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, October 2, 2009

Indian Youth Culture- My Interview

An e-mail interview given to Anoop Menon, Planning director, O & M, Delhi

If you were to define youth culture in India, how will you do that?
Is there a specific youth culture at all....if No then why don’t we have a sharp youth culture?

What do you mean by youth culture? Is it a certain dressing, ideology and exhibitionism? Is it the certain identity of somebody which will allow one to enter in certain underground club? Then, in that way, youth culture in India is not “defined” into the categories though the presence is obvious. Most of the youth cultures in the world are categorised/ segmented / “defined” by the existing categories of subcultures in that country and interestingly India is one such unique example where no subcultures existed on the basis of AIOs (Attitude, Interests and Opinions) among the youth . My study of Youth culture along with Mr. Ted Polhemus found that certain amount of disgust/ hate/ frustration/ rebellious nature is needed to constitute a subculture to portray the “common interests”. The peer groups having common AIOs takes the symbolisms and iconographies to present their views which in process forms the subcultures (Hippies, Punks, Goths, Psycadelics, Bikers, Hip-hoppers, Rockers etc.). In India, the family bonding and values are very strong which provides the “shoulder to cry” to an youth whenever they are frustrated (which indeed are very rare in west). The recent study suggested that Indian youth are the happiest… the most unhappy lot is Japanese youth…and as you know Japan is one of the hub of most of the recent subcultures (ie. Gothic Lolita, Cosplay etc.)…

Moreover, most of these categories of [so called] youth cultures are “promoted” (and sometimes deliberately created) by media…till date unfortunately (or fortunately!) Indian youth segment was not being considered ( or may be “taken for granted”) as a potential market for many giants in consumer goods…hence the Indian youth are still remaining “unpolluted” with their true self…Some of the brands tried to impose the European youth cultures in India (the recent movement of Gothic look) but India being strong in its own cultural believe, plurality, customs adopted these trends in its own way (so gothic trend got a link to tantra…but not with core gothism)…Indian youth by default are very creative to absorb a trend and mix it with traditional twist…for example you can refer my blog’s header [photo] where I have shown the hands of one youth who’s wearing beads, red thread and the bands…we mix denim with traditional kurta, we love pizza only when its “chicken tikka masala” pizza… in my view “mix” is important but in a right percentage…if it crosees the level that the attribute becomes “cheap”[ but not cool] becomes “dikhawa” (exhibitionism only)… for this dikhawa factor the “nimbu pani” by Pepsi beverage is a failure today…

The concept of individuality is not much popular in India we love remaining in clan… and even micro clans…

The ideology of “India” is so plural that it becomes impossible to form a “visible” youth culture . In India every three hundred miles define a different weather, customs, food, language, attitude, environment…

The clash of class is also an important factor which prevents Indian youth to form larger groups based only on AIOs (please refer to my adopted differentiation theory)…if not sects or political motivations…

India has numerous numbers of religious groups, sects, social classes, political wings etc. which attracts and involves youth and that culture immediately takes either a political name ( eg. Pink chaddi movement) or religious sentiment (eg. Youth wing of “so and so” party, raj thakary and his clan, varun Gandhi and his clan etc.)…in India politics is also more of an youth culture (remember the emotions at college elections… which sometimes even becomes a dirty fight of made-up ideologies)

Moreover, Indian youth are the very career oriented and ambitious( the way they are groomed by their parents…). The competition (and the parental pressure, because in India, a son / daughter are considered as investment for future of the parents) makes them concentrate in their career and the ambition moulds them to look towards the iconic figures who’s successful in their life and career (Tata, Birla, Ambani, successful cricketers, established movie stars etc…) but not the struggling rock stars or scandalous new comers in the movie industry… Indian youth are very focused in their “needs and wants” and to prove that they are the one who helped their family “stand up” (pride, social status and economy)

We do have the sharpest youth but not a very “defined” youth culture (the way "youth culture" is meant in west) cause it’s actually not needed in India at this stage and media never bothered to promote anything as such.

One youth culture which is strongly growing in India is “being desi”…desi food, ethnic dress, the usage of desi languages (and slanguages too…all K words, B words etc are becoming popular among the “happening” crowd …the F words are going down) etc.…Desi is becoming cool….

The youth are getting devided into two catagories…the In’glo’dians are moving towards more into being “globally desi” or refined desi…whereas the Indians and Bharatiyas are moving into the core desipan…

What is your definition of fashion? What all encompasses it?

“Human being is the only species who can deliberately and consciously change his look”- Ted Polhemus stated once. To me fashion is a way one presents oneself to the receptor (the receptor can be one person, a group of people or a macro-society). Fashion is a tool which helps one to advertise his belongings…a kind of adopted self advertisement, which makes one "accepted" [or rejected] by an individual(ie. you and your partner), clan (ie. a subculture, society or religion...

Fashion encompasses “look” (dress, make up, adornments etc.), attitude (the way one seats stands talks…the accent one adopts..), food habits and etiquettes, involvements (your peer group can make a big difference to the others to consider u as “fashionable’ or not) and values (the customs and rituals and the ideology).

Fashion should be the ever changing attribute of human being…if one maintains a certain look in his or her whole life that becomes style but not fashion…mutation and evolution is an important factor of fashion

What is the world of youth fashion – who are the influencers and icons?

Youth fashion is:
1. some elements which gives them an identity (can be the look or lingo…or even the attitude)
2. Some elements which differentiates them from the elder (some elements which actually being hated by the elders…ie. The black nail polish or lipstick… messy look… piercing and strange tattoos… low hip denim)
3. Being rebellious is cool
4. Some elements which differentiates them from the “other class” of youth (the loud music in a car is “cool” cause it exhibits that one has the “capacity” to own/ afford a car and “cares a damn” for the “other side of India” )
The young world consists of various micro groups which forms the larger clusters…the clusters again relates themselves with various common macro AIOs…most of the youth (In’glo’dians and Indians) are living in the virtual world…70% of their friends are virtual whom they might not even have “seen” but exchanges opinions hatreds, and ideologies (through Facebook, Twitter, Orkut etc.)

In India the influencers are also divided as per the categories of Indian youth… for In’glo’dians the influencers can be the global celebs and micro-group influencers from the same clan…for Indians the influences can be the smartest youth in the gang…or the MTV’s “star” youth (who won the “made-up” reality shows…), the happening (and rich) movie stars (in India we like to worship the “blue bloods”…whether in Bollywood / Kollywood or in Politics…), established businessmen (Tata, Birla etc.)…. Among the Bharatiyas the icons are also the laggards (like the yesteryears “star kid” Tendulkar….) or the “not so young” stars…politicians or the business tycoons… the local “star” youth who “wears” the latest gadgets and faded denim with colour hair + bike+ fluency in Hinglish (English+Hindi mixed pronunciation… )…and adopted differentiation works again among the Indian youth in case of youth icons…

Kaustav SenGupta

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