Archive for January, 2012

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak

In this post a few weeks ago we had discussed how a large proportion of Indians felt that they were healthy and did not need to exert themselves to maintain their health over the long term. We also mentioned that there was a section of the population that was conscious and worried about their health and did various things to stay in good health.

An online Nielsen survey – recently mentioned in this article in the Mint – explored this health – conscious sliver of the population and some of their attitudes. Do click on the link and go through the article, it’s worth a read. Am reproducing a few paragraphs from the article below :

According to the study’s findings, almost 42% of Indian respondents considered themselves overweight. Most of them want to burn off the fat through exercise, rather than make changes to their diet to slim down. Of those trying to lose weight, 79% indicated they preferred to exercise rather than change their food habits. Those who would try the latter option also made up 65% of respondents.

Still, to say that Indians would exercise rather than diet to lose weight may be a bit of a stretch, said Ishi Khosla, a New Delhi-based health counsellor and nutritionist……“We claim and probably in our minds we think that we’d rather burn calories than opt for diets. It may not be a representative sample,” Khosla said.

Based on extensive qualitative research conducted over the past year, we’d tend towards agreeing with Ms. Khosla, in that the survey results probably reflect intention or occasional effort rather than actual regular practise. We’ve seen that most Indians are aware of the benefits of regular exercise and a healthy diet, are aware of different forms of exercise, of what goes into a healthy diet, and have every intention of exercising regularly and eating healthy food; however, only a minority actually end up doing so.

Why do most people fall short of their intentions? Do they try and then give up, or not even try? What do they do in order to stay healthy? Our next post will tell you more about this, so keep reading.



Zenobia D. Driver

January 27, 2012 at 7:44 am 4 comments

The Escape Velocity blog – one year and 65 posts later

Yes, this blog is now a year old, and we did actually manage to post a wee bit more often than once a week!

Some posts – such as the series on shopping experiences (7 posts, starting with this one and ending with this), had readers agreeing and chiming in with their experiences; others – such as the one on the Godrej Muziplay fridge, unleashed a flurry of arguments over multiple media (phone, facebook, wordpress and email).

Our top referring site was facebook (Three Cheers for Mark !), so those of you that hope to see fewer status updates from us in 2012 are going to be sorely disappointed. Search engines were effective at driving traffic to the blog too, amongst the topics searched often was ‘why should boys have all the fun’ and ‘flash sales online’, reiterating the point that a catchy title/name/headline always draws in the audience.

Over the year, we received loads of comments, which made the whole process of writing on this blog so much more fun. So to those of you that did comment, whether it was to express agreement, disagreement, encouragement, ask for information, or tell us something new, a sincerely felt Thank You.

And those of you that didn’t just stop at commenting, but wrote entire posts for the blog, we’re hoping you’ll write a lot more often this year. In fact, beginning today, we’re  starting a whole new ‘Readers’ Contributions’ page on the blog. Hope to see reader generated content far more often now.

Keep reading, and commenting, and we’ll keep writing.


Cheers !

The Escape Velocity team

January 20, 2012 at 11:11 am 2 comments

Advertising with a Social Message

I recently saw the new Mumbai Mirror ad – “I am Mumbai”. It is quite riveting. It has a feel similar to the “Jaago Re” series of ads by Tata Tea – socially and politically relevant ads which speak to everyone. Empowering and moving, perhaps borderline overdramatic too sometimes.

It reminded me of “The Truth” anti-smoking campaign in the US – a hard-hitting, dramatic series of ads often featuring youth confronting the tobacco industry with smoking-related death statistics



January 20, 2012 at 10:56 am Leave a comment

Format & Packaging – Innovations & Modifications

Although examples of format and packaging innovations in India are few, there are several such examples from the developed markets.

Format and packaging modifications such as portion control, re-sealability and on-the-go consumption packaging are being used to create differentiation and further open up the market in the F&B space.

Several brands have launched the controlled-calorie packs such as Kraft Foods’ 100 Calorie Packs for Oreo Thin Crisps, Chips Ahoy Thin Crisps and Wheat Thin Minis; PepsiCo-owned Frito-Lay’s also has100 Calorie Mini Bites Cheetos and Doritos. Several beverages have also launched 100 calories packs – such as Coca-Cola, Bacardi Breezers, etc. When Krafts Foods first introduced these in 2004 in the US, these controlled-calorie packs virtually created a new product category and Kraft notched $75 million in sales in the first year it introduced 100 calorie packs, as per IRI and their data didn’t include Walmart sales.

Re-sealability is the latest in packaging. Zip-lock packs have been in the market for quite some time now, but the new offering in re-sealability is Snack-n-Seal. Once used largely for moist-towelettes, this type of re-sealable packaging is making its way into the snack food industry. It’s ideal for snacks like Oreos that need to be sealed but not refrigerated. A large portion of the pack’s top may be peeled open to withdraw cookies, then resealed for freshness and on-the-go convenience. Earlier it used to be available in the wrap, roll, clip and seal packaging – which was convenient too, but the newer one is just way easier.

Basis our observations, it seems like Kraft Foods is the pioneer in such packaging innovations. Others have tried a different approach – Keebler Chips Deluxe cookies launched a new Keebler Take-Alongs cookie multipack contains six on-the-go, single-serve cups that each hold four cookies. The new package addresses consumer needs for convenience and portability, while protecting the cookies from breakage.

Another format that several brands introduced is the daily-dose packaging. For example, in Europe, the daily dose packaging format has transformed the fate of the cholesterol-lowering drink market and has become the package format of choice. Unilever has chosen the 100 ml drink format for every single functional food launch in Europe over the past 18 months, including an omega-3 drink, a blood pressure-lowering drink and a drink that delivers two of your “5-a-day” fruits and vegetable intake. This packaging innovation – a convenient daily dose – has grown in the European market by more than 50% in the space of just two-and-a-half years. These little bottles account for over 30% of the European market.

Slowly and steadily these innovations and modifications will make their way into our markets, just as these brands and others are finally setting up shop here.



Roshni Jhaveri

January 17, 2012 at 6:37 am 1 comment

Format & Packaging – Becoming critical factors in purchase decision

A friend, let’s call him Mr. S, an extremely healthy eater and fitness freak, travels every week for work to semi-urban places where he has no access to healthy food alternatives. He prefers to carry snacks from home. His preference – McVities over Britannia NutriChoice basis taste. But his final purchase choice – Britannia NutriChoice 5 Grain, Ragi and Oats biscuits over McVities. Why so? – Because unlike McVities, Britannia NutriChoice range of biscuits come in single-serve packets. Each box contains 4-6 smaller packets containing 3 biscuits each, so he can eat 1 packet at a time and not worry about putting a rubber band around the remaining biscuits, or sealing it properly to avoid spillage and sogginess. McVities on the other hand- comes in a single stack of biscuits wrapped in plastic inside a cardboard carton. Such is the power of this convenience offering.

Similarly, although he prefers the taste & texture of Quaker Oats, he travels with Sunny Select brand of instant oatmeal which comes in single-serve sachets and in assorted flavors such as apple & cinnamon, bananas & cream, blueberries and cream, peaches and cream, strawberries and cream and has low-sugar variants.

Mrs. P, full-time office manager, mother of two teenage boys and overweight, prefers to eat Special K, but has to end up carrying the smaller packs of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes as her snack to office, because Special K isn’t available in snack-size packs.

McVities, Quaker Oats and Others – are you listening?


Roshni Jhaveri

January 11, 2012 at 5:32 am 6 comments

“Khushiyon Ki Home Delivery”

Domino's PizzaDominos sure knows what they are talking about.

My husband and I are loyal and very regular customers of Dominos; so much so, that when my husband and I went on a diet and gave up pizzas for about 6 months, their customer care personnel called us to ask why we’d stopped ordering pizzas, if they had done anything wrong, if they could do anything to get us to order pizzas again. A single call – a simple gesture of caring for their customer – and they won us over.

My husband suggested that they include a whole wheat pizza option on their menu – as a healthier alternative. Promptly, the very next month, a pamphlet was delivered at home, talking about the launch of the new whole wheat thin-crust pizza! I’m not saying that the credit goes to my husband for this brilliant addition to their menu, I’m sure they heard this from enough of their customers before they decided to go with it – but this won them pots of brownie points from us. Not only did they introduce the pizza, they also knew who to inform about the same.

This sure got us ordering pizzas once again. We started asking for “less cheese” on the pizzas. The first couple of times we did this, we had to really explain to them what we meant by less cheese – because they weren’t used to hearing it at all. Now, after about 3 months of doing so, “less cheese” and “no cheese” have become standard options to choose from – there’s no hesitation or speck of surprise in the voice of the person taking the order.

That said, these options aren’t offered across all Dominos outlets. They have identified pockets of the city where there is demand for such healthier alternatives, like, the Dominos on Pedder Road in Mumbai has these options but the branch in Prabhadevi, although aware of the offering in other branches, does not have the option themselves. On the other hand, the Dominos in Nagpur hasn’t even heard of this option (I was met with a look of “pizza and whole wheat are oxymorons” when I tried ordering a whole wheat pizza in the Dominos in Nagpur). Smart move – acting locally and how! No added complexity and cost in the form of additional product options unless there is sufficient demand for them. But where sufficient demand exists – Bingo!

In addition, they track their regular customers very closely. And not only do they track them – they also create customized communication material and discount coupons for these customers and mail/ email/ sms regularly to them. In our case, since we always order two thin crust pizzas with a fixed combination of toppings – we receive mailers that have a set of coupons such that they are always applicable for our typical orders. Our friend, an even more regular Dominos customer (he orders from there at least twice a week) has a standard order combination of a thin crust pizza and a pasta dish – the coupons that he receives in the mail are always addressing his typical order pattern. Another friend, who always orders a dessert with his pizzas, gets a bunch of coupons via email with offers for their Tiramisu and Choco-lava cake.


It’s brilliant! A lot of companies do use customer information, but few actually succeed at making the customer feel so special!

They call this their Precision Marketing Program – I say, Well Done!

Need some results to show what this investment and effort into technology and analytics has gotten Dominos?  Sales generated solely basis precision marketing efforts  account for 30% of total sales.

This strategy is surely Precise!



Roshni Jhaveri

January 6, 2012 at 4:37 am 6 comments


Before we begin the post, all of us at Escape Velocity would like to wish our readers a very Happy New Year. Hope 2012 brings everyone joy and prosperity.

1. Similar to the “Reasons to Believe” international series of ads by Coca-cola (that we mentioned in an earlier post), Coke India recently launched an ad to welcome the new year. We think it works brilliantly – it has just the kind of upbeat optimism one needs in such times of uncertainty, turmoil and change.

2. Almost a year ago, over Feb and March 2011, we’d written a series of posts about how some ads now reflected the changing socioeconomic status of women in India (link to posts here and here). This article by Shailaja Bajpai (titled Exit Role Model, Enter Girl Next Door) from last Sunday’s Indian Express supplement mentions a similar trend in the portrayal of female protagonists in TV serials. The times they are a’changin indeed – even Baa would agree.

♦ Zenobia Driver

January 2, 2012 at 6:55 am 12 comments

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