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April 29, 2011

The 'what's Doordarshan?' Generation

Business Standard has an interview with Dheeraj Sinha, regional planning director, Bates 141 and author of Consumer India: Inside the Indian Mind and Wallet. In his book, Sinha puts Indian consumers into three segments: partition generation, transition generation and no-strings generation, and gives an account of what marketers and advertisers need to keep in mind to draw the attention of each of these consumer segments.

Extract from the interview:
The Indian opportunity today has three distinct segments with their own worldviews and consumption desires. The first segment is that of people who were born in the times of partition/independence of India. This is the partition generation, who are in the age band of 45-65 years. While the partition generation is held back by tradition, they are not holding back when it comes to consumption. The partition generation consumes categories rather than brands. But many of today’s lifestyle categories are new for them. Thus, what they want is simply a membership in the category rather than a choice of brands. Access brands that offer access to certain categories with high value but a plain imagery; so, do a good job of selling functionality to this generation.

The second segment is the transition generation, who are in the age group of 25-44. They were born during the times of India’s economic liberalisation. They have one foot in the pre-liberalisation era and another in the post-liberalisation era. The transition generation is learning to let go. Letting go means they are increasingly willing to make discretionary expenditures. This is the most targeted age range for brands across product categories. The transition generation is relishing the joys of consumption because it’s supported by rising household income. The marketer can use credit/debit to sell anything to the transition generation, that ties in a little bit of goodness with a little of indulgence. For instance, pediatric medicines with chocolate flavour, or something similar would work well for this generation.

The third segment is the no-strings generation (age group: 15-24), those who are born post liberalisation. Unlike the partition generation, which seeks stability in everything, from jobs to relationships to brands, the no-strings generation thrives on discontinuity and finds stability boring. For this segment, ‘bad is the new good’. The idea of morality for this generation is shifting. What’s good or bad is being determined not by the society, but by what works for them personally. In these times of blurring boundaries, one of the biggest challenges for brands is to realise that the no-strings generation will not readily identify with a spokesperson whitewashed with goodness. However, a sense of optimism without limits certainly means that this is a generation that spends more easily than, say, the partition generation. Brands would do better by factoring in this segment’s need for many and varied experiences.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports. Email the author at