The Great Lakes Approach to Learning Microeconomics

The Great Lakes Approach to Learning Microeconomics

The concepts of microeconomics are the driving force behind the key personal and business financial decisions that we make in our daily lives. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the core fundamentals of microeconomics via experimentation rather than through mere theoretical observation. Coming from a technical background, my concepts of economics were, let’s just say, a bit blurry. But, I and many of my classmates who share the same academic and industry background learnt the entire concept of Microeconomics in a matter of days through experimentation.

The Micro-Economics project of Term-I at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon was very different. As part of this project, the batch of 120 students was divided into groups of six and every group had to start a business inside the college campus. The business could be anything from product manufacturing and home & personal care to food delivery and miscellaneous services. Our investment cap for the business was established at INR 500 and initially it seemed impossible to start a business under that amount. But all the groups then started analyzing the market, needs and demand of their target customers. Everyone did extensive market research before starting the businesses to understand the requirements and needs of their target market. Market research was done through questionnaires, by conducting interviews, taking suggestions etc. Every group collected the primary data about their prospective customers before starting the business. After the research was over, it was time to put it to use and execute the business idea. There were twenty groups and hence, twenty businesses. Some of these were SantaKaBanta (a soda point corner), Fortune Coffee (a small scale coffee house and coffee delivery service), IceExpress, DeliverIt, a Bhelpuri corner etc.

Our group started a business named “Need2Home.” It was a delivery business in which we delivered anything and everything that is required by the students on a daily basis and could be bought from the nearby areas. On day 1 we designed our team’s pamphlet and distributed those among the students and staff members. We then started taking orders. Initially, we didn’t get many orders and most of the orders that we did get were from immediate friends. But, slowly our business started picking pace and after 2-3 days of providing impeccable services, we became quite famous among the students. We enjoyed managing all the important aspects of running a business like marketing, operations and maintaining balance sheets. Although it was a project of Microeconomics, we applied the knowledge of all the subjects that we had learnt in Term-1 of our course.

We had quite a free hand when it came to experimenting with our business. We (i) fluctuated the price of the services depending upon the market conditions (ii) reduced the profit margin (iii) made demand forecasts etc. Initially, we had kept a higher profit margin but due to severe competition from another team, we had to lower our margins. However, due to this, we managed to secure a large number of orders and as a result also managed to increase our sales figures substantially. And yes, we had a competitor in this small business space. We also felt threat from Amazon, Flipkart and other e-commerce entities because, as a small scale business, we did not plan on entering the online marketplace.

The Happy Customers!

Altogether, it felt like having a real business. By the time the project got over we earned more than INR 5000 in revenue. Considering the fact that we invested about 100 bucks in the venture, it was a tremendous achievement.

Finally, we had to prepare a report based on the data collected from our business. We used all the basic concepts such as demand equations, curve, cost function, profit maximization, regression analysis and demand forecasting techniques to prepare the business report.

This project helped us in the following ways: (i) It broadened our vision towards the various business dimensions, (ii) It helped us understand the concepts of Microeconomics, and, (iii) it gave us the ability to realize and overcome the challenges in business world.

It was truly an extensive and amazing learning experience and we enjoyed every bit of it. I believe such projects help a lot in practical understanding of the theoretical concepts and we are extremely grateful to our faculty, Dr V.P Singh Sir, and the college for providing us such wonderful opportunities to learn in a practical manner.

Authors: Akhilesh Tripathi & Shubham Singh

PGPM, Class of 2018, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

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Purple Cow

Destructive marketing is built in products

Traditional ways of marketing are gone. The old virtuous cycle of ‘buy ads – get distribution –sell product – buy ads’ is now gone for good. So, what is the new way to cut the hyper-clutter and stand out in marketing and sell your product?

Stop advertising and start innovating.

Seth Godin, the marketing guru and bestselling author, explains the new era marketing strategy in a unique manner of a purple cow. Suppose you are travelling to someplace and you see the normal black and white cows that you encounter almost every day. Would you look at them twice? Would you talk to your friends about them? No, right? But, what if it’s a purple cow? The chances of discussing a purple cow are definitely much higher. In the same manner, any product which is remarkably different than the ones existing in the industry will raise curiosity among the potential customers.

Remarkable Product

It comes from people who are making something for themselves.  From here, they are able to project the same for multiple audiences. Here are a few examples:

  • Howard Schultz spent months in Italy, drinking coffee and learning. He was in love with coffee. Thus, Starbucks evolved.
  • Rony Abovitz, CEO Magic Leap, drew inspiration from his childhood fascination with scientific fiction in Star Wars. Later, he started working on augmented reality in his garage in Miami and went on to becoming the fastest Unicorn after first equity round.
  • Ray Kroc, coming from the sales background, fell in love with McDonald’s on his very first visit. Later, during the opening of his first store in Chicago, he emphasised on creating the exact taste of French fries and went on to contact research fellows in many universities to replicate the same Californian taste.
  • At around late 2007, roommates Chesky and Gebbia could not afford the rent for their apartment in San Francisco.They decided to put their loft on rent online(on their own website) with beds for three guests and homemade morning breakfast. They named this concept as Air bed and breakfast which is now known as Airbnb.
  • On a snowy Paris evening in 2008, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp had trouble hailing a cab. In order to solve this very obvious and every day modern human problem, they started Uber – tap a button, get a ride. How simple can it get!

Sneezers

Zespri had a daunting task to launch a new kind of kiwi which is golden in colour with an edible peel. Instead of mass marketing the new food in U.S., Zespri took a risk and introduced it in an upscale Latino community. This community is a regular eater of mangoes and papaya which closely resembles the new kiwi but tastes very different. Such niche Latino community had both the time and the inclination to try something new and different. Over a period of time, this Kiwi grew in popularity among Latinos that Zespri (back in 2001) made a business of $100 million worth.

Sneezers are the first category of people on earth who will, willingly, learn about your product, take the risk to try a product, and bear the pain of introducing it to their friends. This way, marketing strategy becomes much more productive and cheaper. Another benefit in targeting such genre of potential customers is that they are always on the lookout for new stuff. This requires minimum advertisements and marketing expenditure. All you need is to be creative enough to come in their eyesight and, automatically, the rest of the story unfolds.

In case, if you are short of ideas,

  • Find the niche market
  • Create the remarkable product in the right way 

Law of Diffusion

Today, even with narrowing down your potential customers through digital means, your marketing efforts can still fail. The reason being you are one of the 50 marketers who is targeting the same individual for the same set of products and services.

Hence, rather than a push marketing, marketers should devise a pull strategy.

 

law-of-diffusion

  1. Left to Right

Most of us are already aware of ‘Crossing the Chasm’ by Geoff Moore. How can’t it be given a serious thought over here? An idea spreads from innovators to early adopters to the early/late majority (sneezers comes before these). The company should target the innovators and early adopters and strategically build the initial marketing efforts around these two categories. Using the typical mass media strategies would not be of much help at this stage.

  1. Marketing Budget Offloading

The maximum sales and profits come from early and late majority people. Only when your product is being accepted by these people, then only you should offload your maximum budget. Many great astonishing products spent most of its capital on mass marketing. Such marketing efforts came too soon before the idea spreads.

Take-aways:

  1. The message that Tiffany’s blue box and Leaning Tower of Pisa delivers, Pantheon in Rome does not. The marketing is not done for a product. It’s built right in.
  2. Greatest remarkable products and companies such as Starbucks, Apple, Disney, Reliance Industries have been started and successfully ran by marketers. From product development, manufacturing to communicating the value proposition, such passionate marketers have their heads involved in the entire product cycle.
  3. When the company becomes big, it loses its entrepreneurial charm and focuses on profitability. Hence, pick the right maverick in your company for product development and get out of his way.
  4. Work with sneezers. Get Permission from them. Alert them beforehand on upcoming products. Work with them to sell your idea to a wider Audience. (Donald Trump utilised such ‘Stakeholder Driven Media’ internet platforms like breitbart.com to spread his ideology to significant yet unique Americans).
  5. If your company has reached a stage, where nothing seems to be working and marketing department is facing the major brunt, talk to your engineers or product developers and customers. Rather than selling what they wanted to sell, new Best Buy CEO, Brad Anderson, listened to customers and realigned the entire strategy based on their inputs. Often, it was hard and longer in approach but produced more results (and, cheaper too), than typical boring ads and staying that way.
  6. Learn from people who have a track record of launching such remarkable products. Dive deep into the fans’ magazines, trade shows, design reviews – do whatever it takes to feel what your fans feel.

 

Author: Rupam Lathwal

PGPM Class of 2017, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

UPI and its Impact on the Mobile Wallet Industry

What is a UPI? How is it different from mobile wallets? Does it have the potential to eat away the market share of mobile wallets?

upi

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UPI (Unified Payments Interface) is an advanced version of IMPS (Immediate Payments System) which do bank to bank money transfer, just by using a Virtual Id/ Virtual Payments Address.

UPI or Unified Payment Interface is a payment architecture with a set of standard app APIs by the Reserve Bank of India in order to facilitate the next generation online immediate payments leveraging trends like increased smartphone adoption, increased app downloads and universal access to data and internet.

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Any smartphone user having a savings or current account with a UPI-partnered bank can download the app to make P2P (peer to peer) and P2M (peer-to-merchant) payments with the use of VPA (Virtual Payment Address).

Thus, in this case, the customer doesn’t need to disclose any sensitive information like bank account number or IFSC code for completing a financial transaction. It eliminates the requirement of entering one’s card details like number, CVV code, expiry date or OTP.

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Virtual Payment Address is just like an Email ID, something of the form yourname@xyzbank, like sonal@sbi or rashmi@citi. No more hassle of entering the account number, IFSC and other beneficiary/payee details. On entering just this VPA and authenticating the transaction with your MPIN, one will be able to complete the transaction successfully in less than 10 seconds.

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UPI’s two-factor authentication makes it safe and only shares the Virtual Payment Address. It doesn’t provide any other sensitive information.

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How can we download the UPI app?

Steps to download the UPI App are as follows:

  • Download the UPI app from 19 participating banks on the below link

https://play.google.com/store/search?q=upi&c=apps&docType=1&sp=CAFiBQoDdXBpegUYAMABAooBAggB%3AS%3AANO1ljJBaXc

 

  • Let’s say we are using Axis Bank’s UPI app. Here’s the welcome screen. SMS will be sent for authentication

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  • Add bank account: you’ll just need to select your Bank & your A/c will show up automatically (based on your mobile number linked with your bank a/c)

 

  • Create a Virtual Payment Address (VPA) which can be sonal@pnb or 123@ubi or pkc@icici or any other name. The suffix will be based on the app you are using. You can create different VPA with different banks pointing to the same account i.e sonal@axis, sonal@ubi or sonal@vijaya can point to one bank a/c, say from PNB

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  • You can even collect money by requesting it from the other person’s VPA

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UPI v/s Mobile Wallets

Currently, there are more than 25 mobile wallets available in market today.

  • Mobile wallets cannot access the UPI Technology on their own because UPI is a cross banking transfer medium and hence can only be accessed by the banks themselves. For mobile wallets to access UPI Technology, they need to partner with some or the other bank. So, in a way for banks which were suffering from the onslaught of mobile wallets, UPI has come as a boon to them that has turned the tables in favour of the banks.

Now, let’s discuss whether UPI has the potential to make mobile wallets redundant in India. Below are some of the characteristics on which UPI and mobile wallets can be compared.

Characteristics UPI Mobile Wallets Conclusion
Transfer Limit Rs 1,00,000/Transaction Rs 10,000 for non-KYC

 

Note: It can be increased upto Rs 1,00,000 post doing a KYC, which very few customers do

UPI will be more advantageous in this case
Transfer to individual and companies Definitely yes In case of wallets, not all wallets can do transfer but yes the major ones like Paytm, Mobikwik, Oxigen etc. allow the transfer to individuals and companies Majorly, both score well in it
Payment at physical stores Any physical store can make arrangements for accepting UPI Transactions In case of the wallet industry, they have to do a personal tie-up with those physical stores like Paytm has done tie-ups with Pizza

Hut, KFC and payments via Paytm wallet is accepted at

their outlets. Similarly, Mobikwik has exclusive tie- ups with Big-Bazaar and CCD

UPI can easily capture this market
Online Payments UPI Can do very well in this Mobile wallets showed their excellence in online payments No Clear Winner here
Cash Back/ Discounts UPI cannot provide any cash back or discounts In case of Mobile wallets, since they have merchant specific tie-ups, they do provide a lot of cash backs and merchant specific discounts Mobile wallets definitely have a great advantage here
Request for payment In UPI, one can ask for money from any person who is registered on UPI network In mobile wallets, few companies are asking allowing request for payment or asking for payment but in their own network UPI has bit of an advantage here
Transaction Cost There is charge of 0.45 paisa on each transaction through UPI No charge is there on transaction in case of mobile wallets Mobile Wallets are the clear winners here
Outreach Possible outreach is larger due to GoI’s Digital India support. Awareness programs and implementation, if executed well, will encourage cashless transactions even in rural and remote places depending on the government initiatives Restricited to marketing and branding strategy of the mobile wallet company and customer segments made aware. However if Mobile wallets work with UPI network they can use it to their advantage. Usually reaching rural places is more difficult for private businesses as it does not make commercial sense UPI has more advantage here

 

There are some Pros and Cons of UPI and Mobile Wallets which have been discussed below:

  UPI Mobile Wallets
Pros ·         Easier to set up and lesser time to execute the transaction.

 

·         No waiting for OTP

 

·         Device independent and form independent. One can use any bank’s app to transfer money in any other bank

 

·         Money gets transferred directly from bank account. We do not required to recharge any wallet or card in UPI

 

·         Marketing might of cash rich banks

 

·         Wallet companies are technology companies

 

 

·         Wallet companies are experts in user interface

·         Strategic tie-ups are increasing day by day and many of them are part of big- ecommerce companies, such as Freecharge is a part of Snapdeal. These help them in extra benefits which they pass on to customers in a way of cash backs, loyalty points etc.

 

·         Other benefits- mobile recharge, Bill Split, micro credit facilities etc which may not be possible for UPI to provide.

Cons ·         Lack of technology prowess

·         No Strategic tie-ups

·         Company dependent

·         Extra KYC for higher transactions

·         Fraud Concerns

·         Too much competition

UPI certainly has more advantages over Mobile wallets but as per the current scenario in India, it doesn’t mean that mobile wallets will become redundant.

In India, which is majorly a cash run economy both can co-exist as of for now. Mobile wallets have to do some tweaking in their business model and they are in a process of doing it. Some examples are listed below:

  • Paytm will soon get their own Payment Bank license through which they can enter in the main stream of UPI and can launch a UPI based Paytm app
  • Free Charge has tied –up with Axis Bank and will provide UPI based transaction on their platform
  • Phone Pe, which is owned by Flipkart, has launched a new app in collaboration with Yes Bank where both the UPI transactions and wallet benefits are there
  • ICICI pockets, which was a wallet by ICICI Bank but wasn’t doing well, has now been integrated with UPI. So, one can have the benefits of both in their Pockets app

We can have these apps integrated with the benefits of both UPI and Mobile Wallets.

 

Author : Sonal Gupta

PGDM Class of 2018, Great Lakes

What’s with the old people and the new currency?

What’s with the old people and the new currency?

“Money is an idea, Backed by confidence” 

~ L. Ron Hubbard ~

currencydemonetization

While the social networking sites and the media were busy debating the good and the bad of demonetizing the Rs.500 and Rs.1000 denominated notes and the introduction of new currency notes, I was noticing the behaviour of general public and the regular transactions. Here are some interesting things that I noticed:

  1. First obvious behaviour that could be seen in the urban public was finding ways to go completely cashless. Now this had some interesting behavioural patterns like more and more people using Uber (Paytm) and Ola (Ola money) to travel cashless; people who were not using these apps earlier have also started using them overnight for making online payments. Paytm transactions seem to have increased. Credit/Debit card payments will now obviously become the most common ways of purchasing goods in restaurants, malls, marts etc.
  2. To meet the daily cash needs and to exchange demonetized currency, people were crowding at ATMs and Bank branches.
  3. Now the question arises that why do you need cash if you can go cashless in the urban setups? Well for most of the needs it’s fine but what if you feel like having coffee at home and you run out of milk? You cannot order just the milk from your grocery app as it will cost you an extra Rs.50 for delivery (The total purchase value has to be at least Rs.500 for a free delivery). You might go to a mall and need to pay for the parking tickets; you feel thirsty all of a sudden and need to buy a bottle of water and so on. Either you need more of perishable goods than other less perishable grocery or food items or you can’t avoid other small token purchases. That’s where it gets difficult to go cashless. You need cash in small denominations for your day-to-day needs as majority of the small vendors that do not accept cards.
  4. How do people manage then? Especially small vendors who sell perishable goods like fruits and vegetables. From what I keenly observed off-late was that the vegetable vendors allow you to have a line of credit …… I was like, what? Why? Then I thought again and the answer was the very nature of vegetables being perishable. So, if a vendor does not let you purchase them on credit and you are all out of cash, all his stock will eventually go to waste. Some people started using paper-money i.e. your own currency. Wow…. Can you do that? Yes, of course. Why not? When people can use black money and unaccounted currency notes for their transactions, why can they not use these fragile and pseudo-currencies like paper-money (the vendor gives you a handwritten note that he owes you money or the other way round). Now some of you will ask what this pseudo-currency is backed with. The answer is trust & confidence – the most valuable thing in this world. Also, some small vendors eventually purchased the mobile payment machines or downloaded Paytm on their phones to do cashless transactions.
  5. Now, if I talk about the regular trade, it was low. Shops were operational for a lesser number of hours due to cash problems and some were shut. I have seen them remain closed from 2-3 days now. But why? While some shopkeepers might be having problems transacting, some might even be avoiding raids or maybe the loss from not operating is smaller than that of not converting all their black money into White. And that is going to take a while given the limits of transactions imposed on various modalities per day and per week basis. So, maybe that is keeping them busy off-site. However, other than people with black money, the folks who have suffered the most are illiterate or semi-literate people and small vendors dealing in small denomination and changes, having no bank accounts.
  6. One more important and amusing observation, in general, was landlords and relatives becoming all-too-friendly all of a sudden in expectation that you would allow them to convert some of their Bad money (not black money… don’t blame the colour … it compliments style …Black deserves better) to white money. Well, Sorry Boss!! Give me my rent-agreement first, that is long overdue.
  7. Amidst all of this, there were rumours of salt prices rising all of a sudden. Thankfully that turned out be a rumour only. However, it could have been true in some pockets of the country where people could have actually exploited the situation to hoard up the “essential goods”.
  8. Fuss about Paytm using PMO’s image to gain business. I don’t know why people had to make a fuss about that when one of the best ways to go cashless is Paytm. How? Well, even a small vendor has a smart phone in his/her hands nowadays. They can just download the Paytm app and be ready to make even small token transactions in a cashless way. In fact, Mother Dairy is allowing its customers to buy products using Paytm.

Fundamentally all these activities have yet again proved that money is not the currency note that you hold but it is “the liquid-capacity (or liquid asset) that you have to settle accounts for the products, commodities and services exchanged”. What you do it with is just a modality not money. 

Mobile banking can be a big enabler of cashless and legitimate transactions given its growth rate of 212% in terms of value (February 2016) and 131% in volume. At present we have 12% of our GDP floating as cash in the economy (one of the highest around the world). According to World Bank only 53% of Indian population i.e. 636 million people have bank accounts, whereas over a billion have mobile phones. The percentage of internet users in India is roughly around 35% of the total population and is still growing strong. With stricter KYC procedures for mobile phone service subscription and bank accounts, the introduction of the new UPI (Unified payment system- across banks, introduced by RBI) can revolutionize our regular transactions as there are already legitimate users and bank accounts in the system. Under this system you can link your multiple bank accounts to the app and make transactions under Rs.1 Lakh from bank accounts to bank accounts (Individuals and merchants) just by sending a message to the app. It is quite simple and efficient.

 

References:

  1. http://www.financialexpress.com/fe-columnist/payment-banks-a-mobile-wallet-is-a-depreciating-currency/321088/
  2. Centrum broking report titled- ‘Banking Transactions – Technological Disruption

Disclaimer: This study is based on use of information from government database, newspaper articles and internet-trends and observations in general. The data collated through different sources like RBI, World Bank have been duly credited to and are indicative in nature. The author doesn’t claim any ownership or the veracity of figures mentioned. The ideas that have been borrowed have been duly credited to and other self-proposed ideas are inconsequential and meant only for the academic-engagements of the institute.”

Author : Gaurav Chauhan

Senior Research Fellow, Great Lakes