All posts for the month January, 2012

Category Analysis of Organised Retail in India

Published January 17, 2012 by vishalvkale

We can glean a few pertinent observations from the categorywise break-up of the current status of Organised Retail. I have surmised in my earlier blog post that the Kirana Stores threat does not exist. The key drivers of business in the Organised Retail sector can be said to be:

  • Clothing
  • Footwear
  • Consumer Durables Home Appliances and Equiments
  • Furnishings, Utensils, Furniture
  • Watches
  • Jewellery – new Entrant
A simple observation of the shops on offer in various malls, organised retail chains will throw up the above categories that are present as major drivers. We can list a number of competitors in Clothing, or Footwear. A simple observation of our – and our family and neighbours’ purchasing habits will prove my point. In Clothing, we have Fashion Bazaar, Westside, Peter England, Vishal MegaMart, Koutons, ITC, Benetton, Raymond to name but a few.  In other Categories, you have Vijay Sales, Welspun, FabIndia, Lotus, Next, DigiWorld etc etc. The point is the current volume of business from these categories, as also the retail (unorganised) competition. For ex, A durables brand can have between 350 – 1000 stores in a state like Chhatisgarh; For Food and Grocery, the number of retailers goes up to 1000 from a single town! Nestle had 533 outlets in Satna (a 3-lac population town) alone -contrast it with the durables market, where a good brand can have 500 outlets in a state the size of Chhattisgarh! We are talking about a vast difference in scale here, and that is what makes a critical difference.
A further point is that all these categories are high-involvement purchases, and have customers are far more likely to shop around. That means, new stores / formats are easily discovered; the larger stores would obviously have better ranges, more modern products. The importance of Ambience also comes in, since it is easier to evaluate clothing in a relaxed atmosphere; greater space, more amenities actually adds a definable value to the customer since it enables him/her to judge colours for clothes / Proper Fitment  for clothes and shoes / TV performance / Hi-Fi Sound etc. In these categories, there is a distinct value addition to the customer. To Summarise,
  • Restricted Market in terms of retail spread
  • Value Addition – tangible value addition for the customer
  • Customer propensity to think and evaluate a lot more in these caegories
The above 3 factors lead to greater foot-falls; and it is here that the larger pocket-size of the retailer comes into play by stocking up on all the latest models / varieties etc. This is what translated into faster growth and acceptance of these categories in the Organised Space
India has 14 shops per 1000 people – 1.5 Crore retail outlets, and it would be being optimistic in the extreme to expect a handful of Organised Retailers to kill of the unorganised sector. Yes, the Organised Retail Sector is Growing rapidly – the figures are 36% y-o-y, but the main drivers of business as on date are different. In the Food and Grocery segment, the three identified differentiators are conspicuous by their absence.
  • First, this space has a widesrpead, well penetrated market, with each locality and each house being properly serviced
  • There is limited scope for value addition – tangible value addition- in this category for the consumer.
  • These are low-involvement purchases and customers do not think and evaluate purchases too much – they are habit-formation categories – and habits are the hardest to break
  • Proper servicing of this unorganised sector by the companies. One has to understand that for the FMCG category companies, this market is the bulk volume generator. Further, since logistical challenges are limited due to small SKU sizes and low absolute prices per SKU, each store is properly stocked with even the latest products. The critical point here is that the advantage of new products / full ranges is not present for the Food and Grocery Sector. Organised Retail is competing not just with the small retailer  but also the industry norm of weekly servicing of each outlet in the entire nation
  • The fundamental drivers of business in this category are thus different – quite different. So are the ground realities. This category is one of the most streamlined and organised categories, as also the most competitive among all the products categories. Easy logistics, Low SKU Price in absolute terms (how much does even a premium biscuit cost – 50 rs? Contrast it to one shoe- 750/-), established systems and habituated customers create an entirely different paradigm of business
That is not to say the Food and grocery as a category will not grow in Organised Retail – it will. It is one of the top 7 categories. However, the fact remains that today, in the Food and Grocery segment, the share of Organised Retail is only 1% as opposed to more than 10% for other categories

India Since January 2008

Published January 15, 2012 by vishalvkale

This current train of thought has been triggered by India’s seventh straight overseas loss – personally I am prepared for 8-0, and expecting 16-0 abroad – but it did bring my mind around to the terrible run India is having as a nation. For the past 2 years, we have been buffeted like never before! On a lighter note, one has to wonder how much longer is this pluperfect run of bad luck going to continue. (Lets hope the use of the the past-perfect grammer as in “pluperfect” can turn things around…)
Wondering what the hell I am talking about? Well, just go through the bullet points below! I hope this train of thoughts has just been triggered by India’s cricket loss, and is a figment of my imagination, a hallucination if you will, brought about by a bout of depression! 
  1. It all started in 2008, with the stock market crash
  2. Cash for votes scam
  3. Satyam
  4. November 2008 – Mumbai. Need I say more on this? 
  5. Satyam continued in 2009
  6. Mining scam
  7. 2G Scam
  8. Adarsh Housing Society
  9. Commonwealth Games Scam
  10. Radia Tapes
  11. Lavasa
  12. IPL Scandal
  13. Black Money humdrum
  14. ISRO Spectrum Allocation
  15. Interest rates start rising
  16. Food inflation as well as general inflation on the rise
  17. Economic Indicators start falling
  18. Stock Markets range bound between 17000 – 18000 levels
  19. Stock Market Correction to 15000 – 16000 levels
  20. Telecom and Insurance Sector in deep waters
  21. Government and Parliament under extreme pressure due to team IAC
  22. Interest rates on the rise
  23. India’s loss to England 4-0
  24. Government and Parliament continues under pressure due to Lokpal 
  25. Interest rates continue to rise
  26. India’s Loss to Australia3-0 (maybe 4-0?)
  27. Indian Shooters fail to qualify for the Olympics
Makes for pretty damning reading in a standalone mode doesn’t it? Especially when put together like this. It seems as though nothings going our way if we dont mention the positives… let me try a shot at the pluses
  1. Indian Economy escapes 2008 recession
  2. Indian Hockey Team wins Asian championship
  3. Moon probe
  4. India wins world 20-20 cup (ok, ok that was in 2007 – but it was September. Lets give the benefit of the doubt to the positive side, what say?)
  5. India wins one day international world cup
  6. Indian democracy demonstrates its vitality by the public participation in India Against Corruption
  7. Nuclear Deal
  8. Inflationary pressures show first signs on diminishing
  9. First list of black money hoarders abroad comes to light
  10. Central Bank gives signs of relaxing regime of interest rates
  11. Tata Nano
Not too bad, if I must say so myself! However, a couple of thought provoking points:
  • India has never had such a terrible bad run of cricket
  • I recall the past 15 years at least – and I do not recall any 2 years when so much has happened. A look of the list of scams will prove my point- a sudden increase in news bullets since 2008
Now I only hope that it was only ill-luck that was running us down, that every fundamental is in place, that everything except our luck is right, that once the stars turn for the better everything will be right again…
Hey, I can hope, cant I?
But wait… maybe everything is just perfect. If this bad run – scams, losses etc- had not occurred, perhaps IAC would not have happened, the Indian Citizen would not have become proactive. BCCI would not have come under scrutiny, the fundamental flaws and slow pace of reforms would not have been exposed…tough questions would not be asked, tough decisions- long pending decisions – would not have been taken, black money not exposed as in the first list that was exposed and so on and so forth
It is all in the viewpoint… may be all is indeed well
As Rancho would say,
Aal eeej wail…..

Book Review: Amar Chitra Katha

Published January 14, 2012 by vishalvkale

A chance telephone conversation with a friend of my childhood days reminded me of this timeless classic I had forgotten about… Amar Chitra Katha, the comic collection that was my passion during my childhood days. Those days I would consider trips to the railway station to be a joy- not because we were going on a journey, or I was getting an outing – but because I would get to purchase a couple of titles of Amar Chitra Katha comics. If my Dad was in an expansive mood, I might even get to treat myself to more than 2! It was always an occasion for me – I would get to read something on a priority, I would get to be the first to touch and open it! My brother would have to wait for his turn…

The comic book series is unique since it carries tales of Indian Culture, History, Fables, Religion, Humour, Biographies and Heritage, sporting titles like the ones below:

In retrospect, I now realise that I learnt a lot from the Amar Chitra Katha Comic Series. I learnt about Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Akbar, Birbal, Prithviraj Chauhan, Hakka and Bakka, Subhash Chandra Bose, Karna, Vikramaditya, Panchatantra, Banda Bahadur, Ranjit Singh, Ananda Math, Krishna and Rukmini, Ancestors of Rama, The Gita, Vivekanand, Shahjahan, Krishnadev Raya, Amar Singh Rathore, Hari Singh Nalwa etc first from the epic comic series. I am listing merely the topics that I recall reading. The complete list can be found at
It really is a wonderful, fun way to keep our children updated about our country. It is a gift, a comic from their point of view, something that they can read at will without parents screaming at them. And I dont see any issue with my kid reading something like the Amar Chitra Katha. It  imparts some knowledge to them, imbibes some values, some learning in a fun way. In later years, it will become a cherished memory for them… a very good value proposition, if you will. 
It is a great pity that more book stores do not stock these comics. I am pretty sure that if prominently displayed, the retail off-take of these comics will be there. Secondly, they are not too heavy on the pocket – Rs. 30 for a single unit., Rs. 75 for 3 in 1 or thereabouts. In my childhood it was unimaginable that a book store does not have stock of an Amar Chitra Katha Comic. They were omnipresent – I know since whenever we visited a book store I would always spot and purchase a comic. For very Phantom and Mandrake that we purchased, there were several ACK’s! But in a modern bookstore, comics are a rarity. Even the modern comics like archies are a thing of the past, it seems. You have to hunt for them. Further, I have not noted people asking for comics to gift their children either. It is always a toy, or a visit to a movie or a pizza parlour. Video Games have usurped the position enjoyed by comics… which is a great pity. Even Phantom and Mandrake were an escape into a fantasy world, and were a treat.  The world – children and parents alike – seemed to have moved on. Why blame anyone else? I too have gifted everything to kids even in birthdays- but never a comic. But I feel that our children are missing something. And with regards to Amar Chitra Katha, they have an added value addition faeture attached to them as well. Perhaps the advent of television and the attendant exposure to stories in the form of cartoons have taken the place of the educational comics… 

This epic comic series was the brain child of Mr Anant Pai.who started them in an attempt to teach Indian children about their cultural heritage. Mr Anant, popularly known an Uncle Pai, was an Chemical Technologist from what is now UDCT, and a dual degree holder from the University of Bombay. He was shocked that Indian students could answer questions on Greek and Roman mythology, but were ignorant of their own history, mythology and folklore. It so happened that a quiz contest aired on Doordarshan in February 1967, in which participants could easily answer questions pertaining to Greek mythology, but were unable to reply to the question “In the Ramayana, who was Rama’s mother? It was this instance that triggered a chain of events that lead to the Amar Chitra Katha Series. It is still one of the largest selling comic book series in India,with 90 million copies being sold in 20 languages.  
It is heartening to note that Amar Chitra Katha has noted the change in times and has modernized its formats, ( and has evolved over time. It is now available as a digital media  for solutions ranging from Online Access to Mobile Phones. 
However, I will still miss the old format – the paperback comic. Not that they aren’t avalable – they are, in some stores, and in abundance. So, in between the digital formats, hidden somewhere between my sons’ Pogo Time and and related surfings, I shall strive to ensure that a copy of Amar Chitra Katha Comic lands in his hands… 

India Eradicates Polio!!!!

Published January 13, 2012 by vishalvkale

‘via Blog this’
State performs well in polio eradication – The Times of India:

The article that enlightened me
India has completed one full year without a single polio case… a tremendous achievement by India! Let us all rejoice in this great news! India was recording between 50000 and 150000 cases until as late as 1995 – and in 17 short years, this has been reduced to ZERO! Tremendous! We are used to calling the government names for non-performance, corruption et al, but this is once that our government has delivered – so let us give them their due. And it was a superb campaign- not a single avenue of contacting people was left untouched. Television, Magazines, Vernacular language newpapers, handouts, brochures, doctor’s pamphlets, banners, hoardings, movie theater ads, direct people contact right till the last village, social workers, NGOs, doctors, nurses etc all were contacted regularly season after season, year after year. On the set dates you could not move one kilometer without encountering some form of reminder. Every single dispensary, doctor would sport reminders! A superb job well done…
Only one point – I learnt of this from the Washington Post Reader on Facebook. Where has the Indian Media been on this? It is high time the Indian Media examines itself and does some soul searching as regards its priorities – I had to look for the news on the regular newspapers and sites. I am a regular on a couple of news sites, and read the e-paper of a top national daily – but did not encounter this prominently anywhere. I had to google search for it! Correct me if I am wrong – but I have not seen this news on the Indian Media. This is a big enough achievement to warrant a headline, of that there can be no doubt. Why are we scared of applauding a job well done? Is the Media only there to criticise and sensationalise? Should they not have highlighted this achievement? But no, Silence! Are they so busy in their precious TRPs and circulation figures?
Anyway, let us not get negative, and applaud a tremendous achievement!
Well Done- Well Done indeed!

Organised Retail: 100% FDI – Storm in a teacup?

Published January 12, 2012 by vishalvkale

The issue of 100% FDI to retail chains has been simmering for quite some time now… is it a threat, or is it just a storm in a teacup? What will be the effect if allowed, and vice-versa? Will it really kill the retail trade as it exists in India? Or will it be a damb squib? There have been fears expressed on both sides of the argument. But in this article, I offer a completely contrarian viewpoint: in my view, they can co-exist in this market. It is a very dark cloud indeed that does not carry a silver lining… and the FDI factor is nowhere near being a dark cloud on the horizon of the Indian economy. Analysed dispassionately, without letting emotions cloud our views, one can spot the following factors – realities if you will – of the Indian market:
  1. LFRs – Large Format Retail chains – have been around for some time now, and have completely failed to make a dent on the retail landscape. We have already seen the advent of supermarkets, and they have yet to kill off the small retailer. What is happening is that in the vicinity of these stores, local kirana business is getting impacted by a few percentage points over the short term. Over the mid- to long- term, this can be easily overcome :
    • firstly by the attendant increase in population
    • secondly by a change in stocking patterns and
    • thirdly by an increase in personalised service
  2. Size of the Indian Market, which makes full coverage nearly impossible . India is a very distributed market, with a Kirana store every 50 yards from a residence. That coverage is going to be hard to beat, and is unmatched anywhere.
  3. The small irritants: lack of home delivery beyond 3 kilometers / minimum billing requirement; long lines at billing counters could add up to a lot, and make your regular retailer the preferred option
  4. The presence of a large number of small and local brands especially in the provisions space, which will largely be ignored by the LFR stores. This problem is exacerbated by the decision making heirarchy in organised retail, as well as by the lack of personal touch with the consumer. By contrast, for the local kirana stores, the decision maker is in constant touch with his market and is aware of local preferences and consumption trends, and is in a position to make quick decisions. This is simply because of one largely ignored psycho-sociological factor: the consumer will rarely, if ever, tell the large supermarket that he prefers such-and-such a brand. Whereas, this same consumer will be far more upfront with the local store with whom he has been conversing for years.
  5. The implication could be a change in stocking patterns at the local kirana store, with a lesser preference and focus on cosmetics and a greater emphasis on provisions. Secondly, we might also see a change in depth of stocking, with small to medium size packings being available at the kirana store, and the full cosmetic range being available at the LFR. This can already be observed in the market: the 2- and 3- Re single use pouches can be seen in local stores, but not in the major stores. As another example, in my home we purchase only a select brand of atta that is not stocked by the nearby supermarket…
  6. It would require each chain to set up something like 5 – 10 stores in just one city like Indore to properly cover the city – extrapolate this number to India, and you have a massive investment outlay… this in a crowded market, with Reliance Fresh, More, Easyday, Big Bazaar etc all already having a significant presence.  Large majority of consumers are 2-wheeled, and LFRs do not have conducive home delivery policies. This means that only people with cars can shop at these LFRs, or customers from the immediate vicinity. This significantly limits their potential area. Further, the problems in relation to provisions – demand of the local brands combined with their sourcing policies will also serve as a further deterrent.
  7. Not only that, each chain has its own in-store brands, and will thus not encourage the local brands which will be available in the local stores.
  8. The perception of supermarkets being costly will also deter a large number of consumers from tapping into these outlets
  9. The lower financial outlays of the local kirana stores will mean significant cost-savings, which can subsequently be passed on to consumers. This is already a feature in the mid-level stores- i.e. the local supermarkets like Gokul in Raipur and Prem in Indore, wherein you can already get similar or lower prices as compared to organised retail
The other perspective is the advantages that can be had from organised retail. Please note that I state organised retail and not FDI…
  1. Concentration of buying power will lead to a reduction in middle men, and a better price realisation to farmers. It might also lead to lower consumer prices
  2. The dangers of FDI / Organised retail overpowering local guys will not hold good in a market as varied and distributed as India… see coke-pepse example below for details
  3. The benefit to the supply chain side will be tremendous, since organised retail will perforce either have to invest themselves, or bring about an atmosphere that will engender investing in cold storages, for example
  4. The benefit of economies of scale will also benefit everyone in the system
The example of Coke+Pepsi has oft been quoted – the way they supposedly killed the local soft drinks market. There are, however, a couple of major differences: the carbonated soft drinks market was caractarised  by a select few competitors and brands – an oligopoly if you will. There are several competitors in the organised space already – More, Big Bazaar, Next, Easyday, Reliance Fresh to name a few. All of them are now well-entrenched and established operators. Second, only the local carbonated soft drinks market has been partially killed – Thums Up and Limca are very much alive. Further, the non-carbonated soft drinks category is still vibrant and growing with both international and local players. Third, the retail market in India is already so widespread, so ubiquitous that killing it is not possible. Take, for example, you need milk and eggs at 10 pm at night – why would you drive all the way to the supermarket when you have a kirana store available within a few hundred yards of your home?
From the above we can conclude that:
  • The higher strata of society will be tapped by the LFRs
  • There might be an initial slack in monthly sales turnover from kirana stores in the short term, especially in the vicinity of LFRs, but over the long term this will be compensated by alterations in stocking patterns, population growth, service improvements, cost advantages of the kirana setup
  • Organised retail – LFRs -are already in India in the form of the Indian chains. This is a normal development of the market – consolidation, experimentation with formats etc are normal features in a growing, developing market. The influx of Large Format Retail stores had already begun in the form of departmental stores and the local superstores. These were small shopkeepers who grew big by virtue of their business acumen. Hence, whether FDI comes in or not, Large Format Retail stores will continue to increase in number. It is only a question of a matter of time…

The Mall Story in India: A Positioning Problem?

Published January 11, 2012 by vishalvkale

The Indian Mall story… while new malls are constantly opening, we are visited by the scepter of vacant shops / lots in old malls, low customer offtake. Why is this so? I am not from the organised retail trade – but I am a mall regular, and can observe and think. Further, most articles I have come across look at Parking, Mall Size, Circulation of customers in the mall, Location, Competition from other malls, anchor brands and footfalls etc. However, this does not address the core issue, which is usually lost in all the above points. In my opinion what is required is to treat malls as any other product, and approach it from that point of view. Let me elucidate what I mean by that 
When we buy / use any product, it is to satisfy a need – be it a necessity or a luxury. There is always a need that is being met at the core of any consumption. Essentially, it boils down to the theoretical 4 Ps of Marketing: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. The issues normally focused by business magazines can be said to be packaging issues, since they are not the core product. Parking, Facilities, Location, Mall Size, Circulation Design are all important parameters, but cannot be said to be the core product. What we must look at is, firstly, why does a consumer visit a mall? What is the basic need he/she wants to satisfy?The answer, quite simply:
  1. Entertainment
  2. Shopping

Not one of the parameters listed above have a direct bearing on either purpose of visiting a mall. In other words, they do not fulfill the core need that the target consumers have while visiting malls. What does matter is what does a consumer get to do while inside the mall? In short – the Tenant Mix. That, to my opinion is the be all and end all of Mall Design. What are the entertainment avenues on offer? What are the shopping avenues? At what price? They are the determining factors. I have visited various malls in a multitude of cities across India, ranging from Mumbai, Delhi, Indore. Pune, Raipur, Bhopal, Gwalior etc in the past 6 or so years – and can recall only 4 occasions when I spent in excess of Rs. 500. And what did I purchase? Titan Watch, Harra Suits for my wife, Color Plus Trousers and Peter England Shirt. One each – in a period spanning 6 years! That is it.  Each purchase an established, quality brand. On all other occasions, my visits to malls have been to watch movies, or eat Pizza –  in other words, entertainment.  What is more, I do not know of any person in my friends who differs from me in purchase behaviour. And most critically, in all malls I have visited across India, shopping activity has been extremely muted as evidenced by number of consumers in shops or with shopping bags in hand. 
The problem is at 2 levels… if a mall attracts good brands, then there is an issue of in-store product range and depth. Brands prefer to keep seperate ranges in Malls Outlets and normal outlets. The result is that people visit malls but purchase from other outlets since a complete range is available in outside shops. Frequently the range on offer in Malls is higher priced products while the economy range is made available elsewhere. The reason for this can be readily seen below
The second level of the problem is that there simply arent enough quality outlets on offer in malls, or are targeted at affluent consumers. A classic positioning problem, if you will. Let us consider a few product categories that consitute a typical household:

  • Supermarkets: They typically have a catchment area of a few kilometers, and hence can attract customers only from the immediate vicinity. Even in this, most local supermarkets beat them hands down by simply augmenting service options. Example: at Gokul Supermarket, Raipur and Prem Cosmetic, Indore I can get a product replacement even upto a month after purchase; no-strings-attached home delivery; personalised service (I can request for special items and they procure same) etc etc. The learning: the local supermarkets have simply improved their service. Result? Average bill at my local supermarket is 2500, at malls? 100. Only 100.  Add to that the simple fact that I can usually get lower prices at my local supermarket. That means, people like me dont spend money at Malls – not on groceries, anyway.
  • Electronics: No purchase options available. Simple as that! These items are high involvement purchases, and consumers shop around. You just dont get enough options in a mall. This industry is noted for dedicated markets in most cities with all brands being available in a defined shopping market, making product and price comparison – including price discovery- easier. Only dedicated chains like Vijay Sales and Lotus have managed to make a dent. For that, you require huge space – usually 2 or more floors of space to display brands. 
  • Apparel: For the most part, the products are quite simply too high priced. A consumer can get equally good stuff outside malls. In the case of branded options – I can recall only Harra, Peter England, Color Plus, Levis. Children wears brands are a strict no-no, since local shops offer quality stuff at half the price. I know since I have used both. Further, some brands keep seperate ranges in malls and outside stores. And, we get better service from these mom-and-pop stores to boot!

The point is that most malls do not offer any good purchasing options. A consumer needs to purchase Groceries, Electronics, Apparel, Bathwear, Books, Small Appliances, Kitchen Items etc etc in a normal household – none of which are on offer at least at price points that consumers are used to. Please note that customers are currently spending cash on these very categories at certain price points, and in order to shift them you need to match the entire value proposition. Consumers will not spend more just because they are buying from a mall. Take the case of supermarts: with limited home delivery options given by most, perforce their consumer range is limited in the large part to wheeled consumers i.e. those having a car. And, critically, even in this segment they are facing competition from local supermarts who are frankly far smarter and nimbler, and more consumer responsive. With low overheads, these guys can afford to take on the big guys.
Simply put, it is a classic positioning case. You are offering products targeted at the affluent class, and are expecting volumes… Malls need to define their target markets clearly, and position themselves accordingly. That would mean attracting the right set of shops, good quality offerings (who is stopping malls from approaching top local retailers to set up shop? All you have to do is give them a reasonable offer from which they can make a profit) and then setting the other facilities in accordance to your positioning. If you expect volumes then kindly place some categories which are large sellers and ensure top quality stuff there. Top local retailers shy away from malls because of 2 pertinent reasons: one, they feel they will lose their existing clientelle built up over the years if they move, and two – they find rentals or the cost too high to make a profit. Try talking to any mall retailers. I did…. (One apparel retailer I spoke to – with 2 outlets, one in a mall and one in the local market was not able to cover costs in his mall outlet even in his third year of operation)
Secondly, you need to define your competition and understand them. The competition is not other malls but all such stores that have a share of the consumers’ wallet.  The consumer is already satisfying his needs through other outlets….in order to pull them away you will need to match the value proposition or better it. That is something that the mall industry is not attuned to thinking about. And, consumers usually regard malls as peddling costly stuff, an impression that is further buttressed by the shops that are currently in evidence. 
And Thirdly & lastly, the unflinching focus on footfalls is pointless. Footfalls dont lead to sales, quality products at right prices with the support of the other 2 Ps are what close a sale. Footfalls will fall away once the novelty factor fades… then it is your tenant mix that will hold your clientelle. Even anchor brands will only help initially since the market is expanding. That is the key- the market is changing almost on a daily basis. Outlets are coming up everywhere… in Indore Treasure Island has Pizza Hut as its anchor brand. Then, the market opened – US Pizza at Vijay Nagar, and Dominoes at C21 Mall and Sapna Sangeeta Inox. Where there was PVR, now there are at least 5 other movie options available. Earlier there was only 1 MacD at Treasure Island, now there is a second at Vijay Nagar and a third near ICICI Bank main branch. Nirula’s  shifted from a mall to a busy business district in Sneh Nagar. The most critical point is that US Pizza, Dominoes,Nirula’s and MacD have opened outlets in local shopping districts not in malls. Hence, the dependency on anchor brands can only be temporary at best. As far as entertainment is concerned, options are pretty limited and well – covered. We need to keep in mind that the share-of-wallet of Indian consumers is still very low for entertainment category…. education and recreating together account for 6% as per Mckinsey report. Furthermore, concentration on entertaiment alone could lead to a loss of clientelle…. One suggestion could be to monitor number of bills generated and average bill value category-wise to get a better handle on the state of affairs. These seem to me to be far more pertinent monitoring measures
In conclusion, it can be said that malls need to treat themselves as products, not as real estate shelves to be rented and sold. The entire product has to be designed well… and positioned appropriately. We have to keep in mind the realities of the Indian Market in terms of distributed retail market, Purchasing Power Parity, Per Capita Income, and economic scenario. Many a brand have misjudged India – business history is replete with examples. India is different- very different in business factors as well as cultural factors. Business Factors have a direct bearing on business realities, and Cultural Factors have a direct bearing on Consumer Behaviour and thus an indirect bearing on business. That needs to be kept in mind…

Which to choose – Lumia or Android? Layman’s perspective

Published January 10, 2012 by vishalvkale






(For people interested in getting a look – a demo of Lumia and a comparison, there are links 3, 4 and 5)

The problem with new product reviews on the internet is that they tend to be far too technical in nature, and are thus beyond the comprehension of a good many viewers. We read reviews in order to decide what to purchase, and there I have always faced a problem: I have had to surf and surf, picking one point from one review and one from another… So this is an effort to simplify things primarily for myself, as well as others. Which to go for? Android or Mango? 
It boils down to what YOU want in a smartphone. Why do you desire a smartphone? Once you have a handle on that, the rest is simple. Let me take myself – I like:

  • Applications – esp games (Most important : be all and end all of the phone)
  • Large Display with vivid colours
  • Fast performance
  • SD Card Support
Those are my choices in terms of critical features desired. If you look at it that way, since my most important parameter is Applications, I should go for an Android given its free applications market. If you desire other features – camera / picture quality, facebook / other apps support, ease of operation etc, the choice might change. For me, the only question is if I get only 1 of the 4 parameters, which would I not negotiate on? Answer: Applications. So, my path is clear. 
Once you have a handle on what feature – or the most important 2 or 3 features – then all you have to do is look for those features in that phone. It is a great pity that most experts write incomprehensible stuff – even to a telecom guy like me. And that is saying something! My one request to all gadget bloggers: Keep It Simple! To a layman, phone size, design, weight, Battery size in mAH is not pertinent except as a peripheral point. I understand what mAh is since I am from the same field, but do the majority of customers understand it? I didnt know its importance till I got into telecom! Which is why I like the review no 3 – youtube video – as the best I have seen in a long time. 

Coming to the Market of Smartphone, it is hotting up- Nokia Lumia with its Mango OS seems to have interested the market. But I still think it is early days, since the app market for Mango is still limited. Add to that the pace of growth of Google Android App Market, and you have the blueprint of victory already drawn up in favour of Android. In my opinion, Applications are going to be the key make or break factor – as users scale up the value chain, as they get used to smartphones, the demand for apps will increase, it has to. The main differentiator that a smartphone has over other devices is the range of solutions it can provide. So, over the long term, unless Nokia – Windows can generate app support to rival Android, they will find it tough to compete. They might get acceptance over the short term based on OS interface (which seems quite interesting) and product design, but once the novelty wears off, and consumers feel the pinch of limited software, they will move on – at least in my opinion.
I am quite sure that top Nokia execs are aware of this… now it remains to be seen how they deal with this challenge. The Lumia will decidedly change the perception of Nokia, but how much they can encash is open to question. Time will tell how Nokia moves forward…  they should realise they already have one support – Office software, which is the most accepted word processing software in the world. If they can add a comparable app library to it, no reason why they cannot get the momentum going.