Sunday, 7 October 2012

How they win customers - a true story

Let this mail find you getting inspirations from stories around you and being live inspiration for others!!

In one of our recent workshop, people expressed about how unreasonable targets given to them pushes them into a low energy mode. I remembered this story. You might have read this earlier.

This is a true story as told by Dilip Upmanyu about his Edible Oil days!
It was way back in 2004 when one fine morning his boss told him, “Pack your bags and park yourself at Gwalior, where you will start work from tomorrow. Your objective is to establish our brand in Gwalior.” The brand as they say was then in doldrums at Gwalior. His company’s brand is a heavy premium brand. Curiously no distributor was interested in dealing in their brand. And worst, no one was able to explain the reasons for such an utter failure of a well known premium segment brand.
Dilip was quickly able to find a party and appoint them as a distributor for his brand. His real difficulties were to surface when he started launching his product in bazaar (market). In his first month at Gwalior, he did not get any response from the market. Each passing day, he became more depressed. The boss was constantly bugging him for business. The distributor who had invested money as a result of Dilip’s pitching, started feeling he had made the mistake of his lifetime.
In such circumstances it was natural that that they frequently sat together to discuss the market scene.  They discovered that there were many brands of packed cooking oil that were engaged in malpractices. Dilip’s company packed one litre of oil at standard temperature so their pack weighed 910 grams, where as many unscrupulous re-packers packed only 750 grams to 840 grams of cooking oil in 1 litre pack. These brands sold their pack at Rs 36 to Rs 40 to the retailers. Retailers were then selling that pack to consumers at Rs 48, the price charged by Dilip’s brand. But his company sold the 1 Litre pack at Rs 46 to be sold at Rs 48 to consumers. This unethical arrangement between unscrupulous re-packers, traders and retailers had completely blocked the entry of Dilip’s brand in Gwalior market. Almost similar difficulties were being faced in marketing of 15 litre packing.
One day over a meal, Dilip and Distributor were discussing their woes and same questions kept coming up before them, “What to do? How can we break this unethical nexus of re-packers and retailers? Where to make a beginning?” The Distributor casually commented, “Sab brand bik rahe hein, sirf apna wala nahi bik raha hai. Marriage season aane wala hai. Tumne mujhe marwa diya! ” (All brands are selling, except ours. Marriage season is coming up. You have got me stuck!!)
Dilip suddenly had a flash, a few months back he had helped a close friend at his sister’s wedding. Being from FMCG background, the friend had requested Dilip to make purchases for Halwai (Master Chef) who was hired to make food for guests. The halwai arrived and came armed with a list of groceries to be bought. When Dilip saw his brand of oil didn’t figure in the list, he asked his friend if he could change the oil brand. Suddenly, his friend’s mother, who was passing by & overheard the conversation, interrupted and told Dilip not to make any changes, and he should buy exactly what their halwai had prescribed.
After this flash, a new idea emerged in Dilip’s mind. Why not approach all the halwais who are in catering business at Gwalior, Datia and Dabra? The Distributor did not know how to locate these people. What happened next was even more surprising. Dilip suddenly quipped, “If you do not know how to locate them, it means they were never approached by any one. May be here lies a solution for us.” Dilip then went from one marriage venue to the other until he was able to locate a very low profile and elderly President of Halwai Sangh (literally: Chefs’ Union). With his help he obtained a list of members and went on to meet each of them and personally invite them for a gathering of halwais.
Halwais of Gwalior were in for a new experience. Being from hospitality trade while they understood the invitation process and the rest, yet they were pleasantly surprised that someone had taken pains to invite ‘a poor me’ to an organized gathering and be a recipient of someone else’s hospitality. During the gathering the guest halwais were shown their lunch being cooked in the Dilip’s brand of cooking oil. There was live demonstration of all good qualities like no surfing, no odours, no fumes etc. Then came the clincher - Dilip said in his address, “Anyone who buys a pair of shoes, walks a few steps in the new shoes to see how it feels. But we take the matter of cooking oil very lightly and casually say, ‘Give any oil!’ We conveniently forget that cooking oil is closely connected with our health. He then went on to establish importance of a product trial and invited them to carry back a no-obligation 1 litre pack for their personal trial at home. A very few of them, not all of them, did carry a trial pack later on their way out. A scheme was also announced for those halwais who cared to prescribe Dilip’s brand. On the whole, the gathering was a great success. Halwais were very happy that they were recognized as responsible people with important task of preparing and serving food that would delight the guests wherever they went to work.
In that marriage season many shopkeepers were surprised by buyers asking for 15 litre packs of Dilip’s brand of cooking oil. The embarrassed shop keepers were now telling the customers that, it just got over and will be available in an hour or two. There was a mad scramble to find who the distributor is, and finally orders were flowing to the distributor like never before. It is often said, “One good thing will lead you to another!” And it happened in Dilip’s case and happened soon enough.
The success of 15 litre pack though brought relief to both Dilip and the Distributor yet their smile was miles away. They were still facing the blockade created by unethical re-packers. The break came in the shape of a famous Gwalior Trade Fair. That year a local television channel had undertaken to telecast a few evening hours of the Trade Fair, live. When they came to Dilip’s stall and asked him, “What is your message to the public of Gwalior?” A hypnotized Dilip found himself speaking to the camera in somewhat this way, “Every pack of honestly packed cooking oil weighs 910 grams. So when you buy your next 1 litre pack of cooking oil, just ask the shop keeper to weigh it for you and if it is less in weight, demand from him a pack that weighs 910 grams!”  The honest appeal and sincerity of the message hit the consumers. Next day the shop keepers across Gwalior were in short supply of 1 litre packs that weighed 910 grams. And Dilip’s distributor had an ample supply waiting to be dispatched. Rest as they say was history. Gwalior soon became a huge consumption point for Dilip’s brand of cooking oil – a town with zero sales was consuming 180 metric tonnes per month when Dilip was called back later from that territory.  


May this story inspire you into facing your life challenges head on and setting a benchmark of excellence!

Warm regards,