How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

Location: India

Monday, August 30, 2004

Market survey

For a term project in Economics, our group in class has been assigned to research the market for cellular phones from a global perspective. Different groups have been assigned different products or services to research.

One part of the project is the collection of primary data through a survey conducted on respondents in Lucknow city. In this connection, our group drew up a questionnaire and we went last Friday to Lucknow to conduct the survey. It was the first such experience for all of us. And after the survey, we did realize how difficult it is to hold the attention of random passersby - all strangers - with this sheet of paper in hand.

Here are some anecdotes from the experience:
  • We first visited Purania Chowk & Aliganj. This area had mostly middle- to lower-income bracket people. We visited a few shopping centres and got quite a few responses. However, many of the people did not know what IIM was. This characteristic of not knowing about or appreciating any good people or institutions that exist in your backyard seems to be common across India. Some people refused us outright thinking we were actually trying to sell them cell phones :).
  • A couple of us were strolling around this area when they saw a big queue. It was the BSNL office and people were standing in a long queue waiting to submit their forms for the post-paid cellular service. They thought these two people were distributing more forms and they thronged them :). As soon as they realized the real purpose, most of them left. These two also left before someone might think they were distributing fake forms.
  • At Cafe Coffee Day in Hazratganj, we had handed a survey form to a girl about our age who was sitting with her mother. A few minutes after she had handed over the form, she suddenly came up to our table and asked us, "Are you from IIM Lucknow?" We said yes. And she says, "I'm impressed, keep it up!" with a thumbs-up sign. A couple of us were quite thrilled by this :)).
  • Most shopkeepers and some other people were quite reluctant to indicate their income range for obvious reasons, even though we were not noting down any names.
  • We entered into a cloth shop to get the survey filled by a shopkeeper. This chap was a character. He was a Kashmiri. Instead of filling up the form, he started philosophizing (at our expense), saying things like - 'meri to kuchh income hi nahin hai', 'aap to privileged hain, ki developing country men rahate hain. maine aise logon ko dekha hai jinke pairon men chappal bhi nahin. aur ek aap se bhi zyaada privileged log hain jo developed world men rahate hain.', and on and on. While he was so engrossed, his assistant could not serve a customer properly and he left. Coming down to earth, this man now snarled, "bevaqoof aadmi! hamen bulaa lete, ham to idhar hi the! main hoon naa! Kashmiri men 'hoonaa' ka matlab jaanate ho? 'kuttaa'! to main 'hoonaa'!" Pretty interesting!

But our persistence did pay off as we got quite a good general idea about the segmentation and penetration in the Lucknow market. All in all, a good learning experience, if a trifle tiring.


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