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Saving and splurging: What's on young consumers' minds

Generation Next succumbs to and denies brand obsession in the same breath. But what everyone loves is a ‘good deal’.

india Updated: Sep 03, 2015 19:41 IST
Paramita Ghosh
Paramita Ghosh
Hindustan Times

Young Indians want it all but they are unsure how much is too much. Fifty-nine percent of India’s youth would like to be “rich enough” but accept that they (31%) need to be on the lookout for bargains.

Among full-time students, 47% like high-fashion brands, three percent more than last year, but “dressing well”— 48% in 2014 as compared to 51% in 2013 — seems less a priority.

The youth survey has thrown up dichotomies and pulls that India’s youth experience whenever they turn consumer and in which consumption seems to have emerged as a big marker of identity rather than a simple act of purchase.

Chetan Talwar, a 20 year-old college-goer from Delhi, for example, describes himself as a “Puma person”. He calls attention to his sensible choices as a shopper. Because he has a Puma shoe, and they are “cheap and durable”, he has a wallet and bag from Puma as well. See: Most trusted brands

He denies brand obsession but makes a point about the nature of his spending habits: “For a good bargain, I’m willing to turn consumerist. In my book, that's not being consumerist, it's about being practical."

In other words — he may need one shirt but he might buy three if it’s a good deal. See: Denims and cosmetics

According to a KPMG survey, on what drives first-time consumers’ purchasing decisions, India’s youth has been characterised as “highly experimentative”, especially with regard to food, media and personal care.

Its youth psychography reveals a high percentage of impulse purchase “reflective of high pent-up of demand and aspirations” combined with the practicality of relying on word-of-mouth publicity.

Santosh Desai, CEO and MD, Futurebrands India, says India’s youth have started to see the self as an asset making the move from a collective past into a personal present. “It’s no more about being from a good family, it’s now about who I am.

You are more likely to say I am an IT student or I am a student of animation, than say ‘I come from a family of doctors’ or 'I belong to a family of IAS officers.' And the instrumental part of that identity is the body or activities around it. And the body is malleable, it can be given shape to, it’s about controlling your destiny, putting your best foot forward,” he says. See: Unaffordable purchases

And for that the youth are willing to pay the price. Mumbai’s youth (70%) admits to making unaffordable purchases, followed by Chandigarh (64.9%). See: Dull no more: Living it up in small towns

Ruchi Pandey, 20, a Chandigarh student, says her luxuries — Rs 10,000-shoes, Rs 17,000 gym membership — come partly from her earnings as an event manager on a freelance basis, and partly from her parents. See: Opinions

“If I say I’ve earned Rs 7,000, now give me Rs 3,000 for the shoe, that goes down better with my parents,” she says. “If I’ve to look good, I have to give something. Nothing comes for free.” See: Money matters

In 2014, out of a total monthly spend of Rs 2,014, on an average, India’s youth spend Rs 385 on personal grooming, up by nearly 39% from last year. This category tops other expenses such as going to coffee shops (Rs 258 on an average) and to the movies (Rs 355 on an average) and on other personal expenses (Rs 631). See: For the urban youth, it’s coffee for all reasons

Mobile expenses, however, remain high and seem to be rising with each passing year — Rs 318 (approx) in 2012, Rs 348 (approx) in 2013 and Rs 435 (approx) in 2014.

What is interesting, though, is that there has been a dip in the percentage of India’s youth that thinks it is important to own the latest gadgets. The survey says it’s approximately 40% as compared to 42% for both genders in 2013.

Malls and coffee shops also grab a large part of the monthly spend with 46% of Ranchi’s youth (the highest among the cities surveyed) willing to visit a coffee outlet even without company.

At 51%, Delhi tops the survey among youngsters who visit coffee places with friends of the opposite sex. Desai says this has more to do with the lack of public spaces for young people and less to do with coffee. “In India, where spaces are coded, if you’re seen in a coffee shop, it’s not the end of the world,” says Desai. See: Coffee, couples and conversations

“You get intimacy, but distance. A coffee shop is private and public.” And all these meanings are understood by India’s cautious young consumers for what they are.

Read: Young, conservative, traditional: Here's India's gen-next
Read: Times are changing: India's youth a mix of old and new
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Read: Logged in generation next requires digital de-addiction
Read: India's youth reinterpreting God in a whole new way
Read: In politics, youth goes for content, not age or lineage
Read: India's young have set high targets to achieve that perfect life
Read: India's young turn to self-made icons known for their achievements

First Published: Aug 11, 2014 17:55 IST