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!
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!
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?
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.
“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?