India is a plurastic society of over one billion people. Being a vast country, here people inhabit four climatic zones, form the temperate north to the tropical south, from the parched west to the inundated east, speak one or more of 15 official languages, follow several religious and personal beliefs, differ enormously in their food habits and social customs and live together under varying states of human development, from highly affluent to the utterly destitute. Around three fourths of India’s population lives in rural areas and contribute one third of the national income. This diversity is also reflected in the market for consumer products. Here consumers present a complex and bizarre group.
The high rate of industrialization, growth of service sector and better employment opportunities have increased consumers disposable income, developed new lifestyles and awareness and a drastic change can be seen in their buying behaviour. The Indian consumers today wants to live in present and prefers a life full of luxury & comfort and are not much price sensitive. They are highly aware about the product, price, quality and options available with them. Indian consumers believe that branded products are more reliable. The brand which identifies and support family values are more popular and accepted easily by them. Introduction of credit culture has made the Indian consumers to purchase products on credit and pay tomorrow.
This has led to tremendous increase in purchase of homes cars, two-wheelers and consumer goods. The consumers have a strong preference for luxury and imported products as they generally considered it worth for money. An average consumer in India, strictly follows their culture, tradition and values. Despite of many foreign brands being sold in India, Raymond is still India’s largest textile company and Haldiram is doing well with McDonalds and pizza hut. A major change that has occurred in Indian consumers is that, they give preference to features of a product rather than its brand name. They are also not confined to a single brand but prefer change rather than sticking to the same brand. They just don’t want availability of products, but also better experience, services and ambience. This has led to the growth of shopping malls where all the facility is available under one roof. The Indian market has become a ‘buyers’ market from ‘seller’s market’.
Over the years, as a result of the increasing literacy in the country, exposure to west , satellite television, foreign magazines and newspapers the buying and consumption patterns of Indian consumers have changed significantly. The emphasis has changed from price consideration to design, quality and trendiest. The desire to look and feel good is a guiding factor for customers while making their purchase decisions. The role of children and women in the family has changed. They have become the major influencers in taking purchase decision. Regarding expenditure, it is found that consumers today spend more on non food items. Share spent on various food and beverages has fallen and importance of medical, health care, transport and communication has grown. The consumers are more fond of convenience food like instant coffee and noodles. They consider food and drinks as fun.
The number of modern gadgets like mobile phones, L.C.D.’s etc is preferred more. The yesterday luxuries have become today’s necessities. There is heavy western influence seen on urban middle and upper class. People have become more conscious about their looks and there is a growth of beauty parlors, beauticians and health clubs. The middle class is much interested in buying the dresses and brands by the multinationals. Bulk purchasing seems to be the order of the day with purchasing becoming a week end affair. The current trend seen is that the consumers prefer to buy things from hyper stores and super markets.
If we move on lower class, it is observed that consumers craves for a lifestyle like the well to do people they see on television. Their preferences have changed from home-cooked food to fast and ready to ready to serve food. Besides, the young consumers are passionate about visiting fast food outlets for fun and change. With the growing culture of call centers, youngers have now more cash in hand and they prefer to spend it on leisure and personal gratification. The rural consumers buying and consumption behaviour has also changed. The rural consumers are not only confined to purchasing goods in the villages, but they desire for products outside the village economy. There is demand for high status consumption goods and the rural consumers want all the modern amenities at their home which is being reflected in their living standard, possession of electronic gadgets and luxury cars. It is assumed that with the growing disposable income, industrialization and liberalization, the Indian consumer market is expected to grow as 5th largest market in the world by 2025.
Research Scholar ( Business Administration)
M.D.S University, Ajmer
Supervisor: Dr.S.P Mathur
Shukla Rajesh, NCAER, 2009
Ernest and Young ,“The great Indian retail story”, 2008
Consumer outlook, 2007