Archive for December, 2009

Stress Management

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Stress is the “wear and tear” our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment; it has physical and emotional effects on us and can create positive or negative feelings. As a positive influence, stress can help compel us to action; it can result in a new awareness and an exciting new perspective. As a negative influence, it can result in feelings of distrust, rejection, anger, and depression, which in turn can lead to health problems such as headaches, upset stomach, rashes, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. With the death of a loved one, the birth of a child, a job promotion, or a new relationship, we experience stress as we readjust our lives. In so adjusting to different circumstances, stress will help or hinder us depending on how we react to it.
Factor causing Stress:
Three sets of factor (a) environmental, (b) organizational and (c) individual – that act as potential cause of stress. Whether they become actual stress depends on individual differences such as job experience and personality when stress is experienced an individual, its symptoms can surface as physiological, psychological and behavioral outcomes.
(a) Environmental factors – just as environmental uncertainty influences the design of an organization’s structure, it also changes in the business cycle create economic uncertainties. When company B is contractive, for example, people become increasingly anxious about their job security. Similarly political instability is a cause of stress. Political crisis like civil war, riots, hostilities with neighboring countries etc can lead to stress. Technology uncertainties are a third type of environmental factor that can cause stress. New innovations can make employee’s skills and experience obsolete in a very short time, computers, robotics, automation and similar forms of technology innovations are a threat to many people and cause them stress.
(b) Organizational factors – organizational factors that cause stress include task, role, and Interpersonal demands, organizational structure and organizational leadership. Task demands are factors related to a person’s job. They include the design of individual’s job (autonomy task variety, degree of automation), working conditions and physical work layout.
Role demands relate to pressures placed on a person as a function of the particular role he or she plays in the organization. Role conflicts create expectations that may be hard to reconcile or satisfy. Role overload is experienced when the employee is expected to do more than time permits.
Interpersonal demands are pressures created by other employees, lack of social support from colleagues and poor interpersonal relationships can cause considerable stress, especially among employees with a high social needs.
Organizational structure defines the level of differentiation in the organization, the degree of rules and regulation and where decisions are made. Excessive rules and lack of participation in decisions that might be potential is sources of stress.
Organizational leadership represents the managerial style of the organization’s senior managers. One chief executive officer creates a cultural characterized by tension, fear and anxiety. They establish unrealistic pressures to perform in the short run, impose excessively tight controls, and routinely fire employees for poor – performance.
(c ) Individual factors – Primarily, these factors are family issues, personal economic problems and inherent personality characteristics. People hold family and personal relationships dear. Marital difficulties, the breaking off of a relationship and discipline troubles with children are examples of relationship problems that create stress for employees. Economic problems created by individuals overextending their financial resources is another set of personal troubles that can create stress for employees and distract their attention from their work. Some people may have an inherent tendency to accentuate negative aspect of the world in general i.e. stress symptoms expressed on the job may actually originate in the person’s personality.
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Psychographic Segmentation

A person’s pattern of interests, opinions, and activities combine to represent his or her lifestyle. Knowledge of lifestyle can provide a very rich and meaningful picture of a person. It can indicate whether the person is interested in outdoor sports, shopping, culture, or reading. It can include information concerning attitudes and personality traits. Lifestyle also can be used to define a segment empirically; this is often called psychographic (as opposed to demographic) segmentation.

Lifestyle is particularly useful as a segmentation variable in categories where the user’s self-image is important, such as fragrance. As an example of lifestyle segmentation in fragrances, Revlon’s Charlie cosmetic line was targeted at a lifestyle segment profiled as follows:
·       Is irreverent and unpretentious.
·       Doesn’t mind being a little outrageous or flamboyant.
·       Breaks all the rules.
·       Has her integrity based on her own standards.
·       Can be tough; believes rules are secondary.
·       Is a pacesetter; not a follower.
·       Is very relaxed about sex.
·       Is bored with typical fragrance advertising.
·       Mixes Gucci and blue jeans; insists on individual taste, individual judgment. . Has a sense of self and sense of commitment.
Various typologies of consumers exist that use personalities, values, lifestyles, and attitudes as variables, among them VALS and the more recent VALS 2, values and lifestyles typologies.
In its first version, VALS focused on the distinction between inner-directed consumers, driven by their convictions, passions, and need for self-expression, and outer-directed consumers, driven by their responses to signals from other people. Using this distinction, it grouped people into nine categories (called Survivors, Sustainers, Belongers, Emulators, Achievers, I-Am-Me, Experiential, Societal Conscious, and Integrated).
VALS 2 uses the additional classifying dimension of the “resources” people have (education, income, etc.) to create eight categories (called Fulfilleds, Believers, Achievers, Strivers, Experiencers, Makers, Strugglers, and Actualizers).

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So why VALS ?

Today, most marketers in India use segmentation models based on Demographics, Geo-demographics, SEC data & Benefits and usage. However, these models are still inadequate in their description & analysis of a person since they generate only isolated fragments.
This is where Values And Lifestyles segmentation plays such a pivotal role. Because lifestyle characteristics and values provide a rich view of the market and a more lifelike portrait of the consumer, they meet the demands of management practice for increasingly sophisticated and actionable marketing information. The basic premise here is therefore – the more you know and understand about your customer the more effectively you can communicate and market to him.

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Values And Lifestyles

A Value refers to a single belief that transcends any particular object, in contrast to an attitude, which refers to beliefs regarding a specific object or situation. Values are more stable and occupy a more central position in a person’s cognitive system. Values are determinants of attitudes and behavior and provide a stable and inner oriented understanding of consumers. Values within a system refer to a wide array of individual beliefs, hopes, desires, aspirations, prejudices etc. Values provide potentially powerful explanations of human behavior as they serve as standards or criteria of conduct. These tend to be limited in number & are remarkably consistent over time. The value construct can therefore be used to segment the population into homogenous groups of individuals who share a common value system.
A lifestyle is a distinctive mode of living in its aggregate and broadest sense. They deal with everyday behaviorally oriented facets of people as well as their feelings, attitudes, interests & opinions. It embodies the patterns that develop and emerge from the dynamics of living in a society.
Value and Lifestyle segmentation unlike traditional segmentation begins with people instead of products and classifies them into different types, each characterized by a unique style of living – it then determines how marketing factors fit into their lives. This perspective provides a three-dimensional view of the target consumer.

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The Inception and Evolution Of VALS

VALS is a relatively new concept, pioneered by SRI International, a Management Consulting firm in California that conducted a nationwide survey of the US consumers based on values and lifestyles first in 1979. This model was later modified in 1989 and renamed VALS-II, which segmented the American consumers into 8 consumer profiles. 
Some of the uses to which Values and Lifestyles segmentation has been put are:
·       To identify whom to target and find niche markets much more easily.
·       To locate where concentrations of your target group lives.
·       To gain insight into why the target group acts the way it does.
·       To improve and introduce products that speaks to customers’ values.
·       To target the marketing and advertising campaigns more effectively and accurately.
·       To position products more accurately in the marketplace.
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Rokeach Value System

 The Rokeach Value System (RVS)’ is a universally accepted and reliable tool to test value systems of people. The RVS classifies values into Instrumental and Terminal Values.
Instrumental Values are everyday ideal modes of behavior. For example values like Ambition, Cheerful, Honest, Imaginative, Logical and Polite are Instrumental Values.
Terminal Values are ideal end states of existence that an individual aspires to have. Comfortable Life , Equality, Family Security, National Security, Pleasure and Wisdom are Terminal Values.
We must however understand that this type of segmentation either singly or in combination with demographic segmentation divides the buyers on the basis of:
Social class: For example: Lower class, Middle class and Upper class.
Lifestyle and/or personality traits. 
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Lifestyle segmentation

Lifestyle segmentation is all about the mode of living of the buyers. Products often sold by this approach are cars, women’s clothing, cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, cosmetics and furniture. You could have two types of spots where automobile marketing is concerned.
• Small family car emphasizing safety, compactness and economy.
• Sport minded individuals who love maneuverability.
One such approach to measure the segment is through AIO inventories, which is Activities, Interest and Opinions.
You have the following categories under the heads:
• Activities: Work, liking, hobbies, recreation, entertainment, shopping
• Interest: Job, home, food, media, community.
• Opinions: Culture, social issues, politics, education.
By combining the demographic variables along with AIO we could get an example of a lipstick user as:
‘Someone younger, better educated, working woman who is appearance conscious, cosmopolitan and future oriented.’ 
Media selection and advertising content could easily be framed. In addition we can identify likely uses of related products which are consistent with this lifestyle.
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Personality in Market Segmentation

Marketers have identified personality variables to segment the market. Motor-cycle buyers can be identified as ‘independent, impulsive, macho, ready to change, confident people.’ ‘Charms cigarettes are smoked by young people who love the spirit of freedom.’ Lipsticks are for ‘young, out-going, beauty-conscious women.’ Other products, which cater to personality traits, are liquor and insurance. The marketers try to adjust the brand’s personality to the personality, traits of buyers for whom it is meant. Consumers of different brands are subjected personal preference tests to measure their different needs, and the differences in personality traits are recorded.

Personality characteristics, especially the self-image that ideally should correspond to the brand-image, are the basis of advertising appeals made to certain types of personality. Other personality characteristics used are changeability, adaptability, thriftiness, prestige consciousness, self-confidence, masculinity, conservativeness and sentimentalism.
Since it is difficult to reach targets on the basis of traits like sociability, self-reliance or assertiveness, the classifications based on slots as given above become useful.
We shall include a few other segmentation techniques, which to an extent could be a part of psychographic understanding of the buyers. The need is to understand segmentation from all angles rather than understanding it from a single point of view.

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6 Simple Methods to Remove Stress

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Strength: Physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. Physical and emotional weakness leads to irritability. A strong, healthy body developed through proper diet, exercise and pranayama techniques helps reduce stress at the physical level. Through satsang and appropriate learning gained therein, the mind can be strengthened. Love, compassion and friendship are valuable strength-givers that help us cope with stress.

The scriptures say that knowledge of the Self cannot be gained without inner strength. Rabindranath Tagore, in a poem, prays to the Lord not to remove all obstacles, but instead, he asks for strength to bear them. Before the start of the Mahabharata war Arjun was seized with a bout of emotional weakness and he refused to fight the war. Lord Krishna rescued him by giving him emotional strength.

Traffic control: We need to regulate and control our thoughts. We can cope with stress best if our thoughts are orderly and methodical. Unnecessary accumulation leads to clogging of the mind. The key lies in being able to live one moment at a time. Eat while eating, work while working, leave the home at home and the office in the office. Remember, however long we have to travel we can only take one step at a time. Worrying only reduces efficiency and then even simple tasks cannot be completed correctly and in time.

Re-design: We tend to view life and ourselves through our own philosophy. A readjustment or reorientation in this philosophy increases our capacity to bear heavier loads.

Erase the ego: The ego, anger, fear and jealousy are negative emotions that reduce efficiency, leading to mental weakness, causing stress. Too much emphasis on the ego, or abrogation of doer ship is responsible for increasing stress. Sri Rama asked Sri Hanuman how he was able to cause so much havoc in Lanka and yet return unscathed. Hanuman disclaimed all responsibility. He said, “I did not do it, you did it through me”. There is a higher power or strength working through us.

Sharing your feeling: Share your wealth, knowledge, workload or anything else you have. By and large people do not know how to share or delegate. Lord Vishnu as the manager of the world is the best example of delegation of work. Everything happens under his stewardship but he remains free and at-ease.

Surrender to the Lord. Free your mind from the weight of worries and become an instrument, adopting an attitude of service. This attitude will ensure efficiency, success, and freedom from stress.

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Does economic growth inevitably lead to environmental degradation?

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Economic growth is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for environmental degradation, as the IPAT identity makes clear. However, growth can, and often will, increase degradation pressures, particularly when growth is strongly associated with greater material/resource throughput. For more information on the possible linkages between growth and the environment, see the references on the EKC hypothesis listed in the further reading section, particularly the special issue of the journal Environment and Development Economics in October 1997 (volume 2, part 4), and also of the journal Ecological Economics in May 1998 (volume 25, No. 2).
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