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    Decoding consumer behaviour

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    As the Verdict 2009 brings India back to sanity, extinguishing the hate politics and evaporating the caste talk into thin air, the talk shows in which psephologists and journalists would pour out caste figures and percentages where all like to be appearing as an excel sheet ready at the click of a computer command. It seems to be a thing of past because suddenly the nation is chanting a new mantra, that of development. Political parties, media, and a pessimist public took caste-based and regional voting as an unchangeable reality of India. But the same public has changed that reality by pushing one button.

    Cutting short the political discussion, the big question comes around, “Will the team Manmohan be able to wipe out the word ‘slowdown’ from the memories of corporate India and the consumer as a whole?”

    In an attempt to explore the most important factor in influencing purchase behaviour, a week before IndiaRetailing compared the three factors — price, merchandise offering and service quality — to know what drives the Indian consumers into a store. While 26.08 percent respondents voted for merchandise offering, 21.73 percent stood for service quality. What mattered in the end is convincing price, which triumphs the list with a decent 52.17 per cent.

    However, there are conflicting views among the retailers as well on whether people goes for brands or quality or is it price at the end that really matters to the Indian consumers.

    According to Kamal Kotak, director, Major Brands, “The three most important factors are product, place and price, the 3Ps as we call it. If the product is sold at the right place and at the right price, more than half the battle is won. Brand recall definitely plays an important role.” Quality of the product when compared to its price is also a very important factor along with a good customer service as key factors, adds Kotak. “Indian consumers are still price-sensitive and expect high standards in quality for the price they pay. The above three factors cannot be considered in isolation and the combination influences the consumer’s buying pattern,” views Kotak.

    If the product is sold at the right place and at the right price, more than half the battle is won.

    Ambeek Khemka, group president, Vishal Retail says, “Consumer, today, is more discerning and wants to have the best of all whether it is price, brand name or quality. Although, brand name leads but what makes a success is providing quality products at a competitive pricing and a better after sales services.”

    On the same lines Vijay Bansal, MD, Cantabil International comments, “The most important factor which influences purchasing behaviour of a consumer is the brand recognition in the market because it’s a simple theory that nothing sells like visibility.” Supporting the findings of IndiaRetailing, Lalit Aggarwal, managing director V-Mart Retail says, “Price factor affects the purchasing behaviour of a consumer the most. Everybody wants to purchase best products at best prices, and therefore, V-Mart provides most innovated products at best price to our customers.”

    But Pawan Gadia, vice president, Ferns N Petals says, “If price, brand and value for money are to be ranked in influencing the purchasing pattern of a customer, price and brand taken together stands at the numero uno slot, followed by value for money.” But according to the theory of market segmentation, Indian market is segmented into three classes which have their different opinion and style while purchasing a product from a store, says Hitesh Mehta, MD, Zudaas France. “As an international kidswear brand, we feel recognition is the most important factor which brings customers to stores,” voiced Mehta.

    Supporting Mehta, Harish Kumar, MD, Maharaja Whiteline keeps the same views. “Brand recognition is the most important factor which influences purchasing behaviour of a consumer,” he says. Whereas, according to Puneet Verma, vice president – sales, Sports Station India, “Purchase is driven by couple of factors. Taking into consideration the demographic profile, the upper class is driven by brands and that too high end whereas the middle class is driven by the brands and value. However, the lower middle class is driven by value only.” The picture that might shows the reality in India.