It only takes
a mouse and a telephone
Herat Gunaratne looks at marketing trends in a new era
We've grown excessively lazy during the past
few years. No more do we wake up on a Sunday morning and stroll
to the newspaper stand at the top of the road to pick up our favourite
newspaper. No more do we visit the pola on Saturdays. It's either
a quick trip to the supermarket or everything is delivered right
to your door. You really don't need to leave home to shop.
get phones ringing
utensils and car vacuum cleaners, exercise machines and children's
books..you name it and it comes to your door. And if you don't fancy
any of these, there are manicure and pedicure sets and a range of
hand-held sewing machines to choose from.
can be purchased in three ways. There's the option of buying it
from a door-to-door salesman who might suddenly pop up at your home,
on the telephone or by the click of the mouse on the Internet. Shocked?
It's true. Marketing of the new era is no longer restricted to shopping
arcades and weekend polas.
Teleshopping for example. They've been around for four years now
and are the firm behind those "half hour infomercials"
on television. "People do not have the time to go out shopping
anymore. Parking is a big problem. Here they are given the opportunity
to pick up the phone, dial a number and get the product they wanted
delivered to their door," says Nomal Wijeyaratne, the Managing
Director of Quantum Teleshopping.
have their own dedicated shopping channels that are tailormade for
this type of marketing. The half-hour infomercials usually begin
with an introductory 13 minutes that give the viewer a chance to
see and understand the product better. Local information of how
and where to purchase a product follows.
approach: The salesman at your door Pix
by M. A. Pushpa Kumara
need not leave their homes to get the perfect product. We also provide
a 30-day money back guarantee. The slightest complaint can be voiced
and an answer will be provided, " Mr. Wijeyaratne said.
How well has
the market caught on in Sri Lanka? "Well it's a niche market,
quite small and concentrated in Colombo. But it is adequate for
us to sustain ourselves. Still, the majority of our sales take place
in the showroom but that too is due to the TV advertising."
make or break the sale. It is through the TV advertisements that
the interest is generated but the need to touch and feel the product
before purchase exists and that is why the showroom provides 80%
of the sales." So the human touch is lost due to TV advertising?
Not really, he says. "Take clothing for example. Here the human
touch is vital and that is why it never picked up on telemarketing.
But with exercise equipment it is not a problem."
But he is confident
that leisure shopping will remain the same. These are family outings
in a way and there's always variety. He says that grocery shopping
on the other hand can be tedious as the same products are bought
day after day, month after month and year after year. "I'm
sure that anyone will be willing to give the grocery list to someone
else and get it done."
new concept in marketing that hit Sri Lanka six years ago was that
of Direct Sales. Yousef Mohamed Jiffry, the Chairman and Managing
Director of Direct Marketing International (Pvt.) Ltd. who was working
in the Gulf in the same business explains, "I wanted to come
to Sri Lanka to settle down and so brought down the concept with
is a wholesale distribution company selling merchandise to independent
distributors who in turn sell directly to consumers. These distributors
go door-to-door to homes or workplaces, showing people their products.
Sales are either made on the spot or a sample product and order
form are left and picked up later.
is usually sold on the basis of low price and good value. The more
people see the product the better the chance of selling it. But
how did he introduce the concept to the country? "Our sales
people were not willing to go out into the field dressed in shirt
and tie, carrying a bag full of products and selling it to people
they did not know. So initially I brought down three Americans who
worked with me for three years. They went out to the field with
our salesmen and showed them how the system worked and how effective
it could be. It soon caught on and we now have 247 distributors."
he says, has been fantastic. Distributors are willing to work even
during the weekends to meet the demand, selling products like hand-held
fans and massagers, and kitchen scissors with a bottle opener attached
to it. "They are not the kind of products that you would go
out of your way to purchase. They are only purchased on a whim."
Suppose a product
did not live upto expectations? "The customers are free to
come back to us. We are prepared to give them an alternate piece
of equipment. Each bill has our telephone number and address."
attitude is vital for this type of business. "Every morning
we have motivational meetings where we convince our salespeople
that they can do it, that they can make any sale." The job
is tiring but rewarding. Mr. Yousef says that there are those who
are willing to out even after seven in the night to make a sale.
So how do people
react? "Some are quite willing to ask the salesman in and listen
to what he has to say. Others slam the door on them or ask them
to come some other time. It's everything to do with attitude. If
the first house doesn't yield any results they just move on to the
next. It's as simple as that."
too is catching on. There is no limit to the purchases one can make
on the Internet. Books, flowers, furniture and even 100g of candied
peel as we found out. There are supermarkets online that promise
to deliver your goods within a period of 72 hours. You can even
order ladies'lingerie off the Internet.
But do people
actually shop on the Internet? "Yes, they do,"says Brando
Grey, the Senior Executive of Customer and Merchant Services at
Lanka E-com Technologies. "It's mainly the migrants who are
interested. A gentleman in the States recently wanted to buy his
mother in Sri Lanka a refrigerator. So a few e-mails went back and
forth and we decided on the perfect colour, make and size. It made
everything very easy."
was first introduced nearly five years ago and mainly targeted utility
services. One could pay phone bills, water bills and electricity
bills all on the Internet. But now nearly everything can be purchased
new concepts of marketing springing up one cannot but wonder whether
in twenty years time we'd be totally at the mercy of a mouse and
a telephone. But modernization has its advantages as well as its
disadvantages. Convenience has always been top priority, but the
allure of actually walking up to the corner shop and buying that
100g of candied peel is still present. And will be so for a long
time to come.