Tuesday, September 25, 2012

NO! YAMAHA for guys

Yamaha’s foray into the scooter market, for females, with the launch of Yamaha Ray hasn’t enthused me too much. Yamaha, as a brand in India, has a masculine feel about it. It is one of the earlier entrants in the Indian bike market in 1990s before the Hero Hondas, Bajajs, TVSs were even thinking about bikes. Yet it seemed they were never keen to market their products in India. Reasons could vary from an lack of understanding about market potential or focus on other high value developed markets or reluctance to introduce products in the price range available in India.

Past few years has seen them aggressively enter the Indian market with the launch of its various products such as FZ, FZ S, Fazer, R15 among a host of other 10+ products. They did well to have John Abraham as the brand ambassador. Although not a leader currently in the Indian two-wheeler market, Yamaha is making deep inroads with its offerings. Their Yes Yamaha campaign is well received and has a strong recall value.

Yamaha always was considered as a Male brand. With John Abraham as the brand ambassador and the kind of communication, the belief was further strengthened. The belief would be on shaky grounds now that Yamaha has come up with scooters for the fairer sex. Yamaha Ray has Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone as its brand ambassador. The target audience would relate to Deepika endorsing the product. But it surely is going to make the boys unhappy. Imagine tomorrow Harley Davidson coming up with a scooter for girls. Would it not affect the cult following the brand has. With this new offering, Yamaha might be able to expand their market and add to its bottom line through volumes but it loses on its core value of a masculine brand. Building this identity has taken years but breaking it isn’t go to take that long.

The least they could have done was bring it as a product, and promote it, with an individual brand identity separate from the family brand Yamaha. Probably that might have helped preserve its original character. And the guys would have kept on identifying with YES YAMAHA

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The politics and economics of FDI !

The INC  would feel a sense of déjà vu because in its first term, the CPM pulled out over the nuclear deal issue and in its second term, the TMC is pulling out over the FDI issue. Both parties from West Bengal, a state which has not grown as well as other states (with Metros).

The big-ticket reforms by UPA 2 have taken everyone by surprise. The corporate world has welcomed the move, the so-called rating agency S and P has stopped short of downgrading India’s credit rating and the stock markets are on an upward movement. All the news channels are going crazy over the positive news as if a magic wand has been taken out by the government to spur India on its growth trajectory.

Somehow we are made to believe that when the corporate world is happy, everything is fine. There is a perception the world over that when stock markets jump, it is good news. There is no thought given to how does it impact the common man. Now I m not being a socialist. We saw it during the 'occupy' Wall street movement in the US. The markets show just the 'sentiment' not reality. The volatility in markets is considered as a positive virtue whereas for me it shows the frail nature of thinking of those involved in influencing the markets. How do the fundamentals of a company change every day?

Is there a thought given to how would FDI in retail help the farmer. Would the farmer directly be able to sell to the manufacturer of food products or sell it directly to the retail megamart. What are the resources to enable him to do that? We indirectly assume that these multinationals such as Walmart, Carrefour or Tesco would take care of the back end of the supply chain. There have been umpteen examples of companies failing when a business model which works in one country is applied in other country. Yet we believe Walmart will be successful in India. Yes, we would get more products from abroad and there would be reduction in prices but it is beneficial only to the middle class and upper class. Not to the producer i.e. the farmer.

There are insinuations that the government acted because there were criticisms in the western media. It may or may not be true. For the western world, FDI or FII in developing countries decides whether the country is moving in the right direction or not. Should we not think ourselves about our people? I may sound as protectionist and anti-globalisation but it isn’t the case.

Yes, our fiscal deficit is increasing with diesel subsidy. Why can we not increase taxes for companies say, for example, over USD 10 billion. If a company makes USD 100 million in profits taking USD 10 million as taxes doesn’t change much in its coffers except for the promoters stake.  We have a leading airline about to go bankrupt although its promoters own a multi-million dollar racing team, million dollar cricket team, owns yachts and flies only corporate jets. They hold the country to ransom since there is systemic risk of losing jobs, PSU banks losing money indirectly affecting the investors.

Politics is affecting the economy adversely. Awaiting the time when we would start thinking in a balanced way and move over materialism. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Let the money printing press run overtime

Post-2008, 'stimulus' to the economy has been the most widely used word - by economists, analysts, bankers, businessmen and news readers. An unprecedented and coordinated action by central banks the world over saved the financial markets from brink of collapse and put the world economy back on a dilapidated growth track.

Quantitative easing was leading the stimulus package with fiscal inputs complementing it. Things became much better in 2009-10-11. Now there is again talk of quantitative easing number 3 in the US. In the Euro zone, developed nations are being saved from sovereign defaults. The survival of some nations in the Euro zone is in doubt. China has poured billions of dollars in its economy to stimulate its domestic consumption. Back home in India, there are calls to reduce interest rates. And a call to remove CRR to increase money flow. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme acts as the fiscal action following the Keynesian principle of government intervention.

The point of note here is that everyone wants money flow or rather volumes of money at their disposal to grow. An improvement in fundamentals is not asked for but an artificial resuscitation is looked as the solution. Short- term solution without its long-term implications. I don't remember it but someone did say that this is like a drug. There is no looking back from this vicious cycle.

Does it not convey the current psychological state of man where immediate material pursuits are sought at the expense of wellbeing. Everyone is under pressure to perform. Stock markets panic on a day where it opens in red. There is a thread-bare analysis of anything and everything even though it might not yield any concrete understanding.

Everything is like fast-food. Instant gratification is sought continuously.

The rich are getting richer. Middle class fights to be in this class. And the poor get poorer inspite of doing all the fieldwork. What is the world going towards? A downward spiral from where the only way is down because it is all artificial. Natural growth is nowhere close. No one wants to go up the hard way. Inflation is going to be a perennial affair and how much every banker says that it will be controlled, it isn't happening due to this huge paper money flow.

I shudder to think what would be the state of economy a decade from now. Artificial stimulation would be the new normal. And the printing press will continue to work overtime!