Last Friday, I was travelling back home in an autorickshaw. There are already five persons in the autorickshaw, and quickly a sixth person joined us. As he joins us in the autorickshaw, a Punjabi guy from behind said ‘yeh hey India !’. I felt that this autorickshaw epitomizes the complexity of India and the Indian Consumer quite beautifully.
The Indian Consumer market is a multi-tiered pyramid which requires multi pronged market strategies. India has roughly fifty percent of its population under 27 years of age. We daily hear about new day care centres, international schools, colleges, retail stores, restaurants, automobiles, cellphones, DTH, trends and technologies.
Understanding the ethos
It is true that Consumer India is flourishing, but at the same time Indian Consumer has his roots deep into his traditions. One example is we do love cum arranged marriages, which shows that the Indian Consumer will still give importance to his traditions, and astrology. This is what I call it as The Indian Way. If ten people visit India, they all may understand India in ten different ways. India is a nuclear power nation which doesn’t have proper roads in some places. It is the only country in the world where you can witness a buffalo, and an Audi or Mercedes travelling on the same road.
There are many Indias, as a marketer you have to find your India. Successful marketers came up with different offerings from one rupee packs, to family packs. Each of these will be delivered to different target segments and will need to be delivered using different distribution systems. Indian markets surprised many retail giants, for example when Colgate came with the Gel toothpaste, it primarily looked at the Urban markets and didn’t think about rural markets much. It positioned Colgate Gel as an urbane choice in its advertisements, but on the contrary it became a huge hit in the rural markets. Rural India discovered that the Gel paste came for a longer time and that satisfied the mother’s need for economy.
Local Strategy and Distribution management
Most of the global conglomerates use the same marketing and consumer behaviour axioms that worked for them in the developed world. I feel this is to be naive, because though India is one of the booming economic giants it still has its roots deep into cultures, and traditions. One needs to understand the ethos of your target population. I believe in India one should operate not with global strategies but with local strategies.
One of the challenges in India is the supply-chain management. Many giants failed and faltered because of the lack of understanding and coherence between their products and supply chains. Understanding the distribution life cycle, reverse supply chain is the key to succeed in India. Hindustan Unilever has been very successful in distribution in Indian markets.
Consumer India requires different solutions to different Indias, the key is to find your India and find your local strategy.