May
29
Posted on 29-05-2011
Filed Under (PARADOX) by Shombit

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

Sexual harassment was probably unknown when monarchs reigned with all-pervading command. Emperors, Kings, Feudal Lords womanized to their libido-fill. Spectator-publics scarcely raised a murmur, the sought-after girls enjoyed luxuries denied to commoners. Then along came 1789 French Revolution which eventually led to 20th century Democracy. Political color changed in fits and starts, kingdoms became democracies, and most countries won rule by the people, of the people, for the people. Political leaders who’ve since sprung up are human too. Power developed their foibles, just like yesteryear’s rulers. So should it surprise us when their heads bloat with new-found authority, and primitive instincts storm out of their id, that unconscious sexual energy of Freudian context?

France has historically been secretive about private lives of politicians. Until non-fiction potboiler Sexus Politicus (2006) by Christophe Dubois and Christophe Deloire declared that a successful politician is also a seductive politician in France. The book revealed that President Félix Faure (1895-1899) died in the bed of his mistress. Tellingly, Edgar Faure, Prime Minister (1950s) made ‘President of the Council’ said, “When I was a minister, some women resisted me. Once I became president, not even one.” They quote an unsubstantiated story in Guy Birenbaum’s book (2003) about President Jacques Chirac fathering a child with a Japanese mistress, and enquire whether President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing really had as many mistresses as the Paris salons claim. French broadmindedness was illustrated when President François Mitterrand bore a daughter out of wedlock, and both mistress and illegitimate child were invited by Mrs Mitterrand to attend her husband’s public funeral. France also accepted Ségolène Royal as Presidential candidate (2007) inspite of her not being married to her children’s father.

Roland Dumas, Mitterrand’s foreign minister, was convicted to 6 months prison, his mistress, Christine Deviers-Joncour, for 18 months in a 2001 sleaze scandal. He allegedly pulled strings to appoint a new president for state-owned Elf Oil. In return his mistress, Christine Deviers-Joncour, got an Elf job, unlimited credit card, apartment worth $1.7 million, and £6.4 million from Elf in 4 years. UK’s Independent says Dumas (78) and Christine (53) “became very public lovers, although both had other affairs.” When released from prison Christine defiantly wrote a tell-all bestseller calling it and herself "Whore of the Republic."

Currently, “hot rabbit” ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s high pitch sex saga continues unabated. The French on TV said a rapist and seducer are not the same, seducing is a human right. Call girl suppliers and journalists are tumbling out stories on DSK’s uncontrolled sexual imprudence. Then California erupted with another sex scandal. Former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger confessed his housekeeper for 20 years bore him an illegitimate child. His wife, President Kennedy’s niece, pressed the divorce button. Los Angeles Times reported his several sexual misdemeanors, alleging 6 women complained he groped them on movie sets, studio offices for 3 decades without their consent. Others said he grabbed their breasts, touched buttocks, talked dirty, and former child actress Gigi Goyette was paid $20,000 silence money in 2005.

UK’s The Guardian alleges Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was taught bunga bunga by Libya’s Muammar al-Gaddafi. A bunga bunga party can have erotic pole dancing, underwater orgy with 20 nude young women encircling their nude host Berlusconi in his swimming pool, the prize being prostitution for the host. Prosecutors in Milan have charged three showgirls with procuring 33 young women for Berlusconi’s bunga bunga sex sessions. On 6 April 2011, the 74-year-old TV magnate-turned-conservative politician was put on trial. He’s accused of paying an underage prostitute and abusing his official position to cover up the offence.

In website Hubpages.com, Nolan Thomas writes on Sexual Affairs by US Presidents: “John F. Kennedy chased women like a man possessed. His numerous sexual encounters are…. affairs with White House workers, gangsters’ girlfriends, staff members, reporters, movie stars…Angie Dickinson, Kim Novak, Marilyn Monroe.” He allegedly used Secret Service to cover his tracks so wife Jackie would find no ‘evidence.’ Thomas cites a string of sexual indiscretions, long-term liaisons and one-time encounters, since Bill Clinton was Governor of Arkansas. “In the White House, his promiscuousness didn’t stop. Monica Lewinsky, a good looking 21-year-old intern….had a dress with Clinton’s sperm stain on it…. Clinton adamantly denied sexual activity with Lewinsky, later rebutting his story and admitting that it did happen.”

Sexual exploits under Communism were not too different. Robert Service, professor at London University, wrote Lenin: A biography, where he said that Vladimir Lenin, exiled to Siberia, married his comrade Nadya Krupskaya 1898. He went to France 1910, and met beautiful French-born revolutionary Inessa Armand, an advocate of free love. He wanted Inessa plus Nadya, who became like his personal secretary and household organiser. When Lenin moved into Moscow Kremlin 1918, he convinced both to be with him. All three had separate bedrooms. Nadya and Inessa felt no hostility for each other, and worked together in the party school.

In The Private Life of Chairman Mao, his doctor Li Zhisui revealed Mao’s liking for “naked wrestling with young women from People’s Liberation Army, his preference for enormous feather beds filled with giggling busty lasses…mainly daughters of poor peasants for whom sleeping with Chairman was life’s greatest experience.” Philip Short’s biography confirms Dr Li’s account, “Mao bathed in women, filling his bed with up to eight at a time.” Mao also prioritized freeing women from foot-binding and Confucian practices that subordinated them to husbands and fathers. Dr Li says, "Mao became an adherent of Taoist sexual practices…He needed the waters of yin (vaginal secretions) to supplement his declining yang (male essence), the source of his strength, power and longevity.” After its publication 2006, Chinese authorities attacked Random House for producing a book ‘awash in lies and malice.’

Politicians seem to indulge with a vengeance in juicy sex antics, irrespective of countries. Their frolics crowd up public air waves, cyber space, print media, wagging gossipy tongues. Now you know what can be in store if career ambition drives you headlong into this public personality league of political leaders!

To download above article in PDF Sexodrama of political leaders

Financial Express link :http://www.financialexpress.com/news/sexodrama-of-political-leaders/796600/0

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May
22
Posted on 22-05-2011
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

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

Do you have the grit, gumption and decision making capacity to tackle ambiguous situations in an enterprise? If you can take on unknown and unexpected consequences, you’ve got it, you’ve got that entrepreneurial mindset. It does not necessarily come from topping the class at Harvard, London School of Economics or INSEAD. These top-end institutions can only add some topping in a cake. The entrepreneurial outlook is an attitude that you and you alone can grow with your inner drive if you have the get-up-and-go.

A self-propelled spirit to do business does not mean you have to create your own enterprise. You can be a better salaried employee when your stance is entrepreneurial. Developing this approach and behavior will push you to gain higher domain knowledge than the average person. With this attitude, you’ll always chase differentiation to succeed over others, and polish your leadership quality at any level of your working career. Here, both you and your employer will be winners.

What do you need to become entrepreneur centric? The answer is the 3 fundamentals of MSD: (1) Management skills to lead people and administer work, (2) Salesmanship, from the basic to a sophisticated approach, and (3) Domain knowledge, from the nitty-grity to the top end of the spectrum of your subject. To raise the taste and pleasure of being an entrepreneur, you have to embellish these 3 fundamentals with the 3 additional ingredients of passion, daringness and an aptitude for hard work.

The entrepreneurial mindset is self-directed and animated by a sense of autonomy and purpose. It’s not like managing work through automation. Nor does it reduce everything to a series of rule-based steps where you find one correct answer. It means being open for multi-disciplinary inputs and the non-routine. Entrepreneurship involves juggling stimuli from society and technology trends, then blending them with elements of design and empathy. All the while you’ll be considering the big picture to lead towards creating a symphony. Most of all, motivation is intrinsic in an entrepreneur to do something not for its rewards alone, but for that inherent satisfaction of just doing the task. You yearn to get better at whatever matters to you. So your achievement becomes very personal, like losing weight or learning music or stretching the body for Tango dancing.

From the large number of furniture stores mushrooming in every locality of India’s growing cities, you can tell lifestyle purchase is on the rise. If you go to the place the furniture is sourced from, you’ll find a mediocre-minded owner, himself an exceptional carpenter, working together with many employees. Their domain knowledge and craftsmanship would undoubtedly be terrific. But the environment in which they are working? More likely than not, conditions would be unhygienic, untidy and hot, their working instruments almost as shoddy as their working clothes. When you experience their deliverables in a cocktail party at a sophisticated home, you may never realize where the exceptional furniture you are sitting on came from.

What’s missing in these people? As per my 3 MSD fundamentals, and 3 ingredients, they don’t have the right salesmanship and daringness. So they continue to have miserable living conditions and work hard throughout their lives. There are innumerable small home industries running in India. With practical coaching on entrepreneurship, they can become highly potent SMEs for the domestic market and refinement of that can uplift their businesses to hit the global market. Entrepreneurial methods need to be taught in every livelihood practice. Take a farmer with 2 acres of land. He earns a maximum of Rs 3,500 after much hardship. Surely Rs 10,000 per month is possible, but who will teach him how to apply better techniques for growth? Check this example: When I was working to design tractors for hobby farming in the US market, I had to visit farmers across states as part of my research. A farmer family owning 30 acres in Sacramento, California, said that having big land tracks does not mean they make more money. Their neighbour was earning significantly higher revenues proportionately they were from just an acre of land. That neighbor was cultivating heirloom tomatoes, the tiny cherry-looking boutique vegetable that sells at considerably higher rates than common ripe tomatoes.

Even the self-employed can lack the drive for entrepreneurship. When they have a trader-like mentality, they make no effort to understand the customer beyond the basic stated requirement. They cut corners and fail to become conscious about sustaining quality. So small, medium or big enterprises all end up acting like “order takers” for the demand led market. In the IT services business, most Indian IT companies lack trained talent to upgrade their basic services to the next level for their global customers. There’s no dearth of IT engineers and diploma holders who pass out with flying colours. But how many of them have the entrepreneurial stance to dialogue with sophisticated global customers in customer business language? Most often, barely a handful.

Salaried employees who do not absorb the entrepreneurial frame of mind always seem to have an urgent need to satisfy the boss. Decisions scare them. The larger majority of people continue to vie for comfortable jobs where challenge and responsibility are minimal. Earlier it was a government job everyone was after for the life-long security it gives. Now an IT job or working for a global company is considered the plum, for the big size pay packet that brings. As they take no initiative to benchmark themselves and their work at a global level, they are not confident about personal delivery capability.

In our free economy, if the government wants to really solve the BPL (below poverty line) factor, an initiative can be taken to create the MSD entrepreneurial mindset at the mass level. A radical shift is required from seeking job security to developing the free enterprise spirit where risk and reward exist in equal measure.

To download above article in PDF MSD drives entrepreneurship

Financial Express link : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/MSD-drives-entrepreneurship/793980/0

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May
15
Posted on 15-05-2011
Filed Under (POLITICS) by Shombit

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

Choice. That’s what the free economy and competition gives the masses. What she/he likes today could be totally divergent tomorrow. Consumers declare in jest that they cannot change husbands, so they compensate that urge by changing brands. Nobody disturbs such decisions, there’s no social discrimination here. Perhaps people choose political parties the way they do brands. What’s next for rulers and opposition political parties just elected in 5 states? Let’s look at politics through the branding perspective as that’s intertwined with mass preferences. To achieve brand loyalty, brands engage with people’s psychological aspect. Do political parties understand that?

Connect to BPLs and billionaires: A consuming product brand cannot enjoy market monopoly when choice is aplenty. Sony was top-of-mind for electronic products for 25 years. Almost overnight Apple ate up its market share. Even LG and Samsung are more talked about than Sony and Philips. Should Indian political parties take a lesson from how brands conquer the masses? It’s easy to connect to the small number of millionaires/billionaires who have mutual political interest. But politicians need to pull in mass support. Brands have no caste consideration, but category differentiation can be created. Everyone consumes Britannia’s Tiger biscuits, but Mercedes is not for everybody. The masses are no longer passive spectators awaiting the 5-year voting festival, they’re participating activists. Political leaders may lead a Mercedes-driven lifestyle, but their mass representation has to be Tiger. In the free economy of this digital technology era, they need to connect on a global platform to all, BPL (below poverty line) to billionaires alike. Just as brands try understanding society’s micro nuances, political parties have to co-opt changing trends in this triangular focus by coping with: (1) three conflicting generations, (2) the micro judgment of people of 8 socio-behavioural clusters, and (3) the crunched distance from rural to metro.

 

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(1) Three conflicting generations: Do industries, parents and political leaders pay heed to the existence of three conflicting generations, Retro (45+ years), Compromise (30 to 45 years) and Zap (below 30 years)? The Zapper mindset is attuned to globalization post India’s economic liberalization and impact of digital technology. When they reach 40/50 years of age, they’ll be mature Zappers, different from their Compromise and Retro parents. You know the landline, but have you experienced the mobile homeline? During research in Maharashtra’s deep rural, an 18-year-old took me to his congested, single-room, 13-member joint family home to show how he changed his poor family’s economic condition. From a central pole, a mobile phone was hanging. He said he had to fight family elders to buy the phone. It now helps him coordinate rates in nearby small towns and reach his family’s meager farm produce to the best offer. His family’s addicted to the hanging homeline so he doesn’t carry it himself. Zappers, irrespective of income and rural/metro residence, have this same enterprising mindset. Are political leaders engaging with their enthusiasm?

Why are SMEs (small and medium enterprises) complaining that Zap children are not interested in family business? Take a leaf from Germany’s tremendous success in outperforming other European countries. Agile German SMEs are the backbone of the country’s economy, they’ve competitively grabbed business across the globe. Indian SMEs have difficulty professionalizing their enterprises and inspiring their Zap children who think differently. In fact even in higher education Zappers are not taught the 3 pillars of entrepreneurship: (a) Focus on domain expertise from an early age to digest the domain’s nitty-gritty, (b) Develop management skills to activate teamwork, (c) Cultivate the capacity to sell. Entrepreneurship needs to be driven by daringness, passion and hard work. Can ruling and opposition political parties play a role here? They can facilitate their agenda of strengthening the economy and reducing unemployment by motivating SMEs to grow and sustain.

(2) Micro judgment from 8 socio behaviourial clusters: Irrespective of income and social class, the 21st century is witnessing 8 socio-behavioral clusters comprising individuals who are Low key, Value seeker, Sober, Flamboyant, Novelty seeker, Critical, Techy or Gizmo lovers. This is a change from 20th century’s socio economic classes and 19th century’s colonial agrarian classes. The power of micro judgment influenced by every individual’s behavior is what makes or breaks a brand today. That’s why all products are specifically positioned in the market to appeal to selected socio-behavioural clusters. Just as social inclusion is important for a brand, political parties need the passion to enter the social cauldron to understand and care for its political base. Furthermore, micro segmentation of Zappers to attune their political future may be required, the way brands are micro-segmented for penetration and consumption. Or will caste politics continue to rule the roost? Of course West Bengal is an exception as caste is irrelevant here.
(3) Crunching distance from rural to metro: Every Indian marketer’s nightmare is reaching rural areas which in his mind is equivalent to big distance, bad infrastructure, non commutable. But these physical barriers have been crunched virtually. And it’s scheduled to shrink more and more. What’s happening in metros, urban and small cities is almost transparent in the rural through mobile electronic media and cyber communication. Rural people will not remain silent for long. They’ve understood that they are the larger vote bank, yet development happens in metros and urban areas only. How soon can politicians bring prosperity to 600,000 small villages of 1200 to 6000 population each? Otherwise, for lack of livelihood opportunities, these people will be compelled to continue coming to big cities to grow 21st century slums at an alarming rate.

Voters of 5 states have exercised their democratic right, elected their governing representatives. Politicians have to broaden their shoulders now. The masses, no longer spectators, expect their leaders to facilitate them a better livelihood and lifestyle. From BPL to billionaires, everyone wants to enjoy the fruits of our free economy.

To download above article in PDF Do political parties know today’s he and she?

Financial Express link : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/Do-politicos-know-todays-he-and-she/790852/0

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May
08
Posted on 08-05-2011
Filed Under (POLITICS) by Shombit

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

CM Championship Trophy: Panchayat election was the league matches, Parliament election the quarter finals, municipal election the semi-finals, and the final assembly election for the CM Championship Trophy started 18 April to conclude on 10 May. The winner will be declared on 13 May 2011. As part of this election game we’ve witnessed serious shenanigans, political travesty, hatred and meaningless murder, unsportsmanlike rivalry and mudslinging that bordered on drollery. Let me share with you the nuances I could follow due to my Bengali origin.
TV debates from city to district bombarded us with sihrbtuvasjhbcdiugsdcu…useless! At other times it was bvecoybweoiycvasjbcfff….failure! And then again wohfmenrbyrmnbsdjgcsdyuuu….ugly! As in a kids’ school, everyone talks at the same time. You hardly understand anything.  A ruling party leader quoted Central Government figures saying Bengal had superior performance over other states on public health. He said healthcare and hospitals were the State Government’s priority these 34 years. The Opposition promptly queried, “If public hospitals are so good, why were famous leaders Jyoti Basu and Anil Biswas (late party chairman) taken to sophisticated private hospitals?” The ruling party’s explanation was adequate, of disease complexity requiring specialized treatment. But in the same breath the ruling party questioned, “Why was India’s Prime Minister taken to UK for his bypass operation spending public money?”

We’re fortunate the idiot box reveals such juicy, blow-by-blow election debates among other entertainment. Exceptional in Bengal’s election matches is unexpected stories that keep emerging from the two leading parties. Other parties have added salt and pepper from time to time to increase or diffuse the taste. Every cricket match in a series is never thrilling, but in this election, each episode has been rousing, except the violence. I’m sure the public enjoyed them all. Actually the only similarity with World Cup Cricket is the suspense of who will win.

Peculiar election model: Entrusted with free polling and fair elections, the Election Commission undoubtedly made serious security arrangements to achieve voter turnout from an electorate of 5,60,91,973 in West Bengal’s 88752 sq km area for 294 seats. It’s perfectly understandable that voting was staggered into 6 phases to avoid turbulence.  But aren’t rules like stoppage of election activity 48 hours prior to polling a little archaic when electronic and cyber media command the airwaves today? In compliance, on-ground electioneering stopped at voting locations. But where’s the question of not influencing voters when TV telecast of party speeches, debates and advertisements continued, even as voters were standing in queue? In fact after votes were cast in a phase, different political parties further stimulated the next phase electorate by releasing poll results of hypothetical numbers of seats they are about to win. Such influencing factors do not help standardize electioneering procedures.
If 6 phases are inevitable and the rule to be abided, shouldn’t campaigning have stopped 48 hours before the first phase until the sixth phase in all media? But election is great business, low cost drama production vis-à-vis the exorbitant cost of producing TV serials. It’s well established that the more you spend to advertise any brand, the better its penetration and product purchase, at least for a trial. A democratic practice in Western countries is equal time on TV and radio for all political parties 3 weeks prior to elections. Doordarshan does that too, but how many watch DD? There’s no balance in Indian TV channels that are unabashedly aligned to their favourite political parties. Cyber media hasn’t entered election rule books yet possibly because it’s not involuntary viewing, people choose to go there.

Death in the name of election: In ancient Rome, Caesar and his subjects would surround the Coliseum to watch how gladiators can survive the dangerous fights that killed the human being or animal. Killing and winning enthused Emperor and spectators alike. Democracy was created to exit this feudal lifestyle; the election process to choose the right leader. In West Bengal, assembly election has become that gladiator fight in full public view. Participating gladiators are using bombs and guns to kill and win, while the TV set has become the Coliseum. This gladiator power game began in 2006, violence has mounted over the years until the Election Commission clamped it down prior to election. Political parties have lost their intellectual capacity to convince people through debate, logic and persuasion; they just resort to violence. Nobody can be neutral in Bengal, the moment you open your mouth, people will automatically paint some party color on you. To grow the state’s future, there’s a need to make the masses conscious about democratic activities that are achieved without bloodshed. 
Where’s the solution tomorrow? Whoever wins the CM Championship Trophy on 13 May 2011 should really work with the opposition to avoid further carnage. All West Bengal mothers should demand non-tolerance of even a single dead body from political disturbance. The state will never see the development sun rise if political parties use their strength only to claw one another and politicize everyone else. If the party that becomes the opposition will veto everything the ruling party does as being wrong, the state will go nowhere. The ruling party’s job, on the other hand, will be to find ways to conquer the opposition’s emotion. Mixing socially could be a good start, ruler and opposition leaders in social gatherings together to prove their fraternity in spite of being on opposite benches. If this compassionate political-cum-development flame starts, it will change the face of the state. The masses will win hands down, in family health, education, employment and prosperity. People will get positive inspiration when West Bengal grows with industrialization and intelligent farming solutions for poor farmers.

Can the public expect to see a cross political jazz band with different leaders in lead vocal, lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, trumpet, saxophone and keyboard harmonizing the contemporary Bengali song that encourages the young blood to move forward? Political parties! Can this not be the vision of West Bengal tomorrow?

To download above article in PDF WB blood or prosperity

Financial Express link : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/hi-west-bengal-blood-or-prosperity/787284/0

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May
01
Posted on 01-05-2011
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

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

The so-called customer care service of one of India ’s largest mobile phone operators regularly calls me, and then asks, “What’s your name, sir?” Their intention to perhaps offer additional services may be good, but their insensitivity is appalling. Having been their subscriber for the last 10 years, obviously I’m in no mood to reciprocate enthusiastically to reveal my identity.

This clearly demonstrates the tactlessness of companies who ignore per capita growth because market penetration possibilities is high in populous India. Running after new customers in new geographies is the quick-fix business expansion route. Do companies glance back to seal the existing customers’ emotional bond to the brand? Business houses relegate that job of acquiring emotional connect to television ads. Not on their priority agenda is the understanding of who the customer is.  Failure to connect to existing customers may shut the door of what business sustainability thrives on, the customer’s decisive, regular repeat purchase.

Your brand’s regular, repeat purchase can be extremely volatile as its dependent of the customer’s capricious decision. Unless the brand knows how to lock her in, she can move away at whim.

The character of different products and services demands relevant purchase cycles ranging from daily to short, mid, long and extended terms.  Milk, bread and petrol may be purchased daily, FMCG products weekly and apparel every 2 months. Flamboyant, gizmo lover or novelty seeker customers may buy mobile phone handsets every 6 months, others every 24-30 months. TV set or AC purchase is long term, every 4-5 years, while automobiles are changed in 5-7 years, Aircraft purchase falls into extended term of 20-25 years. In services, you could do fortnightly business of air tickets, courier or bank transactions; leisure travel hotel bookings once or twice a year, or for business every other day.

Per capita consumption of your product or service gives stability to your business. If your brand does not figure in the customer’s decisive, regular repeat purchase cycle, you have not read her subconscious mind. Korean refrigerators successfully occupied her mindshare to make a durable product into a consumable. From buying one every 20 years, people now change their refrigerators within 6-7 years.

Irrespective of any buying cycle, your brand’s biggest danger is the infrequent buyer, lapser or those who swing at the last moment of purchase. This happens because industries pay scant attention to their customer eco-system. Businesses spend time in backend management, acquiring assets, but leave customer centricity to hypothetical presumption. Have they compulsively enquired, “Who is my customer? Why is she my customer? What is her social standing, family, health, education, earning and living condition?” Do businesses have pictures of their customer profile pasted on company walls to invite employees to become sensitive to them? Instead I’ve often seen paintings, company policies or HR initiatives on office walls. Poor infrastructure in India makes industries dependent on wholesalers who generate 40 to 60% sales. Traceability of this buyer is totally unknown.

Customer loyalty programs have become prevalent but transactional, gently bulldozing members to buy, not understand their psychological make-up. Going back to the mobile operator, the biggest ambition is to bundle offerings for winning the price war. On querying subscribers, I only hear of the best promotions, never talk on service quality.

B2B businesses like India’s $60 billion IT services exports mistakenly consider that understanding the end-customer’s ecosystem comprises the B2C domain. They don’t seem to realize that at the end, the end-customer is delivered a product.  Not knowing the end-customer’s purchase cycle prevents them from understanding their client’s business. Their clients are under regular pressure to sweep up their end-customer’s decisive regular repeat purchase as per industry norm, and get per capita, priority to penetration growth.

Most Indian IT companies struggle to upgrade from technical cost cutting vendors to strategic business partners. They want repeat business in healthcare, energy, utilities, banking and insurance financial services, manufacturing, telecom, automobiles, aviation, retailing, consumer good, electronics among others, become sticky partners, increase customer wallet share. But it’s doubtful if they pay attention to their client’s only business prerogative, their end-customer’s decisive, regular repeat purchase cycle.

So I return to basics. Modern industry should take a cue from the Indian mom&pop (kirana) retailer’s immense customer knowledge, minus his poor hygienic sense.  Prioritize your brand’s activity and investment in understanding the customer’s intangible areas first. To get your target customer’s endorsement of “I believe in it, it works well for me, it looks good” your brand has to excel over competitors in quality and functionality. Once these two factors are satisfied, it’s easy to make the product look good to induce repurchase.

Everybody cannot be your customer. Define your core customer who contributes to 70% of your business. Capture her psychological, social, family, health, economic aspects and cater to her predictably. She shouldn’t become a lapser, or your business will get peripheral and satellite buyers only; they are ad hoc, infrequent, swing or take trials only. 

Global fashion brand Zara from Spain has completely understood the consumer’s hedonistic mindframe to have a differentiated fashionable wardrobe. Accelerating industry rules to satisfy her desire state, they change the entire stock in the store every 15 days. With complete control over creativity of their 200 designers, manufacturing, distribution and retailing, they increase per capita purchase through strong spread of word-of-mouth. Instead of buying different brands, their customers indulge in decisive, regular repeat purchase.

It’s important for industries dependent on mid, long and extra long purchase cycles to penetrate to new customers for everyday business. If these industries have defined their core customers, and they are satisfied, they will become the brand’s strong ambassador to spread word-of-mouth. Internet social media can then be activated for real penetration. Such customers are more powerful in attracting new customer profile than advertising. Ads only create awareness, satisfied customers create the pull factor. So give second priority to assets. Instead invest time, money and effort to understand the customer’s physical and intangible aspects to get your brand’s decisive regular repeat purchase.

To download above article in PDF Decisive, regular repeat purchase makes a brand

Financial Express link : http://www.financialexpress.com/news/regular-repeat-purchase-makes-a-brand/783945/0

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