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Buy 1 get 1 !!

April 26, 2010

With India rapidly pacing towards being an economic superpower and a stable economy, the effluence of middle class strata is increasing at a feverish pace. We are living in an era of products and Brands and are being offered unlimited options and privileges at every step of life. More and more products are coming in market which proclaim to make life easy, happier, safe, pleasant and what not. But how sustainable is this increasing materialistic rush and the direction we are heading, is a good point to ponder about.

Webster’s dictionary defines Consumerism as “The movement seeking to protect and inform consumers by requiring such practices as honest packaging and advertising, product guarantees, and improved safety standards”

Or

Alternatively: “The theory that a progressively greater consumption of goods is economically beneficial”.

We all will agree that the second definition holds true of Consumerism than the former one. In the 80s and 90s, Consumerism was understood more as how Consumer (Customer) is the King and How Consumer (Customer) is always right. Although these proclamations still hold true, but overshadowing them and the focal point has now been the higher spending power for the consumer and high sales for the manufacturers.

Let us centre this discussion on India, In 1980s and beginning 90s Indian Economy was in doldrums. So much so that in 1991 India had almost gone bankrupt; plagued by License Raj and Protectionism. We remember these times by the single Centre owned TV Channel Doordarshan, limited brands, limited and traditional advertising. I distinctly remember shopping was driven by few occasions like Birthdays, Diwali and Marriages etc. I still remember the year or more of waiting to get a Bajaj scooter; the times when there was only one TV in the entire neighborhood and radios were the primary media. I knew of only 1 or two brands for each product e.g.

Hamara bajaj - An Epic

Scooters – Bajaj, LML

Salt – Tata

Detergent – Nirma, Ok, Wheel

Soaps – Lux,  Hamam

TV – Onida, Sharp, Weston

Radios – Murphy

Tooth paste- Colgate, Dabur

But after the economy opened up after 1991 reforms, the whole market was revolutionized and started moving its way up. Now India is the centre for globalization and is the epicenter of new brands and businesses. We step out of our house and we are witnesses to huge malls, super markets, hypermarkets and regular brick and mortar shops who are trying to get the elusive customer just to enter their premises.  100s of channels have protruded the homes of 1.2 billion Indians and each channel is swamped by numerable Advertisements of zillion brands.

Consumer is flooded with unimaginable loads of information through advertisements, newspapers, internet, blogs and he has to make an informed decision to buy that simple toothpaste. Each brand tries to glorify their product with technical jargon (Plaque busters, verified by Dental Association, Used by Doctors worldwide), influencing the social psyche (Close up fresh breath) etc. The consumer is buried under this information and rather than making his life easier, these things make his life hell.

Number Temptations

On top of this the cut throat competition between brands force them to allure the customer by providing extra incentives like discounts, service, money return offers, EMIs etc. Along with this companies project Shopping as an experience and try to label it as a yearlong affair. Off season discounts, clearance sale are some tactics that sometimes force you to buy a premium winter jacket in summers (I am a victim 😦 )

Basically market forces are pressurizing or enchanting the customer to buy things that he doesn’t need or things that he can’t afford.

Pay Later !!

It is summer season, and I am seeing offers from Air conditioner sellers giving ACs for 1 Rs and rest in easy interest free 10 installments. Whatever you say I consider ACs as a luxury item and of genuine use in the peak two or three months of summers. But the offer makes the luxury seem more affordable and required, thus the customer is paying installments for 10 months for a product of bare usage. This is just an example, but companies are pushing products down the Mango people’s throat that neither they need nor can they afford.

Look around yourself and you will see that everyone has at least 1 or 2 products that they would have taken loan to buy or have taken on installments. Although the luxuries give you the false sense of comfort and status, but what is being done is you house is full of unused or unneeded things, I have got a electric coffee maker which I never use, or numerable shirts of which only 6 or 7 which I generally wear.

The point I am trying to bring home is the Companies are trying to give the customers false sense of affordability or usage, and more and more people are falling prey to their tactics. Although the companies are not to be blamed in entirety, It is very important for you and me to understand our financial limits, and that the Banks and credit cards give us the assurance of money in future, which is not a secure source. So it is of paramount importance that we should surely have luxuries in our life but not on the basis of future money, otherwise future might be ominous for us.

Future Money

PS: I intend to give up 2 of my three credit cards and the use the remaining one judiciously and buy anything only after analyzing its usage and need in my life. Will You?

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. delhizen permalink
    June 1, 2010 5:35 pm

    Rahul… you need water to fill the cooler also remember??? here you don’t water to drink- forget about filling a cooler..!!!

  2. delhizen permalink
    June 1, 2010 5:05 pm

    I don’t have a single credit card and for exactly the reason explained above never had one.. haha! 🙂 🙂

    PS: AC is a need and not a luxury 😉

    • June 1, 2010 5:12 pm

      Hmmm as far as i can see, AC ventured into households of India in the last five years, and suddenly they became need. We were surviving befre that right?

      • delhizen permalink
        June 1, 2010 5:17 pm

        Do you know AC helps in saving water by replacing coolers…We were surviving and continue to do so but when better options are available which turn out to be more economical then why not?

        Anyway the point is- I am not bound by my credit card 🙂 hence I buy as per need and an occasional splurge

        • June 1, 2010 5:31 pm

          Cmon, The electricty that is consumed by AC is much higher than a cooler, and where does electricity come from in India, hydro Power plants i.e. water. So guess yourself – which is more water conserving device- AC or cooler. And i do commend you for not keeping credit cards.

          • delhizen permalink
            June 1, 2010 5:58 pm

            🙂 done !!!

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