‘The Great Indian Bazaar’ [Winning Entry – September Issue]

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India has always been vivacious, an abode of rich and colourful culture, a place always inviting, imbibing and conglomerating to a synthesis which has always intrigued and awed foreign eyes. With the opening up of Indian economy in 90s and liberalisation in many sectors the churning up process began leading to entry of foreign brands in Indian markets in almost all sectors.

The Great Indian bazaar is as varied as its culture, as inviting as its history and as volatile as its rivers. The layer of Westernization strongly associated with the urban population and the differences in purchasing power of rural consumers add to the cultural diversity. While around 54% of Indians earn less than one dollar per day, there is a niche of consumers who consume brands like Tag Heuer, Mont Blanc, Mercedes Benz, Louis Vuitton, Baskin-Robbins and Tropicana.

Marketers need to build a sound business model after taking into consideration the psychographics and cultural nuances of consumer segments. The challenge for marketers is to ensure a judicious mix of traditional values and contemporary thinking for such segments. It’s about understanding the difference between the flamboyant nature of a Punjabi customer and the more reserved nature of a Gujarati, and speaking to each of them in the specific cultural register that they respond to.

The Indian marketing context is a medley of contemporary lifestyles, and traditional values, marked thriftiness and experiential indulgence. It is one of the most promising markets in the world, evolving faster than ever across all socioeconomic strata, regions and town classes. Here in Indian Bazaar, it’s not difficult to see the magic that lies in the country’s artisanal crafts and textiles. From the foothills of the Himalayas to the tip of Kanyakumari, there is tremendous variation. We wear them with ease, in a terrific mix of drapes and silhouettes. And we wear them everywhere, to family get-togethers and grand dinners alike.

Fine dining may have its own charm, but young, educated entrepreneurs in India are taking to the streets when it comes to offering global cuisine. Unlike earlier, when North Indian dishes or Indo-Chinese food ruled the streets, these new innovative kiosks and laaris are pampering the taste buds of a well-travelled Indian and at a cheaper rate. A luxury once available only in international hotels and leading restaurants is now available on the streets at prices as low as Rs 50 per dish. Street food is taking the Indian Bazaar by storm, but it’s not just on the streets anymore. While food trucks are bringing high end cuisine to the streets, more and more restaurants are bringing street food indoors. Like Chowpatty, its downtown counterpart, uptown Juhu Beach is a bourgeois paradise, filled to the gills with screaming children, courting couples and rowdy adolescents. We get coffee sold by cycle rider there, we also have corner stall coffee seller. If you want a fancier excursion, retreat behind Juhu’s many five star hotels, for a steaming cup of coffee and a splendid view of the coast. This is a true essence of ‘The Great Indian Bazaar’.

Mumbai Dabbawalas, who are world famous for their food supply network are the perfect example of excellent supply chain and logistics management. They get astounded when they are told that their business is a perfect example of Six Sigma. For them even a single mistake in a million is unpardonable. They have been able to achieve excellence in their operations not because of technology but because of their commitment and sincerity. Indeed, Marketing implies to the means and mode of highlighting a concept to the masses, whether product or service, to such a level that it starts selling like a hot cake compared to their historical trend. For example, a common saying about American businesses is “ Americans can sell ice to Eskimos”. This simply highlights their marketing skills.

India is a shopper’s paradise. There is an astonishing variety of dazzling handicrafts, textiles, jewelry, furnishings, art, spices and much more on display in winding bazaars, busy markets, state emporiums and street stalls; at ancient historical sites and shining new malls. The great Indian Bazaar produces both traditional and modern goods, and sometimes a compelling mix of both — such as designer fashions inspired by traditional costumes.Retailing in India is coming of age. With the advent of modern day malls, retailing is no more limited to buying and selling goods and services. Malls are being developed as complete destination centres which not only provide the advantage of shopping under one roof but also expose customers to the latest arrivals in the market.Bazaars, markets, emporiums, street stalls, and malls, here, from one end of the subcontinent to the other, overflow with a dazzling array of handicrafts, textiles, jewelry, furnishings, art, spices and much more.

The diversity of Indian Bazaar is exhibited at its best in village fairs where stalls spring up with toy-sellers and sweat meat sellers attracting every child by it’s charm. The toys and the sweat meats are dust-laden as every blow of wind lays a fresh coat of dust on them but that is not sufficient to diminish it’s aura in the child’s mind. At some distance from the stalls we can see a juggler performing his tricks. The simple-minded villagers see his tricks with open-mouthed wonder and feet beside themselves with joy at every new trick. There are also some, enjoying the feats of a ropedancer.

Another side of the coin  depicts an annual extravaganza conducted by India Trade Promotion Organization in the form  of the world’s leading trade show ‘India International Trade Fair’ that gets embellished  with an array of products and services to the visitors as well as business associates. Through its Special Display sections of Techmart it showcases the innovative technologies and products of small and medium enterprises.

The Great Indian Bazaar has now expanded and exploded beyond all proportions. The amalgamation of Marketing Mix in it can be depicted by following lines:

“Markets in India, the unique and the varied,

From Desi the heart, to videshi the breed;

From rickshaws to Benz, the beggars on street,

From Temples to Mosques, the thugs  to cheat;

The Gucci’s, the Versace’s, the Spencers and Mark

The Hiltons Sheratons, Hyatts and the Clarks;

The Starbucks, the Tacos, the McD’s to embrace,

The dhabas, the curries and the “Dubbas” to Grace!!”

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