Rishta brigade

Published in Spider (Dawn Group of Newspapers) – March 2014

mehndiBy Ayesha Hoda

“Muslim, Sunni, Syed, Pakistani, Pashtun, moderate, hailing from upper middle class, living in Dubai in a nuclear family, never married before, no children athletic, no physical disabilities, 6 feet 1 inch in height with a very fair complexion and non-vegetarian (halal) diet.”

This is one of the many descriptions of the eligible men on the countless Pakistani matrimonial web portals such as Pakistanimatrimony.com and Mehndi.com. If you have set your relationship status as “Single” on Facebook, you will see many ads and sponsored links offering to pair you up with the most eligible Pakistani Muslim man or woman.

Much like an eager and pestering rishta aunty, these websites typically ask you a thousand questions about yourself, including religion, social status, physical appearance, geographic location, cultural background, hobbies and interests. They give third parties, such as parents, siblings, relatives or friends the option to make a profile on someone else’s behalf, which is uploaded on a searchable database on the website.

After registering and updating your details, you can either wait for suitors (or their parents) to visit your profile or search for the “ideal” partner by entering the desired characteristics, in tools such as advanced search or auto matchmaker, and voila, you have at least a thousand plus matches available. These websites further promise that you will get better matches if you update a good profile picture. Arranged marriage just got easier with modern technology – no dependency on the not-so well wishing neighbours, relatives and friends to recommend someone – or so one would assume.
Sadly, the reality is quite far from this. While matrimonial sites are sometimes regarded as an Indian e-business success story, one rarely hears of any marriage in Pakistan that has been initiated through one of the local matrimonial websites.
Salman Siddiqui, a Pakistan PR professional residing in Singapore, is cynical about these sites because of the numerous stories he has heard in his social circle. “I think matrimonial websites are for either perverted men who sign up for the sole purpose to exploit others for their own indulgence or ‘kitchen-bound aunties’, in desperate hope to find a complete stranger for their inexperienced children. Marrying someone off the Internet is quite deplorable. Sure, one can meet another for dating and to see how it goes from there, but if your prime objective is to wed the person sitting on the other side of the screen, then my friend, you need psychotherapy.”

Too harsh and judgmental, some would think. But Salman’s opinion is based on a friend’s experience, who was “a victim of such heinous motives… it happens in Pakistan and even in India on daily a basis,” he says.

Harris Siddiqui, whose work revolves around web development and social media, reveals that many owners of these websites create them for the sole purpose of earning money through premium memberships, advertising and affiliate programs. For this they need to build a community for six months and therefore create many fake profiles of women and advertise “success stories”, luring people facing social pressure to tie the knot, especially women (as the proverbial clock is supposedly ticking!). Harris thinks these sites in Pakistan are rarely authentic and the matrimonial sections in newspapers are more effective.

Revenue generation does seem to be the main focus of these sites, some of which were also offering discount deals on Valentine’s Day. The commercialization of marriage seems to have no bounds!

Across borders
Matrimonial sites seem to have more success in India or for South Asians living abroad. While researching for this article, I came across a few real success stories. Zehra Farhan, a freelance writer, shares, “Matrimonial websites may not be of much use here in Pakistan but are useful for desis living abroad. One of my cousins in Canada got married through www.shaadi.com. Her mother searched for suitors on the website and found her husband, a Muslim of Indian descent from Singapore who was living and working in the US. So their experience has been great. You just need to be serious and look for other serious people. Most of the time, you can judge the seriousness on the other side, especially when parents are involved and operating the account. My relatives did not go for a Pakistani website, however, as most users there seemed to have registered for stalking rather than serious matchmaking.”

An Indian doctor, Amir Husain, shares how his family found his young sister’s second husband through shaadi.com after her divorce. He says there are many such Indian websites, with some exclusively for people who are divorced or widowed. Users can choose the level of confidentiality in account settings and find someone without the concerns and suggestions of all and sundry.

“Of course we were extra cautious while narrowing down the possible matches the system generated,” Amir says. “After selection you start communicating. It’s a time consuming process and ultimately takes a leap of faith, but then aren’t all marriages the same?”

Clearly South Asians living abroad are getting ideas based on the success of websites like shaadi.com. A new website called Hipster Shaadi – http://www.hipstershaadi.com – created by a group of American Muslims, seems to be a step in this direction. It has been defined by The Guardian as “the matchmaking site for hip young Muslims”. It gives people the option of making a unique profile, based on their individuality and preferences, rather than focusing on social status and visual appearance.

If you live abroad and can fathom the concept of online marriage-broking, these websites may be the route to go for a non-traditional arranged marriage, which might actually be less embarrassing and nerve-racking than the typical drawing room setting option.

Social Good

By Ayesha Hoda

Published in Spider Magazine – Dawn (June 2013)

The impact created by non-profit organisations using effective social media campaigns.

While many corporate brands in Pakistan have now realised the power of social media, very few nonprofits here are harnessing its power effectively to build a case for their cause.

Through blogs, micro blogs and social networks, a non-profit can create public awareness of its cause and mission, raise funds or promote fundraisers, reach new supporters and volunteers, and get people to take some action, all for free.

There are a few non-government organisations in Pakistan that have strengthened their digital presence in the last couple of years, mainly via their websites, Facebook pages and Twitter handles.

One such NGO is Bytes for All (B4A), Pakistan, a human rights organisation focused on information and communication technologies (ICTs). Some of its most prominent projects include the Take Back The Tech Campaign, Access is My Right and PakVotes.

Though its website – www.bytesforall.pk – is promptly updated as activities take place, Bytes for All considers social media the central hub of engagement. Its Coordinator Advocacy and Outreach, Furhan Hussain highlights, “That’s where the concentration of our primary audience is [with nearly 30,000 fans on Facebook]. We make it a point to keep engaging with people through tweets and status updates, share links of all activity happening at our front as well as all relevant press coverage.”

Furhan says that people have so much information coming their way these days that their attention spans have decreased drastically, and very few want to read complicated reports and tedious blog posts. That is why B4A has heavily shifted towards visualisation of information in small, palatable bits, using posters, infographics, photographs and videos.

Another NGO with a large following on social media is The Citizens Foundation (TCF), which builds schools for less privileged children in Pakistan. Its main Facebook page currently has more than 41,000 fans. There are several other pages created and run by supporters in different parts of the world. Interestingly, TCF gained a name on Twitter not through its official handle but as a result of active promotion by Tuba Mehmood (@Tuba_TCF), who was the former Assistant Manager for Volunteers and Alumni at TCF in Lahore.

Tuba started using Twitter in 2011, in search of volunteers in Lahore for TCF’s mentoring program. What worked for her was personally promoting the cause and replying to all queries politely but enthusiastically, followed by face-to-face meetings. People were drawn because someone spoke to them on a personal level rather than just giving updates via an official handle.

“I think interacting with people is extremely important if you’re selling your idea or product,” Tuba says. “I got a tremendous response and I’ve got many dedicated volunteers via Twitter. It helped with donations as well.”

Tuba currently has around 3000 followers on Twitter and is better known by her handle.

Similarly, Nuzhat Saadia Siddiqi (@guldaar), Press and Media Coordinator, WWF-Pakistan (World Wide Fund for Nature, Pakistan), started using social media in 2010 to promote her organisation’s work. Nuzhat’s was inspired by WWF International and Greenpeace International, two organisations that have leveraged social media tremendously to reach out to a global audience.

“A large number of young adults from Pakistan are now online and I believe that reaching out to them about conservation, sustainability and environment issues is a critical supplement to their traditional education,” Nuzhat shares. “No one really thinks about involving them [18-34 year olds] in the process of positive change through volunteer and environmental activities.”

Over the last three years, WWF-Pakistan social media campaigns have received an overwhelming response not just from Pakistanis but also from people in other countries, who were pleasantly surprised to see such work being done in Pakistan, a country usually associated with sectarian violence and terrorism. Due to its increasing importance for marketing of WWF-Pakistan projects, the social media function was recently outsourced to an agency.

Sharing her experiences of cause marketing online, Nuzhat says, “I believe the best way to engage with an audience via social media is to keep the tone personal, be pro-active, and share only what you really truly believe in. Several brands and organisations outsource their social media from the get-go and not all social media experts currently working in the field treat your organisation as their own, but rather as a brand. A brand is impersonal, a cause is personal. For me, it has been about believing in the cause and spreading my joy and trust in it. This has been the main reason that without spending even a single dime, we went from having 12 to 50,000 supporters on Facebook.”

Gradually, more non-profit pages seem to be springing up in Pakistan but only those with a well-designed strategy and persistent updates have an impact. For instance, HOPE (Health Oriented Preventive Education) Pakistan – an NGO that runs schools, vocational training centres, works in healthcare for vulnerable communities and provides emergency relief and rehabilitation – has recently become active on social media.

Tahiya Tul Husna, Social Media Specialist at HOPE, says their strategy is: Awareness > Influence > Action > Impact. HOPE encourages its employees to use their personal social media accounts to cross-promote social campaigns online and become online ambassadors.

“HOPE Pakistan cannot operate as a faceless organisation,” Tahiya says. “Every donor and volunteer has to be engaged and people are more ‘invested’ in the lives of the real people that they follow on Twitter than an actual brand, even if it belongs to a respected NGO.”

Important lessons are to be learnt from these and a few such other success stories of non-profits. First and foremost is that since social media is a free and powerful marketing tool, Pakistani non-profits, with their limited marketing budgets, should definitely use it (after analyzing any risks involved). Other things to keep in mind when developing a strategy are:

  • Universal appeal – Promote the cause as a whole, not only your organisation
  • Emotional impact – storytelling, photos and videos work more than lengthy updates or blog posts
  • A social exchange – build relationships online rather than simply disseminating messages
  • The human element – get some staff members on board who can become ambassadors for your cause online
  • Get them involved – tell people what steps they can take to make a difference (it can be as simple as requesting a retweet).

USAID: Changing Conversations

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Published in Aurora Magazine

By Ayesha Hoda

In an attempt at transparency and rebuttal of myths about US assistance, an ad campaign ‘Roshan Pakistan’ (Brighter Pakistan) was launched by USAID in May this year.

The campaign apprised us of the role of USAID, a US government agency which provides development assistance to countries around the world, including Pakistan. Over the years, USAID has been active in various sectors and socio-economic programs designed to impact hundreds of communities across the country.

The organization has only recently started focusing on directly and heavily advertising its assistance in Pakistan. USAID spends less than 0.5% of its annual budget on public communications efforts. It was only in early 2011 that it conducted the first large-scale ad campaign although it has been advertising for several years in other countries like Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Bolivia and Egypt. In Pakistan, USAID has previously advertised causes such as enrolment in modern teacher education programs, tourism revival in Swat and energy efficiency efforts.

Roshan Pakistan is the largest USAID ad campaign, not only in Pakistan but all over the world. Communications Specialist at USAID Pakistan, Virginija Morgan says that this is an effort to increase transparency and accountability.

“I am sure you have heard people of this country questioning how exactly US assistance is being used,” she says. “Advertising campaigns such as these help answer this question. Since the start of the campaign, we have heard many of our counterparts, and even people we meet in various communities, thank us for explaining what assistance is being provided to their country on behalf of the American people.”

Only a handful of people in Pakistan – government organizations, NGOs and teams of experts – deal with USAID directly. Hence, a need to utilize mass media tools was identified to reach out to the people who are experiencing the benefits of US funded programs in their lives. The primary target audience is thus SEC C, D and E, while A and B are secondary.

The campaign, whose concept was born in early 2012, was created by Interflow. The agency has been engaged with USAID indirectly for many years for other projects such as Key Social Marketing, PAIMAN, Abt. Associates etc. For Roshan Pakistan, Interflow was however contracted as a partner under the banner of the Public Communications Project (PCP).

Syed Atif Saeed, Group Account Director (Designated Director Operations for PCP) at Interflow, reveals that the umbrella concept/strategy of the campaign was “Roshan Pakistan”, selected on evidence based procedures through research.

“The rationale behind this is that everyone wants a ‘Roshan Pakistan’. The three areas USAID spends immensely on are education, poverty alleviation and energy. All these focused areas synergize with the umbrella concept aptly,” he says.

The campaign was run in three phases. According to Interflow, Phase I (May and June) consisted of information and education communication component (IEC), that is, it familiarized people with the development initiatives USAID has taken in Pakistan. The introductory print ad tells us how USAID is trying to achieve a Brighter Pakistan. The other print ads focus directly on education, energy and poverty alleviation, with detailed copy which sheds light on the areas and projects USAID has invested in. The second phase (August and September) ads are a combination of IEC and Behavioral Change Communication (BCC). This is a thematic campaign which was geared towards building an emotional connection between Americans and Pakistanis, by depicting friendship, tolerance and highlighting the contributions of USAID employees.

For Phase three (October – November), the agency tweaked and made some adjustments in the earlier communications based on feedback received. For example, research revealed that people often watch television by switching off/lowering the volume so written text in the form of pop-ups was introduced on the screen. The print ads in this phase were not too different except for some changes in copy.

Roshan Pakistan stands apart from other social development campaigns of NGOs and youth groups as it does not ask for donations or volunteering support or talk about patriotism or any cause in detail. It merely talks about USAID activities in certain sectors, what positive changes these can bring and Pak-American friendship. This serves the purpose of the campaign since the objective here is not to market any particular cause or program.

The TVCs and radio spots are in the same vein as the print ads but they tell a story: the story of making a difference through assistance and joint efforts. Three of the ads are based on common Pakistanis and their daily issues, which can be resolved by improving literacy, providing energy and employment opportunities to the less privileged. The main thematic ad shows USAID workers mingling with local citizens. Whether this has generated a wave of positive sentiment or not is debatable.

Unlike other local and international social sector campaigns, Roshan Pakistan also does not present anyone as a victim in need of assistance – no images of extreme poverty, dismal living conditions, children out of school etc. – and neither portrays development as a simple process by promising instant change. Watching it for the first time, you might think it is an ad for a telco or an FMCG brand. But the TVCs have the ability to draw you in. What works for the print ads are the examples of the large projects USAID has undertaken or invested in over the years.

The campaign was run on a 360 degree basis, including outdoor, TV, cable, cinema, print, radio and digital mediums. It was a nationwide initiative. The first year’s KPI was to raise the awareness level from 8 to 12 percent. The second year’s objective is to take it to 24 percent.

However, against the volatile political backdrop and anti-US sentiments of the public, the campaign, its entire look and feel, can seem highly optimistic, especially with regard to relations between common citizens and their American counterparts.

“In general terms the campaign was launched with a lot of apprehension and fear of backlash,” shares Atif. “But no noteable negative feedback has reached us. In terms of statistics, key performance indicator of raising awareness by 50 percent has been achieved.”

Virginija Morgan adds to this by mentioning that they are already witnessing the impact of Roshan Pakistan as dinner table conversations in many households have moved towards the importance of education, job training and energy efforts; people are showing an interest in replicating some of the initiatives.

The campaign is still at a nascent stage and as with any such awareness/image building campaign, significant impact can only be visible after subsequent reinforcements of the messages. Therefore, USAID plans to continue the campaign in the future.

PRESS RELEASE: Farah Leghari’s big comeback!

Farah Leghari has made a comeback (after four years) with her unique and elegant lawn prints. ImageThe credit of bringing Farah Leghari back into the world of style and fashion goes to Gohar Textiles Mills, a Faisalabad based company.

Farah Leghari’s collection has six distinct designs. Amongst her most popular designs are the ones infused with rich jeweled colours.

“This collection celebrates the femme fatale in all of us. Having designed for Royalty, I aspire to make each one of you feel like a ‘princess’ in my creation,” says Farah.

Farah has also participated in numerous fashion shows around the world and helped organize fundraisers abroad for charities like The Citizens Foundation.

Ready to embrace elegance

Published in the 561097_10151054345591892_486968464_nNovember-December 2012 issue of Aurora.

Original link here.

Ayesha Hoda on Pakistani women and the ready-to-wear phenomenon.

Although unstitched designer lawn continues to be in great demand, ready-to-wear (RTW) brands are gaining popularity among urban, upper-middle class Pakistani women.

RTW clothing in Pakistan dates back to the early 80s when there were a few select names such as Generation and Teejays. Eventually, other boutiques also opened to offer RTW, but affordability remained an issue as such clothes were on the pricey side. The trend of RTW caught on in the last decade, when brands such as Ego, FnkAsia and Khaadi emerged with their distinct aesthetic appeal. These were not merely boutiques but came with brand promises of quality, style and affordability for the modern Pakistani woman.

Buying RTW brands is no longer about convenience as Adil Moosajee, the owner of Ego, explains: “Five or six years ago, a woman wore clothes that were not too different from what her mother or grandmother wore. There was also limited experimentation with design. RTW brands like Ego revolutionised this category – we changed what women wear and how they wear it. We made the dupatta optional with changes in fabrics and cuts, used unconventional motifs and did not sell three-piece suits.” Shamoon Sultan launched Khaadi in 1998 and focused on high quality fabric, which is still one of Khaadi’s major sellers.

229204_10151092521399075_1197411847_nIn 2001, the brand introduced plain kurtas for day wear, moving on to stripes, dye fusion and motifs. Since then there was no looking back. In 2007, Khaadi recruited professional designers to introduce different cuts and launched a fashion oriented label with the Khaadi Khaas line, offering evening and party wear. However, a larger number of customers mostly buy the simpler Khaadi day wear, worn at work, university and elsewhere.

Recently, two relatively new players, Daaman and Sheep, have been making waves in RTW. That RTW is the next big thing is underscored by the fact that large textile companies such as Al-Karam and Gul Ahmed have introduced prêt lines. Outfitters, generally known for western wear, has also launched a line of RTW clothing.

There are many reasons for the popularity of RTW. An increase in the number of working women and greater fashion consciousness are only the tip of the iceberg. Many women cite convenience as a major reason; this is further augmented by the fact that electricity shortages mean that tailors cannot be relied on to deliver clothes on time.

Another major reason is the affordability of RTW, particularly compared to high priced designer lawn. The average price of a branded three-piece lawn suit is Rs 2,000 (minimum) with a good tailor charging at least Rs 500-700, not to mention the additional cost of lace and other accessories. On the other hand, average prices of RTW brands are between Rs 2,500-3,000. Although most RTW brands don’t sell three piece suits and focus mainly on tops, women are combining them with trousers and eliminating the dupatta. Thus the price differential is not great and sometimes it is even cheaper to buy RTW. Designers such as Amir Adnan have taken affordability one step further by launching lines such as Awami, with outfits available for

Rs 1,800-2,200. Even Ego and Khaadi have discounted shelves at selected outlets.

However, making products affordable is not always easy especially for small sized businesses such as Sheep.

SHEEP-Fall-Collection-Now-In-Stores“Our biggest challenge is managing product costing – a lot of times gorgeous designs are rejected because they cost too much and while this is very painful, we do want to make our products affordable,” says Ayesha Jafar, Brand Communication Specialist, Sheep.

In spite of efforts to make RTW affordable, there are plenty of people who think these brands are expensive and this has led to the emergence of small entrepreneurial ventures that promise to deliver imitation Ego, Khaadi and Sheep (among others) patterns at affordable rates. Most of these ventures are either small shops or individuals who promote their RTW via word-of-mouth and Facebook pages. Whether they are successful or not is debatable as most women seem to prefer spending on a few original pieces, rather than lots of imitation ones.

DaamanMalyha Chaudhry, owner of Daaman, points out, “There is no comparison between what we sell and these brands, and what the tailor will make for you. They do not have the same level of design sense and detail.”

Beyond detail however, RTW clothes are designed to make a strong statement about the people who wear them. Moosajee says that when he briefs his designers he describes the Ego customer as “a journalist/architect, urban dweller, comfortable in different environments, who believes she can make a difference.”

Daaman offers “timeless elegance” and fills “an aesthetic gap,” while Sheep’s brand personality is defined by a single word philosophy, i.e. “uncomplicated”; reflected in its colour palette, cuts and styling.

Overall, the RTW category is growing, and not only in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Brands such as Ego are establishing more outlets in the major metros as well as going to Faisalabad, Multan, Sargodha, etc. Others, like Daaman are trying to tap expat Pakistanis by expanding their online business.

Jafar says that there is definitely room for more retailers as “we are still an under retailed country so the growth opportunities are there.”

More stores with multiple designer brands are also opening up (such as Brands Just Prêt, Ensemble and The Designers), with the line between couture and RTW becoming blurred. Those buying off-the-rack are putting not only convenience but also elegance and style in the shopping cart.

Going tomatoes

By Ayesha Hoda

Published in Aurora Magazine (September – October 2012 issue)

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The ketchup category has seen advertising activity recently and there are lots of tomatoes to be found whether you switch on the TV or look at a billboard.

The story of tomato ketchup in Pakistan began with Mitchell’s – a food brand that dates back to the 30s. The category has changed significantly since and more brands have entered the market. Today, the category is populated by names such as Bake Parlor, Knorr, Mitchell’s, National Foods, Shangrila, Shezan, and international brands like Heinz.

According to Adnan Malik, Head of Marketing, National Foods, the tomato ketchup category is worth three billion rupees (Source: A C Nielsen) and his brand accounts for 51% of the share. He says that there is a 70% penetration of this category in consumer segments A1, A2, B and C. In sharp contrast, the penetration levels go down to 30-40% in B, C and E.

Since the 90s the strategies for ketchup brands have evolved. Inflation and the economic downturn have seen cuts in consumer spending and brands have turned to offering their customers convenience and economy.

To this end, Shangrila (established in the late 80s) introduced a 100g sachet in the late 90s and became the first company to launch pouch packaging, a development that raised the bar among competitors and also brought the price down, helping develop a market for ketchup among a wider public.

National Foods quickly followed suit and today claims to be the leader in this format. Pouches account for 60% of the company’s sales and even consumers who are not price sensitive and previously preferred bottles, have accepted pouches due to their convenience.

At Mitchell’s, although concentration on pouches has recently increased, glass bottles still account for a 40-50% share of their sales.

Pouches come iin three sizes: 800g, 400g and 250g, and glass bottles in two: 500g and 280g. For all the brands the large (800g) pouch is priced at about Rs 150 whereas the large (500g) bottle is about 10-15 rupees cheaper. However, there is a smaller quantity of ketchup in the bottle, therefore by paying a little extra, consumers get more ketchup, making the pouch more economical.

Most ketchup brands are concentrating on younger consumers, because, says Malik, “We are a a young nation and the trend of having snacks with ketchup is growing.”

However, a major challenge is to ensure that the brand appeals to everyne, including housewives and other influencers.

In terms of advertising strategy, National Foods, Shangrila and Mitchell’s all seem to be focusing focusing on the main ingredient – tomatoes.

National Foods originally positioned (before 2008) their proposition around fun. However, in 2008, the package design was changed to emphasise the fact that the product was made from 100% pure tomatoes, with the focus of the communication turning towards flavour and purity of the ingredients. The company’s recent ad campaign is also based on ‘The real tomato experience’.

According to ad agency IAL Saatchi and Saatchi (National Foods’ creative agency), the new campaign capitalises on benefits such as purity, quality, convenience and economy through tempting shots of food and tomatoes. The campaign was leveraged to television, retail level (POS) and gondola/displays at shops.

Shangrila leverages print and outdoor and does not advertise on TV or radio as the company believes it is against sharia’h to do so, which is why, according to Erfan Mirza, Brand Manager, Shangrila, the brand has a low share of voice compared to its competitors. Yest, he says that Shangrila is still considered Pakistan’s number one tomato ketchup.

Compared to National Foods and Shangrila, Mitchell’s ad spend was relatively low until about three years ago, because of a focus on infrastructure development. However, advertising activity has picked up since. Zakria Fawad, Account Manager, Lowe & Rauf (Mitchell’s creative agency), says the current ad campaign for Mitchell’s tomato ketchup (Bin khaye raha na jaye  - originally released in 2010) stresses the fact that the product is made from the highest quantity of tomato pulp.

Fawad adds that “strategically, we decided to target the younger age group as they are the primary users/influencers but we also incorporated the primary buyer, the mother.”

In addition to the TVC, Mitchell’s is exploring non-traditional marketing avenues. It currently sponsors a food magazine called Chef Special and Chef Zakir’s annual cookbook. The brand has also opted for content integration on Dawat on Masala TV.

Faiza Iqtadar, Media Planner at Maxus Global (Mitchell’s media agency) says, “The brand’s media strategy is to increase awareness, create recall and promote its discounted offer.”

Overall, things look good for the ketchup brands. All the major players have become more aggressive on the marketing front and the size of the market is growing simultaneously. These brands are also looking to explore more consumer segments. Hamid Mukhtar, Assistant Brand Manager, Mitchell’s Grocery Products, for example, says that Mitchell’s has recently changed their penetration strategy from A+ and A consumers to target people in the B and B+ range.

However, as more ketchup brands are providing more options to snack lovers, the big brands may need to think of new ways to differentiate their product apart from the claim of being ‘natural’. They will also have to come up with more innovative media mixes to remain relevant and appeal to various consumer segments.

An evening in the world of Pakistani fashion – #FPW 2012

It was such a relief to get away from the all the news and images of extremism and violence we are bombarded with every day. Attended Day 2 of the biggest fashion event in the country a.k.a. Fashion Pakistan Week 2012. Here’s a photo story of what I liked:

The designers assemble…

Debenhams is probably my new favourite for western clothing! Contemporary, smart, classy… Photo Courtesy: HocusFocus

Loved this collection by Aneeka and Salma Cheema, which combined imprints of Chitral with western styling. These were clothes you can easily picture yourself wearing on various social occasions. Photo Courtesy: HocusFocus

Sanam Chaudhri’s new collection ‘Kage’ was inspired by Shibori, a Japanese resist-dye technique. Loved seeing how Pakistani designers are seeking inspiration from textile design in other cultures. Photo Courtesy: Catalyst PR