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PM Modi’s Fourth Marketing Mantra – REALIZE

Driven by several hundred million young women and men, India’s consumer story is one of the world’s most compelling in present times. While India is the fastest growing major economy in the world today, companies are still struggling to enter this market or to stay afloat here.

My previous posts spoke about how you could not just survive, but also thrive in Indian markets, by taking a leaf out of the Marketing Manual of India’s best marketer, Prime Minister Narendra Modi  (read posts here:,, and ).

As a business owner in the Indian market, you need to stay profitable. To do so, you need to source locally and sell via e-commerce. This is where your competitive advantage lies. Just as you are digesting this rather unsettling fact, here comes another one – in India, more than just profitability, what is more important strategically, is how you REALIZE profitability.

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A common mistake many business owners looking to play the Indian market make, is to apply Western business metrics that work best in homogenized settings, to measure marketing effectiveness in a country as diverse & complex as India. As a business owner, do recognize that the Indian market is still an indigenous (swadeshi) market that is extremely cost-conscious, fiercely competitive, one that is dominated by disruptive start-ups, where consumers have low disposable incomes (do not be fooled by rising statistics for this indicator – family & business in India are still notoriously tightfisted when in comes to spending) and are easily adaptable to low cost technology. So how you measure your business’ success in the Indian market is something that requires careful thought.

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Yeah, no one said this Indian ride would be easy! But I assure you it is worth it. You can actualize profit through three focussed marketing strategies.

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To learn how you can  create these focused strategies to actualize business profits in India, reach out to me on my  website at or leave your coordinates in the comments section below.

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How can you incorporate all this in your business plans and actions? Do you have the market knowledge and marketing expertise to handle treacherous Indian market conditions? Can your business gain with the help of professional & trustworthy business advice and/or hands-on tactical help?

Feel free to reach out to me at for Market Research & Business Consultancy advice. I’ll be happy to serve you.


PM Modi’s Second Marketing Mantra – Segment


This is the magic marketing  mantra used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rack up his impressive wins at home and abroad. You can read about it here –

MODI hands up

Source: Google Images

In this post, I will introduce the second syllable in this mantra. S= SEGMENT.

Segment to succeed

For companies looking to win in the Indian market, given the geographic spread, cultural differences and price sensitivities at play here, segmentation is a sound basis for developing targeted and effective marketing plans. Furthermore, analysis of market segments enables decisions about intensity of marketing activities in particular segments. A segment-orientated marketing approach generally offers a range of advantages for both, businesses and customers.

To get you started, here are nine questions you can answer. If your answers are not convincing enough or if you aren’t sure the answers are correct, do not hesitate to undertake Market Research. It can make all the difference between your market credibility and market disappearance!

For any Market Research activity in India, and consequent strategic marketing advice, please do not hesitate to contact me. Visit my website for more details.

9 Modi-fied questions

Remember, in the relationship-based Indian market, success is relative. More success, more relatives! Stay safe and have a good weekend, peeps. See you on the other side.

Do You Understand The Pulse Of The Indian Market?

Forget what you learned in B-School about marketing and selling. Demand = Sales is an equation that doesn’t work in India. Sure, to succeed in India, you certainly require a sustainable business model, great execution, and something in reserve to avoid being derailed by bad luck or a shift in business environment.

But is this all that is needed to succeed in India? I think not. Just ask Hyperlocal grocery delivery start up PepperTap, which raised over US$50 million, including a US$36 million series B round led by ecommerce player Snapdeal in September, 2015, LocalBanya, which raised US$5 million, or GrocShop, founded by IIT Bombay alumni and selected by Google for mentoring. All of them floundered and bit the dust in spite of hedge funds and VCs falling over themselves to back these internet businesses in India. Same is the case with edtech start-ups like iProf & Purple Squirrel, used car marketplace Zoomo (earlier called GoZoomo), Getit Infoservices, the parent company of ecommerce marketplace AskMe, on-demand laundry start up Doormint, FranklyMe and Murmur,  well funded food delivery startups like TinyOwl, ZuperMeal, BiteClub, Zeppery, iTiffin, fashion ecommerce start ups like Fashionara & Ladyblush, fashion rental companies like Flyrobe, Liberent, Elanic, SwishList, Klozee & The Clothing Rental, logistics-transportation-delivery start ups like Parcelled and TruckMandi, the marketplace for building materials in Delhi NCR – Buildzar, the mobile app to enable an entrepreneur to send a pitch to an investor with a single click-Shotpitch, mobile auto-hailing app Autoncab, and finally, the heartbreak of India’s first Tinder, Cogxio, shutting down.

To understand how to win in the Treacherous Indian Market which is littered with folded-up companies, business owners can learn from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Marketing Manual. This is a man who wins election after election, each more convincingly than the previous one by using a simple Marketing Mantra – E.S.C.R.O.W.

To know what this is, read my blog post at

Using Modi’s Marketing Mantra, you can also succeed in Indian markets.

I will tell you something you don’t hear in B-Schools or read of in scholarly course material. To sell to Indians, what is needed the most on the part of the business firm is Empathy & Compassion for the customer. This has to come through first, above all else. Its time to unlearn your Marketing knowledge, folks. In India, we are like this only!

Any company wanting to engage consumers in India with their market offering must be seen as Empathetic and Compassionate. Indians describe Empathy as the capacity to ‘see from another’s point of view’ and Compassion is the capacity to ‘feel with the disadvantaged and less fortunate members of society’. These twin qualities are at the heart of what makes us Indian. This is our DNA. These are the two strands that wind around each other like a twisted ladder, giving us Indians a unique and distinct identity. Think of Empathy as the red coloured oxygen atoms and compassion as the blue coloured nitrogen atoms in our DNA helix.

In India, power is vested with the Prime Minister. Since 1947, when the modern Indian nation state came into being, till date, Indians view their Prime Minister as the ‘Ruler of the Land – A Karma Yogi’. The main reason why PM Modi is able to hold on to and improve his popularity ratings among Indians at home and abroad is that he is able to embody this most crucial aspect of Ruler of the Land. He is perceived to be a Karma Yogi – one who lives out the tenets of Karma Yoga. In Indian philosophy (which is a living, breathing, everyday construct in the life of the average Indian), Karma Yoga is a technique of performing actions as a duty without any expectation of rewards. The concept of duty arises in relation to others and an absence of desire for rewards implies an altruistic motive. Thus, the actions of a Karma-Yogi are necessarily altruistic.

To illustrate this point, one has to only see the recent exercise of Demonetization that PM Modi unveiled on November 8th last year. Demonetisation is unlike other policies, it has benefits but also pain built into it. Black money in India is like a cancer. It has spread all over the country, almost like a parallel circulatory system for our economy. The use of currency notes is a big part of it. Black money stalls growth, kills efficiency and keeps the economy sub-optimal. To that extent, to cure black money, the government justified demonetization as a treatment that resembles chemotherapy. The Demonetization step is, therefore, welcome. However, what is not acceptable to Indians is the government (or its fanboys) gloating over the brilliance of their idea to do a chemo, and being unwilling to look at or address the ugly side effects that come with it. No doctor gloats after giving a patient a chemo. They work to lessen the pain of the patient and limit the impact on good, weak cells. This is what PM Modi was perceived to have done. He understood that for India’s poor, all it takes to make them descend in a negative spiral of abject poverty is one brutal blow – daily wages lost for a few months, savings wiped out because no bank took them, a job loss as their employer shut down, an industry downturn or a hospital turning them away – and they can never get back on their feet again. The chemo of Demonetization could do that. To ignore that would have been both insensitive and irresponsible.

No matter how brilliant the solution, the execution here was vital. PM Modi was roundly criticized by the media, the pundits and the Opposition parties for his government’s execution of the Demonetization exercise. They said he hadn’t done it as well as he could have. That we still don’t have enough notes, banks have queues and people are being inked for taking out their own money. Policies are changing on a daily basis. That the finance guys sat at the meeting hailing this plan, and nobody invited or heard logistics professionals, who were needed to make this happen.

Cutting through the noise, Indians saw empathy and compassion in this act. They saw Demonetization as PM Modi’s generalized disposition to engage in altruistic helping. Here was a man who came from humble beginnings; he knew first hand, the compromises that ordinary Indians make every day just to put food on the family thaali (plate) and out came the empathy and compassion of ordinary Indians, mirroring their ruler’s attitude. They patiently stood in long bank queues, surrendered their small savings in old currency at bank counters, put up with a daily and weekly ceiling on their cash withdrawals, tolerated ATM’s running dry and watched on with wry humour, as people who had no stake in their welfare blathered on about how ‘ordinary Indians were being inconvenienced’. Using social media, digital platforms and electronic & print media, PM Modi convinced ordinary Indians that Demonetization was necessary chemotherapy administered by the government to root out the cancer of black money. That managing the side effects and showing empathy to the patient was top priority for him now. After that, he would take steps to ensure there’s no relapse. Indians bought into this premise. They saw Demonetization as necessary and laudable. The painful treatment was worth it. PM Modi would do his best to ensure the carcinogens, the stuff that caused the cancer of black money in the first place, were eliminated too.

The recent assembly elections in five Indian states were seen as a referendum on the government’s Demonetization move. PM Modi won in four out of the five states.

Question:       Why did PM Modi succeed so spectacularly in the recent assembly elections?

Answer:         He is seen to be Empathetic & Compassionate. Sure he has definite motives to accomplish. He is not completely altruistic. But by his actions and his public engagement strategies, he is able to mould public perception in his favour. He comes across as Empathetic & Compassionate.

In the eyes of most Indians, only when an individual has genuine empathetic concern for others can he/she be sensitive and be aware of his/her duty. Empathetic concern and role-taking with respect to individuals affected by one’s actions constitutes moral sensitivity, which is the first step towards moral development. This is what makes a person a Karma Yogi and a ‘ruler of hearts’.

Empathy 2


So what can you learn from PM Modi as a business owner? First, engage your customer, don’t start selling straightaway. Use content to drive dialogue and automation to enhance your reach. Second, spend time, effort & money creating a strong connection between your customers and your brand. You can do this by creating programs that serve their needs and address their biggest pain points. Third, demonstrate compassion for your customers by creating marketing programs that are informed and driven with empathy.

In my previous post, I had triggered thought in the minds of business owners by posing a set of questions. Answering these questions honestly will trigger an empathetic & compassionate mindset among business owners that will serve them well in the Indian market.  Empathy is reflected through a company’s ethics, leadership, internal culture, brand perception, and public messaging via social media. A company’s singular quality to be accepted by Indians is to be perceived by them as being high on empathetic concern for their customers and low on personal distress in their marketing effort. Such businesses are thought to be more likely to take actions for the benefit of their consumers rather than for their own benefit.

To be a market leader, your company (i.e. YOU – the owner) must be perceived by consumers to be a Karma Yogi. To give you a small exercise, rate yourself of the following Empathy-Compassion scale. This will tell you how much of a Karma Yogi you are.

Scale for Karma-Yoga: Sense of duty or obligation towards others

  1. I hesitate to do what is expected of me∗ (negative).
  2. I willingly do whatever task is assigned to me, even if I do not enjoy it.
  3. I am aware of my obligations to society.
  4. I willingly perform all duties, which are expected of me.
  5. I feel it is my duty to contribute to society.

Scale for Karma-Yoga: Absence of desire for rewards

  1. I work only in order to get some personal benefits∗ (negative).
  2. While working, I keep thinking about success or failure∗ (negative).
  3. I expect to be rewarded for good work done∗ (negative).
  4. I often dream of becoming very successful∗ (negative).
  5. I am disappointed when the outcomes of my efforts do not yield the results I expected∗ (negative).
  6. I strive to be selfless in whatever activity I undertake.


Are you a Karma Yogi? How can your company be seen to be Empathetic and Compassionate? Write in and let me know.

If you require professional assistance in doing this, please contact me on my website at

Like Daniel H. Pink said, “Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.” To this, may I add that in India, this can make all the difference between market longevity and market disappearance!

In tomorrow’s post, we will discuss the second Mantra in Modi’s Marketing Manual – Segmentation.



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…………

Prosperity Plumbers

When I tell them my profession, I often hear people ask curiously, “What does a Marketing and Branding consultancy do? I mean “exactly” what is it?” People guess…Cobblestones Consulting is…………..hmmmm….a sales agency?……..a content firm?……..a media house?…public relations?……..event management?………… sales training?…….digital marketing?

At Cobblestones Consulting we are all this and much more!

We look at ourselves as “Prosperity Plumbers” for our clients. We facilitate their business by empowering them with the necessary tools required to crack the market code successfully. How do we do this? By creating reasons to buy.

That is all there is to it! Profitability mantra decoded.

Managing a business in today’s connected world is fast becoming a precise science. With new algorithms being offered by business pundits every second day, it can get quite difficult for business owners to sift wisdom from knowledge. However, all business owners and experienced executives intuitively know that strategic decisions and tactics depend heavily on context.

And in the real world the context is more confusing than cracking The Matrix.

So what gives? The way to profitability is coupling the “science” of marketing with “creativity”. This is what Ted Levitt stated in his widely read essay “The Marketing Imagination“ and I quote below:
“The marketing imagination is the starting point of success in marketing. It is distinguished from other forms of imagination by the unique insights it brings to understanding customers, their problems, and the means to capture their attention and their custom.”
(Source: accessed on 28.07.2015 at…/Levitt_TheMarketingImagin…)

The reason why businesses bring in far less customer numbers than they planned for is because they fail to understand that people don’t buy things (products or services) but buy solutions to their problems. When I buy cosmetics I am not buying beauty products. I am buying hope (I will look beautiful wearing these cosmetics!). When I shop online instead of at a brick-and-mortar store, I am not seeking convenience. I am seeking autonomy in my purchase decisions.

Understanding this nuance is where the marketing imagination makes an inspired leap from the obvious to the meaningful. “Meaning” resides in its implied suggestion as to what to do. For businesses, this means they must find out what problems people are trying to solve. This is the route to creating reasons to buy. And when a business can do that, their product or service “sells” on its own. This is the default mode marketing needs to move into.

In recent times this argument is brilliantly represented by Shunanshi Tokuyama Zoo in Yamaguchi, western Japan. This Japanese zoo is trying to do the impossible — improve the image of cockroaches – by putting on an exhibition of one of the world’s most hated insects. There are a whopping 4,000 species of cockroach on the planet. These hardy insects are famed for being capable of surviving almost anywhere. The zoo exhibition has around 200 creatures from a total of 15 species on display. One highlight of the exhibition will be a five-way race among cockroaches, where visitors can watch the worryingly speedy bugs whiz down a track. If that’s not entertainment enough, the zoo is offering the chance to get your hands on a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, which can grow as long as 7 centimetres. No need to worry about this, though, assures the zoo — Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches can’t fly. But they can hiss.

The exhibition is already proving popular, the zoo spokeswoman was quoted as saying, adding that 70 to 80 per cent of visitors are stopping by.

These zoo guys have it pretty well figured out – in the pens they keep animals, in the zoo, they sell conservation. What a brilliant way to get the cash registers ringing!

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