iFood assistant – deliciously simple!

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on October 11, 2009

You are a twenty-something. You work and have a lot of things to do, that is so much more fun than cooking. Every morning, evening, it is the same situation. You cant decide what to cook.

“I want to eat healthy. I want to be fit. But, I cant eat tasteless food too. Even if I decide what I want to eat, it takes me a while to figure out the ingredients. Its a pain. I’d rather just eat out.”

A very familiar scene out of everybody’s life.

Kraft’s iFood assistant can be a necessary application for many people. It’s a time-saver. “iFood Assistant” brings out a Recipe of the Day and an idea for Dinner every evening. These are the ideas that have been cooked up and tested by the experts in the Kraft Kitchens, which sure holds a lot of credibility.Also, “iFood Assistant” makes mealtime easy and fun by giving out 1-2-3 steps and shortcuts.

Why is iFood assistant successful?

The iFood assistant has been hugely popular from the time it was introduced. This is an evolution into a service from products provided by Kraft foods. This use of social media is a smart move. Use of smart phones has been increasing at a very fast pace. Being an early bird in this sphere is always good.

At the beginning, it was weird – a food company with an app. But, the success rate speaks for itself. By the time smart phones completely take over, iFood Assistant will have become a necessity.

This tool makes life simple which is a must for any good service. It helps you decide and once the choice of recipe is made, it gives you ingredient quantities, shortcut tips, calorie content and also location of stores from where the ingredients can be bought!

All this has a direct impact on our brains. The mother brand holds a lot of credibility and positioning it as a tool to make life easy is ingenious. Life made easier is always welcome for any consumer. Most important, this application isnt trying to push / sell anything directly. Its always nice when a business giant reaches out to its consumers with no ulterior motives lurking within (atleast directly).

Will charging for iFood assistant work?

Surprisingly, its working great! This might be a well thought out reverse psychology marketing in action. Free = anytime welcome. Expensive = valuable. This concept has been depicted beautifully in Robert Cialdini’s Influence (which I recommend). When the application was free, it would have been one among the yet-another-app. But, now that they are charging for it, the value increases automatically.

This, I think, is the best time to charge for it. The target audience has already absorbed the application. Its become a daily necessity for many. Charging for it has been a huge debating topic that has won it a lot more publicity. Yet, many feel that charging for it is a grave mistake. Couple of weeks more and many reviews later, we will know if reverse psychology and publicity has made an impact or not.


Blackberry – the most preferred business phone

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 26, 2009

What makes blackberry the most preferred business phone?

I was reading a book – Killer Differentiators, that talked about category leadership and first movers’ advantage as one of the strategies to grow a brand. Blackberry was cited as an example for one of the first smart phones developed. This was way back in 1999. It is 2009. Why is it still preferred?

Guaranteed – Its got many useful features that are completely business oriented, but what about other phones that offer equally better features and entertainment too?

They have built their brand around a very strong vision. Perception in the minds of the consumers is built so strong. A Blackberry owner is a true businessman/woman, elegant, sophisticated, rich and busy!


Apparently the sales is not so good this quarter. Profits have gone down, but they have managed to sell 40% more handsets than last year. The competition is building up. The new 3GS iPhone is growing strong and the Google android phones from HTC, Motorola releasing soon are sure to fight. Apple vs Blackberry war has been going on for a while now. This one is my favourite:

Blackberry taking a shot at Apple

Apple’s retaliation

Consumer’s views:

Four years work experience

In my situation, I would simply go for a pda as its a sign of professionalism, seriousness, stature and being associated with those who are claiming responsible positions in the firm, even though I may not have the absolute necessity of having to regularly check my mails.

I have seen many people who own an htc cribbing about it. They have not synchronised outlook to their hand held device as it beeps every now and then and is disturbing.

One year work experience

I would love to own a Blackberry! It gives me an “I am important” feeling. An iPhone makes me look cool. Thats not what I want.

Twenty – two years experience

I have no choice but to use a Blackberry. I simply need it. I dont care much about music / games. I have no time for entertainment. The battery is not good. On my last trip abroad, my Blackberry heated up and exploded. I got it replaced though.

Thirty years experience

I work in a high stress environment with tight deadlines. But, I must admit, I dont know how to use all the features yet. My Blackberry gives me a status symbol. I am a page 3 celebrity and its important that I am in vogue. Sure, it helps me reply to mails the moment I receive them.

Blackberry has become an aspirational brand for the newbies to business, status symbol for the ones in it already. It has created a very high top-of-mind-awareness for itself which is going to be tough to break for any other brand. I phone is still looked at as a coolness device. Blackberry users identify themselves as a layer above. They express no desire outside to look cool. They would rather be the only-business type. It will be fun to watch other players try to break this perception.

Voice of a consumer

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 18, 2009

“I think corporations have become inhuman entities that merely regurgitate people and ideas and throw up on the unsuspecting consumer. They simply feed the consensual bs hallucination and suck everything in it’s path. ” – This is the voice of a consumer.

This statement kept me awake for many nights. Is this true? With neuro-marketing becoming more prominent, are we manipulating thoughts of a consumer? Especially, now that we have access to advanced scientific knowledge, are we extracting undue advantage over the consumers?

So, I asked this question to another consumer:

Q: Remember you bought that expensive chocolate box from Belgique chocolates the other day. Did you get back home wondering what made you buy? Its us! As marketers, we possess the power to influence your decision-making. Be it a necessary / unnecessary purchase, we drive it.

A: I would say “Good work!” If you guys made me buy that box of chocolates, you know what I want and I am glad somebody s paying attention to my wants.listen

This helped me realize that marketers are merely competing with each other for the consumer’s attention. He is still God. With the help of science and research, we understand what a consumer wants. What he needs are usually in the open. What he wants is buried deep within different layers like insecurity, sub-consciousness, financial stability, and more. A powerful want can snowball fast. Understanding this can also help in new product development.

What we do is uncover the hidden wants and make it a reality for the consumers. We give them what they want. Consumers are extremely intelligent and trying to manipulate one will be fatal.

But, what is really interesting is that there exists a set of consumers with the first mindset. How do we overcome this?

If Starbucks came to India ..

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 12, 2009

I am a fan of Starbucks. A die-hard fan. As a kid, I remember climbing up on the bar stool, returning the smile to the lady on the other side and asking for a tall latte. They always gave me a free cookie! As a teen, I remember sitting in the corner with a borrowed book from British Council, sipping my cappuccino. The place was always warm, friendly and had a homely feel to it.

Its been six years and I live in India now. There are no Starbucks outlets here. But, there has always been a doubt in my mind. Would Starbucks work in India?

The Indian consumer

The Indian consumer is not pampered. He chooses from options given to him. No customization allowed. Most of the brands have now become me-too and the population is starved for a decent differentiator.

There is a rise of young crowd who belong to the nouveau riche segment. They are being exposed to foreign brands and will definitely want to be part of it when the brand is available here. High on awareness, the crowd is ready and all geared up for the foreign brands.

So, here’s my view of the Indian buying pattern:coffee-cup-cupper

1. Brand

2. Price

3. Value

4. Variety

5. Service

The CCD advantage

It is a place filled with coffee and conversations. Young people, colors and a lot of noise characterize every outlet. Friendships come alive here. The menu is standard and so are prices. It is an inexpensive place to “hang-out.”

CCD merely provides a nice, ambient platform to meet. It helps the young crowd express themselves. The biggest differentiator of CCD is the price. They bundle fun and coffee at an unbelievable price. It’s a mass product.

Starbucks in India

We definitely lack a nice upscale chain of coffee shops. Probably the CCD crowd will stick on, but this will attract the growing crowd who hunt every corner for a different coffee outlet.

Also, Starbucks with all its customization possibilities, warm service and options that are alien to the Indian consumer, they will love it.

One big problem would be price. To create evangelists in India, the pricing may be a problem. If they retain the same pricing, they will definitely begin with a bang. But, they should restrict themselves to the metros and not more than 4 to 5 outlets in the country. No way, can they capture a larger crowd. Starbucks will manage to be another café-at-the-Taj and not a product that becomes a part of everybody life.

In spite of everything, I am sure there are a LOT of people here who would love to stop for a coffee before /after work to enjoy the cuppa, ideate, brainstorm and more. Well, we are talking about a company which enjoys higher sales per sq. foot than McD and also cares enough to provide health insutrance to all its employees (YES !! even part-time).

I think this is the right time for Starbucks to enter India. Crowd with the right outlook for coffee culture is growing big.

I want them in India. Do you?

I live in India now. There are no Starbucks outlets here. But, there has always been a doubt in my mind if it would work?
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Emotional vs Rational

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on August 27, 2009

Emotions impact decisions. – Agreed

Emotions exercise a greater impact on decisions than rational thinking. – ?!

I know a lot of people are vigorously shaking their heads now. How can that be? I bought my Toyota last week after a lot of thinking. It was a very rational decision. My ipod nano was a necessity. I need it for my work outs every morning. I just had to buy the new shoes. My old ones were killing my feet.

So, the sleek design of the car, scent of fresh leather when you open the door, the magnetic aura that is wrapped around you when you sit behind the wheel did not aid to your decision making at all?

What about the increase in your “coolness quotient” thanks to the ipod nano. You feel like a true gizmo freak by owning the latest techie fads, irrespective of their requirement. Also, the shoes looked so pretty on Angelina’s feet. Im sure they would look just as good on mine.

This is what happens in the brain. Needs arise – emotions take over – rational justifications are formulated to reduce guilt. Most of the brain is dominated by automatic processes rather than deliberate thinking. A lot of what happens in the brain is emotional, not cognitive (Buyology).

I came across a very interesting concept known as mirroring neurons. Imagine a secluded beach. The sea is deep blue and is sparkling with the rays almost touching the water. The sand is a mixture of brown and white. There is a pleasant freshness in the air which you have been longing for. There is a gentle breeze blowing across your body and you do not want to leave the beach. You are content with the scenic beauty.

Im sure you have a far away look in your eyes yearning to atleast catch a glimpse of this wonderland.

Imagine finger nails scratching on a black board… screeeeeeeeeeechhhh…. Did you just wince? I am sure you did.

These neurons send signals to the brain which helps us experience what the other person is feeling. This is why, a lot of FMCG advertisements use celebrities. Its the best case scenario.Brain_by_moutoin

“She” uses this soap and is very beautiful. Though all our rationality points toward it being a money-making gimmick by advertisers, the signals are already sent to the brain. BEWARE!

More on neuromarketing coming up soon!

Women consumers

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on August 10, 2009

The toughest subject that I have studied till date is consumer behavior. The subject holds prime importance in my career and I am still stumped. One particular lecture that keeps coming back to me is “women as consumers.” Apparently women as consumers have a very low decision making capability and I didn’t quite agree with that.

Yesterday, I got the chance to put that to test practically. I took my mother shopping at a clearance sale outlet for domestic clothing.


She picked 5 sarees seeking my constant approval.

The next process of rejection began by discarding everything that merely sounded a little expensive.

And then, her mind plays twenty-questions looking for answers within.

• Am I spending too much?

• Is this required?

• Is it expensive?

• Will the colors suit me?

• Is the material ok? … and more

Assurance, assurance and re-assurance. That’s what they all want. She wanted me to tell her that her choices are perfect and she needs them. At first, I refused to reply and asked her to take her own decisions. She was stuck and couldn’t move forward. Subtly, I added, “I think they look good.” That did it. Five minutes from then, we were paying the bill.

Many people argue that the above process is common among the middle-aged and not the young crowd. I was actually privy to the following conversation.

A young girl, aged 22 / 23 at Planet Sports on the phone: “Should I buy this pair of tracks? Do you think I really need it? I don’t know… It sounds too expensive. I know I need it but do you think I can do without it?” She left the store. Came back in half hour and bought the pair of tracks!

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