Saturday, April 30, 2005

physics meets market research

there are many times when you realise that something you learnt about physics can be applied to, say, market research. i was reading dilip d'souza's post on heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and realised that it could be applied to advertising and market research, as well.

first things first. heisenberg's uncertainty principle states that the very act of measuring something changes the measurement. i don't know how the physicists proved this, but time and again market research proves this right.

market research is a loada crap: putting a bunch of people into a room, and interrogating them on the newest activ plus-minus shampoo. the milk-white coffee and fried-unto-cardiac-arrest samosas are certainly very helpful in revealing startling insights. in a stuffed, sweltering room, we are on our way towards the holy grail.

sometimes the participants behave like zealous saree salesmen. determined to tell you what they think you want to hear. on other occasions, there's open war between participants about whether the bloody stuff proves darwin's theory.

in short, the whole damn thing is a bloody act. asking someone to explain why she bought a product provokes the need to justify. to rationalise. not all purchases are rational. in fact, every shopping experience has a bit of irrationality to it. no shopper will ever admit to it. which is very human and perfectly understandable. market research, i think, is about measuring response under artificial conditions. more often than not, a part of the truth ends up being swallowed along with that samosa.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

booker or bust

recently a couple of us at work decided to start a book club. more of a contest, actually. the first to finish all the booker winning novels gets lunch at a swanky place, and the next year's booker winning..... uh, book. going by the latest tally, i'm not leading :(. but, hey, it's the spirit that matters ;-). never mind that it makes me sound like a member of the indian olympic team.

phir bhi, i think this whole 'booker or bust' thingy is good for me. for one, it'll goad me to read more books. by at least a few chaps who know how to string a sentence or two together. secondly, and hopefully, i won't spend ages on one fucking book.

so far, i have finished three books in four weeks. not bad, considering my schedule over the past few weeks. but shtill, no room for complacency here. the blind assassin by margaret atwood, in a free state by vs naipaul (someone should sue the bugger for mental harassment! anyway, that's for another post) and amsterdam by ian mcewan. amsterdam is a terrific book. ian has a flair for infusing humour into morbid subjects. and that makes this book eminently readable. i just started alan hollinghurst's the line of beauty. i haven't read much, but so far so good.

so, lets see, if it's gonna be booker or bust.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

petticoats are in

it's that time of the year again. when india's pg3 tailors scamper up and down a ramp at the lakhme india fashion week (lifw). with the year's latest rip offs from the fashion hotspots of the world. this time round, however, the inspiration is closer to home. the coots have ripped off petticoats! apparently, it's hit big time in new york and london. india today's latest issue claims a couple of british mags went crazy over the 'boho' look. our fashion gurus must have heaved a sigh of relief: ripping off will be a lot easier this time round.

with due apologies to the humble petticoat, i don't think even it can extract the indian fashion industry from beneath the rubbish of rags. for all the noise generated at lifw, these buggers contribute less than one percent of the apparel industry's sales. that certainly doesn't stop them from having a very good opinion of their abilities, though. prices are usually in the range of USD120. which probably explains why these guys are happy to open hole-in-the-walls outside of india. stringent child labour laws and fire safety norms means harrods and other top line stores are out. that's really sad, mr.vallaya and company.

you guys rip off. you charge exorbitant amounts for copies. you don't comply with regulations. your share of the market is pathetic. and you have the nerve to call yourselves an industry. get real, fellows.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

sweat water harvesting done here

i'm planning to take rain water harvesting onto a more personal level. to show how much i care for water conservation, and share my high levels of eco-sensitivity, i intend harvesting the considerable amount of my sweat into reusable water. thereby conserving a precious natural resource. while i'm not in a position to share the technical details of the desalination plant, i'm happy to say that on a personal level there is no shortage of resources.

i sweat all the time. not surprising when you live in a city like chennai. but in my case, the sweat glands function like a well-oiled machine. there are times when i feel like one of those water pumps on the road, ready to pump out sweat. except that the line of empty buckets is missing. and that led to this noble endeavour of sweat water harvesting.

it's not gross. nothing is, when you have the numbers on your side, believe me. and like a politico cobbling together a coalition, i'm confident that i'll get the numbers in no time. but that's besides the point. just imagine how much water each one of us can save in the process. i can even get one of those nice little boards that say: sweat water harvesting done here. so you can hang it around your neck like a medal of honour. or even better, we could all carry buckets of sweat-harvested water and pour it into a giant tank. just like revathi-ji/shabana-ji does in that surf commercial. aaj humne bhi do balti paani bachaya india ke liye!

Monday, April 18, 2005

wright man for the job

so after five years as coach, john wright called it quits. the indian team couldn't come up with a more deplorable way to bid good-bye. lose a series 4-2, after leading 2-0. but, hey, we are like this only, ya. and wright must have figured that out by now.

he was a good man to have. i think he gave us a reality check about what it takes to do well on the international scene. the natwest series, a world cup final, the 2-1 home series against australia, a commendable draw against the aussies in australia were some of the big moments during his tenure.

in a team suffocating with superstardom, wright was happy to keep his share of wattage dim. takes a mature, dignified man to do that. and i think these very qualities helped him survive for as long as he did. wright will never be accused of demanding the team of his choice. but then, ganguly more than compensated for that.

wright leaves at a time when there's an element of self-doubt in the team. a captain who faces the double whammy of a six-match ban and a form that's playing hard to get (nagma must be pleased!). dravid seems all set to become captain. and i think he'll be the one to miss wright the most (his recommendation, after all.). these are interesting times for the indian team. a few tough questions need to be answered. i'm optimistic that the indians will come up with the wright answers. even if the man himself has moved on.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

contemporary yet classic

well, well, well.. guess who went in for a makeover this tamil new year's day! the hindu showed up at my doorstep in a brand new avatar. brand new layout for a brand new dose of competition.

i like the new design. the firangi brought in by nram and associates has done a pretty good job. the hindu does indeed look very classy. i like the navigational bar below the masthead. i think it's pretty cool. no rulers between different stories makes the page look better. but the business page and the international news section look a little cluttered. i also wasn't too kicked about the interstate typeface used for the main headline. it looked like the headline has been yanked in opposite directions.

the layout for metro plus also looks good. but the stories were not. i think hindu should do something about that. guys should pump up the action on that front. but on the whole, i like the new look of the hindu. the barbarians (toi), however, are yet to arrive at the gate. deccan chronicle is yesterday's news. and deserve a befitting catchline: cheap, yet crappy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

forum, phew!

forum is bangalore's biggest mall. my wife is not too sure. but for now the numbers don't really matter. let me just say it's huge. hazaar shops, hazaar people and hazaar confusion. but i guess it's the sort of confusion people love. the perfect place for folks who love to blow their wallets. it's also the perfect place for people who have a z+ security ring for their wallets, but who gleefully kill time. all the biggies are there: swarowski, tommy hilfiger, united colors of benetton, the apple center, bose audio systems, among others. pvr cinemas has taken up the top two (or is it three?) tiers, and charges a bomb for the tickets. unless you want to watch a kannada flick for rs.50. not surprisingly, landmark draws the biggest crowds. i love their shop design. i think it's the best of their three stores i've been to. it's classy, got great lighting, perfect ambience and is huge.

in other words, the sheer size of forum guarantees you'll kill time effortlessly. the question is, would you actually go shopping in forum? i am not very sure about that. i noticed more people hanging outside stores, than actually pick up stuff. by my estimate not more than 10% of people who visit the giant mall actually part ways with their moolah. like i said, the z+ security ring for the wallet is firmly in place.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

i'm back

so, here i am. after a gap of more than two weeks. blame it on some madness at work. i was so bloody tired that my wife and i just took off to bangalore for the weekend. just get away from it all. and feeling much better for that.

the copy drinkers