Category Archives: Commerce

Market and Manipulation

As the humans evolve so do the markets. It’s amazing really how economics and psychology are so closely related. Earlier it was the demand and supply that ruled the prices…life was pretty simple and the complexities of the mind rarely entered. It was all about product and quality and the customer was given a choice to make the decision for him or herself. However this was not to last long. Innocence rarely does….its all about control and the avid need to make the other bend to our wishes that has driven mankind to the present day market scenario where the forces of demand and supply are no longer setting the price…. its all about projections, packaging and a range of illusions .

So what is this scenario…..is it beneficial for us…or have we just accepted it as just one more addition in our life. Just take it in your stride and get on with it policy. Surely we need to ask ourselves whether we buy what we want and see and need, or are we being manipulated into buying or may be convinced into buying a product despite ourselves. The vivid presentations, alluring pictures, the scintillating projections and the intense pandering to man’s weaknesses viz. his desires has led to whole branches of specializations in the field of commerce.
Open any kind of media and there you have it….one is literally blasted with the wide variety and the details are huge. The more the price the more will the options be available. There is a catering to every kind of mental makeup….. from the need based to the status conscious….from the simple to the flashy….from the strong to the delicate…for the man and the woman and child and your pet……and so the list goes on.

The end result of all this is that we buy not on the basis of what we decide we need but on what we are told we need. We are being bombarded steadily at all hours from different locations whether at home, at work or on the move, and all the time we are being told what we need. The result is that we finally start believing what we see and hear and thus lose control of ourselves and do what we are told or convinced of…..call it an indirect and very readily accepted brainwashing…..supported consciously and voluntarily without a moment’s thought.

Thus a need is being created , the mind is being manipulated to the extreme and the flow is so fast that we do not have time to think or not given the time to think as there are constant up-gradations and everyone wants to be on this bandwagon called ‘ being up-to-date with the latest’. Hence the credit cards, impulse buying, lack of quality consciousness and bargaining…..all resulting in spending one can ill afford …..Yet it continues…your mind has been stealthily taken over and you are not even aware of it!!

It’s time to pause…take a step back….check out the self-destructive path we are on…find out the extent of these external controls and understand the nature of these controls and ask how beneficial these are for our personal lives…..its time to take a breath and take control of one’s own life …take a deeper look at the various constituents that make up the market and give thought to whether it is really you that is making the decision or whether the market is deciding for you!!

RIGHT WORDS…..WRONG MOMENT

• Sales call from call center can be irritating and insensitive in the extreme….of course this may be a direct result of the monotonous repetition of phrases which are just mouthed automatically. Take the following case which I once experienced:
• CC: I am calling on behalf of XXX bank, would you be interested in taking a loan ?
• M: I am sorry ,would you call later I am in the middle of an emergency.
• CC: I will take up only ten minutes of your time.
• M: Excuse me but there has been a death in my house please excuse me!
• CC: Sorry Ma’am, thank you for giving us your invaluable time …have a nice    day.

• REALLY!!!!!!!!!!…I MEAN ARE THEY EVEN AWARE OF WHAT THEY ARE SAYING …AMAZING AND CARELESS!!!!!!!!!
• Such are the dangers of habits and can do more harm than good……this has been a frequent experience where lack of awareness can create a real mess for the company advertising, this lack of sensitivity and selling is not about just doing your job but doing it with awareness to people and situations

WHY THIS?…… ALL TALK

There is this constant need to talk, to project, to be bombastic, to advertise, be loud and constantly sell oneself to the world. Why this great race to out beat the others, to create pictures in the minds of the public to portray oneself for others as one would like them to see you and the constant need to be recognized by many and establish a presence and be famous. Everyone wants to stand out. There seems to be this constant flurry of activity that is going on non-stop. The media in its different forms is being used to the fullest and everything seems to be out sensationalizing and in one way or the other pandering to the wishes and aspirations of people and their wants. There is so much talk about everything, that, it’s losing its value in the sense that although everyone is hearing nobody is listening.
Words and concepts as well as jargon is being created endlessly and there is this constant urging, convincing, brain washing going on endlessly. Take the advertisements and promotions for instance….there are loud colors , noisy audios or cajoling music and anything in between, the blatant pandering to the senses,…creating mysteries where none exist, or impossible visions that are only dreamlike and cannot be achieved in reality, the product picturisations and presentations where sometimes the models and the product lack connection. Yes, it’s all about attraction and gaining attention and the recall factor and many such things. Whether the newspaper or the billboards , television jingles or the net advertisements…..we are all enveloped all the time in this fog of talk ,talk and more talk until the noise is so loud that we can’t even hear ourselves think . We are left feeling tired from the varied and myriad colors and suggestions and tonal qualities that make it impossible to think for ourselves and we are literally taken over mentally and convinced that we want something when we don’t!
In fact the thought or need never occurred, it wasn’t even in our dreams yet we go for it! Why This? After all we are all intelligent human beings capable of understanding what is happening yet we allow this to happen, we give it our tacit consent by accepting it and are too lethargic even to question it…are we that unconcerned of our own wellbeing that we allow this and give in easily or is it just that we prefer that others think and tell us what we like and we start believing the talk…or is it that the constant chatter is dulling our mind for self and independent thought.
While this chatter is all very well for the market, as individuals we are fast losing our ability to choose for ourselves and are being led up the garden path by those who can successfully talk. What’s more independent thought is in danger of losing out to generality and everyone will soon start thinking on the same lines and the ultimate result will be that the majority will be led like sheep by a few independent thinkers……where is the fun in that!
The customer needs to be the king and not told what is or is not good for them. They need to reject the superfluous and the unnecessary items that neither add value nor are in any way useful to their life…..So it’s time to look behind all that chatter, see what s driving it and sift through it so one can see the reality and understand the usability. It’s necessary to take a back step, ward off the noise and then just concentrate on what it really means and if what is said is real. It’s not the packaging or the color or the beauty in presentation. It’s the substance that is important especially in relation to you and your requirement…is it catering to that?
Then there are the opinions of experts and the expert panels giving every scientific and analytical detail and the logical reasoning till the listeners own reasoning is lost in the maze of information, so much so that we fail to realize that much of it is at cross-purposes with each other. It amazing how the majority get convinced by this logical bombardment which is further parroted around, so much so that it becomes a fact even if the origins were in possibilities.
Everything is supposed to make our life better, from textiles to homes and education to entertainment, or medicines and holidays and any other subject under the sun. Some of these subjects have been newly created and others subsets of the older ones. All in all its one long ride on the back of the hopes and dreams of the individual, masked under the helping hand promising a better and enriched life……Is it really so or are we just foolishly turning a blind eye and inadvertently reducing the quality of life….or is it just about materialistic quantity!

CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE

The younger generation is a confused lot, and it’s no wonder. It’s first the family and then the educational institutions that are supposed to lead the way in value and character development. The environment and the various stimulations that include the varied individuals of all ages and the teachings of traditional books and religious scriptures go a long way in enhancing the individual in terms of personality and behavior.

The operative word here is ‘supposed to’. The various bombardments from the various types of media are not helping either. That is not to that the media have nothing of value to render. It’s just that it’s just not effective enough to transfer value based information. I suppose that they have their in terms of economics. Money plays a great role in sustenance and thus compromises have to be made in quality and political interference and lack of qualitative material …. Many times the latter is just pandering the senses…..rules the day. This has led to further shallow knowledge, shorter attention spans and a lack of focus and a temporary attitude towards life with shortsightedness in the extreme.

This has also resulted in the unheeding of guidance given from well-meaning adults. Peer pressure is taking its toll and the attractive western pattern has become a guiding star and considered the in-thing so to speak, with little thought to its suitability and its ill effects. While the western pattern of living is good for them it is not very well suited to the Asian culture where tradition is rooted in science. Though little understood or even studied it is this culture, if imbibed in a scientific way will go a long way in enhancing the quality of life and result in quantity as well. The other side of the hedge although greener is not necessarily entirely suitable and has led to results that are opposite to those expected.

There is a constant tussle between the modern and the traditional…further the technological advancement has made things more difficult. Actually the truth of the matter is that both can be accepted and merged in a rightful way that would suit one’s purpose and requirements without making too many compromises. What is required is a proper understanding the ingredients in both the traditional and modern and one has to balance out these variables as best suited to your own life. This would mean that the combination would be different for different people.

While this is all very well it behooves one to remember that certain things are the absolute truths that have stood the test of time and these cannot and must not be changed as this would imbalance everything and lead to an even greater mess. These truths are the very foundation of living on this planet and these principles are very well balanced.

Actually the whole world is in flux…there is a change going on and all the cultures are in the process of change. It has started with the language…English is becoming a world language, the dress sense has become mixed, the greetings are becoming universal, as also the accounting and business patterns….. and will soon make inroad into the individual cultures. While the process promises to be painful it’s natural. Commerce will take over every aspect and religion will soon take a back seat….actually the very concept of God may change and as more and more proof of our origins are gathered and technological changes force a new way of thinking. .

This is already evident in the various wars that are being fought around the world and the self-defeating actions that are taking place where ultimately everyone will loose. These wars are more for thwarting change or for gaining control or for freedom. Change cannot be stopped, there is nothing to control but our very lives and freedom will just be another word as we get caught and enmeshed in anew web of our own making. There is a merge going on in bits and pieces. Attitudes are changing, as are the processes and the patterns of thinking and implementation and are fast gaining popularity universally.

This means that over a period of time there will be uniformity in most aspects of life all over the world. Already the cities and the cars and the educational patterns and the business systems and the communication process are looking the same …the products are beginning to look same all over the world as is their packaging. The fashion is spreading all over and all that is ethnic is fast losing ground to this sameness….the designs of sky scrapers the housing patterns are all being copied as well as the malls and the city layouts.

Yes a generation has been caught in the middle and hence this tremendous confusion where the one wants to hang on to the old values and yet bend under pressure to accept the modern for fear of being left out. The old has not been experienced and the new is too fast to assimilate. Hence the bizarre reactions and the dissensions. Its a fog right now and each is trying to fathom a path out towards a fitting position. Hence there is this constant mismatch.

Soon this will come to a standstill, there will be a lot of purging and upheaval and then an entirely new world more global and peaceful will get set on an entirely new foundation  comprising a new set of values and applications more suited for the coming generations. Until then the mess will get messier unless we learn to be more rational as an individual and in groups…..a difficult prospect indeed for now!

 

 

 

THE DANGER OF EASE

A lot has changed since the ancient times as we know it. Technological revolutions, and advancements in almost all fields of life has led to making things easier and less time consuming. Further it has reduced dependency and brought in a lot of variety in terms of products each professing an enhancement over the other in more ways than one. There is no shortage of variety…in fact its mind bogglingly extreme making it difficult to take an informed decision…the last of which would take up too much time and resources.

This has, over the years, boiled down to the ‘doorstep mentality’. It’s amazing how everything is about door delivery, ordering from the net. Earlier the term couch potato was used for the avid TV watcher. However with the access to multiple devices and anytime anywhere concept the ease with which things are bought and sold are amazing. No doubt the market is larger and deeper and ease in communication make things move faster.

The same is true of various machines and devices used. Take the example of Home products…the mixers and heaters and steamers and washing machines and the AC’s and the water coolers ….the list seems endless…indeed it is the age of machines and devices …mechanical and electronic. One will argue that these are indeed helpful as not only has it made life easier and less time consuming, there is a definite advantage in terms of ease of operation and efficiency as far as multi-tasking is concerned. Leaving more time to do other things…well like chatting on Whatsapp or other  social media or entertainment …may be play station or just chatting on phones…and indulging in more inane activity where value addition is next to nil. Obviously I am not saying that all are like that but the trend is catching on …while most of the younger generations indulge in it….the older generations are catching on and latching on to the electronic  devices. The only difference being, perhaps that the matter exchanged is of a more mature range and the communication device is used more meaningfully.

The question is, whether all this revolution has made our life qualitatively richer. The technological revolution has been used or rather misused…mobile and the computer is used for chatting and talking about nothing in particular or just entertainment by most especially by the young……. the computer is hardly used   by most  modern generation for enhancing knowledge…the students are busy cut copy pasting, the professionals make presentations doing the same …everyone wants to know their heart rate, the sugar levels and the blood pressure and the miles walked…everyone is in a hurry to make a mark with the help of  gadgets….and these are increasing day by day…..many have sophisticated devices they don’t need or don’t  use it  fully or misuse it. The terrorists are having a field day with them. The status conscious are buying the most expensive to show off so what if some don’t even know how to use all the facilities provided. The companies are benefiting the most as these devices continuously upgraded creating a market by appealing to all the psychological angles that can be thought of and there is no shortage of the gullible.

While same is not the case with mechanical devices, have they really added value…in the matter of home products most of these jobs like making pastes and cutting were done manually as well as washing and the swabbing etc. Of course a protest maybe made against this that no one has the time and thus this helps to finish the jobs and give extra time. While all this is true how has all this benefited in the true sense? What is all that extra time gained being used for…actually most of the extra time is being used up by the mobile  or the computer  that add nothing or little of value or doing jobs to make more money so that one can pay for these things and also the fast food.. Further knowledge and learning of the same earlier concentrated on depth. Now, in this age of information, with so many distractions and ways to amuse oneself, both the depth in knowledge and the research mentality is fast disappearing and is being taken up by a lot being known about nothing…i.e. there is more width than depth to the knowledge.

Be that as it may, the increase in the ease with which things and knowledge is secured, which is literally at the fingertip, .there is a danger of taking everything at face value and the acceptance without authority can have dangerous consequences. Further there is a degradation brought about by half knowledge as the need to learn completely about any matter is on its way out, being replaced with the attitude of learning on the go and with little or no experience, superficiality reigns . Curiosity seems to be taking one into realm of the unnecessary, ass to it lack of time and experience, and it puts everything out of balance. This also means that one is open to being questioned by the few who really understand and thus being left high and dry midway which is neither here nor there.

Ease has thus made one lazy and lean on superficial existence that has no substance and is mere existence for it is not given to research, or the need to take the requisite trouble to search for alternatives and thus we are prone to be taken in by all that we are fed by the various media as true while a very few prosper at the cost of many who have understood the human psyche…..Man is basically lazy,,,give him comfort and ease and you can rule …especially if its priced right.

All this has affected  modern life in terms of ill health, unhealthy food habits, pollution of the mind, reduction in the thinking population and sleeping habits that are destructive both to the brain and general health….is anybody caring…of course not…it’s a short life …let’s make the most of it…lets degrade ourselves more and turn into automatons and spend all our time making more money and indulging in fruitless activities that add very little if nothing to quality enhancement of our life……Quantity is indeed winning!!

THE ARDENT QUEST FOR PRESERVATION

While self-preservation may be the primary and the instinctive nature of man, it has lent itself to every aspect of life. First there is this avid need to possess and hoard and this is followed by extreme precaution and care taken to prolong the existence and life of the possession, be it animate or inanimate.

Whether it be given the name of duty or just a desire to prolong its use, or just to save an unnecessary expenditure, it’s all done in the name of preservation. Everything has to have as long a life as possible and all that is required, is done to fulfil this wish and no efforts are spared to achieve the same. Everything has to be maintained. Maintenance which equates preservation is a key word in our life, be it the home or corporate world or family or relationships or social conditions or just accounts.

One likes to live as long as possible so every care is taken to preserve this life. Lo and behold one sees the rise of the medical industry, the massage parlors, and the gyms. The tourism industry does its job by giving nature trips and peaceful getaways. Not far behind are the health facilities and clinics and the dieticians and yoga centers and the various therapies to maintain mental balance. After all it’s not just the physical but the mental health has to be preserved as well. So the various play grounds and walkabouts and jogging tracks for the children and the adult and the elders separately, catering to the needs of each.

Then the humans need houses to stay in. They require maintenance  which involve a lot of activities like painting and repairing and waterproofing and flooring and rebuilding and plumbing and electrical fittings and the furniture and fixtures to mention a few. Of course one cannot build or buy a house often…well at least the common man cannot do so… he preserves it and maintains it and sees to it that everything in the house is maintained for long use. The repair industry is doing well indeed.

There are the other attachments that go with our life the various things that we use that include all kinds of machinery…ah we like to maintain them too…again can’t replace them too often…an expensive affair indeed.

Then there are the textile items. While clothes may be bought frequently the more pricey items and accessories are bought infrequently. The costume jewellery, the silk rugs and jackets and woolen clothes and the expensive boots and shoes. They are preserved and kept in correct conditions, moth balls and powdering, airing and sunning and a variety of activities go with it, very time consuming, but they have to be preserved.

Then there are the food items packed or bottled or preserved. The packaging industry and the preservative chemicals are doing well. The refrigerator has done best of all as that really saves the time of the house wife and stops food from deteriorating and saves time as well. Most useful product as a result of the avid need.

Then the need to preserve the written material and so the need to preserve as paper deteriorates. Thus first the Xerox machines and now the computers do come in handy. No it didn’t stop there …the computer is not too dependable and there is every possibility that the data may disappear so we need backups. The discs and external hard drives, the usb and now the cloud all serve the purpose.

And what of relationships? They need to be preserved too, thru the endless twists and turns of emotions and sacrifices and overlooking’s….it’s a duty or it’s an attachment or it’s just plain habit. We need support, we need help…..humans can’t make it through life completely alone being essentially dependent….though an adult will vehemently deny it,  as man is always wont to declare himself a superior force no matter that he is very puny before the forces of nature, so preserve he must.

Even in death a will is made to pass on this legacy of preservation so that the next generation may wallow in it and most probably will add to it or destroy it to form other preservations so to speak.

Our need for ease and the innate characteristic of dependency has indeed developed a system whereby preservation seems to have become a corner stone of life, a pivot if u will around which revolves a life that keeps one fairly busy. After all man wants to be comfortable and must have luxuries but cannot or won’t indulge in wasteful expenditure for obvious reasons of future security… barring the extremely rich who are few indeed and splurge as they will…. Ends up in this endless cycle of preservation that takes up most of his time and energy. Indeed preservation has kept man sincerely busy for generations. Since civilization dawned this seems to be one of the quests that man has continuously pursued and continues to do so.

The irony is that everything perishes, only the life span varies, this very earth will perish one day and all that we know will become extinct. We live in a dimension where nothing is immortal. Everything that begins ends. Whatever starts anew also ends. Yet we want to prolong the life of all that we know and see as much as we can.

One could argue that this is how we value everything. This is how we respect what we get, we use it till it serves us no more, but in the mean time we preserve. We do not waste. However the western throw away culture is fast eroding Asia’s preservation culture, which means that things will perish that much faster.

Not to forget the race now for the preservation of the species, hence the zoos and the protection given to animals near extinction and also of course the national parks. Of course no need to preserve man already the earth is overloaded with human weight. Be that as it may we waste no effort to create wax statues and other models. Of course then there is always cryogenics that serves the need to outlast time itself in the hope that mankind will surpass godly powers and successfully resurrect after many years biology and physics allowing the same of course…until then the earth will be burdened by these preserved corpses!

We are heading for troubled times indeed for if everything perishes then what will we preserve? Perhaps we will then turn to another quest, one more lofty and elevating than the materialism and destructive culture of modern times! Until of course the final gong is sounded…but then we may find other ways to continue…the desire for life is tenacious and refuses to let go.

WHAT HAPPENED TO CHOICE?

In a democratic society one is supposed to have a freedom of choice. Actually such was the case only a few years ago when life was much simpler and the products were not that varied. Further our choice wasn’t influenced by a plethora of information, and thus the individual was left free to take his or her time and make the most suitable and cost effective choice for his or her life. Further there were no ultimatums and unseen controls exercised on the individual nor was undue advantage taken of the citizen’s background or condition. Stories were not made up and problems if any were presented in as is where situation is. Also there were less barriers and more direct access to solve one problems regarding the product offered and the information given was upfront and honest. It was easy to have faith on the salesman and depend on his honesty.

However all this has undergone a rapid change and the scenario now is most unpalatable and rife with doubt and one has to really waste a lot of precious time ascertaining the situation and analyzing it to get to the truth of the offer, before one is ready to commit. It’s one large monster comprising false promises, bombastic language, contrived statistics and colorful presentations and advertisements, each offer or product trying to woo the customers and get them to buy the same.

As if this were not enough the customers is really played with the use of psychological factors which might include such things as creating a need which doesn’t exist or pandering to the wishful thinking or just asking them to keep up with the Jones’s or still better making them status conscious where none is needed. Or just plain bombardment thru the use of TV and electronic devices raising the curiosity and unwittingly the sale takes place.

Another way is in the packages that are given. The surveys show a bent to certain elements in the packages…. so they are done in such a way as the individual is forced to take a high priced package as all the elements are not there  , or the combinations are done in such a way as to delude the individual into thinking that he is indeed taking a better product.

Then there is there is the continuous sales calls enticing away or towards a product and are done in such a way that one is left with little information to make the choice….but due to shortage of time the individual just makes one choice or the other just due to exasperation. The benefits are put in short and crisp fashion and one is lulled into thinking that it is the best.

Further many times the individual is forced into making a decision as he is given a limited time offer thus forcing him to make the decision in favor of something that he would never have otherwise gone for. Everything is being done on the run. It’s based on blind faith and the habit of examining before taking the leap seems to have just died a solid death in the face of the so called new market trend which though considered fashionable is merely fooling the customer in a large number of ways.

Another way that the customer is forced into making a choice is by creating barriers of reaching the right people for making a decision. Large companies have different levels and much of the contact is kept on phones for asking information or making complaints and much of this done by call centers. Thus there is no direct interaction with company personnel. The maintenance and providers are outsourced. This means that  there is no surety of ethics  or that the job efficiency and exactly who is responsible. There is no proper communication between the levels and one receives several phone call for the same problem and there is constant repetition. Naturally it’s all about reporting and one mismanaged report means that the customer is left in the lurch. Of course at every level everyone is very sorry. Each level is given a fixed response for different situations, and they all sound like parrots repeating the same thing and one is left wondering where the intelligence has all disappeared to. So nobody is really listening and matters get complicated. Further as every level does only a certain kind of work solutions take a long time as there is no one to take a holistic view of the situation? As if this were not sufficient there is the added problem of inability to handle the problem s there is no authority…so further delay. So much for the so called smart world! The customer is forced to toe the lone and not listened to at all!

This means that the only recourse left is the consumer court and that is too much for the common man as he is busy with his or her own day to day problems. This means that the only recourse in the event of dissatisfaction is that of changing the provider and the product. However all this is too time consuming and the customer is left tired and resigned. The common customer is a scared and tired lot busy making ends meet. This is now taken full advantage of by big business. You have no time so let’s get everything to the doorstep…inefficiently and substandard and no recourse to compare …only visually and the dependence on comments of the buyers which we cannot ascertain at any rate!

It’s time the customer became the king again. We have been as customers constantly dictated to and continuously told what is good for us and in general treated like morons by giving us so much information that in the end it only ends up in confusion and dissatisfaction after using the product and after a lot of money has been wasted.  There is no loyalty factor in the customer world and it’s all about money and market share. It’s time the customer got wise to all these tactics and not give in to the pulls and pressures created by the marketing world backed by big and growing commerce entities. If all the customers unite we will be the big fish who can then dictate the terms and get the quality and the kind of product we want. The fault after all is ours for allowing them to make inroads into our choices and becoming dictators.

It is in fact a new and different face of communism that is slowly taking root and making inroads into our life…the commercial communism. And this is not the only type of control in existence. Are we really living in a democracy or is it a fantastic illusion created to turn us into zombies that merely follow …unquestioningly!