India’s Demographic Dividend and Education

In this post last year, we’d looked at the composition of the increase in India’s population from 2001 to 2026 and seen that nearly 50% of all births between 2001 and 2026 will be in 7 states – Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttaranchal, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. One of the points we’d wondered about in that post was whether good quality education is and would be available to these children. The infographics that follow share some basic information about the supply of education; we’ll share information on the quality of available education in a subsequent post. Till then, to whet your appetite on the topic of quality, here’s a link to a article from the Mint on the available infrastructure and quality of education in Bihar.

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  • Ravindra Ramavath

April 3, 2014 at 5:50 am Leave a comment

Colors of India – Part 2

Continuing our series on how brands are bringing out different shades of India, part 2 of the series explores how ads are honing in on the nuanced evolution of India and Indian-ness. Here are a few examples: 

The wedding ad from jewelry brand Tanishq tackles several Indian stereotypes and shows how attitudes and perceptions are changing in the Indian society. It addresses issues like remarriage and single parenthood, which are considered taboo in India. In addition to this, it very subtly also addresses the change in the role that women are playing these days – the bride walking herself to the mandap with the head not covered, in a society where the bride is surrounded by girlfriends, sisters and aunts to escort and typically dons a ghoonghat (veil). By showing a dusky bride, it challenges the stereotype that only fair is beautiful.

The Bharat Matrimony ad shows how respecting and supporting your partner is a big contributor to a happy marriage, and how husbands are more accepting of this. The ad shows a husband supporting his wife’s decision to work and giving her the freedom and encouragement to do what pleases her and standing up for his wife’s decision to work despite it displeasing his parents. It indicates the changing dynamics within family, the base institution of a society.

The new Daawat Basmati Rice Pyaar Ki Special Bhashaa (The Special Language of Love) ad talks about the Indian way of expressing love – not through hugs, kisses and I love yous – but through the food we serve and share. While most scenes depicted in the ad show women cooking and serving, towards the end it also shows how men are playing a more active role in the kitchen and the household.

On a lighter note, Hero’s Thoda Aur (A Little More) ad discovers this beautiful nuance in behavior amongst Indians – the very common habit to ask for a little bit extra. Whether its haggling at a kirana store, or asking a vegetable vendor for lemon and chillies for free while buying other vegetables or asking for extra spoonful of toppings when buying ice cream or asking someone to drop them off a little further – these are scenes that happen in everyday lives of Indians, and this new campaign portrays this behavior very well.

 

Brands are embracing the changing Indian-ness, and like never before; connecting their products to new-age attitudes, perceptions and behaviors but with an Indian flair.

Have you noticed any such ads? Please do share with us.

 

• Roshni Jhaveri

March 28, 2014 at 4:14 am Leave a comment

Colors of India – Part 1

 

Wishing all our readers a very Happy Holi.

Holi inspired us to think of the different colors of India and how leading brands are interpreting and highlighting them. Brands are depicting evolving India through its different interpretations. While the messaging is different, the underlying theme is highlighting the different aspects that make India India.

Part 1 of this series explores how companies are employing the social change approach for brand building. While it has been a popular brand-building method abroad for over a decade, the trend has only picked up recently in India.

Garnier Men launched a social initiative “PowerLight a Village” in conjunction with Project Chirag. The initiative is aimed at lighting thousands of households across India that are yet to see any electricity through solar power.

 

Similarly, last year it was Stayfree, which addressed several problems faced by women through its Stayfree Women for Change campaign in association with Unicef. It addressed issues like anemia, dropping out of school and lack of general hygiene and health facilities.

Click here and here for more ads from the series.

 

Over the years, Jaago Re by Tata Tea has become a credible platform for catalyzing social change through its social awakening ads. In the first phase of the campaign, efforts were directed to involve the youth in the voting process. In its second phase, it embarked on its anti-corruption drive, beginning with its Aaj se khilana bandh, pilana shuru’ campaign. Its most recent ad is about creating awareness amongst women from the upper strata of society about the power of voting through the Power of 49 campaign.

 

What we love about these ads is the link between the brand name, the benefit it offers and the social initiative it is associated with. Love the ideas and the execution.

 

  • The Escape Velocity Team

 

P.S. Stay tuned next week for part 2 on this series on how brands are bringing out different shades of India.

March 20, 2014 at 5:36 pm Leave a comment

Molecular Diagnostics – An Introduction

Molecular Diagnostics (also known as nucleic acid based diagnostics) studies the composition of an individual’s genetic material – i.e. our DNA – in order to arrive at conclusions that have medical implications. The reason this science that is still in its infancy is hailed by many as the next frontier of medicine is that it is far more precise than previous methods, faster by several orders of magnitude – often giving results in hours vs. the weeks required by conventional tests, and can give results with far lower sample quantities. Additionally, it can sometimes give information that is simply not available from any other test.

Some kinds of molecular diagnostic tests help understand the likelihood of a patient responding positively to a particular medication, others help identify mutations that predict the probability of a healthy individual developing certain ailments in the future, yet others help conclusively identify the ailment at the root of troublesome symptoms so that the cause could be treated properly.

Basics of the science underlying the technique :

(note – those uninterested in a basic biology lesson can skip this section)

The cornerstone of molecular diagnostics is the identification of pathogenic mutations in an individual’s genetic material, i.e. their DNA.

Our DNA is made up of a sequence of pieces called genes. Each gene is made up of a series of bases (Adenosine,Thymine,Cytosine,Guanine, commonly written as A,T,C and G) in a certain order. These bases and the precise locations on the gene at which they are present are a molecular code that carries information required for making all the functional molecules – RNA and proteins – required by us. These proteins, once synthesised, are responsible for our characteristics – whether it’s the colour of our eyes and skin, our blood group, our tendency to gain weight quickly, or male-pattern baldness etc. Thus the bases and the sequence of their location on the genes are responsible for our heritable traits.

Small changes in the sequence of bases on a gene – such as substitution of one base for another, or omission or repetition of a small segment, can change the gene’s function and manifest as a difference, say in physical appearance etc. You can think of these bases on the gene as letters on this page that occur in a certain order to form words and sentences. Occasionally, a typographical error – a missing alphabet, a duplication, or a wrong substitution may occur, some do not matter much and we can still read the words and unnerstand them, but others may gargle (garble) the meaning of a word or sentence.

Similarly, most variations are harmless, but some can make the gene faulty; for instance, a particular protein may not be produced properly, or produced in the wrong amounts or not produced at all; such variations that make the gene’s operations faulty are called mutations. These mutations are the signposts that molecular diagnostics searches for and draws conclusions from. Thus the science is based on being able to recognise and map the structure of each gene, and identify mutations in them, as well as the knowledge of those mutations that affect our metabolic processes / physiology. This is not as easy a task as it sounds as human genes have from a few hundred up to two million bases on them (yes, really !) and you have to know and locate the specific mutation that is responsible for the effect under consideration.

(For further information on structure of the DNA, you can read the following :

What is a Genome

What is DNA 

What is a gene

How genes work 

Mutations and health

What is a gene mutation and how does it occur 

Inheriting genetic conditions )

 

Some Scenarios in which a molecular diagnostic test could be used :

Therapy support and therapy monitoring :

Determining probable response rates to certain therapies and their appropriateness for use in specific patients. In doing so, molecular diagnostics enables more personalised / individualised therapies, either with the goal of minimising harmful side-effects and / or judging how well individuals will respond to a planned course of treatment and whether they should go in for it.

This DNA-based approach to treatment, known as pharmacogenomics, is already in use in combating certain cancers.  Chemotherapy is prohibitively expensive and often has extremely painful side-effects, and not all patients respond equally well to a medication or cocktail of medications; getting the combination right often involves an initial trial-and-error phase, a frustrating and physically tortuous time for the patient. In the case of certain types of cancer, molecular diagnostics can help predict a patient’s response to a medication, thus avoiding much trauma – both emotional and physical, and saving time and money.

Take breast cancer, for instance. One of the medications used to avoid a recurrence after radiation therapy or chemotherapy is the drug Herceptin from Genentech. Now about 20-30% of breast cancer patients exhibit an over-expression of the Her2/neu gene and only these patients benefit from treatment with Herceptin.  A molecular diagnostic test to check for presence of the mutation of Her2/neu gene helps identify those that would benefit from the treatment; thus it costs about Rs. 15,000-20,000 to figure out whether a treatment running into lakhs of rupees will actually benefit someone. This is the personalised approach to medicine rather than the one-size-fits-all-with-the-same-ailment approach.

 

Early Detection Testing :

Detecting the presence of pathogens through detection of their RNA or DNA.

Using a molecular diagnostic test, diseases caused by a virus – think HIV and AIDS, HPV and cervical cancer, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C etc. – could be quickly and reliably diagnosed well before the initial symptoms appear, thus giving physicians a longer treatment window and the patient a chance of earlier treatment and earlier return to good health. In these instances, the tests checks whether the RNA of the virus (ahem, which is significantly different from our DNA) can be detected in the patient’s tissue / sputum / blood sample sent for testing.

These tests can be used to detect other pathogens such as bacteria too. Consider the traditional diagnostic tests for TB which is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium Tuberculosis). The current battery of tests include the Mantoux tuberculin skin test, a tissue culture, a sputum test, a chest X-Ray and a blood test; in spite of conducting all of these, there is a chance of getting a false positive or false negative result when the results are available a few weeks later. On the contrary, one molecular diagnostic test can confirm not just the presence of TB but also identify the genetic mutations in the bacterium and identify the strain of the bacterium responsible for the symptoms and which drugs it is resistant to, all this within a few hours.

Valuable info indeed in this era of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB), when making a fast and accurate diagnosis of the type of TB infection a patient may have is the most important step to curing a patient.

 

Predisposition testing :

Analysing the probability of an individual developing certain genetically inherited diseases.

Such tests, done for risk analysis of cystic fibrosis, breast cancer and other hereditary diseases, can help understand whether an individual has a higher probability of developing an ailment than the general population. These are not definitive tests, in that they cannot predict whether an individual will get the ailment in future, they can only tell us that an individual has a higher or lower probability than the general population does of getting the ailment. Hence, there is still a lot of debate about whether such information is beneficial for an individual or not, whether it makes them worry unnecessarily about factors which they have no control over.

For instance, consider the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that belong to a class of genes known as tumour suppressor. A woman who has inherited a harmful mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 is about five times more likely to develop breast cancer than a woman who does not have such a mutation.

In a family with a history of breast or ovarian cancer, it may be informative to analyse a tissue sample of a patient (sufferer of breast cancer) and identify which harmful mutations are present; then other family members can be tested to find out if they also have the same mutation and their probability of developing breast cancer later can be computed. However, while a negative result can rule out breast cancer and bring a sense of relief, a positive test result only provides information about a person’s probability of developing cancer in future. It cannot tell whether an individual will definitely develop cancer; not all women who inherit a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation will develop breast or ovarian cancer.

Note : Common medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity do not have a single genetic cause—they are likely associated with the effects of multiple genes in combination with lifestyle and environmental factors, in such cases, genetics has a smaller, more complex role to play. More on this and other matters in another post.

  •  Zenobia Driver

(with a lot of assistance from assorted secondary sources)

March 10, 2014 at 12:54 pm Leave a comment

The Curious case of Superdry- Britain’s youngest fashion super brand

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What does it take to be a super brand in the world of high street fashion? If selling in over a hundred countries, clocking an annual turnover of approximately £400 million with pre-tax profits of over £ 50 million and being worn by A-list celebrities like David Beckham, Leonardo Di Caprio, Kate Winslet, Zac Efron and even Pippa Middleton is all it takes, then it is imperative we call Superdry, the British fashion label founded in 2004 a super brand. In today’s post, we profile Superdry, the British brand described famously as “vintage Americana meets Japanese graphics meets British fits” and track its rise to being one of the world’s youngest and trendiest fashion super brands.

Origin: The story behind the origin of Superdry is a very fascinating one as it explains to a large extent the design philosophy behind their brightly colored clothes and accessories. Many people who look at Superdry’s range automatically assume that the brand is of Japanese origin. The Japanese script visible on almost all their designs and even on the logo may be the reason for this confusion, but the brand’s tagline, “British Design. Spirit of Japan.” is the shining light here as it clearly points out that the brand is embellished with only the “spirit” of Japan. In fact, most of the Japanese characters and words used are used inaccurately and seem to be translated with the help of a dictionary rather than by someone who actually speaks Japanese.

The real story behind the label is that it was conceived in 2003 by designer James Holder (founder of skatewear brand Bench) and Julian Dunkerton (founder of university fashion brand CULT clothing) on an inspirational trip to Japan, where they merged Julian’s fascination for vintage Americana with James’ love for Japanese style graphics and tailored fits. The first design they came up with was the vintage OSAKA 6 T-shirt which is still in production 10 years later and has been their most iconic product till date. They then founded Superdry as a label with Theo Karpathios in 2004 (who headed the international and wholesale division until 2012 when he decided to quit).

superdry pic 2

The Rise:  Superdry started out humbly as a brand retailing mostly through multi brand outlets and through CULT stores in university towns everywhere. The brand was slowly gaining popularity amongst students and urban hipsters until the moment came that changed Superdry’s fortune- David Beckham wore it in his annual calendar. David, who was at the pinnacle of his footballing career then, was one of the most influential fashion celebrities at the time and he wore the fledgling label in three different pictures from the same calendar.

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This endorsement was soon followed up by celebrity sightings everywhere. In Malcolm Gladwell’s words, the tipping point was reached and Superdry started trending. University students everywhere were wearing Superdry and talking about it on campuses. Superdry took themselves way more seriously as well, creating stores which won several design awards for recreating the grungy, greasy, earthen chic mood that so well represents the brand.

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Superdry’s marketing also pushed the brand into college towns by offering special discounts to college students and hosting exclusive student nights with live DJ’s and goodie packs for student shoppers. Their marketing concentrated on tie-ups and support for young and upcoming music artists and a very interesting design collaboration with Morgan, the British vintage car company to produce a limited range of “Superdry Morgans”- A classic Morgan three wheeler with Japanese style graphics and design in the Superdry way. These innovative marketing methods coupled with an effective social media and PR campaign led to an unmistakable buzz surrounding the brand and demand grew exponentially.

superdry pic 5

As demand grew, Superdry expanded quickly, both within the UK and internationally until bravely, they decided to file an IPO in 2010 after only 5 years in existence with 55 stores in the UK and 53 more internationally.

To their own surprise, the IPO was well received and their stock was trading at £ 18 per share within a year of being offered for 500 pence per share. This accelerated Superdry’s growth story and by 2012, Superdry was available in more than 400 exclusive stores worldwide. In fact, store of Julian Dunkerton’s CULT brand have also become Superdry stores.

 The Customer: Superdry’s evolution into a global fashion super brand within 10 years of launch points to the arrival of a new kind of customer: One willing to experiment with abstract concepts and brave ideas and also willing to pay a premium for it. These are customers who have been described by experts as the “New Luxury Millenials” and they are instrumental in Superdry’s growth story, as also other new age brands like ASOS and Zara.

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NLMs are described by retail consultants Sheridan & Co. as people born between 1980 and 1999 who spend a large portion of their disposable income buying brands and luxury products. These individuals have been shielded from the global recession to a large extent by the wealth of their parents and are expected to drive growth in the luxury segment at least until the next major financial crisis. Superdry has tapped these trend sensitive customers from the outset and keeps them coming back for limited editions it releases regularly in collaboration with designers like Timothy Everest and luxury shoemaker “Joseph Cheaney & Sons.”

These NLMs are the customers driving market trends today and the brands of the future must take a cue from Superdry’s experience in tapping this segment.

  • Rahul Sharma

February 18, 2014 at 8:55 am Leave a comment

Beauty ‘saaluns’ in villages – a sign of change

A few months ago, during a CREAM (Certificate in Rural Enterprise Administration and Management) training session for micro-entrepreneurs in rural Bihar, we enquired about the professions of each. Turned out that each of the three women taking the course aced at multi-tasking ; apart from managing the house, each held down two other occupations. My first reaction was amazement at the amount of work that they packed into their day, but later I was struck by the fact that two out of these three women ran beauty parlours (or as they pronounced it, ‘saaluns’) out of their homes.

We asked these ladies which treatments their customers went in for and it was more than just hair-cuts – facial, eye-brow threading etc. In villages in Bihar ! So beauty consciousness is increasing not just in urban India, but in rural India too.

This article from the Mint also mentions this trend, albeit in passing. This article, from the Mint again quotes Mr. C.K.Ranganathan, Chairman and Managing Director of CavinKare, “The rural consumer has become more beauty conscious and is willing to spend more on personal grooming.”

Wonder which are the companies benefiting from this trend ? and whether they are using these ladies who run beauty parlours from their homes as influencers ?

We’ll try to dig deeper into this topic with time, so keep visiting this blog for more information on the topic.

  • Zenobia Driver

February 11, 2014 at 10:32 am Leave a comment

Marketing to the Super rich

In the penultimate post in this three part series, we gained insight into the spending habits of the super-rich and were able to outline a few trends or patterns which could help marketers targeting this segment in reaching out to the people who matter. It is important to understand the peculiarities in the consumer psyche in this segment in order to effectively develop any marketing strategies targeting them. In this post, we shall look at some of the current trends in luxury marketing and also see exactly how brands are striking profitable conversations with the super-rich.

 

Mobile

Mobile is the hottest trend in luxury marketing today. A report by Fidelity Investments suggests 85% of millionaires use text messaging, smart phone applications and social media. Luxury marketers are creating highly customized and engaging experiences for their customers through smartphone and table apps, QR codes and mobile marketing in general.

Mobile marketing is particularly relevant for time-starved, on-the-move global citizens who may not have the time to visit physical stores or when they do, to check on the entire product range the brand has to offer. It is also a boon for those residing in smaller cities and towns, who have the means but not the access to luxury brands in their neighborhoods.

Luxury brands have been taking the mobile platform very seriously and many have launched mobile applications for smart phones and tablet devices. Fashion retailer Nordstrom for example offers a highly functional iPad application that allows users to explore their collection through a virtual dressing room. It also allows users to share the looks they create with their friends and check for the nearest store the clothes they have chosen are available at. Customers can also read other users’ reviews and also have fashion oriented conversations with other fans of the brand. It’s a lot of fun.

And it’s not just fashion, super luxury auto maker Rolls Royce also updated its iPad app for its Phantom and Ghost cars to allow owners and aspiring users to customize and personalize the Rolls Royce Phantom on their iPads. Swarovski allows women to browse their collection and recommend pieces to friends. Bloomingdale’s Big Brown Bag App allows users to find additional information as well as offers and promotions in store. It also allows them to scan bar codes and stay updated about in store events. In India, DIESEL designed an interactive installation (essentially, a 42” multi touch screen) in their stores that allowed users to mix and match styles and share them with their friends, in addition to helping users browse popular looks chosen by DIESEL stylists.

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Thus, having a thriving and welcoming mobile marketing campaign is fast becoming a necessity in the luxury space. Marketers cannot afford to miss the bus as many fast movers are surging ahead on this platform.

 

Social

Social is another buzzword trending amongst luxury marketers for a while now. Affluent people are forming interest clubs with other affluent people online as they have done offline for years and purchase decisions are being driven by online recommendations and reviews from peers. In addition, people are consuming increasing amounts of content online and social is now one of the best ways to propagate branded content.

Burberry, the British brand has revived its flagging fortunes by running an effective social media campaign that helped the brand connect to its customers directly and showcase its products independently of the ‘chav’ image it had built offline. Burberry and their famous checks had developed an image as one of the most faked brands in Britain, and these fakes were routinely worn by violent football fans and street hooligans. This meant death for Burberry as a luxury brand, until they hired a new creative director who put the checks back on the inside of the clothes and focused almost entirely on their higher end products. Burberry has driven this change using online media and technology to connect directly with their customers as a brand and reassuring them of their lineage and focus.

One social media disaster however, has been Abercrombie & Fitch, the American cult brand famous for their casual wear range. They were the target of a social media campaign which asked users to post videos of them donating their A&F clothes to the homeless and the deprived, in protest of the A&F CEO saying his clothes were meant to be worn by attractive and fit people, and not by “fat people”. The protest has been a PR disaster for A&F and CEO Mike has had to issue a public apology for the same. This incident showcases the importance of effective online reputation management.

Brands like Victoria’s Secret and BMW on the other hand have used social media brilliantly by giving the medium the respect it deserves. Victoria’s secret runs promotions and offers discounts specifically for their fans, in addition to creating content specifically for social media. It has become the most talked about fashion brand on social media today and is definitely the most engaging. BMW made a series of brand movies with top Hollywood directors recently and released them to users only through their social pages. Such innovative strategies are required to get people talking about your brands today.

The best part about the social medium is that it allows customers to be a part of a global brand movement and get updates straight from the source. Customers thus become ambassadors of the brand and generate buzz in their private localized communities. DIESEL, for example has the highest number of fans on its global facebook page from India in spite of having global content and imagery with very little localization.

 

Events/ Causes

Events and causes have long been important to luxury marketers as a means to offer affluent people a chance to be part of their brand stories, a trend started by Tiffany’s more than a century ago. Today however, customers seek to be part of brand stories that are personalized and unique, in addition to being authentic and engaging. “The importance of experiential marketing is rising. It’s more than product- It’s about storytelling,” according to Jean-Marc Belliachi, Sr. Partner and global leader of BCG’s luxury, fashion and beauty practice.

Rolls Royce has played this game well. They gained access to high net worth customers through an event in Britain where they hosted select customers, prospective high net worth customers, special guests and media at their March Motor Works showroom in London over a weekend. The showroom was refashioned to be a 1960s dealership for the event complete with vintage signage, memorabilia, a large 1960s style safe and even showroom managers dressed in 1960s style suits and bowties. Scottish whiskey major John Walker & Sons is inviting its guests in the Asia Pacific onboard a yacht to partake in activities that explore the history of the brand, in addition to being a showcase event for their triple malt label “John Walker & Sons Odyssey.”

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In India, the mobile and social platforms are yet to develop as much as they have in the west and events are still the medium of choice among luxury marketers. Ermenegildo Zegna did an event recently where they hosted a private art show at an art gallery in Mumbai for select guests and media. DIESEL launched its India store with a massive “Fake Party” which celebrated the many fakes the brand has spawned in the country, clearly in tune with its ironic positioning. The guest list however, was limited to a few select customers, brand partners and influencers. Roberto Cavalli (pictured below), Kenneth Cole and Renzo Rosso have all been in attendance at launch events for their brands in the country, indicating their seriousness in this regard.

event pic

In addition to this, the use of technology for innovations in Out of Home advertising, Print and Direct mail is also a big trend. Augmented reality is no longer in the realm of science fiction and the lines between offline and online are blurring fast. 3D printing has been a boon for customization and phone companies have started customizing phones for those willing to pay a premium.

We hope you liked our exploration into the lives of the 1%.  Do leave us a line in the comments if you have any specific opinion about the same.

  • Rahul Sharma

January 6, 2014 at 9:24 am Leave a comment

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