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Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, 4Ps B&M Chief Consulting Editor's Desk
Rajita Chaudhuri
Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, 4Ps B&M Editor-in-Chief
Dr. Arindam Chaudhuri
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Binding the 4Cs
A lot of multinationals have come into India but failed – not because their products were not good, but because they failed to understand India’s culture and its consumers. as a marketer, you need to be sensitive to each culture’s identities and its unique regional preferences and customise your product offerings
Further, when it comes to the place of cars in contemporary youth culture “it is suggested that car use must be seen in the framework of sociability and networks and that it also critically and suggestively mediates ordinary consumption with imaginative possibilities” (study titled Consuming the car: anticipation, use and meaning in contemporary youth culture, published in The Sociological Review). Moreover, there is evidence (Culture’s Consequences on Consumer Behaviour, a study conducted by National University of Singapore’s researchers) that “the Indian youth primarily shop from a hedonic perspective and cars, particularly sports cars, are considered to be hedonic goods. This certainly makes cars an important product category when it comes to study the buying behaviour of youth across India. So, here are some interesting takeaways for car manufactures and dealers.

While the maintenance cost matters most to the young consumers in North East India, it’s not much of a concern for a North Indian Car buyer. Interestingly, the car buyers in North India are least bothered even when it comes to the fuel efficiency of the car. For youth in South India, factors such as dealer network and availability of easy finance/loan options are more important than consumers in rest of India when deciding on which car to buy. Factors like resale value and colour are taken into consideration the most by a North East Indian youth, while young consumers in West India pay minimum attention to these details when compared with rest of India. Interestingly, youth in North Central India pays maximum heed to the reviews in auto magazines before deciding which car to buy. This is indeed some big news for car manufacturers who are betting big on India.

Cellphones: It’s about connecting India!

If numbers are anything to go by, the country’s mobile services industry has been the fastest growing mobile services market in the world, registering a CAGR of more than 50% in terms of subscribers and 15% in terms of gross revenues over the past decade (ICRA, 2012). While India’s total mobile connections are projected to exceed 900 million (to achieve 72% penetration) by 2016, total mobile services revenue in India is likely to cross $30 billion mark in 2016 (Gartner India, 2012). But this alone does not make it a lucrative category when it comes to study the buying behaviour of Indian consumers.

There is evidence (study titled “Mobile Handset Buying Behavior of Different Age and Gender Groups” published in International Journal of Business and Management) that “the mobile telecom services are now being widely consumed by the Indian society. Rather these have become an essential part of their lives. Besides communication, people now seek entertainment and other features that are compatible to their self-image and lifestyle.” So, if an Indian youth wants to buy a mobile handset – rest assured that he’s not totally dependent on that award-winning advertisement that is running on-air.

While youth in North East India are more concerned about the operating system (OS) of the cellphone they are buying than the youth in rest of India, the gaming capacity of a cellphone is of a much bigger concern to youth in North Central India. The brand name is of utmost importance to East Indians. They are more likely to go for a trusted brand than consumers in rest of India. While North Central Indians are more likely to go for a cellphone which has a camera, battery life of a cellphone is a big factor for consumers in East and North East India when it comes to buying one.

Interestingly, the youth in North East India seems to be more tech savvy than its counterparts in other regions across India. North East Indian consumers pay more heed to features like colour, GPS navigation, QWERTY keypad, operating system, social networking applications, and other apps than consumers in other regions across India when it comes to buying a cellphone. Even when it comes to the overall look/design of the cellphone, youth in North East India are far more demanding than their counterparts across rest of India.

Further, while South Indian consumers are more inclined towards dual SIM cellphones than consumers in other regions across India, presence of a service centre near to their place is of utmost importance to consumers in East India when buying a cellphone. Finally it’s the consumers in East India who pay more heed to the price than consumers in any other part of India when it comes to buying a cellphone.

Creams: Fair isn’t always fair

India’s proactive FMCG market has seen a significant growth in the cosmetic market in last two decades and fairness cream accounts for a major part of the cosmetic market with an average growth rate of 20% per annum. ASSOCHAM has projected that the market size of cosmetics industry at Rs.200 billion by 2014 due to emergence of a young urban elite population with rising disposable incomes and increase in working women looking for lifestyle-oriented and luxury products. Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) too projects the industry growth between 15-20% per annum going forward. Moreover, there are research that suggest “the Indian cosmetic market and particularly the fairness cream market enjoy a good market growth as the Indians are obsessed to become fair and beautiful” (study titled Fair war: A case study on fairness cream, published in International Journal of Contemporary Business Studies).

No doubt it’s true, but here’s an eye-opener for marketers of creams and lotions. Contrary to the general belief, all Indians are not obsessed with fair skin. While skin lightening is an important ingredient in a cream for youth in North East, South, North and North Central India, for youth in West and East India, it’s just another ingredient in a cream. While the price matters most to North Central Indians when it comes to buying a cream, consumers in South India give more importance to the smell/fragrance when compared to rest of India. When it comes to packaging of a cosmetic product it’s the consumers in North East India who lead the pack. Interestingly, North Indian youth is least bothered when it comes to product availability. Further, while consumers in South India believe that high priced creams are always superior, for youth in West and North Central India this is not the case.

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