Archive for April, 2013

A Placement Puzzle

This week we bring you a fun post, an interesting twist to a well-known sales and marketing funda.

If you’ve read ‘Why we Buy : The Science of Shopping’, Paco Underhill’s classic on the retail environment and how to influence consumers to buy more, you already know a whole lot of interesting facts. You know that products meant for the elderly should not be kept on the lowest shelves as they find it difficult to bend down and pick up products, and sales of these products end up being lower than they ought to be. You’ve also read about the ‘butt-brush’ effect (really apt naming here) – in narrow aisles people get jostled and brush against one another, nobody really likes this and hence they spend less time browsing these aisles and rush out of them as soon as they can. ( If you haven’t read the book yet, do get your hands on it, it’s well-written, fun to read and a lot of what he observes is fairly intuitive and gives the reader a sense of ‘aha, this sounds so logical, why did I not notice this before’.)

You’ve also probably noticed certain products being stocked next to each other or on adjacent shelves at the grocers; for instance, shampoo next to conditioners, moisturisers and face-wash and creams together, all cosmetics together. The logic here is fairly obvious.

So, using that as the base to begin from, here’re two questions for you.

Q1) In some shops in Gujarat, why do shelves stocking a certain brand of fruit juice also have yeast packets stocked ?

Q2) If you look closely, you’ll see that yeast is stocked next to packs of only a certain brand of fruit juice, not all; why is this ?

(Disclaimer : Cannot take credit for working hard and noticing this in the retail environment myself, I heard this at a party this weekend ; am yet to visit Gujarat and verify this for myself, would be glad to hear from any reader who visits or has visited Gujarat too)

And here’s the answer :

Two hints first, so you can try figuring it out yourself. One, Gujarat is a dry state ; two, grape juice, though the answer applies equally to other juices too.

Didn’t get it yet ? Fermented grape juice…wine ! In a dry state, one easy way of making your own alcohol is to buy fruit juice, pour it into a glass bottle, add yeast and wait for it to ferment.

And, to help you out, retailers even keep the juice and the yeast together on the same shelf.

And the answer to the second question is that this doesn’t work with all brands of fruit juice, some have preservatives that kill the action of the yeast. Hence, not all brands of fruit juice have the yeast packets stocked next to them.

[ Additional info courtesy a reader’s comment (Thanks, Rohit). Apparently the grape juice and yeast trick was fairly common during the prohibition era in the U.S. and has been mentioned in this documentary too. Even more interesting is that the write-up mentions that ‘with a wink and a nod, the American grape industry began selling kits of juice concentrate with warnings not to leave them sitting too long or else they could ferment and turn into wine’. Yes indeed, something to really worry about and avoid, I’m sure.]

  • Zenobia Driver

April 25, 2013 at 1:09 pm 4 comments

Updates – on brand bloopers, gold and vitamin water

What more could you ask for in terms of variety, eh ? Well, let’s dive right into our topics.

Brand bloopers

In Feb this year, we’d mentioned how we felt that a Gillette campaign seemed to be milking a tragedy in India while ostensibly trying to express a higher moral position. And in March, this post commented on the Ford Figo ads that caused such outrage at the time. The post pointed out that something posted publicly on the internet can be replicated in a very short amount of time, and once something is out it’s impossible to contain it. Brands are now being built in real time, but they can unravel just as quickly, especially if they respond / communicate inappropriately in times of social or national tragedy.

Frank Eliason, Director Global Social Media at Citi, gives a real-time example of how quickly social media shines the spotlight on any online fumbles that a brand makes. The article includes pics of the ridiculous tweets from Epicurious, an online mag for foodies, after the Boston tragedy.

This post by David Armano – Managing Director of Edelman Digital – has a simple but useful checklist for how to handle branded content online during sensitive times. Even if you didn’t click on the other links given in this post, suggest that you click on this one and read David Armano’s post.


Some attitudes towards Gold as an investment

This article in today’s paper reminded me of some posts we’d run late last year; in those, we’d written about the dilemma faced by Mahesh, a friend’s driver who wanted to invest his meagre savings wisely (see posts here and here).

In our earlier posts, we’d written about many commonly held beliefs and attitudes – for instance, like many others, Mahesh believed that gold prices only went up and it was a good hedge against inflation. Within the options in gold, he’d rather invest in gold jewellery than gold coins; in his words, “I will buy gold coins once I’ve bought enough jewelry; kuchh pehenne ke liye bhi hona chahiye naa (there should be something to wear too)”.

Other interesting facets of these beliefs relate to gold and loans. A lot of Mahesh’ friends and neighbours were against buying gold jewellery on EMI schemes and would much rather buy whatever they could afford to with their annual savings; after all, “Yeh tho udhaar hua, aur Lakshmi ko udhaar ke paison ke sahaare ghar kaise laa sakte hain (this is like a loan, and how can we bring Lakshmi – the Goddess of wealth – home on borrowed money)”.

And since this gold jewellery is associated with Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, and it is a symbol of the household’s prosperity and status, pawning it is absolutely the last option; though firms such as Mannapuram Gold Loans, Muthoot etc. have gone some distance towards removing that stigma and making the transaction reliable and transparent.

Vitamin water – Danone B’lue’s National launch

In Dec 2011, we’d blogged about seeing Danone B’lue banners all over Pune. This month, we noticed in news articles that B’lue has now been launched nationally. With the launch, this beverage opens a new segment in the Indian Ready to drink beverage segment. Tarun Arora, Country Head, Danone-Narang Beverages said that B’lue was launched as a pilot in Pune followed by a soft launch in Mumbai, and that the beverage was very well accepted in the market.

Will be interesting to watch how the brand fares, and whether the vitamin water market becomes a viable niche in the Indian beverages market.

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Zenobia Driver

April 18, 2013 at 9:23 am 2 comments

Creative Activation

To break through the clutter and to gain a lot more eyeballs, companies are adopting some innovative approaches.

Lifebuoy: Reminder for Hand washing

At the recently concluded Maha Kumbh Mela, Lifebuoy implemented a unique activation to spread the message of hand washing. Over 100 million people reportedly attend the Maha Kumbh Mela and Lifebuoy used this apt opportunity to highlight the importance of hand washing to its attendees. While Lifebuoy created awareness through the usual street hoardings and banners, it also utilized another innovative intervention to remind people to wash their hands before eating.

lifebouy at the maha kumbh melaLifebouy created special heat stamps with the message “Lifebuoy se haath dhoya kya?” (Did you wash your hands with Lifebuoy?) and put this impression on fresh rotis at 100 dhabas and hotels across the mela. Roti is a staple with every Indian meal and typically eaten by hand. What better place and time to remind people to wash their hands! Their target was to reach over 2.5 million visitors over a month long initiative. What an innovative way to reach a large small town and rural audience, and that too at a fraction of the cost.


Chennai City Traffic Police: Drink & Get Driven

An initiative by Zara Tapas Bar and Chennai City Traffic Police brought about a very novel idea to discourage drunken driving. Cause for 70% of accidents in India is attributed to drunken driving. Capitalizing on the god-fearing nature of most Indians, they created a short video featuring guests drinking and having a good time at a bar and when its time to leave, on receiving the car from valet, they are shocked to see Yamaraj (the god of death) himself, sitting in their car. Yamaraj warns them by handing over a “Drink and get Driven” information leaflet about hire-a-driver service. 

Ever so often we see posters or signs about ‘Don’t Drink & Drive’ across streets in our city but we fail to pay heed to it. But this video is sure to make you remember. The video was posted on Feb 15th 2013 and it went viral. It now has over 4.5 lakh views on Youtube and has been the matter of chatter on several social networking sites as well as newspapers and news channels picked up on it within a couple of days of being posted.


Have you seen any such innovative campaigns? Do tell us about them, we’d love to hear from you.

  • Roshni Jhaveri

April 10, 2013 at 6:20 am Leave a comment


A few months ago, we ran this post about toddlers and their interactions with technology. For those of you who liked it, here’s a really detailed article about how toddlers use the ipad, and their parents’ reactions and concerns towards the same.

A few weeks ago, we ran this post about the innovative offers from auto manufacturers trying to lure customers to purchase. For those interested in the auto industry, yesterday’s issue of the Mint had this article about Japanese car manufacturers tweaking strategies to suit Indian markets.

  • Escape Velocity Team

April 2, 2013 at 7:03 am Leave a comment

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