Words from the father

We generally don’t have a family promotion program but this is a rare guest post from the big man. It began as a comment to the previous post but then ended up being a guest post. Not sure if this will be a regular feature, for he seems to have an awful lot of time on his hands. But then here are some insights, few of which I had no idea about from the big man who we shall for now call Pappu Pager! Well if I’m Munna Mobile he can easily be Pappu Pager and references to an ARR song from ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na‘ shall not be tolerated. Also you can now see where he got his wit from, living with me sure has its advantages!


Just two decades back, owning a cell phone handset was like treasuring a stone of Diamond – one longed to possess it but dared not display it. With Rs.17/- for every incoming and outgoing call, the cell telephone numbers were whispered only in the ears of a few chosen friends.  Today, even those who walk barefoot, carry a mobile phone in their pocket. A cell
now is
not a status
symbol, but
our sixth finger
A cell phone now is not a status symbol, but our sixth finger.

A generation earlier, Main Frame Computers needed a large room  and dust-free and controlled temperature to run. Today, desk tops decorate our tables or lap tops hang from our shoulders in black rexene bags or we carry them in sleek brief cases.

When Captain Gopinath entered the aviation field, there were only two Airlines Companies – the State owned Indian Airlines and Government’s then blue eyed boy, Jet Airways, in the domestic sector. These two were well entrenched in the sector and there was very little space for any body else. And yet, Captain Gopinath was not overawed. He didn’t consider the other two airlines as competitors at all. Instead, he successfully weaned away the Air-conditioned class railway passengers. As they could travel by air within hours, they gladly accepted Captain Gopinath’s offer to fly frills-free aircrafts.  The credit for picking large number of first time flyers certainly goes to Captain Gopinath.  It is rather ironic that the champion of ‘exclusiveness’ became a partner of Captain Gopinath and negated all the achievements of the Captain.

Why these transformations? The answer is ‘Bottom of the Pyramid‘.  Peter Drucker said, ‘the bottle neck is always at the top’.  But Drucker did not say that the bottom of the pyramid is wide. Our own C.F.Prahlad,  brought it to light that the bottom of the pyramid is wide and he appealed to the MNCs and Industrial classes to cater to the needs of those at the bottom of the pyramid of the economy.

The need at the bottom is large and therefore one can market one’s products and services easily. Shampoo in sachet, three biscuits for a rupee and just enough soap powder for the wash of a few clothes for a pair of rupees, can one escape the temptation?  No wonder, millions of scooter users would graduate to a ‘Nano’ as and when it comes out of the show room.  Perhaps, many would recall that it was the ‘Piramals‘ who started the Mall culture, but they could not scale the height which a Big Bazaar could do.  This is because Big Bazzar looked at the bottom of the pyramid. One can literally see some barefooted shoppers in Big Bazar.  Piramals wanted the shoppers to flaunt their wallets or credit cards to affirm their determination to buy and lo! Many didn’t turn up at all. A Lexi five for Rs.5/- leads the way, leaving Parkers and Pilots miles behind, notwithstanding the endorsement by legendary Amitabh Bacchan.

Recently builders in Mumbai switched over from catering to the needs of the elite to that of the middle and lower class and they now report that they have been able to sell a number of dwelling units.  The secret of marketing lies in identifying needs and effectively meeting those needs.  Should we not look for barefoot to sell our shoes and bare chests that our clothes can drape? Udipi Hotels certainly play the Pied Piper Role.

Greatest happiness of the greatest number‘ the Utilitarian Philosophers Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill announced from the housetop. ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ theory is continuation of the Utilitarian Philosophers’ call and let the market take it to its logical ends. Mobile Phones and Plastic Sachets show us the way.