Monday, May 28, 2007

From then to now...

Businesses need to constantly evolve with time and trends in order to be a successful. Some of the businesses which were leaders of yesteryears and forgot to listen to the customer or read the direction the wind was blowing have perished. Probably these were businesses which refused to provide better products, because ostensibly, there was no "market".

The examples India will never forget are the Premier Automobiles (makers of Premier Padmini) and Hindustan Motors (makers of Ambassadors) once the only two types of vehicles you could see in India, all over the country. Today, they can be seen as taxis in Mumbai and Calcutta respectively.

PAL (Premier Automobiles Ltd) had almost a lions share in the automobile industry in the yesteryears but had only two products in probably 2 decades of its existence (not including the JV with Fiat at a later stage, nearly the end). It probably milked every customer with almost a similar offering - the Premier Padmini (they did have a deluxe version with some cosmetic changes). When the 118NE was introduced - it was a roaring success since it was a "bit" different" (it looked like the Russian Lada). It had floor gears - but then for whatever reasons PAL decided not to provide more products through the market leadership it had. Perhaps it was denial, perhaps it was something else.

Its JV with Peugot fell by the wayside and probably its JV with FIAT (which eventually lead to FIAT taking over PAL) was also a failure. Same is probably true with the Ambassadors of Hindustan Motors. With designs and handling of 40s and 50s vintage, nobody wants them anymore, obviously.

Am sure there are lot more examples in every businesses. I remember by school days when "cut-piece" cloth was a great "hit" - pretty much the only way to get shirts! Babubhai Jagjeevan Das (how many of us can forget it signature tune on radios - it also shortenened its name to BJ for a while) was probably a pioneer in "cut-pieces" of cloth which you used to a tailor and get it stiched - they used to advertise on every media available in those days. So was SKumar's. There were many "local" leaders in cut piece cloth. Chembur had one too...

My recent visit to a suburban market saw the hustle bustle almost absent in one such "cut-piece" store. (Anands cut piece store in Chembur - he has a separate readymade store nearby, so he is not really affected). I am not sure if there is a large enough market for such products with the advent of branded clothes. Consequently what happens to the men's tailor with whom these "cut-pieces" were stitched? As the ready made industry matured, the cut piece went into two directions - one the lower end market and one which was the very high end market - which obviously Anand couldnt fulfil - since that was already occupied by the high end boutiques.

I guess some of these men's tailors moved into higher end stiching of suits - a lot don't like ready-made suits and shirts because of odd sizes and others "not-so-successful" are probably found outside a ready made garment store or have branched out into womens clothing, where they still do a roaring business. How long before womens clothing undergoes a similar change?

1 comment:

Kavi said...

The ways of the market ! They seem strange dont they ! Just like the seasons.

I remember the Premiers and the Ambassadors ( & i think i read somewhere that there were still takers for the Amby).

I guess one needs to constantly reinvent oneself. The Bajaj scooter ran rubber to rubber with the Premiers and the Ambys. Constant reinvention has ensured that the Bajaj brand is still relevant. Infact, still going strong and taking on the world !