The New Year will, as always, bring with it a change. For marketers too it will be a year of looking at business, at consumers, at strategies, at investments, even at job profiles in a different manner.

IBM is in the business of computers. Well, so you thought, for it does much more now. This year, it is also in the business of selling what is known as ‘trend detection’ to marketers. The hottest trend in fashion, music, etc this year is predicted to be ‘the Steampunk movement’. Who predicted it? Yes, IBM! It developed a model using proprietary software that studied various conversations happening in various networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc for years and also in the numerous blogs, and discovered that “Steampunk” was being mentioned more and more frequently and hence predicted that this was a trend to stay. It has been proved right as the popularity of this trend is increasing. Even the fashion label Prada launched its new fashion line with ‘Steampunk’ as the theme. What started as a literary subgenera in the 1980s is today a hot selling fashion trend. Now, IBM is offering its services to brands where it can help them predict and identify new trends with the help of its new software and be better prepared for the future. It is no more the traditional computer manufacturer.

Think about it, the job of a singer is to sing well; and if he is popular, he gets to endorse brands. Not anymore! Will.i.am, the lead singer of the band The Black Eyed Peas, just proved it wrong. Unlike other rock stars, his brand endorsements are different. When Coke wanted to sign him up as their brand ambassador, he convinced them instead to start a new division ‘Ekocycle’ (look carefully it’s actually Coke spelt backwards) and endorse that. He had deeply studied the company profile and found that this was an idea which would benefit both him and Coke, something no brand ambassador is expected to do. Rather, it’s the reverse as brands study the profile of the star to see if he fits well with the brand! This new division would promote ‘recycling’, with each product being labelled, stating clearly how many bottles were recycled while manufacturing the product. For example, a pair of headphones uses three bottles. The idea was a huge success, and today Coke and Will.i.am divide the profits equally from this division. Not just this, Coke probably for a very long time, will not change its brand ambassador either and many companies would be lining up at Will’s door to sign him up. Will has proved that it pays to not just be the traditional brand endorser, but to go a step beyond. Soon gone would be the days of many things traditional, one of them being shopping!

Definitions are changing, lines are blurring in the New Year. Let’s see how things will change even more everywhere.


Mobiles are blurring the differences between traditional industrial boundaries. A few years ago, Amazon was known as an eretailer while eBay was an online auction site, and Apple made personal computers. Today eBay, Apple, Amazon, and many more are all e-retailers and all are investing in ‘mobile technology ‘ very heavily as for each of them, the future business depends on this. Just focusing on the traditional channels of distribution, promotion will not work anymore. You need to integrate as many channels as possible and blur boundaries.

Home Depot, a brick and mortar outlet, sells home improvement goods, but now it also invests heavily in virtual technology to help increase sales. It now offers a ‘mobile wallet’ so that the customer can pay via PayPal at the cash counter. This has increased its turnover and customer satisfaction. eBay invested $5 billion in mobile technology. The God of all integrations and innovations – Apple – now allows customers to walk into their retail store, scan the bar code with their phone cameras, pay through iTunes and walk out. It’s the best omni-channel retailer in business today. If you want to succeed in the future, you too need to focus towards becoming an ‘omnichannel retailer’, or multi-channel retailer.

Godiva today does not just concentrate on making the best chocolates in the world but spends considerable time studying its consumers’ online history too and customize its campaigns almost immediately on the basis of customer reactions. For example in one case, they tested three different price points for free shipping qualifications. A, B and C, with ‘A’ as the highest price and ‘C’ as the lowest price. Everyone knew that the offer with the lowest price (i.e. offer ‘C’) would be the most attractive to consumers to avail of the ‘free shipping’ facility. Surprisingly, data analysis proved that ‘B’ was the most popular deal with consumers and made the company change its strategy immediately. Similarly, according to its VP Mahender Nathan, when they put more photographs of the same product showing alternate views, sales increased. An invitation to enter their e-mail address and get special offers was a move the company thought would turn potential consumers away, but to its surprise it increased the e-mail capture by 1,076% – that’s huge! Godiva now invests heavily in technology to help understand consumers better and serve them across various channels, be they real or virtual. A good web display is as important as a good instore shelf display.   Read More....

An Initiative of IIPMMalay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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