Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thank you Mr. Biyani

It was while addressing a bunch of enthusiastic management students from a Tier II city, that the ‘retail reality’ hit me so hard.

Naively, I asked them the sacred question of what do you want to do after you finish your MBA? Instantly came the answer. It was as if I did a mistake of asking them an unintelligent and the obvious question. I did not experience such a consensus or a collective agreement on any issue that we discussed so far.

Every one wanted to jump on the ‘retail’ bandwagon. It would have been still understandable if I were in a metro (like a Delhi or a Mumbai) or even a satellite city (like a Pune or a Hyderabad), but I was in a city where the only ‘new age’ retail landmark was a Big Bazaar, which came a month ago.

I was conscious that ‘retail’ is the new buzzword, but wrongly assumed that it was still an urban phenomenon.

The same evening I decided to check out the only Big Bazaar in the city and this is where all my myths were shattered. It was a packed house on a weekday.

Unlike metros, here customers came mostly in groups of three or more. The groups would include families (husband, wife and young kid/s), teenagers, and in some cases, the group even consisted of two or more families together.

A routine activity of grocery buying has suddenly transformed into a fun filled family outing. Women in their fanciest clothes, complete with the choicest of lipsticks and other accessories, bedazzled kids, either steering the trolley or enjoying a ride on it (depending on the age) and men, the mobile ATMs of the above two. It seems as if this Bunty & Babli city has taken to the whole hypermarket thing, like fish to water.

Something in me said that this is going to be the future. The conventional mom and pop stores would not do any more. The customers are not going to be happy just with the fair price and the good quality of the products. They want ‘More’.

More in terms of variety, offers, the store ambience, parking lots, clean toilets, suitable lighting, attractive fixtures… and the list goes on. When did we ever think, that the place where we buy from will become even more important than what we buy from there.

Experience is the key word, that’s what the companies would be fighting for in future- How can we give our customers a better shopping experience than all others?

Marketers are trying hard to make us feel special, important & wanted.

What a time to be a customer?

It took one man’s vision to celebrate the daily needs of the Indian middle class.

Thank you Mr. Biyani. You made it happen in India.

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