Dec
26
Posted on 26-12-2010
Filed Under (PARADOX) by Shombit

The Indian EXPRESS/ The Financial EXPRESS article

Christmas puja is what the Santa Claus cap is for, explain beggars-turned-salespersons at traffic jams. Kolkata footpaths are piled high with plum cakes ranging from Rs 20 to 100. Indian Christians decorate their homes with earthen oil-diyas to welcome the birth of Christ just like Hindus welcome Ram, Sita and Lakshman returning from 14-year vanabas (exile) on Diwali. The way McDonald’s, KFC and Maggi noddles are becoming the Indian national standard, Christmas drives commercial avenues just like Dusshera, Durga or Ganesh puja, Ramzan, Onam, Pongal and Bihu do. But it’s the top money-spinner as it’s celebrated worldwide. In Europe alone, total Christmas sales are expected to rise slightly to €313 billion, equivalent to 16% of annual retail sales. Of this 10.3% will be online sales, with average sales per household being €590 this year.

Pre-Christmas festivity is very strongly visible nowadays. From across the US, Canada, UK, Bangladesh, East Timor, Germany, Jordan, France, Pakistan and different parts of India, Loreto Shillong girls came for a reunion in the manicured lawns of a colonial South Delhi home. When I walked into that event surrounded with choir music on a chilly early December evening, I wasn’t sure if I’d arrived somewhere in England. The fervour of the Loreto alumni singing their traditional jingle, “To East and West of that Fair Isle (meaning Ireland), Where the first Loreto stands, Loreto’s banner now doth fly in many distant lands… Loreto’s name each girl reveres, And holds it ever blest….” displayed the tremendous strength of their old-school tie.

Suddenly a beautiful, trance-inducing voice singed the cold air. A Baul singer, those wandering spiritual Sufi musicians of Bengal, strumming his ektara (stringed instrument) belted out in Bengali dialect, “Din duniyar malik khoda, Tomar dil ki doya hoi na” (God, you are the owner of the world of the poor, Have you no compassion in your heart?) From the Christmas atmosphere we unexpectedly entered the itinerant flavour of life on the road. His Loreto Shillong wife was devotedly accompanying him with small Bengali cymbals called kortal. I knew her from Paris where they are part of the World Music scene. Here they were, disrupting the Irish Catholic atmosphere with mystical, nomadic culture that’s more than five centuries old.

Then without much ado the Loreto women enthusiastically joined in for Jingle Bells. This made me imagine India’s Yuletide spirit some 70 years ago transcending the British Raj legacy. After some time, the alumni started to sing and dance with their husbands to the 1970s favourite European pop and disco numbers. That was the time I had left my poverty-ridden life in India. I now saw how familiarly the Loreto girls were enjoying what I saw only on arrival in France. At that time I could not imagine that there existed a certain social class in India who had the same type of thinking and living life as in the West. This very hands-on alumni party proved to me their versatility in being comfortable celebrating the Catholic origin of Ireland, the rollicking dance steps that Abba induced, and switch to paying rapt attention to minstrel Baul music.

A certain higher class, and of course all Christians, celebrated Christmas with our colonial masters. Today Christians decorate banana or mango trees and fill churches with red poinsettia flowers. With economic development, Christmas now puts everyone in a festive mood, irrespective of religion.

I made another discovery when one of my American friends in Bangalore invited us for a Christmas party on 11 December. There were several people, with 5 to 10-year-old Indian children very adeptly singing Christmas carols on karaoke with American accents. My pre-Europe Kolkata experience was Burra Din on 25th December, but in Europe I learnt Christmas means 24th December night, not before or after, and it’s always family reunion time. Celebration with friends is on 31st December. But easy-going Americans have elongated Christmas to month-long entertainment with friends, colleagues and family. Their marketing efficiency makes Christmas typically account for up to 25% of the retail industry’s annual sales.

How did Christmas carols originate? According to Clement Miles, author of Christmas Customs and Traditions, Christmas hymns started in fourth century Rome. The 13th century saw Christmas songs in their native French, German and Italian languages under the influence of Francis of Asissi. The carols we recognize today were originally communal songs sung during celebrations such as harvest tide.

It is recorded (in.answers.yahoo.com) that ancient European pagans celebrated the midwinter and other festivals long before Christianity ever existed. Babylonians celebrated the feast of the Son of Isis with eating, drinking, gift giving, and the goddess of fertility, love and war. The church under Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth would be celebrated on December 25 in 350 AD which fructified in 378. Scandinavian countries celebrated Yule honouring Thor. Yule is synonymous with Christmas, a usage first recorded in 900. In Germania midwinter night celebrations had 12 wild nights of eating and drinking. On 25 December the Romans celebrated their god Sol Invictas. Wikipedia says the earliest known reference to December 25 as the nativity date is found in Chronography of 354, an illuminated manuscript compiled in Rome.

According to missionislam.com, several cultures have 25 December as their gods’ birth date, such as Mithras of the Persians; Osiris, god of the dead and underworld in Egypt, and in Greece, Adonis, and Hercules, son of supreme god Zeus. Website www.islamweb.com says a Muslim is neither allowed to celebrate Christmas Day nor allowed to congratulate non-Muslims on their festival celebrations. Yet Christmas is a very big festival in all GCC countries where schools, colleges, offices declare it a holiday, malls and shopping centres decorate and promote huge sales and even a few local Arabs, pressurized by their children, put up a Christmas tree at home.

Returning from Delhi on 23 December I reached the airport 2 hours ahead, and was subjected to the grating boringness of Jingle Bells in continuous repetition. This is another innovative American characteristic. They have created a standard song and internationalized it as entertainment for a certain period that everybody seems to follow. Go to malls and hotel lobbies, you’ll hear nothing else. The expression “Happy Holidays” in place of Merry Christmas originated in America as many controversies surround the inception of Christmas. But the spreading power of Christianity has reached modern mobile phone using youngsters are forwarding upto 500 sms accompanied by Jingle Bells.

 

 

To download above article in PDF Please Jingle bells dil ki doya

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Dec
19
Posted on 19-12-2010
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

Fortunately, the human body emits numerous smells considered unacceptable in civilised society. The mega quantity of odour that human bodies produce per day is immeasurable, but whatever small portion has been captured generates a huge amount of business. The $30.5 billion global body fragrances market in 2006 will grow to be $35 billion in 2011. Premium fragrances comprise 60 per cent of the market, women’s fragrances account for 66 per cent of total sales.

It is statistically known that consumption of toothbrush and toothpaste was lower in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal than in northern Europe. I’ve even heard that 50 years ago, French homes used to have only one toothbrush for the whole family. Gauging the potential, American marketers flooded the market with “smiley” toothbrushes and toothpastes, which proved powerful enough to change the “cheesy” French habit. If you are not a cheese connoisseur, you may find little difference between “merde” and Epoisses from Burgundy or Munster from Alsace. The dish called tripe, which is animal stomach offal, smells like ammonia in urine. What does this show? That odour may not always be gentle, a horrible stink is also a selling point. So good or bad smell is not only subjective, it’s a measure of cultural preference too.

Underarms have taken the most strategic advantage in people’s mind. There’s roll-on deodorant costing a dollar to Clive Christian’s Imperial Majesty Perfume for Men priced at $435,000 a bottle. The 16.9-ounce limited edition signature scent is the world’s most expensive, presented in handcrafted Baccarat crystal with a 5-carat brilliant-cut diamond. Globally, deodorants will grow from a $11.5 market to 13.5 billion by 2013. Economic prosperity is commensurate with higher social recognition and usage of costly perfumes.

The quality of toilet paper has a strong relationship with affluent living. I remember in my first Parisian job as a lithography print-shop sweeper, the stiff-style, one-side glossy toilet paper used to give me irritation. Going from the Indian water habit, this cultural and physical change was dreadful, but I had no choice. One day, Monsieur Brayer, a famous established painter in France, invited me to his painting atelier. When I went to his toilet, its grandeur overwhelmed me. The toilet paper was called Lotus and it really was softer than lotus petals. And it was wonderfully fragrant. My big discovery was that sweet-scented toilet paper can cover up hygiene, bad smell and replace water usage.

Take a look at how many industries have popped up to address the body’s bad odour sources, including underarms, anus, private body parts, hair, toes and mouth, with multiple scent solutions. Just the mouth has flavoured toothpaste, chewing gum, peppermint, after-mint, mouthwash, even electric toothbrushes to reduce effort, increase comfort. Isn’t it useful that a small, out-of-home, briefcase pack mouthwash can be carried around for use before meeting a client or mistress after a smelly lunch?

In Europe, specialised companies are working for edible food fragrance. Restaurants renowned for their gastronomy spray “roast duck” or “truffled mushrooms” scents just before serving such dishes to their customers. Investigative journalists have recently caught a few famous French restaurants that claim to serve gourmet food made by their specialty chefs who select fresh ingredients by going to market at 4 am everyday. In fact, these restaurants were secretly buying ready-made, beautifully decorated, highly specialised industrial food from one of Europe’s reputed global food brands that has a division for café, hotel and restaurant ready-made food. The industrial food maintains its aroma consistently by using food perfume that’s created by master chefs and reproduced in industrial scale. Rummaging the backdoor dustbins of these sophisticated restaurants, the journalists found the empty containers of packaged industrially produced food and broke the scandal to prove how the public was being duped.

Closed areas such as fashion retails and hotels use fragrance as psychological addiction to get their customers to return. There’s a trend to create sustaining perfumes inside automobiles too. Experts in Europe are working scientifically to create harmless-for-humans industrial aromatics as their living conditions are always closed due to culture and cold weather. Ambient perfume remains for a longer time there, unlike in India where culturally, everybody loves an open situation, and the weather permits people to leave their doors and windows open. For India, ambient perfume has to be treated differently for it to remain for a longer time.

Royalty in every country patronises perfumery as a luxury element. Western nations have taken it to the masses. Names like Obsession, Nude and Intimate perfumes today have a heady association with romance, sex, love, affection. Not to mention aroma candles, overpowering incense sticks and fragrant condoms. It would be interesting to know if kissing intensity has increased post mouthwash innovation. The big plus is that the fragrance industry faces no recession as stress leads to sweat that increases human odour that has to be camouflaged.

Indian ittar or botanical perfumes, derived from Sanskrit sugandha, meaning aromatic, can be traced to the 5,000-year-old Indus Valley civilisation. But high quality, mass-level fragrance development as per social trends is still at a nascent stage here. This isn’t the technocrat marketing person’s work; it’s the domain of creating intangibles. Fragrance culture requires specialisation that has to be cultivated. Manufacturing companies outsourcing from perfume makers will always be handicapped and dependant, as the alchemy of fragrance will escape them. Unfortunately, the business of fragrance is unrecognised and neglected in India, a mere outsourced process. It’s time we learnt this specialised domain from European experts to drive the huge future opportunities here in food aroma, personal care products and ambient perfume for places like retails, hotels, homes, automobiles, spa, hair dressing salons, gym clubs, offices.

To download above article in PDF The business of human odour

Financial Express link:http://www.indianexpress.com/news/the-business-of-human-odour/726622/0

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Dec
12
Posted on 12-12-2010
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

The Indian EXPRESS/ The Financial EXPRESS article

Within 5 minutes, 30 saris were swiftly unfolded and draped extravagantly over outstretched arms. This spontaneous selling demo at a typical traditional store mesmerized my British friend Paul. He quadrupled his purchase intent of a sari for Christmas for his wife in Liverpool, to gifting saris to her sisters too.

Paul wanted clothing for himself so we entered a modern Indian fashion apparel store. As he walked alongside the merchandize shelves, he found a salesman shadowing his every step. This was embarrassing, he asked the salesman to stop following him. The man stepped back, but kept a hawk’s eye on his customer, purportedly to help him. When Paul did turn around to ask a question, the salesman ran to his boss to verify the veracity of his answer.

No sales tactics or glib dialogue: So what was the point in following Paul if his merchandise knowledge was so sketchy? Obviously his training was not just inadequate in facts and figures, but pitiful in soft skills. He’s never been trained to read a shopper’s face, or dialogue to help shoppers buy. Unlike the proverbial garrulous British barber who engages you in a constant stream of chatter as he shears off your hair, salespersons in modern Indian retails have no sales tactics or behavioural skills. So they just tail the shopper, not just irritating, but intimidating him, resulting in no expected business conversion. Shoppers who get trailed just take a round as though on an inspection tour, and quickly hit the exit door. Those who actually buy come with a need-based agenda with prior knowledge of the store’s merchandize.

Clearly modern retails require pragmatic soft skills coaching and systematic review mechanism. India’s social culture accepts the casual aspect and people interpreting the same subject very differently. So following a Western model is difficult as it requires conditioning, discipline and review. Sales people have to be made accountable to respect every discipline from morning to evening, during the tenure of their presence in the store. A service manual for productization of training has to cover every moment activity of every salesperson at the retail.

Associative learning for retail staff

Ivan Pavlov’s 1927 theory of classical conditioning can perhaps be applied here. In normal course, a dog salivates on seeing food. Pavlov’s conditioning theory demonstrated that by simultaneously ringing a bell and giving food, the dog will salivate on hearing the bell even without food because it associates food with the bell. Training people by strengthening the stimulus-outcome association has proved to be very effective in the West. When teaching an individual a response, you need to find the most potent reinforcer for that person. It may be a larger reinforcer at a later time or a smaller, immediate reinforcer.

Reading the shopper’s body language: Retails design a planogram to evoke the shopper’s subliminal desire for merchandize offtake as he/she walks through the retail. A simplistic example is placing accessories like cuff links and neckties next to formal shirts or suits. Shoppers of various types walk in, such as a man sporting a ponytail, in traditional clothes or Western suit, a woman with plenty of tattoos or in sophisticated outfit. How should the salesman approach these different personalities with appropriate soft skills for business conversion?

Individualization of service makes the retail great: On a recent US visit, my wife and I entered a large, crowded WalMart store. She sported a walking stick, having recently been operated for a broken knee. Suddenly a woman came, hugged my wife with a smile enquiring after her injury, and gave her an electric shopping cart with a seat. She explained how simple it was to drive the cart inside the store and shop without walking. What heartened us is that she brought the electric cart on her own initiative and made us feel welcome in an over-crowded store. This warm gesture is soaked in soft skills.

Another day at Walmart I was looking for a video camera charger that I forgot to pack into my suitcase. The store keeper searched the store and electronic inventory in vain, and asked for my mobile phone number. After two hours he called to apologize that they don’t deal with this brand, but that he’d enquired and found that his rival, Best Buy, has it. He asked me to visit a specific Best Buy, gave me the address and saleswoman name who’s holding my charger for me. I was totally overwhelmed; I didn’t know how to thank him. He humbly said he thought it his duty to help his shopper as he couldn’t provide the needed item. I went to Best Buy and got my charger, but my emotional bonding with Walmart increased substantially. I’ve now clearly understood how Walmart has grown to $407 billion revenue within 30 years.

Salesmen can radiate a dynamic ambience in the store

What’s the right mix for a retail to get quick ROI? The answer is low cost real estate, high spend in soft skills training for sales people, highly aspirational retail design and appropriate merchandize that caters to entry, mid and premium price tags and retails highly connected to their localities. For the store manager, the most important criterion is the retail’s fresh look. The ambience is the pull. How promptly can the merchandise be re-arranged after the previous shopper leaves? When a shopper appears to hesitate, can the sales person help by taking on the confidant’s role?

India is slated to allow 51% FDI for multi brand retails. When retails like Walmart come, the shopping culture will change as international brands are already riding high here. Instead of driving every subliminal aspect of shoppers, retailers today are merely providing air conditioned lung space for them in summer when they are out buying unbranded products from street hawkers or mom-&-pop stores. Isn’t it time organized retailers started creating conducive sales environments for retail ROI to happen by understanding all the shopper’s soft corners and addressing that diligently in a country of wide disparity of culture?

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Dec
11
Posted on 11-12-2010
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

The OUTLOOK BUSINESS article

Strategy, goal, objective, attack, are military terms that converge to killing people at wartime. Western corporations, overwhelmed by World War II and its aftermath, borrowed and translated these terms into business. The West spent 1950s in post-war reconciliation, 1960s demanded infrastructure build-up; 1970s saw consumerism waft in, while 1980s had people returning to their roots, re-discovering the organic after OPEC’s oil crisis. Upto this time multinational companies dominated the world with their inventions and innovations that came every 20 years. The big departure into digital technology came 1990s, while the 21st century mood is globalization. The difference now is that innovations appear every 20 days, market rules have changed, people command industry with increased demand and aspiration. Have corporations kept up with these disruptive times? Corporate culture is still driven by war terms. But what’s crucial to running business today is to talk of cross cultural blend, soft skills for relationships, social connect, proactive customer sensitivity, outside-in corporate culture, employee promise to clients for the future, delivering extra benefit that’s tangible to customers.

Mismatch between war-influenced business terms and today’s digital world: The crushing war effect ravaged most of Europe’s beautiful terrain. North Americans have not witnessed the war this way, but of course they had plenty of loss that’s visible only in graveyards of their dead soldiers. What multinational corporations co-opted into business was the power of strategy, target, ammunition capacity, timing, the numbers and dedication of soldiers in winning the war. But war is different from business. It is a short-term mission, and thankfully not sustainable. However, the word ‘mission’ had a different dimension when used by Christian missionaries to convert people. In religion, mission is a belief, but used in the war, it becomes a ‘Do or die’ affair. That’s why a corporate mission usually serves no purpose.

Being of ambiguous origin, the action of ‘belief’ and ‘mission’ are vulnerable in corporations. Unable to clarify the difference, corporations indoctrinate military terms to bring discipline for achieving organizational results. Infusing such military tactics worked upto the eighties. From the nineties, digital technology started revolutionizing the world, taking it to a 21st century of diversity and the Zap generation. These under-30 youngsters have discarded military discipline. What jars them is that money is being spent on war. They detest reading in Wikipedia that the US 2010 defence cost is about a trillion dollars. Fighting against the Axis powers in WW II was a real cause, but when US military spending today exceeds the combined total of every other country in the world, amounting to $1.2 million per minute, or $1.7 billion per day according to business.gather.com, Zappers feel it merely demonstrates power hankering games. So business terms require radical change to match the digital century with its Zapper mentality.

Who are these Digital Zappers? At Shining Consulting, our global interactions with different people for different brands have shown us that living in this disruptive century are 3 distinct generations:

• Tech-born Digital Zap (born 1986 onwards, the span reverses to 1980, so all below 30)

• Compromise (born after 1965 upto 1980: 31- 45 years)

• Retro (born before 1965: 45+ years)

Engulfed in 21st century’s rapid social change, Digital Zappers have no attachment to anything in any sustaining way, but their thought process incorporates the multitudes of every sphere today. The corporate operating discipline and future direction should be driven by Zapper diversity instead of indoctrinating corporate processes like they do in military barracks that are totally disconnected from the external world. Today’s Digital Zappers cannot take this, they have brought in a century change, not generation change, and organisations cannot be isolated from it.

Disruptive 21st century: The process of change from 19th century’s mechanical era to 20th century’s electronic era was big, but evolutionary. Between the mechanical gramophone and electronic turntable, there’s no radical difference in looks, mechanism and functioning. But along came the iPod in the 21st century, the shock-of-the-new that broke every known system for operating a music player. The change iPod and the MP3 players have rushed in has been revolutionary, a disruptive way of thinking, acting and behaving with digital technology. Those who could not keep up had to leave the market. Entertainment giant Sony has just announced it is discontinuing production of the Walkman that had pioneered mobile music. This proves that even an inventor can fail if he lacks the vision to foresee cross industry digital trends. It’s amazing that a computer-engineering firm entered the entertainment business to change the market rule and defeat its ruling giant.

Connecting to Digital Zap: I’d ventured into Paris to fulfill my childhood dream of becoming an artist at age 19 in 1973. I found huge differences then with other 19-year-olds of French, Italian, English, German, Swiss, Belgian and American origin. Coming from a poor refugee colony in West Bengal, I was bound not to connect. But I later discovered that even people of the same generation in Europe and America did not connect to one another socially at that time. I’ve read that Churchill said it was not easy to make European and American youth connect to one another and the World War II cause, even as they called themselves the Allies.

Today, my business travels to different continents makes me realize that every country’s youth has more or less the same social connect. There is a certain coherency of the trend, a globalization of the mind and social context. But Retro or Compromise generations often take management decisions in corporate houses, which is why Digital Zap has a huge disconnect to many industries today. A few exceptions would be Google, Apple, Nike, Microsoft and Cisco.

Digital Zap at the cusp of the century: Differences in attitude are clearly visible: Retro reads a newspaper at home, Compromise gets the news via Internet at office, while Zap stays in touch with a mobile device while on-the-go. Retro writes letter, Compromise phones and Zappers text messages. But the Zap generation is in tune with the world’s diverse ways; the future of business is with them.

When the 1986-born became 5-year-olds, they were conscious of, and using, digital technology that had started overpowering the world. Digital waves being their primary impact, they became Digital Zappers. As they’ll drive tomorrow, Compromise or Retro generations may disappear; the generations may be Digital Zap Mature, Digital Zap Ripened and Digital Zap Youth. The way the US Baby Boomer generation dominated the second part of the 20th century, Digital Zap is set to dictate terms in the 21st century.

You have Digital Zapper employees, consumers or shareholders who command you, vendors who can be your customers. A consumer on the road could be your employee, shareholder, or activist. Of course such instances prevailed before, but today’s digital diversity has brought them out-in-the-open and pronounced. The more you think, act and align with the below-30, the more you connect to the world’s happenings. Irrespective of whether they are spenders, Zappers are the real influencers in decision making for every family purchase. Don’t ever consider this new civilization of digital connectors to have any gap. Drive the enterprise with Digital Zapper values, you’ll connect to take a positive move forward.

To download above article in PDF military barraks

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Dec
05
Posted on 05-12-2010
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

 

Roadside fruit sellers on carts have an inherent sense of exposing perceptible selling differentiation (PSD). They consciously entice passersby with fruits shining fresh, temptingly ripe, and ready-to-consume. These entrepreneurs are their own controller of supply chain, sales, finance, administration and public relations, negotiating space with police and city authorities. Cart sellers can teach corporates a lesson or two on differentiating from competition through punter pulling selling skills that are implicitly visible.

USP: Earlier, the marketing world used Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for differentiation. According to Wikipedia, “USP is a marketing concept … to explain a pattern among successful advertising campaigns of the early 1940s. It states that such campaigns made unique propositions to the customer and that this convinced them to switch brands. The term was invented by Rosser Reeves.” Today we see USP being used to demonstrate differentiation even in R&D and brand proposition.

In the 21st century’s digital era, USP concept has become obsolete. When USP was invented, most big innovations emerged every 20 years; global corporations did their own manufacturing, industries dominated over buyers. Today, buyers dictate their requirements to industry; innovations are happening fast and plenty, almost every 20 days. In the rush to introduce products, differentiation is taking a beating. Marketers are hard-pressed to find USP which, as per Reeves’ theory, makes buyers switch to the brand best differentiated. USP does not answer how a brand will sustain in the market. Can you expect buyers to switch to your brand only because of good advertising and vice versa? Is your brand content otherwise hollow? Mere advertising display of USP cannot win buyers.

Purchase factors: What is it that makes people buy? Three crucial factors create PSD: word-of-mouth, first visual appearance and actual experience.

Word-of-mouth goes beyond hearing and getting influenced by others to the social networking space. Backed by the authenticity of previous excellence, corporations launch new products. The 2-day advance queue for iPhone’s launch in Japan is a great example. You know what you want, but at the point of purchase another, more expensive product can change your mind if you implicitly gauge its higher value. That’s PSD at the first visual appearance which can also encourage purchase not immediately necessary, but seems the right fit. If actual experience does not encourage repeat purchase, you need to rectify deficiency that’s possibly crept into your offer. I’ve always experienced that it makes a great difference to involve consumers at every stage of product development. Also, continuous measure of performance with competition keeps PSD alive.

Repeat purchase, the must of marketing: Spectacular product launches are made, but after 3-4 months, repurchase generally dwindles. Why? With buyers increasingly demanding new and extraordinary experience, innovation is on the fast track. Several products of similar performance proliferate in the market. The solution is to engage the buyer with the product’s intrinsic properties so that they are ready to repurchase. These can be gauged in consumer research where the stimulus is presented in an unbiased manner to elicit an authentic response.

PSD to the rescue: The potential solution for marketers challenged with too many undifferentiated products, is Perceptible Selling Differentiation to keep pace with buyers sway. What exactly does PSD stand for? It is an ‘outside-in-out’ approach that leads to purchase and repurchase. When you involve buyers from the inception of product development, you create differentiation that buyers perceive, value and want. The buyer’s requirement is your outside-in perspective, what the company then delivers to the market leads buyers to buy and buy again.

Demanding buyers pay little heed to jargons, showy advertising or flashy people in B2B business. They seek quality first, but not the ISO 9000 / 14000 variety. They may like a product’s look, but to evoke repurchase they need to perceive sustainable differentiated value before buying, and experience satisfaction afterwards.

PSD is key to sustain growth: In the competitive scenario, ‘Perceptible’ is the intrinsic tangible quality, ‘Selling’ is the product’s functionality relevant to the buyer, and ‘Differentiation’ is the balance of quality and functionality that makes the product look good in the competitive context.

A distinguished chef meets his customer’s stated need by doing multiple trials involving people who taste his food and give their judgment. In continuously fine-tuning, it’s all about how he adjusts ingredient dosage to balance his dish. Similarly, your every offering has to arrive at a certain balance. To start a new market for the consumer’s unstated need, you have to simulate an experience. Create such a discomfort of newness that the buyer’s mind totally shifts to the product development as shock-of-the-new. Not everyone will immediately connect. Society has drivers and followers. Have the driver co-opt the unstated to become an obvious need.

In the product development research lab where you involve buyers, don’t force-fit a proposition by applying reason and bulldozing people. Until the buyer implicitly accepts the proposition, it’s a risk to go to market. Well polished visual differentiation is the external shell. Buyers should subliminally accept a perceptible substance embedded in a proposition. Only when the 5 human senses appreciate the proposition as implicit can repurchase happen.

When organizations lack PSD: The symptoms of PSD deficient enterprises are 1) Top line is growing but bottom line is stagnant; 2) Top and bottom lines are both under stress; and 3) Bottom line is good but top line is stagnant. To overcome such situations your operations need to drive change through PSD. In some critical pocket, you have to make a pit-stop for tightening up your enterprise’s internal system. It does not mean total operations standstill. Only your ego-centric racing against competitors to gain market stature has to take a break. The analogy here is that you cannot repair a car while driving it.

To make yours a transnational brand, think and act with PSD as the central gravitation of your enterprise. Big brands become a rage not for their dazzling image but for PSD. For creating a new product or service or improving an existing one, you need to involve a certain number of buyers as a sounding board from the initial stage. When your buyers say, "I believe in it, it works well for me, it looks good,” it means they have repurchase motivation.

You may prioritize your enterprise, vendor, supply chain, analyst, and channel, but in developing a product give first priority to the buyer. Otherwise, today’s evolved set of buyers will not see perceptible differentiation in your offering. Without an assured buyer, where is your business future? For mass scale product marketing and selling, PSD is the only solution that will give you a strong top line, bottom line and market share growth that will sustain.

To download above article in PDF Please Business sustainability = Perceptible Selling Differentiation

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