Who’s loud? You or the mar­keter?

Consumer Voice - - Editor's Voice - Padma Joint ed­i­tor

I thought I was out of ideas for this sec­tion un­til I no­ticed Mr Singh car­ry­ing his gro­ceries bag full of all the eat­ing stuff that you see in TV com­mer­cials. He is our neigh­bour and has just bought a new car. It’s a big SUV that I have seen in Hol­ly­wood ac­tion movies of the 1980s and is now a com­mon sight in In­dia’s nar­row gul­lies. I re­mem­ber see­ing Mr Singh twist­ing his non-ex­is­tent mous­tache when he first alighted from the ve­hi­cle in front of his house.

While I was try­ing to un­der­stand the logic be­hind driv­ing a truck-like SUV on Delhi roads, while it was ac­tu­ally meant for offroad ex­pe­ri­ence, I re­al­ized that this ve­hi­cle now oc­cu­pies half of my al­ready crammed park­ing space and I have to ma­noeu­vre my car a lot in or­der to ac­com­mo­date his in­dul­gence.

The other day I dared ask­ing Mr Singh about a few apps he used of­ten on his Rs 40,000 mo­bile phone, and he sheep­ishly ad­mit­ted that he had just learnt to un­lock the screen.

I got cu­ri­ous. How did Mr Singh or mil­lions of other peo­ple like him across the coun­try ac­tu­ally think? Why were they buy­ing things that they re­ally did not want or did not know how to use? I called a few friends in mar­ket­ing de­part­ments of large cor­po­rate groups and a few in ad­ver­tis­ing and me­dia buy­ing agen­cies.

I learnt some amaz­ing facts. I can­not share them all in this limited space, but can sum it up in one line: for most mar­keters, con­sumers are mere sub­jects that fall in dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories. The mar­keter’s aim is to in­flu­ence th­ese sub­jects and con­vince them to buy their prod­ucts. They man­u­fac­ture prod­ucts that suit the need, mas­sage the ego and touch some emo­tional chords – make them feel they will be left be­hind if they do not have the said prod­uct…

I also learnt that peo­ple like me, who be­lieve they are alert and con­scious con­sumers, too fall in one cat­e­gory. For peo­ple like me, mar­keters ‘man­u­fac­ture’ the need. How? Well, if you of­ten watch TV, you must have seen a new veg­eta­bles wash­ing liq­uid that claims to kill pos­si­ble germs and pes­ti­cides. Do I re­ally need it? So you will ask your­self be­fore buy­ing, but will not mind try­ing it for once and may even get used to it. Oh, do you know that there’s this af­ter-wash con­di­tioner for clothes in the mar­ket – I got one free with my wash­ing pow­der. It claims it’ll re­tain the ‘new’ look for your favourite clothes. Who knows if th­ese and many such things will be­come our ‘need’, just like liq­uid hand-wash­ing soaps! To­day, chil­dren’s stores are flooded with per­fumes, nail paints, sun­screen lo­tions and make-up, man­i­cure and pedi­cure kits (for mere 10-yearolds). Do they need them or is it yet an­other case of manufactur­ing the need?

I could list a dozen more things that I feel have been cre­ated only for the pur­pose of sell­ing to a par­tic­u­lar seg­ment of sub­jects – con­sumers. The idea of my writ­ing this is sim­ple. Let’s each one of us to do some self-anal­y­sis to find out in which sub­ject/con­sumer cat­e­gory we fall and also look at the re­cent things that we have bought. Did we re­ally need those things or did we buy them be­cause we felt a new need to own the same?

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