London Diaries


“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”. This quote from Samuel Johnson captures the essence of my experience with London. The beauty of this city cannot be expressed in words; it has to be felt and experienced. I have never been in more love with any city. For me, London was love at first sight.

We were so mesmerized by the city that we drank it all!


Some of us even tried to take a bite out of London!!


The view of Thames during the night is breathtaking. The iconic Big Ben and glowing London Eye leave you speechless.


Even if you are scared of heights or giant wheels, the London Eye is still the thing for you. It moves so slowly and smoothly that you barely feel anything. Riding the London eye gives you the sense of being on top of the world, and the landscape is just amazing.


London has such iconic structures with such rich history that one can only wonder about how much effort and imagination went into creating them. Tower Bridge is one such example. This engineering marvel, built a century ago, is still functional. The blend of old and new is a constant theme throughout London. Tower Bridge is no exception; it overlooks office buildings reflective of modern age architecture. Talk about having a view from the office!


The Tower of London is another iconic structure which stands tall to this day. It is also the houses the world’s most famous diamond: the Kohinoor. Growing up in India, I heard stories about Kohinoor being discovered in India and making its journey into the Queen’s crown. Knowing the history of this rare gem stone, seeing it was a thrilling experience. For all of the Indians out there, don’t worry, I have struck a deal with the care taker. You can expect the Kohinoor to be returned soon via Royal Mail.



If you were the Monarch of a first world country, how grand would your residence be? While you think about that question, here is where the Queen lives. The palace contains 775 rooms and has a garden 40 acres in size. It is also the world’s largest working palace, but they turned down our request to use one of the rooms as an Airbnb. Sigh!!!


In London, you can indulge yourself in learning about history, science or modern arts through various museums, which are all free to the public. Woohoo London- you just increased the homework for school kids due to field expedition reports. Just kidding!! Seeing wildlife specimens, cultural artifacts and ancient paintings leaves you wanting to learn more about the past, and to make sense of where we are heading now. This picture is from the National History Museum. Right at the entrance is a life size specimen of a dinosaur.


Inspired by the experience of our classmates visiting wildlife safaris, we also spent some time closer to nature and took pictures climbing a tree. After all we evolved from monkeys.


Some of us even tried to get too close to the wildlife. It was dangerous, but Dave is a brave soul. No animals were hurt in taking this picture.


London, you will be dearly missed. If only I could turn back the clock and return. Oh wait! I can!


Final London Project Update

We find ourselves at a very comfortable position moving into Week 3 having accomplished our goals of conducting the focus group surveys, hitting the target goal of 1000 respondents via Qualtrics online survey and also performing the shipping study as requested by the client. We most certainly realized entering Week 3 that now is the time for the required data analysis on the information gathered through our market research (both Primary and Secondary) in order to generate insights and recommendations for our presentation. We have established really good co-ordination among our teammates, and this has helped us significantly in putting in longer hours or scheduling meeting/work times with everyone.
Based on each other’s strengths and weaknesses, we divided the group between presentation work and the data analysis piece which needed to be done as part of our final deliverable. The shipping study is also being conducted and compiled simultaneously. We aimed at providing several revisions of the presentation to the client, as well as our Faculty advisor Prof. Gray, and were able to do the same. We received several valuable insights on our presentation drafts from both the Client and Prof. Gray on both versions of our draft presentation. (We sent two versions of the draft presentation before finalizing it.)
We gleaned some really great insights that we realized were not exactly part of our statement of work; however, after speaking with Prof. Gray, we learned that it is always good to “over-deliver”. Therefore, we will be providing the client with the bonus insights about returns and customer preferences. We decided as team that the most convincing presentation and recommendation must backed up by real data. Therefore, our presentation has been designed to keep strong balance between the quantitative and qualitative analysis of the eCommerce apparel industry in the UK.
We will be presenting our findings to the leadership at Abercrombie in their Headquarters on May 31st. This is a very valuable opportunity for us and we are very excited about it, especially as we are passionate about the market research we did in the UK and have spent hours among ourselves to discuss, analyze and sketch the recommendations that can be most valuable to the client in the long run.
We are planning to meet next week on Monday (May 29th) to further refine and practice our presentation delivery before the main presentation on Tuesday (May 31st). In addition to the presentation, we will also be providing a packet including our insights on each Focus Group performed in country, raw as well as analyzed data analysis of the online survey results and the shipping study folder (containing excel spreadsheet of shipping study insights and images taken of the packages received with each order as per the guidelines provided by the client).

Finding Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster :)

Who would have thought that we would get a chance to relish the incomparable scenic beauty of Loch Ness, a large deep freshwater lake in the Scottish Highlands? Of course, we found Nessie- the Loch Ness Monster:) and a popular figure in folklore. No matter how high a resolution camera you use to take photos of this unique landscape, the photos cannot justify the views that a human eye can see.

The beauty of Loch Ness

Now you must be wondering, why Loch Ness is so famous. Loch Ness was created millions of years ago when the underlying tectonic plates collided. The evolution happened in such a way that the trapped salt water was transformed into fresh water over the course of time and the sea-now-lake creatures adapted to the new environment. In fact, the cruise guide (who was the best presenter I have seen in my life) told us that there is more water in Loch Ness than all the lakes of the UK and Thames River combined! The water maintains a 5 degree temperature throughout the seasons because of the peculiar geological properties and the density is very low. Translation: the chances of your survival in Loch Ness if you happen to fall off the cruise is next to none. For more details about Loch Ness, you visit: The Loch Ness monster is equally famous. If you want to resolve your curiosity and hear more about Nessie, go to

Our team enjoyed a lot at this wonderful site, and we appreciated that we got a one in a lifetime chance to visit this place. And, did we take our photos here, yes, plenty, have a look:

Loch Ness and the Team




Focusing on Personal Insights in the UK

As the focus groups progress along, we have come to realize how valuable face-to-face communication on the ground level of a project can be. The sort of insight we have gained into the UK online clothing shopping preferences is invaluable and using only survey results would not tell the full story. We are feeling good about being able to incorporate this knowledge into our recommendation for the client.

The group has been working hard on coming up with strategic and tactical recommendations for the client. We have had some disagreements, but we stuck it out and were able to come up with a solid plan incorporating our secondary research insights, focus group insights, and shipping study insights. We have also had a live online survey out in the field this past week, which is to be taken down soon. We are using the insights from this survey for our recommendations, as well. Each one of these research focuses have provided both unique and consistent results that will help give us a strong backing to our plan.

In the next week, we will be finalizing our presentation and further incorporating the survey data results into our final recommendations. We will have a very busy week ahead of us, but we are confident that we will be able to get everything done by the time we return to the States. We are very excited about presenting our findings to the client!

A Cultural Cross Section of the UK

While “football” has a different meaning in the United States than it does in the United Kingdom, both countries are just as passionate about their sports. The people we chat with in the UK will often point out that we call “football” soccer and don’t know much about the real football. They will, however, speak positively of Tim Howard, who played in the Premier League and was one of the best goalkeepers from the United States.

Tim Howard walking for the last time through the Everton Goodison Park Stadium.

Different Accents, Personality, and People
We recognize that there are different types of British accents in different parts of the United Kingdom. There are also different dialects that they use in different cities and countries of the UK. The people in Scotland or Wales are very proud of their own histories. They do not want us to call them English, but Scotts or Welsh respectively. Interestingly, Wales has its own language that is very different from the English language. The lack of vowels in Welsh can make it very difficult to pronounce. Furthermore, people in Scotland have a very thick accent that is hard to recognize by our ears. We had some difficulties understanding what our tour guide said during the Loch Ness trip because of this.

Histories & Castles
The United Kingdom is filled with history and rich stories that the people of the UK are very proud of and happy to share. We saw their passion and excitement when we visited the Tower of London and learned the stories of the kings and queens who lived there. In Loch Ness, we heard stories of how people tried to find the famous monster, or at least fake a sighting. The people in Manchester couldn’t wait to tell us about their role in the industrial revolution. We were also pleased to see a monument in Manchester to Alan Turing who cracked the enigma code during WWII (and was recently the subject of the popular film, The Imitation Game). Consistently, we have found that people in the United Kingdom are proud of their legacy and would like to show it to people all over the globe.

Loch Ness
Loch Ness

Guard at the Tower of London

A demonstration of steam power at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry

A Common Language: Focus Groups in London

We have learned a lot in our first week doing marketing research in the UK. We knew going into our project that consumer preferences would be different from what we are used to in the US, but the amount of nuance has been surprising. We are doing our best to understand not only what UK consumers are saying about their buying preferences, but also how they are saying it. The expression “two countries separated by a common language” makes a lot more sense on this side of the pond.

Focus group research requires a lot of listening and good observational skills. In the United States, we have experience with the social cues and idioms that are commonly used in speech. Here in London, we have to ask for clarity in many cases while trying not to put off our respondents. It is a difficult balancing act, but it is very rewarding. Each time we learn a new cultural value or expression we gain better insight into the consumers of the UK. In turn, this has allowed us to build out stronger recommendations for our final proposal.

In the next week we will be traveling out of London to Manchester and Edinburgh, and again we will be faced with new challenges on the project. The biggest advantage we have moving forward (aside from understanding a few expressions that span the length of the UK) is that we have a better idea of what sorts of things we don’t know going into the conversations with consumers. We can clarify what we are trying to relate and learn from our respondents without assuming that there won’t be confusion because we “speak the same language”.

London Underground

Let’s talk about the Tube! Coming from Ohio, the group had various levels of familiarity with public transportation and trains. Some of us have experienced subways in the US, others experienced trains in India and further abroad, but London has a fantastic transportation system that we have been happy to learn and embrace. It has made it very easy for us to get around, and in turn quickly learn about the city that has been our home for the last week. We are glad to present a few pointers from an outsiders perspective on how to use the London Underground.
First, let’s clarify some language: The public transit system in London is referred to primarily as the London Underground, or the Tube. There are also the National Rail and London Overground services that connect at various change stations with the Underground. Just don’t call it a subway- that’s a clear giveaway you’re not local.
Keep Left. While you may be glad you don’t have to drive on the other side of the road here (if you’re from the US), you might not know that you should walk on the other side. When in doubt keep left. Go up the left set of stairs, or walk on the left while people stand on the right on escalators.
The World’s Your Oyster. The London Underground uses contactless payment in addition to prepaid paper tickets. Pick up an Oyster Card for five pounds, and you’ll be zooming through the tube in no time. You can top off (add more money to your card) at any station, and even get a refund if you’re leaving and there’s still money on your card.

Mind the Gap! No post on the London Underground would be complete without mentioning this world-renowned safety advice. Mind the gap simply means that you should be careful and pay attention to the space between the train and the platform. Now you don’t have to ask a Londoner and become very embarrassed.
We will miss the London Underground as we head North this next week, but we’ll be sure to report back with more thoughts from our travels!