9 Mar 2017

Chat bots are the future of the services industry


If you have been chatting with customer service on hotel or airline website, then there are chances that you have been chatting a machine or AI or a Chat Bot. This is the new normal in the services industry and no matter what you feel about it, the chat bots are evrywhere.

I discovered this by accident when I missed a connecting flight from Chicago in 2015. I had to reach out to my hotel to change the reservations. As I called the help desk at the hotel, the familiar IVR options were replaced by a pleasant sounding male voice, who spoke to me about my reservations and then directed me accordingly. Midway through the conversation I realized this was a bot or AI. Though I immediately thought of Terminator 2 and Skynet, but little did I know that chat bots were going to become a more integral part of our lives.

3 Feb 2017

Swiss Re receives branch license to offer reinsurance in India


Swiss Re has received the approval from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) to open a branch in Mumbai. With the composite branch license, Swiss Re will be able to operate in India and offer both non-life and life and health reinsurance solutions directly to clients and brokers in the country.

As the Indian insurance sector is poised for strong growth with an average annual growth rate of 8 percent from 2017 to 2025[1], Swiss Re is among the first five foreign reinsurance companies to obtain a license to sell reinsurance in India. Swiss Re’s newly licensed entity, Swiss Reinsurance Company Ltd, India Branch, will begin its operation effective from 1 February 2017.

8 Jan 2017

Consumer behavior study indicates strong regulatory focus needs strong messaging


In the healthcare space often you see consumer healthcare products come out for reason to buy. A good example is tooth paste or the oral dentifrice market in India. The estimated market size is 800 crores and it is growing almost at 18 % CAGR. But the usage of the toothpaste is a mere 85 gms per person, one of the lowest in the world. So that shows that our volumes are high but per capital usage per person is low. This is despite the Indian Dental Association (IDA) recommendation to brush twice a day. So somehow through the regulatory focus matches those of consumers, for example to brush the teeth regularly, the argument for brushing twice is not strong enough.

28 Dec 2016

New business models to drive growth for Desi Brands in 2017


As the year comes to an end, many people have asked me about my predictions for the next year. As I was thinking of what would drive 2017, three separate brand encounters gave me the answers to my questions. In all three the desi brands had taken a traditional business model and turned it around to give an exceptional experience to customers.

23 Dec 2016

Organizations in India living in denial about Fraud in the Digital era

I’m still living for tomorrow, I’m living for today
Why don’t we try today my friend, To make this world a better place
The Scorpions

These lyrics from the Scorpions sum up the situation in India. As demonetization shifts the market to digital platforms, organizations in India are still focusing on classical text book fraud. Large organizations either are unwilling or unable to understand the magnanimity of the situation they face.

27 Nov 2016

3 changes I would like to see in influencer marketing in 2017

Digital and social media have made the biggest impact on marketing in this decade. Specifically, reliance on influencer marketing is set to grow in the future, as customers seek more value from the products and services they buy. In this context I foresee three major developments in 2017 in the area of influencer marketing that organizations should leverage for better customer understanding and engagement.

20 Nov 2016

Desi brands look to design for employee engagement through branded workplaces


My first look at a swanky branded workplace was when I started working for a global technology major. They had a delivery center for a payment gateway and it was designed making the contracted employees feel that they were part of a larger parent organization. The walls had creatives with messaging from the payment gateway. Their cafe was stacked with freebies and snacks, they had pool, foosball and the works. The rest of us could only stare and wish.

15 Nov 2016

5 lessons in moderating panel discussions

Sometime ago I received an invitation to moderate a panel comprising of influential healthcare industry leaders in India. Though I am comfortable speaking in front of large crowds and well versed in the techniques in communication, I felt strangely nervous. There was one big challenge. The topic of discussion was going to be the role of technology in healthcare, an industry I am very familiar with and as a moderator I was afraid that my opinion on the industry would influence the discussion and I would find it difficult to be neutral.

29 Sep 2016

92 % of the world inhaling polluted air says WHO report


When I was in school, my good friend Ankur told me something very interesting. He said students in the American School in Delhi had an advisory not to come out in the morning between 8-10 AM and in the evening between 4-6 PM. He remarked that it was because of the pollution on the streets and the school he claimed believed that pollution affected the development of the children. I never went on to verify these claims and accepted them as maybe the norm.


18 Sep 2016

Fitness Tracker Market in India

Some time ago I did a phqdefaultiece on Healthcare India on the Wearable fitness device adoption in India. Some excerpts from that piece.

The wearable market is set to explode in India, with growth in the range of 40 %. Most of the market share is held by two firms. GOQii with almost 16 % market share and Xiomi with 10 % market share. GOQii is leading on the low end wearable health trackers with most of its share coming from the commercial (Corporate) segment.

13 Sep 2016

Sons of Vikrant: Classic case of Desi Branding


Indians are united by Cricket, Bollywood and our pesky neighbor Pakistan .

Pakistan is one issue that does not need explanation. One of the highlights of our relations with them are the 4 wars in which we best them. Among the four times we clashed, the war of 1971 was the one that resulted in the most glorious victory, resulting in the creation of Bangladesh and the surrender of more than 80,000 POWs.

6 Aug 2016

Privacy, Data Security and Jason Bourne


It keeps getting older but I can never have enough of Jason Bourne. The 4th (or 5th if you count the prequel) edition of the killer manufactured in a program to protect the citizen of the world, rolled out this week and I got myself into a second day first show to watch an older but still kicking Matt Damon do what he does best, killing the bad guys and saving the day.(Image Source: Pinterest)

I am particularly attached to Jason Bourne and the character created by Robert Ludlum in Bourne Identity. Interestingly it first English movie I had ever seen. In that edition Jason Bourne was played by William Hurt but the current Bourne is played by Matt Damon.

4 Aug 2016

Dabur heeds PM’s call launches Real VOLO

Press release - Dabur real volo mail (1)

Press release - Dabur real volo mail (1)

Dabur VOLO

In September last year, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi made a very interesting recommendation to the soft drink manufacturers. He urged them to augment fruit sales in India by adding fruit juices to almost 10 % of the content, to be considered as a fruit beverage . As we all know our farmers have been struggling with the economy, drought and the financial situation in India. In addition they throw away tonnes of fruit which gets wasted as it is not sold in time and the lack of cold storage and cold chain facilities leaves them exposed to the vagaries of the market.

16 Jul 2016

Kabali: Marketing with the Thalaiva


Superstar Rajnikanth is back and from next week on wards will unleash a wave like never before. Each movie starring the undisputed Thalaiva of Indian cinema is an experience by itself. I remember as a first year dental student at Manipal heading over to a theater in Mangalore to catch the release of ‘Baasha”. It was an experience, people dancing in the aisle, throwing coins and shouting Thalaiva Thalaiva. . For the purpose of this article, we will refer to Rajnikanth Sir as Thalaiva meaning head or leader in the Tamil Language. It is a term used for the superstar for long out of respect and he truly deserves it.

12 Jul 2016

Power Sector India: Solar is the future but the present belongs to coal


Sometimes looking at the power sector in India reminds me of the Clark Gable classic ‘Gone with the wind’. Let me explain, our installed capacity as I explained in my previous post is around 300 GW. Assuming a conservative estimate production of 64%, we would have a per capita availability of around 1345 units.

1 Jul 2016

Food Dost: The need fulfilled

12376712_1639851312953741_1606060974720922123_nRoti, Kapada aur Makaan was once the primary drivers of man’s quest as we moved to a civilized society. Maslow would have agreed that most of the developed world has moved up beyond security and focusing more on self-esteem or self-actualization.

But in India the situation is slightly different with a vast majority of citizens still struggling to meet the basic nutritional needs. And my good friend and the founder of the food start up FoodDost, Pritesh Chothani found this out by accident.

23 Jun 2016

Hansaplast Junior- now playgrounds can be fun

image 3


A recent report by WHO stated that 22% of children in India were overweight and they tend to spend more time indoors addicted to mobile phones and tablets, resulting in a host of potential medical issues. In such an environment, it’s refreshing to see an Indian marketing agency buck the trend and work on a product that promotes the fact that playgrounds are fun and  getting hurt is a part of growing up.

17 Jun 2016

3 challenges to sustainable solar energy in India


In my previous post, I had written about the challenges with state electricity boards and why most cities have power cuts despite the high installed base. Today let me talk briefly about the challenges with solar energy which many think is the cure for all our energy ills today.

Well there is no doubt in my mind that solar energy is a very good option. The Sun is this giant reactor which is online for at least 7-8 hours in India. For generations Indians have looked to the Sun for energy, power, light and spiritual strength. But I am amazed to see young Indian minds heralding this new source of energy without understanding the implications for harnessing the power of the sun. Hopefully after reading this post there will be at least some young engineers who would put up responsible posts on Facebook and not just promote the hype.

15 Jun 2016

Is your office killing you ?


The last 10 years have seen a significant change in the work culture in India – people’s expectations from life have risen. The middle classes no longer wants self-sufficiency, but have ambitions of ‘making it big that they are working towards achieving. Most of us do not want to waste time and end up taking calls and doing work, even as we commute to office everyday. One of my friends uses commute time to speak to prospective interviewers and business partners for better job opportunities.

11 Jun 2016

Park Avenue launches deodorant for the smart Indian woman


Park Avenue, from JK Helene Curtis premium apparel brand is recognized for its exclusive offering in the western formal wear for men and women which is further extended into personal care products with a range of perfumes and deodorants. Incidentally I believe it was one of the first deodorants in India, and along with Brut was extremely popular with kids at my school. I still do remember badgering my parents for buying me a Park Avenue deodorant after I secured my dental seat at Manipal. Since then I see that others have entered the fray, though I have moved from deodorant to perfumes read Issey Miyake and Davidoff, the likes of Axe, Fogg, Denver, Set Wet, Eva among others have entrenched themselves and I believe the deodorant segment is one of the fastest growing among all FMCG in India.

4 Jun 2016

The key challenge with the state electricity boards in India



Now India is on the road to becoming a power sufficient country. We have close to 280 Giga Watts (10 9) of installed capacity and crossed 302 Giga Watts this year. Now 70% of the power plants run on fossils fuel, mostly coal. Luckily we have an abundance of coal, and this can last for a few decades if we are smart about the way we use coal.

3 Jun 2016

Social Media analytics report in a single email with Peak Feed

Capture 1

Social Media is the new normal. But it is always a challenge to keep track of my multiple accounts. Now I have at least 7 accounts, across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube and LinkedIn. And somehow keeping track of all of them was very time consuming. I was always looking out for a simple tool that would help me track all my accounts at one place and a tool that would not ask me for multiple levels of authentication.

20 May 2016

Customer Experience can make or break your brand , learn how


Buying from start-ups/ smaller brands entails a degree of risk, especially if the value of products being purchased is relatively high. My wife Archana’s  experience shopping for Viari bags online entailed a similar risk.

Archana likes collecting bags and leather bags have been a preference from the time she turned 18. She is in her 30’s, working as a marketing head for an MNC, drives her own car and makes enough to invest in quality products like leather handbags.  Her personal taste is for classic designs that can be used for work/ social occasions. Over the years, she has developed an affinity for Hidesign bags as they have proven to be spacious, yet compact and robust to carry to work. Recently, she crossed a major milestone at work and wanted to reward herself by buying a new work bag. She wasn’t very happy with the Hidesign models available and chanced upon a brand called Viari.

25 Mar 2016

Digital Disruption of the men’s grooming industry is here to stay

FB Adverd 01_24.2.16-1

Recently I expressed my views on how Digital was disrupting the business model of the $ 17 billion shaving or the Men’s grooming industry. An emerging startup in Pune read my piece and got in touch. Blade & Bath is a brain child of Pune based duo of Mihir Vaidya & Suraj Chaudhari. While Mihir has experience in private wealth management Suraj’s experience lies in pharmaceutical distribution and trading. So when money meets pharmaceuticals, out comes men’s grooming, well that didn’t come out as well as it should have but both the founders have a good idea of what they are getting into.

13 Mar 2016

3 things Chota Bheem needs to stop right away


I am back this Sunday morning with another observation on my bete noir Chota Bheem. Sometime ago I had written a piece on how the child super hero was having a bad effect on kids with respect to their diet. Anyone consuming that many ladoos would be sick and with India already the diabetes capital of the world would lead to further problems.

12 Mar 2016

Why #Digitaltransformation could mean the end of the customer call center


Well now we can say it officially, the end of the customer call center may be near.

Recently I needed some help with shifting my Tata Sky connection at my home in Bangalore, India. Though I had called the Call Center and raised a ticket, I realized that it would take some time for the information to go through the process flow and get the right technician at my doorstep. I also knew that Tata Sky had adopted #Digital a long time ago and had a robust Social Analytic program that could help them get my request instantly on social platforms like Twitter.

30 Jan 2016

My interview with Digital Vidya


Early this month, I had a short interview with Digital Vidya on my thoughts around Digital Marketing. When the interview was published, I realized that there was a very important point that came out during the discussions. The transcript of the question is below

18 Jan 2016

Personal journey and experiences powers this upcoming fashion brand :The Ink Bucket

10422386_694434304011088_3407760399964482599_n As India marches on to new frontiers, upcoming India brands emerge on the scene, to challenge incumbents and also as a medium of self expression of the new age entrepreneurs. No where is this more true in the fashion industry where upcoming Indian ventures continue to dazzle the world, building on a new found self belief of a vibrant India. I have been covering  this space mainly from a business angle and to see if there is a any value that these brands create for the consumer.



Some months ago I had featured one of these brands ‘Vaishvik’ founded by my good friend Rajesh Marathe with help from the Myntra Fashion Incubator Program. Now Vaishvik derives inspiration from the wisdom of ancient India and features Indian heroes like Chanakya, Shivaji Maharaj and Rajendra Chola. A lovely concept to wear and connect to our own slendid past. His new collection can be seen here, mostly T Shirts from both men and women. I think in this space Myntra is doing a great job, mentoring these new and upcoming designers, helping them set up their brands and giving them the business expertise and marketing muscle that most of them lack. In my discussions with Myntra I came across another interesting brand, The Ink Bucket.

12 Dec 2015

How Digital is disrupting the $ 17 Billion shaving industry


Digital is ubiquitous and continues to change the industry landscape. Many people still consider Digital to be very front end centric. But digital has started disrupting some very traditional business models.

The global shaving industry is around $ 17 Billion. It is based on one of the older business models which is called the razor and blade model. The model is simple, you might get a cheap razor but eventually you have to pay for the blade. It’s a recurring cost and has the following features



1)      The razor is relatively cost effective

2)      But the blades are not

3)      They are a recurring expense

4)      And you re locked in as if you want to change the blades, you will have to change the razor as well

28 Nov 2015

What the Art of war can teach us about goal setting?

Goal setting is an important. Recently I had the chance to talk to some young and enthusiastic emerging leaders at an LDP for the Toastmasters Leadership Institute hosted by Oracle in Bangalore. I did not want to take a beaten path so I looked at other sources of inspiration for goal setting. As I thought about the process of goal setting, I was slightly curious about the goals themselves. In my experience most individuals do not end up meeting their goals or abandon them mid-way. I believe the culprit is not the lack of motivation or determination but the goals themselves, which could have been set better.

Most gurus will tell us that Goal setting is all about SMART

1 Nov 2015

Can India Post provide the foundation for Digital Transformation


The last month had been quite interesting with the Philips Digital Health Conclave where I had the opportunity to moderate a panel.  And one of the strongest takeaways from the discussion was the importance of leveraging digital in order to bring healthcare to the citizens in the rural parts of India.

Of course, that is easier said than done. We are a vast nation stretching from Kashmir way down to Tamil Nadu, covering all kinds of landscapes, social structures, metros, small towns and villages.  The sheer number of villages in India is a stunning 6,50,000+.  Needless to say, networking through the length and breadth of this country will require robust connectivity. Of course and the Google Balloon project are some options. But does the Digital India move have what it takes to create such provision for the Indian people? Or in other words how can we trigger digital transformation for a large country like India.

16 Oct 2015

A Post Card From Flipkart?


I don’t usually receive postcards (does anyone really these days?) and if at all, it’s usually from a traditional store informing me of an upcoming sale or a commemorative discount. But of all the senders, I certainly did not expect an e-commerce company to send snail mail in order to connect with an urban customer. Imagine my surprise then when a post card from Flipkart was letting me know about the app only Big Billion Sale.


26 Sep 2015

Audio apps that are a must have for your smart phone



The digital shift continues to shape our lives in more ways than we care to comprehend. Be it gathering information, staying updated with the latest from around the world, learning to relax or devouring books, the digital first approach has made its way into everyday life with the Smart Phone as its global ally.

Going mobile is probably the greatest manifestation of personalization and expression of one’s individualism. The phone has replaced several gadgets today including the personal digital assistant, the camera and in some cases, even the wallet. But the gadget I find has been replaced most vehemently over the years is the music player.

28 Aug 2015

How do you know the NGO you support is a not a fraud ?


Despite the apparent apathy of people towards the needy, there are many who are eager to serve the society in some capacity- be it in person or via donations. The big question in such a situation that crops up in the mind of every socially conscious citizen is the credibility of the non-governmental organization they want to support. How does one really go about verifying the authenticity of an NGO?

26 Aug 2015

A Not-So Tiny Food App

Tiny Owl

The good thing about competition in the digital jungle today is that consumers are not only spoilt for choice but are also particular about quality which only encourages new talent and fresh ideas. One such popular brand is Tiny Owl- a food delivery app available for both Android and Apple users. Currently operational in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Gurgaon, the app has several interesting features that sets it apart from the other players in the food business.


23 Aug 2015

Are you an engaged employee?


indexThe definition of a dream job for most is not just a company that pays well but also one that treats its employee right. And this means having their rewards and recognition practices in place. It really is the little things that matter. And a personal touch can go a long way in making an employee feel valued and involved.

According to the 2013 Gallop Poll, only 13% of the employees globally are really engaged. Only 1 in 8 of the 180 million employee’s studies globally is psychologically committee to his or her job. The key reasons for this include, frustration, burnout, disillusionment and misalignment with personal values are key reasons why a person leaves a job.

(Source Harvard Business Review The authenticity Paradox, February 2015)

20 Aug 2015

What other start ups can do to nurture talent: Myntra Fashion Incubator


What is the one thing every budding fashion designer, looking to set up his or her own brand would do anything to have? A platform. A set-up that provides their brand the financial support, supply and distribution network and, the visibility they so eagerly need. The Myntra Fashion Incubator (MFI) provides exactly this.

Committed to establish sustainable fashion brands within the country, the purpose behind setting up MFI has been the empowerment of young entrepreneurs, bringing to them a ready platform to build a firm base in the fashion circuit. The initiative is effective in the sense that it certainly helps to bridge this gap between new talent and existing fashion brands and retail options.

8 Aug 2015

The Flipkart Image Search: Altering Consumer Shopping Experience for Good


Not too long ago, shopping for an outfit, gadget, appliance, or anything for that matter really, meant walking into a shop and investing a considerable amount of time browsing through the available collection and depending on the shopkeeper to present more variety. The advent of e-commerce websites like Flipkart has changed the consumer shopping experience since then. Enter a keyword, browse, filter, sort, pay and have it delivered to your doorstep effortlessly. However, ever since Flipkart has moved away from the website, making itself available only on an app, it has managed to reach out to customers in not just the predictable urban areas but far flung corners of the country.

31 Jul 2015 The online cafe


It took a Barista, Café Coffee Day and Starbucks to introduce India to a world of interesting brews making the phrase, ‘let’s catch up over coffee’ or ‘coffee date’ popular. The humble tea on the other hand, stretched only as far as masala chai and green tea. However, a new breed of urban connoisseurs is now waking up to an array of aromatic decoctions and variety of international tea. From herbal and green tea to red, black and even white tea, a range of mixes and infusions are available in the market today for beverage enthusiasts looking to experiment. And given the digital nature of consumer purchase trends today, it only makes sense to make such options available online.

24 Jul 2015

Did you know that Indian bloggers are more influencial than their Global counterparts ?

untitledEver since the explosion of the word ‘blog’ on the internet, almost every person has either experimented with a private blog or, has come across someone who blogs on a regular basis. From college students to celebrities, retail brands to media houses, everybody with an opinion and a point of view finds this medium a most effective way of connecting with people and quite literally putting their thoughts ‘out there’.

It’s interesting therefore, to observe how the blogging scene has changed in India over the past few years. And where it might be headed in the future.

Register this there are more than 35,000 blogs in the IndiBlogger database alone and this has grown almost 48 % since 2013. But get this 56 % of Indian blogger influence purchase decisions. This is way higher than the 31% mark of influence for Global bloggers. and the best part is that most corporates know this.  So if you are not blogging you are losing a lot of influence and also a way to monetize it.


16 Jul 2015

How a Creative Team Plan to Sell ‘Kuch Bhi’ Online


Have you ever visited a store that sells ‘kuch bhi’ or ‘anything’? A team of designers in Bangalore have done just that. is perhaps the first e-store of its kind in India that specializes in selling designs and products that are one-of-a-kind and released only as limited edition items. You can be sure of finding the most creative ideas translated into unique products on this site knowing that they will be truly and exclusively yours to own.

1 Jul 2015

Corporate Social from Responsibility to Responsivity


Many companies have been undertaking various projects and initiatives under the principle of corporate social responsibility. It’s a great way to involve the educated, socially upward moving class of citizens in an effort to give back to the lesser privileged in the community. However, quite often, such practices suffer from an undercurrent of obligation; a sense of ‘have to’ rather than ‘want to’.

12 May 2015

Paper Boat Desi Drinks


No sooner does summer begin than TV channels are flooded with ads pushing you to buy colas or synthetic fruity flavoured drinks that are high on artificial flavours and sugar.

This year though, a fresh brand has been making its presence felt. With Gulzar’s poetic voice taking us on a trip down memory lane, we are introduced to the cooling Paper Boat packaged drinks- its unique design and the strong Indian flavours. Full of nostalgia, each drink tells a story right out of a small town home kitchen bringing alive the flavours and fragrances of childhood. Almost a year ago I had covered this same drink, one filled with nostalgia and the good news is that the brand is keeping things simple and does a good job of reminding us of the days gone by.

5 May 2015

What Makes Public Cloud Popular in India ?


Cloud Computing is perhaps one of the most abstract terms of our age. And yet, one cannot imagine a day without accessing ‘The Cloud’. From social networking to workplace functions, the scope of cloud computing is extensive and its usage, varied. It’s interesting to see though, that the use of the Public Cloud is greater in India than North America. And there are various factors that seem to contribute to this.

6 Apr 2015

Ancient Indian wisdom beyond its borders: Vaishvik


In the year 2007, I entered a speaking program called Toastmasters. Since then I have had the opportunity to learn and master the art of public speaking. Another aspect of toastmasters if that you meet some very enterprising people as well. One such person I met way back in 2007 was Rajesh Marathe; he was then the VP PR at the CSC Covansys Toastmasters club and was also the evaluator of my first speech. He came from the Oil and gas industry and soon left the company to go to back to his passion for Oil and Gas.

But one fine day I saw his reveal his true passion when I saw posts on Facebook for his venture Vaishvik. Soon he was chosen for the Myntra Incubation project and now he is currently in Bangalore following his dream.

5 Apr 2015

3 factors that could lead to a successful thought leadership program

Rubhusocial Twitter Chat

Recently I was invited to a guest at a twitter chat at #Rubhusocial a platform founded by @akathmadevi. The topic was thought leadership  and this is a topic I feel very strongly about. In the past I have led successful efforts with Wipro and IBM in the past and am using some of that experience to develop the first social media adoption research report for Dentists in India partnering with @Thedentaledu. The transcript of the chat can be found here


28 Jan 2015

‘Make in India’ Support Diabeto an Indian product to manage Diabetes

Diabeto Images

Three years ago I had met two young enthusiastic Mumbaikars and understood their vision for Diabetes management in India.The product was called Daibeto. We had gone on to build a case study and launched it at Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication Bangalore. I had even covered them in this very blog as an article – How an Indian start up was joining the global fight against Daibetes.



7 Jan 2015

Make in India: Art of the possible


Make in India is a big debate today. While Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi thinks it is only way forward for India. But many experts have questioned this and stated lack of infrastructure and talent as reasons why this would just be impossible.

Whenever a developing nation tries to do something that is albeit only the reserve of the elite nations, there are debates that are stroked by the intellectuals in the country. I remember reading a similar extract from the book of Padma Vibhushan Dr Verghese Kurien who was appalled by the lack of support for operation flood and actually went on to say how the intelligentsia actually opposed the project. But with Government support and a strong vision and the hard work of the milk producing farmers we were able to overcome all challenges and today are the largest milk producer in the world.

Now almost 50 years later we are back to a similar debate as India tries to bridge the manufacturing gap that it finds itself in. Again there is a chorus of opposition. But will we get lucky again ?

On this issue for the month of January I am collaborating with good friend Arun Prabhudesai and will be writing a few pieces for his website for Indian business .

Do watch out for those pieces and let me know if there is anything specific you would like me to cover in those pieces…


27 Nov 2014

Why Issac Newton’s laws of motion are best to describe #Digitaltransformation

Issac Newton definitely gave a lot to the world of physics, but he was a marketing genius as well. I have always used his laws, to explain life and philosophy. But now I feel that his laws can be applied to explain the new marketing events especially the new #digitaltransformation wave that sweeping us.

His first law states..

An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

This law is often called “the law of inertia” .

25 Oct 2014

Do our online retailers really know us ?


One of the common comments in defense of the mom and pop stores used to be that these people have served the customer for years and would know them very well. When I was in high school, I started experimenting with soaps and once asked our friendly retailer for Aramusk. Not sure how many of you have used Aramusk but I think the brand belongs to Henkel in India now (needs citation) but in college it was one of the coolest soaps available for a man. Our whole family used Hamam, and the friendly old uncle at the grocers told my mother, “today he is using Aramusk, but when he pays for it himself he would use Lifebuoy. As he foretold in hostel I had used Lifebuoy a couple of times to save money.

(Image from

22 Oct 2014

Why no crackers this Diwali is an arrogant statement….

I love George Carlin. While he was alive he spewed nothing but the honest truth. Never cared for hurting the sentiments of the so called guardians of the universe. One of the things he said was that ” Saving the environment is like one more arrogant attempt by the human beings to control nature, and that is what got us into trouble in the first place”

Now when I first saw this video I was appalled but later I started to see things more clearly. Today we have these so called guardians sending out messages like “No crackers this Diwali” and the rest of us dim witted folks setting them as Facebook updates or forwarding  the same  messages at Whatsapp. The very fact that we think of  saving the planet once a year is a stupid idea. The truth  is that we cant save the planet and there is nothing we can do to reverse what we have done so far. As one can understand, simple economics will tell us that growth and consumption would go hand in hand and if we stop consuming that would bring about the end of any growth while continued consumption will bring the end of the civilization as we know it.

But I don’t like blanket statements and lets put some facts together. As I am not an arm chair expert like some of the others, let me take statistics from the city I live in Bangalore. All of them are from the census of 2011.

18 Sep 2014

Why you should not Unfollow just to boost your twitter reputation…

Twitter today is the most non-reciprocal social platform. That means that if you are following someone on Twitter it is not necessary for him to follow you. Let me take an example, Pop star Katy Perry @katyperry is has the  most followers on Twitter today. As of today she has 54 Million followers. But she follows only 168 people. Now you get the drift…You reputation on twitter is determined by the number of people following you and not how many you follow.

9 Sep 2014

2014 most valuable brands in India : Check to see if your brands are on the list


The  WPP Brand Z Top 50 Most Valuable Indian Brands 2014 is out. And the most valuable brand in India is HDFC.

I can see Archana grinning ear to ear as she has been banking with HDFC for a few years and says their services are amazing. Being an ICICI customer it was slightly disappointing to see them at number 4. Airtel was present at number 2 while SBI occupied number 4.

24 Aug 2014

Why airlines need to introduce a baggage share program…


A recent discussion with a Indigo Airline check in crew sparked an idea in my head.

The lady at the desk had an issue with my hand baggage being 7.1 Kgs while the permitted limit was 7. Now I did not have a check in baggage and she wanted me to check it in. I removed my jacket from the bag and promptly the weight fell below 7 Kgs.

2 Aug 2014

How the Kinder Joy Blue/ Pink variants are a bad idea for a already confused society in India ?

India continues to see a surge of social issues that have rattled the society of late. The latest case in point being the rape of a 6 year old on the Vibgyor school premises in Bangalore  supposedly by their gym teachers at the school. Though it is a larger societal issue are brands to blame for creating conditions that promote such behavior? Lets look at this new case in point.

4 Jul 2014

Why the absence of ‘papad’ could signify a deeper cost cutting strategy ?

Recently I had gone for lunch at the famous Punjabi by Nature at Hosur road Bangalore. We have always been found of this place right from my time as a dentist in Delhi. Virika loves the fountains there and as any 3 year old loves the starters including papad that is served complimentary to the guests.

30 Jun 2014

Three men, a Maruti Alto and 10,000 Miles of adventure

Imagine covering 10,000 miles covering 19 countries, 5 Mountain Ranges, 3 Deserts and a Sea.

Now imagine doing this on a beaten up Maruti Suzuki Alto (Swift in Europe), and also taking on 1500 kilometers on a non existent road.

Why would anyone want to do that ?

8 Jun 2014

How much does Prime Minister Narendra Modi Make ?

Did you know that Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi makes less than most techies in Bangalore ?

According to the IIM Ahmedabad powered website, Shri Modi makes Rs 19 Lakhs per annum. This is is less than what a middle level manager at Infosys or Wipro would make.

18 May 2014

3 Marketing lessons from Shri Narendra Modi’s crushing victory in the 2014 General elections in India


India has made up its mind. It has made up its mind to vote for progress and development.

Gone are the days when Indians could be lulled into a false sense of security by parties claiming to be secular and working towards keeping communal forces at bay while looting this country and leading us to a position where we pale in comparison to China on all parameters.

But then this time it was different, all those who wanted a change and a better economic climate have voted Shri Modi in.

22 Apr 2014

Three management lessons from David Moyes at Manchester United : What not to do as a manager

So finally the Nays have it. Moyes is out #Moyesout

But the whole 51 match, 10 month episode has left me pained and a little thoughtful about my own future. Like everyone else I obeyed Sir Alex’s command and supported Moyes as the new manager of Manchester United. But I don’t think I was ever truly convinced if he was the right person for the job.

As I think back about the last 10 months and the discussions I have had with fellow Manchester United supporters, I have realized that the entire episode has three key lessons. These are lessons in what not to do.

19 Apr 2014

Can an air purifier help improve the quality of your life ?

Ahwaz may not be a city of any significance for us in India but to scientists monitoring air pollution it is one of great importance. Ahwaz in Iran is a oil producing city and is today the most polluted city in the world when it comes to air pollution. At 372 micrograms of suspended particulate (Less than 10 micrmeter in diameter) matter  per cubic meter of air, Ahwaz is a nightmare for its citizens. Air pollution there is causing diseases like COPD, Asthma, Bronchitis and in extreme cases Lung Cancer)

12 Apr 2014

Paper Boat Beverages: Memories, Nostalgia and Magic…

My earliest memory of growing up in the wonderful city of New Delhi is walking along, Raj Path near India Gate. My parents would often take me there and in the summer evenings I would be mesmerized by rows of bed-sheets placed on the ground as young boys and girls would climb on the evergreen Jamun trees and collect jamuns. Later I would force my dad to buy some for me from those kids. The taste of Jamuns, the smell of grass from the lawns and the tepid summer evening winds are forever entrenched in my memory.

19 Mar 2014

Why not all vehicles are depreciating assets: The story of the Royal Enfield Motorcycle

Last week I stumbled upon a very interesting discovery.

The traditional thinking is that most vehicles are depreciating assets. In other words if you buy a brand new car and try to drive it out of the dealership and sell it, you will get less than what you paid for the car earlier…

This is true of other goods as well- furniture, consumer electronics, devices and so on.

22 Feb 2014

What is happening at HCL…?

HCL, India’s leading Technology and services company is a curious case of an organization going through transition.

Founded by Shiv Nadar for years HCL has been showing robust growth and had has tremendous success in taking on infrastructural services projects. They have had dynamic leaders like Shiv Nadar, Arjun Malhotra , Vineet Nayyar ( Sr )and Vineet Nayar (Jr). But what is the current situation that the company finds itself it ?

6 Feb 2014

#ThePurpleBox: Another masterclass from Naturals ?

Naturals – The beauty and grooming salon has been making the right moves on the marketing front.

After an amazing campaign during Christmas last year, where they show cased a very desirable Genelia D’Souza as “My new Santa” in a purple outfit, this time it seems they are ready to reveal a new entity which is hidden inside a purple box.

11 Jan 2014

India’s first crowd sourced library ?

In a previous post I had discussed the importance of how crowd sourcing can help implement projects in India.  There were various comments and suggestions on that article on how the value system of the scheme and the donors need to match otherwise it would amount to just another CSR scheme.

31 Dec 2013

How Indian brands are using packaging to create value

I am a sucker for packaging.

Not many marketers pay attention to it those days, but packaging plays a big role is enhancing the value of the product. One of the best examples in these times is Apple. Just check the packaging that an iPhone or iPad comes in. It lives up to the high price that the company charges for the phone.

On the other hand many Desi Brands have started enhancing the value by creating a sense nostalgia. I recently came across this excellent product, which was packaged like a newspaper cover that is used by the roadside hawkers earlier while dishing out snacks.

27 Dec 2013

Crowd sourcing the way forward for Indian brands: The Bannerghatta National Park example…

Crowd sourcing seems to be the new mantra.

Many recent examples show that the power of channelizing the efforts of many and direct it towards a single goal works wonders. A good example is the AAP (Aam Aadmi Party), who not only received their funds through sourcing but also developed their manifesto through this method.

My recent visit to the Bannerghatta National Parkopened my eyes to another form of crowd funding.

21 Dec 2013

Giving Santa’s old white beard a Natural’s makeover this Christmas

The holiday season is a great time to run campaigns. As always Desi brands look out for ways and means to capture the festive spirit.

As I was looking across the sociosphere, I came across a very interesting campaign.

This is from the Natural’s hair and beauty salon. The campaign shows actress and brand ambassador Genelia D’ Souza in a purple background in a Santa like costume without the beard. The Purple instead of the traditional white and red signifies the colors of the brand Natural’s.

18 Dec 2013

Narasu’s coffee : Serving it hot since 1926


In my quest for Desi beverage brands I stumbled upon a familiar name on the retail shelf’s.

I did remember my grandmother telling me how her father used to start his day with Narasu’s Coffee and I was pleasantly surprised to see the brand still active and available at a Bangalore store.

8 Dec 2013

4 lessons that Arvind Kejriwal can teach Indian business leaders…

(Image: AAP website)

Love him or hate him, you can’t get away from the #NAMO wave in India. Shri Narendra Modi symbolises the aspirations of the Indian business and all including me are waiting for his coming to power and setting the base for a robust industry growth.

But in the middle of this wave there is another wave, a much smaller one, which probably is more strategic and can change the future of our nation.

4 Nov 2013

Why Micromax’s Hugh Jackman gamble could go all wrong….

A few weeks ago I was stunned to the see the promos of the new Micromax advertisement. Called Micromax Turbo it had Hugh Jackman (ala Wolverine) holding the new sleek product in a gesture akin to out namaste.

The next day saw a barrage of discussions both online and off it, with general high fives going around for a sleek promo and a coming of age of an Indian brand. Now I am not so sure why people are getting so excited and the more I think the more I feel this is a bad choice.

4 Oct 2013

Fake online reviews: How deep is the problem in India ?

Online reviews have become a part of our life. From movies to restaurants and clothes to vacations, all of us depend on these reviews left by who we think are good samaritans. But did you know that most online reviews today are fake?

One caveat before you read on, I am not sure of the extent of fake reviews and what percentage of reviews are fake ? I am not implying that any sites that have reviews are fake. I am writing under the assumption that fake reviews are a problem for the customers as well as organizations…

23 Sep 2013

Brands that drive Shri Narendra Modi

I may get some flak for this but could not do without putting up this short post on the Shri Narendra Modi.

Shri Narendra Modi or NaMo for those on social media is a big brand himself. But has anyone wondered which brands does he prefer?

I never thought of this till i read the current edition of Week magazine that talks about this aspect of the man who has polarized the nation, you either love him or hate him. But you have to give credit to his good taste in brands.

(Image source:
For starters NaMo’s favorite watch is a Movado. Movado was founded in Switzerland in 1881 but was soon purchased by the Grinberg family who are Cuban Jews. They fled Cuba and set up base in Paramus New Jersey. This is very close to Woodbridge New Jersey where I spent 2 years selling into the Pharmaceutical IT and services space.

17 Sep 2013

Why Micromax and Karbonn will face a challenge from the Nokia- Microsoft combine

Micromax and Karbonn had never had it so good. Built on Android platforms and using China as a manufacturing base, both these companies have grown exponentially in the last few years.

Micromax today is the second player in the smart phones market with almost 22 % market share. They have recently shipped 2 million phones and plan to ship out 2.5 million by the end of the year.
Karbonn also have grown almost 75 % this year to capture 7 % of the phone market.

9 Sep 2013

What Indian private sector can learn from the innovation strategies of Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited (BHEL)

Recently Forbes came out with a list of top international companies based on innovation. While I was expecting some usual names, I was shocked to see BHEL listed in the top 10, they were actually ranked 9th.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I love the power sector. It is the sector I am most knowledgeable about after Healthcare. And I have known BHEL for the last 36 yrs. My dad worked for BHEL, my uncle worked there too and so have 3 members of my extended family. But I never expected them to come in the top 10 in global innovation.

4 Sep 2013

A new paradigm in co-branding : Presenting the new Android Kit-Kat courtesy Google & Nestle

Have you ever thought about new paradigms in branding ?

Sponsor a soccer club? place your product in a movie ? paste your message on a sky scraper ?

All of them represent the been there done that category, but last week Google took co-branding to a new level.

Google has the habit of naming their Android operating system versions on desserts and that too alphabetically – Cupcake,Donuts, Eclair, Froyo, Ginger Bread, Honeycomb, Ice cream sandwich, Jelly Bean and ? The last version was supposed to be named as Key Lime Pie.

28 Aug 2013

The strange case of customer experience with Hyundai

I read this brilliant article in the harvard business review on customer experience. The article triggered a thought in my mind. As I was delving on that thought, an incident occurred that fortified it.

I lost a side beading for my Hyundai i10. It is a black colored strip and I think it is more cosmetic than functional. Now the beading lines the left door of my car and its absence has left a funny looking bump there. As I don’t like this bump naturally I wanted to get it fixed. For those unfamiliar with I am talking about please check the image.

22 Aug 2013

Why do Indian brands struggle with customer service ? My experience with Airtel

Some years ago, Airtel symbolized the new India. They were young and resilient. I still remember a guest lecture while at B school at IMT Ghaziabad when a group CEO of Airtel spoke at length about how they had outsourced the management networks and the towers so that Airtel could concentrate on customers.

I felt great as an Airtel customer and marveled at the vision of the company.

But like all fairy tale endings this one came crashing down as well. The first sign that customer service was in trouble was when I returned back from the US in 2010. Being a loyal Airtel customer since my days as a dentist, I naturally called up the Airtel customer service and asked them for a connection, which i duly received.

14 Aug 2013

Announcing Interbrand’s top Indian (Desi) brands of 2013

Interbrand recently announced the top 30 desi brands of 2013. The criteria are three fold.

1) The financial projections of the economic profit of the brand over the next five years. This is essentially profit after tax minus the cost of deploying the capital.

2) The role of the brand in influencing a purchase decision. This measures how strong was the brand name as a factor among other factors that influenced the customer during purchase.

3) Finally the indication of the brand strenght.This gives an idea of how loyal the customers are to the brand.

No surprises that the number one brand in India for 2013 is TATA’s. Number 2 and 3 are occupied by Reliance and Airtel respectively.

I was partucularly thrilled to see my former employer Wipro in at no 11. Interesting Kingfisher just about made the cut at no 29.

for the complete list please visit this link.

12 Aug 2013

Billionaire boy Mark Zuckerberg in his own words: Book review

Well there is always a first time and this is my first book review and here it goes.

A few months ago I got this copy of ‘Billionaire boy Mark Zuckerberg in his own words‘ edited by George Beahm. On first look I was a tad bit disappointed. I expected a book like ‘Accidental Billionaires‘ which was later made into a motion picture ‘The Social Network’. But instead this was was literally a series of quotes from Mark Zuckerberg and from others like Eduardo Saverin, The Winklevoss Twins, Forbes magazine, Employees and even the late god himself Steve Jobs.

4 Aug 2013

The humble Ambassador wins the race of the Taxis

I never thought such a day would come.

A day when I would feel proud of the Ambassador car from the Hindustan Motors (HM).

For many years, the Ambassador epitomized all that was wrong with India – Unreliable, poor in quality, backed by very poor service, difficult to drive and hardly any thought going into innovation. HM, the makers of the Ambassador, lorded over the Indian market due to the license Raj which gave them monopoly.

1 Aug 2013

Why Domino’s needs to fear Ammi’s biryani ?

For years 30 minutes or free has ruled the roost when it comes to take away in India. Yes Domino’s stood like a giant, with its fleet of ever smiling pizza delivery people, buzzing around Indian cities in their blue motorcycles, delivering happiness at home.

The last 7 years have been great for the firm as more and more urban India went mobile, the more difficult it became for the home maker to cook at home. At a Bangalore B School where I teach as a guest faculty almost 60 % of the students choose Domino’s as the best run restaurant business in India.

17 Jul 2013

Pay and Play: Social Sports League and the future of Indian Brands in Sport ?

Are you one of those who was a champion sportsman in College, but have been unable to play regularly post that ? Then how would you feel to play every week in a professional league set up and run by a management firm ? Is there any future for brands in non-cricket sports in India?

16 Jul 2013

All India Radio takes the SMS route to reach subscribers

While the country moves to internet and mobile applications, All India Radio (AIR) seems to be going the other way.

In the last couple of days, the Indian state owned behemoth has made two announcements that has triggered a cynical snigger among the Indian elite.

Firstly AIR is launching an SMS based news service. This service will allow the subscriber to register via a web based portal or through an SMS. Everyday he will receive 4 news headlines. Along with that he will also receive an unsolicited commercial, which I assume would cover the cost of this service for AIR.

9 Jul 2013

How Indian women have become a big driver for online shopping…

Recently Archana bought a few packets of diapers for our daughter. What was funny about the purchase was that it was bought online.

I was really surprised at the incident. I still remember about 5 years ago when I had taken to online shopping for mobile phones, Archana had been very skeptical, and since then she had taken to shopping on line with a vengence and now she was buying diapers online.

28 Jun 2013

Quotemaster: Now quotes on the go for the Android platform.

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them

These lines from Hamlet written by Shakespeare are my favorite. I make it a point to repeat them often and sometimes even out of context. I often find it difficult to remeber quotes leave alone try to make the most of situations to say so.

21 Jun 2013

Could Technology have softened the blow during Uttarakhand Floods ?

Floods in Uttarakhand. Kedarnath wiped away. More than 1000 dead and 100,000 missing.

This is not a normal incident. rather it is extra ordinary. But the question is could technology have softened the blow ?

It seems the state government had been warned about the lack of disaster contingency plan. And even currently there is heavy reliance on the Army, as state machinery has been totally destroyed.

Recently a very interesting fact surfaced in the US. During the last 10 years the American Administration has done away with more than 45,000 jobs which were focused on emergency response systems. A similar issue cropped up in Rio during the floods in the city.

12 Jun 2013

Days of the Jammakalam: A unique product from Tamilnadu

The last time I saw a Jammakalam (a coarse rug popular in Tamil Nadu and used on the floors at wedding halls, sabhas and temples) was during my marriage five years ago. It was maroon red with green stripes and hardly anyone noticed it. One of my wedding pictures had a glimpse of it in the background and that’s how I noticed it, when I was going through the pictures recently.

5 Jun 2013

Why the Bay of Bengal may solve Bangalore’s water problem: Water Desalination

The other day, my father returned from Chennai after commissioning a power plant. But to my surprise, in addition to commissioning the plant, he had also commissioned a desalination plant. I was not aware that water desalination was a viable option and could be used to create portable water for the country.

29 May 2013

What Indian dress designers don’t understand when they create clothes from women.

(The following post is a guest post by Archana Venkat)

I hate shopping for clothes for myself. Myntra and Jabong (and FlipKart and whatever else is there) don’t make a difference. Readymade clothes rarely fit me well. I used to wear trousers and shirts to work a few years ago (before my pregnancy) and even then finding a shirt that dint expose your bottom or a trouser that didn’t look like yoga pants/ tights was tough and I had to resort to getting both items of clothing stitched. I guess my tailor couldn’t overcome the torture and eventually shut shop and left me dealing with Salwar Kameezes. While I try and avoid looking Aunty-ish, people tell me Salwar Kameez IS Aunty wear, no two ways about it. So I went back to trying maternity trousers, but because I didn’t have a bump anymore, they wouldn’t fit.

23 May 2013

How aggregators are shaping the future of online shopping in India

Online shopping is child’s play. Or so claim the commercials from Flipkart.

In the last 5 years India has seen the proliferation of e commerce sites. Two of the most shopped product categories are books and electronics. But lately apparel is emerging as a hot pick. Sites like Myntra and Jabong have been advertising heavily. Even Flipkart now has entered the apparel space.