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Directions meet and diverge at Indian Consumer Mindscapes

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As India negotiates its transformation to a consumer-led market, the marketer and the retailer are constantly devising and studying new means to win over the consumer via different means. To bring forth interesting aspects about the psyche of the Indian consumer, MindScape the strategic consumer information division of the country’s leading retail consultancy Technopak Advisors, hosted its first consumer insights seminar in Mumbai – Indian Consumer Mindscapes 2007.

Delivering the welcome note, Arvind Singhal, chairman, Technopak India, said, “There is a multiplicity of channels available here in India. Other than store commerce, there is T-commerce that has penetrated the Indian market scene. This assists in creating more avenues for direct interaction between the marketer and the consumer, leading to positive influence on sales.”

Harsh Mariwala, chairman, Marico Industries, India, in addressing the inaugural session stressed the importance of gaining consumer insights and using the same effectively. Mariwala said, “It is of utmost importance that there is adequate training given to the manpower you have in your organisation, and they should have a firsthand experience with your consumers.”

Also, “Time is very crucial in a corporate atmosphere and the research has to be effectively planned.” Mariwala shared insights from research they conduct within their organisation, and said that in today’s environment it is more important to provide a complete solution instead of a standalone product. He brought forth the point that India is yet to create global brands. He said, “So far, we have only managed to create a niche in the IT sector, but in the FMCG and durables sector, we are yet to create global brands.”

Sharing an international perspective, Maureen Johnson, CEO, WPP – The Store, UK, gave a peek into the mind of the global consumer. According to Johnson, the consumer today seeks simplicity even as he or she is inundated with various choices. She said, “The consumer today is facing a scarcity of time and, hence, will opt for places that offer him an edited choice.” According to Johnson, the Indian consumer is savvier in judging quality and price.

Bringing in an interesting perspective on the mind of today’s youth, which is the target of each and every retailer, Darshan Mehta, MD, Reliance Brands, said, “The terminology ‘target age’ is now obsolete because it is not intelligent to group a mindset merely on age. It is more relevant to understand the ideology of your consumer to induce him to buy a product. The youth of India is today similar to the variants of chips that are available to eat.” He added, “It will be a mistake to box this generation into demographics or psychographics. Today, it is all about understanding this generation in a new way everyday.”

Throwing light on food retailing, Ravi Naware, CEO, ITC Foods, said that due to greater exposure to brands and new product categories, a lot of impulse purchasing is taking place. Naware said, “The trend is now shifting towards speciality retailing and the Indian consumer is more conscious about food safety, hygiene and value. Convenience food is an emerging category and ready-to-eat food is becoming an ultimate choice for many.” Naware revealed that packaged soup is growing at the rate of 75 per cent according to industry sources.

Sanjay Badhe, senior vice president, More, Aditya Birla Retail, said, “Shopping done between first week and fortnight of the month usually comprise pulses and is done by the housewife. Weekly shopping comprises food items like biscuits and products like Magi, butter and bread, and is usually done by the husband or kids, or it would usually be ordered on the phone from the nearby kirana store and bakery. Daily shopping is normally for vegetables, fruits, milk, bread, eggs, etc., and these are usually purchased by the wife from places close to home.” According to Bhade, people shopped at kirana stores in case of emergency, at supermarkets in case of necessity, and when they wanted to have an outing, they frequented the hypermarket.

Talking about the impact of modern retail on shopping behaviour, Tara Prabhakar, associate director, Mindscape, India, highlighted the fact that it is not only the SEC A and B who is shopping at the hypermarkets and supermarkets; the SEC C is also a consumer now. According to Prabhakar, 67 per cent of the supermarket shoppers do not like shopping alone. She also advised marketers to tap the men shopper.

In the concluding session, BS Nagesh citied interesting examples and case studies from his experience with Shoppers’ Stop. Nagesh noted that what we are witnessing today is retail evolution and not retail revolution.

– Zainab Morbiwala, Mumbai Bureau

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