15000 units sold in 2 seconds, this bit of news took up a lot of online webpage real estate. The question that arises in minds of the masses is how, but as a student of marketing I am more perplexed by why. When Xiaomi, a Chinese company plans a move in India the challenges they face are very different than what an apple faces. If I were to answer the why with one word it would be Psychology, whose psychology, not just consumers’ but entire population’s psychology.

The thing is if I walk up to an average Joe and ask him here is a Xiaomi with these specifications and I am selling it for 14 grand, will he buy it? The answer is no. The reason is that many such Chinese phone brands exist in India, right into the rural markets. So the first barrier here is convincing people that Chinese need not always mean poor quality goods. With a brand name that is distinctively Chinese, how to you go on convincing the population that you have such a mighty product.

You can’t target the whole 1.3 billion in a go, so you segment them based on their relative income levels and education. There is a well set rationale behind this. If you want to make inroads into any demography where do you start from, the ones at the bottom of the pyramid or ones at the top? The logical answer is ones at the top of pyramid, they are the trend setters. Now let’ say in an office there is a manager and clerk, if you want your product to strike a chord with both of them then you target the manager because the clerk looks up to him and aspires to be like him. If the manager starts using Xiaomi there is a high chance that it would create a sort of appeal in the clerk’s mind, and he would in due course of time follow suit.

You have now identified your target customer, but how do you reach out to them. There are two main reasons why you can’t foray into the conventional Indian market with such fewer inventories and without taking too many risk. The inventory that Xiaomi started out with i.e. 45000 in three phases, is too less for entire India. That sort of inventory would get lost in this era of aggressive product visibility. Now then the next obvious solution is aiming a single region and growing from there on. That also comes with an added risk. You get branded as a regional player. And even though you have pan-India advertising and promotion (which costs a bomb) the availability of your product would be in limited in most of the part of the country and hence prospective customers will get frustrated and move on to buy a substitute product.

So, right now the two variables are, aiming at the trend setters and at the same time having a Pan-India presence and appeal. The best solution to this problem was Internet it guaranteed an even distribution and presence in the country, opportunity to provide the products to trend setters, chance to play with limited stocks, and get copious amounts of free online publicity.

There are two kinds of buyers, one those who understand the specifications of the technology they are buying and choose accordingly, and the other who considers this to be an important factor but lacks the knowledge and hence depends upon word of mouth. Online platforms give the products a chance to show off their specifications to the buyer. Xiaomi without doubt has a great product and flipkart would help it prepare a customer base that would help spread the word of mouth. Another practice is being perceived as a knowledgeable buyer. A customer may not understand the features fully yet while describing it to his peers it would name all of the features that it remembers and these jargons add immensely to the appeal of the product.

Now time for the final question, why start with an inventory so small in an economy of scale so large. The obvious answer is that lesser the supply greater the demand and hence by creating artificial supply shortage it would create a greater demand for its products. My point of view is that they had something bigger and grander in their mind.

What Xiaomi did was generate news with obnoxious numbers. The public was wary of terms like highest selling brand, leading brand and other clichéd taglines that companies in every sector had used and abused. These three flash sales of Xiaomi gave the customers something new. The forecast of number of mobile units to be sold in India for 2014 is 481 Million1 or 48 crores. It means 13,17808 should be sold daily and 54908 every hour. When you compare that to Xiaomi selling 45000 in a few hours; it isn’t that impossible a deal. But when such reports are published online what sticks with the customer is 2 second. It sensationalizes the whole news. Online media has something catchy and Xiaomi enjoys a huge amount of online real estate without actually paying for many of them. Though Xiaomi provides a phone that’s at par with Samsung Galaxy 5 and iPhone5 in every respect and cost half of what they cost, but being a new entrant with a distinctive Chinese name it needed a lot of clever and well targeted marketing to position itself in the mind of the consumer, which it was effectively able to do.

Chivalry is here to stay.

I came across an article claiming that chivalry should be dead. The following excerpt from the article aptly summarizes it.

“And that’s why chivalry needs to die.  A horrible, painful, loud and dramatic death is what I’m envisioning here.  Something fiery.  With an explosion of some sort.  Something where people say: what on earth was that?!”

I think the author speaks for herself and a certain bunch of females who want chivalry to be dead. Chivalry by no stretch of imagination means to put a woman on pedestal so that we men can derive a sense of superiority by putting her there.

Chivalry is a part of code of conduct that all of us still follow in different degrees, though subjected to individual choice.
We do want equality, but that doesn’t mean that the only differences that we acknowledge between the sexes are physical.
In times such as ours, and in a country such as mine, men aren’t chivalrous by obligation, they are chivalrous by choice.
I treat a girl nice because I want to, because I know such an act can make someone’s day, can lift someone’s spirit, and no we do it for other men too. It isn’t like if there are two men waiting to get out of elevator, both of them squeeze out at the same time, one has to let the other go.In case of women it is called chivalry, the difference is lexical.

Why is it so that a women’s grand slam has three set instead of a 5 that men’s have. Do you really think a average women’s physical strength can match an average man’s physical strength. If you do, I have bad new for you, you are taking feminism too far. The point that I want to drive home here is not that women are week. The reason why we offer seats to women in public transport, because when I see a man and a woman standing after a hard day’s work in the metro, I would not offer my seat to the man, not because he should bear the punishment of being the man, but because in most cases the women will tire out first. It is not degrading her but caring for her.
Women have their strengths, they understand emotions better.
On the other hand what do we expect, a cordial conduct instead of a shrug that at times is a woman’s reply.
In an era when we still treat women like animals in some places, chivalry sets a positive example. It comforts people that there is still something right with this world.

Equality of gender doesn’t mean removing the word masculine and feminine from the dictionary. It doesn’t mean that the day we achieve perfect equality, masculine and feminine traits will disappear. Nature made it so, let us mere mortals not defy it. In animal kingdom too the traits are defined.

Inequality is about restricting women from working, restricting her from attaining a certain designation, paying her less, limiting herself to confines of home, marrying her against her will, not educating her etc.

To conclude when we open doors for our seniors, or let them leave the elevator first, we aren’t putting them on a pedestal, it is a mark of respect. We are chivalrous because we think every women is special and deserves respect and this is our way counterbalancing all the wrongs that happen to her everyday.

(P.S. This is a privilege, and like all privileges even this is open to abuse.)

Buckle up!!! These are the things you will learn in an MBA

We had to counter an article, and we countered this


There is a difference between doing an MBA or just another Masters, in MBA unlike most of the other degrees you end up implicitly learning a potpourri of things. These are neither a part of the curriculum nor are they taught in classes. If you are intelligent enough you will find that at the end of two years academics contributed to not even 50 percent of your learning in a B-School.

So if you are planning to do an MBA and want to learn real management then buckle up, coming up are the list of things that an MBA will definitely teach you.

Doing Business

You wouldn’t have a subject in MBA named ‘Doing Business’, what you will have in turn is a list of subjects that help you build up a base. Now whenever you want to start up a business, what are the basic things that you need? An innovative idea, managing funds to implement it, a buyer for the product, service or Idea and final selling. No book on this planet can teach you how to generate an idea in your mind, the rest of the things are accounting, marketing and selling respectively. There would be specific subjects to deal with these. As your organization grows complex you will have legal issues for patents in the initial stages and compliances in the latter stages.  These things will be taken care of in Legal aspects of business. To top it all a good part of your time in MBA would be spent in solving case studies. These case studies put you in the shoes of a manager and allow you to think from his perspective after doing your research. Doing business is dealing with people. Trust me, to survive in an MBA you will have to take to it as a fish takes to water.



There are two parts of communication one is the theoretical aspect of it and another is the practical aspect. To be honest if you have a considerate teacher then you will sleep through the theory part. But it is the practical part that will excite you, if you already have good communication skill, but in case you don’t it will be a big learning curve. At first it may irritate you but, if you get constructive feedbacks, in no time you will get better at it. To top it off, every subject your curriculum will require you to make presentations, these will increase your communication skills many folds.

Moreover while doing an MBA nothing comes to you on a plate, in order to get things that you want, you need to ask for them. You may be shy initially, but eventually it will fade off and make you a better communicator.



Most of the premiere B-schools in the country have a compulsory residential program. The main reason for it is that students can interact amongst themselves 24X7 and have no choice but to form bonds. I have seen core introverts turn into extroverts in a matter of 2 months. How? Well with all the group activities, team building sessions, clubs, parties you have no choice but to sub-consciously start coming out of your shell and mix with people. This is how you start forming contacts and slowly the number of people you are acquainted with increase because your contacts multiply with each new person you know. This network grows out of college as well and continues throughout your professional life and beyond.



An MBA is all about selling yourself every day, every minute, every second (Pun intended). You need to sell yourself in class to get the class participation marks, you need to sell yourself to that girl and finally you need to sell yourself to the company to get your dream job. Landing a job in MBA is a simple battle amongst equals and that battle is ‘who sells himself better.’ Apart from that there would be various activities, games, competitions that would include you selling your idea or outright selling a product that actually exists to real people in a normal market. There are interesting games where students are given Rs 500 and they come up with innovative ways to convert that into Rs 10000 in a matter of few hours. When you learn how to sell a matchstick underwater, you don’t need to be taught how to sell a toothbrush separately.


If writing isn’t taught in B-schools what am I doing right now? There would be separate classes for writing in B-school but again if your teacher is considerate you will sleep through them too. The real writing happens in project reports, in open book examinations, when you know everyone has the same material and you need to come up with something different to land that extra grade. MBA also means a lot of reading, if you are a conscious reader you will in due course of time improve your writing. Also every batch contains few people with that bug of writing; when you go through their reports, blogs, status updates you understand what is lacking in your style of writing. Through a conscious effort you can easily get better at writing.


Imagine a hypothetical situation there are twelve members in a club out of them two are outstanding, the dozen guys have to choose a secretary amongst those two. Guess what skill separates them, it’s politics. When they have been in a club for 10 months, the dozen members know each other very well, so they have almost similar levels of networking, one who politicizes better is the one who wins.

Another illustration it’s your group project you see you are always given the less attractive part to present, what is it that you’re lacking that others have? It’s their political game play. Just the process of survival in a B-school will teach you politics and there is no shame in admitting you do need a bit if not a lot of it, to make strides in your career.

International Business

The case-studies that are floated in a B-school is generally conceptualized and prepared at Harvard Business School, when you solve those case studies you have to learn the dynamics of international business. Apart from that there are various subjects in the senior year that actually focus on international business. Many top B-schools have good international exchange programs that not only teach you business dynamics of other countries but also give you a cross-cultural learning experience. Many education loans finance this as well, so getting funds for an exchange trip is not a big issue.


To survive in a B-school and maintain your sanity, this will become one of your most treasured virtues. You may be putting in the most number of hours but the next door idiot may score more than you. You may have the best solution to a B-school competition but subjectivity in the process or overlooking of minute details may mean you are out of race. If you don’t have patience, you will freak out and eventually face a burn out. It’s very important to believe in the process and not be obsessed about the result. Most improbable of guys in your batch may land the best placements and vice versa. If you are not patient then these two years will hammer that virtue in you.

This article focuses on the fact that most of the learning in MBA is outside your classroom and from you peer group. The reason why MBA colleges go through a stringent admission process is, so that they find guys to fit into that mould. Those who depend on spoon feeding will not make much out of an MBA. Keep your mind open, focus on common sense, increase you national and global awareness, communicate, socialize, network and learn something from every passing moment. At the end of two years irrespective of the tangible salaries that you land, you will learn more than your money’s worth.

MNCs devise their marketing strategies to suit local needs. (In relation to developed and developing markets)

In the past couple of decades more so in the past decade companies have aggressively globalized. They have followed the mantra wider the better. So as companies expand their borders to tap in to new markets with the help of relatively cheap credit, they must also keep an eye on maintaining local relevance. With the exception of luxury brands most of other products are bought off from the shelf by local dwellers. Let’s take the example of Xiome; it needed a champion marketing strategy to break into the Indian market because it lacked local relevance. It may be the Apple of China but an enigma had to be created amongst the Indian customers to make it relevant to them.

The present scenario in developed market is stagnated. It becomes almost impossible for a new company to enter into it because of its oligopolistic nature. Only a new idea or a new concept can make relative inroads into it. So while the entry gets restricted the existing players have to battle it out amongst themselves to get a share of the available flesh. This is where local relevance comes in. You have to look at the brand’s image from a macro as well as a micro perspective. Globalization provides that macro perspective wherein a brand receives adulation and reverence both amongst its customers and peers. That does give your brand a certain push but final sales happen at the local level, hence one needs to develop a micro perspective by staying relevant to the local customer.

Now when it comes to the developing markets there are still a lot of opportunities that exist in them. The companies are making huge investments into these markets. But any international brand has to make sense to the local customers. It has to develop a value chain which the locals can identify with. Different people in different places have different objectives of buying a product. A 100 cc motorcycle while marketing itself needs to answer the whys of the local customers. It has to position itself in the minds of the customers in a way that they can connect their needs to the value proposition of the product.

Nintendo was able to do a great job at this. Though it was a Japanese company it understood that a huge market existed in west, it came up with games which had western characters, western settings and western lifestyles, for example Mario was an Italian Plumber. Maggi’s value offerings vary from country to country. In Singapore for example non-veg Maggis retain the aroma for the animal they are made from. Prawn magi would actually smell like uncooked prawn. A McDonald’s top draw in the west maybe it’s hamburger but for obvious reasons it isn’t even present on the menu in India. Hence the marketing strategy of a company must focus on targeting the local needs.

HeroHonda’s amalgamation of a local favourite and international powerhouse did a brilliant job at that. It identified a need for a bike that was inexpensive and fuel efficient at the same time. It immediately appeal to the global customers and went on to set international records. Bajaj did that with its humara Bajaj ad campaigns. It’s first ad campaign for Chetak aimed at the then Indian middle class, people were ready to wait for six months to own an ‘our’ Bajaj. Their next ad in early 2000s was for the rising IT professionals with disposable income. It showed that though young India is becoming a world beater but still they respected their culture and are rooted in it. And the final one was about the joy of riding the machines and the fact that we are continuously getting ahead of ourselves.

The writing on the wall is clear on this issue, you may be a force to reckon with internationally, but if you sell a product that is bought by masses you better start making sense to local consumer. Hence, a marketing campaign needs to address the local requirements and related with the local sentiments.

‘Market in Rome as the Romans do’  

Marketing an Indian Bride

As a student of marketing I feel that marketing is omnipotent and try to spot the presence of marketing in almost all human activities, from a child’s attention seeking fit to a mother’s promotion of green veggies being tastier than oh-so-yummy Big Mac. Now fortunately (or unfortunately) a friend of mine is getting married, in a recent chat with her, she explained all that that goes into a big fat Indian wedding. Here I am making an effort to break all of that into the 7Ps of marketing, four old-school Ps and three Gen-y Ps. I know the scenario has changed a lot in the metro cities and somewhat in tier-two cities, but broadly, sadly and comically, this is how an Indian bride is still marketed. The experiences may differ from person to person.

[Disclaimer: This doesn’t mean to cause offence to any gender in particular, or to some individual or section of individuals of the implied gender in particular.]


When the bride’s guardian/father decides that she is of a good enough age to marry, then he hands over the task of product management to her mother. The carefree girl is suddenly given a long list of behavioural guidelines that she needs to inculcate in herself, not to forget along with a cookbook, that she needs to master in order to be a suitable product for the marriage market.


Before you jump the gun and shoot me for putting a price on a bride, I am talking about the implicit price of a bride. Well here price means the average CTC of the groom to be. This depends on a number of factors, bride’s, bride’s father’s, neighbour’s son-in-laws’, cousins’ and god knows how many more people’s earnings and the forbidden d-word(dowry). Every mother takes into factor all of these and a number of other parameters before deciding the price floor of her daughter. And yes these do include the number of sibling and loans the poor bridegroom may have.


I was told that the prospective bride had to attend a lot of ceremonies of relatives whose names she had read only on facebook or in the family grapevine during the we-are-bored-let’s –discuss-relatives-sessions. To cite a few examples, place is everything ranging from temples and neighbour’s keertan to father’s colleague’s 25th marriage anniversary.


The product itself doesn’t have much role to play in the promotion. It has an advertising agency called mother who does it. What! Chinese at Mainland China and Indian at Barbeque nation, my daughter can cook everything from Indian, Italian, Mexican, and Chinese to all the other countries’ name that you know. And you know what the best part is, she leaves the kitchen as it is, spotless clean after cooking. And yes she wakes up by 7 every day, and always arranges her own bed. (The reader is free to judge the veracity of the statement.)




People include all the stake holders. The relatives are told to scour their circles for ‘suitable’ bride grooms. Even the house maid is put on alert in case she hears something through grapevine in her other employer’s house. To make sure the whole process is glitch free, the people handling the run up to the event and the event itself are carefully chosen.



‘Process is something that your customer experiences during the transaction.’

Though this logic is beyond my comprehension but still the tradition is such that bride’s family go out of their way to make the bridegroom comfortable, and mother’s of groom think that her son is a jewel (mine included) and makes sure that gives everyone a hard time letting him go.  Going by our sex ratio and theory of demand and supply, this should be the other way around.


In this context performance matter’s when the groom’s owners (see parents) come for an inspection of the bride to be. Though these things are very subtly done now, like serving tea, shy smile, coy posture, and the pretence that the groom is the first guy she has ever seen and somehow she has magically fallen in love with him. This charade is essential to maintain the sanctity of the process of marriage.

I in any way do not endorse this, but sadly this is the reality in a large section of our society. The aim of the article was to integrate marketing with any random happening in our society, and taking a pot-shot at few things that I think is not right. I also tried making it humorous enough, so that it doesn’t lull us to sleep like some marketing textbooks.

The author of this article thinks that even Bridegrooms are equally marketed and would follow this article up with a part two, which applies the concept of 7P’s to the Indian bridegroom.


Pinnacle of human audacity

After I watched Mumbai Indians thrash Rajasthan Royals, yesterday I could not help but relate it to a facet of human behavior, which we tend to ignore. When I say we, I mean we, the plebeians, the common man, trapped in this web that we so carefully spin around ourselves. That facet is self-belief, the audacity to hope for the impossible, the grit, the determination that no target in life is too difficult to achieve. Having followed cricket for a dozen and half years, I can vouch for the fact chasing 190 in 20 overs, in a do or die game is a mean task in itself, but imagine reducing it to 14.3 overs. Commentators said they made a mockery of Rajasthan’s bowling, I say they made a mockery of me, a mockery of us. Us human beings who shackle ourselves, with our apprehensions and our definitions of what is possible and what is not.

Now is there something to learn from this? Is there something that we can incorporate in our daily lives to reach our own pinnacles? My answer is a loud yes. I had the good fortune of attending a creativity course in IIT – Delhi, couple of years ago. A session I attended helped me develop a different perspective towards life. The trainer divided us in groups of seven, and asked us to make a circle. We then had to pass a ball among ourselves, such that it touched every hand and came back to the first person in the shortest time. Another condition was it should not be dropped. We started rather clumsily and did it in 6 seconds, next we made the circle smaller, and little finished it in little above four second. Then, he said do this in 1 second. We thought it wasn’t possible, how do you reduce the time by 75%. We thought for a moment and came up with an idea, we made a slope with our palms and rolled the ball on it, and well it took a second. His next challenge was to do it in a fraction of a second. We replaced our palms by fingers and it took a split second for the ball of roll over and touch all our hands. This activity may seem like something of a joke, but if we look deeper then there is a lesson to be learnt, until we really believe and push ourselves, we will never achieve the results we think are impossible.

If we look at the modern history, none of the technological inventions was accident. It was not as if someone left a few wires with a screen overnight, and the TV was born. Wright brothers had a dream that they can fly and they did, on this day in 1961, John F Kennedy, promised to the world that they would put a man on moon in a decade and come back, and they did that. Imagine when the computers weren’t even as powerful as our phones are, they put a man on the moon.

Sports are littered with many such examples, but for the sake of brevity of this article, I will mention the one event that stunned me the most. In cricket, the team score of 400 in ODIs was a mental roadblock that teams had. Srilanka had the highest team score for a long time, it was 398. Surprisingly, the first time a team dared to beat the 400 mark in ODIs, the opposition did too. Australia scored 434 in 50 overs, and South Africa replied with a 438, imagine 2348 ODI matches had been played till then, many of them of 60 overs as well, and it was broken twice in a matter of 4 hours. I mean come on, what was South Africa even thinking. This audacity to actually break barriers is one of the reasons we evolved into such advanced creatures. Amongst all such impossibles that we have seen our lives, a pattern emerges.

That pattern is self-belief; no doubt there is a thin line between self-belief and over confidence. But when you have practiced enough, worked hard enough, planned well, had your share of struggle, then the only thing that stops you from achieving your destiny is self doubt. The ifs, the buts, the perceptions that creep in our mind about that moment of triumph make victory all the more difficult. Well I am just 23, and many of you reading this will be my age, I say let’s believe, believe for a better life, a better society, a better country, better relationship but most importantly a better I. If we all can collectively do this, then everyone of us will be a winner in our own right.



How to bell the CAT – Fighting Demons (Quant and VA)

Note: GK is not asked in CAT but is a integral part of many other Management exams.

Disclaimer: If you are already good in these things, please ignore this post, but if you are wondering where to start your preparation from, then this maybe the thing you were waiting for.

This is 3 of a 5 part article that I intend to write, to share with you what actually went into scoring a 99.49 percentile in CAT after securing average marks throughout my academic career.

This post is dedicated to my friends and acquaintances especially from hinterland, for whom English is a massive road block for pursuing career in many fields. It is also dedicated to people who get nightmares because of GK, and can not figure out where to start from. 

Well but first I will start with how to improve your Quantitative Aptitude i.e. Maths. Well this would not serve as an overnight pill, that suddenly after reading you will have an Eureka moment. To all of you out there, you all have at some point gone to a gym or thought of going to a gym to enhance your body features. You put a lot of thought into what you wear, what accessories you put on, what make up you apply. Why? Well to make yourself more presentable, more appealing and yes, feel good.

But honestly ask yourself what have you done till now to enhance your brain, to make your mind sharper, to make increase your aptitude. If your honest answer is nothing, then till this point in your life if you have invested a lot of time to attend to the physical side of your being, but what about mental side?

If you are an engineer, and want to improve you maths, you will have to lower your ego a bit and but a class 5 book. No, I didn’t require one, my fundamentals were very strong, though I score only 86 in maths in class 10th. In case yours aren’t strong enough borrow a class 6 book, and look into the basics of chapters like Percentage, Profit and Loss, Time Speed Distance. Trust me this is a chapter in which I have seen people with a 100 in maths stutter. Do not rush through this part, read the theory portion of the chapters, understand them, don’t run after getting the right answer or solving a particular number of questions. Just thoroughly understand the concepts, do not worry about time, take as much you want. Because, if you start building on a weak foundation, no matter how much time you invest on the building, it would ultimately fall. Once your concepts are strong you will suddenly realize you are 85-90% prepared for MAT. Yes, yes CAT will take a bit more, namely application, presence of mind and stamina. If you are comfortable with 6th, then move on to higher classes for different topics. The idea is to be well prepared with the basics of each chapter before you actually start with aptitude preparation.

Next is Verbal ability or simply put English. Remember those grammar classes which you too lightly, those one mark answers that you copied in examination. Well now is the time to take out your earlier grammar book and start reading. Again there are not many questions from grammar in CAT but there is a good number of questions from grammar in other exams that you will give as a contingency plan. Again you need grammar to sound and write right in the essay writing, group discussion and personal interview that follows a good percentile in CAT. Reading comprehensions and jumbled paragraphs along with vocabulary are the biggest challenge. To counter all three of these you need to start by doing a simple exercise. Read. Please do not consider yourself a reader, if all you have read is mills and boons and Chetan Bhagat. No disrespect to his books, but the kind of passages that are asked in CAT are far far far more difficult and complex than his writings. also, when you do a reading comprehension, irrespective of whether your answer is right or wrong, try finding the logic behind it. To those of you who haven’t seen a CAT or XAT question paper yet, reading comprehension is more like puzzle, where you need to be at your analytic best and get into the mind of the author. For jumbled sentences too, irrespective of whether your answer is right or wrong, always try and understand the rationale behind an answer. 

Finally for vocabulary, you can’t possibly start memorizing a word list or a dictionary. Go to, create an account, make your own word list and start following the procedure given. If you do this religiously for even two weeks, your vocabulary is bound to improve. Start by referring to any word list that is given in your preparation material. There would be words that you have heard before but don’t know the meanings. Start with them first as you will memorize them faster.  

To those of you who don’t read at all, it’s never too late. I will write another article to explain how to build the habit of reading. You can’t suddenly wake up one fine morning and start reading a 350 page novel, can you? Well there is process that I have suggested to few of my friends and it has helped them start reading. It’s about taking conscious baby steps towards it, to build a very useful habit for future.