f o r    m a n a g i n g    t o m o r r o w
MARCH 25, 2007
 Cover Story
 BT Special
 Back of the Book

Mobile Security
Today, it is all about information and how the right information is sent to the right people at the right time and right place. Uncertainty about how to secure mobile phones in the face of increasing threats is slowing individual adoption of mobile applications. There are many facets of mobile security, including network intrusion, mobile viruses, spam and mobile phishing. Analysts expect big telecom companies to develop security solutions on various security platforms.

Rough Ride
These are competitive times for the Indian aviation industry. As salaries zoom, players are scrambling to find profits. Even the state-owned Indian is now seeking young airhostesses to take on the competition. It is planning to introduce a voluntary retirement scheme for airhostesses above 40 years. On an average, they draw a salary of Rs 5 lakh a year. The salaries of pilots, too, are soaring. According to industry estimates, the country needs over 3,000 pilots over the next five years.
More Net Specials

Business Today,  March 11, 2007

Retailer As Competitor
Don't ignore private labels, rather prepare to compete or ally with them, say two marketing profs.
Nirmalya Kumar & Jan-Benedict E.M. Steenkamp
Harvard Business
School Press

Pp: 247
Price: Rs 695
The last time around you went shopping for grocery to, say, Big Bazaar, what did you buy? A Tata or an Ashirwad (from ITC) salt packet or something that simply said Big Bazaar and was somewhat cheaper? If you bought the latter, then you may have started taking sides in an interesting battle that's unfolding in the Indian retail industry: Manufacturer brands versus retailer's store brands, also known as private labels in the marketer's lingo. In mature markets such as the US, private labels are already a big phenomenon. According to market research firm acnielsen, store brand sales between 1997 and 2005 were up 64 per cent, compared to manufacturer brand growth of 30 per cent. At last count, private labels accounted for 15 per cent of total retail sales in the US. But at giant retailers such as Wal-Mart, the figure is vastly higher at 40 per cent-that's about $126 billion in lost sales for marketers.

Despite the growing importance of private labels around the world, not enough time or money has been spent on understanding this phenomenon. One reason could be that private labels are usually shoestring brands: retailers don't spend any money on promoting or marketing them outside of their own stores. In contrast, manufacturers spend billions of dollars worldwide on researching and marketing their brands. Therefore, marketing experts have tended to focus on such brands. Even Kumar and Steenkamp's work, although significant for focussing academic attention on private labels, explores the phenomenon from the manufacturer's perspective-How to Meet the Store Brand Challenge, is the strap beneath the book's title.

Nevertheless, the book should generate a lot of interest. For one, private labels-at least in the US-are no longer what they once used to be, and which is cheap and generic substitutes to branded products. Increasingly, retailers are coming up with premium store brands that don't just match manufacturer brands in terms of quality and price, but sometimes exceed them. That's not yet happening in India, but given the boom in organised retail, manufacturers may find themselves faced with such competition very soon. Reliance Retail, for instance, has plans of launching store brands in just about every product category.

Therefore, Indian retailers and manufacturers who are keen to learn from the experiences of their counterparts in developed markets, will find plenty to take away from Kumar and Steenkamp's work. For the manufacturers, the authors have this advice to give: "...the private label threat can be addressed head-on by pursuing seven strategic thrusts: change the mindset, partner effectively, innovate brilliantly, fight selectively, price competitively, improve quality constantly, and market creatively". And for the retailers, there's a word of advice, too. "...Overemphasis on private labels may actually decrease retailer profitability". Read the book to find out why.

By Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery and Mark Thompson
Wharton School Publishing
Pp: 278
Price: Rs 350

The English dictionary defines 'success' as the achievement of something planned or attempted, or the attainment of wealth or power. But as we know, everyone defines success differently. Someone may want to look at the million dollars in his bank account and consider himself successful, while a penniless activist may look at the way she's been able to change people's lives, and think that she is successful. Who should you consider as more successful? Not an easy question to answer, but Porass, et al offer a new way of approaching the question. In Success Built to Last, they have put together a new definition that is based on interviews with more than 200 exceptional people around the world. "Success in the long run has less to do with finding the best idea, organisational structure, or business model for an enterprise, than with discovering what matters to us as individuals," they say. When people realise this, they go on to become, what the authors call, builders-people "trying to make a difference doing something that they believe deserves to be done with or without them, and they recruit the team...needed to get it done". It's unlikely that the book will turn you into a builder. But it will certainly make you think along those lines.