Elsewhere in the world, or at least those parts of the world which enjoy the benefits of a market economy, there is a general tendency for goods and services to get better as a consequence of competition. But the Indian market — a unique chimera born by caesarean section out of the reluctant womb of socialism — orders things very differently. Here, instead of first establishing a benchmark of basic quality and customer expectation and then building on that to improve the product in question, we ingeniously turn the process on its head in a marketing shirsashan that confounds conventional consumer norms. We start with a product that is inherently defective — such as scratched, bogus DVDs — and then we build an entire industry around that defect — such as DVD players which are capable of playing inferior DVDs.
Take power cuts. Like the scratched DVD, the power cut is a negative product. It ensures a great deal of customer aggravation. We first create customer disaffection which we then assuage by setting up a whole range of products and services to correct the defect of power cuts — inverters, gen-sets, luxury apartments with 100 per cent power back-up. By this brilliant marketing ploy, what is a negative — a power cut — becomes a positive status symbol: My power back-up is bigger than your power back-up. But what if we had no power cuts to begin with? What if we, somehow, eliminated power cuts? Such a situation is unthinkable by virtue of being too good only. So good only as to drive all those makers of inverters, and gen-sets and luxury apartments with 100 per cent power back-up clean out of the market.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Too Good Only: A Marketing Shirsashan
Jug Suraiya pointing out that what we are seeing today in India is Gresham's Law extended to just about any product or service you care to name: