What Ticks for Indian Consumers: Ashish Bhasin and Rana Barua

12 Aug,2014

Continuing with our extracts from the second edition of the MxMIndia Annual, we present contributions by Rana Barua and Ashish Bhasin.



With men, keep it very simple The evolution of the Indian male in the last decade


By Rana Barua


Women in India have always been the ones that love to shop. No wonder we see a lot of advertising geared towards women.


Men were, a few years back, considered to be anti-shopping in a sense that they would not like to spend too much time shopping, but hang out with friends or spend extra hours at workplace. But today, things have changed and how. Men have become an important element in the marketer’s gameplan.


Today, India’s male consumer has become more fashionable, he is more brand conscious, he wants to look good and wants to leave a mark wherever he goes – in terms of his personality and appearance. Products like Fair & Lovely for Men realized this trend early enough and cashed in on the opportunity. From thereon, what we have seen is an influx of advertisements targeting the Indian men consumers. Old Spice is another example that comes to mind.



With men, keep it very simple The evolution of the Indian male in the last decade


By Ashish Bhasin


It’s very easy, when talking about the evolution of the Indian male, to fall into the trap of stereotyping. Additionally, in a country as large and diverse as ours, there is no likely single trend. In fact, many trends are contradictory and often diametrically opposite, if you consider the rural versus urban differences or the North vs. South divide. The only common truth will be, whichever way you look at it, the Indian male has evolved rapidly over the last decade. And the advertising and marketing reflects that.


The Indian male is much more comfortable with his so called ‘feminine’ side today, than he was a decade ago. A TV commercial showing a bridegroom take the bride’s surname would have been unimaginable 10 years ago. While HUL knew it for a fact that Fair & Lovely had a significant male usership even then, nobody could have imagined the number of male grooming products that are available in the market today, perhaps spurred by Fair & Handsome trying to bring the covert Fair & Lovely users above board and making them comfortable with the fact that men can overtly use ‘Cosmetic’ products.



Not only are men spending more time shopping at malls and multiplexes, quite interestingly they are also spending a lot of time researching on the internet about brands, products and services of their interest.


Marketers should rise to the fact that India’s male consumers have evolved and their buying behavior has seen a massive change from what it was a few years ago. And digital media has played a significant role in men wanting to know more about brands in the marketplace… they want to know the latest features and specifications before taking a purchase decision. They would typically shortlist four to five brands post their research before finalising on one or two products/ brands.


This buying behavior is strikingly different from women who prefer to rely more on looks and instincts. Men are more rational and most of their buying decisions are rational decisions more than anything else.


If one looks at the financial services category, even today, most decisions related to investments are made by the male member in the family, because he has taken upon himself to secure the family’s future. Yes, women have increasingly come to the fore in sharing the responsibility equally. But, men are very much calling the shots in social and financials aspects of the family with women being strong influencers.


How can one effectively engage with this TG? I think the best way to do is by keeping it very, very simple. Men do not like to complicate things. Simpler the communication, the better it is for brands and marketing managers.



In fact, sometimes when you hear the so called ‘Metrosexual’ males discuss their parlour trips for manicure & facials, one wonders if the pendulum is swinging too far, too soon. Equally, every once in a while you have a shocking and distressing reminder that actually male thinking has regressed and is repressed even more than before, when you see incidents like the Nirbhaya rape case or hear of the Khap Panchayats taking blatantly anti-women stances. These are stark reminders that tell us in many ways how little the Indian male has evolved, in some parts of the country. Further statistical evidence, which shows a regression rather than an evolution, is available, after every census when the gender ratios are revealed.


The beauty of today’s male in India is that there is a comfortable co-existence of ubermetrosexuals, perhaps caricatured by Ritesh Desmukh, and the retro-sexuals, still caricatured best by Dharmendra.


When looking at anything in a diverse country like ours, it is not uncommon to find paradoxes. Sometimes they manifest in social attitudes and behavior. Sometimes they rear an ugly head through distressing incidents but what remains a fact is that the Indian male is rapidly evolving. In many ways, for the better. It may not be uniform.


It may have variations based on socio-economic classes or geographies. However, the Indian male a decade hence, thanks to increasing levels of education, would be more comfortable with himself, with less need to constantly show machismo, than the male of today. I just hope it doesn’t go too far, too soon because I am yet to come to terms with males booking their facial appointments!.



Tomorrow: Women – Vinay Bhatia and Mitrajit Bhattacharya


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