Generational difference in Consumer India
Our mind works in very complex ways and understanding how the consumer’s mind works, for long has been a priority for marketers and brands alike. To be able to understand the wants and desires of a consumer is a guaranteed ticket to success in terms of marketing. Which is why consumer psychology as a field has evolved to provide marketers with an inside edge into the consumer’s minds.
Mapping consumer behaviour is a very important tool to understand purchase decisions. & determining trends in the consumer market. With vivid and varied experiences across several generations, each individual is motivated by different factors. These factors determine the overall purchase power as well as willingness of a purchase in an individual. The living population includes a majority of 4 generations, which are the Baby Boomers, the Gen X, the Millennials and the Gen Z. These generations have been classified on basis of socio-economic phenomena, common experiences, attitudes and values that an entire generation exhibits at large. This happens to be a global phenomena, but there are certain exceptions in the Indian case where a completely different behaviour pattern is observed.
The children of freedom, born in independent India, between 1945 to 1964 experienced the complete impact of the Indian partition, and its wars with neighbouring countries. This generation was born after the World War II, in a post-colonial country, with a slow economy and limited means of growth.
The Baby boomers are part of the generation that was responsible for shaping post-independence India, and thus evolved to be security seeking and loyal consumers. This entire generation of consumers, based their views on the basis of their emotions, thus they are often regarded as a generation of people seeking economic stability and weighing each transaction with its need.
Boomers are known to be very conservative in their financial choices which reflects in other aspects of their life as well. People from this generation tend to follow a pattern of traits exhibited by brands.The primary traits boomers look for in products are ‘Reliability’ & ‘Cost effectiveness’, and thus by transitivity seek brands that offer them.
The Gen X
This generation is labelled as the ‘slacker’ generation in terms of the American socio-economy display a completely different purview in case of the Indian demography. The Indian Gen X comprises of people that experienced the vibrant and liberal economy of India as a democracy. This generation was the first to reap the benefits of the economic reforms in India, including laws in foreign direct investment, relaxed trade regulations and so on.
The Gen X is said to consist of the 1st generation of Indian entrepreneurs, that were responsible for the growth in Indian economy, and thus today are known to be value seeking. Being raised by Boomers, the Gen X also finds a strong need of emotional connect, making them a generation that makes their purchase decisions based on value and emotions. The Gen X is known to be a ‘traditional’ generation and often referred to as ‘Echo boomers’ due to the similar traits they possess as to their predecessors.
The unique quality in the Gen X as consumers is that , this is the generation that was open to new ideas, to new experiences, and thus to new brands. The Gen X evolved to have an open mind in comparison to their predecessors and thus are more receptive to change in terms of brands and products.
The Generation Y
The Millennials are generally regarded as the group of people born between 1981 and 2000. The millennials were the generation to experience the great recession of the late 2000s and was also the first generation of experience the digital age. Currently 47% of India’s workforce can be classified into this group, engaged in various sectors of the economy. This entire generation is influenced by the evolution as digital media and thus is known to be highly adaptable and pragmatic. The Millennials are regarded as the most dynamic group of people and thus are often a talking point in terms of marketing. As opposed to most previous generations, the Millennials are the first generation of people who are swayed not by emotion, but by logic. Being a generation with unlimited access to a lot of information with the help of the internet, the Millennials are also regarded as the most informed buyers. Millennials are known to be thorough researchers and thus are heavily involved in the purchase process, taking help of internet tools such as social media, blogs and reviews to finalise their purchase. The Millennials also are known to be ‘choosy’ in terms of brands they purchase or associate with. Millennials make purchases based on emotions, logic and information, making it very difficult for brands with unidimensional communication to appear as appealing options to this group of people.
Millennials today contribute the most to the work force of the world and are the primary audience for brands and differ from their predecessors in many regards. But what does this shift in ideas and communication mean for brands in the Indian context:
Brands have to be transparent:
Brands can no longer pick and choose information they wish to share with their audiences. In such times of free information a very high sense of morality and ethical practices are expected from brands. (Example: Non-plastic packaging, No animal testing, recyclable materials,etc)
Brands have to diversify:
The market is full of competition and in such a highly dynamic market, to stand out brands must diversify their communications, integrate them with each other and create a brand experience rather than an identity. (Example: Zomato’s social presence is a great example. The communications are self-aware and thus help the consumer trust the brand.)
Brands have to be relevant:
Gone are the days when brands could ride on just any viral trend, and convert them into sales. Consumers belonging to the Millennial generation seek value over anything else and thus lean towards relevant content in any format.
Brands have to be careful:
With audiences more and more aware, brands must be careful about their interactions with society and the audience as a whole. The consumer markets today are driven by people who care about things deeply, thus shifting the responsibility of carefully monitoring their interactions in the hands of varied brands. (Example- Maggi lost is consumer base due to the led found in its productions, although having production started again, in so many way the brand has not recovered.)
Consumers of all ages are important to the purchase economy of the country, but the influential need to be catered to primarily since in just about a decade, a new group of people (The Gen Z)will be up in the market with their new demands, which brands will never be able to meet if they do not adapt. The consumer has awoken and is asking a lot questions, the brands better be ready to answer them.