Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Framework for Keeping CPG's Relevant Online

Came across this comprehensive and insightful essay by Jordan Julien. He has arrived at the insights based on examining internal documentation, and conducting ethnographic studies, from four different global CPG's and finding correlations. 
The synthesis of this work has culminated into "The Ecosystem of Understanding", a framework for keeping CPG's (and everyone else) relevant online.
Jordan been able to extract 5 insights common (as under) to every CPG he has worked with; even the most innovative.
  1. We don't know who we're talking to, but we like to pretend like we do.
  2. We don't know why we're talking to them, but we know we should be.
  3. We suffer from Shiny Object Syndrome.
  4. We're inconsistent, but we're learning.
  5. We're old, scared, and angry; but its only a matter of time before we're phased out.
Read more here

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Red Herring Global 100 Award for AaramShop

AaramShop has won the coveted Red Herring Global 100 Award for the year 2011, at the Red Herring Forum in LA. 

This was a significant step further to the earlier Red Herring announcement of its Top 100 Asia award in recognition of the leading private companies from Asia, celebrating these startups’ innovations and technologies across their respective industries.

AaramShop had made it to the coveted list of Top 100 in Asia earlier.

We are thrilled to have received the award this early in our journey. AaramShop is the youngest company to have received the award this year. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

FDI & the independent retailers.

Every news paper and show is saturated with the recently approved FDI in retail and its impact on the livelihood of millions of small businesses in India. I am sure everyone has an opinion on it. However, what caught my eye was the recent tweet by US President on his support for the small businesses in the US via the fantastic initiative #smallbusinesssaturday. I am sure this will add more fuel to the fire.

Our views & work at AaramShop is clearly focused at making the small business owner / independent neighborhood retailer competitive and relevant to the changing shopper behavior of the residents of the neighborhood. 

We firmly believe that the independent retailers have a number of unmatchable strengths which emerge from his proximity to the customers, willingness to provide delivery at the consumer's doorstep and years of relationship that have developed into a strong bond of trust. These, combined with increased accessibility of the storefront on the web, and the huge change in the way consumers use technology will make the local retailer more relevant to the consumer. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Impact Of Technology On Brand Marketing.

Technology doesn't just give people a new way of doing things; it gives people a new way of thinking. The biggest impact of technology is the change it creates in people's perceptions.

In the absence of digital technologies, it would never occur to someone that marketers could be engaged in dialogue, much less dialogue at the point of contact. But the presumption of dialogue created by digital technologies goes beyond the technologies themselves.

People have learned a new capacity from digital technologies and they want to exercise it everywhere, even in low-tech points of contact.

Digital technologies operate instantaneously, so people are losing patience with anything that operates more slowly. The more liquid an activity becomes, the more people take it for granted, and once a capacity becomes commonplace in one domain, the more people come to expect it in other domains.

Technology doesn't just expand the power people have; it changes their ways of thinking as well.

The increasing importance of video in digital.

YouTube responsible for 22% of all mobile bandwidth. 

Almost a quarter of all global mobile bandwidth is consumed by people watching YouTube videos, according to a new report from network management vendor Allot Communications

The global bandwidth share of the Google-owned video site was 22 percent in the first half of 2011, compared with just 17 percent in the first half of 2010. YouTube now accounts for 52 percent of all global mobile video streaming. 

Overall, video streaming now accounts for 39 percent of all mobile traffic and it grew 93 percent in the first six months of 2011. VoIP and IM traffic grew even faster at 101 percent, but they still only represent a total of 4 percent of all mobile traffic. 

This growth and change in media consumption patterns on mobile devices makes it apparent that digital communication should (and can) now have a large component of video content which is tailor made for the smaller screens. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Social Media & CPG / FMCG brands.

Came across this wonderful post by Martin Bishop, Director, Brand Strategy of Landor and thought it was one of the articles that needs to shared and read widely by all CPG / FMCG brand marketers. 

Martin captures the aspirations well when he writes that, though every CPG brand might wish to be loved so intensely, few reach the top of the relationship ladder. When you come right down to it, who wants a relationship with a bar of soap? Or as one commenter put it, responding to a blog post on the death of branding: “They buy something to drink because they’re thirsty. Not because they f****ng LOVE Coke!” 

Simply mimicking the behavior of brands that have highly engaged audiences doesn’t work; social media applications have to be aligned with the strength of a brand’s consumer relationships. There are too many examples right now of brands assuming that their customers care about them when the reality is that most customers couldn’t care less. 

It’s sad to see brands trying too hard. Of all the social media options, Twitter is perhaps the most difficult to use effectively without a resonant relationship. 

There’s got to be an angle.

If you think of social media as being primarily about communication, it’s difficult to see how most CPG brands can use it effectively. But if you view social media as an infrastructure supporting a wide range of activities based on connection, then more opportunities present themselves. 

Coca Cola face recognition machine integrates with Facebook.

This is another great social/ offline integration by Coca Cola Israel. 

This machine allows users to login to the Coca Cola app in real life using the face recognition feature, a very clever way to extend the offline experience to users’ friends and family through Facebook. 

Also look at the previous campaign Coca Cola village.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kraft Foods. Kay Slaven, Sr. Manager Digital Marketing. QR Seminar.

AaramShop Selected as a Red Herring Top 100 Asia Tech Startup

Red Herring announced its Top 100 Asia award in recognition of the leading private companies from Asia, celebrating these startups’ innovations and technologies across their respective industries.

AaramShop made it to the coveted list.  

Red Herring’s Top 100 list has become a mark of distinction for identifying promising new companies and entrepreneurs. Red Herring editors were among the first to recognize that companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Skype,, YouTube, and eBay would change the way we live and work. 
Read more on this here and we look forward to taking this further by engaging with all members of the eco-system especially ISVs

Thursday, October 6, 2011

AaramShop is a Finalist for the 2011 Red Herring Top 100 Asia Award

AaramShop has been selected as a Finalist for Red Herring's Top 100 Asia award, a prestigious list honoring the year’s most promising private technology ventures from the Asian business region.
The Red Herring editorial team selected the most innovative companies from a pool of hundreds from across Asia. The nominees are evaluated on both quantitative and qualitative criteria, such as financial performance, technology innovation, quality of management, execution of strategy, and integration into their respective industries.
This unique assessment of potential is complemented by a review of the actual track record and standing of a company, which allows Red Herring to see past the “buzz” and make the list an valuable instrument for discovering and advocating the greatest business opportunities in the industry.
"This year was very rewarding," said Alex Vieux, publisher and Chairman of Red Herring. "The global economic situation has abated and there are many great companies producing really innovative and amazing products. We had a very difficult time narrowing the pool and selecting the finalists. AaramShop shows great promise therefore deserves to be among the Finalists. Now we’re faced with the difficult task of selecting the Top 100 winners of Red Herring Asia. We know that the 2011 crop will grow into some amazing companies that are sure to make an impact."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Analysis of online grocery shopping in India.

As a FMCG / CPG brand marketer, you will love this comprehensive report on the Indian consumers’ online purchase behavior across FMCG categories and its related impact on brand preferences. 

In the SOGS Report: India, findings have been presented in terms of four broad parameters:

1. Who is buying groceries online? – SOGS report dives into demographic details of the shoppers including gender & age and it's impact on purchase. 

2. Where are the buyers coming from? - the current report restricted to the National Capital Region.

3. When they are shoppers buying the groceries? - time frames and order patterns.

4. What categories and brands are they buying? – Comprehensively explores categories and sub-categories and the top selling brands within them.

Data used on the SOGS report is based on actual purchase data on AaramShop covering 542 shopping bags between 1st of July 2011 to 15th of August 2011.

You can download the free SOGS report from here. 
The report is 6.25MB and in a PDF format.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Unlearn e-commerce to win.

Jon Stine at the CISCO Retail Blog, in his recent post - seems to have hit the nail on the head. He writes:
"When e-commerce entered retail life in the mid-1990s, it was understandably regarded as just another channel of distribution – indeed, as just one more store. With this perspective, the key performance metric was (and generally remains to this day) site revenue. Conversion, another key metric, was defined as site transactions as a percent of site visits.

This still makes sense – but at a narrow, misleading level, because e-commerce no longer defines the connected world for retail.

In this age of Google and Facebook, the primary value today of the Internet to the shopper – and to your brand – is less about transactions, and more about search. On the PC, on the tablet, on the mobile devices, amidst the aisles.

The Internet – and the search function of the ever-mobile Internet – is now the front door of the entire brand."

What Jon points to is what we AaramShop are experimenting with - the hybrid retail model of integrating the "zero moment of truth" of the shopper with respect to any brand (ZMOT / online research, social media engagement), with the "first moment of truth" when the product is actually bought. (FMOT)

The brands should appreciate the fact that the FMOT for the brand need not happen in the traditional e-commerce manner for them to have a overall e-commerce strategy for their CPG / FMCG brand. The huge volume to pre-purchase online research is being overlooked due to the limitations of the old e-commerce thinking.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: Google Wallet

I have seen the future, and it is called Google Wallet.

Note, however, that this future is just that: the future. As in, something not now. I’ve lived with Google Wallet in my life for the past week or so, and have walked away thoroughly impressed — but while Google Wallet may be launching today, don’t expect it to kick your actual wallet out of your pocket any time soon.

→ Read More

Monday, August 29, 2011

Online FMCG / CPG Retailing – it’s challenges and opportunities

Online retailing of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) / Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) has not been caught up so far, not just in India, but also across the world. It is probably the last big segment / sector that is still largely out of the online commerce ambit and represents the next big challenge.

FMCG’s (grocery / household essentials) share of wallet is not only very high, but it is also very consistent and is rapidly growing over time, and therefore there is a lot of interest in wanting to address this market.

However, there are a number of challenges that traditional e-commerce models face when it comes to FMCG / CPG online retailing. The challenges are not just logistical, but also around the consumers’ buying behavior and service level expectations.

I recently wrote an article on some of the reasons that I believe make the business of FMCG online retailing tough & a few big opportunities that make it exciting.

Read the article here @ iamwire.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ticketmaster & Facebook for next stage of social commerce

The next stage of social commerce, a mock-up of an arena seat map indicating where a customer's Facebook friends were sitting. 
Live events are inherently social, buying tickets should be, too.      
Starting today, you can see what the fuss was about. In hopes of spurring word-of-mouth marketing to reduce the estimated 40 percent of live event tickets that go unsold, Ticketmaster is launching this enhanced Facebook connectivity.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The integration of the Moments of Truth.

The First Moment of Truth (FMOT), coined by P&G, refers to the few seconds that it takes a consumer to choose a product on a retail shelf – from amongst the wide array of products on display.

The logic of FMOT is indisputable and has prompted brands to re-evaluate the traditional marketing funnel approach (AIDA and it’s various versions), and design their marketing plans based on the FMOT.

I understand FMOT works well in the Modern Retail Formats (MRFs), but it is difficult to see it working seamlessly in traditional neighborhood retailers (in India) where space is limited and the shopping environment is not geared up for a DIY format. This is important as 90% or more of the FMCG sales are still via the traditional retailers.

Recently and based on changes in the consumer’s usage of the Internet for shopping, Google came up with the concept that it called “The Zero Moment of Truth” (ZMOT), which refers to the pre-buying online research that the consumers undertake prior to hitting a store. 

Data made available by the research undertaken by Google, makes it imperative for the CPG / FMCG brands to have a comprehensive strategy to ensure they have a relevant & prominent positioning in the online space. 

Most brands are starting to address the two moments of truths and tend to consider these to two separate silos, which need to be addressed with strategies specific to the silo. 

At AaramShop, our belief is that for the brand marketing to be effective and for it to result into sales the two silos need to be intertwined. That’s the AaramShop offer to FMCG / CPG brands. 

AaramShop brand listing (along with advanced optimization) enables a brand to be “found” by consumers and also enables the brand to leverage itself on social networks to create relevant buzz. The brand could also use integration tools like Aaram Widgets or customized QR codes to further invigorate its social media presence.

AaramShop also enables the consumers to place an order for the CPG / FMCG product immediately – thus bringing the FMOT seamlessly close to the ZMOT. The order, when placed online is fulfilled by the independent neighborhood retailer (AaramShops as we call them). The product / brand is delivered to the consumers doorstep within hours.

It is this seamless integration of the ZMOT with the FMOT that makes AaramShop a unique platform & interesting enough for the FMCG / CPG brands to engage with.

Monday, July 18, 2011

An accelerator, not a challenger.

In the various discussions over the last one month of AaramShop presence one question has been a constant. How is AaramShop different from the other e-commerce portals - of which there seem to be quite a few for every need?

The answer is quite simple, AaramShop is not a portal, it is a platform. AaramShop is not designed to complete with the neighborhood retailers - rather it is designed to enable them and enhance their competitiveness.

As a hybrid retail platform, AaramShop integrates the ubiquitousness, vastness and choice of brands of the web-store with the hyper-local capability to deliver of the independent neighborhood retailer.

The services of AaramShop come free to all member of this complex retail eco-system - that includes the consumers, brands that are consumed and retail channel that enables that consumption.

AaramShop Pro: Free Services Available for Brands on AaramShop

AaramShop Pro: Free Services Available for Brands on AaramShop: "FMCG / CPG brands can now use the various powerful and unique features of the AaramShop platform to ensure an enhanced presence of their brands"

Friday, July 8, 2011

QR code opportunity for CPG / FMCG products.

QR = Quick Response.

Having said that, the implementation & integration of the QR technology for FMCG / CPG brands in most markets (including India) has been very limited and for good reason. Even if you were to get the consumer to use the QR code on the product pack or shelf - what do you do next? A customer's visit to the website for more product information, usage tips etc are great possibilities and should be exploited, however, sales has not been very high on the agenda.

Now AaramShop adds another dimension to what a brand owner can do with the simple QR code - your consumer can now order your specific product / brand and have it delivered within hours to his / her doorstep; and all this without any escalation in the costs.

Re-ordering of your product, just when your customer is about to run out of it has never been easier.

Try it.

Most smart phone either already have a QR reader or the same can be downloaded free from any of the App centers or download from here;

Also try this;

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Official Google CPG Blog: The Zero Moment of Truth

Official Google CPG Blog: The Zero Moment of Truth: "Posted by Jenny Liu, Industry Marketing Manager, CPG The term ' First Moment of Truth ' (commonly called FMOT) was coined by Procter & Gam..."

Googland: [G] Creating a “Zero Moment of Truth”: Maximizing ...

Googland: [G] Creating a “Zero Moment of Truth”: Maximizing ...: "Official Google CPG Blog : Creating a “Zero Moment of Truth”: Maximizing Search Opportunity in CPG Posted by Ali Manning, Industry Analyst ..."

Friday, June 10, 2011

We are now LIVE.

AaramShop is now live.

It is still in it's BETA phase and we are sure there are going to be a few glitches in both the offline and online transactions. If you are in the AaramShop coverage areas in New Delhi, please give it a shot and keep us informed of your experience.

If you are currently out of the coverage area, suggest you browse around and also help us create an AaramShop in your area.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

AaramShop - digital marketing solution for CPG.

Rapid change in technologies and way the consumer interacts with and consumes media using various technologies has had a profound impact on the way brands use communication & marketing tools. However, this is just the start. 

Brands will need to re-think their current strategies and would need to augment their current brand marketing strategies with web, social networks, mobile & whatever else comes along the way. 

Delivering a seamless and an integrated experience across all consumer touch points represents a tremendous change, challenge and opportunity. 

Brands will need to adopt their marketing to being relevant locally. They will have to think more broadly in terms of opportunities for a given brand or store format and more narrowly in terms of consumer needs in different communities or groups of consumers. 

The biggest challenge is for brand thinking to become channel agnostic. The transformation of where shoppers are touching your brand – from how they research you, how they buy the brand, whether it is brick and mortar, mobile based commerce, web based commerce, social network commerce – means you need to have the capacity to ship your product from anywhere to anywhere as a true multi channel retailer. 

That’s where AaramShop intents to offer a solution rather than advice – as a hybrid retail platform, it will enable FMCG / CPG brands to be present across the consumers path-to-purchase and encourage an effortless purchase at any of the touch-points.

This seamless inter-operatability between channels is what will allow shoppers to purchase brands irrespective of where they are.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I am smart because of wikipedia and wikipedia is smart because of me (and people like me) - welcome to the smart world of collective wisdom. 
Re-read the Cluetrain Manifesto after ages and realized that it has been bang-on over all these years and now more relevant to marketeers and brand owners than ever before as the networks have got much better organized over time.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Commercializing a disaster - the Youtube & CBS way.

The earthquake and the tsunami in Japan have thrown up heart retching images and videos of folks caught in the disaster suffering, loosing property, life and hope. 

The coverage of the disaster re-enforced two things;

1. Traditional news media is dead. The traditional field reporters are now completely replaced by the common men and women who are the real eyes and ears. In fact almost all the feed that runs on networks like CNN and BBC is from the social networks. And the newsprint – they are really of no use – they are just a dying habit. 

2. Commercial interests seems to have taken over the new media as much as the old media owners. It is an unfortunate though everyday practice to have the TV coverage of a disaster like the above  interrupted by TVCs. I always found the positioning of these TVCs strange from a “brand positioning” perspective (I have just seen someone’s home being washed away, now let me view a shampoo TVC). While I had come to expect this from the traditional media vehicles, I am very surprised that the new media owners, who otherwise follow all the virtues of social media, are unfortunately following the same strategy.

High on that list is Youtube (read Google) CBS Channel, which is putting up adverts at the start of all uploaded videos – making the viewing experience quite pathetic. 

And the viewer reaction has to be noted and of course respected.  Following were some of the reactions and you would notice that the highest rated comments are NEGATIVE;

Friday, February 11, 2011

The modern trade vs The brands - the saga continues.

I read with a lot of interest the series of recent articles carried in Economic Times on the ongoing and perpetual battle between the brands at one end and the modern retailers on the other. It started a few days back with the news that Reckitt was keen on reduction of margins for the modern retail outlets (by about 2% or so).

What made it particularly interesting for me was that about 2 years back (thats when modern trade was really modern in India), I had a longish meeting with the then brand custodian of one of the Reckitt brands who was spending majority of her marketing funds on "creating"a category for her product at the modern trade. We discussed issues around eventual private labeling, shrinking margins, cost charged towards display,  lack of traditional trade focus etc. however, perceived higher and better quality of consumer engagement ensured that she stuck to her decision of pouring very serious monies in modern trade to create a category - irony was that the largest amount was on the Future Group. 

While modern trade currently represents only 5% of the FMCG trade in India, the writing on the wall is very clear - the FMCG brands will need to take a good hard look at their own shopper marketing strategies and step back to embrace the traditional grocer / kirana store.

If the brands don't - they will be constantly on the receiving end - today Reckitt got taken off the shelves, yesterday it was Frito-Lay and Kellogg's. Tomorrow who knows. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Another example of AR

AR is the "engagement" which has long been missing in the digital marketing space, though, I am still to get conversion data to back the use.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Part of the Cannes Promo Shortlist.

I thought the creative thinking on this was quite sharp and based on a simple yet universal insight on young men in bars vs their girl friends. Installing a teletransporter in a handful of bars would create enough buzz and engagement even amongst the folks who have not experienced it. 

The Cannes Re-look

Have shared my reactions to the various shortlisted entries at Cannes Promo Category, however, since there have been a number of requests for the entries to be on this blog, I am putting them up here along with my views.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Behavior transformation can be driven by fun activation.

I know that this is old and it is not really brand centric, however, this is a great example of how good activation can be the tool to transform behavior of the TG - here the TG lets go of the convenience to experience fun.