Wednesday, 23 January 2013

It's raining SALE alleluia!

As the name suggests, it is a sale time. Not just the regular sale but most of the brands are offering heaving discounts like Flat 40% off, buy two get one free, Buy a product and get a shopping voucher for the next time. Wonder why are the brands pushing their products at throw away prices? And I am not just talking about the regular ones like Arrow, Louis Philippe or Levi’s but also the luxury ones like Aldo, Steve Maddens, Tommy Hilfiger, Zara. These brands are considered a luxury and not everybody looks at them not for buying but eyeing.  But this season I saw Aldo & Steve Madden selling footwear at Rs. 1400* and Zara winter jackets for Rs. 3500*.

Is it pushing the products to Masses? I don’t see that as a strong point. Not everybody is their target audience. Their TG is niche and selected. Let us explore possible connections:
  • Market is very dull – Across all the segments be it Consumer Electronics, FMCG, Lifestyle products, there seems to be a slowdown which is impacting every possible brand.
  • Adopting the trend from other countries – The stuff which does not sell up- to 5 or more months is considered for selling at lower price along with other fresh stock. This experience is given by stores like Ross and Macy’s in U.S. So even premium brands like CK, Ralph Lauren, and Banana Republic have fresh stock and old stock (which is available at dirt cheap prices). Similarly it is being adopted in India
  • Creating a customer experience – Giving a middle class family an experience of luxury brand with a price their pockets can afford. Loyalty points associated with these shopping brings back the customer to shop again and redeem.  And sometime or the other if you get an experience, you stick to it for longer time until the pocket absolutely cannot afford.
  • “Sale-u” people – Still lot of people in India have that sale mentality. So if they are in the mall for dinner they will definitely peek-a-boo in the showroom which says “FLAT Discount”. And they contribute a lot by their impulsive shopping.

I am one of those analyzers of the brands and their discount period and trust me it is a big saving to do with a good brand in the hand. Happy Shopping & saving J

*On selected but good products. This article is only for current Sale period of Dec-Jan-Feb 2013

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Maldives was heaven for my eyes

Virgin Ocean at Maldives

The combination of white sand beach, mesmerizing sunset and sunrise, silent lagoons, vast corals and romantic over-water bungalows can be found at the heavenly place on earth known as ‘Maldives’.
I wish to travel maximum during my life and till now I am done with few places however Maldives is one country, I can vouch. As soon as I landed, I felt the place was pampering with it bouquet of services.
The country is divided into two parts: On road and Islands. While the on-road part is the capital Male (total of 4 km, I guess) and the rest is all islands. And over those islands, the beautiful resorts and hotels have come up. I found Maldives extremely expensive which I believe is the reason that it is maintained in hygiene and facilities. 

White Sand Beach

The resort ferry's you from airport to the island. Hospitality of the staff is great.These resorts usually have 2-3 islands and to add a feather in their cap, one resort would only be a stay area for guests, one would be dining & lounge and another would be for sports activity. The fact that for every meal I had an option to go to another island really fancied me. The ocean was as clear as it could get with visibility of jelly fish or star fish upto 100%. 

Sting Ray (fish) inside the clear ocean

Even the stay had two options – Room on the white sand and room over water.  Imagining that I could use a staircase and get into the ocean from my room had hijacked my mind and therefore I decided to go for over-water bungalow. The bungalow was beautiful and well maintained with basic hygiene and even modern facilities. The best part was the balcony; you could sit there for hours and stare at the vast ocean right below you with the view of flora and fauna. And since those rooms were built on lagoons, the water was shallow and allowed even the non-swimmers to enter.

View from the room

The food is just awesome. Since Maldives has no industry of its own except fishery and tourism, they import everything from water to fruits to food items. And that was the reason that exotic, non seasonal fruits were easily available on the breakfast menu. You name the dish and you had it on your table and getting vegetarian meal is not a problem at all. It is just that even the basic margarita pizza was 47 dollars, which means even gulping down the food would burn a hole in the pocket. And of-course, sea food is the specialty.
Next turn was water-sports. Maldives has been the best location for scuba dive because it rich, vast and untouched corals on the sea bed. And I was all game for it. One hour of training, small test and we were ready for going 11mtrs below the seal level. And to our luck, we found a big sea turtle just passing by us. We had taken an underwater camera from Kodak and it leaked, though we managed taking few pictures. We also saw loads of species of fishes, there houses in the corals – It was a completely different world underwater. And remembering it after two years still brings the same line which I said at that time “There exists a different life here altogether which one cannot feel unless seen”

Submarine taking us to the seabed

Maldives has vast offerings under water sports – Water scooter, parasailing, snorkelling, dolphin sightseeing, surfing, Banana riding and Glass Bottom Boats.  Well each of the sports were pinching as it could get because one has to shell at-least 250 dollars for scuba dive alone and 70 dollars at-least for other activities each. Sad but it is the best one could get!

Islands in Maldives

Sun setting in the sea
I stayed for four days in Anantara Resorts and it was an awesome experience. There are many other resorts which my friends have stayed in such as Taj, W retreat and Hyatt.
Fifth day was in the city for souvenir shopping. Male is very cheap compared to the resorts. Two roads and you will have all the shops on it and even the city is all on it. One can cover the city in 3 hours which includes dining also, haha. You can shop for red coral beads and showpieces of the fauna. In-fact coconut wind-chimes are also popular.
So that wraps up my experience in Maldives. I had guts to do the adventure sports and I wish that readers of this blog will try their hands with Scuba.