"India is a land which celebrates contradictions," said Bhaskar Bhat, Managing Director, Titan Company, in his keynote address on 'Future of Consumption in India' at Business Today's sixth edition of MindRush, the annual flagship business event of the India Today Group themed Rebrain or Rot. Bhat said the Indian consumer of the future would be a blend of modernity and deep-rooted cultural values, and marketers who could leverage both dimensions would win.
The modern Indian consumer is a bundle of contradictions. To start with, she aspires to own the most swanky car or watch, wants to send her children to the best international schools, but at the same time, she is value-conscious. "Indian consumers may have started travelling by air instead of travelling by train, but there, too, they look for value. It has led to the growth of airlines such as IndiGo, which chase value-seeking consumers," explained Bhat.
The consumption contradiction is also about indulgence and sustenance, he said. Although Indians are not apologetic about splurging on weddings and vacations, they are conscious about buying brands which are sustainable and good for the society and the environment. "While we talk about corporate social responsibility or CSR, individual social responsibility or ISR is becoming equally important," Bhat points out.
There were many such examples. Although Apple has become the biggest watchmaker in the world, thanks to its smartwatches, the demand for mechanical watches is still quite high, and there are enough takers when it comes to a classic Rolex watch. "Buying a Rolex has become as valuable as buying a painting," he said. In fact, Bhat foresees a trend when consumers will opt for a digital detox and unwind as they used to do before, and there lies the opportunity for classical product makers.
Bhat also remarked about the success of e-commerce marketplaces where consumers are browsing through millions of categories and products before making their purchase decisions. But contrary to this 'collectiveness' while making a choice, Indian consumers are also becoming increasingly individualistic. "The success of Titan's Calcutta Collection that had the image of Howrah Bridge embossed was a huge learning for us. Raymond's Made-to-Measure is a huge success too. So, there is immense scope for individualism here," he remarked.
Finally, the India consumption story is mostly about millennials, but according to Bhat, brands could not afford to ignore the 'silvers' or 45-plus consumers as "they are brand loyal, empty-nesters and hence, ready to spend on themselves."