English-Vinglish, and all that jazz

Read this article about the English Dost app via a friend’s Facebook feed and was reminded of a few incidents that I’ve witnessed during the last year.

On the day a friend left Mumbai for Singapore, among those who visited her house to say goodbye was her maid. The maid had brought her adolescent children along too, and I was amazed at the difference between the maid and her children. Had the mother not introduced me to her daughter, I’d never have guessed how closely they were related; the maid seemed like someone one step away from the ancestral village, while the daughter seemed a native of a big city.

While the mother wears a sari, cannot speak much English and is rather diffident, her daughter prefers jeans and a shirt, speaks good English and is much more confident. While the mother is uneducated, she’s ensured that her daughter got a school education and learnt English, and encourages her to attend college; even though the young girl has to hold down a part-time job in order to meet her education expenses at college ,she’s determined to obtain a college degree that will get her a better job than her mother’s and a brighter future.

A few months later, I was at Bodh Gaya for the sales and marketing module of a Cream training program. The participants comprised micro-entrepreneurs from villages in Gaya and Muzzaffarpur district of Bihar. They could speak some English, but not much ; hence classroom sessions were conducted in both English and Hindi, with constant translation of any English sentence by an interpreter. All our training material (slides , hand-outs, question papers) had also been translated into Hindi for the benefit of the participants. Yet we witnessed an amazing zeal to learn new English words that pertained to their businesses, as if they saw these words as currency for garnering status in the eyes of their peers (remember that these were all rural micro-entrep[reneurs). There were participants who’d stop us mid-sentence and ask us to spell out ‘negotiation’, ‘consumer’ etc. and earnestly write down the English word in their notebooks.

English learning appsNo wonder there’s such a huge market for English learning apps and so many of them available now. There’re generic apps like Busuu through which anyone can learn English ( or another of a set of languages) by having conversations with native speakers of that language. There’re English Dost and enguru, both of which use a game with real-life situations to help users learn English, these seem to target those joining the corporate sector in junior management roles. English Seekho by IMImobile and IL&FS Education & Technology Services limited target a very different audience – junior level clerks, traders, unskilled laborers, frontline staff, taxi drivers, restaurant waiters etc. There’s also the British Council site that has several English learning apps, podcasts etc., and even an app to help Taxi drivers learn English to communicate better with their customers ! Clearly there’s a ton of demand from a large number of segments.

  • Zenobia Driver

December 10, 2015 at 1:18 pm Leave a comment

Updates

We’d run a series of posts on the population distribution of various nations a few years ago and shown the transition of the age-wise demographic distribution of many countries from pyramid to either kite, dome or cylinder (read posts here, here, here). This video from the Economist shows how the population pyramid of the world is changing with time, and here’s an article from the same publication that mentions that from now on children in schools and colleges will learn about the population ‘dome’ and not the population ‘pyramid’ ! Monumental change, isn’t it ?

We’d also looked at some implications of India’s so-called demographic dividend in two posts (read them here and here ). This article from the Mint offers a worrisome perspective on how the low skill levels of our young workforce may undo much of the benefit we hope to reap from it in the manufacturing sphere. It isn’t a very encouraging perspective, so if you’re already in a blue mood, read the article anther day.

Changing topics, a few links on interesting articles related to behavioural sciences.

This video on the Backwards Brain Bicycle is a rather entertaining look at biases – or neural pathways that are so natural we don’t even recognise them, unlearning the bias and then learning to think differently, and how much time it takes.

One article that’s about changing people’s behaviours and an experiment to test which works – facts, science, emotion, or fear.

An article on language, surprisingly on how the language you use changes your view of the world. Incidentally, bilinguals have a lot of tangible benefits, including protection against dementia – so that should be good for all us Indians who know English and Hindi and a mother-tongue, and often Sanskrit or French or some official third language from school.The last paragraph is especially interesting – ‘when judging risk, bilinguals also tend to make more rational economic decisions in a second language. In contrast to one’s first language, it tends to lack the deep-seated, misleading affective biases that unduly influence how risks and benefits are perceived.’ I wonder whether this lack of bias also manifests itself when bilinguals think of other subjective issues in a second language, say opinions of politicians, or climate change, or co-workers for that matter.

Collated By,

Zenobia Driver

November 7, 2015 at 6:06 am Leave a comment

The MPCE calculation – methodology

This post is just a follow-up to the previous post – fulfilling my promise of illustrating how the MPCE is calculated.

Computing MPCE

  • The process has evolved over time to the current large sample quinquennial surveys (once in 5 years)
  • Broadly, the endeavor has been to get more accurate data and time periods have been appropriately chosen / designed to capture certain data.
  • The household consumer expenditure schedule used for the survey captures both information on quantity and value of household consumption.
  • Info collected consists of 142 items of food, 15 items of energy (fuel, light and household appliances), 28 items of clothing, bedding and footwear, 19 items of educational and medical expenses, 51 items of durable goods, and 89 other items.

Whew ! That’s a lot, isn’t it ?

  • Ravindra Ramavath

October 7, 2015 at 5:10 pm Leave a comment

Infographic – India expenditure trend, urban

India Expenditure Trend Urban - trends

  • Urban India has seen an increase of 128% in MPCE(URP) based on current prices
    • Real MPCE (measured using a price deflator with 1987-88 as base) has increased 29% between ‘04 to ’11, a CAGR of 3.7%
  • Share of food in MPCE declined by about 4pp in urban India between ’04 -’12 , you can clearly see the light green band receding from the right end
    • A few more points that are not shown in the graph :
      • Within foods, except for Milk, fruits & Beverages, all other products categories tracked have fallen in contribution.
        • While Milk and fruits has increased by 1pp, beverages have increased from 15% to 18% within foods
      • Cereals have registered the largest decline – from 24% to 19%
    • Among the rest of expenditure, durable & minor durable type goods has seen the highest jump of 2.4pp followed by rent at 1.4pp and clothing & bedding at 1.3.
    • Also, notice the steady rise in medical and education expenses
    • Proportion of spends on entertainment have also risen, albeit off a small base

The method of computing MPCE is rather interesting ; next week we’ll share an infographic on that too.

  • Ravindra Ramavath

September 22, 2015 at 2:47 pm Leave a comment

Infographic – India expenditure data (urban)

This infographic kicks off a set of posts that will delve into various aspects of income and expenditure distribution in India. This one describes the proportion of expenditure spent on various categories.

India MPCE - expenditure data

The pie chart on top shows how the average monthly expenditure per capita gets divided over several categories. But, as we all know, averages can be misleading. Hence the line chart below that shows how the percentages vary for different fractiles of the population.

The pie-chart clearly shows that food is the single largest component of the average expenditure basket, at 38.5% of the total average monthly expense per capita. What is even more interesting to see is how the proportion of expenditure on food varies with income, this is explored in the line chart (with expenditure fractiles being the proxy for income). The poorest 5% have a per capita monthly expenditure of Rs. 700.5; for this segment, expenditure on food is over half their total monthly expenditure. The richest 5% , on the other hand, spend only 23% of their monthly expenditure on food.

A similar trend can be seen in a few other categories, one of them being fuel and power. While on an average, the spend on these is 7.6% of total expenditure, it comprises almost 13% of the monthly expenditure of the poorest. As a proportion of their total expenditure, they spend more for electricity or cooking fuel than the richest do.

Many other nuggets buried within this infographic, but I’ll leave it to you to discover those ; we’ll be back soon to explore another facet of income and expenditure distribution.

  • Ravindra Ramavath

August 19, 2015 at 11:13 am Leave a comment

Digital Marketing for the ‘Old World’ Marketer

Digital marketing is where the action is at, and if you’re a skeptic, and still struggling to catch up with CTR, SMM, Open rates, and all the rest; the world seems to be busy telling you that you’re lost.  Some thoughts to put digital marketing in perspective, and help keep you in the game:

 

Digital marketing is a misnomer

It’s many wonderful things, but not marketing. Marketing is the 4P’s, 7P’s, or creation of the value chain from producer to consumer (of product/service ), or whichever definition of marketing floats your boat.  ‘Digital marketing’ on the other hand is a tool of communication and engagement.  It’s a “How” (one of many) to communicate “What” you want to say to your target audience.  That actually sounds like…

 

Advertising

“A rose by any other name…” The great bard tells us that a thing remains what it is, irrespective of how one may choose to label it. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a…  And all of you know what makes great advertising – insight into your consumer’s behavior and attitudes, clarity of your objective, how the consumer should feel, a bit of serendipity, and so on.  Digital marketing is exactly the same.  If you’re selling airline tickets to global citizens, smart alec tweets about who won a FIFA World Cup game which are viewed by millions, but annoy a few thousand (potential) customers is poor advertising – as KLM quickly realized.  No matter how much your digital agency will jabber on about engagement levels, viral videos, ‘likes’, or “how the digital audience is different”; the essence of what makes great advertising will remain.

 

“Lies, damned lies and statistics”

The inherent nature of the digital world means everything is made of numbers (queue the scene from “The Matrix” when Neo discovers his true ‘power’). And so the new age digital marketer will bury you in reams of numbers – CPV, CTR, CPA, session time, funnel %, and on and on; and build them into beautiful decks with wonderful graphs.  Don’t let them stop there, and ask what do the numbers mean – how are consumers reacting; understand, why are they doing that?  Be careful that the data is consistent, and not cherry picked, lest Mr. Disraeli rise from the grave and lecture you.  And always remember, don’t derive qualitative answers from quantitative data or vice-versa

 

Watch your spend

You don’t spend without thought and analysis on television or print or radio, why is digital marketing any different?

 

Don’t be afraid

One huge advantage ( or nightmare, depending on your POV ) of the digital world is how fast things can be changed, and how quickly the past can be wiped clean ( at an ordinary, superficial level ) – so use that and experiment !

  • Sujay Naik

( Note : This post was originally published by Sujay Naik on linkedin and is being reproduced here with his permission.)

July 30, 2015 at 7:33 am Leave a comment

From No-No to Yes-Yes

 

NanoTwist

I’m generally indifferent to cars and know them only as a system with four wheels, steering and seating that get me from point A to point B with minimum effort on my part; yet I’m eagerly awaiting the launch of the Tata Nano GenX. The journey of the Nano has such interesting twists and turns that it rivals a Bollywood potboiler, and as a student of marketing, I really want to see how Team Nano manages the tough task of making consumers warm up to the Nano Gen X. ( I’m hoping it succeeds and wishing the Nano Best of Luck, by the way). Meanwhile, in the run-up to the launch (until I have fodder for another post, that is), here’s the story of the Nano thus far :

Phase I: The people’s car The 1 lakh car

Launched in 2009, the Tata Nano was supposed to be ‘a people’s car’, the savior of the Indian middle class family which relied on a scooter or bike to transport all four members, offering them a safer and more comfortable alternative. To ensure affordability, the initial price was brought down to as low as Rs. 1 lakh per car through frugal innovation. Watch this ad to get a taste of what this brand was supposed to stand for and the role it was expected to play.

However, most of the hype around the car was focused on its cheap price and it became known as ‘The 1 lakh car’. For the middle class, both urban and rural, owning a car is a matter of pride and self-esteem. So, rather than gladly discovering that this fantastic upgrade from a two-wheeler actually had a reasonable price, Nano’s portrayed image put the product in the situation of being viewed as a compromise , not an upgrade.  “Ek prestige view se thodi down hai,” as one respondent expressed it during a transportation related research a few years ago, while another respondent termed it ‘the No-no’. Dangers of letting a low price be the defining feature of your offering!

Mr. Ratan Tata gives a crisp explanation in this article , “I always felt the Nano should have been marketed towards the owner of a two-wheeler because it was conceived to give people who rode on two-wheeler an all-weather, safe form of transportation, not (the) cheapest,” Tata said. “It became termed as the cheapest car by the public, and [also] I’m sorry to say, by the company when it was being marketed,” he added.

Another problem that the Nano faced was that of high expectations from those who did see it as an end to their transportation woes. During the same transportation related research mentioned earlier, we also found that the same Indian family that would uncomplainingly seat four people on a scooter or bike and balance their shopping bags too, somehow morphed into a demanding set that wanted adequate boot space in their car to keep luggage – just in case they had to drop a relative to the station.

The performance problems with the initial batch of cars did nothing to boost Nano’s image either. Soon after the cars hit the road came reports of some of them catching fire, which was seen as an indicator of low quality and a lack of reliability. While only a few such issues were reported, we’ve found that some people still mention these spontaneously when the Nano is mentioned.

Phase II:

Here’s where the change begins and the marketing team begins explicitly targeting a different TG –  young professionals in urban centers ; you can click on the links here  , here and here to view the ads and see for yourself  the distinct change in tone and style of ads from the earlier people’s car ads. By now, the no-frills car also had some add-ons such as the ‘best – in –class A.C.’ mentioned in the print ad shown below.

nano pic 3

 

Phase III :  Launch of Nano Twist – from ‘cheap car’ to ‘smart city car’

This is when an attempt was made to radically alter the Nano’s positioning in order to make it appeal to the new TG of urban professionals. The ‘you’re awesome’ campaign targeted  young urban folk and tried to showcase to them the new stylish Nano – new colours, better interiors, a car that could seat a couple of friends , a fun n’ smart car to hang out with. Did it work? I recall discussing this campaign and its effectiveness with a young colleague early last year and she felt that it was having some impact, two of her friends had noticed the ad and actually purchased the Nano Twist. Multiple news reports also mention that the customer profile for the Nano had indeed changed over the years, a heartening sign – the proportion of Nano buyers in the 24 -34 years age bracket had expanded to 40 percent, from the earlier 15 to 18 per cent.  Another interesting change happening in the Nano script is the growing base of women. Today, they account for 28 per cent of its customers, a substantial jump from 12 per cent in the earlier ‘people’s car’ phase.

That’s only part of the story though; take a look at the sales data for the rest – as per this article, in the April – December period of ’14-’15, Nano only sold 13,333 units, down 18.64% from the same period of ’13-’14.  

What could have limited the impact of such a high decibel campaign? NanoTwistWell, one reason could simply be that the impact of the initial launch advertising and PR campaign in ’08-’09 was so strong that the ‘cheap car’ story could only be over-written over the long haul , and it’s not a task that one ad alone could shoulder. Another could be that while the ‘You’re Awesome’ campaign did have a smarter , more stylish feel to it, there was no over-arching product story communicated about how the Twist was better than the earlier version of the Nano, neither about how it was better suited to city travel than other cars. While some shots in the ad did imply easy maneuverability, it was not explicit enough, and got overshadowed by the messaging on style and aesthetics ; the ‘smart city car’ benefits were explicitly mentioned only in print ads. When a repositioning as drastic as this one is being attempted, consumers probably need to hear that the car has improved significantly too.    

Phase IV: Launch of the Nano Gen Xnano pic 2

And thus to the eagerly awaited launch of the Tata Nano Gen X later this month! Now clearly aiming for the ‘smart city car’ tag, the Gen X has a host of improved features, see details here here and here

But has the 2013 campaign succeeded in erasing memories of the 1 lakh car launched in 2009? Will the Nano get to make a fresh start? Only time will tell…  

 

  • Zenobia Driver

May 14, 2015 at 10:57 am 4 comments

Older Posts



Click here to visit our website

Recent Posts

Categories

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 31 other followers


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 31 other followers