The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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For Indian consumer, family image is all

New Delhi, April 22: Looking for some home truths of Indian spending habits' Well, it all seems to be a family matter.

At least, that is what a latest research-based study by the country’s largest advertising agency tells us.

The overriding message is that Indian families want to project a particular family image — and the material trappings that go with it shape consumer-buying habits.

And since life is becoming fast, the product had also better be. Interestingly, spirituality is reinventing its importance, if only to help people cope with modern-day stress.

A recent ethnographic study commissioned by J Walter Thomson has thrown up eight driving forces that make the Indian family “pick”... their shopping menu.

The study identified eight core values of the Indian consumer:

—Importance of being entrepreneurial

—Speed and lightness in all aspects of life


—Religion and spirituality for physical and mental health

—Family as a brand

—The nowness of life

—Manipulation and powerplay for family harmony

—Getting more out of less

One clearly emerging trend is that this is the age of the entrepreneur. The study shows “self-made” is becoming more important than ever before in the Indian context. Result: “There is a growing belief that an enterprise, no matter how small, carries dignity and pride.”

The actual research, carried out by the London-based Research International group, shows that the Indian family is increasingly showing a penchant for speed and lightness, which translates into seeking lightness in the kitchen, through convenience foods and masalas.

The same speed and lightness principle, when applied in terms of convenience, would mean purchases through super markets and home delivery systems, the study shows. Overall, the “lightness” mantra means that casual products and lifestyles are hot rather than traditional.

The study involved over 96 exhaustive in-depth interviews across 24 families covering north, south and western India. What is more, researchers from Research International parked themselves in the homes of respondents for a week and interacted with them in all kinds of detail to get real insights into their lives.

The sample size was chosen from both metros and small towns. The families chosen were from different socio-economic strata, at various life stages and belonged to different family types — nuclear as well as joint.

Some of the other driving forces that make members of the Great Indian Family tick are enjoyment and experience that come along with a product or service, religion and spirituality for physical and mental health, and the tendency to get more out of less. As life gets stressful, the turn towards spirituality goes on an upswing, the study says.

Giving credence to the here and now, the study throws up the increasing importance of the “nowness of life” for Indians.

Broadly, it means enjoying the simple pleasures of life, working to earn that enjoyment and enjoying the small dreams that come true with the help of brands.

The others include the family itself as a brand, which means there is a growing trend among Indians to project a specific family image, with the family increasingly being treated as a brand.

Another driver for the Indian consumer is the manipulation and power play for family harmony. Simply put, it means that conforming with the traditional Indian psyche of being respectful, non-controversial and non-confrontational, Indians today are using positive manipulation to get what they want.

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