Marketers new mantra
For most people, cheapskate is still a dirty word. Not for consumers in India. Cheap has become hip in India, points out Kishore Biyani, managing director of Pantaloon Retail & group CEO of Future Group. Indians consumers are no longer embarrassed to buy cheap stuff.
Sure, Indian consumers have always been keen bargain hunters. But it was a tad embarrassingbecause it meant we couldnt afford better. Now, the definition of cheap has changed and we are wearing that badge proudly, says Hemant Misra, president & COO, Publicis India, a top-rung ad agency. Now, 40-plus executives fly business class on coupon tickets and announce it proudly. Its like saying, I am smarter!.
So, we buy a pair of Nike or Adidas shoes from a nearby discount store and flaunt it as if luxury was going out of fashion. No cost is too small to cut, says Samhita Sengupta, a 46-year-old Kolkata housewife. Id like to see how much I can get for how little, without compromising on quality of life.
Little wonder, marketers are falling over themselves to develop the cheapest products. And dont miss the change of tone during announcements. Its no longer about being price competitive or value for money. It simply about being cheap er the cheapest.
Take this. On Tuesday, HCL Infosystems launched the cheapest laptop in India. At Rs 13,999, the X series MiLeap promises to be just like any other laptop, no compromises at all. On the same day, Czech luxury carmaker Skoda said
it would join the small car race in India with a Rs 3-lakh hatch.
In a dramatic volte-face, Samsung says its focus is now on expansion and deeper market penetration, so much so that its products today are being as competitively priced as its rivals.
A radical change in tune from the days when the Korean company held onto premium pricing like the moral high ground. Just look at the number of brands that have promised cheap cars since Ratan Tata unveiled his Nano at the Auto Expo, which ended on Thursday in New Delhi.
As consumers, we are finally coming to terms with our own skin, remarks Muder Chiba, executive VP, sector practice, TNS India, a market research outfit. Just two decades ago, it was hip to play western pop or rock music at a party. Todays youth swing to Hindi movie songs and remixes without batting an eyelid. Buying cheap & bestseemingly an oxymoronis a manifestation of the same trend.
Technology has changed the supply side as well. Manufacturers have the wherewithal to produce and distribute value products to different segments of buyers thanks to their technology backbone, adds Chiba.
Of course, the ultimate winner is the Indian consumer. There has always been some sort of unconscious urge to do something for the people of India and transport has been an area of interest, said Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata group.
Ajai Chowdhry, chairman & CEO, HCL Infosystems, echoed similar sentiments when he said at the launch of MiLeap, "Our objective is to launch a laptop that will take technology to the masses. In other words, make them the cheapest.