Marketing review

19 Apr 2007


MMTC joins race to cash in on Akshaya Tritiya
Minerals and Metals Trading Corporation (MMTC) the country''s leading trading house for precious and non-ferrous metals, is aggressively competing with leading jewelers of Andhra Pradesh to get a share of jewellery sales on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya.

For the first time, MMTC has opened 10 special centres in Hyderabad alone to offer 99.9 per cent pure gold and silver medallions and all kinds of articles.

MMTC has also organised a special exhibition to promote the precious metals to coincide with Akshaya Tritiya, staggered over two days, April 19-20.

Increasing sentiments of consumers who believe that buying/gifting of gold and silver on Akshaya Tritiya is desirable, almost all jewellers and banks have unleashed promotional campaigns and attractive pricing packages in Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

MMTC offers gold and silver coins in 2, 5, 8, 10 and 50 g weight and 20 and 100g bars and is also the largest supplier of precious metal gifts to corporates in the state.

Air Deccan eases rules
Budget airline Air Deccan has eased rules for booking tickets. Airlines sources said passengers who booked their tickets on or after April 14 this year, would be allowed to reschedule travel plans.

Earlier, the airline did not allow passengers to make any changes in their travel plans.

However, passengers will have to shell out a fee of Rs600 for changes in travel schedules apart from paying the difference in fare. Moreover, if after rescheduling the fare is lower than what the passenger has already paid the airline, the difference in fares will not be refunded.

Other low cost airlines have different rules for changes in travel plans. While IndiGo charges a fee of Rs600 for any rescheduling or cancellation in travel plans, SpiceJet does not allow passengers to make changes in their travel plans without cancelling the ticket first.

If SpiceJet passengers want to change their Delhi-Mumbai ticket to travel Delhi-Bangalore, they would have to cancel the ticket and rebook again, an airline official said.

Most full service airlines such as Indian Airlines and Jet Airways allow passengers to make changes to their travel plans without any penalty as long as a passenger has purchased a full fare ticket. If a passenger has bought a ticket on reduced fare on a full service airline and wants to change his travel date, he too has to pay the fare difference to travel.

VSNL falls behind in web services ranking
Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications have overtaken Tata Group company VSNL in the internet services segment while Bharat Sanchar Nigam, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam and Sify have maintained their ranking as the top three Internet Service Providers.

VSNL has been relegated to the sixth slot having lost its position at number four to the two private operators.

As per the quarterly performance indicator report compiled by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, VSNL''s Internet user base grew by only 1.3 per cent during the period September-December 2006, taking its total subscribers base to 4.57 lakh. Against this Bharti''s Internet user base rose by 14 per cent and Reliance reported an increase of 22 per cent to take their total numbers to 5.97 lakh and 5.4 lakh respectively.

BSNL and MTNL reported 7 per cent growth to take their subscriber base to 3.8 million and 1.6 million respectively.

Sify reported a 7-per cent dip in its subscriber base but continued to be at the number three slot at 8 lakh users.

Recent reports indicate that VSNL may be embarking on an aggressive plan based on wireless technology to ramp up its user base.

Internet subscribers stood at 85.82 lakh for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, compared with 80.96 lakh during the preceding quarter registering an increase of 6 per cent.

Danone to return Tiger brand to Wadias
France based dairy foods company Group Danone plans to return the Tiger brand to Britannia Industries. The brand has been at the heart of a dispute between the Wadias and Group Danone. The Wadias have alleged that the French group licensed its proprietary Tiger brand outside India without its knowledge.

The Wadias and Danone are equal shareholders in Associated Biscuits International Holdings, which owns 51-per cent of Britannia''s equity. The two had entered into a joint venture in 1992 and launched Tiger brand in 1997.

In 2004, the Wadias discovered that Danone was selling Tiger brand biscuits in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan and Egypt and had in fact had registered the trademark brand as its own in 1997 in 70 countries, receiving approvals in 35.

An official of group Danone said the company had registered the brand Tiger in markets where Britannia is not present, thereby protecting the brand from being abused by others, with the full knowledge of the management and the board.

Nusli Wadia has however insisted that the board had not been informed of the move.

To make peace with the Wadias, Danone offered Euro 1 million ($1.34 million) to Britannia for use of the brand, but the offer was rejected.

GFA to set up doughnut kiosks
Global Franchise Architects India (GFA), the Indian subsidiary of the Geneva-based Global Franchise Architects, which specialises in building, operating and franchising specialty retail brands, will set up four to five doughnut kiosks in Bangalore in the near future.

According to the company there is no organised dealer of doughnuts and pretzels in India. GFA will test the market by opening few kiosks in Bangalore first a more cosmopolitan city than others.

Spread around an area of 300-400 sq.ft, the doughnut kiosks will operate in malls or multiplexes because of the ''impulsive buying behaviour'' these places offer. GFA is not considering offering the kiosks to franchisees. GFA India has four brands in India viz: Pizza Corner, Coffee World, New York Deli and The Cream & Fudge Factory.

Johnson & Johnson launches consumer website
Baby care specialist Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has launched a consumer website in India called owned by the San Francisco- based BabyCenter LLC, a company acquired by J&J about three years ago. The website is targeted at expectant and new mothers and covers aspects ranging from the various stages of pregnancy to caring of infants.

The company claims that the website has been generating a good response with the initial response being on par with babycenter Canada, the group''s third biggest site globally. The move indicates the importance that the consumer goods companies are giving to the online media.

In the days ahead, J&J plans to introduce an online store in the Indian site. The only babycenter websites to provide an online shopping facility, at present, are the UK and the US websites, which are among the biggest websites.

DuPont alleges patent infringement
US chemicals major DuPont has filed a case in the Delhi High Court alleging infringement of its patents R-407C and R-410A against a refrigerant reseller in India.

DuPont owns patents in India covering both R-407C and R-410A, both non-ozone-depleting refrigerants broadly used in building air conditioning applications.

Mark S. Baunchalk, global business manager, DuPont Refrigerants said the company would pursue strong action to stop illegal trade of 407C and R-410A in the Indian market. He said the protection of DuPont''s intellectual property is critical to ensuring its continued investment in new technologies and products for the cooling marketplace.

Fabindia becomes a Harvard case study
Fabindia, the craft-conscious enterprise that has grown by leaps and bounds despite not advertising, has become a Harvard Business School (HBS) case study.

Founded in 1960, Fabindia makes the cut for being an example of a corporation that does not just aim to do well, but does good too. However, the private retailer''s unique value proposition has not come in the way of it being recognised as big brand today. And this in spite of the fact that Fabindia has never advertised.

With 57 stores in India and one each in Rome, Dubai and Guangzhou, the company will add close to 200 stores in the next four-five years. And it is also believed to be on a look out for private equity investment.

ICICI Pru AMC offers SIPs from Rs50 onwards
ICICI Prudential Asset Management Company has upped the ante against Reliance in the mutual fund industry by offering Rs50 per month as the minimum investment amount in its Systematic Investment Plan (SIP). This makes it the lowest in the industry with Reliance Mutual Fund last week reducing the minimum investment in SIP to Rs100 per month.

Both fund houses claim the measure will help an increased number of investors to benefit from investing in mutual funds. While ICICI Prudential AMC had maximum assets in February, Reliance AMC was on top in March.

The micro-SIP facility for ICICI Prudential schemes will be available from today. The minimum redemption amount where SIP is available will be Rs500 and an entry load of 2.25 per cent of the applicable Net Asset Value will be charged. The exit load will be variable as per the amount invested and the duration of the scheme. Units under the Micro-SIP will be issued only under the growth option.

Currently, other fund houses in the industry are offering minimum investments in SIP between Rs500 and Rs1,000.

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