Is hunger satiable?

September 7, 2008 § 7 Comments

When some random child on the road begged me for five rupees to eat, little did I realize that I was soon going to understand a lot more about this boy than his hunger.  And a lot more about a certain corporation‘s marketing excellence.  And a lot more about the Maslow’s little triangle.

I saw a little boy running towards me and when told me he was hungry and he needed money, I suggested that since he is hungry, I would buy him the food he wanted instead of giving him some change.  Readily the boy agreed.  When we went to a nearby hotel that served biscuits and samosas.  That is when I had his squeaky voice say “Pupsi dhaan venum”.  Pepsi.  I offered him some filling snacks and all he wanted was a Pepsi.

As I ponder more about this, I don’t know whether I should marvel at the branding & distribution genius in PepsiCo or worry about the little kid’s perception, or just be happy that I was able to satisfy his small want beyond his actual need.  The boy was visibly lacking nutrition and needed some wholesome food.  What does his need/want for that Pepsi indicate?

The shiny advertisements, the huge stars to endorse the brand, the easy access and of course the summer to accentuate the want… This is probably why the little boy wanted that one Pepsi over a square meal that he is missing.  But is this the customer Pepsi wants?  Beyond poverty, beyond hunger, beyond access, the boy was clear about what he wanted.

So many questions and thoughts raced through my head and I was wondering whether I should buy that Pepsi for him.

I did.

The look on his face when he saw the bottle, as he was drinking the cola, and after he was done, was priceless.

Where you whiz past the Irritating Voice Response (IVR)

August 17, 2008 § 5 Comments

Fonolo.

Sigh, if only my brain came up with such brilliant product ideas.  Can you imagine a company who deal with removing frustrations caused by phone calls from our lives?  Yes, I would pay to get rid of that.  Shai Berger has successfully identified a niche where no competition exists, not because others didn’t find it sensible, but because others just didn’t think of it.

Fonolo dials you deep into your call, skipping all the annoying IVR messages and taking you right to where you want to be.  This makes you think how thoughtful a company Fonolo is because they care to tend to our impatience.  On a positive note, they care for our time.

This product can only get slowly relevant in developing countries like India where a large number of people are just learning to use such systems.  But soon, the system is sure to pluck their brains out and then we can see Fonolo-India.

A restaurant without food?

July 28, 2008 § 1 Comment

And you create a whole new business model on that?

There is one founding concept that this whole model thrives on. Trust.  The patrons here are expected to bring/cook their own food and are given the spatial expanse of a old boathouse converted into a rustic harbourside restaurant.  And they leave behind any amount of money that they please in a little box.  The experience is built on trust and social interactions and not just on the food.  And the boathouse provides the ambiance that one cannot get elsewhere. Because then I’d rather cook at home and eat. The only reason I would not go to this place is because they do not have a toilet.  That is the only part I find quite lame.

I understand that some may argue if this is even a restaurant.  I would probably relate it more to a picnic spot in that case.  But then again, you are what you position yourself to be.  Actually, you are what your consumers perceive you to be.

So what would you think of this no-food restaurant?

I love the way how human emotions are a huge motivator for innovation in business, however cynical that sounds.  Trust, romance, community living, insecurity (insurance!), greed, honour etc have been made into numerous successful business opportunities in the past.  I wonder if one can make a business opportunity by harnessing the anger capital in any given place.  Do kick boxing classes qualify for this one?

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