CII Marketing Summit ’06: Britannia MD&CEO Vinita Bali on Marketing to the New Indian Consumer

Vinita Bali said that she thinks marketers are focusing too strongly on just numbers, and failing to understand consumers. What they don’t realise is that there are essentially two kinds on consumers in India: There are those from the pre-liberalisation days where there were limits to consumption – you booked a vehicle and forgot about it for a couple of years. These consumers still are amazed at the pace at which development has taken place, and are still held back by their past experience. The other group, the post-liberalisation consumer is highly consumption oriented. He’s not straddled with the guilt associated with consumption that the pre-lib consumer is. This is a very large segment – and it will grow.

By 2020, the average age will be 29, and most of these consumers will be used to the digital space. A huge degree of changes are expected in a short period of time. How much of this change has been internalised by today’s marketers, who seem to be focused on the pre-liberalisation lot, still?

Also, why are marketers continuing to pay lip service to the rural consumer? Have they tried to understand the rural consumer, or is he just an extention of urban India? The rural consumer has had an upbringing different from his urban cousin, and needs to be looked at separately.

Modern trade has changed the consumer. Today, BPO’s work 24×7, and there lies a 24×7 consumption opportunity (ed: HCL’s Ajai Choudhry spoke of co-creating with consumers, including in the BPO space). Small packages are driving consumption.

Also, marketers are becoming lazy, using celebrities for endorsement. Differentiation is the name of the game – how products fit consumers. The marketers need to connect with consumers, understand the life of the people, and fit into their life. There is a need for 360 degree activation. (ed: what’s 360 degrees activation? somebody explain pls). The market is going to be full of choices for consumer, and hence fragmentation will increase.

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