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The Community Identity, a Sense of Belonging

A community is an identity, an entity. And therefore, it is important.

Community is a group of people in a shared interest or loving space and have similar characteristics. When it comes to human civilisation, a community is a thriving ecosystem having its unique DNA, social and legal structure, beliefs, and practices. Threads of reliance and togetherness among the community members keep it alive. Community is an important facilitating agent of influence and change as it consists of people who share common thought processes and camaraderie. We usually talk about urban, suburban, and rural communities. But communities are varied and formed based on shared lifestyle and beliefs, like religious communities, occupational communities, political ideological communities etc.  All this make the concept of a community very relevant and important for businesses and government and whoever intends to sell an idea, service, product, or positive behaviours.

Building Community

Community building is a field of practice that aims to connect with a target group of people with a message in an effective way. Sometimes also called community development, it is a communication strategy and has time and again proved successful for the enhancement of a community. Community building exercises are important especially in a developing and populous country like India having a huge stratum of poor and rural population with high illiteracy and traditional belief system. Many social development policies and interventions of government and non-government agencies use community centric implementation strategies to bring about positive change. Social marketing of public policies and interventions are most effective when designed in a community specific manner, e.g, ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ interventions will be different for a tribal community in Rajasthan or Haryana which are areas steeped in patriarchy and religious beliefs than rest of India where female infanticide problems are not so grave. Health insurance concept can be promoted in a better way through community-based health insurance schemes (CBHI) to bring more adoption and utilisation of the concept, eg. VimoSewa of Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in Gujarat that built a community of poor and self-employed women. Community buildings help the government in achieving the goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). In a similar way, the power of community has been leveraged in many other development interventions like immunization, mother and child nutrition, disease or pandemic management, awareness programmes etc. The community members look up to community influencers and their peers to adopt to change rather than a plain reason to change.

Marketer Relevance

The community has always been attractive to the marketer who targets specific markets or niches to sell its products and services. A new whey protein manufacturer targets the gym going and vegan community specifically as it makes more sense to gain ground and a steady revenue stream. Lakers team in basketball is a world-famous brand that has built its own community of Laker fans to whom it sells its Laker merchandise. When Harley Davidson was incurring losses and had reached on the verge of shutting its shop, it tried the community building method (HOG-Harley Owners Group) for its bikes and accessories through its community building strategy.  Podcast uses community building and marketing strategies successfully to run its business in the face of tough competition from video-centric content. Mobile companies like Oneplus and Apple use community building and marketing strategies to promote their products and new launches.

A business can build its community through face to face personal contact, social media presence where the page google analytics can help the business check the leverage. Campaigns, events, theatre plays, festivals, fairs, social work and relevant, quality offerings that connect with the members help to build communities for the products where members feel involved. Marketing efforts for any product or service to the communities is easier and fruitful.

IILM and Community Building

Community building efforts help maintain lifelong connects. Many educational institutions, for example, IILM University, lays a lot of stress in harbouring its alumni community, roping them in for guest lectures, motivational talks and placements and highlighting them on a pedestal pf inspiration for future students. Every student feels part of the IILM family long after he/she has left the organisation. for its social work and CSR initiatives, IILM University also adopts villages in its vicinity and promotes education, healthcare, and other programmes of social upliftment for the poor communities. Students actively participate with full zeal in such programmes and develop a commitment towards community building for the larger good of the nation

Therefore, community building and marketing is important for organisations and businesses to remain relevant and in the competition. It not only empowers the business but also the customer. A thriving community ensures a happy society. Community building will also help in reducing social disintegration, harmful behaviours and will knit fabric of social support, social justice, and economic development along with brand loyalties.

The trend of community building and marketing is getting more prevalent and more niches will be created. It will not be exaggerating to say that community will be the future of marketing. Future marketers and policymakers should concentrate their efforts towards community building to remain relevant in the new age business and marketing scenario. It will be very beneficial for students to opt for Institutions like IILM that have dedicated community building programs which give ample exposure to students in this domain and help with their placements and career development. Students need to take up skills like interpersonal communication, blogging, public speaking, communication design etc. very seriously to gain competitive advantage. such skills are much in demand and will bring an added shine to their personality to make them stand out in the crowd. In this regard, students can further follow the author’s blog on IILM blog site or connect personally for queries and guidance on the email given.

Follow my blogs or write to me at shahana.qutab.phd2019@iilm.edu

Relevance of IILM PGDM / MBA in the times of Covid-19

It is common understanding that a PGDM / MBA degree prepares you for Business Administration, so you study Management, Organizational Behavior, Human Resource Management, Finance, Marketing, Operations, International Business and a range of other subjects. However the 2 year programme at IILM also prepares you with certain other skills such as Effective Communication, Research and Analysis, Critical Thinking, Change Management, Ability to leverage technology, Dealing with pressure, People management, Teamwork, Decision making etc. which may be called soft skills but are actually life skills. Let me explain here how these are so relevant in the context of Covid – 19 which all of us are grappling with today.

Relevance-of-IILM-PGDM-MBA-in-the-times-of-Covid-19_2The current crisis is a situation that almost no one living today may have faced ever in his or her lifetime, hence there is absolutely no way that anyone could have been prepared for, in advance. When it struck, the reactions were quite similar among most, ranging from brushing it off to disbelief to despair, businesses were no different. However during these times of crisis, Effective Communication is of paramount interest. At IILM, students learn who to communicate with, what to say, how to say and when to say. Your stakeholders are the ones who need to hear from you to have that continued trust in you, how you are managing their interest is what you need to tell them and tell them early on. Any message that is delayed looks like an afterthought, so communicate early and communicate regularly. Keep it short but relevant and regular.

The times are different, the challenges are different, hence the solutions also have to be different. IILM teaches its students to read, research and analyze what is happening the world over and make sense of it and how it affects our businesses and organizations. It teaches them critical thinking skills and inculcates a sense of judgment and positive thinking to manage any crisis situation. As a manager / leader it is important to know that we must be able to adapt to change as per the situation. In the current situation when there is a complete stop to everything around us, it is imperative to follow what is required at this moment, which is staying safe and staying at home. If there is life, there will be a tomorrow and we can always plan and rebuild ourselves. There is just no point in being restless, take this time to spend with yourself, review what you have done so far, how you would do it differently, what you could have done better.

Relevance-of-IILM-PGDM-MBA-in-the-times-of-Covid-19_1Technology they say is a leveler, the digital march is going to make it even more uniform. As millions of people are homebound, their major source of information, inspiration, communication, distraction, entertainment is through technology. IILM encourages its students to be technology savvy and Leverage Technology to bring in effectiveness to their work and business. A case in point, in the times of Covid, technology has moved up a few notches, K-12, Higher education and a good number of businesses have gone online, organizations are rethinking the Work from Home concept, also as an effective cost saving tool. All classes at IILM have been conducted on zoom through paid licenses ensuring security and privacy of teachers and students online.

This is a situation which has put everyone under pressure, be it the government, the police, the doctors, the medical supply chain, the food suppliers, the transport for continuing the work assigned. All others are under pressure to stay at home, manage their job, remain balanced, remain strong, stay calm and help others in whatever way possible, big or small. The MBA / PGDM programmes at IILM by the very nature of its being fast paced with classes, tutorials, assignments, simulations, meeting industry experts in Round Tables or Guest sessions, Summer internships, Live Projects, Placements creates the right kind of pressure with tight deadlines and helps students manage time and manage themselves by dealing with pressure.

People are the most valuable resource that one can have. IILM students develop skills of working in teams and learn to respect one another, value their competence and contribution. People Management is what management is greatly about. Students learn through cases and role plays, how to take people along, how to keep them motivated and engaged with the organization when the chips are down. How to make people feel wanted and part of your team are skills that come with practice. As a manager, you are required to take decisions, most of the times with limited resources, limited information and in limited time. IILM teaches Decision making as a process, a step by step approach to make good decisions. With practice, one becomes adept at following the steps and can still be quick. But if you miss some part of the processes in order to be quick, you will be prone to making mistakes, costly ones!

Most importantly, IILM has an NGO club through which students learn to help and support the marginalized sections of the society. We believe empathy is something, which need not be understood and expected when you are in a spot, but the continued will to share and care for others whatever the situation be. IILM is proud of its 12000+ alumni who as Managers and Business leaders running their businesses responsibly and building the nation.

Prof.(Dr.) Kakoli Sen

Reboot to a New Normal ? Some Trends

The world would have changed; dramatically after COVID settles down ; like the AVENGERS Endgame or an X Men movie the time-line for the future seems to have altered.

Disruptive Technology stock photos and royalty-free images ...

The world economic order would have changed, the social interaction, recreation, education and even relationships would have undergone a transformation. The most pressing question is – what will be the new normal?

I am listing some trends that have taken centre stage in these uncertain times, and might possibly become the new normal in a post-COVID world too-

Social Distancing –

Concerns on safety today will get people used to meeting less and interacting more through technology. There was a time when everyone felt that technology and apps were irritants and interruptions; they have now become the basis of any information and communication. Even “Social Distance” marriages are getting formalized and celebrated online!

Productivity & Efficiency –

Meetings on Zoom, Microsoft teams, Google Duo is making people understand that even through distances trade & commerce can happen… it is difficult to learn all of it immediately , but work from home and learn from home will be the new drivers of various business models . Enterprises and students are realizing that unnecessary travel, meetings at brick –mortar locations apparently has been a drain on “human energy & finance”

An Exploding Digital Economy –

The digital connect for commerce will be the way to go around and possibly the time of a global currency, “contact less exchange of value “will again take route. The penetration of smart phones and mobile connections which is over 80% globally is set to grow https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/technology-media-telecommunications/us-global-mobile-consumer-survey-second-edition.pdf.

Sweden has already started exploring digital currency, even before COVID took centre stage, it will only gain more traction. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cenbank-digital-sweden/sweden-starts-testing-worlds-first-central-bank-digital-currency-idUSKBN20E26G

Disruption in Industry Structures & models –

Travel agents will perish at the hands of sites like booking.com, Expedia and so will any industry which has middle-men as an integral part of their model. https://disruptive.asia/covid-19-digital-disruptor/

 Businesses and industries will be struck by creative disruption and even creative destruction.

Education will possibly evolve & have new online models, where the best of University education will be available from home and companies will build their recruitment along these lines, factoring in the practical experience which would be brought in by guest lectures and interactive gaming.

Shifts will happen from discretionary spending to essential spends, brand trends , online news will become the norm and so will be the association with social causes. Distribution reach will not be the key anymore, as market places like Amazon will help innovators reach to the consumers.

Consumer Behaviour Shifts –

Consumer behaviour will evolve and buying sentiment would change ; and it would be even more difficult for brands to build & retain leadership. Testimonials will drive consumer opinion and purchase patterns. Every consumer holding a mobile connection will need to be targeted individually and the product, pricing will become extremely customised. Possibly the only thing which will remain constant is the “brand look & feel”. Gen Z, Baby-boomers , Silent generation all of them being poles apart in their buying behaviour , will further experience  “distancing” as companies will strive hard to have “Audience Specific Marketing “  & product offerings .

The question is, are we preparing for it? Psychologically, technologically & upgrading our skill sets? Are we enhancing the skill sets of the ecosystem we live in , work in ?

AICTE approved Fellow Progarm in Management at IILM Gurgaon

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IILM, Gurgaon has launched an AICTE approved Fellow Program in Management for which applications are invited. This is a four year full time/part time progarm offering specialization in the area of Finance, Marketing,OB & HR, Operations Management, International Business and Strategic Management.

Brand China

Lei Jun – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Xiaomi Corp has once said according to one report, “Doing the right thing is much more important than doing the things right. A pig could fly if it finds itself in the eye of a storm.” Probably by this he means that things get much easier if one jumps on the band wagon of existing trends instead of innovating new trends. He has been successful by doing what he preaches.

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Will Kirana Shops Survive the Tide of Organised Retailing in Emerging Cities of India?

With the changing demographic features and improvement in quality of life of urban India, the Indian retail sector is witnessing a tremendous growth. As per AT Kearney’s annual Global Retail Development Index (GRDI), 2010 India is ranked third in the list of most attractive market for retail investment. The retailers are now selectively focusing on smaller cities/emerging cities of India like Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Lucknow, Kochi, Nagpur, Indore, Nasik, Bhubaneswar, Visakhapatnam, Coimbatore, Mangalore, Mysore and Thiruvananthapuram. The emerging and potential cities are projected to contribute significantly to retail revenues. Although organized retailers entered the tier cities of India in early 2000, their growth has been modest during this period. This prompted a study to establish the potential of emerging cities for the growth of retailing with the focus on consumer preferences and behavior. Further, since these cities were dominated by traditional retailers, the study also attempts to establish the impact of organized retailers on unorganized sector with respect to the purchase behavior consumers of food and grocery (The outlets which sells food, grocery, household items, toiletries and cosmetics).

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Apple of our Eyes

What is it about Apple that draws so many eye balls and so much headline space? I’ve never heard of people queuing up or sleeping outside stores to become the proud owners of the first Samsung S3 or Nokia Lumia or Blackberry for that matter. But, what is it with Apple that creates this magnetic field. There is no doubt about the fact that Apple products are superiorly engineered but what is it about them that creates that “halo”? Umpteen numbers of articles have been written about the comparison of iOS with Android. Numerous tech-gurus have shown a hands down to Apple when comparing it with Android vis-àvis the entire package of features and pricing. Still it continues to make heads turn and stock prices soar.
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