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How Chonquing province in China applies consumer connect with a mandated 10 days living and working with citizen families

P&G initiated the consumer connect culture with its ‘living it, working it’ program where employees need to spend a month living with consumers and working alongside trade. Companies have since seen the value of building consumer centricity. We help train and enabling companies with observing, listening and dialoging with consumers and structure and run their programs. Governments have used tools of marketing research to understand their people better. The English were masters of ethnographic observation writing detailed observation reports with a strongly ‘etic’ or outside-in perspective.  Field visits and meeting the public in their homes in a village, dialoguing and listening is a routine part of campaigning.

A region in China goes a step further by incorporating a variation of the ‘living it, working it’ program. ‘Tens of thousands of Chongquing officials are now required to spend a week every year living and working with a peasant family’, says the Economist in its latest June 25th 2011 issue. Chongquing, a rugged region is Southwest China, recently won the polls as “China’s happiest city”. The region’s party chief Bo Xilal’s upfront, charismatic personal style sets him apart from other Chinese leaders. Business meets political savvyThey recognize that presently the country is too divided between the rich and the poor for this period to be a true Chinese golden age (shengsi). The activities around Mr. Bo’s Maoist revival in Chongquing involve a campaign to revive popular “red songs” from the early days of Communist rule. Creating engagement by the singing of the songs, sending “red instant messages” citing Mao Zedong, “what really counts in the world is conscientiousness, and the Communist party is most particular about being conscientiousness”.

To a researcher, these programs appear as a leap from insights gleaned during intimate consumer interaction and exchange.  Even at the risk of taking some poetic license to make a case for consumer centricity, it is very likely that these innovative ideas to engage citizens came from the week spent ‘living it, working it’ by government employees and officials in Chongquing. At this time Mr. Bo and his government appear to be know what their citizens want thanks to their efforts in getting citizen centric.

1992 - 1996
1996
1997 - 2001
1999
2001 - 2007
2013 - 2019
1992-1996

Initiation

Deepa starts working at Hindustan Unilever Ltd., and after working there for a few years decides to take a career break to take care of her son. The family plans to move to Jamaica, and she wishes to resume working. There are not a lot of opportunities post a career break for her, and this makes her realise the plight of women all across the world who are trying to resume working after taking a break. The seed for Lumière is planted. Deepa joins J.A. Young Research Ltd. to get back to her roots, and ultimately decides to start her own firm under her CA's advise.

1996

Beginning

Start of Lumière Consultancy in Jamaica

1997-2001

Incubation

The family is aching to return to India, and post the birth of her second child, Deepa gets an offer from HUL to rejoin them. She has an itch to make it on her own, and so declines. This results in a different type of engagement between the two, and Lumière engages exclusively with HUL by expanding their scope. Deepa builds a stronghold in consumer behavior, and Lumière develops into an entity of its own. Inception of 'Consumer Centricity', which is their future key to strength, begins. With an expansion in their work, they need more resources and a group of like-minded talented professional women to join the team. Lumière gives them solace, a place to grow, rebuild their careers, and achieve goals beyond their expectations. They begin with mentoring initiatives, with an urge to inspire young individuals. People approach them through word-of-mouth, references, and to create opportunities beyong market research, Lumière becomes a Pvt. Ltd. company.

1999

Establishing

An opportunity arises to be a part of something big, to analyse the growth mindset and the creation of a best practice document for sequential recycling. Lumière makes an impact across categories and branches into Product Testing and Category Creation.

2001-2007

Invigoration

Lumière touches ₹ 1 crore. Their brochure is presented at MRSI. The company turns 10, and Milind joins the team as an observer. This becomes the phase of Lumière's upheavel: from scaling up, digitization and automation of processes, to plugging in leakages across departments and accounts. Their billings reach ₹ 3 crores.

2013-2019

Innovation

Rashmi Bansal dedicates a chapter of her book 'Follow Every Rainbow' to Deepa and Lumière. The company enters adulthood, and they facilitate change management for Lumière. The introduction of the Gallup Strengths to the portfolio is a game changer. A revamp of the technological infrastructure ensues, giving way to an articulation of Lumière 3.0.