Top 17 Social Media & Digital Marketing Trends in 2016

Digital trends are increasingly becoming important to understand and thrive in the era of digital marketing and social media which will drive e-commerce and mobile commerce through web 3.0 technologies.

2016 has been an eventful year for social media and online marketing. With the pace of technological developments becoming faster paced, these trends aren’t likely to die down soon. And the marketers who have adopted them are already gaining an edge over competitors. Continue reading “Top 17 Social Media & Digital Marketing Trends in 2016”

Key Tips You Should Be Knowing About Successful Acquisition

If you are thinking every feature and the process remains the same when it comes to an acquisition, then you are wrong. But, the principle remains the same where two organizations/companies, having different owners, join hands to function together in order to achieve a common goal. There is no doubt that with an abundance of deal structures and the whole process of valuation, of a target company, being arduous, acquiring a business is more of an art as compared to science. Continue reading “Key Tips You Should Be Knowing About Successful Acquisition”

Reasons Your Employees Shouldn’t Fear Making Mistakes

All humans are trying to run away from the failures. At first, kids try to hide an “F” received at school, then we feel ashamed because of a bad test score, and, when a person grows up, he continues avoiding mistakes and failures at work. No one wants to be associated with failure. But who said that failures and mistakes are not able to lead us to success?! A student who lacks the time and therefore cannot complete the assigned dissertation may just give up on this idea without even trying doing something and as a result will not graduate. On the other hand, if a student devotes some time to come up with a solution to this problem, and, for example, asks for help at some custom essay writing service, it gives him or her chance to succeed. It means that fear and inactivity can harm more than taking a risk. Continue reading “Reasons Your Employees Shouldn’t Fear Making Mistakes”

Ultimate Guide on Online Tools for Market Research That Will Work for Your Business

Being successful isn’t easy. It always involves working hard, being smart, and having a bit of luck. Whatever business you run, researching the market where youoperate as well as the whole industry is vital for its success. There are initially two types of research: Continue reading “Ultimate Guide on Online Tools for Market Research That Will Work for Your Business”

Dedicated Server vs VPS vs Cloud – the differences.

Going to host your website? Let’s know the differences among dedicated server, VPS and cloud server to find out which option is best for your business.

Nowadays, people are communicating and getting services over the internet in a highly efficient manner. This was totally unimaginable till a few years back! The image below shows the number of internet users across the globe, and their number has been increasing exponentially per year since 1993: Continue reading “Dedicated Server vs VPS vs Cloud – the differences.”

20 Things You Need to Know and Consider Before Buying Life Insurance

It goes without saying that investing in life insurance is a big deal. Life insurance is defined as a bipartite contract between an insurance policy holder (an individual) and an insurer (an organization), where the insurer promises to pay a pre established beneficiary (often close family members like wife, children, husband, or parents) a pre decided sum of money (the benefit) in exchange for a periodically paid premium, upon the death of the insured policy holder. The policy holder typically pays a periodic premium (say monthly or yearly) or a one time lump some payment towards the insurance policy. Since it is a considerable investment, at the end of the day, no one wants to purchase the wrong insurance or pay for a plan that’s far beyond their needs.

Keeping that in mind, here are 20 tips to help you get the best insurance for your needs. Continue reading “20 Things You Need to Know and Consider Before Buying Life Insurance”

5 Things You Need to Know When Hiring an Outsourcing Business

Every business, just like every single thing in nature, is constantly striving towards one thing – growth. Stagnation is not an option – with  fierce competition in almost all areas of business, standing in one place means that you’re actually going backwards and that’s not something you should allow.

Without question, outsourcing has changed the way business is done. The reason behind it is simple – outsourcing is a simple solution to many problems businesses are faced with on a daily basis. For a single project to be completed, it needs to go through several phases, each equally important, if we want the results to be satisfactory. However, it often happens that there’s not a big enough workforce or not enough time to be dedicated to individual phases and that’s exactly why we turn to a brilliant shortcut called outsourcing, because it enables constant expansion. Continue reading “5 Things You Need to Know When Hiring an Outsourcing Business”

Addressing big data challenges in smart cities

Big data is changing the way, technology is being leveraged to conduct business as usual activities is a more efficient manner. The emergence of Internet of Things, allows greater flexibility and governance, in urban development and its subsequent management. This has led to the emergence of the concept of smart cities, which is believed to revolutionalize urban settlements across developing, emerging and developed economies. Continue reading “Addressing big data challenges in smart cities”

A Very Happy New Year 2016

As the years pass by, we need a moment to recollect what we did in this year. Let us connect and recollect where we interacted. What did this mean for Business Fundas, another year in its glorious history. We had a case study published in Harvard. We had grown our followers across digital media by 2.13% to a whopping 1.48 Lakhs subscribers.

Continue reading “A Very Happy New Year 2016”

Benefits of Social Media Marketing

In an independent survey conducted by Business Fundas, where we sent a questionnaire to our 20,000+ strong twitter followers consisting mainly of social media marketers, we tried to find the perceived benefits of social media marketing. The responses of the questionnaire were analyzed for understanding the perceived benefits of social media marketing and the responses of the same are demonstrated in the diagram below.

The survey was administered through not only our twitter followers but also to numerous followers and subscribers of our mailing list and finally 534 responses were collected on our questionnaire, all of who are marketing experts on social media websites and have their own online marketing venture.

The responses clearly portray the perceived benefits of social media marketing campaigns by the marketers.

From our personal analysis, it appears that today, social media marketing can become even more fruitful to reach out markets for small businesses targeting social consumers and probably investments on marketing through social networks like Facebook are more likely to generate better results. Also targeted advertisements in search engine (since that is where most consumers first turn to for information query) are also more likely to impact sales conversion figures.

However, bigger firms are more likely to benefit from greater brand awareness, greater brand recall and greater brand association from investments in social media marketing. So purely from a Branding Exercise,  social media marketing makes sense to larger consumer focused service providers or product marketers.

By the way, did you read our article on how to attain success in Social Media Viral Marketing?

Business Fundas features in Ivey Case Center

To all our readers, I feel happy to let you know that the case study titled “Growing the Online  Portal of Business Fundas” has been accepted by Ivey. This was a case study on web analytics and web 2.0. Business Fundas is a blog, which was initiated in 2008, and has now over 65,000 subscribers, and gets a lot of traffic (more than companies like tata steel, nomura, etc). This case (like other Ivey cases) will also be available from Harvard Business Publishing. We would like to thank the followers and readers of Business Fundas for all your support throughout these years. Continue reading “Business Fundas features in Ivey Case Center”

Literature Review of Supplier Selection Criteria

Title: Literature Review of Supplier Selection Criteria

  • Author: Arpan Kumar Kar
  • Affiliation: Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
  • Email id:

Abstract: Supplier selection literature in procurement management has witnessed a plethora of evaluation criteria, for selecting suppliers. This study prepares a list of all the generic supplier selection criteria, which is prevalent in the existing purchasing literature. The objective of this study is to facilitate an understanding of the different supplier evaluation criteria, which is present in the existing literature, so that future methodological studies in the domain are facilitated by the usage of the appropriate evaluation criteria. Continue reading “Literature Review of Supplier Selection Criteria”

SocialCRM tools selection using Delphi method

Title : SocialCRM tools selection using Delphi method


Gaurav Khatwani

Email ID:

Indian Institute of Management, Rohtak

 Abstract: Various organizations have started adopting SocialCRM tools for their customer relationship management activities. This gives an opportunity to develop technique that can assist organizations in selecting SocialCRM tools based on experts’ decision within organization. While techniques have not been described in details, the focus has been on exploring how business can execute the process of selecting SocialCRM tools based on Delphi study.

This paper must be cited as follows: Khatwani, G. (2014). SocialCRM tools selection using Delphi method. Business Frontiers, 7(1), 1-5.

Keywords: SocialCRM, Delphi, Selection, Prioritization, Ranking

Download the complete article here.

Deciding Advertising Rates in Online Media – A Practical Guide

Title: Deciding Advertising Rates in Online Media – A Practical Guide

Arpan Kumar Kar
Assistant Professor: Indian Institute of Management Rohtak
Abstract: Deciding the advertising rates for online media can often be very challenging. Most  bloggers and webmasters fall into a dilemma while deciding the advertising rates for websites and blogs. This essentially is a multi-criteria decision making problem and needs a systematic approach  for deciding the rates. This study identifies 8 criteria which may be used for deciding the pricing strategy for any publisher. Further this article provides a systematic approach to decide the best valuation of advertising rates for a web based publishing platform, be it a blog or website

This paper can be cited as follows: Kar, A.K. (2012). Deciding Advertising Rates in Online Media – A Practical Guide, Business Frontiers, 6(1), 1-10.

Keywords: Social Media, Web 2.0, Online Advertisements, Pricing, Rates,

Download the complete paper here:

Demystifying empowered leadership: A CEOs Experiment in developing high performance workplace culture

Title: Demystifying empowered leadership: A CEOs Experiment in developing high performance  workplace culture

 M M Bagali, Professor, Strategic HRM, and Coordinator, research in Management, Jain University CMS Business School campus, Bangalore – 560078, India. Email:

Abstract: During turbulent days, organizations are increasingly seen to innovate ways to manage business. One of these innovations is in the area of developing and managing human resources. Experience has shown that developing human resources often results in achieving a sustained organizational growth. Various strategies are being adopted by business organizations in this regard. One also sees a paradigm shift from an approach understood as ‘welfare approach’ to that of an approach commonly known as the ‘empowerment approach’. This approach of employee empowerment has seen interesting outcomes and hence has been accepted almost all across the world. This paper is an empirical study of Indian industry 1. It highlights some unique strategies adopted for managing human resources in this industry. The efforts have paid large dividends to the company. The workforce is committed as well as efficient. The business organization has succeeded and has been able to achieve global standards. This paper makes an attempt to advocate the cause of employee empowerment and calls upon practitioners to shift their practices from that of welfare orientation to empowerment. The paper also makes an attempt to demystify the concept of employee empowerment.

Key Words: Empowerment; Ownership culture; Leadership; Global Organization

This paper must be cited as: Bagali, M.M., (2013). Demystifying empowered leadership: A CEOs experiment in developing high performance workplace culture, Business Frontiers, 5(1), 1-19.

Download the full paper here.

Strengthening Rural Management Education in India

Title: Strengthening Rural Management Education in India

Ansu Abraham, Assistant Professor, Xavier Institute of Management, Jabalpur – 482 021, India

Abstract: Rural India is drawing more attention than ever before. To develop rural India, we need rural managers. Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) recognized this need way back in 1979 and started a course in Rural Management. However, at a later stage, realizing the need to meet the growing managerial needs of ‘all types’ of organizations connected with rural economy, management institutions groomed their students to serve them too.This paper reflects certain concerns associated with the present Rural Management Education system, and proposes some changes for its strengthening. The first concern is related to the course curriculum. There is leakage of students from development sector to allied sectors. After completion of RM, most of the students join allied sectors or even mainstream business. Here, the concern is about the quality of workforce joining these sectors. Another concern related to curriculum is the limited rural exposures offered to the RM students. In earlier times, most of the RM Schools offered two rural exposures. But in due course, this tradition has disappeared. This has affected the quality of education. Similarly, the lack of rural exposure to allied specializations such as Agribusiness, Rural Marketing, Rural Finance also a matter of concern. The second concern is related to the visibility of RM Schools during admissions. At present, the enrollment to RM is also based on CAT, MAT etc. A separate All India level entrance test specifically for RM is the need of hour. Also,the premier institutions are not in the top 20 list of B School rankings, because of the ranking methodology which is tailored for the mainstream business schools. The third concern is related to the leakage of Rural Managers to other business sectors. “Alumni in corporate’ is becoming the thrust for some institutions. ButRural Managers need to serve the Rural Sector. Hence there is need to attract and retain young talents. Several changes need to be brought to the present RM education system to make it attractive and strong. All the proposals which are shared in this paper can be made possible with the support of subject experts, management, faculty and the students. Their combined effort will strengthen the system.But someone has to take the initiative; set an example; and lead.

 Key Words: Rural Management, Rural Managers, Conventional B Schools

This paper must be cited as follows: Abraham, A., (2013). Strengthening Rural Management Education in India. Business Frontiers, 4(1), 1-8.

Download the full paper here.

Entrepreneurial Resourcefulness -Is it a Function of Gender?

Title: Entrepreneurial Resourcefulness -Is it a Function of Gender?

Dr. Purna Prabhakar Nandamuri

Assistant Professor, Department of Marketing & Strategy, IBS, IFHE University, Hyderabad, INDIA.

E mail ID: .

ABSTRACT: Fostering positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship is high on the policy agenda of several economies. It is the obligation of the prevailing education system to charge the graduating youth with entrepreneurial orientation. It is appropriate to spot out the influence of the fundamental factors such as age, gender, education, and family income and background   on entrepreneurial orientation. Previous research profoundly concludes that gender plays a major role in entrepreneurial activity and women have less motivation for entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial behaviour is a function of entrepreneurial resourcefulness. However, the nature of dependence of this trait on the other independent characteristics has not been made explicit or empirically testable to date. The purpose of this study is to determine the impact of the independent variable – gender, on the dependent trait – entrepreneurial resourcefulness, of management students. A sample of 200 final year post-graduate management students are selected randomly from leading management institutes in Warangal region which pass-out around 2000 management graduates every year who face a bleak opportunity for entrepreneurship and look for employment. The responses were tested with ANOVA and t-test with the help of SPSS-19. The findings establish that gender had a profound impact on entrepreneurial resourcefulness. The male group establishes a comparatively stronger preference for resourcefulness than their counterparts. As the generic limitations of time and money confine the generalizability of the findings, further research of a larger sample with wider geo-cultural background may help to establish the findings.

KEYWORDS: Entrepreneurial orientation, entrepreneurial resourcefulness, Demographic factors, Gender, Management students. Post-Hoc Analysis.

 This paper can be cited as follows: Nandamuri, P.P. (2013). Entrepreneurial Resourcefulness – Is it a Function of Gender?, Business Frontiers, 3(1), 1-13.

Download the full paper here.

Websites as small but a significant market space in India: A forecast

Title: Websites as small but a significant market space in India: A forecast

P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan                                                           Arpan Kumar Kar            

(                                             (   

Indian Institute of Management Rohtak                              Indian Institute of Management Rohtak

Abstract: Due to a sudden change in the regulatory guidelines in India, a surge in the web-space requirements is anticipated among companies based on paid-up capital size. The objective of this guideline is to enhance the transparency in the corporate governance and signal the growth potential of the firms to the investors from India and abroad. This article explores the potential market size of website creation and maintenance for the 6.5 lakh companies, for whom this regulatory guideline may impact more.

 This paper can be cited as follows: Ilavarasan,P.V., Kar, A.K. (2012). Websites as small but a significant market space in India: A forecast, Business Frontiers, 2(1), 1-6.

Download the full article here.

Cryptography in the Banking Industry

Business Frontiers, Vol. 1, No. 1.

Title: Cryptography in the Banking Industry.

Publication date: Oct, 2012.

Authored by Arpan K Kar, Supriya K Dey



This paper can be cited as follows: Kar, A.K., Dey, S.K. (2012). Cryptography in the Banking Industry. Business Frontiers, 1(1), 1-7.

Abstract: The development of cryptographic techniques has seen a lot of applications in the banking industry. This whitepaper focuses on the review of the major cryptographic techniques which has been used extensively in the banking industry, for the implementation of data security norms and the fulfillment of compliance requirements. While techniques have not been described in details, the focus has been on exploring the business implications of these developments.

To download the whitepaper, please visit this link: Cryptography in the Banking Industry

Keywords: Cryptography, Banking, Security, Finance industry

Business Frontiers is a premium series of refereed open source white-papers on critical emergent issues and classic topics in business and management including but not limited to marketing management, technology management, e-business, finance, economics, human resources, organizational behavior and general management. Articles published as open source white-papers in Business Frontiers are copyrighted using a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Please visit the publication page for more details on Business Frontiers. For submission of original articles for publication, please read the Guide for Authors and the Call for Papers.

Supplier selection criteria and models

Purchasing is among the most important activities in supply chain management, since it is the primary point of contact with most supply-chain partners. A major area in purchasing management is that of Supplier Selection Problem (sometimes called the Vendor Selection Problem). Research in this domain started in the early 1960s and over 175 studies have attempted to address this highly critical issue of procurement management. “Vendor selection criteria and methods” have reportedly been the highest area of interest in operations management research.

A wide variety of selection criteria have been used in different studies for the evaluation of suppliers which have varied due to the differences in requirements in different industries and also often had been purely firm specific. Typically the variety of supplier selection criteria that has been used has exceeded 50 criteria in over 65 research papers working on finding new criteria for evaluation of suppliers. These criteria have been enlisted in the matrix shown below.

Some of the most popular criteria in supplier selection which has been used in over 10 research papers and have also been widely cited are relative price, compliance with the delivery schedule, quality of the delivered goods to specifications, production capabilities of the supplier, geographic distance (of the warehouse), technical capability of the supplier, management capability of the supplier  and financial position of the supplier. All these supplier evaluation criteria have found massive application in the studies in this domain and are marked by subtle differences in terms of relative importance, as perceived by senior procurement practitioners.

Similarly another area of keen interest is the models which has been used to provide decision support to the supplier selection problem. Over 35 different mathematical models have been used for providing decision support to this extremely critical issue of procurement management. A study by Ho, Xu and Dey (2010) reveals that the Analytic Hierarchy Process, Mathematical Programming and Data Envelopment Analysis are the top 3 modeling paradigms used to provide decision support in supplier selection problems. Many other novel techniques like multi-attribute-deterministic models; mixed mathematical programming, outranking techniques; weighted sum of products; interpretive structural modeling; fuzzy set theory, neural networks; intelligent agent based techniques; TOPSIS, fuzzy multi-attribute frameworks; rule based reasoning models and multi-objective programming models have also been used. Typically the evolution of supplier selection models have been as described pictorially below, due to the evolution of the nature of selection criteria, from quantitative to a mix of quantitative and qualitative criteria.

As the trend highlights, there is a paradigm shift in the nature of the mathematical models used for supplier selection with a change in the requirements in the nature of business, mostly in the manufacturing industries and the maturity of the discipline. No wonder the area has attracted so much of attention to the consulting practitioners and theory developers in academia alike.

Do mail me if you have any queries regarding this post.

The content in this article is an original piece of research made to further the purpose of education only. You may NOT copy, distribute and transmit the work for any purpose without the express written permission of the author. Neither you may alter, transform, or build upon this work without express written permission from the author (

What is Quality Research and a Good Research Paper

Often a question that plagues many a beginner research student is the major question: What is good research or How to write a good research paper. Often, this becomes a major headache for students striving to complete a dissertation for their masters programme or even their doctoral programme. So what are the dimensions of a high quality research or a high quality research paper that one needs to keep in mind while writing the same?

Typically, as I would go about it, a good research should follow a simple methodology which should transcend to a publishable good research paper. So here are the few basic steps which one should follow while writing a good research paper.

  1. First challenge is choosing the topic of the research. How does one identify what topic is actually a good topic of interest? A major point to ponder would be is the problem statement significant enough? How relevant is the context in the current scenario? If there is substantial past literature which has been already published, then it is likely that it is a good research topic, broadly. I would advise students who are yet to establish themselves in the academia to refrain from choosing topics which may be interesting, but would have very less literature to support the building blocks of the same.  Choose a title for your work, which brings out its essence within 5 to 12 (maximum 15) words.
  2. Research studies typically have 3 important dimensions: Applicability (relevance of the study to the outer world), Rigor of methodology (to allow replicability of the study and the findings and thus the falsifiability of the theory), and the generalizability of the findings/results/theory generated through the study. However, many senior researcher feel that it is difficult to address more than 2 of these dimensions stringently while conducting a research, without compromising the 3rd dimension.
  3. Next start with a thorough literature review in the area in which you are planning to do a study. Typically remember, most quality research papers would have more than 30-50 citations and these researchers would have gone through 3 times the number of cited literature while developing the study. Not only a detailed literature review clarifies what could be the possible contribution in the paper, but also will help you to get a very strong idea on what could be the possible ways to go about the research methodology for such a problem. While conducting a literature review, it is of paramount importance to validate the degree of authenticity of the sources based on which you would build your work.
  4. After a thorough review of literature is conducted, it is time to define the contribution of your study. Always remember, the best research works are often those which strive to make a small yet significantly clear contribution. Attempting a huge amount of contribution often affects the quality of the work.
  5. Next is the step of designing a research methodology.  Every research would be having an ideal methodology based on the focus of the study, the limitations of doing research in the problem domain and replicability of the methodology across other studies with a similar focus. typically research is often evaluated based on the methodological rigor with which the contributions are evaluated and subsequently highlighted.  However, due to practical reasons, one needs to remember that limitations of available resources like access to data, technology, connections and other factors often limit the scope of following a “tailor made research methodology” and this often is an inherent issue of the problem under investigation. Not all studies can follow the ideal path due to lack of resources available to travel on the same. However, research methodology is of paramount importance and care should be taken to ensure that the best possible methodology is undertaken while planning out the research design.
  6. Then comes the major question of going about with the planned methodology. In various studies, this phase would be different. Sometimes methodologies need to be modified from the one that was planned, in due course of progress in the study. In social sciences (business management, other social sciences) this would essentially be the data collection phase, while in the domain of technology, this may entail the development of algorithms/hardware to meet the objectives to extend existing theories. This is followed by the stage where the analysis is done (on the data collected, or through the new proposed algorithms or using new technology) and the results need to be rechecked with existing literature for their validity on how they concur yet extend the same. Every details in these steps should be noted so as to allow the replicability of the study by another research following your methodology on a similar problem.
  7. Finally the last question is how to go about writing a great dissertation paper. Ideally the paper should have few mandatory sections like a brief introduction to the topic highlighting its significance and what you contributed, and the boundaries of your study. Next important section is the detailed review of existing literature in the topic so as to be able to bring out the existing gaps in the same. Next important section is writing in details about the contribution of your research and compare the same with the existing literature, and highlighting what existing theories it takes forward or contradicts. Then comes the theory section where you should describe in details what is your main proposition (including the model) in the paper, by building on the blocks taken from existing literature. Then you should give a detailed explanation of your research methodology through which you attempted to provide empirical validation to your propositions in your study. Then you should discuss the results of the research after it is conducted. Finally in the conclusion section, you should discuss the significance of your propositions/findings and highlight how it concurs with existing body of knowledge and yet takes it further, or disagree with the existing body of knowledge, suggesting reasons for the the same. Some research papers would also like to end with few notes on the limitations of the study and future research directions for someone to extend your work.

Hope this helps all the students who are writing their dissertation paper. Do get back to me if you feel any important dimension which has been missed here, can be added back. Also, if you have any clarification, feel free to shoot them to me.

Top Social Media Marketing Channels

In an independent survey conducted by Business Fundas, the top channels as perceived by social media marketers were identified and ranked. For this study, the over 20,000+ twitter followers (and also other social media marketers on twitter) were presented with a questionnaire for understanding the perceived importance of the various media for these marketing experts with a conversion of 1034 respondents for the study. Based on the results, the following results were obtained:

The top social media marketing channel based on our survey results was search engine. It performed extremely well as a channel to improve brand or service or product awareness, as well as a channel to improve conversion rates from potential leads to actual customer engagement.

The results for the best channel for creation of awareness for the service or products are as displayed in the graph below:

As these results indicate, some of the more popular and initially perceived important social media channels like Twitter, Digg, Reditt, Stumbleupon received lesser votes in confidence when it came to actual performance in terms of a channel to increase service or product or brand awareness.

Similarly, the top social media resources to convert potential customers to buyers are as follows:

As is evident from the results of the graph, the top resource, as perceived by the social media marketers in both cases are search engines. This was closely followed by Facebook and Youtube. However, some of the more popular and initially perceived important social media channels like Twitter, Digg, Reditt, Stumbleupon received lesser votes in confidence when it came to actual performance. Maybe since these are perceived as more of a media for capturing interesting sources of stories and / or multimedia, they are losing their importance as channels of social media marketing.

Do let us know what are your feedback about the social media marketing channels. How do YOU draw traffic to your blog? Is that a sustainable source of traffic or does that depend on daily marketing efforts and link exchanges amongst colleagues to promote your content? Do let us know.

Marketing Mix – The 4 P’s of Social Marketing

Social marketing was “born” as a discipline in the 1970s, with the increasing need to “sell” ideas, attitudes and behaviors, a paradigmatic shift from the need to market products only. Kotler and Andreasen define social marketing as “differing from other areas of marketing only with respect to the objectives of the marketer and his or her organization. The focus is on creating and sustaining demand for the product and service by market modification or even creation.

Social marketing seeks to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society, so as to create and/or modify the entire target market structure partially or entirely.  This technique has been used extensively in international health or social awareness programs, especially for contraceptives, oral rehydration therapy (ORT) and AIDS. Today it is being used with more frequency for raising awareness in diverse topics as drug abuse, socio-psychological disorders, potentially life threatening sexually transmitted diseases and organ donation.

The 4 Ps of Marketing or better known as the Marketing Mix are as follows:

The social marketing “product” is not necessarily a physical offering. The products can range from intangible to actual physical products, so services (nursing, human rights violation), practices (AIDS awareness or breastfeeding) and finally, more intangible ideas (e.g., environmental protection). Since to have a viable “product”, the target segment must first perceive a genuine problem or a need, and that the product or service being marketed is a good solution for that problem. The role of research here is to discover the consumers’ perceptions of the problem and the product, and to determine which are the more important perceved factors regarding the same.

“Price” refers to what the consumer must do or pay (in terms of financial, physical effort time or any other resource) in order to obtain the social marketing product or service. This cost may be financial (Dollars/Pounds), or it may instead require the consumer to give up intangible sources of value, such as time, effort, or to risk embarrassment and social ostracism. Just like product marketing, if the costs outweigh the benefits for an individual, the perceived value of the offering will be low and it will be unlikely to be adopted, but if the benefits are perceived as greater than their costs, chances of trial and adoption of the product is much greater.

“Place” describes the methodology the product or service reaches the target segment. Think about where and when the audience will perform the behavior or access the new or adapted product/service. How can you make it convenient and pleasant so as to increase chances of adoption? Also think about training your sales team – the people that will take your program to the audience. By training the team on the details of the activities and habits of the target segment, as well as their experience and dissatisfaction with the existing delivery system, better adoption may be achieved.

Use of extensive market research is necessary to determine the communication channels that will best reach your audience for easy adoption of the products or services. It becomes crucial to understand which advertising or public relations media would play a greater role (e.g., radio, newspaper, postcard racks) since that WILL VARY depending on the product/service and also on the target segment.

Few other marketing mix  ( The 8 P’s of Marketing)

There are four other P’s which along with the previously mentioned 4 P’s are often necessary considerations while marketing of ideas and lifestyle.

Public: Marketers would have different audiences that their program has to address in order to accelerate adoption of the products and ideas. “Public” could be both the external and internal groups. External groups would include the target audience, policymakers, and gatekeepers, while the internal groups would comprise of the sale team trained for the implementation of the program.

Partnership: Lifestyle and Social issues are often so ingrained into the consumer that change becomes a real challenge. Teaming up with organizations in the community helps to be effective. Organizations with similar goals to your campaign, not necessarily the same goals, need to be identified and collaborated with. Co-creation of market even with a competitor is sometimes necessary.

Policy: Social marketing campaigns could do well in stimulating individual behavior change, but for sustainability, environmental change is necessary. Thus policy changes from the government is often important and so is pitching your product and/or service to the policy makers crucial for the sustainability of your campaign.

Purse: Most social marketing campaigns operate through funds provided by sources such as NGOs, foundations, governmental grants, private donations and CSR funds. This adds another dimension to the strategy development and sustainability of campaigns, namely, planning the funding process well in advance in different stages of the program.

These are the factors a marketer should keep in mind while marketing ideas or lifestyle changes.

By the way, did you read our article on the 7 P’s of Services Marketing?

Do let us know if you have any questions.

Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid – Marketing Strategies

Economically speaking, the “Bottom of the Pyramid” is the largest and also the poorest socio-economic class of people across economies. This consumer segment consists of 2.5 billion people who live on less than 2.50 dollar per day. The phrase “bottom of the pyramid” is used in particular by people developing new models of doing business that deliberately target that demographic, often using new technology. This segment of consumers have also been referred to as the “Base of the Pyramid” or more commonly the “BoP”.  This consumer segment has drawn the attention of the biggest marketing firms due to the sheer earning potentials from volumes of sales with low margins.

The consumers at the bottom of the pyramid have a very distinct buying behavior as opposed to the other consumers. While the rest of the consumer segment derive value from products through 3 sources, namely attribute based satisfaction, consequence based satisfaction and finally, goal based satisfaction,  it is our belief that the consumers at the BoP derive value / satisfaction mostly from the innermost ring or the first level/source of satisfaction. Because of their spending ability, this class of consumers tend to be very conscious about the core benefits obtained from the purchase of any product or services.The probability is high for success of products which fulfill the attributes of the lower bases of the consumer need model provided below.

While every the most profitable consumer segment in current economic times is the youth within the age gap of 20 – 30, commonly called the twentysumthing, the sheer volume of possible purchases in this consumer segment has become a focus for marketers. While every product offers benefits to its consumers not only from its core attributes, but also from its fringe attributes (benefits from outer levels), this class predominantly derives maximum satisfaction from the core attributes of products only. Product extensions and ego-based attributes have little impact on the consumption and buying behavior of this consumer segment, who would in fact, perceive the extra benefits as being something, they are having to shell out quite a bit extra, even if the marketing firm does not charge for them. While “extras” in the product marketing mix may consist of other value adding product extensions, care needs to be taken while deciding on the basket of goods for such consumers. Thus the probability is high for success of products which fulfill the attributes of the lower bases of the consumer need model provided below, namely which fulfill the physiological need and the security needs the most.

Pricing strategies also play a major role for the success of marketing strategies in such a consumer segment. While place and promotion offer very meager sources of value or utility, a low pricing of products is often a mantra for easy acceptance on a new product introduction. Price premiums are not easily tolerable in this highly sensitive value-sensitive consumer segment. Thus it has been seen that companies rage low-price war to capture the market of this segment, and many success stories which have been glorified are that of Nirma cake soap, Tata Namak, and other brands which churned billions of dollar by targeting this segment.

Pointers for Successful and Sustainable e-Business models

While there has been so many e-business ventures, very few actually even live to see the light of profit. A major reason for this is that business never think properly in depth before going online. There are so many aspects that the CEO needs to give time to think before going online, and not do it just because its the way others are going. Few such questions are as follows:

  • First and foremost, the top management needs to deliberate on the nature of the business and the industry. What are the core competencies of the business. Will that be enhanced by going online?
  • What about the navigational structure and the way the organization functions? Will the culture embrace such a change effectively? What are the chances of talent loss to competing firms due to the cultural changes and process changes?
  • How would the existing customers react to the change? Is there a customer retention plan in place? Will the move help to reach out to new potential customers?
  • Is the business geared with the proper technological architecture? Have the processes been remodeled to fulfill service demand?

Do keep in mind that the technological architecture has to be designed keeping the service planned, in mind. The architecture preferably needs to be custom fit with your business process. If you are doing the reverse, i.e. fitting your processes to the architecture, do try to weigh out the pros and cons of the switch of the business model to the new business model. Then the above questions become relevant even more to ensure that the company stays healthy and safe.

Top searches in the Internet in this year

For all those who follow Google trends, this would barely come as a surprise. From a research done by a group in the United States, it has been disclosed that the following articles have been the source for the hottest search globally in 2010 and is also expected to reign till mid 2011 to a large extent. The group analyzed the searches done in Google, Yahoo, Bing, ASK and AOL Search. These collectively account for 99% of the total search engine usage and are ranked as the top search engines in order, as per usage.

What was actually less anticipated was the lower rankings of the FIFA world cup, as compared to few other unexpected rank holders.

And finally, without any more ado, we present you the top 10 searched topics in the internet in 2010.

1. Haiti
2. Malema Julius
3. Earthquake
4. Bafana
5. Nelson Mandela
6. World Cup
7. Cape Town
8. Soccer
9. Zuma
10. Kaizer Chiefs


This Article is authored by Jake Mazan, who is a guest author at Business Fundas. He is a Senior Research Analyst cum Manager at NG-Online News.

Customer Knowledge Management

Coined in 2002 by García-Murillo and Annabi, customer knowledge management is the newest thing in the series of customer value management (See customer life time value management & customer network value management). Gathering,  managing,  and  sharing  customer  knowledge  can be a highly valuable  competitive  tool that  companies  and scholars have not yet considered to the extent possible it can be done. Today, the insights of the customers should be used right from the very beginning from the product development stage to the final stages of the product life cycle. García-Murillo and Annabi (2002) gives a pretty comprehensive framework of knowledge management, across the entire continuum, that a firm needs to practice throughout the  value chain to deliver value for the potential customers.


Having customer insights and managing the same through good processes and is important for getting  better and more timely design of new products and services; early warning of possible turbulence and competitive intelligence; customer commitment and loyalty; and deriving the maximum benefits from the synergy of collaboration. So how should one manage the insights customers may have effectively to draw the maximum value for the firm?

Today, a lot of informal knowledge lies in the knowledge portals available in the web.  There are so many blogs and online forums where there is a high level of potential customer engagement, through mutual exchanges of information and discussions. Knowledge management through the mining of such unstructured data is one of the surest way to capture the customer sentiments and knowledge. If the insights can be successfully incorporated into the processes while the firm is developing a product, it may be a sure gateway to success.

Today many companies are incorporating a higher degree of customer engagement activities in their relationship management strategies. It is being felt that active voice of a customer can have an effect beyond the customer’s lifetime value and the customer’s network value. The insights can be actually incorporated within the product finalization stage itself, so that the customer can be engaged and bound into a relationship, even before the product is formally launched into the market. Not only this tactic draws higher brand recognition, it paves the path for a higher relationship development of the firm with its customers. Gibbert et al. provides an excellent framework for managing the knowledge of customers through three focused strategies, namely, Prosumerism, Team based co-learning and mutual innovation.


  • Alvin Toffler (1980) first used the expression “prosumer” to denote that the customer could fill the dual roles of producer and consumer. The CKM process transforms the customer into a co-value creator, endowing them with new competencies and benefaction opportunities.  It liberates the customer from the platform of only past, accumulated knowledge by stimulating the knowledge within them for the co-production of value.
  • In team based co-learning, the inter-linkages with the customer base and their interactive joint learning with the customers require a higher level of engagement of the firm with the customers. Customer may be actively involved in the product refinement itself.
  • Mutual innovation is possible when the firm actually starts incentivising the potential customers for the mutual creation of value. This is often feasible only if custom made products are being manufactured, and less feasible for standardized products.

In all the three cases, it is evident that there is immense benefits that can be reaped if customer knowledge management can be done to co-create value with the customers. The insights of the customers can be of extreme significance to sustainably market a product throughout the product life cycle. Hopefully, in the future, a higher degree of customer engagement will be available while developing the product itself and throughout the PLC curve.

How to Curb Gray Markets

Gray markets are a perennial problem in some industries and even some of the biggest of companies are searching for a solution to this problem. While no fool-proof plan has been devised yet, below I have shared some ideas which may work in many cases, especially in the technology industry. Below I have mentioned some of the methods, followed by the expected results:
During the Product Launch/Market Skimming Stage:
•    Monetary targets and discounts to salespersons  and distributors rather than volume targets

  • Incentive to sell at volume discounts,  when product prices are at its peak, is low as it reduces profitability

•    Don’t price similar products vastly different in different markets without tangible or intangible benefits to the consumer for the price differential

  • Reduced price differential along with transportation and government duties make gray market activity much less attractive

During the Market saturation/Volume Trading Stage:
•    Maintain Sales records and note abnormal spikes and make distributor relations more transparent

  • Unauthorized gray market sales can be caught both by data and by affected distributors. Repeated malpractice by the same party can be detected

•    Ignore gray market activity if there are no complaints or in areas not covered by the distribution-network

  • Volumes are most important in this period of low margins. If a distributor’s network is strong he will out-perform the gray marketer, else company might think of replacing him

During the Servicing Stage:
•    Performance over the previous 2 periods determines the servicing opportunity of the authorized dealers. Company should maintain separate service centers for gray market sales, which should be more costly compared to the conventional channels

  • Products sold by unauthorized people have no chances of making it to the distributors, adds to the disincentive of selling to them. Company maintains its profit and brand name by still providing service to genuine products. However the higher costs involved makes the customer averse to products obtained from gray markets

Apart from the above steps Continuous Involvement in the following ways is also expected of the manufacturer:
•    Create awareness among consumers of difficulties with gray market products. Educate customers about brand-offerings. Like “Cheap is Bad” for high-end exclusive products. E.g. HCL

  • Awareness even in case of undifferentiated products will increase. Only successful branding can overcome price-sensitivity. Brand won’t be held responsible when customers suffer on buying gray market products

•    When reaching the masses is important, increase dealers and check on underperforming dealers. Allocate orders based on past-performance

  • More distributors mean lesser volume discounts for them and lesser untapped area for gray market to develop. Most competitive distributor can grow at the cost of less competent ones, reducing chances of underperformance

•    Continuous Monitoring of Distributor performance and transparent target setting and dialogue. Make distributors increase beats to stock the retailer before the gray marketer can

  • Sales data and distributor relationship are 2 efficient ways of controlling gray market influence. Gray marketer survives on thin margins, if his sales are badly affected once, he will think twice before repeating his ways

•    Monitor own salesperson performance strictly and take necessary steps in case of mal-practice to set an example

  • A company which itself resorts to malpractice has very little bargaining power over malpractising distributors

•    Survey Markets regularly, audit distributor accounts on suspicious gray activity. If action needs to be taken, take before it hurts

  • Without sufficient information no action can be taken, so the route to gray market needs to be tracked. The key against gray marketing is to strike early, strike fast and strike hard

•    Identify hidden reasons behind gray market success and analyze if something can be done by the company

  • Gray market activity can point at some weaknesses on the part of the manufacturer. They can also identify untapped markets and help in expansion and segmentation

How the internet affects Porter’s generic strategy models

In the emerging global economy, e-commerce and e-business have increasingly become a necessary component of business strategy and a strong catalyst for economic development. Michael Porter (1980) has argued that a firm’s strengths ultimately fall into one of two headings: cost advantage and differentiation. By applying these strengths in either a broad or narrow scope, three generic strategies result: cost leadership, differentiation, and focus. These strategies are applied at the business unit level. They are called generic strategies because they are not firm or industry dependent.

Research has indicated how Porter’s generic strategies would work in the light of ICT enablement of businesses. By applying cluster analysis, researchers were able to differentiate 5 strategy types, which would be significant in e-businesses.

  1. The first strategy, which they call the “Hybrid Strategy”, was pursued by firms which were engaged in diverse market domains with diverse products, take advantage of online specific differentiation factors, and at the same time, pursue cost advantage.
  2. The second strategy that firms focused on had a positive and distinctive value only on the cost leadership dimension.
  3. The third strategy type occupies a less than even mediocre position on every strategic dimension and these firms have only a poor focus on internet specific differentiation. This may reflect lack of clear strategic direction and resource commitment.
  4. The fourth strategy type resembles Porter’s differentiation strategy. This type scores high on market leadership and product proliferation dimensions, indicating an emphasis on staying sensitive to customer needs through diverse products with short life cycle.
  5. The last strategy type is high on both the focus and Internet-specific differentiation dimensions, while also ranking very low on the other dimensions.

These firms do not appear to be concerned with price competition or overall market leadership. Instead, they appear to aim at a small segment of online customers, emphasizing Internet-specific factors such as transaction security and payment convenience. This strategy type is labeled “Online Focus.”  Based on their study, they concluded that, among e-business firms, a hybrid, integrated strategy is a must, and that a traditional cost leadership strategy is unlikely to be associated with success. They also suggest that focused strategies – those that are either narrowly defined differentiation strategies or those that focus on Internet-specific characteristics such as security and convenience of transaction – may have a better chance of success than cost leadership strategies.

How e-markets affect the supply chain

E-markets have been established in many industries as a sourcing option for buyers. Research  has implied that the e-markets have substitutional effect on the traditional supply chain, yet in many situations, e-markets are used by buyers as a benchmarking tool in negotiations with traditional suppliers.  The late 1990s and early 2000s have seen the rise and fall of many e‑marketplaces. Despite being hyped for their ability to benefit firms through dynamic pricing as well as lower transaction costs, most e‑markets failed, never reaching their expected potential.

Many suppliers long-term relationships with buyers, were reluctant to participate in e‑markets fearing that their products may be standardised and they may have to compete on price. On the buyer’s side, e‑markets introduced new suppliers, which for buyers created a greater risk of acquiring defective or inferior goods but prices would become cheaper also. Moreover, the decision of buying into a business-to-business (B2B) e‑market is often made by the procurement department, the functionality of being threatened by the e‑market. The decreasing bargaining power of sellers and increasing power of buyers led to a shift in dynamics. Those products were identified which have a strategic value to the firm, were directly sourced from suppliers, and the new mantra is focus on non-contractable investments in such relationships. All standardised products are now preferably sourced through e-markets (indirect sourcing).

E-markets have also affected the buyer supplier relationships. The firms should focus on building long term relationships (partnerships) and mutual value creation through investments of non-contractable nature, to be made by both the partners. But these partnerships should be dependent mostly on items having high volume and for those with high criticality. The firms today should focus on vendor development programs also. The rest of the requirements should be indirectly sourced through e-markets.

Harnessing the power of e-markets is the mantra of the day. No firm can survive without it. The problem is joining without understanding the dynamics of e-markets, the firm may be exposed to a high risk.