Book Review | We are like that only

‘We are like that only’ is an indispensable proposition for those who seek to decipher the Indian consumption riddle.

Positioning Guru, Jack Trout in his bestseller ‘Differentiate or Die’ once called India a land of non-standard marketing. It is hardly a disputable proposition. India truly is unique in ways more than one.

There is a veritable evidence available on the growth strategies of multinational firms when they entered India.

Most multinationals had predisposed marketing agendas and far-fetched projections. They were baffled by the existing heterogeneous structures within structures. Consequently, many firms were forced to spin their marketing strategies on the head.

Rama pulls out all stops in her enlightening book. Her insights about Indian market’s demand structures and her informed assumptions about how to predict changes in consumer India are as informative as they are intellectually satisfying.

‘We are like that only’ starts with a foreword from late C.K. Prahlad who argues that there is no single India. and GDP per capita is not a good measure of the capacity to consume. Rama extensively builds upon these arguments throughout the book.

She highlights that consumption patterns in India should not be equated with those in other emerging markets. Nor should they be compared with developed markets in their infancy days.

The reason is that demand structures in India are quite different from any other country. India is a country where millions of people consume a little bit of each and that little bit adds up to a lot.

She has a point to make to those pundits who are bandying around the Indian consumption take-off theory. MNCs don’t need to wait for the tipping point in magical per capita number, says the author.

The consumption in India has already taken off at the lower income levels. For example, the success of sachets in the shampoo market and how sales of millions of sachets trump the sales of shampoo bottles.

It’s the marketers who need to realign their thought-processes if they are to sustain their success in Indian consumer market.

Rama makes impressive arguments about three consumer segments. She opines that premium, popular and discount segments are equal in value.

She draws upon her knowledge of Demographics, psychographics, and cultural science to talk about the topic of heterogeneity in Indian consumer market.

Rama acknowledges the shift of society’s stance towards consumerism. She mentions in a later chapter that the most important cultural shift has been the emergence of discontentment with the incorrectness of having to continue with whatever little you have.

Her mantra to succeed in the Indian market is pretty simple –

  • Don’t let the financial expectations based on macro GDP numbers bog you down
  • Have a plan which ‘India’ do you want to target, remember the heterogeneity
  • Innovate for those at the BOP (bottom of the pyramid).

Companies like Xiaomi have run way ahead of their counterparts. Their ability to design phones with optimal performance and low price fits the demand of BOP segment.

The size of BOP segment itself is approximately 650 million…you can work out the rest of Maths.

Author’s finesse in using numbers and charts shines through the book. She ensures that data only facilitate the arguments and not make the book a laborious read.

It’s one of those books that you would love to read till finish. An important book for B-School freshers who wish to pursue careers in marketing or market research. Such business books can help instill the initial framework on which to build upon later in the career.

My verdict: Recommended reading.

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