In the heat of summer, if you happen to get off at the crowded and ever bustling station of Andheri in Mumbai you will hear someone scream loudly “laal baraf khaao” (taste this red ice). Only when you follow the voice will you realize what the seller is planning to have you buy.
Just outside the station this man has a stall that sells juicy luscious watermelon. What a treat on a hot sweaty summer day. And the pitch is very seductive. He has a variety of sliced watermelon inviting thirsty customers to his stall. Obviously, the business seems brisk. People have queued up for their glass of chilled watermelon juice. Some like their watermelon slices with salt and some with chaat masala, while others would like to take the whole fruit back home. The melon seller seems to be a North Indian and his entire disposition suggests that he wouldn’t have heard the concept of marketing or read Kotler. But he makes up for his lack of formal training in marketing with extraordinary common sense. He seems to have got a hang of the 4Ps that comprise marketing mix. What Jerome McCarthy prophesized in marketing text books in the 1960s, a small time vendor was putting to practical use at a not so swanky, makeshift stall in suburban Mumbai.
The lessons that you can derive from this commonplace incident would make the makers of New Coke and Milkfood Yogurt hang their heads in shame. Marketing certainly is not rocket science. But unlike rocket science it deals with human emotions, popular perception and lots of uncommon sense.
Marketing is combination of art and science. Good marketing requires rational emotive intelligence. Good marketing requires analytical skills, artistic talent and deep insight in the collective conscience of the consumers.
You can learn many a lesson from that simple fruit vendor from Andheri.
Lesson 1- Use of right words: How many vendors do you know who would scream out and invite you to taste ‘red ice’ on a hot summer day? Not many. He could have asked you to come and have ‘watermelon’ which sounds real. But he creates a perception of beating the heat with the perfect antidote ‘ice’. The melon seller also uses two simple words laal (red) and khaao (eat) which wouldn’t get lost on the multi-lingual railway passengers.
Lesson 2 – Micro Unit Marketing: Most marketers would be happy to sell entire melons to their customers without bothering to make smaller slices, pieces and juice. Selling micro units is an art by itself predominant in smaller, price oriented markets. One can buy loose matchsticks in many parts of Africa due to poverty and low income of the populace. This vendor knew the importance of selling smaller units of a bigger product. The advantages are many. One, the product is affordable to large number of customers. Two the price realization is higher. The vendor would have got 50 rupees by selling the watermelon. By selling slice he is bound to get at least 60 rupees ( 12 slices at 5 rupees per slice.)
Lesson 3 – Value Addition: This is a peculiar case in markets like Goa when most marketers have a ‘take it or leave it policy’ But here we see a marketer going that extra mile and a step further. He offered three choices to the customers : plain watermelon slices, slices with salt and with chaat masala! In addition there was a choice of chilled watermelon juice.
Lesson 4 – Creating Desire: to supplement the ‘eat red ice’ slogan, our man has displayed neatly carved juicy watermelon slices to pull customers into his stall. That’s enticing marketing. Because ‘what you see is what you buy’
Would this happen in Goa? I have my doubts. There are very few Goan youth willing to dirty their hands with bottom of the pyramid marketing.
Every year, scores of jackfruit go waste in Goa. I found it rather interesting to find young boys selling the sweet jackfruit flesh in cups made from plantain leaves while going to Ooty from Mysore.
The Goan farmers and horticulturists can market their fruits on wayside kiosks by the side of highways. Specialy selling of jackfruits through microuniting will lead to higher price realization and higher sale of jackfruits since customers hesitate to buy the whole jackfruit.