What Ticks for Indian Consumers/ Men – Prema Sagar and Arvind Sharma

16 Oct,2014

Continuing with our extracts from the second edition of the MxMIndia Annual, we present contributions by Prema Sagar and Arvind Sharma.


The Indian male consumer is well-rounded


By Prema Sagar


As in the rest of the world, in India too, the male consumer is often represented as a two-dimensional stick figure, and again like the rest of the world, the reality is very different. The Indian male consumer is multilayered and doing his best to cope with a rapidly changing world. Increasingly, men are being asked to step up and be more aware of their responsibilities as one half of the population. The ‘metrosexual’ male has to not only be the bread-winner but often compete with his partner and also be the ‘good’ husband, father, brother figure and ‘look good’ and ‘feel good’ all at the same time.


In the end it seems to come down to these two basic insights. Marketing to men has to stimulate a reaction that makes them think that what’s on offer will make them either ‘look good’ or ‘feel good’ and this is no different than say marketing to women. What is different, however, is the context, language, tonality and imagery that appeals to a man. Indian men are not a homogenous group— there are many sub-segments.


The most obvious being the rural-urban divide and the various age groups that marketers classically divide their target audience segmentation into. This needs to be taken into consideration by brands. For instance, the kind of television show that will interest a 20-year-old urban male will be different from what appeals to a 40-year-old rural male. Obviously, each brand has to find its own niche in this complex mind of the Indian man, but a brand that takes these complexities into cognizance enjoys a better resonance with the consumer base today.


From a pheasant to a peacock


By Arvind Sharma


Twenty years ago, men tried hard to look alike – like ordinary pheasants. One discovered a man’s worth only when a friend told you in whispers, ‘He is Kapoor of Kapoor Reality’. An average Indian man used to say, ‘I work for my wife and children and extended family. Personally, all I need is daal roti every evening (perhaps with a drink?). How much money does one need for that!’ No longer. In the last seven years or so, a number of trends have converged to transform consumption patterns among men.


Firstly, the growing importance of service economy has made presenting oneself in a stand out manner a professional necessity. Tech has been a huge driver of innovation across all sections of the population. At a more sociocultural level, increasing proportion of men want to find the woman of their dreams on their own- rather than have their moms arrange one. All in all, from an ascetic culture, we have moved to a culture of conspicuous consumption.


You’re what you own and what you consume. Marry these trends with the economic affluence that the past decade has spawned and together they have transformed men’s consumption landscape. They have made many a men’s categories explode. Men’s grooming is one of fastest growing segments in personal care. This includes deodorants as a category which every FMCG player wants to enter. And sub-categories within established categories like men’s fairness creams and hair care.



Public relations gives a brand the space to address this multidimensional view. It also gives the brand the breadth of formats to engage with the Indian male consumer at different levels. There are men-oriented platforms, like men’s magazines and newspaper supplements, which give brands a forum to engage with men in a more focused way. With lifestyle taking centre-stage in the Indian male consumer’s consciousness, he is also looking at new product categories like grooming.


Brands need to look beyond the traditional mediums, and create conversations on new platforms, like digital and mobile. For any brand to be successful, messaging has to be on-target. The Indian male’s narrative is evolving and PR helps build that messaging for brands. In the automobile sector, for instance, the Indian male, which is the main TG, the messaging isn’t just for macho pride, but of pushing boundaries, projecting safe, responsible behaviour, an enterprising streak and more. Through the potent combination of messaging, storytelling, formats and reach, PR can help brands not just connect with the Indian male consumer, but even drive his preferences.


Branded apparels provide assurance of contemporary fashionableness and they are fast replacing the himself-not-so-well-groomed local tailor. Ready-made garments as a category is thriving. Of course, a motorcycle or a car is no longer a means of transportation. It is a signifier of a family’s success and most importantly of a man’s status. Everybody has a music system the question is how advanced is yours. Everybody has a colour TV. Now it is about HD TV’s and smart TV’s that are connected to home WiFi. A man’s stature is defined by exactly what kind of a smartphone he carries.


Sub-Rs. 500 IMFL is something you drink if you are not well off. It is the age of knowing your wine and your single malt. Luxury brands are not just about women’s bags. Tag Heur is the watch to own among a section to urban males. The phenomena may be very niche for the moment but the trend is growing. Decked with all his special, premium and luxury brands, the Indian male is increasingly like a peacock.



Tomorrow: Friday, October 17: Women- Nikhil Rangnekar and Madhukar Sabnavis


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