Thursday, January 18, 2007

Small Wonder

Living away from home has its disadvantages. Not least among them is having to do one's own laundry. And if one happens to be a poor software engineer in Bangalore, a washing machine is most definitely out of the question. (As if not having mom around wasn’t bad enough!) But like most unpleasant things in life, this too can be a learning experience.

For example, I learnt that a 500g packet of a popular detergent powder costs more than ten 50g sachets of the same product. But how can it be? Shouldn’t larger packs be more economical than smaller ones? Or at the least, shouldn’t smaller packs refrain from being more economical than larger ones? Else, why would anyone ever buy the larger pack?

May be this was just an exception. It could be a conscious attempt to encourage consumers to try out the product. Or perhaps, the marketing types had formulated this sinister plan as part of a larger conspiracy against the unsuspecting consumer. Yeah, a conspiracy sounds just like the thing an FMCG giant would be involved in. (Wicked grin).

Over time, I realized that my detergent sachet was not an isolated freak of marketing. Many such pricing deviations are hiding in supermarket shelves and neighborhood stores everywhere. I recently came across this popular brand of tea powder. A 500g pack costs 17% more per gram than a 100g pack. But I'm still curious to know the cause this phenomenon. And that’s one more reason to want to go to B-school. Meanwhile though, I’m happy eating the Appam instead of counting the Kuzhi. Appam and tea.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Orkut Marketing

Tring.. Tring..
Good morning sir, this is Kavya calling on behalf of GoondaLoan bank. Your friend Jatin has a GoondaLoan gold card and we know you want one too. Lifetime free sir. No monthly fee!

Sounds like the regular telemarketing call from some stranger who knows your name and bank balance. Only this time she also happens to know all your friends and the exact nature of each relationship. Welcome to the world of social network based marketing.

Our electronic communications, everything from phone records to emails and scrapbook entries, provide valuable information about who we are. By mining these records, a marketer knows who the people in our life are. She knows how close you are to each person. And she knows what the people in your life are doing, probably better than you do, because it’s her job to know. She might even know who your girlfriend was dating back in high school.

Consider this. The people in our lives have enormous influence the over us. We often see the world through their eyes. We base some of our toughest decisions on their advice. They give meaning and purpose to life itself. In short, our social interactions define who we are as individuals. Someone with access to distilled information about my social interactions can almost read my mind. And possibly change it.

Kavya is selling a credit card. She could just as well be selling a political ideology.