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New year, new microwave… and a reminder from 20 years ago

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On 26 Dec, we welcomed our kitten Zoe in the evening. We also threw a rollickingly good Boxing Day brunch.

The idea was to revive a ‘tradition’ from Canada where Christmas would be devoted to family, but Boxing Day? Oh that was prime time for those near and dear friends who are like family!

Christmas feast with leftovers at our Boxing Day Brunch

A friend’s Xmas feast that we joined

Feasting, feasting feasting!!

And what is family friend time like without a feast? So I encouraged folks to ‘box’ up their Christmas leftovers and bring to our home. As the day progressed, dish upon delicious dish piled up. To the point where both our living room and kitchen tables were groaning under the weight and even the kitchen counter and stove was bursting with fabulous food. (Shame on me! I was too busy socialising to take a pic!)

Most dishes needed heating, so between the stove and microwave, something sure was ‘cooking’ in the kitchen. At one point, my re-heating duties were taken over by a couple of friends and my partner’s mother’s helper. Not quite sure how it happened, but to cut a long story short, we literally managed to burn out the micro!

Now this is India… which means anything can be repaired. And sure enough, my very serviceable microwave can indeed be fixed. However the cost to replace the part blown is 4 times its re-sale value and inching close to that of buying a new cheap one. After a dozen years, we decided it was time to ‘upgrade’ and get a swank new microwave come grill come convection oven, donating our old micro to our driver who will be able to get it repaired or re-sell it.

So out with the old and in with the new!

Once upon a time you worked perfectly!

Farewell! Once upon a time you worked perfectly!

Cooking classes free with your new microwave!

What was even more amusing is the company sends someone home to ‘train’ you after you buy the microwave. As clearly one cannot be expected to actually (gasp!) read the instruction manual.

I remember a friend sharing that years ago when this same company first introduced microwaves to the tier 3 and 4 cities, they held full day cooking classes for housewives to teach them a range of dishes that can be prepared using their fancy new machine. His mother attended and found it brilliant fun meeting other ‘ladies’, baking cakes and other culinary treats never before attempted.

Why would this foreign company even know to do this?

Welcome new micro!

Welcome new micro!

Preparing for global domination!

Well… let me take you back twenty years before their formal entry into this market. Once upon a time a Korean company decided they wanted to expand to India. So they sent legions of managers to explore the potential.

How? Just a week or so of meetings. Nope!

These managers came to LIVE for a year, with the expectation of learning at least one Indian language, improve their English, take up a ‘local’ hobby like learn a musical instrument, play cricket, something that would culturally connect them to the part of India they were assigned. They were expected to mix and mingle, leaving wives and children behind, so would have no distractions from fully embracing this new environment. The most successful formed influential and some even very (ahem) personal liaisons.

Then… and only then.. were they to start to consider what potential products would be suitable for the market and how they should be introduced.

And how do I know this?

A sideline for several North American students living in India at the time was to become language tutors to these fellows as their American accent was coveted by the ambitious managers who hoped one day to get a posting in the US.

"Madame please sign to confirm I taught you how to use your microwave"

“Madame please sign to confirm I taught you how to use your microwave”

“Let me show you how to use your microwave” (so you don’t bust it!)

So today, as this young man earnestly pressed buttons showing me how to make ‘cafeteria’ or ‘kid’s nutrition’ food… I saw how the plastic containers provided with the microwave has a stand to roast ‘papad‘ and a container to steam ‘idles’… I remembered my early encounter with how Samsung approached India and their tremendous success today.

Their brand strategy to patriotically identify as ‘Team Samsung India‘ with cricket legends who are like gods in this country! Supporting national school level quiz contests linked to their sponsorship of Indian athletes at the Olympics… many more examples represent an understanding of what makes Indians ‘tick’.

While I may not have agreed fully with their approach, I wonder how many companies make that kind of investment to understand the cultural context and habits of a place before trying to do business?

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20 Comments

  1. Haha looking at the old machine I am surprised it survived that long :p
    These kind of new microwaves are crazy! We have a pretty simple much but my parents also got this kind of strange outworldly machinery which is beyond my skills of using it

  2. Great story about the Koreans. Samsung did its job well. I remember the Nissan Cecil and the Nissan Cedric in Australia from my early teen years. Apparently Nissan sent someone to Australia to find out the two most ‘macho’ men’s names in Australia and in typical Aussie fashion the joking answer was Cecil and Cedric. Unfortunately the guy from Nissan didn’t understand the culture well enough to get the joke so the cars were named Cecil and Cedric – as far from macho as you can get. Oops!
    Alison

  3. Sonel says:

    Little Zoe is totally adorable and I can see she will be very loved and totally spoiled. Which is good. 😀

    Ah, microwaves! LOL! Do you also remember how many people believed they can cause cancer and some still do? All the hoaxes and stories around it.

    Yes, even here it’s sometimes better to buy a new product as the repairs could cost more than a new one and microwaves are also cheap here in South Africa or at least the one I have, was. I also just use mine for defrosting and heating. It does save a lot of electricity depending on the size of what you want to defrost or heat.

    They do have a great strategy and I can see where their success comes from. Good question as well. Around here I can honestly tell you that the most companies I know don’t care. They just want to sell their products and don’t even bother to employ people who knows how it works.

    Great post and enjoy your new microwave and Zoe. 😀

    • Wee Zoe has completely conquered us! 🙂

      And yes – I do remember all the fears of microwaves when they first came out. A friend in Singapore still will not eat anything that has been microwaved (if she knows).

      We actually had a larger oven for sometime but switched back to our small toaster oven partly as it was far more efficient. Getting this convection oven / broiler / microwave is our new experiment. The challenge is we just discovered though it takes a lot more space, it is actually smaller inside than our last one! So some things don’t fit. Go figure. 😉

      Samsung in India, as with many other markets, clearly had the ‘long play’ in mind and are reaping the rewards of taking the effort to understand, collaborate and sell products that actually align with a market – including the ways people actually use things.

      Thanks also for stopping by! I absolutely LOVE your amazing photos… and can imagine that South Africa provides much amazing inspiration!

      • Sonel says:

        Oh, I can see that and I don’t blame you for being taken in. I would have too. 😀

        Ha! (If she knows). True what they say. What the eye don’t see, the heart won’t grieve over. 😆

        It sounds like a great new addition to your kitchen and a pity about the space, but I am sure you will make a plan. I have a convection oven as well, but it’s not a 3 in one as yours. My microwave is much smaller and we hardly ever use the convection oven as it cleans very difficult and I am forever afraid of breaking the glass bowl when washing it. So yes, a 3-in-one would suit me better as well. 😀

        They clearly had and that is good business for sure.

        You are very welcome and I am very glad you do. Thanks for the lovely compliment. You are very kind. 😀

        It sure does but you will see I don’t travel much. Most of my photos were taken just in my garden. I am glad I don’t have to go any further. haha!

        • Often it is the world next door that is the most amazing!

          My mother is an avid organic gardener and her close friend and neighbour is both a pharmacist and photographer who has chronicled over the years the incredible variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers grown plus the creatures that form part of the cycle of nature. Together they sometimes teach at the University on lesser known medicinal properties and uses of various plants. When I get back to Canada to visit, I always love to see what new photographs are added to the collection.

          I’m looking forward to testing out the convection oven… it has been a long time since I used a ‘proper’ oven so let’s see!

          • Sonel says:

            Being a homebody I hardly ever go outside the yard, especially in the summer. This time of the year it’s way too hot and I spend most of it in the pool and watching the bees drinking from the water bowl I placed by the steps. LOL!

            Oh, that is just awesome and sounds so interesting. I especially like the part where they include the creatures that form part of the cycle of nature and as a believer in herbal plants and their medicinal properties I know I would be fascinated by it. You are so lucky to see the photos. 😀

            LOL! I am not really one for cooking but I can if I set my mind to it. I love cooking in winter. Summer. No! Then it’s mostly salads and I leave the cooking to the 3 men in my life. Aren’t I clever? LOL!

            Enjoy your oven and I hope to see what you have made. ♥

            • You are indeed clever! Considering my partner is away for a film shoot most of this month, I’ll likely get experimental only when he is back. Putting a lot of effort into cooking for one just isn’t my thing – soups, salads and sandwiches more my style. 😉 Though I suppose this is an excuse to have a small dinner party too! 😉

              There are a few shots with busy bees in flowers and other critters that are amazing. Gotta admit, would love to be a student and sit in on their classes. That said, I do get a personal ‘tour’ and receive a wealth of information if I ask about anything specific.

              As for the heat? This is familiar territory hanging out in India too… so get preferring a more desultory pace. 🙂

            • Sonel says:

              Ooooh! Film shoot! Sounds exciting! 😀

              Oh yes, now you’re talking. Soups, salads and sandwiches rule! LOL!

              So awesome and I wouldn’t mind as well. It sounds very interesting and definitely learn-worthy. You are blessed indeed. 😀

              I am sure it is. Never been there and don’t think I will ever get that far. Maybe in my dreams, but then I will make it some exotic island or somewhere cold. 😆

            • This will be a juicy commercial masala film. He does a few of those a year to subsidise his theatre habit. 🙂

              I’ve actually shared a few quick pressure cooker soup recipes on this blog… just search for ‘soup’ and a few should pop up!

              Blessed? Completely!

              And ditto for me with S Africa – place I’ve always wanted to go but haven’t managed so far… Kenya is likely to happen at some point this year as there is a family wedding to attend. 🙂

            • Sonel says:

              You had me at juicy. LOL! That sounds like a lot of fun. 😀

              I will definitely. I do have a pressure cooker but it’s so old and the pressure part doesn’t work anymore, but I do make soup in it.

              That is cool! I wouldn’t mind going there either but if I can choose it will either be Scotland or Switzerland. No hot places for me thanks. I am definitely grateful for this virtual travelling I can do … until they finally invent teleports and I can go there in a flash. That will be perfect for sure. haha!

            • Hehe! His life as an actor definitely has its moments. 🙂

              I like my soups with lentils too so the pressure cooker makes that a breeze.. but just boiling works too.

              Cool climes for me gotta be short stops. I think its a hang-over from having grown up in a place where winter = -40’c or even -60’c if you take the wind chill factor into account!

            • Sonel says:

              I bet! Must be very exciting as well. 😀

              Oh, that is a fact. The boiling just takes longer.

              I can take cool climes for much longer and wouldn’t mind being in Alaska right now. Maybe I’d think differently when I land there for about a week. Then it would be nice to go back to warm and sunny SA. haha!

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