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not if no one else does!

As marketer, we learn about price discrimination and see it in practice.  Unlike price gouging or price fixing, price discrimination is legal.

No other instance of price discrimination is as prevalent as my recent experience during my trip to India.

Sightseeing was a big part of the agenda, particularly given India rich history and culture AND I had the benefit of a local tour guide, my business partner and friend.  Though what amazed me was how local attractions blatantly charge foreigners almost 40x the premium over locals/Indian natives.  So take the entry fee to Taj Mahal for example, locals would pay a 20 Rupees for an entry ticket, but foreigners were required to pay 750 Rupees – astronomical in relative terms though arguably somewhat digestible in absolute terms ($0.50 cents versus $15.00).

So the same concept applied from place to place.  At one point, I tried to pass as someone from Northeast India call Nagaland – where Indians look more like Chinese.  That didn’t fool anyone.  So lesson #1, try sari next time – or a baroque – yaks!  Though in their defense, discriminatory price helps the administrators make the attractions more accessible to millions of ordinary Indians while still charging foreigners what they would reasonably expect to pay for an attraction in their home country.

Lesson #2 relates to price negotiation.  When a foreigner asks for the price, it automatically goes up by 100%.  Worse if you are summoned by an Auto or Tuk Tuk driver wherein the driver gets a commission by bringing you to the store.  Sure enough, the price difference was astonishing.  Within a ¼ mile radius, the price varied from 12,000 Rupees ($260) on the high-end to 1,800 ($39) on the low-end, for the same item – seriously!  Lesson learned:  it pays to shop around!

Finally lesson #3, grab a local friend if you can – I totally lucked out here.  Not only did I end up paying less than 50% of the original price, the price got even better once we factored in volume discount, and in this case, for business tchotchkes.  My job was to tell my friend which items I wanted and then let her work her magic.  Businesses resented the loss in margin – but we scored big!

So. . . since I just started to understand how things work in India – I think I should visit again soon to rehash some of the skills.  After all, practice makes perfect . . . that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Jenny Feng


Gift cards are promoted everywhere this holiday season– in ads, checkout counters and in-store signs. But in case you still miss it, your eyes will naturally gravitate to the colorful free standing display/kiosks in stores near you. And as if the mere convenience of gift cards isn’t motivating enough (for those too lazy to shop for an actual gift), grocery chains are offering incentives to get people to buy them in bulk – i.e., get a $20 grocery coupon with a $200 gift card purchase.

The problem I have with gift cards is that it’s impersonal. So impersonal in fact that frankly, I don’t remember who gave them to me. That’s probably because I ended up using the gift card on toilet papers or some household stuff – see, not so noteworthy.

Don’t get me wrong. . . I’m also occasionally drawn to the guilty pleasure of plastic money.

So I tried to make sense of the whole psychology behind gift card buying and came up with somewhat a logical rationale:
Say someone is willing to spend $20 on a gift, but it would take her half an hour to shop for it at an opportunity cost of $30 per half hour, so the overall cost would be $50. So if she gets a $40 gift card instead, she will be saving $10. She’s happy and the recipient scored. It’s a win-win situation, no?

Since we are on the subject of gift cards, it dawned on me that manufacturers should create their own gift cards. For example, General Mills could offer a $50 gift card for all General Mills products. This could be sold at any grocery chains and the stores have the discretion of discounting it. This could eventually replace temporary price reduction (TPR) or even coupons – but it does more – create brand loyalty! Sure, they just have to figure out the logistics at checkout – minor details. . .

How about a gift card for the cooking enthusiasts? Suppose you can give someone a $50 gift card to make a gourmet seafood dinner with recipe on the back – qualified items would include all items in the recipe and even a bottle of wine! Not so impersonal anymore, is it?  How about for baking, picnics, etc.

So in the spirit of this holiday season, let’s try not to go overboard on gift cards – give some thoughts to the gifts you are giving and make it memorable.

Jenny Feng

Well, as it turns out, a lot.

I had my first French macaron during my connecting flight in Paris a couple of months ago – it had me at first bite. I still remember when my teeth first met the crusty surface.  Then they descended into the chewy core, which was followed by just the right amount of fillings to top off the ultimate delectable experience. I thought the whole world must have been added to each macaron, only to learn later on that the ingredients are incredibly simple. After about the 5th one, I started contemplating whether or not my husband and I should continue on to Spain, which was our final destination, or stay in Paris and eat our way out of every single patisserie that carried this tongue altering narcotics.

Once we returned to California, I was determined to find these Parisian treats. Soon enough, I started eating my way out of the local bakeries – from Pualette to Miette to XP Patisserie and even Starbucks – yes, THE CHAIN – who knew!

As if that wasn’t enough, I decided that I would learn to make my own macarons. So I’m taking a 3-hour class in LA late December. I figured that if each macron costs $1.65, and a class costs $50, taking the class was no brainer. So this is now my little personal challenge. I consider myself a good cook, but I don’t bake.

So what do bakers and product managers have in common? In general terms:

Creativity: In baking, it’s about taste, presentation, tools and techniques. In product management, it’s about design, processes and resources. Yes, you CAN be creative in how you use your resources to get things done!

Patience: In baking, every step has to be meticulously done – the ingredients, the step by step preparation, and the wait . . . before you can enjoy the fruit of your labor. Product Managers generally lack patience. That might just be the nature of A-type personalities. But patience can result in better timing (i.e., go to market), better outcome (due diligence in planning, execution and QA) and increased productivity.

Persistence and the desire to achieve perfection: When I scoured the internet for a macron recipe and for people’s experience in making macrons, the common thread seemed to be the multiple attempts. One person went through 7 batches before he was happy with the outcome. PMs persistency comes from selling ideas they truly believe in to both the internal and external stakeholders. Persistence is also about finding an optimal solution to a problem.

Pride: In baking, it’s about repeated business via word of mouth. It’s about who wins the bake off contest, and if you have kids, it’s about who’s mom makes kick butt cupcakes. In product management, it’s the satisfaction of seeing your product move off the shelf and knowing that you’ve put your heart, soul, sweat into creating something that never existed before. It’s about making a difference in someone else’s life because of your product(s), or better yet, it’s about making a better world.

Passion: Bakers exists because they are passionate about food. If you don’t believe me, just look at their size (I’m going to get into so much trouble for this). As a marketer, I’m guilty of accumulating a lot of personal “stuff” I might not need. My husband accuses me of it, and I tell him that the product was so brilliantly marketed that I just had to buy it. Truly the bottom line is that if you are not passionate about the product that you manage, you are less likely to succeed.

So will baking make me a better product manager? Maybe . . . but I’m sure going to find out!

Jenny Feng

My name is Jenny Feng and I’m the CEO of  You haven’t heard much from me, only because I’ve been busy – very busy.  So my SEO Superhero has been covering for me, subsequently trying to improve our Google ranking.

My background has been in product management.  I still do that now, but I’m also an entrepreneur and a team leader – many hats.

So what is product management?

Wikipedia’s definition is across the board, and not as elaborate as I had expected.

Alltop shares different perspectives on it, via blog posts.

When I think of product management, I think “jack of all trades, master of none.”  Our resourcefulness compensates for mastery – so there!

Product managers’ roles are complex and often misunderstood.  The complexity grooms us to be future CEOs and Entrepreneurs, and misunderstood equates to being underpaid – agree?

So, who (or what) are product managers?  What makes them tick?  What do they aspire to become and what inspires them?  Why are they workaholics?  Where do they hang out?  How can I help them be more productive at work so they can get a life outside of work?

I’m on a quest to find out – so stay tuned!

Jenny Feng

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