This blog contains material I wrote and posted on multiply.com between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
The Consultant's Report
SECRET AND CONFIDENTIAL
H E Artless
Secretary, Grand Shopping Mall
Sub: Marketing strategies for your new mall.
As per your commission, my firm has conducted a study of how to pitch your mall towards maximising the returns from your target market. Appended is our detailed report for your perusal. However, in this letter, I would like the opportunity to sum up the salient points for your benefit.
First, I suggest that you must make your mall look exclusive. It’s in any case true that the mall will only cater to the rich – the upper middle and upper classes. So, it would be foolish and unproductive to throw your gates open to those who cannot buy anything and will just increase your cleaning bills and your wear and tear.
Therefore, we suggest that you restrict entry to your mall to those demonstrably capable of purchasing your merchandise. The easiest way of doing this is by making it compulsory to show one’s credit card at the entrance. Only those with credit cards should be allowed access. If it could be managed, it would be very good if you could make it compulsory for all purchases to be paid for with credit cards, but as far as I know this is probably against government regulations. Still, as we know, the current government is friendly towards progressive business interests and credit card companies could be asked to lobby hard to allow such regulations at least for malls catering to the empowered sections.
We are aware that this strategy (restricting entry to credit card holders) was tried before and did not work, because of objections from certain sections of the population and from left-wing anti-national elements it would be pointless to name. But in our opinion the failure of that brave and farsighted attempt was more due to incorrect marketing strategy than anything else.
In our opinion, the correct strategy should have been pitched differently for the targeted crowd and the general populace. While the targeted population should be reassured of its exclusiveness, to be made to feel that the mall’s throwing open its doors to them is a statement of faith in their financial security and a reward for their financial success, the rest of the people shouldn’t be made to feel excluded. The rich should be told that there is no need for them to rub shoulders with the dirty, untidy common folk, that this is theirs, a consumer’s paradise, just for them and for people like them. The rest, though, even though they may not have a hope in hell of ever being able to enter through the gates, must not be made to feel neglected. You can always claim that this is actually a good thing for the others – it gives them a goal to aspire to. If the only way to enter the portals of your shopper’s paradise is to acquire the credit cards that are your entry ticket, it makes sense for people to work hard enough and earn enough to afford credit cards. So, excluding non-card holders makes it a positive thing for the economy. It promotes long term economic growth.
We hardly need to point out that the words “economic growth” are engraved in gold on the hearts of the current government, and anything that professes to promote economic growth will resonate well with them. And since the media can be easily co-opted with the same slogan, the media will also back any such move by you. A few discreetly bribed editors should do the trick.
It may be that some unregenerate left-wing pinkos may ask the question of where the poor are supposed to shop until they can afford the credit cards they must aspire to. If they do, we suggest that you point out that a branch of Wal-Mart is supposed to open in this city at some time in the future. The poor, you may suggest, can go to the Wal.
Secondly, the importance of proper packaging can’t be overemphasized. The issue of government support must be kept in mind. This government will support anything that backs up its policies. Since the thrust of this government’s current policy is to force through the Nuclear Deal, and since the rationale is increased demand for power, you should emphasise the extremely high power consumed by malls like yours and how such drivers of the economy demand high amounts of power. The government will readily uphold you as an example of why the Nuclear Deal is necessary.
As a part of this strategy, high energy consumption is essential; please ensure large, power-intensive displays and billboards that consume the maximum amount of electricity that can be managed. Economy in electricity is not the right way to go about this. Please don’t be concerned about high electricity bills. You do not have to pay them at all, if the government is on your side. And with the strategy we are outlining, it will be.
Thirdly, we are sure you must be aware that there will be resistance from reactionary left wing elements to the mall. This must be handled in two ways. First, media sources must be paid off so as to belittle the opponents as anti-nationals and Luddites who oppose economic development. Please do not skimp the fund meant to “educate” editors and journalists. Also, please ensure low level menial jobs to local families who might otherwise join in protests against the mall. These jobs will break up the unity of the opposition, and after the mall is established the concerned individuals can be quietly dismissed. We are, naturally, assuming that you have no intention of allowing any sort of effective employees’ union to come into existence.
Fourthly, since the Tata Group is the reigning economic power behind the current throne, we would advise you to invite Mr Ratan Tata to formally inaugurate the mall. Anything Mr Tata does is automatically news. His influence on the media is so great that even his blunders and his bending of laws and ethics double are treated as immense personal triumphs. If he either inaugurates the mall or makes a symbolic purchase, you would get immediate media attention.
Fifthly, America resonates with your targeted demographic. We would suggest you design the mall round the US as a theme, with American flags prominently displayed and US resident George W Bush’s portrait with India’s current Prime Minister on as many walls as possible. This will also garner further government support.
With all these actions, as discussed in greater detail in the main report attached, we can be reasonably sure that you can market the mall to your target group and gain sympathetic media attention and government support at the same time.
We would, of course, draw your attention to our bill, also attached. It may seem to you high, but as per the terms of your brief we believe, not excessive. After all, you are going to fleece the population and the economy, and we don’t see why you shouldn’t pass on a fraction of that to us.