January 3, 2015

What change in a decade?

Filed under: Consumer Trends — by xrematon @ 7:59 pm
Tags: , , ,

Though I now live a life of dull suburban parochialism, there was a time when I went off to experience the exotic. Ten years ago, I worked in Mumbai for close to 12 months. I haven’t been back since, but had the opportunity to catch up with the country when my flatmate came to stay.

It turns out that all those little cool phenomena we get so excited about over here in the UK are not our sole preserve, but can be found in India. Pop-up stores:check . Micro brewery:check. Everyone getting onto Facebook:check.

However, it turns out there are other less welcome developments, which put me more in mind of comparisons to China than sophisticated Western markets. Food security is a major issue. Not only has food price inflation been very high over the past decade, but you can’t even be sure that the food you have paid for is safe. Food adulteration often hits the headlines.

Sadly, though, India has not also been able to benefit from ‘China prices’ in the way that we UK consumers have. My flatmate purchased a large stash of cheap shoes from various fast fashion retailers such as H&M and Primark, observing that these were probably cheaper than anything she could get of a comparable quality in India.

Indians buying cheap in London

Now, I remember that I also hoarded shoes when I was in India, in particular those very dainty decorated slippers. It seems the tables have turned.

Taking a less frivolous perspective, ecommerce is an area which is very much part of the everyday for a consumer in the UK, but still quite niche in India. Of all Indian online users, just 14% currently purchase online, whilst in the UK,  72% of all adults bought goods or services online in 2013. It will be interesting to see what change another ten years brings in this area.

When in Mumbai, I had the opportunity to experience first hand the awesome power and appeal of Bollywood. Though stars come and go, I was reassured to hear that Big B (Amitabh Bachchan) is still ‘a god’ (as my friend put it). Finally, I had found something where the passage of a decade had not brought change.



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