| Designer Sharbari Dutta and actress June Maliah at a Consumer 2003 stall on Monday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
The scope and scale of the show is growing. From housing loans to home appliances and auto loans to life-insurance policies — the mix of products and services at Consumer 2003 is an indication that the consumer fair is not just about buy-and-sell.
Organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the five-day fair on the Maidan has drawn over 70 participants — spread over 70,000 sq ft of space and in three separate hangars — showcasing everything from aam-golis to automobiles. “This is the first time we have a huge presence of financial service providers, both from public and private sectors. Besides, there are representatives from the health services, education segment and NGOs,” said Amitav Khoshla, regional director, CII.
Auto manufacturers, besides selling vehicles, are counselling customers on easier repayment mechanisms. Along with promoting new products, the white goods majors are offering attractive equal monthly instalment packages for customers. The insurers, under the same roof, are pushing householders’ policy to ensure security and banks are selling dreams with home loan packages.
“With private players entering the markets, we have intensified our effort to interact with the customers,” said the National Insurance Corporation official manning the stall. The footfall has been “satisfactory”, he added, displaying the customer database created in the first four days.
According to estimates provided by CII, around 2.2 lakh customers have visited the show till Monday evening. The organisers expect the number to cross 300,000 by Tuesday evening, a near 100 per cent jump compared with last year. “We moved out of Netaji Indoor Stadium to create more space for the exhibitors and the response has been phenomenal,” added Khoshla.
In the banking and finance category, major exhibitors include Allahabad Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, UCO Bank, Life Insurance Corporation, National Insurance Corporation, while the healthcare segment is represented by Peerless, Apollo Gleneagles, Bhagirathi Neotia Woman and Child Care Centre. FMCG giants ITC and HLL have set up stalls beside Emami and Eveready and white goods majors like Toshiba, Videocon and Hitachi are present in full strength. The auto segment is represented by Yamaha, LML, Telco and Maruti, while telecom giants BSNL and Reliance Infocomm are there to add to their subscriber base.
“Though the fairs in Delhi and Mumbai are on a much bigger scale and corporates pay thrice the price they pay in Calcutta to book their stalls, the response this year indicates that the city is fast catching up with consumerism,” said a CII official.
CII is now drawing up plans to include foreign participants in the fair next year. “Once foreign participants start setting up stalls, the scale of operation changes,” he added. Talks are already on with China International Trading Exchange Centre, Moftec and its Korean counterpart Kotra for Consumer 2004.