Consumer Sellers

Marketers do not normally remember the past for the simple reason consumers also do not remember the past. Consumers are essentially concerned about what’s now and what’s in the future. The consumer today is a ‘power of now’ entity. So is the marketer.

Time to plan ahead and all the future years that will follow. There are three big, marketing trends that will define the years ahead.

Consumers as marketer: The savvy marketer needs to decimate the concept of the ‘consumer as consumer’ and ‘marketer as marketer’. The consumer is changing.

In the old days, the consumer was a pure consumer. She buys to use everything she buys, on herself or her family. But the urban consumer is of two types today: one buys to consume herself – the 100% consumer; the other is 70% consumer and 30% re-seller. Take the examples of an Amway a Tupperware or a Herbalife.

Peek deeper into the rural markets that are just about walking up to consumerism in a big way, prompted by the medium of television that does not distinguish urban from rural in its reach or message. These rural markets will have a new profile of the emerging consumer, a consumer who is possibly 50% consumer (for self-use of products) and 50% re-seller. This is the guy who is the insurance agent – the intermediary for a financial product – as well as an intermediary distributor of a detergent or a cake of soap. This channel, uniquely, is not restricted to the efforts of the multilevel channel marketer like an Anyway, but equally involved in selling products and services on direct mode of distribution.

Peek deeper still. You will see the emergence of the 10% consumer and 90% re-seller. This is the rural consumer who buys very little of the product for herself and the rest that she bys she sells at a profit. She is part of an NGO at times and at times part of self-help (SHG) that is linked to the big marketers of the day.

We see signs of this emerging with the “Shakti-amma” of HUL and a whole host of SHGs re-selling shampoo and Shikakai.

CSR is dead, ISR emerges: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an unsustainable activity – it harvests only the money of corporate companies and not necessarily the passion of the people who work there.

What will emerge in its place is ISR – individual social responsibility commitments. Corporates will harvest the time and passion of its people and channelize it as contribution to the social sector. When done in this manner, the passion of the people involved will emerge as movements on their own very long term sustainable movements, unlike CSR, which at best is the fashion statements of corporate boards.

Harvesting consumer passion with a time expiry date: Consumer with a time-expiry date: Consumer passion, something taken for granted in India is vanishing fast.

Passion is essentially a lowest common denominator item. When a people are deprived of the basics and when a people are hungry, they are the most passionate about the issues that plague society.

As India gets more and more prosperous, people limb the hierarchy of needs. As this happens, people become more and more besotted with the material things that make their lives good. This movement is contra to the movement that builds the passion of people. Therefore, expect more and more consumer getting cynical about the issues that plague us day in and day out. Expect less of the economically empowered to vote. Expect less of them to contribute to the terrain of consumer passion.

Consumer passion today comes with a date-expiry tag to it. It will last another 15 years for sure, but lesser numbers with every passing year of consumer prosperity ahead of us.