I did an interview this morning and was asked what are my Valentine’s Day plans, but in the context of “self-love”. Hmm. Once upon a time that would have been a naughty word, but it’s all the rage now.

The world has intruded so much into our private space and time that we have to consciously carve out time to heal ourselves, to pay attention to nature, to disconnect from the cacophony of calls and demands.

And where there is an opportunity, there is a marketer. I have a paid subscription to Headspace, though I confess I have rarely gotten around it using it.

Bella Hadid has talked about dealing with anxiety, stress and why she decided to stop drinking. All great examples of self-love. But she has also talked about investing in a non-alcoholic beverage brand Kin Euphorics…hello, marketing angle!

Gwyneth Paltrow runs a wellness inspired brand Goop which has a wonderful selection of products for Valentine’s day. Caution: Read the list in a private space, some are not exactly office reading.

India seems way more traditional in its choices with a google search throwing up only one really offbeat self-love choice of the unfortunately named “Vampire Facelift”. Marketers and celebrities clearly have their work cut out for them.

Love of Zero

I remember when shoes, geometry boxes and pens were luxury items, passed on to younger family members. When you bought new clothes only for special occasions. And a dinner set received for your wedding was intended to last you a lifetime.

Now this is not because we were more frugal or environmentally conscious but because these things were truly expensive relative to an average middle class income. Incomes have gone up, of course, but innovations have driven down the cost of many product categories too.

When mobile phones launched in India, the peak pricing was Rs 16.80 a minute! My client was RPG Cellular in 1996 and I had a free phone – oh, the heads that would turn as I walked down Anna Salai chatting on my Motorola brick!  Now the pricing is close to zero.

Zero is a very powerful number. Particularly from a pricing perspective. It’s the reason why we put up with absymal security safeguards – and performance – from popular apps. It’s why we sign up for trials. It’s also why we take only one candy or paan when the “complimentary” bowl is offered after a meal. Or why we are so delighted with the “free” bottled water in a hotel room that we paid Rs 10,000 for.

If you are in a position to “sell” your product for free, I would heartily advise you to do so!  I have a chapter in my book about pricing which is great reading. (And before you ask, my book is not free.)

Now what about Ukraine?

Even for products not priced at zero, a combination of rising income and falling prices has led to consumers being used to costs either remaining the same or dropping. Price hikes are dealt with very cautiously and usually by reducing the quantity of the product.

COVID has already messed up supply chains and the rising income story for many. Now Ukraine looks like it will add more disruptions. I have to be honest – Ukraine isn’t a country I’ve thought about much. My reason to study a country is usually to figure out whether it’s a fun place to holiday. But between Russia and Ukraine, they will impact the availability of natural gas, petroleum, aluminium, wheat and corn to name just a few. (Here’s a detailed read from ING.)

If your product pricing is likely to be impacted, you have probably already prepped your supply chain. But it would be wise to prepare your customers for this change too. If you’re a marketer reading this, you might want to check with your procurement folks if a price shock is expected.

Happy Valentine’s Day!
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Jessie Paul is the Founder and CEO of Paul Writer, a firm she founded in early 2010 to raise the bar for marketing in India. Previously, as Chief Marketing Officer of Wipro’s IT business and as Global Brand Manager at Infosys, Jessie has been recognized for her contribution towards putting the Indian IT industry on the global map. With over 18 years in services marketing, including a stint with Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, Jessie is considered an expert in brand globalization and has been named one of the most influential business women in the Indian IT industry.


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