Thursday, January 31, 2008

India, The Trilogy

We got an early start on Thursday, as we boarded our bus to head to Johnson & Johnson where we were able to tour their manufacturing plant. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed inside but we got to see how baby oil, powder and band-aids are packaged and how they manage their inventory. After a fantastic lunch compliments of J&J it was back to the hotel for one last bit of free time in Mumbai before meeting up for dinner and drinks with the other MBA group that was also touring India. They had come from Delhi (where we were headed) and were just getting to Mumbai (where we had been for a week), so lots of stories were swapped about our experiences to that point. A good time was had by all.

Friday morning we bid adieu to the hotel, but before heading to the airport we made a stop at General Mills. After a short presentation, we went out to see a very "traditional" grocery store (at least traditional in the American sense) and then we visited a small mom & pop storefront that is more typical in India - about 20 square feet containing up to 4,000 SKUs. Finally, we got to sit in on some ethnographic research as we were invited into people's homes for a session General Mills had prepared, which included the preparation of the traditional flatbreat, roti. (Some of us had grown quite fond of both roti and it's close relative, naan.)

After this fantastic experience it was off to the airport where got to hurry up and wait for our flight to Delhi.
Of course, what better place for pause in the blog than during this two-hour flight north, where the second half of our trip anxiously awaits us.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

India, Part Deux
We followed up Monday's visit to P&G with a meeting with Unilever on Tuesday morning. They talked with us about a great program they're running to promote handwashing with soap to improve health.

After our morning meeting, it was off to visit Banganga Tank, where legend says the Hindu god Ram shot an arrow into the ground and created a tributary from the Ganges river.

Other sightseeing stops for the day included the beautifully decorated Jain and Babulnath Temples, and a visit to the Hare Krishna Temple as well, where we had the opportunity to do some chanting.

Wednesday greeted us with a bus ride to Publicis Ambience ad agency, where we got an agency's take on business in India. After several large CPG visits, it was nice to see things through a different lens.
After making the trip back to the city center, we spent the afternoon seeing Mumbai on foot and capped off the day with another great dinner.

With only two days left in Mumbai...we'll save that recap for the next installment.


Monday, January 21, 2008

India, Part 1
In between semesters 20-some Brand students ventured to the other side of the globe to see how some big companies do business in India. Along the way we all had the opportunity to sample the local culture and do plenty of sightseeing. There's a lot to see and do in two weeks, so for the sake of moderation we'll break the trip into manageable chunks - so check back over the next couple days for more post-trip blogging. Onto the trip...

We arrived in Mumbai bright and early and had the first day to ourselves for some much needed recovery after a long day of travel. Some people hit the ground running while others chose to enjoy the very un-Madison-like weather and lounge by the pool. After dinner at a local hot spot, some called it a night while the more intrepid travelers continued their exploration of the city.

Sunday included a trip to Elephanta Island to explore caves adorned with ancient Hindu carvings, the Hanging Gardens, and Dhobi Ghats - where laundry is done by hand for thousands of residents. Our day concluded with a visit to Ghandi's house, which has since been turned into a museum of sorts.

After a day of sightseeing, Monday brought our first company visit. We were off to P&G where we got our first glimpse into the big-picture landscape of India. A country described as Australia surrounded by Mexico, wrapped up in Africa poses many unique business challenges, and with thousands of new members joining the consuming class daily, we were exposed to a unique way of thinking about marketing. After another fantastic dinner, it was about time to call it a day.

With three days in the books, this seems like a good place to end Part 1. Check back soon for more!