Want the entire lowdown on your prospective partner? Well, you don't have to hire a detective agency for that. Now, a check on the partner's credentials is only a click away.
Matrimonial portal BharatMatrimony.com recently tied up with a credit rating agency -- Onicra -- to offer prospective brides and grooms a chance to verify the information shared on the Internet.
This is the portal's way of looking at a brick-and-mortar revenue stream. But it isn't the only one. Competitor Shaadi.com started marriage centres -- Shaadi Point -- earlier this year.
"Marriage is a lifelong decision and getting on the net to find a partner is considered a big risk. We want to add credibility to the whole process," says Suresh S, business head, BharatMatrimony.com.
The service -- VeriProfile -- will be accessible in two ways. While posting their profiles, prospective brides and grooms can opt for a background check on themselves to lend credibility to their hunt for a life partner. Once the check is complete, the person's profile will carry the VeriProfile tag.
Alternatively, a person can request an anonymous verification for someone he or she has shortlisted, provided the person at the other end accepts a request for the inquiry. Onicra, will then step in and research the prospective candidate's name, age, income, marital status, address, family background and yes, even the blood group.
The information culled through banks, friends, office colleagues and peers will then be compared and matched to what has been posted on the net. Based on the comparison, the VeriProfile certification will be awarded. However, if the candidate declines, the process ends there.
And the tag? You have to be a registered member -- Rs 750 for three months and Rs 1,100 for six months, with an additional Rs 250 for every profile to be verified. Onicra claims it has the wherewithal to snoop around in 57 cities in India.
In the near future the service will extend to reporting on lifestyle as well. By the end of the first year, Suresh is hoping that VeriProfile will constitute 3per cent of revenues.
The Indian woman is creating waves across the world and everyone is trying to attract her attention. The latest to join the bandwagon is the KK Modi Group, which has recently launched a range of colour cosmetics under the brand name ColorBar.
So what makes ColorBar different from the scores of other brands already available in the market? Says Samir Modi, managing director, Modi Enterprises, "ColorBar is meant for the working woman. The brands available either cater to teenagers or to much older women. We are targeting the 20-35 years age group and are priced far below the competition."
The initial range of ColorBar comprises lipstick (Rs 90), nail polish (Rs 25), kajal (Rs 40) and compact (Rs 80). The company plans to extend the product range by adding lip liners, lip gloss, blush and base by the end of the year.
Currently, the products are available only in north India, but by April the company hopes to be present nationally. The colour cosmetic market in the country is estimated to be around Rs 800 crore (Rs 8 billion) of which 52 per cent is organised. The market is growing at a rate of 30 per cent annually.
Modi hopes to capture 10 per cent of the market by mid-2006. Various marketing initiatives have been planned to achieve this.
First, the company has recruited beauty advisors who help in the selection of cosmetics at most of its counters in departmental stores. "Nobody offers beauty advice at this price point," says Modi. Second, the company is tying up with corporates to hold corporate etiquette and make-up seminars.
"At these seminars, our beauty consultants will give make-up tips to working women," says Modi.
Modi Enterprises already sells colour cosmetics under the brand name Essensual but those are sold through the multi-level marketing route by Modicare, a Modi group company.
So why move into retail? "Retail is booming and we want to be part of it," says Modi. Moreover, he feels that as more and more departmental stores will come up, the share of the unorganised market will diminish. "A few years down the line, the unorganised market will become very limited since big stores refuse to stock unbranded cosmetics."
Portico New York, launched in Delhi this February, has just released its new "festive" series of bed-linen. Having started with bed and bath linen, Portico recently expanded to shower curtains and bath mats, and now has plans to move on to dining linen as well.
Taking advantage of the boom in the housing industry, and also the virtual lack of competition in home textiles (an established player such as Bombay Dyeing targets an entirely different segment of the market), Portico is enjoying some early success.
The company is a curious blend of east and west. On the one hand, CEO Rajiv Merchant has a home-grown approach to the industry.
"We have tried to create a home environment that no member of the family will want to leave," he says. The new print advertising campaign reflects this with its interesting fusion of the outdoors with modern interiors.
Merchant uses this campaign to target the close-knit Indian family, the Indian importance attached to weddings, and the festivities of the Indian calendar. Even the designs he sells are not particularly western or even that new; his florals and earthy tones have already been popular here for years.
The "New York" in Portico New York only comes into play when it comes to actual manufacture, Merchant explains. "We have coupled our Indian designs with American technology to bring the highest quality sheets to the market. There is no domestic technology that is able to produce sheets of this texture in India."
The series is available now at major lifestyle stores. Watch out particularly for the bridal series, and if you're feeling brave, the larger-than-life floral designs.