What's in Store for Indian Consumers in the Coming Times?
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I tend to take a slightly long term view when it comes to what's next in business models, products and new segments but key trends that I see in the Indian market next year and further would be:
Indians will be more willing to experience and experiment new things as today they are traveling more, have higher income and are able to afford new experiences and products - whether new food or new destination. For instance, donuts as a product has never been around in India but today it has a much higher acceptability.
It is a big opportunity going from unbranded to branded products. For unbranded commodities, packaging is a way to create a premium experience. It is a long- term strategy. For example, I-Shakti pulses brand from Tata Chemicals is a great example. Then there is emergence of 'masstige' segment (between mass and prestige/premium space). But, there would be room for premium products.
Time constraint in daily life has led to the growth of quickening of services and products. For instance, 15 years back no one looked at readyto-eat meals living in a joint family. By 2022, the average household size would be four. So 50 million new households are being created which means people are moving away from their joint families, creating opportunities for ready-to-eat food segment which would see quickening.
We have seen e-commerce struggling to make profits in last few years. Henceforth, it is about what you are doing internally with your cost, how you are addressing your people and customer. This is going to be the big lever. It is actually more to do with the operating model than business model. For instance, why do you have to set-up customer service when AI-enabled chat interface can attend to customer queries. This is about saving cost. So, everything internal to a company should play a larger role.
There was a time when you bought the car and read bad reviews about it or saw an ad that doesn't reinforce the reason why you bought that car and you felt bad about it. Today with the advent of social media, digital interactions and discussions on what is right or wrong is a very big trend that we see. So anything social - whether buying or choosing something or being aware about a particular thing is a very big change and 2018 will accelerate that trend.
THE FUN ELEMENT
There is a lot of action happening in retail or retail enabled space. However, it is concentrated in fewer segments like food and apparel. Going forward, there would be retail concepts in newer areas like fitness and 'fun'. About 17 per cent of the Americans spend on 'having fun' as a category and it is one of the highest categories, for example, doing indoor sky diving, going for a holiday etc. India doesn't have such concept. We need to make people spend on things which they don't need but they want. India's per capita income is at around $2000 and if we look at other countries, it is the point after which disposable income rises sharply. So the journey of feeling and looking good will begin from 2018. The only dark horse which can be a great dampener to any such plans is the current global geo - political situation. Barring that it is a great time to be in India.