IPL, making it quick and enjoyable

Harish Bijoor | Updated on March 09, 2011

Cricketainment at its best: Artists performing during the closingceremony of the third edition of the DLF IPL last year. — Photo: K.R. DEEPAK   -  THE HINDU

The recent Union Budget has thrown up many issues. From the marketing point of view, how do you see the Budget panning out for the retail sector?

S. K. Sharma, Chandigarh

Sharmaji, there are two simultaneous developments in the Indian market. The first is the fact that the Indian market is due to grow at 8.6 per cent in GDP terms. This means that significant economic activity is going to result across the three sectors of the economy that span agriculture, manufacturing and services. The biggest growth is slated to occur in the realm of services and the least in agriculture.

This means lopsided development. The hollow part of the economy grows and the solid part remains rather static, if not shrinks.

The second development is the fact that inflation is going to be high. There is pressure on money. Domestic bills are going to rise and food inflation is the biggest worry. Which means the price of all goods and services that devolve around food will rise. This also means that disposable income is going to be more and more food-geared. So, there will be lesser money for everything else.

Cash flows are bound to be affected. I, therefore, believe that retail must still focus on ‘ roti-kapda-makaan-telecom' retail or retail that focuses on basic items of need. Items of greed and desire will do few wonders on this count.

Leverage your retail business to gain a firm footing in the basics. Do a 90:10 skew across basic versus luxury. Insulate yourself well.

‘Groupon' clones seem to have hit the Indian market as well. What are the dynamics of the Grouping buying discount mode? And what must one look out for?

Kavitha Sekhsaria, Mumbai

Kavitha, group buying and discount coupon Web sites are reasonably reliable initiatives today. They are essentially clones of what the US and large parts of Europe have seen in practice for the last several years. Call it what you want, Groupons, Taggle or Snapdeal, each is an effort to aggregate purchases, drive traffic to outlets that seek such interventions, top up the lean-time effort of these products and services and ensure a good price advantage to the consumer. In between, the aggregator makes his margin.

Reliability is a very important issue most of these companies need to address. Reliability starts at the point of choosing and inspecting merchants who want to offer such deals. It is important for most players in this space to first inspect, certify and then ratify offers online. This is the value-add of the portal in question. Most, however, do not do this. Due diligence and inspection as a practice is missing. And this is where the first slur on reliability results.

The second concern is when it comes to the seamless ability of the consumer to surf such sites, pick offers and make payments. This is the second test of reliability. Many sites are still in their beta testing mode despite having gone online and active.

The third is when the offer is being utilised by the consumer at the merchant location. This is the biggest hurdle of them all. Most merchant establishments are still learning to cope with such group buying coupons. They are inadequately trained and, therefore, fulfil the offer to poor satisfaction norms. Refusal to honour the offer has been an issue. Add to it, poor service standards while honouring such group buying coupons versus cash-paying regular customers has also been an issue.

Any player who is able to tackle these three stages well and professionally is bound to be a super-hit with consumers. Of the hundreds that will run in every city, only the top two will be remembered and others will fall by the wayside. The race is therefore on.

Brand IPL is the buzz of the year. What has Brand IPL done for cricket in India?

Rajan P. Menon, Delhi

Rajan, Brand IPL has actually souped up and sexed up cricket in India.

While the five-day version of the game, played in whites, was relevant to the age when it started and remained a durable format right up to the days of Kerry Packer and his one-day version, the 20-20 format, jazzed up further by IPL and its unique format and its mega-marketing blitz, has changed the way cricket is consumed in the country. If I am to draw an analogy with food, five-day cricket in whites is like good old home food, and IPL is quite like junk food. One is wholesome and pure, and the other is as impure to the game and its ethos as it gets. But no one is complaining.

Today, we live in the day and age of Twitter. We live among the young. The nation is essentially a sea of the young with a small island of older folk. In such a market, the young are completely impatient. This is the I-Gen — the impatient generation — as I call it. In such an environment everything has to be done in 140-characters! Five-day cricket is as dead as the dodo. IPL had to happen. And it has. And cricket is consumed today like a snack. With a snack and soft-drink in hand to boot. It's cricketainment at its best.

IPL cricket is today a snack and not a boring old meal that takes ages to consume and enjoy. The I-Gen wants it that way, and so be it!

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Published on March 09, 2011
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