Saturday, December 12, 2009

Year End Insights 2009

It’s been long, since I last visited this space. Many things have happened including the swing back of the economy and renewed interest of the companies in the innovation business.

I changed my mobile phone from Sony P1i to Samsung Jet (only to find that Samsung is still miles away in usability and product maturity, from Sony, as far as mobile phones are concerned). With P1i as a phone (I don’t know why Sony discontinued this wonderful platform), and Sony Vaio Tx series laptop, I am an ardent fan of Sony over Nokia, Apple or Samsung.

Insight India 2009 was held in Delhi, with all fanfare, allaying my fears that people may not participate as the economy was still just warming up. NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology) was a surprise partner to this event, strengthening the connect of TRENDS in Fashion to use of Trend Research in Business Strategy. From jewelry brands like Trendsmith, to consumer electronics brands like Whirlpool, LG and luxury accessory brands like Tanishque were present in the event.

I spoke at a conference in Delhi on Italian Fashion industry and India connect, only to find that the ‘cluster approach’ is still very much a phenomenon restricted to crafts, and just about walking up to fashion industry. While we were talking power of cluster-visibility for Pune Design Foundation, it was rather ahead of time. No wonders that Pune Design Foundation has to give way to ‘India Design Foundation’.

We successfully worked on the brand integration strategy for an Indian mid-size conglomerte with interests in Europe and India. While corporate ethnography was a new learning, another realisation (new to me) was that you cann;t GIVE a strategy. You can only HELP it take shape like a MIDWIFE. Great stories around it.

My trips to malls have become less frequent. One of the malls, ‘Central’ which in the beginning had a promising experience of retail in India, appears quite ‘tiring’ to me now. Highly compacted space, with people falling over each other (who says its recession?) and repetition of product categories become visually overwhelming. Do customers come thinking ‘brands’ in mind in India? It is true when we talk of refrigerator or washing machine or camcorder. But while buying shirt or a shoe, there are dime a dozen brands in mass range. As a consumer I want a good quality shirt and I don’t care which brand is it. So while walking through the men’s apparel section if I see blazers hung at 20 places (because they belong to different brands), I get lost. Why can’t they put all the blazers at one place? The time to rethink better navigation has come in Indian retail. One of our 2010-11 trend, Drive Easy, also points to this.

I want to get a side-rail-drain fitted in the bathroom (Insight- People are getting exposed to high end interior hardware). It has been a while and can’t get the right person to do it. The plumber or a mason next door does not have the skill or quality to do such things and the guy who knows it, is actually busy attending to the bigger projects at hand (Insight- potential market opportunity). So the retrofitting, refurbishing and minor repairs at homes are one potential area where a branded service can enter. Mr. Biyani, after ‘Chamosa’, this could be a good idea for India.

More updates to follow...