Grabbing a good deal, that’s what it is
Last week, while I was thinking of a relevant subject to talk about in this space, our managing editor forwarded a promotional mail offering jaw-dropping low fares from Air Asia. He wanted us to analyse a bit and let our readers know if there was any catch.
Well, gauging from what experts have been saying and writing in the media, the deal is a win-win for consumers from all angles. In simple language, just like an ice cream or a chocolate brand does free sampling for you to know the taste, Air Asia wants you to experience their services and at the same time create hype around their brand. These rock-bottom prices and talks around fare wars in aviation have basically helped Air Asia in getting enough mileage in the media and saved them millions in media buying.
So, should you use the opportunity to plan for the upcoming holidays – Dussehra, Diwali, Christmas, New Year?
Yes, by all means. You just need to understand that these are promotional offers that will not be there forever. If you are getting an all-inclusive offer of Rs 990, just grab it before anyone else does.
The good news is that Air Asia will break the existing cartel in aviation sector where the competition had almost died out after the buyouts of Air Deccan and Sahara Airlines and the grounding of Kingfisher. Achhe din for domestic flyers have begun, hopefully.
Another noteworthy development in the last week was a circular by the ministry of corporate affairs clarifying certain aspects of the newly formed corporate social responsibility (CSR) law. The circular, among other things, makes ‘consumer protection services’ eligible under CSR. Hence, companies coming under the ambit of the law can now support consumer grievance redressal mechanism, consumer’s health and safety, sustainable consumption, consumer service, support and complaint resolution as well as other consumer protection activities as part of their CSR. This development is significant for consumer-focused organizations such as Voice as we will be able to conceptualize and implement focused consumerempowerment programmes and also engage in activities that will make consumers more aware and protect their rights.
Of course, it is not as simple as it sounds. Questions will be raised about how and what consumer programmes should be supported by the companies – there is the risk of some overtly commercial companies taking advantage of the ruling and turning their CSR programmes into sales campaigns. There is also the possibility of conflict between unbiased organizations and companies seeking undue advantages from their social campaigns. We are preparing ourselves for that. Programmes will be conceptualized for reliable and ethical corporate groups while the beneficiaries of our actions will be consumers across all sections of society. Most importantly, the promise of trust that we have kept for over 30 years will not be compromised.
In the meantime, we expect consumers to play an active role here. How about asking all your trusted brands about their CSR? Write a mail, call their customer support centres, send queries on their Facebook pages, Tweet with the brand’s hash tag, and ask how they are going to invest their CSR funds towards empowerment of their consumers. While selling us their products, ensuring our protection is their social responsibility.