Sunday, September 13, 2015

Why Tata Motors has got it all wrong?

To begin with, here is a disclaimer I am not an auto expert, not that I think anybody is. Experts, in my opinion, are those who have to make a little less effort to take away your money. I am just a wannabe investor who due to noise (in news, of course) got interested in Tata Motors.

I made an investment into Tata Motors DVR because of two things - their strategy of launching two cars every year till 2020 and opportunities with Jaguar to make a significant foray into Indian luxury car markets. While latter might be offset with slowdown in China, I assume that at least one of their launches will dominate the market. Why? I dont know, I am just assuming.

Lately, my skeptical mind has developed a concern that there is a serious flaw in Tata Motors strategy for their passenger vehicles. Tata Motors is a typical case where brand got diluted because product got associated with a niche market rendering it unwanted for majority of their target customers.

I still remember my school days when a Tata Indica would stop on a red light and people would run after it thinking it to be a taxi. The owner of the private vehicle would have a hard time explaining the budding passengers that its his car and would steer away swearing never to own a Tata car again.

While taxi owners continued to prefer Tata Indica, Indigo and Sumo for their ruggedness and longevity, individuals moved away to Maruti and Hyundai. Whatever was left was taken away by majestic Nano. I still believe that Nano should have been launched by CSR wing of Tata Sons and not by Tata Motors.

Well, with so many disasters in past, its very understandable that Tata Motors has been trying to resurrect itself by moving away from the tag of Taxi. That is where, I believe, Tata Motors has got it all wrong.

First, they are trying to compete in a space which is well captured by Maruti & Hyundai and Indians dont seem to be in a mood of giving up on them yet (I see more Ciaz than Zest and Bolt together on roads). Anybody looking for a change has many options and Tata Motors is definitely not among the preferred in those options.

Second, Indias automobile landscape has changed. From queuing up (one over the other not one after the other) at a red light for a taxi, people have moved to billion dollar apps. Now, even a limo could be taxi (or cab, as its called now). So, being branded as cab is no more a taboo. In fact, passenger vehicles as cabs are at an inflection point with Anand Mahindra also recognizing the potential threat it poses on the individual consumption of cars.

Tata Motors could have been the core beneficiary of this transformation if it would have focused on preserving its image as preferred Taxi. On the contrary, I see many Maruti cars being used as cab. In their zeal of moving away from Taxi image, Tata Motors has destroyed their moat in passenger vehicles.

Lets load our guns of probability and shoot a scenario where Tata Motors strategists are loser who accepted their defeat in the passenger vehicle arena and have decided just to focus on Taxi as their target market. With advent of radio cabs, they could have approached Ola Cabs for an exclusive partnership. The deal would be that anybody who wants to purchase a new car to be used as a cab can buy it from Ola preferred Tata Motors at a 10% discount with a minimum commitment of 3 years with Ola.

It would have been a win-win situation for all. For buyer, it doesnt matter if its Maruti or Tata, if hes using it for commercial purpose. What matters is price which looks attractive with Tata (discounts, that too exclusive, make people go insane). For Ola cabs, which are spending billions to increase its market share, a three year commitment from cab owners would be a Tathastu moment. For Tata Motors, their loser strategists would have become the game changers boasting about their far farsightedness.

Phew! Imagination can tire you. Time for me to grab a cup of coffee.

Comment if you liked it. Comment if you hated it.. Damn you if you ignore it :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Is Africa an emerging economy?

Africa has always been in News mostly for the wrong reasons. The African continent was most severely hit by the racial and colour discrimination, Apartheid. Despite being the most natural resources rich continent in the world, Africa has always been a poor continent. The natural resources like oil and diamonds which should have been the driver of people’s progress and growth, ironically, resulted in the mass blood shed. Africa’s poverty, revolts, human rights’ violation etc. have always been highlighted by the media worldwide. However, there is another aspect of Africa – opportunities. Africa’s economy is growing by 5% to 6% annually. Internet and mobile usage, the most widely used contemporary tools of marketing, is growing day by day. It’s estimated that Africa offers potentially a $900 billion market.

Africa has a population of more than 900 million people which also form its huge consumer base. With such a huge consumer base, Africa is certainly an attractive proposition for companies all over the world. Middle class is the driving force for growth in any emerging economy and Africa is no exception. The middle class of Africa constitutes 35% to 50% of the population i.e. around 350 to 500 million people. These persons, mostly, are hard working nurses, teachers, civil servants etc. They are the people who are hopeful about Africa’s future and aspire for a better living. Undoubtedly, they are the biggest potential target market for marketers in Africa.

The most highlighted thing in media about Africa has been its poverty. The question which arises now is whether the Africans are capable of purchasing goods and services. If African continent would have been a country, its GDP would have been more than that of India, another emerging economy. Hence Africans indeed have purchasing capacity. Even for the Africans who have limited purchasing capabilities, lowest coinage strategy, could be adopted by companies to market and sell their products. This also creates a huge marketing opportunity for the second hand products. The mobiles which have been used by the people in American and European continents end up in the hands of African people.

However, the poverty issue raised by media in Africa is not a hoax. It definitely exists. It’s reflected by the existing poor infrastructure in Africa. Many places are not well connected with other places. Electricity is not ubiquitous. Although these issues represent the basic problems of Africa; they also form a lucrative marketing opportunity for companies doing business in infrastructure facilities. Nevertheless, poor infrastructure is a major growth hindrance for the companies belonging to other industries. In such a situation, the best a company can do is to operate in the local African way. E.g. Coca cola’s core competency is its extensive distribution network. Poor infrastructure must have been a problem for Coca cola to frame its distribution network in Africa. However, Coca cola has successfully operated in Africa for many years. The reason behind Coca cola’s success in Africa is its adaptability. Coca cola at all times ensures the availability of its products by whatever means they get; be it airplane or donkey ride.

Women in Africa, like anywhere else in the world, use cosmetic products. Cosmetic industry companies need to come up with products tailored especially for Africa. Many local companies have identified this opportunity and have already come up with products tailored especially for African women; making the cosmetic market more competitive. Film and entertainment industry is another one of the most sought for industries in Africa. Nigerian film industry, called Nollywood, already produces more films than Hollywood or Bollywood. One of the main reasons for Nollywood being successful is Africa’s large youth population. 40% of the African population is younger than 15, hence not only film industry but sports and music industry are also attractive opportunities for companies.

Africa due to its poor quality of living and hygiene standards, suffers from many diseases. AIDS victims in Africa are the most than in any other continent. Approximately 67% of all African people are suffering from HIV and 72% of all deaths are caused due to AIDS. Therefore, companies offering health services and pharmaceutical industry have a huge market opportunity in Africa.

The political turmoil in Africa is the most demotivating factor for the companies to invest in. Political instability raises the question about the future of the investment made in Africa. However, the scenario is changing drastically and one of the solutions to this problem could be to spread the operations of the company in many African countries rather than focussing on only one country. Another solution could be to acquire the local entrepreneurs. This will not only eliminate the potential competitions but will also overcome the other entry barriers. E.g. Nakumatt is a rapidly growing retailer in Africa. Anyone who’s planning to enter the African retailing market can acquire it.

The changing market dynamics in Africa is largely due to the increasing awareness in Africans about the better standard of living. The major contributors in making people more aware and capable are the Africans who migrate to other countries for business or education purposes. Africa gets about $40 billion a year from their Diaspora. They also make an attractive market opportunity for marketers operating in other continents. E.g. Recruit Africa is a company based in London which provides job opportunities to Africans. Mo Ibrahim, the founder of mobile company, Celtel and the pioneer of Africa’s change gives a fascinating insight about how the change could be brought in Africa against all odds. Other Diasporas have also followed him to come back to Africa and set up their own entrepreneurial activities. There is an estimated 100 million Africans living away from their homes in Africa but still driving the Africa’s economic growth from the front.

Africans may not have the purchasing capabilities as good as Americans or Europeans have. They may be suffering from the deadly diseases like HIV / AIDS. They may be facing the most deadly political turmoil. However, the aspirations for a better living, belief and determination of the African middle class to bring in the changes,  willingness to do the hard work and inspiration and support from their Diasporas will ensure the economic growth of Africa.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"दिल की धड़कने रुक गयी हमारी यारों..."

चाँद में ढूंढा करते थे उनका चेहरा,
चाँदनी में ढूंढा करते थे उनका साया,
कुछ इस तरह से उन्होंने अपना आँचल लहराया,
न जाने हम पर कैसा खुमार छाया,
दिल की धड़कने रुक गयी हमारी यारों, उन्होंने जब खुद को हमारा बताया...

वो खूबसूरत निगाहें, वो कातिल अदाएं,
गाल पे तिल तो मानो, हुस्न पर पेहरेदार बिठाया,
किस्मत थी हमारी या ऊपर वाले की महामाया,
न जाने उन्होंने हममे ऐसा क्या पाया,
दिल की धड़कने रुक गयी हमारी यारों, उन्होंने जब खुद को हमारा बताया...

आशिक मजनू दीवाना न जाने हमने क्या क्या नाम पाया, 
रातों की नींद खोकर दिल का करार पाया,
पल भर को भी वो नज़र आ जाये तो मानो, 
ईद की रात में चाँद का दीदार पाया,
दिल की धड़कने रुक गयी हमारी यारों, उन्होंने जब खुद को हमारा बताया...

आँखों में नमी, लबों पर हसी थी, 
रुख्सती का जब वक़्त आया,
भरी मेहफ़िल में खुद को, 
पहली मर्तबा हमने तनहा पाया,
रोते हुए दिल से, कापते हुए होठों से, 
अलविदा भी न निकल पाया,
दिल की धड़कने रुक गयी हमारी यारों.... उन्होंने जब हमको अजनबी बताया.....

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Love, Sex aur Dhokha... Experimental Creativity at it's best!!!

Love, Sex aur Dhokha is not at all what the name suggests. If you are expecting anything out of it's adult certification, then you'll be highly disappointed. LSD, as it is popularly known, is a bold, courageous and extrovert portrayal of what is existent in the society but is not discussed among the humble and cultured masses.

Whether it is the brutal murder of a sister by his own brother, backed by his "powerful" father, just because she loved and married someone who does not belong to their stature or taking advantage of a girl who trusts and loves someone who surely does not deserves it or a small town girl with big dreams forced to "compromise" by a high profile respected celebrity, one can't deny the fact that it all exists in the very society of which we are an integral part but it's so dark that we shut our eyes towards it

For the first time in my life, I have seen a movie which does not aim to attract people but to repel them. The scene of a brother cutting his own sister and her husband into pieces and the love making graphical scene in the "store scandal", can't be appealing to anyone but then this repulsion is the beauty of the film because it's so intense and disturbing that it shakes us to a great depth inside and urges to have a second look at the "beautiful" society we have.

Well, if you are a I-Don't-Give-Damn-To Social Issues kind of person, then also LSD has something to offer you and that is it's originality. Originality in every aspect of film making.
ORIGINALITY IN CONTENT. It's completely a new concept and is definitely not a remake of Steven Soderbergh's "Sex, lies and videotape", as rumored. It does not contain any masala of the typical Bollywood commercial movies we have seen till now.
ORIGINALITY IN SHOOTING. Entire runtime of the movie has been shot by a handheld camera by one or the other crew members of the unit. No special effects or extravagant sights to lure the crowd. Some of the scenes are even shaky giving it a feel of a homemade movie.
ORIGINALITY IN ACTING. The Movie comprises of unknown faces and none of them appeared to be acting in front of camera, rather they looked as if they are living their own routine lives.
ORIGINALITY IN DIRECTION. It's one of the very few movies having multiple stories in which director has succeeded to link the different stories logically. It's sheer excellence of superlative storytelling that is able to bind the Love, Sex and Dhokha into one.

I have to agree that it is not easy to comprehend the intent of LSD. It requires a unique set of aesthetic sensibility to appreciate such a movie. It is not like archetypal, mundane fictitious movies, one is used to. It is a path breaking movie, you'll either love it or hate it. There is no middle way. It is innovative and provocative off beat cinema for the viewers who are bored of the song-filled emotional love stories of the typical Hindi Cinema. LSD signifies dawn of a new, one of it's kind, thought provoking cinema and it might take sometime for the people to gulp it down.

Hats off to Dibakar Banerjee's LOVE, SEX AUR DHOKHA!! BRAVO!!!

P.S. None of my female friends have liked the movie along with the guys who spend most of their time chatting with their girlfriends.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Fear is the enemy, Faith is the Saviour... HAVE FAITH"

Last weekend, I was enjoying my weekend, doing what I did best, nothing, when my friend asked me if I want to come for a ride. The offer, which seems to be joyous, is actually dangerous. My rider friend, being a great fan of Dhoom, is quite a rash driver and has a couple of minor accidents in his credentials. So, here I was trying to find an excuse, I asked him, "where we'll be going". He answered, "It's a place, where we rarely go". Curiosity took over the better of my rational mind and I agreed.

Like a soldier, going on a war or like a student going for his exams, I prayed to God for my well being and climbed the back seat of the bike. As he put his new pulsar in the gear, I tried to divert my mind from the speedometer. The first thought which came in my mind was "why we always remember God in adverse conditions". My mind replied, "because we have faith in him". I shot the next question, "why do we have faith in God". Came back the reply, "because he drives the world and in hard times, that's the best we can do, have faith in the one who's driving us. Suddenly, a thought struck my mind, why shouldn't I try to have faith in my friend's riding. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, asked myself to have faith and opened my eyes. I was surprised to see that my fear vanished and I was enjoying, what I thought would be a dreadful experience. Since I was at peace with my mind and my friend was busy showing his riding skills amidst the traffic, I again lost in my own thoughts, thinking how great a power, faith is.

I realized that fear is what demoralizes us and is partly responsible for our failure. Having faith doesn't ensure success, but it indeed ensures that our full potential will be utilized in accomplishing our goals, which is half the success. In any circumstance, we must have faith in the one who is in the commanding position, be it ourselves or someone else. If the situation is out of human control, have faith in The Almighty, have faith in the unseen, unknown power, have faith that he'll take care of ourselves. Be free from fear. Fear results in error and error, ultimately, results in failure. Have faith and you can achieve , what you once considered to be impossible. Never lose faith on anyone, anything. After-all, God is nothing but a faith.

As I reached the climax of my thoughts, the bike came to a halt. We were at the destination. I was quite amused to see it and a broad smile appeared on my face. It was the place where faith lives - a temple.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Why do people get infatuated...???

The other night, I came to know about a guy. That guy is working in an MNC, earns a handsome salary and anyone would say that he's a happy man. However, there is other side of the coin. Yesterday, the same guy, flew in from Delhi to Pune, spending 8000 bucks from his pocket, just for one day or let's say for few hours and why, just to meet a girl. Moreover, he hadn't told the girl about his arrival as he planned to give her a surprise. The most amazing part of the story is that the girl, whom he came to see, refused to meet him. The reason she gave is that he starts emotional talks and she does not feel anything about him. The boy was left devastated and I was left thinking.

Whose fault was it? Was it the girl's insensitivity or the boy's love(or infatuation) for that girl? The girl can't be blamed. She never asked him to come and meet her. So should we blame the boy? The boy who flew more than 1000 Kms just to see the girl. Well, I don't know who's fault it is but consequences are very clear. The girl is still unmoved and the boy is broken. The only feeling I have for that guy is that of pity, the worst feeling one can ever have for anyone.

The more important question is why that boy did such a thing? What was that strong urge? Was his love for that girl so strong that made him so weak?

Yet another question is why a person loves someone so immensely, although the other person doesn't even care? Why this feeling arises and why it can't be curbed?

One can say that the boy is infatuated but if you ask that guy he'll say that he loves that girl. Then how to differentiate between love and infatuation. Both the view points seems to be rationale. The only conclusion I have is my old belief that "Infatuation is one-sided and love is from both sides". What if the girl had the same feeling for that boy, I would not have been writing this blog.

Well, certain human behaviours are still unexplored. There might be a biological reasoning for such a behaviour but to explain it in general language and to find out a solution for it, is so very difficult.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

We always get what we want but when we get, it has lost it's charm...

I am sure it must have happened with you guys also. When I was a kid, there were many things which I wanted badly and thought that if I'll have them, I'll be happiest. Today, I have most of those things but now I think that those days were far better. It's like what people say, God does not gives everything to everyone. Friends, money and time - One thing out of these was always missing. Well, let's see whether I'll ever have this perfect combination.