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BCG surveyed over 5,000 urban respondents in a survey spanning Panipat to Mumbai. Photo: Mint
BCG surveyed over 5,000 urban respondents in a survey spanning Panipat to Mumbai. Photo: Mint

Urban Indian shoppers seek trendy products, look for convenience: BCG report

  • Some of the key trends that BCG said were becoming pronounced in India’s urban cities were information-centered shopping and shopping to stay trendy
  • Access to more information also implies that shoppers in urban India don’t necessarily wait to buy new things on account of old ones turning redundant

NEW DELHI : Urban Indian shoppers are swiftly changing the way they spend.

Growing internet penetration and the need for convenience are some of the factors that are prompting households in urban India to seek more time-saving services, spend more on experiences than products, and upgrade to goods that are trendy essentially changing the way brands and marketers sell to them, a recent report by the Boston Consulting Group’s Center for Customer Insight (CCI) has found.

BCG surveyed over 5,000 urban respondents in a survey spanning Panipat to Mumbai; the demographic was largely urban (aged 18-59) and shoppers were surveyed to gauge their changing attitudes towards products, and services. BCG then collated a list of top ten trends that are emerging among urban Indian shoppers.

“Increasingly, people are spending more on experiences, customized products, and time-saving services," authors at BCG said in a report released Tuesday.

Some of the key trends that BCG said were becoming pronounced in India’s urban cities were information-centered shopping, shopping to stay trendy, adoption of time-saving, adoption of health and wellness activities, chasing experiences over products and more women entering into the fold of making purchase decisions.

While these trends have been shaping India’s consumer economy for a few years now, authors of the research suggest that they are gaining wide acceptance among urban shoppers and are being adopted at scale—especially among affluent households across India.

“In general, the role of online is just making people aware and exposing them to stuff and new trends," said Kanika Sanghi, partner and associate director, BCG, and leader, BCG’s Center for Customer Insight in India

Access to more information also implies that shoppers in urban India don’t necessarily wait to buy new things on account of old ones turning redundant.

“A desire to be in sync with the latest trends is increasingly driving purchases among Indian consumers," BCG noted, adding that over 60% of respondents of its survey said that in the past year, in at least one category (gadgets, automobiles,and apparel), they had purchased something because it was trendy and they felt like upgrading— not necessarily because they needed a replacement.

Interestingly, more urban shoppers are adopting goods and services that help them save time across categories— gadgets, vehicles, packaged food, outings etc. Of those surveyed, 57% of urban Indians said that they have paid for a product or service that saves them time. “And they do this even if what they’re buying costs more than the alternative or causes them to underuse an existing resource," BCG noted explaining the uptick in demand for services such as UrbanClap or ride-hailing services among others. The need for convenience is far more pronounced among affluent consumers and in metro and tier 1 cities.

Experiences are also driving key purchase decisions among India’s urban population.

A small number of respondents (37%) said they were willingly to trade down on products such as jewellery, mobile phones, and apparel to fund experiences such as travel and entertainment. For many survey participants, part of what they like about experiences is the “positive attention it brings them on social media," the report said.

A small but growing trend according to BCG is also the need to rent, especially for categories such as kitchen appliances, clothes, and furniture.

Interestingly, BCG’s findings also point out that these trends are far more democratic than before which means that consumers across age groups, socio-economic classes,genders, and cities, are adopting these trends in one way or the other.

“Most surprising, however, is that the ten new trends have quickly taken root in almost all Indian cities and across all demographic segments. The behaviors can be found among men and women of all ages, at every income level, and in every size of city," the report said.

And brands have been responding to such shifting consumer habits. “They want new experiences and they want the latest trends," Abhishek Ganguly, managing director, Puma Sports India told Mint. The local arm of the foreign sportswear brand says that it is now launching new collections at some of its stores almost every month because for today’s shoppers want the latest trends. Puma has also launched a new experience store in Bengaluru recently to shore up demand at its stores and create excitement among its core target shoppers.

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