My home to office commute takes me past 4 big traffic signals in Bangalore , each stopping me for a 2-3 mins minimum and having no option , I have been particularly observing what happens there. Skipping the parts of transgenders and beggars, I found something very interesting and appealing to me over the past few yeas. I find hawkers almost immediately coming onto the car to sell you something which always interested me. The uneasy feeling of buying something that I do not want or getting sold forcefully (akin to VCs :-)) though remained, I though I had few interesting lessons to learn from them :
1.First lesson – there is always an emotion and context to sell to- On Independence day, they come up with Indian tricolor, small flags etc . On rainy or cloudy days, we see lots of colorful umbrellas at traffic junctions, winters get you cloaks/jackets/warmers etc and brighter days they sell colorful toys. They make use of season & weather very rationally and how many of us have bought those blinds for car windows in peak summers ? Yes, even rakhi’s get sold at junctions as much as new year diaries, calendars, googles (rayban included) do. It’s not that we are searching for them or need them but someone makes us aware of those goods and weaves a beautiful context and then sells us. This is also evident in selling peanuts/groundnuts, corn etc. during cloudy/rainy days and cucumber, watermelons, mango cut pieces etc in summers.
2. Agility and time (used/wasted) to sell are critical – The vendor approaches you and in a few secs and repeatedly knocks your window to figure out whether you are a prospect or not and in few secs will again qualify you :-). If you don’t budge in anyway, he/she moves on with others.
3. Hardwork pays – Even in rains, they stand and at night 10pm too, they stand there to make that one extra sale!
Slightly off point – A year and half back, during my corporate job days, when we went to IIM-K, IIM-B, NIT-T for campus interviews , we made a case study based on this. Something that goes like there are 100 vehicles (assume all cars) that stop at a traffic signal for 3 mins. Red/Green shifts based on peak hour/non-peak traffic as per the following distribution. A vendor works for 8 hours continuously and his probability of successful sale if he spends X secs, y secs & Z secs etc is a,b &c respectively. Assuming there are this many vendors, find out the 1,2,3,4…
Not many have solved the problem but whoever got the approach right and used analytics to solve this problem always got into that company.
Now coming back to what I started with – I remembered this today as it rained in Bangalore and when I was at the traffic junction, I felt like having a good coffee..What if this traffic junctions can sell tea/coffee ( much like in rural India or at government Bus stands- do they still sell ?) and if cafes/restaurants can package this well, make use of these hawkers to sell more & of course do a bit social employment too if that can fit in? How wonderful if a Cafe Coffee Day, Starbucks, Barista, Chaipatty, Chaipoint , My Tea House, Au Bon Pain etc guys can make use of those traffic juntions during monsoons and I have a non-spilling container of coffee/tea that gets sold to me with context & season.. What will we call it then “Go-Road-illa” marketing ? criticism/comments all welcome except distribution problems in such a model..