Saturday, January 16, 2010

Stage set for MAXI Fair, XLRI to conduct market research

January 16 (The Pioneer): The Marketing Association of XLRI, popularly known as MAXI, is all set to organise its annual MAXI fair on January 17. Started in 1979, the fair is a unique and innovative approach to conduct market research in a fun format.

Officials of MAXI informed that this year, Hindustan Unilever (HUL) and Tata Main Hospital (TMH) are taking part in the fair. While HUL wants to understand consumer behaviour and preferences in its face care category, TMH wants to determine the factors which drive or inhibit the people from visiting their hospital.

HUL and other companies from the Tata Group, among many others, have been taking part in the fair, which provides a testimony to the quality of the research conducted at the fair. The idea has been so popular and effective that it has been replicated and implemented by business schools all over India.

The idea was conceptualised 31 years ago, much ahead of its time, by Sharad Sarin, professor of marketing at XLRI and a visionary. Year after year since then, major Indian corporate houses bring their market research problems to the students of XLRI, who design elaborate games around them.

These games are hosted in the XLRI grounds, and are open to public, who visit the fair and have a good time apart from winning prizes. The students, on the other hand, get useful data about public preferences, which they then analyse to solve the problems faced by the companies. This makes the task of conducting the otherwise boring and mundane research easier and interesting.

“The magnitude of the fair can be estimated by the fact that the number of people gathering in the XLRI grounds runs into thousands, in a span of just one day. The footfalls last year were over 2000, which are expected to increase by 50 per cent this year, to over 3,000 people,” said a member of the organising team.

The popular game stalls last year were ‘Bhutiya Haveli’, helping Tata Steelium determine consumer preferences in furniture, and the ‘Wonderland’ which took the visitors on a joy ride to the land of Alice and Genies, facilitating Spencer’s to judge its brand image relative to other retail stores.

It may be mentioned that Brooke Bond tasted success to the tune of Rs 100 crore with the idea of newly packaged tea. Pepsi in 2006, decided to give a new design to its packaging. ITC decided to venture into the biscuit market. These are some of the few success stories of brands which were once just ideas of XLRI students.

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