Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mumbai Locals - micromarket

Heres one more unique business model. Mumbai locals - however crowded they might be - are a lifeline to not only the commuters but also the small business ventures that thrive on it. One of the biggest chunk of the local afternoon daily, Mid-day, sales come from local train commuters. The ladies section of the mumbai locals are presumably churning out more business revenues than some enterprises. The local train is a hotbed of innovative business ventures.

Unique business models also survive in these locals - second hand sale of magazines - Femina, Stardust, Nat Geo, you name it - with top page torn (can you guess why?) - sold for Rs.10/- bucks (issues as new as the past week and are sold in this form !!) or coloring books are sold with the selling point, "chote baba bacchon keliye" (The ironical part being small kids sell these books !!). These are apart from the usual fruit sellers, groundnut "timepass" and other vendors.

Am sure these stories are quite frequently told, but what is interesting are the unique businesses which survive, like the magazines. Yesterday, I was being sold a "mobile-antenna" - that helps you "catch" signals when you are in villages - atleast that is the USP. The antenna costs all of 25 INR and it has to be stuck behind the cell battery. Either this model survives or the telecom signals improve.

Despite the crowd - the Mumbai Locals Rule for many entrepreneurs and commuters alike.


raven said...

Not exactly related to the post but trying to answer one of your questions. My neighbour had a newspaper distribution business and from that I remember that to claim refund on unsold newspapers, they had to tear a part of the masthead with the date of publication and send those pieces to the company. The actual newspaper was generally sold to the local raddi-wala.

My guess is that the unsold magazines work on same principle. Once the next issue arrives, the distributor must be tearing off first pages off all magazines and sending them to the company for claims. Just that the enterprising fellow sells the old magazines in trains instead, investing a little in the cost of boys but getting much higher returns than what the raddi-wala would give him.

Neelakantan said...

Yup, that is true. The magazine front page is torn for exactly that reason :) Who would have thought of it...

Anand said...

I've seen DVDs being hawked on the Chennai trains. And get this: There were Fellini and Bergman movies too!