYO rooms featured the 'No Rooms For Unmarried Couples' policy till two months ago and the shift is being hailed as a progressive step. Hotels often turn away couples without definitive proof of marital status which can turn embarrassing and many often resort to rejecting locals so as to not encourage premarital sex. By using the aggregators relationship mode on their website and the mobile app, couples can get rooms with their local identity cards and it promises to be hassle free as they get to book only those hotels that welcome them as they are. No more 24 hours booking. No more running to check out before 12 noon. StayUncle offer customers an opportunity to book one of the 10 hours slots currently available - Morning (from 10am to 7pm) and evening slot (from 9 pm to 8 am). In both cases customers pay for 10 hours tariffs.

According to Huffington Post, 'OYO says that according to a rough estimate, 60% of the 6,000 hotels in 100 cities they have tie-ups with have been found to be couple-friendly. A customer can search for a couple-friendly hotel by logging into their account, clicking on the relationship mode in search preferences and then proceed to searching. They can also search for all the hotels in a city and filter the results by selecting the OYO for Couples option. According to OYO, Bengaluru, Gurgaon, Goa and Delhi have the highest number of ‘couple-friendly’ hotels. Tourist destinations such as Manali, Shimla and Mussoorie also rank high in the list. A casual search reveals that there are 146 such hotels in Bengaluru, 113 in Delhi and 217 in Goa. Surprisingly, metropolises such as Chennai (27), Kolkata (54) and Mumbai (12) have lesser couple-friendly hotels than Jaipur (170), Chandigarh (141), and Pune (73).'

Kavikrut, the Chief Growth Officer for OYO rooms said in an interview to Quint that the move was simply a logical one. A lot of their customers reached the hotel and then realised that they could not check in due to the hotel policies. It was embarrassing for them to be denied a room and to have to look for another hotel. All they did was let their customers know which hotels welcome unmarried couples. When they tie up with hotels, they know their policies, but the customers don’t, and that causes problems.

There is currently no Indian law that prohibits hotels from servicing unmarried couples or local couples that belong to the same city or area as the hotel. "We analysed guest-feedback and realized that couple-guests were likely to face last-minute inconvenience on account of hotel-policies that were not communicated to them earlier," Kavikrut said as reported by Times of India.

The rise in the demand for AirBnB, breakfast hotels, serviced apartments, hostels, room aggregators and specific ones catering only to unmarried couples like StayUncle and Bengaluru’s Nestaway are pointing towards a rising trend. People looking for a private and comfortable time sans the moralistic high ground of the self-appointed guardians of traditions have a reason to cheer as they get more options to not get caught in awkward positions.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

H&M sets up largest Delhi store in Connaught Place

Overcast skies and a cool breeze made for a pleasant Friday, 2016-08-26. For H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) it couldn't have been a better day to set up another shop, literally.

The Swede fashion retailer opened its fifth store in the National Capital Region (NCR) to a full house. Located in the heart of the city, Connaught Place or CP, the outlet was thronged by excited shoppers not just from Delhi but also from across the country.

Spread across 28,000 square feet at the recently­renovated The Connaught High Street, the store has been designed keeping in sync with the vicinity's colonial character and vintage history, and blends fashion with the heritage of CP seamlessly. It is also offering a special opening week discount of 50 per cent on selected items.

The retail brand, which has nine stores across the country, is looking at increasing the count to 13. It also plans new stores in
Mumbai (Inorbit Mall in Malad), Pune (Westend Mall) and Chennai (Express Avenue).

But in an age of online shopping, will this work?
"We know that shopping is an experience for many people and hence we are concentrating on expanding our physical outreach. While e­-retail is not off the cards, for now we'd like to be able to offer the complete shopping experience with our stores across the country," Dhatri Bhatt, Head ­ PR, H&M, who was present at the store, said.

(Source: EconomicTimes.com)

Saurav Ganguly Essilor's brand icon

French ophthalmic lens maker Essilor launched former Indian cricket captain Saurav Ganguly as the brand ambassador for their Varilux series of spectacle lenses in May 2016.
The company also added three new products to the Varilux range which was endorsed by former cricketer K Srikkanth till 2013.
Essilor India CEO Shivkumar J said, "With a yearly growth rate of 20%, India is a key market for us, along with China."

Patanjali becomes 3rd largest FMCG seller at Future Retail

Baba Ramdev promoted Patanjali Ayurved has become the third largest seller of FMCG products at the shelves of Kishore Biyani-led Future Retail.
Patanjali has become number three in sales at Future Retail's stores. The number one is HUL followed by P&G and Patanjali is at number three at our place, according to Future Group CEO Kishore Biyani.

Patanjali, which had started its association with the Future group in October 2015, is now followed by rivals like GCPL, Dabur, Emami.

Kishore Biyani confirmed that Patanjali sales are growing every month. It would grow 20 per cent this month from the previous month.

Besides, Future Group is also in talks for selling ayurvedic FMCG products of Sri Sri Ayurveda promoted by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Future Group, which has several companies in its fold including Future Retail, Future Lifestyle Fashion, Future Consumer Enterprise, etc is expecting to end the 2016-17 fiscal with Rs 26,000 to 27,000 crore in overall revenue.

Moreover, Future Group is also planning a major expansion of its southern supermarket chain Nilgiris by adding more products and taking the store count to 1,000 in next three years.

The group, which had acquired the Bengaluru-based Nilgiris chain in 2014, is also launching new products in bakery to strengthen its portfolio.

Source: PTI | Aug 25, 2016.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Bottled Water Set to Surpass Soda as Most Consumed Beverage in US

Bottled Water Set to Surpass Soda as Most Consumed Beverage in US.


JEWELLERY glitters but doesn't strike web GOLD


When she was in a jewellery store a couple of years ago, Saroja Yeramilli noticed a young woman whose mother was forcing her to try and buy a large necklace. "The girl was frustrated and told her mother the jewellery wouldn't go with the western clothes she wears every day," says Yeramilli, who was working with Titan at the time. And every other young woman she met seemed to echo the sentiment. "But the funny thing was, all of them thought they were unique when they said 'I am not a jewellery person'," she says.
That's when Yeramilli realized there is a market for light, everyday jewellery that young women could shop for on their own. And in 2015, she co-founded Melorra, an online jewellery brand that targets young, urban Indian women.

The e-tail boom has put more products online than ever before. Jewellery too. But jewellery remains a small e-commerce segment despite Indians' love of gold. Industry estimates that online jewellery sales accounts for a little over 1% of the total purchases. But it has grown rapidly.

A Euromonitor report pegs the Indian online jewellery market at 5,310 crore, up from 1,000 crore in 2011. There has also been some intense activity in the space in the past few months, indicating that online players may be poised to increase their share in the 4 lakh crore jewellery market - BlueStone announced earlier this week that it has received 200 crore in Series D funding, while Titan recently bought a 62% stake in Chennai-based CaratLane.

Most startups remain predominantly purchase spots for fine jewellery and low-value precious jewellery . The big wedding market is still one they haven't been able to make a dent in. In a market where a sale can touch 7 lakh, online jewellery sellers say the average size of a sale is under 20,000.

"While high-ticket transactions do happen on our portal, most sales are in the range of 30,000 to 50,000," says Gaurav Kushwaha, founder, BlueStone, which did '250 crore in revenue in 2015-16. A substantial number of visits to online gold and diamond jeweller CaratLane are to browse and buy relatively small ticket items."There have been close to 2 million visitors to the website with a chunk of visitors discovering products online and making their purchases in our offline stores," says Avnish Anand, co-founder, CaratLane."Those who do purchase online, confine themselves to spending no more than rupees 20,000," he says. Customer issues about trust and the need to touch and feel jewellery keeps them from making large purchases online, he says.


That realization has made several portals establish offline centres. CaratLane, for instance, has 12 physical stores in major cities.

Voylla, backed by Peepul Capital and which sells fashion jewellery in the range of rupees 300 to rupees 10,000, started as an online-only player, but launched brick-and-mortar stores six months ago and now sees 40% of sales from them. With 48 offline stores in 20-odd cities, co-founder Vishwas Shringi expects offline sales to overtake online soon. "Online is growing fast, but the base is still low. Also, the primary driver of online sales is still pricing, it's still not a destination shop," he says.

Investors and experts note that while online is a great medium for jewellery purchase, it may not become the primary platform for wedding purchases.

Karan Mohla, executive director at IDG Ventures, says online is the right platform for jewels in the rupees 500-5,000 price bracket. "The medium has gained good traction for fashion accessory jewellery. This is a monthly-buy platform that will create loyalty among the customers," he says.Mohla adds that players like Voylla, Melorra, Velvetcase and Pipa & Bella have done well selling semi-precious jewellery. "These players have opened up the platform for sellers and designers, giving wider options for consumers."

N Ananthapadmanabhan, managing director of Chennai-based chain NAC Jewellers, which has been in the business since 1917, estimates that the average ticket size for wedding purchases is 7 lakh. "The highest value sales happen for weddings, but online portals cannot tap this market as customers would want to touch and feel the product, and make their purchase with a trusted offline retailer. It is a once-in-a-lifetime purchase," he says.


Still, the scope for growth for on line and for newer ventures is seen to be huge. Startups are expanding their customer base by focusing on design and newer marketing strategies.

While single-brand start ups bet on innovative de signs, some players are aggregating numerous sellers on one online platform what are called mar ketplaces.

Started in 2012 as a single brand company, Mumbai based Velvetcase transformed into a multi-brand jewellery marketplace last July. Founder and former Microsoft Asia lead Kapil Hetamsaria says women were taking to shopping for jewellery online and he was finding it hard to cater to their various demands while retailing just one brand.

"The same women who were buying jewellery worth rupees 1 lakh also wanted 3,000-earrings. As a marketplace, we cover the entire price range now," he says. The marketplace model also helped them connect unorganized retailers, who are specialists in ruby , pearl and diamond, with end consumers. The platform has tied up with 300 sellers in 28 cities in India.

Innovations like 3D printing, customization and try-it-out options keep customers hooked. Melorra does not have an inventory and manufactures on a per-order basis in Mumbai and Jaipur. Yeramilli says they sell to almost 4,000 pincodes across India. "Apart from cities, we are seeing customers from smaller towns. People are willing to spend on unique jewellery designs. And the repeat buyers have shown that we are not a niche segment anymore," she says.

BlueStone's Kushwaha says they started a `Home Try On' option a year ago to address the problem of people wanting to feel and see the pieces. "It is a habit that takes time to change," he says.

Early starters like him will likely have an advantage. The cost of doing an online jewellery business is high and there's the constant need to innovate and invest in jewellery and website design.

"It is tough for newer brands to enter the segment, giving existing players a great opportunity to scale. Besides, unlike apparel or furniture, returns of goods purchased are fewer. And since the size of jewellery is small, logistics costs tend to be lower. These give the sellers 50% margins," Mohla says.

(Source: Toi Kolkata dated 2016-07-29. Inputs from Aparna Desikan, Anand J, Shalina Pillai, Digbijay Mishra)

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