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If it’s old or desi, it’s gold for Indians
- Banking on tradition

Mumbai, July 8: Is the Indian consumer a constant'

The results of one of the largest Indian consumer surveys, carried out by AC Nielsen-ORG Marg for the CNBC channel, Awaaz, suggest that.

The survey on India’s most preferred brands, which interviewed 7,000 consumers across the country in metros, non-metros and Class I towns (with populations of over one lakh), says toothpastes may come and toothpastes may go, but Colgate goes on forever.

Tradition is strongest when it comes to investment. After more than a decade of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation, and even the second coming of Manmohan Singh, it is the State Bank of India that rules.

The Indian investor still likes to put his money where the government stamp is.

He is conservative ' and he still distrusts foreign banks. “It is strange that despite the presence of so many big foreign banks, not a single one of them was in the top four names,” says Ajay Chacko, head, marketing, CNBC. The other three preferred banks were Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank and ICICI Bank.

It is the same with other financial institutions. Despite all its trouble, it was UTI Mutual Fund that emerged the most preferred brand, though two private players HDFC and ICICI, with SBI, are among the top four mutual funds.

In the insurance category, it is LIC that is king, with no single foreign entrant among the top four.

“The Indian investor is conservative and the fact that the government helped the UTI fund when it was in trouble must weigh more with them than the excellent services offered by many private players now,” says Faisal I. Farooqui, CEO, Mouthshut.com, a portal where consumers post their reviews on products and services. “This shows that the private players could not take advantage of UTI’s tarnished image,” adds Chacko.

But Farooqui says that though LIC is on the top now, “it is only because of the numbers” and there are indications that the foreign players will catch up soon.

With the add-on banking services of credit cards, housing and auto loans, however, it is the private sector that wins, with ICICI Bank topping all three categories. “In the housing loan category, ICICI Bank reigns leaving housing major HDFC a distant third,” says Chacko.

It’s either the trusted Indian name, or the age-old, or the Korean, the survey says, except in the very new categories.

Korean major LG rules the television market. “Its value-for-money strategy rather than great technology, local manufacturing and great after-sales services have helped,” says Farooqui.

But for fridges, it is age-old Godrej that boasts of “a hundred years of existence in the Indian market”. For washing machines, it is the Indian Videocon with the Korean LG. With watches, it is Tata’s Titan.

With toothpaste, it’s Colgate. With soaps, it’s Lux (and not Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi). With detergents, it’s Rin. “Though there are confusions among sub-categories, say between detergent soap and detergent powder,” says Chacko.

For cars, it is apna Maruti 800. The other top three are Maruti Zen, Maruti Omni and the Korean Hyundai Santro. For two-wheelers, it is Hero Honda Splendour.

The Finnish giant Nokia sweeps the category of mobile handsets and the number one mobile service provider is AirTel. “Perhaps it’s because AirTel has the most consistent national network,” says Chacko. And perhaps also because of A.R. Rehman’s little flute piece.

Lee ' “the jeans that built America” ' is the most preferred readymade garment.

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