Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hoarding is a mental disorder!

I happened to read this article in Health and Nutrition which talked about why people hoarded things. Here is an excerpt I scanned from the article..

Click the image to view it better.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Three Shopping sites graded for customer delight

Over the last two months, I have used three shopping sites, which I had heard a lot about. One of them has even started advertising on TV - The other two I used were Inkfruit and Flipkart.

I bought two T-shirts and two laptop skins from Inkfruit. The quality of everything was good and and the goods were delivered on time. I even liked the arty price tag that came with the Tees, and I'm now using it as a bookmark. So, that is like getting a dual bang for your buck isn't it?

Similarly with Flipkart, which procured books for me that even offline bookstores like Crossword and Landmark don't have, and find it difficult to get for me because their distributors don't stock it. Flipkart's discounts are also a good incentive to use their site, and the fact that they do have a cash on delivery payment mode.

Myntra was a disappointment. The site looks great and it's nice to use as well. But I did not get what I had ordered (a handbag). They did not have it in stock, so they realise it after the customer has placed an order for it. What was even more ironic was that, they had sent out e-mailers to me, advertising this range from Murcia! So after sending out a fancy, enticing e-mailer inviting people to come take a look and buy from them, not knowing if they have all of the range displayed, was really strange.

They apologised for this and then sent me a Rs 500 voucher with a T&C attached to it. I would get Rs 250 off for every Rs 1,000 spent. So I had to shop for Rs 2,000 to use all of it, and pay Rs 1,500 overall. Though, they have a great range of sports shoes, I didn't want to buy a pair.

But I noticed something else: Myntra had Inkfruit T-shirts displayed on their site. I liked one and then went to Inkfruit and checked it out there. Myntra had priced it at Rs 499 and Inkfruit at Rs 399!

My tip: Go to the source website when possible. We shouldn't have to pay a hidden tax at one site, which is simply taking its merchandise from another one anyway.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A daily deal offer: Was it worth it?

My own experience with a daily deal site has been funny. In India..Groupon has taken some stake in a site called SoSasta and in April, they ran a deal for a books website called nbcindia, with 50% off on any title. The site had discounted the books anyway but once I used the coupon..they validated it by giving me 50% off on the listed price and not on the offer price.

Anyway, it worked out cheaper for me one way or the other. But, that books site has yet to deliver my books as of today. After I wrote to SoSasta-Groupon, they told me I would have to follow up with the vendor.

So more than the structure of the deals, I think customer service is often left to the customers! Beware of such unspoken and unclear terms and conditions, even though SoSasta's support staff has written to me to say that this problem is being looked into and will be resolved. But their intervention, if any, has not helped at all. The books site then offered to refund my money, 'after' which I got a call from SoSasta's customer service, asking me for details! I had to do all the follow-up for the refund from the bookseller.

Meanwhile, in an earlier post, I had mentioned a discount card that was launched by Snapdeal called Moneysaver Prime. I tried using it at Bollywood Cafe at Phoenix Mills, which didn't accept it and then downloaded a coupon for Cafe Coffee Day: Promo code - 9441474049210 - from their site, which was also not valid. When I wrote to their customer support, they then told me: "This is to inform you that the tie-up with this outlet is no longer available with MoneySaver Prime." If that is so, then they should not have it up on their site in the first place, and this is something I've emailed them about.

While the card is a good idea, they paint an unduly optimistic picture and do not update the offers which are not valid anymore. Tip: Call the outlet wherever possible before stepping out with this piece of plastic. And no..they don't make it easy by providing phone numbers on the site!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A smart wedding present: Gift a subscription

If you have ever wondered what gift to give someone who is getting married, and the many choices leave you feeling confused, (especially if you have no idea about the other person's tastes), then the wedding gifts registry concept is the latest rage abroad.

It's not that popular in India because many people have not heard of it. But it's simply about a bridal couple announcing to their friends and guests what they would like to have as gifts. They create a gift list based on the selections of a particular store. The guests then go and view the 'register' or the list online and opt to buy one of the gifts, that suits their budget from the store or website which is running this registry. So a pre-selected list makes it easier for the guests to get the right gifts.

In India, one site that is doing this sort of thing is shareurjoy. But if this feels too needy and greedy for your taste, then here is smart tip to get yourself a useful wedding present as well as a magazine subscription! Well, I love reading and pick up a lot of books and magazines. Most of these magazines have free gifts that they offer if you subscribe for them.

So, depending on the duration of your subscription, India Today gives away Reebok wallets to Adidas gym bags. Marie Claire gives away Hidesign handbags and H2O skincare products. People magazine gives away a uber stylish coffee mug. Outlook Traveller gives away either a rucksack, a traveller's waist pouch or 3-in-1 travel kit. Geo magazine gives you almost the same things, except instead of the travel kit you get a nice looking laptop bag. Time magazine gives away a sleek looking 2GB USB drive.

The best deals are from Magna Publications. If you subscribe to five of their magazines - they publish good ones like Society, Health and Nutrition, Stardust, Savvy, Society Interiors etc - then you can walk away with anything from a toaster, an iron to a washing machine or a flat screen TV!

These things add up to quite a lot of goodies, for which you would have ended up paying some serious money. So, ask your friends and relatives to gift you magazine subscriptions, and see how you'll manage to kill two birds with one stone. You will end up getting good reading material and all those free gifts that come with it.

All you have to do is check out all the magazines at a bookstore near you, and see what offers they have going. Pick up the magazines you would genuinely like to read and spread your wishlist among your friends and relatives.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

People are more mindful consumers now: Report

In an Euro RSCG report called ‘The New Consumers’, some interesting takeaways were that the economic downturn in the West, has made people more mindful consumers. They are “savvier, more empowered, and more demanding than of old, and they have a veritable laundry list of things they take into consideration when shopping. These days, they are paying attention to everything from the economic and social impacts of the products they buy to their safety, design, and provenance. They are more risk aware, so they feel the need to be more vigilant, but they are also more cognizant of their capacity to influence the world—for good or ill—with their consumption choices.”

Here are some statistics from the report:
-72% are shopping more carefully and mindfully than they used to.
-69% claim to be smarter shoppers than they were a few years ago, while 63%
say they are more demanding.
-54% are paying more attention to the environmental and/or social impact of the
products they buy.
-62% do lots of consumer research online.
-51% are more interested today in how and where products are made.
-57% say it makes them feel good to support local producers, artisans, and manufacturers,and 45% say it’s important to them to buy locally produced goods.
-43% pay more attention to the color, feel, and overall design of products than
they used to.
-64% say making environmentally friendly choices makes them feel good (versus
only 30% who say the same about buying luxury items).
-54% are making an effort to buy fewer disposable goods, and 72% feel good
about reducing the amount of waste they create.
-39% have started or thought about starting a home vegetable or fruit garden—
a sign not only of their longing to reconnect with nature, but also of their desire
for self-sufficiency and competence.
-67% believe most people would be better off if they lived more simply.
-46% wish their homes were less cluttered, and 50% have thrown out or thought
about throwing out lots of stuff to declutter their lives and homes in recent years.

There are lessons to be learnt here because we are fast moving into hyperconsumerism mode in India as well. So it is a good idea to not pick up other people's bad habits!

For details click here:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Amazon makes money out of seconds!

Take a look at this slide from FaberNovel. It's from a 72 slide deck called ' The Hidden Empire' And even eBay is looking to make money out of its long tail - used goods - as Chris Andersen pointed out in his book 'The Long Tail'. So, guess where Seconddealnsteal is positioning itself in the Indian market?

Click on the image to enlarge

Be part of the quality seconds movement now!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A wireless headphone that makes me sing!

Since this blog advocates smart shopping - and doles out tips and tricks fairly liberally - I thought I should share information about this great deal that came my way. I've signed up with mGinger - the SMS marketing service - for quite some time now and they usually have offers up on their website, that can be used if you want to redeem any points you have accumulated.

Recently though, they have taken to sending me e-mailers with deals in them. Like the recent one that I took advantage of - a Mitashi wireless headphone and transmitter for Rs 549 only. I checked out this offer on other sites and everywhere else it was priced much higher.

Even Mitashi's own site was selling it for Rs 699 (marked down from Rs 799), and the lowest price offered was Rs 595 on another site that I scanned while surfing. In comparison, the Sony and Philips ones were over Rs 1,000. When I finally bought it - the price on the box was Rs 775. What's more, the online reviews praised the acoustics and so far, I agree with them. I get all the FM stations, and the clarity is great once the signals catch, which they do easily. I've worn this headphone around the house, and even when I'm nowhere near the transmitter, the sound quality remains good.

The quality of the product is great as well - especially the two-tone effect of black and a deep burgundy finish to it. So, if you still think that cheap equals bad quality, then you may have to reconsider that attitude. This headphone makes me sing aloud - and for all the right reasons!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Guess which is the best smartphone to buy?

Ever wanted to know which are the smartphones, that are worth the money you put down for them? Well, a number of sites do a good job of tabulating such lists (and I have included one at the bottom of this post).

BlackBerry devices always top any such list but when it comes to using applications on its open source WebWorks-Java based platform, everything that is vital to business purposes needs to be downloaded from their app store and paid for. The free apps available are: Facebook, Twitter, BlackBerry Messenger, the Bible and a game called Ka Glom. A whole bunch of similar games are paid applications. There is a catalogue that lets you browse through their app store.

But most of these snazzy apps are mostly available in the North American market, while Indians can only enjoy the Messenger service and 'liking' things and posting it on their Facebook profile. You can enjoy a 'Miss Malini' fashion cum Bollywood gossip blog and there is even a racing group that keeps you updated about races called 'Souls of Speed'. Also there are case studies of people using the BBM service to run their business. Some phones have built-in GPS - but this feature may not work very well in India, where old fashioned maps still serve a means to an end. Or anyone with a GPRS connection (even on an un-smartphone) can download the Google Maps app.

What about being able to use the Microsoft Office 7 suite, to look at documents and Excel spreadsheets for getting some work done? Well, for that, try the Micromax A60. It looks like a BlackBerry but works on a pre-installed Android platform and you can work on Word and Excel files on the phone. Since, someone I know has bought this phone at Rs 7,000, it is really the most value-for-money deal.

Micromax A60 Android Mobile Phone offers you the following features:

•Android 2.1 Eclair
•Full Touch Screen
•3.2 MP Camera
•Voice Assisted GPS Navigation
•Android Market
•Accelerator Sensor
•HSDPA 7.2Mbps
•HSUPA 5.6Mbps

You can actually mix business and pleasure with this one! I would suggest skipping the BlackBerry.

See this comprehensive list of smartphones

See this for more on smart devices -

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gen Y prefer being conscientious consumers: Report

If you want to know what makes the millennials (Gen Y generation) tick in the current economic scenario, and at a time when everything from earthquakes and terrorist acts are a part of life? Then take a look at the findings of this Euro RSCG report 'Millennials: The Challenger Generation'.

This report states that this generation is not as frivolous as they are made out to be. Surprisingly, survey respondents from the US, UK, France, India and China all wanted to win their parents' approval, looked up to them for advice (over media, peer and web sources) and felt that sustainable corporate practices was the way forward.

So in light of the above, the report divulged that "nearly two-thirds of millennials believe reducing consumption is an important pathway to global change. And nearly half believe the things they consume have more power to change things than the people they vote for. In other words, product choices trump politics. And so do corporations: 40 percent believe corporations have a greater capacity than governments to create change, while only 27 percent disagree. These figures show a real disaffection between youth and politics; there is little sense of faith in politicians and governmental leaders to solve the world’s problems."

Even when it comes to seeking jobs, this generation is looking to work for socially-minded brands that puts the environment ahead of profits. The report states that "Research by Experience, Inc. in the U.S. found that 81 percent of college students and recent graduates said it’s important to them to work for a company that is green-friendly, green-conscious, or green-certified. And 79 percent said that, faced with two similar offers, they would be more likely to accept a position with the organization that is greener.

It may not be entirely altruistic: 67 percent of our millennial sample believe the most successful businesses in the future will be those that practice sustainability, a notion with which only 7 percent disagreed."

Graphics are from the report.

Click here for more:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Smart saving-n-earning movement is on

The wave of smart spending and earning habits is spreading across the globe and here are some facts to prove it.

In India, we have a culture of accumulating things just as people in the West do - and we either give it away or prefer to exchange them for newer things at exchange fests. The results of a poll that I requested AZ Research - a marketing research firm - to put up on their Facebook page, gave some fresh answers. The question asked was 'How do you like to sell/dispose of your seconds?

The answers are in the below graphic, but a third option that people are looking to explore now are - selling their seconds through a site. So selling through sites, will bring in money for well maintained possessions - and that is an income stream that has not been explored in depth, nor has its potential been understood as yet.

Click to enlarge the image

But my own preferences apart, abroad as well, people are cutting down on frills since last year. Also more people were going online to find bargain deals - this is in fact their prime reason for being online, as suggested in this Comet Technology Census, done by polling 2,600 Britons.

This poll reveals that "Comet’s technology-centric count found that 84% of people use the net at home to search for deals, pushing online banking into second slot and scouring the news into third place. Social networking, despite the hype, made it only to seventh most popular web activity."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Smart consumers double as brand advertisers

Brands are fighting harder than ever for customers cash and even more importantly, their loyalty. They do this by offering club memberships and various other loyalty card schemes. But if customers have to be hooked, they need to fall in love with the brand, so that they can rave about it to others.

There is a category of customers who do that really well these days, over social media platforms and they are called by different names - like mavens (by Malcolm Gladwell in his book 'Tipping Point') and prosumers (an amalgam of proactive consumers) in a report done by Euro RSCG.

In an earlier report 'The Empowered Consumer in the Age of Globalization' that was published in 2002, they highlighted the following points:

– Prosumers pass it on. The urge to pass on information and opinions to others is the absolute defining core of Prosumerism. No wonder Prosumers become hubs of information and opinions.

– People consult Prosumers. They are much more likely than average consumers to be
consulted for tips and recommendations.

– Prosumers don’t forgive and forget. Nobody likes a poor product or service
experience, but Prosumers dislike them more than most.

– Prosumers consult widely, then make up their own mind. They typically gather information widely for the material they need to decide on their own; they experiment even if they sometimes make mainstream conclusions.

PS: Graphics are from the 'Prosumer Report - The Second Decade of Prosumerism'

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Paradox of Choice

'The Paradox of Choice' is a very good book to read on the subject of products and the many choices that confronts consumers today.

The author of the book, Barry Schwartz gave an entertaining and enlightening talk on the reasons why all that glut of products in malls is making us less satisfied instead of more happy, than ever before.

Watch the TED talk and learn why all that wonderful array of merchandise is actually not only making us spend more but not giving us as much happiness, as they should.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Etsy showcases sassy handmade stuff

The hottest new website in the US is Its appeal lies in its whimsical and eclectic collection of items, that people are hand crafting and selling.

Even the browsing experience is unique. It shows you a collection of things and you've got to choose the things that you like. It then collates your choices and after you have finished with your browsing - a tab at the top of the page tells you when you are 100% done - then the next page shows you an entire selection of products, like the ones you chose and liked.

For eg. If out of six things like - 1. An embroidered napkin. 2. A Lladro showpiece. 3. A Teddy Bear. 4. A jigsaw puzzle. 5. A flowery handbag. 6. Silver candlesticks. If you liked the embroidered napkin the most, then at the end when the page with your selections shows up, it will show you more stuff with embroidery on it - like a dress or a cushion cover.

This site also has a lot of people from India involved as well - they have a blog, Facebook and Flickr presence online. So take a look.