Friday, May 29, 2015

Making sense of Ecommerce Businesses

It was in 2000, that I had my first brush with Ecommerce, it was the peak of the dot com revolution and I was studying computer engineering. It was the time when banner ads got you money just on the basis of someone clicking on them. I remember this conversation with a guy working at a venture capitalist who I met when I shared my rickshaw from the station home. He spoke some jargon which I did not understand but never could answer how dot coms make money and who would pay for it. I had zilch business sense those days but was interested because a couple of friends and I had created a friends networking (now called social networking) site where you could make friends with other people.  It was that time when everything to make a site was freely available online and creating entry barriers as such were not easy especially since we had nothing tangible to provide end consumers. The dot com bubble burst and gaining admission to a good MBA college basically ended the idea then and there. A good learning and a brilliant initiation into the world of Ecommerce.

Come 2015, we have the second surge of Ecommerce. Anyone with an idea can get an opportunity to at least pitch his idea to a VC and many of these are getting funding and crazy funding at that. The craziness of empty clicks and click throughs etc have been replaced by customer acquisition parameters. The success of facebook (not it’s ipo though) has shown people that once you have a large enough customer base, you can always find a way to monetize it. So we have people going crazy on customer acquisition. Being a marketer, I have had discussions with many promoters of multiple such ventures and found them to be better prepared this time around, though their calculation of revenue streams, break even, etc are still beyond my simple understanding of strategy.

In 2001 a lot many people joined dot coms just so that they wouldn’t miss the bus. Some made enough money to buy an airbus, some (including me) travel to work by bus. All this governed by the only law of finance which holds true ‘high risk, high return’. However since finance isn’t my expertise and marketing strategy is more my forte I always found a need to structure the Ecommerce strategy. We marketeers were generally the runt of the class. So our models were always something as simple as 4Ps, 7Cs, MAX model etc. We tend to run a factor analysis on complex models and create a simple one which explains everything succinctly. This need to have a model to evaluate parameters of success in ecommerce and finding no model really explaining anything, I created my own inspired by 4Ps, It’s called (in honour of ecommerce), the 4E model. The attempt is to build and evaluate all parameters of Ecommerce using just 4 of these
  • Economy
  • Exclusivity
  • Experience
  • Emotion
Let me Elaborate:

The first principle or first reason people shifted to Ecommerce was economy. Economy comes in through lack of overheads, reduced inventory, reduction in manpower, etc. Economy was the first reason people shifted online. Amazon is one of Ecommerce’s biggest successes because of Economy. Ask any avid reader and he probably still leafs through books at an oxford, decides on the books and then buys it through a Flipkart. Touch and feel is a requirement of every shopping experience and a shopper gives this up only for Economy and also a bit for convenience (Ill cover that later). An insight on so many Ecomm sites incentivizing app purchases and even switching off their web based site is simply this aspect. A web based portal makes searching for prices on competitive sites easy. An app makes such comparison a tad tougher. A customer acquired through this aspect is not easy to retain. He’s a bargain hunter. This model means value generation happens through economies of scale, better negotiations or by just subsidizing sales. It’s not a foolproof model yet one of the world’s biggest corporations, Wal Mart swears by EDLP(every day lowest price). Technology, VMI and scale ensures they have the best prices. Economy (backed by performance) is the reason low cost airlines are chosen over full service ones. Economy is a model which provides a lot of success, however economy is a hard working game which operates on wafer thin margins and very very good operations all of which can be replicated some day.

Exclusivity like economy has many meanings. Facebook started off as a social network which over time has now become the exclusive store of memories. The cost of migration is now the loss of all that content making it quite irreplaceable which is why we don’t react as much when the number of promoted posts have increased. Their fancy algorithms also ensure that we get content which is in tune with our likes and dislikes. If you think about it, FB creates zilch content but is probably the most referred site for content today. From a site where you could poke a few friends and/or play scrabble with them, they today are one of the prime sources of content and they don’t pay a penny to create it. FB is irreplaceable in any brand’s plans today. It’s exclusive. Exclusivity is one of the best strengths to possess. Mind you even a FB doesn’t charge a penny for storing all your content, so there is an element of economy here for the user. The monetization happens through brands trying to reach consumers. It essentially works on the same model as any TV channel and we work hard each day to build content for them. A brilliant business model which evolved to what it is today.

Exclusivity can also be something  as simple as the micromax or one plus phone being exclusively available on a Ecommerce site. This means that someone who wants to buy that content has to go to the specific Ecommerce site and pay up. Apple’s app store is probably another big example of exclusivity. A zillion apple users can buy apps only from the app store at whatever price quoted there. Exclusivity has Halo being sold only on Xbox, It has amazon subsidizing the Kindle and so on and so forth. Exclusivity is basically a soft form of monopoly, but it is a sure shot successful position to occupy

When I was in college, we used the 56Kbps connections, you know the ones which made sounds while connecting. Internet plans generally were inflexible and quite expensive. At that point someone launched something called caltiger. Caltiger was a service which gave you free internet, provided you saw some ads on your laptop. Quite an acceptable trade off and a sure shot business success you would think. However it never took off as such because of a horrible experience. It took ages to connect, gave low speeds and eventually disappeared. It ticked the economy box but couldn’t provide the experience needed and failed.

A good Experience is a hygiene factor in today’s world. One bad delivery or a soap instead of a phone and not only will you lose a customer for life. Chances are it could destroy your brand name in a day. Experience is everything from the user interface which is where facebook killed Orkut to the delivery experience which is something where Flipkart revolutionized Ecommerce through cash on delivery. A slow loading page and a consumer could shift. Too much information and consumers could get confused, too less and they are not informed enough. An interface needs to have everything including a democratic setup for feedback on the service. Ecommerce sellers have the least control on the decision making process and that’s a necessity today. Experience is definitely the most critical requirement for a brand

Emotion in marketing is like cheese on a pizza, it’s a given. Some of you’ll might question it’s presence in this framework. But all things being equal there is a greater chance you will buy a product from someone who appeals to your emotional side. In the digital world emotions in the form of reactions travel much further, much faster. Emotions are what most marketers play on to create brand  value. In the world of communication, an ad which tugs at your heartstrings also helps you to loosen your purse strings. Like Don Draper famously says ‘The reason you haven't felt it is because it doesn't exist. What you call love was invented by guys like me, to sell nylons...’

Ecommerce companies probably see the biggest impact of emotion when things go wrong. Nothing spreads as much as the news of one of these companies making a wrong delivery and/or not replacing faulty products. A change in privacy terms or guidelines and you could lose a chunk of your users. Based on my professional experience I can safely say there is no better evangelist than a consumer who gets redressal or a replacement on time. A recent step taken by us on customer feedback recently had the most number of mails and FB posts coming in, much more engagement than anything our digital team could plan. In the ecommerce world, people can give feedback instantly, which spreads even faster. In the world of user generated content and instant digital broadcasting, a reaction can drive perception and purchases. Which is why Ecommerce companies need to be customer emotion centric. While in marketing, customer is always King. In Ecommerce treat him like an emperor.

4Es - Economy, Exclusivity, Experience, Emotion

This framework is fluid in that I’ve used it to understand companies as well as their positioning. The ideal companies tick all the boxes, the best tick all and own at least one.  As in conventional marketing, different media and different thematics can be used to build any and each of them. It is a bit simplified for people like me to make sense of marketing/business strategies and positions of the Ecommerce companies of today and their success parameters. Do suggest any alterations to make it simpler and more comprehensive.

Thinking logically and digitally,

Pranay Rao

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A little bit of sporting magic

My generation and specifically my friends have a severe lack of enthusiasm which can be really painful. Their sense of fun is drinking booze with loud music in the background and hogging on the most unhealthy food conceived by man while cribbing about all that is affecting their work and life. Adventure for them is a planned vacation to some exotic location which has good bragging potential. So when multiple groups of friends dillydallied about going to the CWG since at that point it was not braggable enough I was quite bugged but I had decided that I was going even if I had to go on my own. This is when Andy 'PJ' Venkateshan intervened with tickets for the ---------- wait for it------------------ India Pak hockey match. The funny part is we got these tickets from a guy who had come from Mumbai to see the CWG. 

Courtesy a full parking lot at HUDA city centre metro station and a 10 min metro delay we entered the venue just as India had taken the lead. The seating system had gone for a toss we were seated near our original centreline seats with a great view of the stadium. What ensued was magic. India with the totally partisan crowd behind them attacked continuously. As at every venue, one of the people had taken the role of the official cheerleader with jingoism at its peak. People were running around with Indian flags making the most deafening sound with Dhols, trumpets and even the odd vuvuzella. Some magical field goals by India and the audience was on their feet. Hockey knowledge was at a premium with people jumping up when a shot from outside the dee went into the goal, but then it didn't matter. 

The 2nd half started with Pakistan fighting back. However the Delhizens having re-energized themselves with the zillion litres of coke shoke and burger wurger intimidated the opposition with their vocal prowess. The amount of food consumed in 70 minutes was a good yardstick of the future obesity of this city. Anyway we were soon 6 - 2 and by then the audience was bored. The jeetega be jeetega slogan shifted to jeetgaya be jeetgaya. The odd family started to walk out to avoid the rush and then the final hooter. 7 - 4 it was and the score didnt do enough justice to India's dominance.

The closing ceremony 4K VIP seats were quite a bonus courtesy my boss and Vipul. So Andy and Mayank in tow, we reached the venue for the most awesome spectacle I have seen. The stadium looked most beautiful, with the super expensive aerostat looking nice in the sky. The ceremony started off well with even the most silent spectator taking extra pleasure in booing Kalmadi. The poor rich guy tried his best to gain brownie points by mentioning the 101 medals repeatedly as if he had run himself. The 101 medals though were quite the cherry on the cake. The fact that India was 2nd beating bigger sporting countries felt really great. Sheila Dixit was as usual the rockstar of the show with the maximum cheers whenever she came on screen. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi were a close second. Though the most chuckles came when the Glasgow representative thanked Mees Deegshit. The Army band was predictably good and the martial artists were really good though they were not a patch on the effect of the last act when seen from a seat in the stadium. The formations were magical and the dance was beautifully synchronized with a laser man who incidentally had been part of a GSK event recently. The music was popular and contemporary and could give any Delhi disc a run for their money. The powerhouse singers captured the new Indian sound and other than Shiamak Dawar singing last generation english numbers, the performance was amazing. The Glasgow guys too put up a good show with their Sydney Opera look alike building called the armadillo. Didn't get the Loch Ness part though till I saw it in the news the next day. A large group of scotts who were sitting next to us got most excited and were waving flags and banners during this part of the show.

The CWG was quite the showcase for the new India. Aggression on the field and a showcase closing ceremony with martial arts and army bands was a show of pure power. Loved it. This is the new India, bold, loud and in your face.Indian sports take a bow.

Now lets catch the corrupt bastards and get my tax money back :)

- Pranay

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Operation Delhi marathon

After dodging dengue, malaria and swine flu in Delhi, my invincibility was broken by a sore throat in Mumbai. However sore throat is far better than any of the above. Also it feels great to have someone get you salt water for gargling. Also had a bullseye/half fry egg after ages. My Gurgaon house came without a gas and have managed quite easily with a microwave especially since I heard about them being a healthier form of cooking. However microwaves can't be used to make a half fry. Funny how you miss such things. Used last night to put together my papers for tax filing. Shifting companies and houses at the end of a financial year means a financial nightmare in terms of settlements. 

Anyway the objective of this post was to explain operation Delhi marathon (21st Nov 2010). If you remember my things to do before I turn 30, a marathon was in the list. The bare minimum to be run in a marathon is a dream run (7 kms) which is still 4 kms more than I have ever run on a treadmill. Even when I was an active sportsperson, my strength was sprints, never exceeding 200m :). I firmly believe your running strength is based on your genetics which explains the Kenyans winning marathons and the Jamaicans the sprints. Indians were genetically designed to write software code not run and we have sports associations which ensure we will continue to do that. 

Operation marathon in typical MBA style starts with a plan and a timeline. Road running is nothing like running on a field or a track. I've seen quite a few friends screw up their knees because they started a bout of jogging on the road. Roads don't cushion your steps which is why you need to have special footwear. So I decided to get myself a pair of Adidas running shoes, which if left to themselves would cross the finishing line in the first place. However there is also the small issue of them carrying me across with them. Which is why over the next few weeks I would be training with those shoes on. Running on the road means loads of sweating, which is why I've also got myself a carton of lucozade courtesy Manu.

Next week is mild jogging for 25 mins everyday ending with a sprint (wishful thinking). If that works out then I keep upping my time and speed as per the plan for the next few weeks till November 21st 2010.

Running out of excuses to get fit,

- Pranay

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fill it, Burp it, Forget it

Pranay's elder sibling theory aka PEST states that 'the first child's generally an anomaly (matrix talk). The parents are surprised (read shocked) to see this weird looking thing in their hands but still they keep it(no gender bias). Also they hardly know what's to be done with the kid. So they read a few books, listen to a lot of advice and apply it to the kid. And as with all experiments, the subject ends up all weird while the scientists (parents) learn a lot. And thanx to the learnings, the second child is brought up all normal.'  Please check for proof of the theory.

My younger nephew quite proves the PEST theory with his generally amused and sometimes bemused expression while observing his older brother. Case in point the 'nice' picture my mother wanted me to take of the two brats. The younger one was quite surprised at his shrieking elder brother which reminded me of how I used to observe my elder sister as a kid.

Anyway the break last weekend really helped me relax. Spent some time at home after 6 months. The 2 kids in the house really is good fun. The elder one has started talking coherently though he gets his grammar from his mother while the younger one just gurgles away in delight when someone is close enough for him to observe. He is quite uncomplicated and cries only when hungry. Reminds me of the Hero Honda ad Fill it, shut it, forget it. In this case it is Fill it, burp it, forget it :D.

I used the break to hog away all around Mumbai. Met quite a few friends in between sampling Mumbai's delicacies. Went to Juhu beach and Mount Mary church which is an annual affair for the family just around the fair. As kids we used to visit the fair with parents but nowadays it's impossible to visit it. Mumbai over the last few years seems to have grown exponentially in population and traffic. The local trains are so crowded that more and more people are moving to taking their vehicle to office which means choked highways and roads. Wonder when the metro is going to come through. The only place left to grow now is the sea.

The sea is what makes Mumbai special. It's the only place you can't see people, though nowadays at bandstand couples seem to pop out from behind rocks which are almost within the sea. I remember as a teenager visiting Juhu beach with friends watching the waves breaking on the seashore with the sea breeze snatching away the noise of the city and giving us Mumbaikars those few moments of total calm.

Anyway the break also meant a break in my gym routine and my guitar class. My most patient guitar teacher has been trying to teach me chords so that I can finally in my life claim to carry a tune. There is still quite a lot of discord in my chords and he is quite tired having to explain the reason behind a certain system of music and why a chord is so but it is fun. I may not become a santana (Don't bet against it) but it satisfies the need to learn something new. The language classes haven't happened yet and I don't even have a lack of mobility to blame, though I still am not comfortable driving. Dad and my friends tell me that practice will help perfect my driving which is what my guitar teacher tells me about my strumming. So if you see a guy practicing chords on his invisible guitar while driving a car, it could be me multi - tasking ;).

 - Pranay

Monday, August 23, 2010

The adventures of Pranay and his sports car

In Gurgaon, it is forbidden for people to pee on the road. Not because of civic sense which is really a concept alien to Haryana, but because it just might lead to a flood. Whoever built this city forgot one key fundamental concept - drainage. Anyway living across the office, I have this nice life where the absence of drainage doesn't affect me except on Sundays and then too the only place I go to is a few kilometres away. So for all those pictures of water in people's living rooms and people pushing cars on the road, I have the deepest sympathy but frankly it doesn't affect my life. But today was different.

Living alone and in the absence of sensible adult supervision, I sometimes come up with great ideas like taking my car out to our office in sector 31 which is situated in a low lying area. So I set out to this office with Vipul 'Main hoon na' Gupta to supervise my newly acquired driving skills in a car which really is too powerful for a learner driver. My counter point being that german children learn driving on a Mercedes, so there.

Anyway we set out to this office with the minimum of fuss and reached there mostly incident free except for one point where the car stopped and didn't start on the first turn of the key. Reached this office and parked the car outside to avoid the rains. 2 hours of rain and we looked down into a compound full of water and realized that it was time to get out before we were underwater.

So we left for office in 2 cars. One driven by Badri who was already there with able navigator Vipul who ditched me for the more experienced driver and me in the second. With such heavy rains I decided I was going to follow Badri's car, the only problem was that I had no idea what I was getting into.

Within 2 hours, the medium rainfall had resulted in knee deep water. I'm 5 feet 10 inches tall so knee deep for me means the water was at the level of my indicators. When the jolly Haryanvi driving instructor of Bharat motor driving school taught me driving he forgot to mention how fast should you drive when your headlights are close to the water line. The Palio is a really heavy car and yet I could feel the car veering off course a bit as waves from a passing car hit the body. I probably would not have had the guts to get into the water but for the knowledge that this very car had gotten dad home during the Mumbai floods. But dad's an experienced driver and this was me who just last week had mistakenly pressed the accelerator instead of the brake.

Reading is not always a good thing especially when you have read stories about cars falling into ditches which develop in the middle of the road and reader's digest versions of people getting drowned or asphyxiated in their cars during a flood. I gulped and followed Badri passing by a couple of cars which had stalled and they were being pushed and that really didn't help. Which is also the point when Vipul called me and told me that I was not to allow the engine to stall  at any cost. I was so speechless that I think I nodded on the phone. We drove (actually waded) through the water to reach a junction where we had to climb onto a road half a foot above the one we were.

Imagine a car in water trying to get onto a road w/o water. Most people would move their car aside and allow you into the lane. But no, an idiot in a Matiz decided that he was in a super hurry which meant I was halfway on one road with the back in water. I swear if the engine had stopped at that moment I would have gotten down and beaten him up (which would have been a stupid idea considering this is Gurgaon and he would probably have pulled a gun on me). To make matters worse, a Maybach was right behind me. Imagine a situation where making a mistake could have you paying up for the repair work on a 50 lakh car. Finally the idiot in the Matiz moved his vehicle and I pulled my car out and followed Badri to DLF plaza.

I parked my car and engaged the gear lock (std Gudgaon accessory) and got out. You know that shaky feeling in your legs you get after getting out off a really awesome roller coaster ride. I had that same feeling. I was like this real bad Bond Martini - both shaken and stirred.Would've kissed the ground If it wasn't all muddy.

Later at night had another incident with a Honda City trying to cut across me. Braked just in time and then crossed the road with my car. Parked the car and patted the steering wheel of my sports car, which had quite literally got two Raos out of water. But for the remainder of this rainy season, this Rao is going to trust the best mode of transport which god had meant for us to use, my feet.

Still Shaken though a little less stirred,

- Pranay

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Redefining independence - stop existing, start demanding

It's Independence day punctuated by super saver offers from all the retail chains in India started by the grand master of Indian retail - Kishore Biyani. Have been racking my brain about any other association I can make with the Independence day and there's nothing. Independence day has become just another day when they play jingoistic movies on different channels and thats that.

This year I decided I must usher in independence day watching Peepli live after hearing so much about it. So with my new found confidence in my own driving I headed out to DT Mega mall to watch Peepli live.  Peepli live is this nice movie full of dark humour. It takes the very real issue of farmers being forced out of agriculture and presents it most beautifully. The media part is funny. Reminds me of a story - The Wait -II I had written ages back.

Peepli made me remember this statistical model being created on economic spending in India which had good rains as a very important variable. Good rains means good farming which means a good economy. On one side we have the worlds heaviest rainfall (Cherapunji) and on the other side we are still dependent on the rains as a source of irrigation. One of the biggest ironies of life was my house in Mumbai facing water shortages just 10 months after Mumbai was flooded.

We have the capability to create the world's best supersonic missile - Brahmos, have a space program that many developed nations don't, have the ability to create a 35$ touch based computing device and the world's cheapest reliable motor car and yet every June/July we look to the skies. And believe me it's not just the farmers. Every bank, every mobile company, every fmcg co looks to the skies and keeps their fingers crossed praying for good rains. Good rains are like that first tile in a huge domino pattern. Unless that falls nothing else can happen. Companies in India change their strategy basis rainfall. Amazingly even after 63 years of attaining independence, we are a nation running on prayers only. And this from a race which is celebrated for being among the first users of irrigation evident at Mohenjadaro and Harappa.

Coming back to Peepli, it's strange how two movies from the same production house show an agricultural India dependent on the rainfall. The first one Lagaan was based in 1893, the latest one Peepli live based in 2010. We very happily cheered when the farmers beat the foreign invaders responsible for the sorry state of affairs in a game of cricket, wishing that we could've been part of that team and whacked the englishmen for a six. In Peepli live we sympathise with the farmers knowing fully well how bureacracy has required us to wait for a passport, a PAN card, even a gas connection. You know nothing can be done. It's India, run by Indians. Who do we whack for a six now? Who is the enemy?Where is the foreign hand we can blame??

My grandfather's generation left school/college in 1942 to join the quit India movement. Millions of Indians like him won us our Independence. For his generation, politics was everything. They voted because they knew what it had taken to get the right to vote and they wanted to choose the right people. Our parents learned from them. As of my generation, we find it a nice holiday. Granpa's generation would fight for their rights. Remember how Grandpa took a station master to task because he took a complaint about overcharging on his platform lightly. Recently when I had a problem with service on a couple of things, I did exactly what he did and it worked. Independence is not about Indian bureaucrats replacing the english ones. Independence is about knowing your rights and making sure no one violates them. We Indians fought for independence for our own rights and now when our countrymen make a mockery of it, we take the crap, crib like hell and continue existing.

Independence is not just your right to choose, it's your right to demand. I choose who runs my country. I choose what I watch on TV. I choose what to drink and what to eat. I decide what happens when people I gave the power to help make my life better screw up. Stop blaming the government for your woes and demand accountability. The Indian government doesn't decide what happens to you because it's you who decide what happens to them. Remember Aamir Khan's famous Rangeela dialogue:"Apun public hai public, jisme apna paisa vasool nahin, uska dabba gul". Independence is exactly that. It's a right to a better life because you deserve it. When you get a raw deal in India, you don't take it on the chin because that would be insulting all those people who lost their lives, their education to give you freedom. India is more than a Gujrati lawyer's dream. It was the dream of a million Indians speaking a 100 languages and dialects, worshipping a few lakh gods of a life where we Indians could lead a better life through the power of choice, the power to demand.

Honour their sacrifices. Stop existing, start demanding. India is what we make of it.



Sunday, August 01, 2010

Luv is in the air

Luv is in the air, originally uploaded by Pranay Rao.

There is this view from my balcony, where I can see the metro between two buildings. So yesterday being Saturday, I decided that I need to get a picture of the metro. So I took out my camera and was busy adjusting the controls when I heard a rustling below my balcony and looked down to see this pair of pigeons on the AC duct of the house below me.

It is a hastily taken shot with an overcast sky which really doesn't do justice to the potential of my camera but I just had to take it before the two flew away. I had initially named it Cooo which is quite lame, but renamed it 'luv is in the air' because think about it. With two pigeons in love, love is quite literally in the air.


Pranay (which also means luv :D)

Monday, July 26, 2010


July 072, originally uploaded by Pranay Rao.

If I had a penny for every time this guy ate the buds on the flowering plant I've bought, I'd probably make enough to buy a proper plant. Initially he would fly off when I tried to go to the balcony, which then progressed to flying off when I was a foot away to now posing when I get my camera out. He seemed unfazed even when I clicked him with my flash on. He just looked back at me with a semi annoyed look.

On second thoughts it could be a female pigeon. She preens in front of the camera. Acts indifferent and yet poses and flutters her wings cooing away to glory while eating away the buds on my plant while acting coy. Classical female behaviour this. Any ornithologist in my group of friends who can determine his/her gender.

No jokes on the camera angle :D

- Pranay

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Those moments that make up life

My poor little cycle seems to have traveled more distance in a truck than on a road.My plan of cycling to the gym every morning will never take off so every Sunday I take my cycle out for a spin. Today being a Sunday I first took the cycle to Sikanderpur market. The cycle post its journey from Bangalore to Gurgaon is a little shaken like me. The poor guy's got this complex seeing all these firefoxes zip by. To make matters worse, the gear's been getting stuck.

Anyway my return from Sikanderpur was against this strong breeze which made cycling really laborious (which is when you shift to a lower gear). I then took a long circuit around the Silver Oaks complex which had the breeze behind my back and then magically, the 4th gear which was giving me trouble meshed perfectly and we were flying - man and machine over speed bumps and potholes. On the 2nd round I even overtook a vehicle which had to slow down for the speedbreaker.

For those 15 - 20 mins I wished that I could do this forever. However common sense and stamina intervened and I returned back home breathless, sweaty and yet totally fresh.

Come evening and it suddenly started raining. I literally ran to the window which gives this awesome view of the sky and stood there for a moment just enjoying the perfectly coloured sky with the right hues of crimson and blue. Turned back to notice a neighbour standing in her balcony too. It was one of those sights which have to be experienced. It's not just the view which can be replayed with the help of a camera, it's the moment which is amazing.

There is a reason such moments are rare because if they weren't you wouldn't enjoy it. You'd start taking it for granted. Treasure these moments because these are the real milestones in life.

philosophically :)

- Pranay

The power of endorsement and its evolution

"Nice". The guy/girl next to you comments about the girl/guy who just passed by. You look and evaluate. Suddenly the person starts looking better and much more attractive than if you had seen her/him without the 'endorsement'. Endorsement is just that. Someone telling you that what you are evaluating is good/bad.

One of the best examples of endorsement was this certain lady in my college. This nice looking lady had a very normal life till one day one of the more visible guys discovered that he had a thing for her and hence she was cute. Suddenly this lady became the centre of affection of many a male. Funnily the guy who started this moved on within a week but the attention continued. Conversely I know this good friend of mine who never got around to openly admitting this thing she had for a guy because her friends did not find him that cool. This was all endorsement at a very unconscious level.

Peer pressure is probably the best form of endorsement. Remember that gadget/accessory/clothes/computer game you bought just because your group of friends believe it's awesome. Peer pressure is endorsement by exclusion, a form of collective endorsement. Hush puppies (yes, read the tipping point), Ipods, Tazos, etc all became successes courtesy collective endorsement aka peer pressure.

Most people actually take endorsement to be just celeb endorsement or expert endorsement. Once upon a time when celebs did much lesser endorsement, people actually went and bought a lux believing that it was the soap of the stars. They bought the product because of the celeb endorsing it. Today most celebs work best as a clutter breaker.  Yes a trustworthy celeb lends an aura to the product provided people believe that he/she uses it. Expert endorsement too has its limitations unless it's done really well.

In fact endorsement is best leveraged when done subtly. A celeb/expert pushing it down your throat might be (quite literally) tough to swallow. However that same endorsement done by a friend works. This is the most potent form of endorsement which we marketeers call word of mouth (WOM). Getting high WOM on a product is what most brand managers dream of. Imagine multiple believable endorsers. Conversely bad WOM can cause the product to tank. Many movies have been the victims of bad WOM. Some never got the chance.

Which is why the future of endorsement is in social networking, user generated content and subtle product placements. Twitter, Youtube and FB will decide the world of tomorrow. The consumer is empowered. The marketeer of today needs to have a concept which can work through these media. In the future GRPs won't be measured, communication would be measured through WOM.

So the next time you see a beautiful lady at the mall and feel like commenting to your friend or a movie on the first day which you like/dislike strongly and want to tweet about or any product experience which you put on your status message. Pause and take in the moment because that one action of yours in todays networked world could decide the future of the entity under observation. Endorsement is a power and with great power comes great responsibility.

BTW heard Udaan is a great movie :D.