November 12, 2008

Marketing in the current global slowdown

During the past one month, Entrepreneurs from the region around Chandigarh, have inquired about what could be an appropriate response for their firm to the current contraction in demand. Well, classically, during a slowdown most companies tend to prune their market spends. This could prove to be a wise tactic for a b2b firm sometimes, but most certainly the FMCG sector could better stay away from even toying with such an imprudent step. Organizations in the durable space have no clear cut alternatives and would have to take a position depending upon their place in the market. But the SME sector has to be most careful in designing a suitable action plan.

Exports from India have also registered a downward trend. Inventories are piling up in the durable and auto sector. A major Indian auto company has been forced to declare production interruption at their plants. So what could one do in such a scenario?

Let me share with you the strategy for the next quarter put in action with two of my clients in the SME domain. They have advised their teams to use the opportunity to focus away from new sales and invest more time in generating customer goodwill by settling outstanding issues. This could be combined with paying more attention to settling outstanding payments cases on priority. This would lead to satisfactory cash flows and positive bonding with customers by settling the contentious issues.

I certainly do not recommend offloading the inventory into the market at the distribution points. Although some companies can surely exert their marketing might to influence the resellers to carry high inventories. You could do it by discounting prices or offering attractive margins to the trade etc. But this certainly affect your image once the markets come out of slowdown phase that may last for 9-12 months as reflected in the major indices.

Mass media advertising does not help in such a scenario because the consumer is not an upbeat mood. It would be proper if the companies shift their market spend to the point of purchase, in store events and other below the line media. I strongly recommend the use of events and in theatre advertisements in the present scenario as it is necessary to motivate a buyer before she can open her purse strings. SMEs have to seek customized solutions depending upon their unique position in the market

November 6, 2008

Obama lessons for India

What lessons can we draw from Barack’s selection by the majority of people of the USA as their 44th President? Both India & USA are democratic & multiracial societies. We both have experienced deep divisions amongst our people, although divisions in India are definitely run into several layers. And we have suffered terrorism. But how can we prepare for a better future?

We can prepare for future only if we focus in that direction! Unfortunately we still long for the long lost golden past. You would agree that human beings can be happy despite whatever culture and religion they are born into. It is time for us to think on geo-economic lines rather geo-political factors. Providing reasonable living standards for every Indian shall be the guiding principle for us to conduct our politics and social life in place of counting the numbers in our tribe.

We would be a happy nation if we judge people by the merit of their character rather than how/which god they pray to, which part of country they live in or which caste they belong to. What kind of india we would have in future if we cast our vote along caste, language, religion lines? Ability and strength of character should be only criteria to select people to lead the country on the path to progress. Let us vow not to vote on the basis of caste, religion, region and other such unimportant factors and select our leaders on the basis of strength of their character and ability.

How can we expect to be reasonable place to live in, if we can not provide jobs and rule of law in India? Why should we use religious and cultural symbolism to unite/divide us? It is a futile exercise. Iraq and Iran have fought many wars even when they belong to same religion. Europe also have fought amongst themselves several times despite their allegiance to a particular way of life. And India has also experienced the madness of small Rajas belonging to same religion fighting with each other. Why seek pride in things like caste, religion etc when those things can not make us happy and living on earth more meaningful.Wake up India and become a happy country. Let us choose happiness over pride

It is better to be happy than proud!

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