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Interview by Owais Khan

Held between the 14th and 16th of December 2012 at Jaipuria Institute of Management, Lucknow, the 7th International Conference on Interdependence, Integration and Co-Creation (IIC) turned out to be one of the most important business management events of the year in the country. Luminaries from across the globe were at Jaipuria Institute of Management, Lucknow to share their knowledge and thoughts on the issue of ‘Demystifying the Indian Consumer’.

Mr. Bhupesh Dinger, the COO and Director of Enrich Salons and Academy, was regarded by the students of Jaipuria Lucknow as one of the most effective speakers at this event. A product of IIM Bangalore, Mr. Dinger has explored the length and breadth of consumer markets with organisations as varied as Omkar Realtors and Developers, to Reliance Retail and Reliance Web world, in a career spanning 25 years. In a presentation that could only be described as brilliant, Mr. Dinger laid out every aspect of the evolution of consumer behaviour in the last couple of decades. He pointed out that the most prominent change in customer behaviour has been in the attitude towards Service.

“Reduced attention span, increased mobility and travelling, decreasing restrictions of time and geographical space and countless options have all ensured that your customer today demands greater servicing speed. As a marketer in the service sector,if you fail to deliver speed, you will lose you customer. Customers today have access to the home concierge and can do anything from anywhere. Midnight sales start a couple of hours earlier at 10 at night. The market knows that the customer is free only during that span.”
Mr. Bhupesh Dinger made his points doubly convincing by using a series of cases. Speaking about the choices available to customers, he reminded us of how the photo film industry was wiped out almost overnight. “Ten years ago, companies like Kodak, Fuji and Konica were fighting tooth-and-nail for market share in the film-based camera market. Suddenly, the camera market changed; consumer photography started getting more inclined towards digital cameras. A new set of competitions emerged and consumers had new choices.Out of nowhere,companies like Sony and HP – which are not traditional camera manufacturers – emerged as market leaders. They got their thrills for nearly a decade before becoming obsolete in a matter of months. For the last three years now, ‘cameras in mobile phones’ have outnumbered the sales of cameras.”

Mr. Dinger also touched upon some factors for the students of Jaipuria, Lucknow that seemed self-evident, but would usually escape the notice of most people. For example, he explained how core banking has had a remarkable impact on consumer behaviour.

“A consumer wants omnipresence. The consumer now uses smart phones for transactions not just ATMs. The way it’s going, you will not need a bank for transferring money; it could be done by your mobile top-up as well. Suddenly, you might not need ATMs to withdraw money; it could be collected from a kiranastore. So what is the CEO of HDFC bank supposed to do then? That is what is changing. As future marketers, try to foresee the problems or the changes.”

Mr. Dinger then dwelt on the repercussions of how the online world is now moving offline in order to bring people online.

“For instance, ‘Shaadi.com’ knows that there is a significant population of parents who are not computer savvy. They are now setting up centres across India where the parent can come across and access services. Suddenly, the guy who was offline is now online. He knows the power of what is happening around him. He might not be online himself, but he is accessing the service and is therefore online by proxy. The senior citizen segment is huge and is an emerging market that all of you should find ways of tapping into.”

Over his hour-long presentation, every new point that Mr. Bhupesh Dinger touched upon gave the audience at Jaipuria Lucknow a new train of thought. He concluded on the note that the only way of holding on to your customer in a market overloaded with choices is ‘mass customisation’.

“I know it’s an oxymoron. Customisation is specific to needs. But to deliver service consistently, day on day, and always on time, you will have to provide different customers the ability to customise their own pizza. That is individualised, yet mass marketing, which uses technology to scale up.”

Mr. Dinger’s presentation stood out for its sheer relevance for the future managers of Jaipuria Lucknow. The standing ovation that it received from the faculty and students of Jaipuria Lucknow indicated just how much the interaction had given everyone a sneak preview into the future of consumer markets and behaviour– and done so in an impressive manner.

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