New middle class mantra is spending
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New middle class mantra is spending

It prefers a good lifestyle to a simple one, an HT-CNN IBN survey shows, reports Namita Bhandare.

india Updated: Jan 26, 2007 21:47 IST

The Indian middle class is seduced by la dolce vita, found an HT-CNN IBN survey. Discarding the spartan lifestyle of their parents, an increasing number of the Indian middle class is plumping for a new attitude to spending.

Regardless of whether it’s based in towns, cities or rural areas, over half of all middle class respondents said they would rather have a good lifestyle than a more simple and austere one.

Travel and eating out are two areas where the new consumerists are looking to spend their money. Among the higher middle class, 63 per cent had gone on a vacation at least once in the past two years; 14 per cent said they ate out at least once a week. The bug seems to have caught the fancy of the lower middle class too: 51 per cent had taken a holiday in the last two years and 8 per cent said they ate out at least once a week.

An overwhelming number of urban higher middle class individuals polled owned mobile phones (87 per cent), washing machines (72 per cent) and personal computers (55 per cent).

"The horizon has certainly widened," says Arjun Puri who runs a catering service called XO. "People are travelling, are aware and don’t mind spending on exotic cuisine ranging from Moroccan to Lebanese." Puri who began his business by catering for corporates now focuses entirely on private parties says typically his customers represent double-income households.

Last year, domestic tourism alone saw a 30 per cent increase, points out Jyoti Mayal of New Airways travel agency. "People are ready to pack and leave even for a two-day break at a moment’s notice," she says.

The National Council for Applied Economic Research estimates that there are 56 million people in households earning between $4,400 (Rs 2.98 lakh) and $21,800 (Rs 9.81 lakh) a year, which it defines as ‘middle class’.

Perhaps less encouraging is the middle class youth’s desire to seek la dolce vita in what it sees as greener pastures abroad. Sixty eight per cent respondents up to the age of 25 said they wanted to live abroad. The number goes down only slightly among the older age group (26-35 years) with 60 per cent looking for that elusive Green Card.

First Published: Jan 26, 2007 21:47 IST