Friday, 7 January 2011

After Chinese toys & cheap electronics now its time for light drinking water

Picture Source: Wikimedia Commons (2006-02-13 Drop-impact.jpg)

China has been battling water shortage and low quality of drinking water due to its exploding population growth in last three decades and related mass internal migration from rural areas to urban centers.  Finally Dragon nation’s researchers found a way to provide healthy water for its masses. Chinese scientists found a new way for mass-producing light (deuterium-depleted) drinking water by changing chemical composition.

According to the ACS’ bi-weekly journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research (Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2011, 50, 378–381,, Chinese researchers found a more ecofriendly and cheaper way to make Deuterium-depleted water which is known to be more healthy form of water. (

New method involves a platinum catalyst, which quickly removes deuterium from water using cold and hot temperatures.
This means we may soon have made in China drinking water sitting next to cheap electronics, toys and countless other made in China products.

Please Click here to download complete paper

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Apple Mac App store launched with 1000 apps

Mac app store has just arrived on my Snow Leopard through today’s update (6th Jan 2010). By creating a copy of the highly popular and lucrative iOS storefront, Apple aims to provide Mac users with a one-stop shop for basic applications and games. Contrary to my expectation app store was delivered through a completely new application (separate form iTunes!). But all downloads and payments are connected to Apple ID and users can use their ITunes balance upon logging in.

As usual the App store is perfectly organized and accessing any category is just a few clicks away.  Expectedly, one of my favorite iPhone games (Angry Birds) has shot to number 1 already with an introductory price of GBP 2.99 (50% Off)..

Currently several applications are available with price range from free to below 100. A number of Apple products including iWork Suite and iLife11 are available for individual download, at a discount to the boxed version currently sold through Apple Stores and website.

In order to access the Mac app store users must update their Snow Leopard to 10.6.6, which was released today.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

BI5691 & the Beer Game

Monday we had a very interesting session with beer game. The Beer Game is a supply chain simulation game originally developed by a group of professors at MIT Sloan in the 60s. It is used to showcase difficulties faced in a tradition supply chain without proper information sharing and collaboration between stake holders. 

After playing 21 rounds, I can clearly see what could happen to a supply chain without clear information/data flow. Our team was handling retail part and even after breaking our heads with calculations and numbers we were unable to match customer requests.  

Hopefully we will be able to finish this game next week without a big loss in our game book.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Power of Network - The Connected Kingdom

According to a new research report published on October 2010, the UK online economy constitutes an increasingly large proportion of the GDP and now stands at 7.2 percent (representing £100 billion in 2009) of Kingdom’s overall economy. This is more than more many traditional economic sectors like utilities (2 percent), transport (5%) and construction (6%), UK is now number one (1) country for e-commerce according Boston Consulting Group report.
Majority of this turnout is from e-commerce transactions internet users make and the infrastructure cost related to their connectivity devices. Remaining comes from exports, government IT spending and network infrastructure investment by service providers.
The report projects that Internet economy will stand at 4th position with a contribution as big as 10 percent of the total GDP by 2015.
UK has its online businesses based all over the country and these small online businesses are churning out huge annual growth of 43 percent a year.  More than 73 percent households have a broadband internet connection – over 19 million – this is a growth of more than 200 percent from 2005. Over 31 percent internet users have accessed internet on their mobile device representing almost 50 percent growth from 2009 tally of 23 percent. Another interesting trend based on this report is new internet user’s age group; every second new internet user is over 50 years old.
The report also found that pure internet companies now employ over a quarter of million people in country and total number of adults who brought goods or services online in the past year totaled 31 million or 62 percent of total adult population! As online shopping continues to grow massively online advertisement market has boomed to around £3.5 billion a year.
This report was written based on a research conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and commissioned by Google UK.

Reference: The Connected Kingdom: How the internet is transforming the UK Economy –

Friday, 29 October 2010

When not to innovate too much or stop spoiling good brands!

Background of this post:

Idea for this post came from our group blog discussions. We chose a company named firebox with an online business model through which it sells unique products. The biggest challenge came when we wanted to suggest ways to increase profits and wider customer reach.  Diversifying product portfolio seemed like a possible solution. We had a dilemma when we discussed their product portfolio outside the quirky and unique products. If we go with a wider range of normal products then company will be in direct competition with countless online retailers. This strategy would also alienate existing customers as they come to firefox because of the uniqueness of its products. 

Some time impulsive changes to the strategy or product positioning could backfire at a company on a massive scale from public relations & marketing point of view.

One of the most challenging question every company faces is how to improve current products and introduce better products. But this sometimes turns out to be a disastrous choice at the end.  Some practical examples are below. 

Case 1: New Coke, Coca-Cola

Existing Strategy - “The Real Thing”

New Strategy - “The best got better” Change existing product to make an impact

Result - PR Disaster

One of the biggest tag line and selling point of Coke was its selling the real thing and not substitute of its original formula for last 100 years. “The Real Thing” became the most recognizable coca cola tagline and a trademark phrase.

During 80’s cola war was at its prime and Pepsi slowly started gaining market share around the world. To tackle this issue coke adopted couple of strategies. First one was introduction of Diet Coke with a sweet taste with claimed health benefits and proved to be a relative success.  This encouraged Coca Cola to take the second strategic decision and the most important one, emulate arch rival Pepsi’s product and its own diet coke taste by introducing a new sweet drink as its flagship product.

Later based on two years of research in which 88% of the tasters said they would buy the drink if it was a Coca Cola product but that they would need to get used to it. Remaining 12% of the tasters didn’t like the changed taste and they preferred old Coke. Based on this result Coca Cola decided to introduce reformulated sweeter version of its flagship brand Coke and named it New Coke. Unfortunately during the decision making process company failed measure or reveal the deep emotional attachment between its core group of customers and the Original version of its flagship product. Its original formula was considered as a cultural icon than a normal soft drink. Company also failed to consider its main selling strategy of its flagship product “The Real Thing” .This resulted in an immediate public outcry and massive boycotts against the company. As a result of these setbacks company was forced to announce a return of its old formula within mere 79 days. 

Instead of standing on the quality of its product and trying to market it with its proven tag line and taste, Coca Cola chose the easy path of changing product altogether. By doing this they failed to show commitment to their customers, product, brand and themselves. End of the day this looked like they decided to change the most recognizable product in the world just because they were not sure about the ability of that product to withstand competition.

Lesson learned - Do not risk your most successful strategy or product especially if it’s a long standing brand. Bring change through diversification or carefully updating existing brand not by drastically changing your most successful bread winner.

Case 2: P&G – Tide & Tide Basic

New Strategy – Use existing brand name for a new cheaper product to reduce marketing expenses.

Result – Lower overall profit and recall of new product

Ongoing (?) recession forced many companies to look for different product and pricing strategies to increase market share and growth. Many companies decided to introduce cheaper products and positioned it in a way that it doesn’t directly compete with its most profitable brands.

One of them was world’s biggest FMCG conglomerate P&G. But P&G strategy was a bit different from its competitors. It chose to use one of its most recognizable brand names and introduced a basic version of its existing product. In a way it made sense to use existing brand as this would result in significant gains in marketing and easier product positioning. But at the same time P&G failed to see the other side of this branding strategy. Tide is a well known brand with a loyal following. Introduction of cheaper Tide basic tempted most of Tide’s loyal customers. They trusted Tide and because of that trust and the cheaper price of Tide basic most of them decided to try Tide basic. 

P&G was forced to withdraw Tide basic as it was too popular and resulted in a huge customer shift from P&G original Tide to a cheaper Tide basic. End result was narrower bottom line for P&G.

Lesson learned: Think twice and study the implications before introducing a new product under an existing brand umbrella. 
Case3: Hindustan Unilever - Le Sansy (India)

New Strategy: Undercut rival product and enhance market share by introducing new cheaper product. 

Result- Wrong product placement, reduced profit, product recalled and resulted in massive loss.

HUL is the biggest FMCG Company in India. HUL markets several products competing with each other in same categories. Company often introduces its successful overseas brands in to India in order to increase its market share.

Introduction of the Le Sansy made perfect sense to HUL as it was well positioned to challenge health motto focused product line J&J and P&G. Product was introduced in Indian market in 1990’s with the backing of massive media coverage and other public relation activities. Company splashed millions of dollars for their PR activities and still considered as one of the biggest product launch in India.

One of the main selling point was its unique shape similar to a ‘boat’ , longer life and better ability to kill germs.  Product immediately attracted huge following of price conscious customers and was considered a big success by HUL. But one of its unnoticed but proven to be the biggest selling point started to back fire at HUL itself than its competitors. Le Sansy was introduced with a cheaper price to undercut expensive established J&J and P&G brands germ killer brands. But HUL failed to consider wider effects of this cheap product placement strategy. Most of the loyal J&J and P&G customers chose to stay with their preferred brand but a huge number of HUL luxury soap followers started to shift to Le sansy. They trusted HUL products and thought of it as a better HUL product considering its longer life and better ability to kill so called germs you encounter in your day to day life. They were also impressed with the cheaper price they had to pay for a better product.

HUL was already facing difficulties with its Le sansy bottom line due to massive public relation spending and less margins brand bought in due to its cheaper positioning it adopted to undercut rivals. New trend of customer shift from its higher margin products to Le sansy created additional headaches and losses to company. Within a short time company was forced to withdraw entire Le sansy product line to save its margins in other more profitable product lines.

Lesson Learned: Thoroughly investigate possible impacts a new product line could make on your own bottom line before getting excited about capturing more market share and undercutting rivals  

Case 4: Louis Philippe (Aditya Birla Nuvo), India
Strategy: Create a super premium segment in formal and semi formal apparel. Status: Achieved an iconic status in India with its upper crest logo and created a loyal customer base.

New Strategy: Move from executive and formal apparels brand image to new younger image.  Diversify product range and change Logo and color pattern to attract younger generation. 

Louis Philippe - The Upper Crest, is an apparel brand launched by Madura Garments in 1989. It successfully created a super premium segment in formal and semi formal ready made category. Brand and its upper crest logo achieved and iconic status in India and created a dedicated following in the country.  Brand was very successful in positioning, segmentation and marketing of its products.  High quality products, top of the range pricing, and exclusive showrooms in Tier 1 & Tier 2 cities cemented the premium image of Louis Philippe.

During the second half of this decade, Louis Philippe decided to diversify its products range to include designer wear and other clothing range it considered more appealing to the growing Indian youth. For achieving this goal, company decided to make major changes to their product offerings, advertisements, showroom color patterns and logo. 

They introduced new LP logo and products targeting at youth was given priority. This angered many loyal customers; to tackle this issue company opened dedicated showrooms for formal and executive ready made wear and retained its Upper Crest logo for this range.

Result:  Angry loyal customers, diversified product range with lower margins. They missed to differentiate the new offering correctly and ended up confusing the traditional customers.


While it’s important to innovate and experiment, Company should research more before messing around with their flagship products. It may backfire and create more problems than the actual innovation itself.

I don’t believe in "Why fix it, if aint broken". I think constant innovation and repositioning of brands image is necessary to overcome throat cutting competition in today’s market place. But always consider customer perspective and financial implications before taking any decision.


1. MSNBC – (Accessed 21:30, 25Oct2010, Available:  , it seems like a good idea)
2. The Economist – (Accessed, 27Oct2010, Available:, Basket Cases)

3.Le Sansy post is based on my past discussions with some marketing professionals and may include opinions of marketing insiders. All opinions are personal and not reflective of HUL's or Unilever's view.

4.Louis Philippe post is based on my experience as a long time LP customer and discussions with numerous LP customers and store managers across India. 


Coke Classic & New Coke

Tide & Tide Basic

Louise Philippe Classic & New Logo

Le Sansy Products - India

NB: All views expressed in this post are purely personal. Please conduct further research before reaching any conclusions.