Empowering customers in India - Indian privacy law set to change landscape

India is gearing up for enhanced privacy laws that protects customers. This can be a landmark legislation that can have lasting impact on consumers, data protection, data sharing and use of personal data & information. 

India has a not been privacy friendly state. Data sharing and exchange is done freely and hence it is not suprising to find personal information being freely available for a few cents. The proposed act or legislation seems to be all encompassing and can have a lasting impact. Take a look at some of the recommendations:

  1. Currently, in India there is no legislation for protecting the privacy of individuals for all information that may be available with private entities. The legislation proposes to bring this to force.
  2. Choice and consent of the indvidual before his/her personal information is collected
  3. Information should be used only for the purpose it was collected
  4. The individual should have access to his/her information at any time. He/she must be enabled to update or correct the information
  5. Data controller would be transparent in his working as regards to the collection of personal data
  6. Data controller is primarily responsible for its safety and use

The framework proposes:

  • All forms of identifiable data be protected against under the right to privacy.
  • It goes on to define what is personal data -..."to be able to identify a person, information need not necessarily be objective identification such as a person's name, but can be subjective information such as the opinion that a person is a "reliable" borrower or that a person is "expected to die of a terminal disease". It is also important to bring all personal information within this definition regardless ofthe format in which the information is stored."
  • It also extensively takes into consideration Indian context - Aadhar program that uses biometric information
  • Explicit consent or even approval from a regulatory authority may be required to be obtained to collect sensitive personal data.
  • Processing of data in an automated manner must be avoided when it affects the vital interests of the data subject.
  • The data once collected must be deleted after achieving the purpose for which it was
  • Privacy impact assessments to be conducted by independent authorities in the form of
    transparent audits, for the protection of personal data.
  • Appropriate measures to protect the data of Indian citizens that are processed outside the country.

I believe this is going to have far reaching implications on how private entities hold data and process data. Also, information available on the web and information shared in social media will have to undergo scrutiny, as this personal data today is being used for commercial interests by many of the entities like google, facebook etc.

I have attached the approach note paper Download Aproach_paper.

I would love to hear comments, feedback and implications on this proposed law. And how marketing in India needs to adapt to this new environment.










Dear customer, you are downgraded!

I recently received a mail from my favourite airline Jet Airways, that I have been downgraded! I am a member of their loyalty program for years now! And this is not the first time this has happened to me. It also happened in 2001 and 2002 too.

The letter read - "...since you have not had enough flights with us, you will be downagraded. Our Dynamic Tier Review (DTR) formula, unique to Jet Airways - DTR is an award winning, multi-period and multi-criteria-based tier review. It has no precedent anywhere in the world. With DTR, upgrade to the higher tier is quicker and tier renewal is easier. The DTR evaluates a member's tier based on Tier Points and Tier JPMiles earned....."

I was disappointed. As a customer, it did not matter to me if the DTR was award winning for Jet Airways! It surely did not work for me ( the downgrade letter was templated too with such high sound words and sentences!). 

It made me think about the structure of current loyalty programs across the world and their relevance when loyal customers like me are click away from the next best offer!

Here are some questions that came to my mind:

  1. In a year of recession and tough 2 years for business, I was suprised how the DTR did not take care of this business environment. I did'nt fly so much as Jet would have wanted. So, Jet's view of my loyalty is transcational - fly more( at full price or premium prices and get rewarded more!). I too will behave the same way in the future, I presume. Question #1: Can't loyalty programs be flexible, adapt to new environment, and why reward only transactional loyalty?
  2. Given the unsettling business environment that it was over the last 2 years, why would me even as a "fiercely" loyal customer, travel in Jet if the fares were not competitive. Finally, if there is no value, loyalty cannot be bought with points. Question # 2: When there is a challenge of intrinsic value in the product,  will loyalty progams deliver - No. It is better to focus on the product rather than upset customers. Companies must know, customers will move on in such circumstances!
  3. I have been surprised with their loyalty program  not paying attention to customer experience, in spite of being a Citibank-Jet Platinum card member. Every time redeeming their upgrade vouchers was a pain. The little travel that I did in these 2 years, whenever I presented the voucher, I was told it was applicable only on full price tickets! Funny, not sure what world they were living in. Question # 3: Do companies that run loyalty programs pay attention to  such little details that affect customer experience? They took trouble  a few years back to invite me to their co-branded card, but forgot to look at my spends and credits to give me waivers at such tough recessionary period.The bank has no clue, whatsover.

Loyalty programs are still in their 1.0 version.  Imagine a product that has not changed for 25 years! They still are in an old world order - "spend with us to earn rewards". Sometimes they have to recognize the value that customers get when they are out shopping for options, may not justfiy the reward they earn everytime if they have to stay within these products/brands. They need to transform given the new environment and options in front of customers.

Customer seek value and surely are willing to pay premium for loyalty but recognition, surprises and instant gratification will need to be weaved into these programs - on the assumption value needs to be earned in the customer's mind & wallet.

Rest assured, this is not a rant but earnestly these are thoughts that I had in my mind and coming out of experiences I have had with such programs over time.  



How will customers change their shopping habits with mobile?

With mobile device in the hands of customers and quick adoption of smartphones, will it redefine the shopping habits of customers? I believe it will. 

Mobile will increasingly act as research and shopping tool in their hands. Right now, I don't think it is widely used but with increasing app downloads & penetration, mobile internet adoption etc. this is certainly going to change shopping experiences - right from the way they search for products/brands/services and helping them choose & buy them too.

I believe it will  be a " check, learn, ask & walk "(CLAW) shopping model on the mobile. It will be a mix of ' text & mortar' shopping. Mobile will overtake internet shopping in my opinion and adoption of mobile in certain categories will be significant.

Which categories need to get ready for this change?  An nice study by emarketer can used as a benchmark by marketers to ensure they get ready for this shopping  habit transition. In countries like India, China & Japan where the mobile penetration & growth is high - the impact will be felt the maximum.




This mobile shopping habit will have to encompass a mix of mobile apps, call-in advisors, chats, mobile alerts, location based services, mobile coupon downloads & redemption@ the store. Marketers will have to plan for an Integrated Mobile Shopping Experience (IMSE).