Are we free?

Posted In: , , . By Journalism student

A Radio story by Rama Shanker Pandey and Saurabh Sharma

Photo : Babu

Nazia Jafri & Gaurav
Photo: Babu
It’s hard to hold on to your money whenever you see a SALE banner staring at you from various branded stores. The sale season is on at most of the markets in Delhi. The brands not only assure you discounted prices but also claim that their customer services are second to none.

But is the service catering to the needs of the consumers? Tushar Sethi, a 16-year old bought floaters from one of the leading shoe companies, but the sole came off soon. Says an angry Sethi: “Even after umpteen complaints the company refused to exchange the product and mended it with the glue, which was really bad. Ultimately, I threw those floaters away”.

His views are echoed by Delhi based lawyer Manjula Batra: “They are befooling us by selling defective pieces under the garb of a sale. When you approach them with the complaints they don’t register it. Going to the consumer court is one of the options but it needs loads of homework by consumers.”

Faisal Majid Khan, a lawyer and Senior Legal Manager at Novus Pro Company, Gurgaon, says that one way out for consumers is that they should always check the cash slip while shopping. Moreover, they should not hesitate to initiate action against the company if there is a need for that.

In this fast paced life, when people don’t even have the time for necessary chores, going to complain is a job they keep putting off. Geeta Tamta, a call center employee from New Delhi bought a bag from a branded sale and its strap came off the very next day. She says, “It’s a hectic exercise to go for an exchange and on every trip they make some excuse or the other. I even tried to mail a complaint but got confused with the procedure and finally gave up”.

Even those who are willing to complain don’t know where to lodge it. The official web addresses of many brands do not even have a simple procedure for the complainant to complain. It is often so complicated that many just give up out of frustration.

The companies are often ready with what sound like the right excuses. Thang Goumuan, Assistant Store Manager, Adidas, Vasant Vihar branch, says “During sale, we don’t allow exchange as it is difficult to adjust discounts. We allow the customers to try, but not exchange. As for return of goods, that is not allowed even when there is no sale.”

Khan says that there are provisions under which you can approach the consumer court but the problem is that nobody puts that much effort. He further adds, “If it is mentioned on the cash memo that sold items cannot not be returned, then consumers can’t complain as they are accepting the policy of the company. But for those brands which do not mention such details, there is a scope for legal action”.

So the next time you see a 50% off SALE on any of your favorite branded shops, do not forget to read the fine print.

By Akanksha Kukreti and Aqsa Anjum

Are you suffering from high blood pressure, depression and want to relax after working 24x7? There is an old-age solution for you. Our Dadis and Nanis have been using this natural practice of treatment in the form of massage at home since ages. But today it has a fancy name – aromatherapy. And instead of it being a homemade remedy, it has become a favourite with the elite.

Dr Blossom Kocchar who is an aromatherapist and Director of Blossom Kocchar Aesthetics and Spa Academy, New Delhi, says, “This therapy is done with the help of fragrant flower petals. This alternative medical practice is done with the help of essential oils (concentrated oils) like eucalyptus and lavender oil. They are added to carrier oils (base oils) like almond and coconut oil. These oils work on mind and body as soon as they are applied.”

The name aromatherapy suggests a therapy related to smell and is considered a part of spa culture. But Dr C S Raghav, Secretary of International Centre for Aromatherapy and Development says that aromatherapy is not only about smell. “It is also used for curing BP, diabetes and to provide relaxation,” he adds.

Mridula Kumar, who is a lecturer in Delhi University says, “I started using this therapy just for relaxation. Before this, I used a very famous and natural beauty and health package but that was full of chemicals. As this therapy is completely herbal, I got amazing results.”

But Parul Bhagel, who works with an NGO, is not convinced. “Aromatherapy sounds like some fancy therapy guised to extract money from people. Not many middle class people like me are able to afford it. Moreover, there are no reports to justify the claims that they make.”

The aromatherapists claim that the treatment is costly because in allopathy or homeopathy, people are susceptible to reactions or they need longer duration for positive effect. “But in aromatherapy, oils are applied externally and person feels better just by inhaling it,” says Dr Kochhar.

But it will take more than mere logic to convince people. Most are still not ready to take it up. “I will not leave my daily blood pressure medicine and take up aromatherapy. It is too risky to try that. Even if it is to be used as a parallel form, I don’t have the time to apply oils and sit and relax. I have a very busy schedule,” says Pinky Singh, a government school teacher.

Aromatherapy may look like a safe option and offer a respite from strong medicines but there are strings attached. “Though there are no serious side effects of aromatherapy, one has to be cautious while using it. More than recommended amount can lead to allergies. Aromatherapy should be done under the guidance of an expert,” says Dr Raghav.

What's in a Name?

Posted In: , . By Journalism student

By: Saurabh Sharma
Photo: Gaurav Kumar

Navan, a student of Delhi University swaggers along the corridors of his college. He has a reason for it. With a Hush Puppy bag on his back, a Lacoste shirt, Reebok sneakers, and a Fast Track watch, he comes across as a very brand conscious youngster.

Welcome to the age of Brands.

Striving for Levis Jeans or going gaga over Louis Vuitton products are some of the personality traits of the present fatafut generation. Barista and Café Coffee Day are the hot destinations of the youth. So are McDonald's or Pizza Hut.

Girls go mad for D’damas jewellery and boys for Denim. Spalding and Van Hussein may not have anything in common but they find the same place in wardrobes. Sunsilk and Pepsodent are a must in the morning. Same goes for Nescafe Coffee.

Even at the local level, consumers work according to their brand consciousness. Various local shops have gained popularity and turned into a brand in their respective neighborhoods. Savouring Shawarma, a Lebanese dish from a shop named Al-Bake at Community Centre in New Friend’s Colony is different than having it from any other place. Relishing Chicken Tikka Masala at Karim’s is more satisfying than eating it from a different place. Why? They all are brands with whom we like to associate.

Hard Nut to Crack

For every company to stand apart from its competitors, branding becomes necessary. It’s the brand name that drives their sales. The present generation X is very conscious about what they wear, eat and drink. They don’t want to settle for anything less than brands. This gives companies a good opportunity to cash in from brand consciousness, but at the same time it’s a Herculean task to get established as a brand.

Branding is all about a name, symbol or design, or a combination of them. According to management Guru Philip Kotler branding is “a seller’s promise to deliver a specific set of features, benefits and services consistent to the buyers.” This all takes lot of research and painstaking efforts from the company.
Therefore it makes sense to understand that branding is not just about getting your target market to choose you over the competition. It is all about getting your consumers to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.

Major Players

The expenditure on the ads by the companies has ballooned. A 30.5 per cent hike in ad spend packs a wallop for Hindustan Lever, a big advertiser. Now it constitutes 10.5 per cent of the total sales which is 4,215.7 crore.

Nestle India, too stepped up marketing support of its brands despite the pressures on its profits. The company has roped in celebrities such as Rani Mukherji and Preity Zinta to endorse its Munch chocolates and Maggi noodles.
Others companies such as Marico and Gillette India hiked their ad budgets to nurture new products. Indian Information industry has also seen a similar rise . Top Indian information technology companies like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Wipro, are stepping up investments for branding initiatives, so that they can be counted among the top five players on the global stage.
Thus every one is fighting for a piece from the pie of the market. And branding seems to be the only way out to boost the sales.

No Ragging

Posted In: , . By Journalism student

A Radio story by Rama Shankar Pandey and Raj