Business Functions

The Semi-sesquicentennial Indian Consumer

By Kayzad Hiramanek, Chief – Operations & Customer Experience, Bajaj Allianz Life

In the 75 years since India’s independence, the expectations of Indian consumers have undergone many interesting changes. Geography, age and gender impact the psyche of individuals and influence what they look for in products and services. Consumer preferences also vary across generations and income groups, keeping the overall consumer market a dynamic space and a constantly evolving one.

As we look towards a more self-reliant future, the aspirations of the country as a whole have also changed direction. This, coupled with the effects of the pandemic, has given rise to a new breed of smart, aspirational consumers. With a front-row seat to the changing dynamics in the Indian consumer market, I cannot stress enough how pivotal it is to understand the DNA and what drives today’s consumers. Let’s take a deep dive into the Indian consumer mindset and understand what today’s India is looking for.

Freedom of choice

The economic liberalisation of 1991 was a turning point in our history. It expanded the role of private and foreign players in the economy and gave Indian consumers a lot more options to choose from. The country also responded with great enthusiasm, and consumer spending increased exponentially up until the pandemic came knocking. As World Bank data shows, India’s total consumption grew from $353.513 billion in 2000 to $2.07 trillion in 2019.

So, over the years, this affinity for alternative products and services has been enshrined into the DNA of the modern Indian consumer. In fact, with the national median age being just 28 years, product innovation and convenience choice, purchase and payment is the biggest differentiating factor to consider for any company that wants to optimize the customer acquisition and experience they offer.

Growing preference for indigenous products and services 

Speaking of choices, Indians are also showing a rising preference for goods and services with indigenous origins. The pull for international brands seems to have died down, and consumers in the country are now actively seeking out brands made in India.

A recent report by KPMG revealed that around 60% of respondents are actively replacing foreign products and services with homegrown options. This indicates that the modern consumer is vocal for local, and as service providers, we need to align ourselves with this aspect of the consumer psyche. It is the age of “Atmanirbhar Bharat”.

New and better benchmarks

There’s another sweeping change that’s defining the current consumer market in the country. Indian consumers are aspiring for a better life where they can fulfill their life goals. They are looking for comprehensive products and services that enable them to add value and enjoy their lives better. This transformation is in stark contrast to the flexible attitude that prevailed until recently.  The average Indian consumer no longer shrugs and says “It’s okay.” The new mantra is “I want the best.”

We don’t need extensive market insights to tell us that digital is the way forward for enabling consumption. The pandemic has reinforced the use of digital solutions and this has inevitably become a part of consumer behaviour now. A recent study by Schbang shows us that even after the lockdowns were lifted, 67% of respondents preferred to shop online. To adapt to this aspect of consumer behaviour, we need to offer quicker and more scalable online solutions that will transform customer experience at every stage of their journey.

Liberated and educated decision-making

The way the younger demographic thinks is radically different. They are no longer chained in by the typical conventional biases of choosing a few professions like engineering, accountancy or medicine. Young people today are unabashedly following their hearts and pursuing their passions. This attitude has also made its way into how they behave as consumers.

Following their life goals is a very big part of the psyche of the modern Indian consumer. They are making more informed and educated decisions in various areas of life. This is a major change for the better, and it could be pivotal to uplifting the economy as a whole from mere materialism to something much greater and grander.

Kayzad Hiramanek, Chief – Operations & Customer Experience, Bajaj Allianz Life

The end goal for all service providers is to improve and optimize the overall quality and value of products and services, their availability, and overall customer experience. And the first step towards this goal is understanding how today’s consumers think, what they want, and how they behave in the next normal. Decoding the consumer psyche allows service providers to better align with the evolved DNA of the new-age customer. Also, it puts companies in a better place to serve the needs of today’s consumers and make their dreams come true.

 

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