Young Track by Samyak Chakrabarty | Why SEC data doesn’t reflect youth behaviour effectively

10 Oct,2012

Samyak Chakrabarty

What’s a 23-year-old writing a column on a site where the average age of columnists is… ? Ok, ok, we won’t reveal that number, but like it or not the youth constitute a majority of India’s population. Since the last few years, young Samyak Chakrabarty has been in and around media events and offices with his vision of how the youth can be targeted.


In this period, he has organized a few conferences, participated in several of them in India and abroad, and works as Chief Youth Marketer with the DDB Mudra group. He’s organized a TedX youth conference in Mumbai, was invited to meet Hillary Clinton when she visited India and has co-authored a book ‘Generation Einstein 3.0 – India version’.


Samyak’s column will appear on Wednesdays and as the title suggests, it will track the young – specifically keeping in mind the advertising, media and marketing fraternity. The column started last week, and we are happy to present the second in the series  – Ed


Very recently I read the latest India SEC report which really made me think: does any of this make sense when I look at youth consumption and purchase behaviour? After critically observing patterns of youngsters from varied backgrounds, I realized that at many points the standard classifications fail to justify much of the spending in this age group (16 to 28, urban, male and female) since the larger money outflow is coming from the most unexpected lot. Thinking aloud, here are three reasons why I think so:


1. Parents’ income does not always necessarily trickle to the kids

I compared the lifestyle and backgrounds of two 17-year-old males studying in the same college in South Mumbai. Paras’s father, a wealthy businessman had an annual income of Rs 75 lakh and lived in a plush apartment on Marine Drive. Whereas Amit lived in Bandra and his father earned about Rs 18 lakh a year working as a senior accountant in an MNC. Obviously, it would seem that Paras would fall under SEC A+ and Amit in SEC B. But, when I compared both their possessions (gadgets, variety of clothes and smartphone apps) and expenditures (nightclubs, restaurants and outings with the GF) – Amit’s life seemed more interesting since he had the latest iPhone, went to the best of bars and all that. Paras on the other hand only got a pocket allowance of Rs 1000 a week and travelled by local trains all that time, even though he had two luxury sedans in the garage. Typically, brands would target him vs Amit since Paras’s background made him a potential spender on premium products. The truth is otherwise, only because Amit’s dad wanted to give his son all that he could never have in his youth as compared to Paras’ dad who wanted his son to get everything the hard way. This is an everyday occurrence in many homes, but realities like these which don’t reflect in algorithms and statistical formulae can prove some very expensive brand targeting decisions wrong.


2. Income levels fluctuate until 24

A number of college students, in metro towns especially, are doing a number of entrepreneurial activities as one-offs (such as events, paid blogging, part-time internships etc) which for a certain period of time give them access to a lot of money. So let’s assume, in the summer break some students occupy themselves with a lucrative activity. During that period, the profit could enable them to buy pretty much any gadget, meal, excursion or extravagance that the twins in Antilla could (apart from the private jets and Maybachs ofcourse). But then due to zero knowledge about the virtues of saving up at this age, the money is over as quick as it came and there is no scope for continuing their buying spree. Hence marketing to this set could prove to be a loss-making investment. Through this example, which of course is not an everyday one, I am trying to indicate that the personal income of college students is never sustainable, hence a lot of their buying decisions are more on impulse than well thought out.


3. Even with a lower income of first jobbers, there is more willingness to spend

Blame the credit card for this, but many first jobbers tend to spend more than what they actually earn. This is very often seen when it comes to call centre employees or in our own advertising industry, where based on income levels the ability to buy certain products seems bleak but they always end up having it all – like a car, smartphone, Europe trips to name a few. Hence in such a case, brands while marketing should analyze their potential client base at the convergence of mindset and the income level to be able to (as much as possible) accurately identify them.


In my opinion, the most practical method would be to classify youngsters based on “Mindsets” rather than SEC alone, since that way one could get more of an insight into factors which will trigger purchase and a better understanding of the type/brand of products they would be most likely to buy. It is also important to consider that the time difference between wanting something and acquiring it has reduced drastically for the enterprising young born post-1990, and this has nothing to do with present income since they find many innovative ways of working smart to make that quick buck.


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3 responses to “Young Track by Samyak Chakrabarty | Why SEC data doesn’t reflect youth behaviour effectively”

  1. Neeraj Puri says:

    I think it is a very interesting observation and it is very well elaborated..pretty much on track…thought provoking and a challenge for the marketeers, because planning on stats alone would not suffice….as the TG that the numbers will throw up is not there at all……and the dynamics of youth who become as SEC A in summers and some other SEC in exam time is the most challenging task….well written..

  2. Samyak says:

    The sample set is not 2 people, this just a comparison pf 2 diverse youngsters

  3. rojesh eswaram says:

    How can your sample set be 2 people? That is beyond silly, its stupid