Rama Bijapurkar is back with another book on India’s economy called ‘A Never-Before World: Tracking the Evolution of Consumer India’. Bringing in an all new perspective on consumers, she urges businesses and entrepreneurs to not just focus on the amount of money people have, but on their aspirations, pain points, community context and media usage.
1. Now is the time to act!
Instead of going with the tried and tested ‘classes first, masses later’, its time to act now! Marketers cannot wait for income levels to rise so that goods seeming expensive earlier become affordable later. This strategy makes them miss out on growth and run the risk of becoming outdated and obsolete by new products. Income story is not that relevant now, what’s relevant is the technology and growth story.
2. What’s your strategy
Companies need to start identifying the right strategy for the Indian market rather than fitting India somewhere in it. One cannot succeed in India by merely tweaking existing templates from the West. Indian corporates need to think out of the box and learn from startups and entrepreneurs.
3. One size does not fit all
India as a country consists of consumers from very diverse backgrounds. A company cannot think of targeting them all in the same way. They campaigns and communication needs to be tailored for each and every segment separately. “Never before has there been a consumer base that lives over four centuries at the same time, a market with so many people sadly caught between a twenty-first century economy and an eighteenth-century society,” says Bijapurkar. She traces the rise of the new ‘culture classes’ such as global citizens, prospering small businessmen, IT kids and cause-conscious activists. English is booming, but so are local language media.
4. Learn from those who got it right
The best way to make sure it works right is to learn from those who got it right. Countries like China ‘get it’, they understand the price-value point very well, for domestic and international markets.
5. Design for digital
With the increasing penetration of internet, it is inevitable for marketers to use the digital media for reaching out to their target audience. The new level of high digital quotient presents new opportunities for overhauling old B2C and B2B business models and also creating new ones for new setups.
6. Rise of Women
“Women in India have changed the most as a result of both social and economic change in the past decade,” says Bijapurkar. With the increasing number of women participating in income generating activities in the country and challenging the stereotypes, the companies need to redefine their strategies and power the rise. Bijapurkar segments Indian women into breakout liberals, freedom fighters, unbound but not free, trendy traditionalists and breadwinners.
7.Fill up the gaps from public providers
The poor state of public enterprises in the country has forced people to buy public goods from private providers. Clean water, good schools and decent healthcare may increasingly be from the private sector – and therefore hit consumption of other goods. Consumer rights will deliver what citizen rights do not.
8.Target the youth
India has 600 million citizens below the age of 25, with rising incomes, aspirations, freedom of thought and speech, and an overactive media. There are also 200 million youth who are unskilled and there are no good jobs for them. Though many are frustrated with corruption and red tape, there will be no major revolution coming from them. India is also a child-obsessed country, with one child in most homes. The companies need to understand what they are looking for and need to develop products suitable to their needs to ensure growth.
9. Redefining the Urban markets
Urban markets are opening up opportunities for those with social capital and not just economic capital. The urban setup is rapidly changing and so is the demand for gadgets like kitchen appliances, new retail formats, etc. Bijapurkar offers a new classification for Indian cities: megalopolis (10+ million population: Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata), metros (5-10 million: Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Pune), ten mini-metros (2-5 million), 35 large cities (1-2 million), 418 small towns (0.1-1 million), and 7,467 micro-towns and rurban towns.
10.The rise of the non metros
With over 70 per cent of India’s population the non metros and small towns are the next big things to look out for. Urban-rural aspirations and behaviors are blurring and a middle band called ‘rurban’ has emerged in townships which are now classified as urban. “The idea that knowledge can give power and status beyond gadget ownership is now well understood in most of rural India, with women too seeking it,” says Bijapurkar, observing use of mobiles for price discovery and ICTs for better farm productivity.