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Amitava Chattopadhyay


Amitava Chattopadhyay
Emerging Market Multinationals - Amitava Chattopadhyay


Amitava Chattopadhyay

How Xiaomi Became an Internet of Things Powerhouse

When Xiaomi entered the fiercely competitive smartphone market in 2010, it did so without even offering a real phone. The company only offered a free Android-based operating system (OS). Yet, within seven years, Xiaomi became one of the world’s largest smartphone makers, reaching $15 billion in revenue. Accelerating its growth rate, Xiaomi transformed into the world’s largest consumer IoT (Internet of Things) firm by 2020, with its revenue surpassing $37 billion and more than 210 million IoT devices (excluding smartphones and laptops) sold across more than 90 countries.

How was Xiaomi able to grow so explosively and what lessons can other companies learn from Xiaomi’s rise?

Marketing Mania Talks: Episode 2–Talk with Amitava Chattopadhyay

It’s been a long-standing interest of mine to understand how businesses can be a force for good. That desire stemmed from a conversation with a former classmate, a pioneer in social innovation, who cogently argued that there simply wasn’t enough money in the form of charitable giving to alleviate poverty on a global scale. Thus, the best way forward was for business to invest behind social innovation, also referred to as sustainability.
Kolo Nafaso – a new way of doing business in shea.

I was invited to give a talk at the executive committee meeting of AAK held in Singapore, in early 2018. In my conversations with senior sourcing representatives of AAK, I learned about the Kolo Nafaso programme and wanted to understand more deeply what AAK was doing in terms of creating a sustainable supply chain, working directly with the women from small-holder families in rural West Africa, who collected the shea kernels, the first link in the shea supply chain. My goal for learning more was threefold. First, there was my personal curiosity, the Kolo Nafaso programme seemed to be an interesting and meaningful initiative, that could impact poverty alleviation at scale. Second, I teach a class on strategies for social impact and profit, and this seemed to be an interesting example of just that, and I wanted to write a case study that I could use in my course. The third was that innovations like Kolo Nafaso pose challenges, since they require the balancing of two motivations: profit and social impact. They also require managing the differences in perspective across functions, within the organization. This hasn’t been studied in the management literature, and I saw an opportunity to contribute to the discussion of how to manage the balance by learning from the experience of AAK.

Transforming a Supply Chain Into a Social Enterprise

For conventional, profit-seeking companies, moving into social impact carries huge contradictions. An ad hoc, small-scale initiative is an inexpensive way to do a bit of good and receive a nice warm glow in the process. But any attempt to achieve more serious impact through scaling the initiative will likely trigger awkward discussions about how much that warm glow is worth to the firm. Thus, the ceiling remains low on social impact unless it can be justified in “win-win” terms. Needless to say, this is no easy feat.

My recently published case study[1] about Swedish oils and fats producer AAK’s “Kolo Nafaso” programme in West Africa describes how one company redefined “win-win” by creating a sustainable and scalable shea butter supply chain. In so doing, AAK was able to use business as a tool for maximising social impact, creating ripple effects with strongly positive implications for the firm’s most important stakeholder relationships and future activities in the region.

An Unexpected Product Benefit Can Be a Powerful Marketing Tool

As companies test a new product, they often learn that it can deliver unexpected benefits. This very famously happened in the case of Viagra, a product originally developed to treat cardiovascular problems. During the first human trials of the compound, a study nurse reported that male subjects would frequently lie on their stomachs on the examination table, trying to hide their erections. The compound did indeed dilate blood vessels, just not where expected.

It is common for companies to discover unintended benefits to their products after launch, once customer reports start flowing in. This is particularly true in the health and beauty industry. Just read online reviews for omega-3 supplements and you will find people claiming the heart health supplement helped them with a wide range of issues, from brittle nails to weight loss. Similarly, Botox was approved for cosmetic use in 2002, but users soon started reporting that the injections improved their migraines as well. It was licensed for this type of treatment in 2010.

Research has shown that consumers value a product’s benefits more when they believe a firm was intentional about creating them. For instance, if a company launches a programme that accidentally helps the environment, it is less likely to get praise than if the programme was expressly designed for that purpose. In law, premeditated crime is punished more harshly than an involuntary act that led to the same result. Intentions matter, because they are associated with effort, and effort with value (whether positive or negative).

However, another stream of research suggests that an unexpected benefit can pique consumers’ interest and lead them to anticipate other potential benefits from the product. This has a biologic basis: Studies on mammals (from rats to humans) have shown that receiving an unexpected reward (such as a squirt of juice instead of plain water) fires up neurons in the regions of the brain associated with reward anticipation and seeking. In a way, a nice surprise is perceived as a sign of more good things to come.

Busy people more likely to make healthier choices, study found

People who perceive themselves as busy are more likely to make healthier choices, a new study has shown. Although we complain about being too busy in today’s fast-moving world, it has some advantages. Individuals who perceive themselves as busy are more likely to delay gratification. They subsequently make decisions that benefit them in the long-term. This is what researchers from the global business school INSEAD, Temple University, and HKUST have found.

Regarding the choices we make every day, Amitava Chattopadhyay said:

“Every day, we make many decisions that involve choosing between our immediate and future well-being. For instance, do we go to the gym after work, or do we just go home to relax in front of the television?”

Building Sustainable and Socially Impactful Businesses at the Base of the Pyramid

An increasing number of consumers, in recent times, have reported feeling busier than ever. The current research examines how the subjective perception of busyness—which is referred to as a busy mindset in the current research —impacts consumers’ decision-making. Building on different streams of research in sociology and self-view, the current research proposes that a busy mindset bolsters people’s sense of self-importance, which, in turn, can increase self-control. Thus, a busy mindset is predicted to facilitate people’s ability to exert self-control. Seven studies, including a field study, provide support for this busy mindset hypothesis across various self-control domains. Findings from these studies provide support for the underlying process related to self-importance in multiple ways, while also addressing alternative accounts related to stress and the desire for productivity. Finally, findings from the current research delineate important managerially relevant boundary conditions for the proposed busy mindset effect.

Why Modest Goals Appeal to Us

Let’s say you’re wondering whether to set more money aside this coming year. You could go for a modest goal, such as increasing your savings by 1%, or pick a more ambitious one. You could also tell yourself: “I won’t increase my savings, but I’ll make sure to maintain whatever savings I already have.” New research by global school INSEAD, IE Business School, and Pamplin College of Business shows that you’re more likely to think that modestly increasing your savings is the most achievable of the three goals.

But isn’t it easier to maintain your savings than to increase them? Logically, yes, but here’s what you need to know. When we evaluate goals, we first consider the gap between the current and desired states. If that gap seems small enough, most of us feel quite encouraged. We think: “How difficult could it be? It’s an easy win! I can definitely do this!”

Research: A busy mindset can be a marketing tool

Framing products around virtuousness can help businesses market to those with a busy mindset, according to new research.

Global business school, Insead, recently found the mere perception of yourself as a busy person, or what they call a busy mindset, is a ‘badge of honour’ that can be used to promote better self-control, and marketers can leverage this with ‘virtuous’ offerings requiring this self-control.

When Busy Is Less Indulging: Impact of a Busy Mindset on Self-Control Behaviours, was created by Amitava Chattopadhyay, professor of marketing at Insead, and co-authors, Monica Wadhwa, associate professor of marketing and supply chain management at Fox School of Business at Temple University, and Jeehye Christine Kim, assistant professor of marketing at HKUST. The report shows there can be a flip side to being busy. While people who feel under significant time pressure tend to get anxious and make hedonic decisions, those who simply think of themselves as busy tend to make virtuous choices as a result of their perceived self-importance.

“It is common for marketers to use busy-ness as a campaign concept, as many consumers can relate to it. However, if the advertised product is an indulgent one – such as fast food – the campaign could backfire,” Chattopadhyay said. “Busy-ness appeals should be more effective for products that require people to assert self-control, as would be the case for a gym chain, for example.

“What we show is that feeling busy helps when the offering is virtuous. For many products, this is a matter of framing. If an oatmeal cookie is framed as rich in fibre, then it is seen as virtuous. However, framed as being delicious, it is seen as indulgent. So framing it right is important.”


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