Tag Archives: Insights

I got lucky: another auto ride, more insights.

I just got into the office after a lunch meeting and took an auto ride back as my car was stuck in a jam elsewhere. Got some interesting insights from the driver, a warm gentleman, aged 46.
Our cities are full of opportunities, for the ones who are willing to put in the effort. Money that some of our stereotyped blue collar workers earn sometime beats what our white color work force makes.
Some of these workers are clearly working towards ensuring better opportunities for their children; they are proud that they earn for themselves, and, clearly, don’t want to be dependent upon income that their grown-up children bring home.
Some quick pointers. Please forgive any grammatical mistakes – I just wanted to quickly capture the conversation before I jump back into work.

  1. My auto driver of this afternoon, works approximately 16 hours every day – throughout the year, other than days when the vehicle is broken etc.
  2. After deducting running expenses, he earns an average Rs. 1000/ day – not a small amount by any standard
  3. Just a 2 shift rental for his auto would fetch him Rs. 500/ day but he prefers to work (read ahead about the ‘ownership’ bit)
  4. The older of his 2 sons is a graduate, and employed with a top 5 star hotel as a barman. Salary = Rs. 27,000/ month, all of which is his to keep
  5. The younger son, studies in class 9; watches movies; already has a mobile phone but is now demanding one with a cam. For this he will have to wait for 2 years, as pa would like him to grow up and make educated choices. Pa himself made some mistakes growing up and is conscious that the younger one is at a vulnerable stage and sometimes uses the phone for wasteful engagements – like games – didn’t explain further and I didn’t probe
  6. The younger son also knows how to work the computer and will get a device of his own, also in 2 years – when he reaches class 11
  7. The gentleman recently bought a plot of land for constructing their home, but that will have to wait until the elder son’s marriage, which is planned for next year
  8. The family has stayed in their current, rented accommodation for 40 years and the monthly rent ‘now’ is Rs 100/ month
  9. Son will likely wed someone from a similar work background (maybe a colleague), and given ‘their’ status, the wedding will be a costly affair. No dowry will be exchanged and no costs will be spared to see that the wedding is a grand affair

The Indian middle class dream is a reality!
However, this is what really got me intrigued. How much do you think an Auto Rickshaw costs?
I was told, it costs Rs. 1.25 lacs (now I didn’t know that) but if I were to believe the gentleman, it actually costs most buyers Rs. 4.65 lacs ( that’s more than a car!). “How is that?” I asked.
“It’s the permit silly” came the reply. Seemingly, middlemen corner the permits and sell vehicles at a ‘huge’ premium. Funding is organized through smaller financiers, where the paperwork is avoided.
He bought his vehicle 2 years ago, for some 3.50 lacs (can’t remember the exact amount), with 2 lacs as a loan from a private financier. He’s already paid it back.
I need to do more lunch meetings.
(You might want to read this post too: Rural Enterprise.)
Update: Forgot to add, the gentleman confessed to his daily drinking ritual – every evening, post work.

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"How many you have" times have arrived for the mobile handset.

Samsung Marine.jpg

From the moment I first saw this TVC from Samsung Marine (disclaimer- we are associated with the brand), urging us on with it’s “One Life. Challenge it” prompt, I’ve been thinking about the imminent changes in the handset market.
The Samsung Marine has been positioned as a “stylish & durable phone for outdoor lovers and enthusiasts” which is “Water Proof – Shock Proof – Dust Proof’. However, this post is not about the hand-set or its features, but a pointer that the handset game is changing; how we are likely going to consume/ market mobile handsets, going forward.
The accessorization of the mobile handset appears to be going mainstream.
The ‘phone-as-a-fashion-accessory’ concept is not new, with Vertu, now in it’s tenth year, on one extreme having pioneered the concept of luxury mobile phone as the preferred accessory of the super rich; on the other Nokia ‘change-as-you like’ skins in psychedelic colours were a hit with the masses in the 1st half of this decade.


As mobile technology evolved, handsets have, nearly always, taken the route of segmentation by user profile -Smart/ Business; Multi-media; Gaming; Music; Mass Market; Rural phones… for a specific target. The focus has predominantly been on getting the customer to choose your brand, on a promise of better features, interface etc.
However, given on one hand, that most handsets today could anyway bundle most features into one, and on the other hand, the average prices falling, the differentiation/ growth has to come from elsewhere.
So far, you, and I, likely carry the same handset to work, to a party, for a holiday – except when we go rafting or rock climbing, when in absence of a choice, we tend to leave it behind, for fear of damaging it; same before a game of cricket or a biking session with buddies. Same perhaps for many other situations/ needs/ uses.
As the market evolves (and even reaches saturation) marketers would be clearly looking to take consumers to multi-handset ownership, and not just focus on the replacement market.
Borrowing a line from Fastrack – another brand we have been associated with 🙂 – the ‘How many you have’ times have arrived for the mobile phone.
BTW – an interesting read: Watch that phone – watches that are also a phone 😉
How do you see the category evolve. Do share your experiences and thoughts.
Here is the Samsung Marine TVC:

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India Social Media Survey Report – Edition 1

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Rural Enterprise


I nearly froze, but last evening’s ride back in an auto-rickshaw was worth it, like they always have been in the past. I get to spend time with the driver, most of whom are from rural parts of India; get a peep into their lifestyle; hear their stories from back home and, come back richer – stories, insights, learnings.
Rural folk are a smart lot – am sure you have sampled the Jugaadu spirit yourself. Traveling through the sugar belt, and elsewhere, speaking with farmers I have learned how enterprising they can be.
Bhola (name changed), my driver of last evening, left me with much:
I had to let go of my car & driver and needed to take an auto ride instead…first from South Delhi to Mayur Vihar and then back home – all put together, over 2 hours of time spent together . Bhola, 23 years of age, offered me roasted peanuts as I got back after finishing my task – my reward for making it back in 15 minutes, instead of the promised 20 – most people overshoot by twice as promised, he shared.
He had been driving the auto for over 8 years, first in Surat when he was 15 (obviously without a license) and then moved to Delhi 5 years ago. He wakes up at 5 am everyday; bathes and dresses; fetches milk, makes tea and starts work on preparing breakfast. Menu for the breakfast, paranthaas, is the same as lunch; some days he makes sabzi too, on others he would buy that from a roadside vendor.
Work starts at 8 am, and goes on until 11 pm. The auto owner charges Rs. 450/- day as rental, not including fuel; daily sales are between Rs. 1100/- to 1200/- on an average; deduct Rs. 100/- towards fuel (CNG) and the rest is earning. Monthly savings exceed Rs. 10,000/- and are kept aside for sending back to the village.
“Who all is there back home? Will this money be used by them for monthly expenses?” I ask “They don’t need the money,” comes the reply. The family – mother-father, 3 brothers – 2 married, from what I recall; father & brothers manage the fields – 40 bighaa in all; we grow Mustard and Wheat, which generate earnings of Rs. 2 lacs & 1 lac respectively; half of this is profit; this is used to buy new land, make enhancements and additions to the house etc.”
“What about your savings?” I ask him.
“Yes, that’s being saved to contribute towards the borewell that’s being planned for next year,” he says, adding “The canal doesn’t reach the village. The water will give us better yields for our own fields and there is great demand for irrigation water in the village. People pay Rs. 100/- per hour of pumping (diesel is paid for by the user) and 3 hours of pumping/ month is required per bighaa.
Continuing, “We will drill upto a depth of 100 feet, ensuring perennial supply of water. At approx Rs. 2.0/ 2.5 lacs of investment, we should be able to recover the investment within a year. What’s more, with a borewell, the dowry that my father will receive for my marriage will go up.”
I was very curious to hear this in greater detail…and he obliged.
“Last year when my brother got married, my father got Rs. 3 Lacs and a Bolero but then we also made jewelery worth Rs. 3 lacs and my father hosted a big wedding – over Rs. 2 lacs were spent on the arrangements. I should get at least 5 lacs, with the borewell in place.”
We spoke about Bandits (his village is was on the fringes of Chambal) who feast at weddings and many other interesting things.
It too cold for another auto-rickshaw ride at the moment, but am looking forward to one soon.

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Exchange4Media and Blogworks.in present "India Social Media Survey, Brands and Corporates" Edition 1, December 2008


It was nearly two years ago that I first thought about seeding a benchmark survey that captured Blogging & Social Media trends & insights gathered from marketers and corporates. However, there was little action on the ground at that time, but social media has now gained sufficient traction, and we may have perhaps contributed in our small way.
Also, a few months ago, we conducted this qualitative study attempting to capture an overview of the blogs & social media environment in India. The insights were invaluable and we knew then it was time to do a deep dive and a conduct a larger survey amongst marketers & corporates.
So, here we are, along with Exchange4Media Group hoping to put together an insightful study based on ‘real inputs’ shared by you & your peers and not speculative theories. This will allow the industry to benefit from shared insights & make for educated decisions.
We need your participation:

  1. You can take the survey here- open until 24 December 2008 but don’t wait until the last day.

All valid participants get a FREE copy of Summary & Key Points from the “Overview of Blog & Social Media Environment in India”, a report prepared by Blogworks – this will be emailed to you. For it to be a valid entry, you must answer all questions.
Once you have completed your entry, do share your feedback on the questionnaire by writing to survey@blogworks.in.There would be mistakes to learn from & things to do better the next time -we’d appreciate you sharing your thoughts.
Media Partners for the initiative: Impact, Pitch and Exchange4Media.com

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