Changing consumer profiles

Behavioral scientists who have been tracking the changing profile of Indian demographics and the consumer market have noticed a small but significant change that there is an entire generation of consumers who have grown up in the post-liberalized era. And they have profoundly new expectations—they look for “the total experience�. For marketers, the question that begs an answer is: how have all the changes in the marketplace affected their thinking? More importantly, in the changed scenario, can marketers speak their lingo.

It is increasingly difficult to connect to today’s teens—the post-liberators. So called because they have grown up during
the era the economy has opened up.

Kids coming into the workforce today have started tuning in their assignments in PowerPoint while still in college. They understand the Napster boom. So, how does one market to a generation that has grown up with digital media? “

Post-liberators have grown up in an era where schools and colleges have emerged from being just rites of passages to passports of success. The media attention on IIT and IIM has further confirmed their belief in the importance of education.

They have grown up in an era when everything is available off-the-shelf. Cars, two wheelers, television sets, PCs, phones, audio systems and more are there for the picking. Televisions, refrigerators and washing machines are normal household gadgets, not luxuries any more. The post-liberators have grown up seeing their homes change, with new durables, new products and new utilities.

With an increased exposure to the world, these youngsters are tuned into a whole new world of entertainment. With cable/satellite TV and internet, the post-liberators are not in awe of the world.

Unintentionally, technology has turned out to be a great enabler. Most teens have grown up seeing technology becoming part of their daily life. PCs and mobiles are commonplace. So are microwave ovens, hi-tech music system and cars. It is no longer the mom who teaches the child; it is often the other way around.

They embrace religion for the succor it provides but may not want to wear their religion on their sleeves. They love their parents and their home, but here again, may not want to display their affection openly. Rebellion is not on their radar, but neither is humble submission.

Today’s teenagers have grown up in a different India; an India that has arrived on the world stage. And during their formative years they have only pale vestiges of the old India. So while communicating with these new Indians, we need to be conscious of their new though process.

The FCB-Ulka chairman proposes seven guidelines that need to be considered while reaching out to this new generation.

Foreign may not be better: For decades we have been brought up with the belief that Indian consumers will accept anything ‘phoren’. This may no longer be true. Foreign is no longer the forbidden fruit and so it holds no great attraction.

Proud to be Indian: They have grown up seeing the world acknowledge the presence of India. The IT sector has made Indians a hot commodity. So being called Indian is no longer something to be ashamed of Brands need not feel shy of their Indian heritage any more.

Rewarding yourself is ok: They have grown up seeing their parents take their first steps towards self rewards like short foreign holiday, bigger flat, a bigger car, a smaller mobile phone and likes. Parents are no longer living in penury, saving for their children. And, therefore, the message going out to young minds is that rewarding yourself is ok. So brand messages can be cloaked as rewards.

Youthful confidence, not anger: They have grown up in an era of increasing confidence. Their life too has become competitive thanks to the intense pressure to excel in higher education. Brands can now start speaking a more confident language.

Technology for technology’s sake may not work: Technology is no longer shrouded in mystery. Most youngsters know where to find the answers. So brands need to understand that technology for the sake of technology will not work. They need to emphasize why the new technology is better and how it will work.

Value for money and beyond: Indians look for value for money in all that they buy. It’s no different for the new generation. Consumers are wiling to pay 10 times more, but the performance has to be twice or three times better than the pure value for money alternatives.

The world is my oyster: The post-liberators are no longer in awe of the world. They actively look to engage with the world through holidays, education and jobs. This is bound to open up opportunities for brands that give Indians a taste of the world.