Friday, October 28, 2011

Aisle placement

People who shop regularly in shopping malls (which means all of you!) already know that product placement on aisles is a science, and a lot of thought is given to – which product goes where.

Now without getting into the details – products at your eye level are generally paid to be placed there by the manufacturer or for selling them off faster. On the other hand, staples (things that you would buy irrespective of where they are placed – salt, sugar, medicines … ) are placed on lower or higher aisles. Also same products with different expiry dates are kept in the FIFO way so that people pick up the older items before they go for the newer ones (that are kept at hard to reach places!).

The problem with all these intelligent placement algorithms is – even morons like me know about them. So naturally, when we go shopping, we try to game the system. I always reach out for the hard to reach places to search for “fresh” stuff. The problem for the shopping malls though is – everyone does that. The old stuff just becomes older and everyone picks up the fresh stock from behind. Even after discounting products to sell off the older stuff, people just take the discount on the newer items off the aisle!

So the owner of the grocery mall that I go to now has adopted a random placement policy. Even if you reach for the most difficult corner, you can’t be sure that you will get fresh stuff there. First few weeks, people unknowingly picked up older stock by reaching for the back. But these days, we (the shoppers) have become smarter. We actually go through the pains of handling all the items, checking their expiry dates and then picking up the freshest ones. Not only this makes the aisles all crowded (with each one of us spending a longer time searching!), but it also now has made the entire mall a messy place (with people keeping the items here and there to just search for the best!). This also has led to a lot of items getting damaged. I pity the owner, by trying to game the shoppers, that person ended up damaging goods and taking higher losses!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Radio Addiction

These days I religiously listen to the local FM radio stations at least for 2 hours everyday. An hour on my commute to office and an hour back. Now people who drive through traffic everyday know that radio is a welcome distraction. For everybody’s sake, these are the channels that I get out here in Navi Mumbai:

  1. 91.1 MHz Radio City
  2. 92.7 MHz Big FM
  3. 93.5 MHz Red FM
  4. 94.3 MHz Radio One
  5. 98.3 MHz Radio Mirchi
  6. 100.7 MHz AIR Gold FM
  7. 104.0 MHz Fever
  8. 104.8 MHz Oye!
  9. 107.1 MHz FM Rainbow

Now my general observation is – in a half an hour interval a normal station plays close to 4 songs. The rest of the time I am made to listen to advertisements. And then there is always the over enthusiastic and chirpy RJ who is trying to pep me up by talking about all the amazing stuff that is out there. And then there are the self proclaimed citizen journalists or moral police who have something to complain about our city. Finally the RJ would ask you to call in and voice your opinion. Then I get to listen to a few disgruntled people who think that the entire system is out to get them ( I ain’t complaining, yeah but I don’t really enjoy that part). .

Of the 4 songs that I listen to in that half hour interval, the probability of me actually liking more than 2 of them is pretty low. Even if I switch the channels, I get to listen to the same routine over and over again across all the channels. Many a times, I switch over and over and just listen to advertisements everywhere during my entire commute.

Now the thing that really interests me is – even though I know that I ain’t gonna get to listen to some good music, I still tune in to the radio absolutely everyday! If I pop in a portable music player, I know for sure which songs its gonna have, and I know for sure that I can put in only the songs that I like, for my commute.

And this is where the internet comes to my rescue. Apparently, we all like unexpected surprises. Apparently, in a study conducted on monkeys, it was observed that the dopamine levels in their brains went up, each time they got an unexpected surprise (the key is “unexpected” here). So in an hour, even if I get to listen to 1 song that I like, the dopamine levels in my brain go up. And just to get that sudden surge of dopamine in my brain because of that unexpected song I hear, I listen to this long torture every single day. Tch, tch, the things we do for pleasure!