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Showing posts from 2010

Summarising 2010

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I read through my own article written exactly a year ago and I was able to realise the positive energy around me these days. Indeed, Retail is back in action and retailers are glooming. Employees of various Retail Companies are busy, scouting new locations, charting exciting Marketing Plans and working towards the best Customer Service possible. After all, consumers are happier too. The first instance where consumers stop spending during a slowdown as well as splurge their excess funds is in Retail and it was quite clear this year. Large Retailers have reported between 15-40% increase in Sales year on year. While the main challenge in 2009 for Retailers was to bring consumers to the Retail stores, it was increasing the wallet-share that was the key focus area in 2010. I should say that most Retailers have been successful in this regard, which is clearly visible basis the current mood in the economy. The year started off a bit dull, until the union Budgets were announced. Housing Inter

A curious case of Autorickshaws and Kiranas!

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The prepaid queue at the Bangalore City Railway Station was long, but we decided to wait patiently instead of choosing one of the touts who were continuously stalking us. After all, many auto drivers have been waiting patiently notwithstanding the early morning chillness for their turn to pick up a customer at the prepaid counter for a long time. In our city like many others, the night fare (10 pm – 5 am) is usually 1.5 times of the normal and is quite well accepted. So the prepaid fare to my house was Rs. 200/- as against the more luxurious Meru Cab which we took during the onward journey that cost us Rs. 350. While sitting in the auto this morning, I was thinking about need and necessity. At 5am, all we needed was a transportation to reach home safely. During the peak hours last Saturday we had chosen a taxi – we had time at our disposal and didn’t mind paying a bit more for the comfort of a/c during the day time. Is there a lesson or two, I was guessing if one had to compare autos

Walk like an “Emperor”

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“Show me your shoes and I will tell you how wealthy you are”, goes a saying. Indeed, it’s so true! This is one accessory that most Men care the least about. And the issue is specific to men. Women, as anybody would guess are so fond of their footwear and it’s also a coveted purchase for them. Men always had few choices – in India, in the early 80’s, it was Bata for “office wear”, and Power for “other uses”! The early 90s witnessed the entry of International Brands, initially through the grey market and then through Franchises followed by company owned stores. Today, the footwear market in India according to an IBEF Report is estimated to be USD 2.8 Billion! Since the dawn of the 21 st century, the footwear market in India has taken a dramatic shape. There is fierce competition among the players and interestingly, prices have been steadily coming down, inflation adjusted. The Indian footwear Industry is expected to grow at 20% CAGR over the next few years. At present, the footwear mark

Much ado about noodles!

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After much resistance, I finally tried the latest entrant in the market – Yipee from ITC. For the uninitiated, it is the brand name of Noodles launched by ITC Foods recently. While the launch saw a full page ad on Times of India a few days ago, the product was virtually unavailable at smaller shops. Reason: the brand had tied up with Food Bazaar for the launch, India’s largest Supermarket chain from The Future Group including the Retailer’s name in the full page Ad. JND – Just Noticeable Difference, taught my professor of Marketing at B-School was something that the brand had to do or rather outdo itself from competition. And that’s what Yippee has done too. To begin with, the name resonated with a start-up internet lookalike of Yahoo! Well, actually it isn’t obviously. Then, the noodle was a single twin cake, unlike others who have two cakes. And the most important difference was that it was not a cube! It was a small circular piece and looked different. The reasoning, according to ma

A lot is happening over Coffee...

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I remember very well my first trip on a Shatabdi Train. It was from Madras to Bangalore, an early morning train in Oct 2003. I was dressed in a blue tie with floral designs, a maroon shirt and grey trousers as I was heading for one of my first interviews after my first job at RPG Retail, where I had joined as a Management Trainee in June 2001. The urge to move into a larger role always persisted in me and during my younger days, I was more clueless about my career than I am today!   Back to the interview – I was heading to meet the big guys at Cafe Coffee Day, at that time considered as one of the upcoming promising retail chains in India, in the business of Coffee Retail. A new concept those days in India, there were hardly any coffee retail chains across the country – CCD in South, Barista in North India and a few local players, particularly Amethyst and Qwikys in Chennai. But for these, the cafe chains weren’t thought what they would be today – ubiquitous! Not that I had any F&

Chitti wears Ray Ban, drives a Bentley, shops at Joy Alukkas & Lifestyle

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Chitti, the Robot created by its scientist Dr. Vaseegaran (both characters portrayed by the Superstar of Indian Cinema Rajnikanth) in the tamil film Enthiran (Robot in Hindi) that is directed by Shankar wears Ray Ban, Police and other designer sun glasses all through. There is a particular scene where the two of them shop diamond necklaces for their common girlfriend at Joy Alukkas, a leading name in ornamental jewellery in the southern markets in India. And the villainy Robot drives a Bentley, ransacks a Lifestyle Department Store only to stock up everything that’s needed for its lover. The scientist and his robot travel in a Mercedes CLK while the scientist’s home is shown as an exquisitely designed villa. All through the film, the leading characters including Aishwarya Rai wear designer stuff, exclusively crafted by ace designer Manish Malhotra who shot to fame since the late 90’s when he designed outfits for the likes of Shah Rukh Khan and his contemporaries of the Hindi film indus

A Retailer cannot be everything for everyone!

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“I was an eternal optimist, now I am a cautious optimist” thus remarked Kishore Biyani, considered to be the most revered Retail face in India at the concluding day of India Retail Forum 2010 recently held at Mumbai. Not surprising, as he should know better than anyone else, for he leads the Indian Retail Industry with the highest recorded turnover of over USD 2 Billion in Sales from The Future Group that has various formats such as Big Bazaar (Hypermarkets), Central Malls, Home Town, Pantaloon Department stores, Food Bazaar (Supermarkets) and many other formats with over 800 stores across the country. Many other CEOs and leaders from within the Indian Retail Industry echoed the same feeling – things are much better than 2008 / 2009 but we should tread with caution. Consumer confidence is on the high, but that doesn’t mean we can open stores left & right, one needs to move ahead with all the learning over the past 24 months according to the Head of Operations of one of the leading
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It was a Sunday afternoon and a lazy one at it. And that’s just when someone at home asks for a pack of NAN 3 – a health substitute from Nestle SA that’s given to children. Given that it is a product not available so easily and usually procured from Pharmacies or Drug Stores, no one at home is willing to hit the road and that’s when the friendly Kirana comes to remembrance. One phone call and it would be delivered in a few minutes, suggested one of the members at the household. The next minute, someone was making the call and the friendly voice at the other end was actually prodding for further purchases if the family needed something else. A few other items were included and it was promised the stuff would be delivered shortly. And indeed, it was. In the next 15 minutes, there was a young boy at the door with a bag full of items for well over Rs. 500/-. This can happen, most probably only in India. We as a nation are not yet fully used to shopping in a cycle – although we see major cr

Creating categories – Way forward for successful Retailing

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Looking at the eagerness of a family to see how a Compact Disc works was amazing – this was in the year 2001 at the Musicworld store at Park Street in Kolkata. The middle-class Bengali family was a regular at the then largest MW Store in India, spread all of 8,000 sft and among the first Retail Stores in India to be designed in bright yellow and blue by Fitch PLC. After all, RPG Management had wanted none other than among the best in the world to design their first and the largest music store in the city. Over to the family – they were wondering how a small CD with a diameter of 10 cm could play music with such clarity while the erstwhile vinyl records that used to be played on the gramophones were thicker, heavier and the voice clarity not as clear as this one. I remember chatting with my colleagues about this insight – that it is as much the responsibility of Retailers to create newer categories to grow the pie and what I was referring in this case was that the market needed more CD

Show-stopper - Shoppers Stop!

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There used to be a time during the late 80s and even early 90s when this part of Bangalore was the most preferred area to settle down for the older generation, mainly due to the lush greenery and minimal traffic. After all, why would any one pass through Koramangla – an erstwhile nondescript part of south Bangalore that connects the city towards Hosur, Chennai. Etc. However, all this changed, thanks to the IT revolution and what followed was concrete invasion. Large tracts of empty lands gave way to huge constructions – corporate offices, residential block and of course, Retail stores. In India, one thing is peculiar, if not common. It’s always the unorganized retailers who enter a locality sensing consumption opportunities. The Kirana stores that sell everything from tooth paste to grocery, the Hardware stores that sell all that one would need in their homes, from door handles to curtain rods and the ubiquitous furniture stores – large shell shops that stock cots and mattresses, dinin

Much ado about nothing...

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It is quite common to see radically minded political parties create ruckus during cultural celebrations such as Valentine’s Day, Friendship Day, etc. citing them as western concepts which India can do without. Although most of them forget that ours is a Democracy and one is free to live the way they want to, provided they fall within the legal purview of our constitution. Retailers had initially taken advantage of such events, creating a lot of hype around and managing to attract customers. While the trend still continues, many of them have toned down the way it is celebrated and have started focussing on other days of national importance. In Western countries where Organized Retail has evolved much, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and even Thanksgiving are celebrated with glee and harmony. In India, while we have been celebrating Children’s Day (birthday of former and first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru), Teacher’s Day (birthday of freedom fighter and academician, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan)