By Jaimit Doshi
Head-Marketing, Kotak Securities
A year back, my wife and I thought it was time to buy one of those flat TVs –nice way to celebrate a bonus. And that’s when all the TV ads started to catch our attention. Nice and sexy ads extolling the virtues of clear image, good sound and blah blah. Being a marketing person, I was hell bent on making the right informed choice and refused to be swayed by ads.
So we walked into the nearest Croma outlet to look at the various options available. The only thing we had decided was the budget – 50K. That should be good enough, we assumed. At the Croma store, we were dazzled by the choices. The sales guy threw one number after another at us – this one is an LCD and it costs X, and that one is an LED costing Y. Sony is a trusted brand, but LG will allow you to plug a large external memory device, while the Samsung will do this… He lost us in all that technical talk. When I bought my first laptop I thought the choice was complex, but this dwarfed it all.
In case of laptops, eight years ago, I had gotten my thumb rule right. First choose the screen resolution, then the size within budget and then pump up the RAM. I couldn’t be bothered with the rest of the specs. Here, there is the LCD versus LED debate, the size debate, how big a TV would a small Mumbai room allow, do I need full HD, sound, picture clarity… the list went on. At least the Croma salesman was well equipped with knowledge on TVs. He knew every spec. Bewildered, an hour later we apologized and told him we’d come back soon. I decided to look up the Net for reviews and views. The Internet search only threw up more noise.
A few days later, strolling around the King’s Circle area in Mumbai with my wife, I suddenly shouted out ‘Devang’! Yes… My school-mate Devang Mehta ran a nice electronics store called National Electronics. Why hadn’t I thought of him? So we went to his store and said, “We want a TV”. He sat us down, offered filter coffee and said, “Sure”. A few questions later, he quickly figured that I have a medium-sized room and a decent distance from which I can view the TV. He realized that we don’t have too much time for cable and wanted it predominantly for movies. He figured that I also have dark curtains. He told me simply, “Dude, do one thing, go for the plasma. It’s cheaper, you will get full HD in your budget, it’s the right size and the picture quality is perfect.” He also demonstrated why we don’t really need the LED that I was sold on initially. He explained that the only reason plasma didn’t do well is because it reflected a lot of light. “But if you are not watching much cable and you have dark curtains, your movie viewing will be great in this,” he said. He even played animated movies to show how my daughter would love it. Then he recommended the right DVD player along with the right HDMI cable, explained the upscaling that would happen and sent the guy over the same evening to install the stuff and collect the cheque. Smooth.
Devang taught me a valuable lesson that day. I had probably heard more jargon at Croma. But Devang knew what questions to ask. He knew we were not buying features, but making a lifestyle choice. My wife, my eight-year-old and I walked out happy. He gave us what we wanted and even helped us with enough info to explain to our neighbors and friends why we have this plasma TV. He showed how simple honest people like him can effectively counter the dazzle of a big store. He made me what Malcolm Gladwell calls a Maven. I spread his word to all I know. Devang Mehta – may his tribe increase.