Book Review : We are like that only — By Rama Bijapurkar

As dramatic as a Bollywood movie. Multiple plots being created, comedy and tragedy woven with suspense and romance, and at the end everybody lives happily ever after. The book may not be close to a piece of fiction but “Consumer India” the protagonist is as dynamic a character as one can imagine in an epic fiction. Consumer India is glamorous, interesting, and in the words of the author “Schizophrenic”

Coming straight from one of the most respectable thought leaders in the field of management, this book talks about almost everything one would want to know about the “macro consumer” in India.
In simple words if you want to sell anything in India, you should start by buying this book. Here goes my story on the book;

Once upon a time during the 90s there was a sleeping beauty (India) who was waiting to be awakened by the kiss of a rich and handsome prince (multinationals). Many princes came from across the globe but alas!!!!!!! High hopes and completely belied expectation. The expected thrust in consumption did not happen. The so called desperate to consume, vibrant, virgin Indian Market disappointed most early entrants. Coke, Pepsi, Nike, Kellogs, GE to name a few sunken ships. Then out of nowhere, a self proclaimed success story, screamed from the roof tops: “India is shinning”. India is finally pregnant (with economic possibility). But the question that rest of the world had was; can India deliver a fully matured baby (i.e long term, sustainable, growing market)? Well the skepticisms persist.

If you are a numbers person you might feel that the book is a treat for you .Macroeconomic data from IRS, Hansa research, NSS et all. But according to the author the Indian growth story is like a walk of a drunken man, one step forward, one back, side and again front but it finally reaches the destination! So expect the same intoxication if you dig down too much into the data. The beauty of the book are its softer issues, the emotional connect that it creates between the reader and the Indian consumer. “We are like that only” Deal with it!!!!

“This as well as that“ is next best phrase to describe the Indian consumers besides the title. Indians have always been on both extremes; multimillionaire entrepreneurs to destitute farmers, they worship the blood thirsty goddess Kali as well as the ideal wife goddess Parvati, they eat Vada Pav at the same time feast on Mcdonald’s burgers, they celebrate Karwa Chauth as well the Valentines day. The idiosyncrasies of ‘Young India’, ‘Women India’, ‘Rural India’, and ‘Self Employed India’ as consumers are extremely interesting observations made by the author. These diversities clearly brings out the relevant evergreen principles of management: Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning. Segmenting consumers with respect to their value orientation, purchasing power & creating blockbuster relevance for them are some of the obvious approaches that we all can think and the book doesn’t bring any additional enlightenment to this.

Liberalization has not only revolutionized the Indian market but has also resulted into a major shift in the cultural paradigm of consumers. Over the generations consumption ideologies have evolved from the guilty, unhappy & cautious consumers to a more and more confident & consumption friendly consumers. The information and communication media has opened all the floodgates of information creating countless options in terms of price performance points for consumers & equally intense headache and heartache for the marketer.
However the book defiantly leaves us with perennial questions;

Should the world really bother about this huge bunch of ugly ducklings (Indian consumers)?
Is the strategic complexity required to target the Indian consumer justified?

Or is the way in which we are shaping up we can proudly proclaim that “We are like that only” …..

————– Bookmarker


5 thoughts on “Book Review : We are like that only — By Rama Bijapurkar

  1. Good one Pranky… the portrayal of book as a bollywood movie and the way in which you have captured the strands of Indian consumer are superb…

    But, did the book had to offer something over and above the media hooplah about the great indian consumption story, ya it was as good as reading 5 ET articles at a stretch?

  2. From a consumer researcher point of view this book is a bible for Indian Consumer.So yes very academically oriented , well researched book and not just a compilation of ET articles.
    However it is a very high involvement book, and unless you have a motivation or compulsion in my case (it was part of my training presentation that i had to do )one might not end up completing the book !!!

Leave a Reply