Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Indian Consumer of the Future

Networking Working

By Harish Bijoor

The FMCG industry is back on the growth path in India. With a bang! After a big series of lulls seen in the industry with slackening rates of consumer interest, the FY 2008 promises a record growth rate of 17 % for the best FMCG brands in the country.

As one peels the Marketing Onion that is India, one finds successes that are bigger still in FMCG space. Bigger than the recorded growth rate of 17% even, as will be seen by majors in the space such as HUL, Marico and a P&G.

To get a hint of the real heroes of FMCG space in the last several years, peek keenly at the top-line numbers recorded by MLM (Multi-level marketing) companies. In the lead is just one company: Amway.

Top-line growth numbers of the company far out-strip the achievements of the oldest FMCG majors that have dominated the marketing environment that is India.

I theorize on this now. A theory I have built and evangelize across corporate organizations in the space of FMCG in India.

My theory then.

I do believe there are three dominant types of consumers in any marketing economy.

Indian Consumer Ver.1.1: The first is what I call a Pure consumer. This consumer buys for himself and his family. This consumer lives in the big cities of India. This consumer is a fourth or fifth generation branded FMCG buyer even. Marketers have traditionally focused on selling to such a consumer in India thus far.

Indian Consumer Ver.1.2: The second consumer is the one who is part consumer and part re-seller. He buys products and at times services not for himself alone. Whatever he buys, he will use a part for himself and his family, and the rest he will re-sell, often at a profit. Marketers in MLM companies typically sell to such folk. The success of the FY 2008 has been this Indian consumer Ver. 1.2. Amway reaped the wind here.

Indian Consumer Ver. 1.3: The third consumer is the one, who in the future, will actually buy only to re-sell. This consumer will emerge in the smaller towns of India. In the 6, 42,700 villages of India. This consumer will challenge the might of the distributor who was the re-seller in the old days. True blue democratization of the selling process, where the consumer is really not a consumer at all. He is only a Pure re-seller. There are marketers exploring this space. Taking baby steps here.

Harish Bijoor is a brand-specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

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