Bangalore, one year ago: My mother and I went to our friendly super market down the road to pick up groceries. I went aisle-hopping while my mother was busy picking the pulses and vegetables that we needed to stock up.

In the middle of the aisle with all the chocolates holding my undivided attention I heard a young girl, perhaps 24-25 years of age, clumsily carrying a mammoth folder in her hand, say “Can I have a few minutes of yours, if you don't mind?” Software engineers in Bangalore in their first year at work have minutes and more. I said, “All the time in the world.”

She was conducting a retail survey and consumer behaviour analysis. Before I could say “get, set, go” she started shooting questions at me, noting down whatever I said on her scribble pad, quite literally. “Which is your favourite chocolate?, Why is it your favourite chocolate?, What is your alternative to it?, Is it value for money?, Would you buy the same low fat chocolate compromising a little on the taste?,” I had never given chocolate so much thought; as long as it was brown and tasted like cocoa I didn't care. Evidently, she cared and took my answer “I don't really care about the chocolate brand” as an affront It took 12 minutes and ended with a “thank you so much for your time, have a nice day”. Phew!

Kozhikode, today: Writing the CAT was fun though I didn't expect to get through. The feline however decided to spring a delightful surprise and well, I landed up here. The marketing course of the first trimester has this indescribable unique appeal. With time all the jargon transformed into vernacular and our project group got used to the usual routine of “we need to focus on segmentation, targeting and positioning”. All projects required some research and significant cut-copy-paste with re-wording. But the consumer behaviour analysis was pending.


Equipped with a scribble pad and questionnaires, I trotted down to my area of survey — the super market outside our campus, and took the friendly store owner's permission to conduct the survey. The survey was on the brand recall of top chocolate brands and whether the consumers would trade that for a jar of chocolate spread. I walked over to the aisle of groceries and a young girl of 22 caught my eye, for her eyes were set on a bunch of chocolates kept on the counter. I went up to her and said “Can I have a few minutes of yours, if you don't mind?” And so began the questioning. She answered everything patiently as I exhausted my list of 20 questions. Much to my surprise and to my recollection of something similar, this young lady liked all chocolates and didn't care what brand it was as long as it tasted good. Now the only thought that ran through my head was “why would you not care about the brand? Isn't the cardinal facet of consumer behaviour brand recall and brand loyalty?”

Almost on a whim, as the girl was walking out, I asked her about her plans for the near future. She said, “I am going to write the CAT in eight months time”. I smiled and said to myself, “aha! There you go again”.

Aparna Giridhar, I Year Student, IIM-K.

Keywords: CAT exam