Stop Selling, Start Listening

Twenty eight hours had passed since Prime Minister Modi had delivered his annual Independence Day address from the ramparts of the historical Red Fort in the capital. He had given the mantra ‘Start-up India, Stand up India’ to the nation, urging entrepreneurs to make India No.1worldwide, in start-ups.

Immediately following this announcement, the National Bureau of Enterprise Promotion (NBEP) swung into action. They called Adhvaan for a meeting and gave them a clear brief for their latest assignment: Given the strong manufacturing and finance capabilities by both start-ups and established business houses, how could Indian businesses navigate the treacherous consumer terrain in digital world? What proven strategies could be used to reach and keep customers in real time?

Adhvaan was a business strategy group, which had in their team, experienced analysts who were walking repositories of business knowledge and application.

The Head of Adhvaan called for an initial presentation to be made to him in the coming 5 hours. The two chosen leads for this project christened ‘Stay Firm India’, had their work cut out for them.

30-something Alka was a Consumer Behaviour expert. A tough-talking woman, Alka was known for being up-front in speaking her mind and keeping up with her male counterparts in witty banter as well as taking action to get what she wanted professionally. A fast-talking, frank woman, it was difficult to beat Alka in strategy arguments. Her seductive and soft-looking demeanour masked her business acumen to the peril of many. Known in the team as ‘The Hawk Lady’, Alka was considered “one of the gang” rather than an object of sexual desire. She could hold her own in a wit-driven argument, have the same professionalism levels as her male counterparts, and keep her cool under stress. Inspite of her A-league education and aristocratic background, Alka had learnt to appreciate the working-man’s ideals by working her way up the ranks in business. A hard-working professional, she passionately fought for the good of the consumer. And Indian businesses listened intently to Alka, who was widely regarded for her excellent analytical business skills and incisive consumer behaviour insights.

Her counterpart in the ‘Stay Firm India’ project was the wily Garud. He was a respected thespian who with his blackish silvery locks, wiry frame and earnest, boyish charm was often the go-to man for many business start-ups looking for business information.

Older than most of his colleagues, 49-year old Garud was a pro at Business Strategy, especially on company responses to market changes. Very wise and intelligent, Garud was a guiding light of knowledge to his team and his clients who depended on his advice to navigate their company and careers.  A logical, focused team player Garud was good at planning and enjoyed performing his duties, always thinking issues through before acting. He had a pronounced tendency to apply rules, reason and the greater good of all in his decisions. Utterly unflappable in the face of serious problems or danger; his colleagues knew that no matter how terrifying or hopeless things got, he would never lose his cool and would not stop working on a solution to save the day.

Garud and Alka made a prefect team. The logical Garud was offset by the more emotional and humanistic Alka. The main difference between the two was that while Alka would often leap to correct decisions intuitively and work her steps backward to the problem, Garud’s solution to problems often had a balanced, well-thought out and inductive approach.

At their brainstorming session, Alka set the tone by asking “What makes an Indian consumer buy?” As usual, she got straight to the heart of the matter and working her way through she listed the 3 R’s that all businesses in India need to recognize.

“A consumer will buy from you if you – Respect the consumer, Recognize consumer needs and Reward customer purchases.”


In perfect tandem, Garud brought up a question that all business owners wanted an answer to: ‘How can companies sell more to Indians?’

Any company can sell more in the country, provided it monitors and measures Real Time Sales Value Maximization, Realization per Sale and Reach of Sales.



To illustrate this paradigm, Alka chose the brand while Garud threw his weight behind

 Chumbak  Bewakoof
Walk into any swanky retail outlet in India and near the billing counter you will see a stack of brilliant hues – you have stumbled upon the Chumbak display of accessories, apparel, home & decor and gifting items – each with a unique design and chaotic colour palette.

Chumbak was born out of love for India and the love of travel. Chumbak started with fun magnets and became a lot more than just fridge magnets including key chains, T Shirts, bags, pens, books and other merchandise.

How this quirky brand managed to become a shopper favourite is the story for another day…..

Starting as an online T-shirt shop to buy ‘Slogan and Quotes T-shirts’ 3 years ago, today Bewakoof sells

·         more than 3000 style trends in women and men casual apparel,

·         a mind-boggling array of mobile phone covers,

·         counts over 20 lakh Facebook fans as its loyal customer base and

·         is merchandising for seven movies.

The irony is that the story of this brand began with 2 IIT engineers who followed their heart, chose to refuse mindless high paying jobs to become entrepreneurs who wished to change how Indians consume fashion!.

How the Bewakoof brigade has become a game changer in so short a timespan is a story for another blog post…………


About Priya Ramachandran

I am the Founder & Principal Consultant at Cobblestones Consulting, Pune, India - a boutique non-clinical healthcare services firm that works with hospitals and small healthcare service providers looking to win in the Indian market. We offer our services for Market Research, Business Advisory & Corporate Training. We help health care providers grow their business exponentially through developing targeted business strategies, data management competencies and operational excellence that is aligned to their overall business goals. My blog, Prosperji, offers a very Indian take on doing business in Indian healthcare, a market which can singe you hotter than Indian summers, but if you play it well, the rewards are as plentiful as the Indian monsoon. Welcome to the ride of your life! Swagatam.

Posted on August 18, 2015, in Consumer behaviour, Customer segmentation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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