Posts filed under ‘Consumer behavior’

Beauty ‘saaluns’ in villages – a sign of change

A few months ago, during a CREAM (Certificate in Rural Enterprise Administration and Management) training session for micro-entrepreneurs in rural Bihar, we enquired about the professions of each. Turned out that each of the three women taking the course aced at multi-tasking ; apart from managing the house, each held down two other occupations. My first reaction was amazement at the amount of work that they packed into their day, but later I was struck by the fact that two out of these three women ran beauty parlours (or as they pronounced it, ‘saaluns’) out of their homes.

We asked these ladies which treatments their customers went in for and it was more than just hair-cuts – facial, eye-brow threading etc. In villages in Bihar ! So beauty consciousness is increasing not just in urban India, but in rural India too.

This article from the Mint also mentions this trend, albeit in passing. This article, from the Mint again quotes Mr. C.K.Ranganathan, Chairman and Managing Director of CavinKare, “The rural consumer has become more beauty conscious and is willing to spend more on personal grooming.”

Wonder which are the companies benefiting from this trend ? and whether they are using these ladies who run beauty parlours from their homes as influencers ?

We’ll try to dig deeper into this topic with time, so keep visiting this blog for more information on the topic.

  • Zenobia Driver

February 11, 2014 at 10:32 am Leave a comment

Desh mera rangrez hai babu

A few months ago, I was one of the faculty at a programme that imparts training in the basics of business to micro-entrepreneurs from rural areas (CREAM training programmes run by Tree Society). The audience comprised villagers running simple businesses such as a cycle repair shop, furniture making, honey collection and selling, beauty salon (or, as they pronounced it,‘saalun’), barber shops, a wedding decorator, etc. Most of them were between 20 to 30 years old, all but 3 were men.

During one session, we were trying to illustrate the importance of adding product / service features that consumers value the most rather than others, given the ever-present constraints of cost and resources. We’d made our point using several simple examples and the audience seemed to have grasped it too, however they seemed slightly somnolent after a heavy lunch and we wanted to wake them up with before we began the next topic which was math-heavy.

So we decided to use an example of a product that was ubiquitous even in villages and used by everyone, that was feature-heavy, and from a category where the fortunes of companies selling the product had gone through ups and downs. One product fit the bill – a mobile phone. We began by asking the audience to tell us what features they wanted in a mobile phone, and which of those were must-haves and which were nice-to-have. Internet and multimedia were amongst the first few mentioned by the audience, followed by aspects related to how long the phone would last – sturdiness, a warranty, good battery strength etc. Basic features such as call quality, sms etc. were mentioned much later, almost as an afterthought.

What almost every person below 30 in that audience wanted was to be able to access songs and video on his mobile phone; even if they didn’t know how to download them, they knew that they wanted to be able to store and listen to them or watch them. Many didn’t really know exactly what internet and multimedia meant, but they did know that such phones guaranteed them access to songs, clips, pictures and games. Many of these young men already had cheap smartphones, those that didn’t were quite clear that affordability was the only reason for not buying one. In hindsight, maybe I should have expected this given the lack of entertainment options in a village, and that a lot of these people ran businesses where they spent significant amounts of time just waiting for customers to visit their outlet.

This article from the Mint gives the results of a TNS survey on mobile phone usage in various countries across the world ; while the survey was probably carried out in urban centres, it’s worth a look anyway. Listening to music turns out to be the No. 1 activity that Indians engage with on their mobile phones, the next are playing games, sms/text messaging and taking photos / videos, in that order.

Clearly the villagers that I met reflected a widespread trend.

  • Zenobia Driver

September 17, 2013 at 12:47 pm 5 comments

Technology – Age No Bar

A few months ago we ran this post on how toddlers are adapting to the latest technology and how it is changing their interaction with other common things.

But it is not only the young ones who are adapting but also the elderly, especially so with the arrival of grand children (or in some cases, great-grandchildren) in their families.

An-elderly-old-woman-uses-iphone

Example A, 83 year old great-grandmother of 4 toddlers now, lives in Mumbai with her family spread across Dubai, Europe and the US. When she first became a great-grandmother 5 years ago, she switched from a regular Nokia phone to a Blackberry “so that my grand daughter in Dubai can send me pictures everyday over BBM”… not only did she pick up the lingo, but also familiarized herself with using it very proficiently, and loving the fact that now she could not only get her great-granddaughter’s pictures but also “check updates on the rest of the family through BBM updates”.

Two years after this, she bought an i-Pad to “…. to Skype with my growing babies…. how else would they be able to see me and hear me… I tell them stories and sing songs to them and they love it… I love seeing their reaction.” Last year, she was mighty impressed with her daughter’s iPhone5, and decided to move from Blackberry to iPhone5 because “all my grand children have now moved from Blackberry to iPhone, they are all on What’s App now, no one BBMs, so I thought why not move myself. Plus iPhone allows me to Facetime with them all instantly.”

Moving from a Blackberry to an iPhone is not always easy, the interfaces and interactions are completely different and she always manages to surprise me with her willingness to try and readily adapt new technology.

 

Example B, 65 year old grandmother to a 2 year old now, lives in Mumbai, but daughter and grandchild live in Dubai. She only got a phone a couple years ago, a regular no-fuss Nokia, only on the insistence of her daughter who worried about her. But as her grandchild was growing up, she felt the need to be in touch, so she learnt to use a computer and found it very cumbersome and complicated, but still managed to somehow use Skype after some struggle with the poor internet connections, high start-up times of computers and the need to coordinate times with the grandchild and daughter to actually talk over Skype. Frustrated with this, she decided she needed an easier way to be able to see her grandchild when she wanted, so she went to the market on her own, explained her problems to the mobile dealer and came home with a fancy new Samsung phone, with all requisite apps downloaded and ready to use! Surprise surprise to her daughter! She now uses What’s App very well and is happy to just get photos and video clips of her grand child instantly. She recently self-taught herself to record audio and video clips herself and send them to her grandchild as well, and she is mighty proud.

 

Example C, 58 year old who recently became a grandmother, in the past always argued with her children about buying her a simple phone when they’d get her phones with a camera or with a radio or with a touchscreen, etc. But as soon as she had spent one month with her granddaughter and it was time to go back home, she knew she had to find a way see her grand-daughter when she pleased. So she asked around amongst her friends and after having figured everything out, asked her son to get her an Android phone! Android phone! Son was shocked to know that she even knew that there were Android phones, leave alone what an Android phone was!!! Promptly she asked for What’s App to be downloaded on to it and voila! she could get pictures of her granddaughter on her phone. Not only that, now she can proudly show her pictures to her friends, family, trainer, beautician, anyone who asks, cause it’s right on her phone!!

 

I don’t know if its the love and affection that a grandparent feels towards their grandchild that has made them adapt to new technology, or whether we owe it to the developers who’ve created interfaces which are so simple to adopt and so intuitive that even people, especially women who’ve hardly ever used calculators and computers in their prime, are so quickly and deftly adapting them.

 

  • Roshni Jhaveri

May 6, 2013 at 6:46 am 4 comments

Updates – on brand bloopers, gold and vitamin water

What more could you ask for in terms of variety, eh ? Well, let’s dive right into our topics.

Brand bloopers

In Feb this year, we’d mentioned how we felt that a Gillette campaign seemed to be milking a tragedy in India while ostensibly trying to express a higher moral position. And in March, this post commented on the Ford Figo ads that caused such outrage at the time. The post pointed out that something posted publicly on the internet can be replicated in a very short amount of time, and once something is out it’s impossible to contain it. Brands are now being built in real time, but they can unravel just as quickly, especially if they respond / communicate inappropriately in times of social or national tragedy.

Frank Eliason, Director Global Social Media at Citi, gives a real-time example of how quickly social media shines the spotlight on any online fumbles that a brand makes. The article includes pics of the ridiculous tweets from Epicurious, an online mag for foodies, after the Boston tragedy.

This post by David Armano – Managing Director of Edelman Digital – has a simple but useful checklist for how to handle branded content online during sensitive times. Even if you didn’t click on the other links given in this post, suggest that you click on this one and read David Armano’s post.

 

Some attitudes towards Gold as an investment

This article in today’s paper reminded me of some posts we’d run late last year; in those, we’d written about the dilemma faced by Mahesh, a friend’s driver who wanted to invest his meagre savings wisely (see posts here and here).

In our earlier posts, we’d written about many commonly held beliefs and attitudes – for instance, like many others, Mahesh believed that gold prices only went up and it was a good hedge against inflation. Within the options in gold, he’d rather invest in gold jewellery than gold coins; in his words, “I will buy gold coins once I’ve bought enough jewelry; kuchh pehenne ke liye bhi hona chahiye naa (there should be something to wear too)”.

Other interesting facets of these beliefs relate to gold and loans. A lot of Mahesh’ friends and neighbours were against buying gold jewellery on EMI schemes and would much rather buy whatever they could afford to with their annual savings; after all, “Yeh tho udhaar hua, aur Lakshmi ko udhaar ke paison ke sahaare ghar kaise laa sakte hain (this is like a loan, and how can we bring Lakshmi – the Goddess of wealth – home on borrowed money)”.

And since this gold jewellery is associated with Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, and it is a symbol of the household’s prosperity and status, pawning it is absolutely the last option; though firms such as Mannapuram Gold Loans, Muthoot etc. have gone some distance towards removing that stigma and making the transaction reliable and transparent.

Vitamin water – Danone B’lue’s National launch

In Dec 2011, we’d blogged about seeing Danone B’lue banners all over Pune. This month, we noticed in news articles that B’lue has now been launched nationally. With the launch, this beverage opens a new segment in the Indian Ready to drink beverage segment. Tarun Arora, Country Head, Danone-Narang Beverages said that B’lue was launched as a pilot in Pune followed by a soft launch in Mumbai, and that the beverage was very well accepted in the market.

Will be interesting to watch how the brand fares, and whether the vitamin water market becomes a viable niche in the Indian beverages market.

Compiled by,

Zenobia Driver

April 18, 2013 at 9:23 am 2 comments

Updates

A few months ago, we ran this post about toddlers and their interactions with technology. For those of you who liked it, here’s a really detailed article about how toddlers use the ipad, and their parents’ reactions and concerns towards the same.

A few weeks ago, we ran this post about the innovative offers from auto manufacturers trying to lure customers to purchase. For those interested in the auto industry, yesterday’s issue of the Mint had this article about Japanese car manufacturers tweaking strategies to suit Indian markets.

  • Escape Velocity Team

April 2, 2013 at 7:03 am Leave a comment

Updates

On Lifebuoy colour changing handwash :

Over a year ago, we’d written about the Lifebuoy team’s efforts to change the hand-wash habits (or lack of the same) of Indians in this post.  The post called attention to one aspect of Lifebuoy’s Swasthya Chetana campaign, the ‘glowgerm’ demonstration that children were invited to take part in. This involved applying a white powder to the palms of their hands, then washing with water only. Hands were then held under an ultra-violet light and the powder glowed where dirt remained, showing that hand-washing without soap was not enough. The children then repeated the process, this time using soap, only to discover the UV light showed no trace of the powder. This countered the common misconception that ‘visibly clean’ is ‘hygienically clean’, and, in an easy-to-understand manner, drove home the message that even clean-looking hands are dirty until washed with soap.

lifebuoy colour changing handwash 2

Now they’ve used colour changes to make another point with their latest product, Lifebuoy colour changing handwash. This time, the foam turns green after ten seconds to signal that all the germs have been wiped out. Am sure that the change in the colour as they scrub will grab every kid’s attention and ensure that they don’t wash the soap off immediately but scrub for a full ten seconds, at least while the product and the effect are still a novelty. As a communication tool, felt that the hulk mascot worked well too. You can view the ad for the product here.  

 

On the frozen yogurt market :

frozen yogurt brands

One of the trends we commented upon last year was the increasing popularity of hip frozen yogurt stores which could be termed cafés in terms of their popularity as hang-out places for youngsters.

The rapid expansion of this market has seen more competitors entering, read about the entry of foreign brands including the U.S based ‘Red Mango’, Canadian ‘Kiwi Kiss’ and others here, here, here and here.

 

  • Zenobia Driver

 

December 28, 2012 at 9:54 am Leave a comment

From the mouths of babes and sucklings – technology and toddlers

My five year old nephew was chatting with me during a journey once, bubbling over with curiosity and a million questions about everything. Instead of entertaining myself by warping his mind with made-up answers the way Calvin’s dad does (for examples, see this link), I tried to answer his questions as simply and logically as possible. However, reality is often stranger than fiction, and some answers related to geography and astronomy sounded far-fetched to him. So the young man turned his gimlet eyed gaze on me and warned me, “Are you really sure ? Don’t lie, ok. We can go home, open the laptop and check on googil too.” Once kids relied on older and wiser ones for information, now we’re redundant since there’s good ol’ googil.

Another young 3 year old – a friend’s son, gave me the next anecdote for this blogpost. He gets confused reading books because once he’s done reading the page he swipes his finger across to get to the next page – the way he’s used to doing with pics on the iphone; needless to say, that doesn’t work at all with a book and it leaves him confused, frustrated and cranky.

While on the topic of young ones and technology, there’s an interesting anecdote in this blogpost – as an aside, you should follow the link and read the whole post, interesting example of communication going awry due to incorrect assumptions. The comments on that post are also worth reading.

But I digress, the anecdote follows :

Setting, San Francisco, where some friends recently told me how their five year old went up to a framed picture in their living room and started pinching at it with his fingers, the exact same gestures one would use on an iPhone to zoom in and out of a picture. “Broken, broken” is all the five year old said after that disappointing experience.

How much and in how little time technology is changing the reading and viewing habits of this generation of toddlers ! Paraphrasing the headline of this Forbes article, does this change herald just the death of print or will it also eventually lead to the death of reading too ? I fear that it may be the latter. What’s your point of view ?

  • Zenobia Driver

November 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm Leave a comment

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