About INgene blog : First ever Indian Youth trend Insights blog

About INgene : First ever Indian Youth trend Insights blog:
This blog explores the detailed characteristics of Young-India and explains the finer & crucial differences they have with their global peers. The blog also establishes the theory of “adopted differentiation” (Copyright Kaustav SG,2007) and how the Indian & Inglodian youth are using this as a tool to differentiate themselves from the “aam aadmi” (mass population of India) to establish their new found identity.

The term youth refers to persons who are no longer children and not yet adults. Used colloquially, however the term generally refers to a broader, more ambiguous field of reference- from the physically adolescent to those in their late twenties.
Though superficially the youth all over the world exhibits similar [degree of] attitude, [traits of] interests & [deliverance of] opinion but a detailed observation reveals the finer differential characteristics which are crucial and often ignored while targeting this group as a valued consumer base. India is one of the youngest countries in the world with 60% of its population less then 24 years of age and is charted as the most prospective destination for the retail investment in the A. T. Kearney’s Global Retail Opportunity Report, 2007. With the first ever non-socialistic generation’s thriving aspiration & new found money power combined with steadily growing GDP, bubbling IT industry and increasing list of confident young entrepreneurs, the scenario appears very lucrative for the global and local retailers to target the “Youngisthan” (young-India). But, the secret remains in the understanding of the finer AIOs of this generation. The Indian youth segment roughly estimates close to 250million (between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five) and can be broadly divided (socio-psychologically) into three categories: the Bharatiyas, the Indians & the Inglodians (copyright Kaustav SG 2008). The Bharatiyas estimating 67% of the young population lives in the rural (R1, R2 to R4 SEC) areas with least influence of globalization, high traditional values. They are least economically privileged, most family oriented Bollywood influenced generation. The Indians constitute 31.5% (A, B,C, D & E SEC) and have moderate global influence. They are well aware of the global trends but rooted to the Indian family values, customs and ethos. The Inglodians are basically the creamy layers (A1,A SEC) and marginal (1.5% or roughly three million) in number though they are strongly growing (70% growth rate). Inglodians are affluent and consume most of the trendy & luxury items. They are internet savvy & the believers of global-village (a place where there is no difference between east & west, developing & developed countries etc.), highly influenced by the western music, food, fashion & culture yet Indian at heart.

Friday, December 19, 2008

My article at The Hindu, Businessline

An extract of my article was published in The Hindu, Businessline dtd. 11.12.08
The full article can be read at The Smart Manager (http://www.thesmartmanager.com/doc_content.aspx?docid=531):

Brand Line - Marketing Research
United colours of India

[India’s youth cannot be painted with the same colours as their global counterparts..]

India’s young prefer colours to stand out and make a statement. The colour palette also differs from the rest of the world.

Kaustav Sengupta

A national retail chain in India decided to stock a chic international brand of T-shirts and watches that were being touted as the ‘in thing’ among the youth globally. Contrary to all expectations, the collection failed to capture the imagination of Indian youth. This marketing failure was not a one-off instance; other marketers have made the same mistake of bringing globally popular youth brands to India.

A different palette

With over 60 per cent of its population under the age of thirty, India is growing younger whereas most developed countries are facing an ageing population. Rough estimates peg the size of the Indian youth segment (between the age of 15 and 25 years) at around 250 million. However, Indian youth are not a homogenous group. They comprise three broad categories:

Bharatiyas who live in rural areas account for around 67 per cent of the youth population. They are the least influenced by globalisation and have high traditional values.

Indians who constitute around 31.5 per cent of the youth population are only moderately influenced by globalisation, as this segment is firmly rooted in Indian family values, customs and ethos.

Inglodians or the creamy layer accounts for just 1.5 per cent of India’s youth market.

However, this segment, which is fast expanding at a growth rate of over 70 per cent, is affluent, Internet-savvy, influenced by Western thought and trends, innovative, ambitious and different from the masses, but Indian at heart.

The Indian youth market is undoubtedly a big and lucrative market for global and local retailers. However, as illustrated earlier, the danger for marketers here lies in not truly understanding the lifestyle, habitats, and attitude of India’s youth. To succeed in the Indian youth market, marketers need to remember the golden rule — India’s youth should not be painted with the same colours as their global counterparts.

Theory of adopted differentiation

In an effort to understand the “we are different” behavioural patterns and choices of Indian youth, we undertook a study in six A1 and three A2 cities in India. An analysis of the findings revealed an underlying theme, which could be modelled into a theory to help marketers understand why Indian youth do not conform to global trends.

Called “the theory of adopted differentiation”, it states, “to distinguish and separate themselves from the mass culture of India and other youth categories, the Inglodians and most Indians have consciously adopted a sophisticated, yet cool look and attitude that is not as young as the global perception of youth culture”.

To illustrate: India is an extremely colourful and decorative country with a variety of cultures, festivals, lifestyles and decors. Naturally, black, white, gray and pastels are the most awkward colour tones among this riot of colour. India’s young, therefore, prefer these colours in order to stand out and make a statement. These and other factors influence the attitudes of India’s youth.

The colour of money

Globalisation has opened up new and lucrative job opportunities for the Indian youth. As more and more companies set up shop in India, there is tremendous pressure on liberalisation’s children to ride the first wave of ‘becoming rich’ before it eases off. In India, children are considered a family asset and therefore, expenditure on their education is considered as an investment for the future for the whole family. Unlike their global peers, Indian youth study hard to make their parents proud and pay them back by achieving success. This explains why the icons of Indian youth today are successful Indian entrepreneurs, sportspersons, film stars and so on. rather than rebel pop stars or leaders of alternative sub-cultures.

Colours of cool

Indian youth’s penchant for exhibitionism, stemming from a need to project an image of money power, indulgence and sky-high aspirations, leads to a ‘mature, yet cool’ styling influence. That is, a look and feel of ‘neat, balanced and sophisticated’, which is seen as a way to differentiate themselves from the masses. This explains why bright yellow or khaki were not popular with Indian youth though they were hot selling colours worldwide.

Colours of tradition

Our findings reveal that a ‘certain level of frustration’ over the existing society is required for the development of a sub-culture or style tribe. But surveys reveal that young middle class Indians are amongst the happiest people and much more satisfied with all aspects of their lives compared to those belonging to other nationalities. The young in India do follow ‘trendy’ sub-cultures but ‘superficially’; they don’t get sentimentally attached to a brand unlike in the West.

Colours of duality

Indian youth typically lead a ‘dual’ life — professional and personal. However, they balance both lives with expertise. For instance, their clothing ‘mutates’ according to the occasion. Often, two layers of clothing are worn. The outerwear, meant to please the parents, is shed as soon as parental eyes are not around. There’s some amount of corporate influence on modes of dress as well. For example, call centres and BPOs are encouraging Western apparel.

Colours of confidence

Current youth are essentially self-centred and materialistic; even their friendships and relationships are conditional due to intense competition. This is compounded by the fact that families are increasingly becoming nuclear and opting for a single child. The entire interest and attention of the family often revolves around children making them even more demanding. Narcissism or the “I love me” syndrome is on the rise. The positive aspect of this situation is growing levels of confidence within young individuals today unlike their yester year counterparts. Risk taking is now encouraged, leading to nurturing of successful young entrepreneurs and professionals in newer fields, for example, human interface consultants, DJs, scuba diving experts, style and image consultants, and so on.

Colours of acceptance

India follows a different system while adopting a global trend. Youngsters do not simply consume a trend but filter it through a unique osmosis process where it is treated with an Indian flavour and mixed with the finer elements of age old customs and then ultimately readied for consumption. An interesting example of this phenomenon is the way young Indians create a unique ensemble consisting of a Kurta with wood or glass beads worn around the neck, a Swatch on the wrist, Levi’s jeans, Kolhapuri footwear, sunshine stones, a gold ring on the finger (gifted by the grandparents), a red charm thread around the neck or wrist and so on. This mix of fashion, tradition, spirituality and family values pervades every aspect of the lifestyle of Indian youth.

In sum, marketers need to understand that Indian youth are increasingly asserting their individuality while remaining Indian at heart.

(The writer is Associate Professor and Internal Design Consultant at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Chennai.

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in The Smart Manager. Reprinted with permission.)

Source: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/catalyst/2008/12/11/stories/2008121150070300.htm

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