Commodity Hell

  • Going through hell? Enlist your needs!
  • Woman’s hair – the outcome of deep analysis is not always poetry
  • People are analytical, information is available and race is on
  • Vocal chord Vs Brain muscle
Going through hell? Enlist your needs!

I and Prabhat bhaiya used to go together to purchase the monthly household stuff from our neighborhood grocery shop. He was studying in 10th std. and I was in 8th.  Mom used to dictate the items and we used to prepare a list. We however had liberty to choose the brands or color of certain commodities e.g. shop etc. After putting all the stuff on the counter the shop keeper bhaiya used to write the prices of each items against them in the list and used to ask me to sum. It was an interesting exercise for judging my computations skills. Shop keeper bhaiya was very quick and accurate in his calculations. He seldom used to use calculator.

More than two decades passed and a lot had changed both the way commodities are sold and purchased.

Now whenever we go to super markets for monthly household stuff, I ask my wife to prepare a list of whatever she needs and stick to that because once we enter in the shop without list, it seems as if everything is useful and worth buying. This is because we are flooded with the advertisements of these products and our perception of necessity had been drastically hijacked. As per my observation, if we go without preparing the list of commodities we actually need, we end up shopping almost 30 percent more.

The other day, my friend went to purchase a baby tonic from a chemist shop at outskirt of Meerut and returned with baby tonic only; while he realized whenever he goes to purchase something at Gurgaon, he ends up buying various other things also which he perceives important for him. Everything would look damn necessary e.g. a Deodorant, Liquid polish, Toilet freshener or Face wash etc. There is commodity hell in the urban shops.

Woman’s hair – the outcome of deep analysis is not always poetry

There were times when everybody in the family used to use the same soap from head to toe. Nowadays there are different commodities for cleaning hair, face, rest of the body and that too different for male, female and kids. Flood of pleading advertisements of commodities are achieving success in making the consumer believe that there is no life worth living devoid of their valuable product; e.g. without using ‘Fair & Lovely’  a girl can’t get fairer skin, which is of utmost importance!

A lot had been written about women’s hair. Besides accentuating woman’s beauty hair drive lots of business. So many companies have launched various products just to maintain them. Various products are available for hair: to wash, to condition, to color, to make it dry, to make it look good the day it is not washed, to protect it from sun and dust, to strengthen its roots, for dandruff hair, for oily hair, for dry hair etc.

Name any part of body and there will be lots of products to take care of it; various types of deodorants both having gas and without gas. Moreover a 150/- deodorant can attract a herd of glamorous girls, which I believe can’t be done otherwise.

We are being disturbed heavily while watching our favorite movie, daily soap, while reading news paper or while driving our way. Our choices of products are being hijacked. Our perceptions are being changed and we are forced to think that we are ultra-modern only if we use certain brands.

Both our conscious and subconscious brain knows that this all is crap. Tons of ‘Fair & Lovely’ had been produced and being used but nobody got her complexion fairer even for a unit of luminosity. Liters of ‘Black HIT’ had been sprinkled but not even the most timid mosquito is afraid of it.

Now lets analyze it further to understand why this heap of redundant commodities is getting piled up; every manufacturer is contributing to it. Had everything possible to do, already done?

People are analytical, information is available and race is on

Let’s take an example of -Anytime meal instant noodle –Maggi, the most popular instant food in India and is accepted by all age group consumers. Instant noodle market is believed to have caliber of INR 1500 Cr, means ‘Big Businesses. Nestle’s Maggi has already captured more than 85% of stake. People are analytical, information is available and race is on. Nobody will be allowed to rule with his brand commodity in the market and enjoy the Monopoly for long. Big brands including HUL, ITC, Future Group etc jumped with apparently an intention of healthy competition and ended up creating a commodity hell. The participants’ souls of dead products are: Top Ramen, Yippee, Knorr Soupy Noodles, Horlicks Foodles, and Tasty Treat etc.

Top manufacturing companies are emphasizing the importance of innovation and asking their employees to start focusing on various out of the box ways to do the same things they are doing their conservative way for years. I agree that some are really doing good things. However, have we ever noticed that we have become fond of ‘Innovation’ and left ‘Invention’ way behind?

Is it enough to chant ‘innovation’ and arrive at a really cheap and quick idea, generate some revenue for some time and get lost? Rather, invention should be encouraged to come up with something remarkably different from whatever is already there in the race of human advancement. Yes, it would require an investment and a trust on our brain brigade.

Vocal chord Vs Brain muscle

People at top level are recruited on the basis of strength of their vocal chord rather than that of brain muscle. Management positions are being given to those who have a hold on colloquialism rather than domain knowledge. Our MBA factories (read colleges) are supplying surplus man power that never bothered about science of producing something good for human advancement rather they focus on mass production and their sales targets. Their job is to keep on speaking on the given topic unless it goes deeper to the technical know how!

Ironically SMEs (Subject Matter Expert) reports to management graduates. One who was earlier leading a Pharma company, currently leading FMCG, will probably lead a telecom company and would never hesitate to take crucial decisions.  

Now the question is – how does the company want to do business? How does it plan to build its brand? Are they willing to invest in right people for right role? Are people being deployed on role aligned to their skill set? Are roles mapped with the overall strategy company follows? And moreover, will following the strategy lead company traverse its desirable road-map?

Failing to respond these questions - in time - will not only lead to commodity hell but other business mayhem.

- Amit Roop

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