The 21st century Indian Consumer..

In the 2nd December Issue of Business Standard, Columnist Madhukar Sabnavis, Board Partner-Discovery and Strategy, O&M India, talks about “Trends in macro consumer behaviour” in India [In case this link does not stay permanent, you can try Agency FAQs] .

Apart from the regular pointers on the reorientation of the Indian consumer as compared to pre-liberalization era, Madhukar predicts four macro-behavioral trends emerging, which marketers today can leverage -

Multiple Entry points – This is evident from the rising income groups in the country, and the regional affluence building across the country. This multiplicity of income groups has resulted in the multiplicity of price points for various products in the market. Though this allows the marketer an avenue for flexibility, this trend also acts as a portent for the rising income disparity, which is an emerging threat and not a trend!

Upselling has picked up some space in the mindset of the Indian consumers as well – and this has permeated in the consumer durables and households segments as well; Incidentally, Umbrella branding has not taken too much of weight in India in the consumer markets. With the fickle changing loyalties, consumers no more buy the traditional idea of a loyal brand – say a Samsung TV with a Samsung washing machine and a Samsung mobile phone. Every segment has its own entity, and every player is a separate brand in each category. This explains why there are fewer campaigns exercising the cross-selling initiatives! I personally think it is the latter which needs to be emphasized in the long run and not upselling, since monopolizing a particular market is not a sustainable solution, atleast not in the current Indian context.

Multiple brands in the same households – This point is a good insight. With different age groups, and income levels, the Indian families can themselves be demographically divided, and individually targeted. The western culture of giving independence to children has started being reflected in the current urban generation. This implies an independent entity of children, with less of social time and more of personal time available to them. This need can be tapped, with customized offerings specific to the lifestyle of the consumers.

Finally, the last point he mentioned is something I discussed in the preceding paragraph – the “habit lesscherry picker with no loyalties and short-term objectives! This point explains why the entire market dynamics has moved to the final point-of-sale – the Retailer. No wonder the Retail Sector is booming. As long as the Indian consumer refuses to be faithful, the retailers can let their grey cells moving!

Tips from Mr. Sabnavis – from volume to value, loyalty programs and channeling the mindset of the Indian consumer. I specially liked the last line quoted by him, from Jason Jennings and Laurence Houghton “The purpose of business is to find, keep and grow the right customer.
One thing I feel is critical in this scenario is to leverage the impulse generated at these Retail outlets, and capitalize on that by targeting a bigger ticket size of the consumer. This would ensure higher profitability, even in an era of aggressive cherry pickers!
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