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Jul
04

A weekend filled with – FUN LEARNING……

After long and hectic days and busy schedules at FIIB, we finally got the dates for the summer break, although we had to complete our summer internship during this time.  The period of internship was meant for understanding and getting experienced in the fields that always were the areas of our interest and things finally seemed getting practical and I started becoming confident about my choices with regard to my studies.

Everything seemed perfect but suddenly with some unexpected workload at office, I felt the heat of responsibilities getting to my head. After working for three weeks as an intern at Dominos pizza, I definitely needed a break, may be a short one but yes, I needed one. As a much needed ray of hope and relief, the opportunity to register for the foreign students exchange program that was being organised by our college came my way and I remember signing up for it quite enthusiastically. I started to look forward to something I knew I will enjoy because it was the opportunity to meet new people, exchange ideas with them and know more about their culture and thoughts. Also, I knew that this time it was not only about exchanging thoughts and ideas, it was about exchanging knowledge about our fields with respect to markets in different countries. I was excited to learn how marketing and demand system worked for them and the demand dimensions of the consumers available in their country. The students from University of Arkansas were about to visit us and we were to study Indian market with them and learn about the market in USA.

It was a Saturday, a fine morning and the sun rays woke me up with all the excitement that filled my head the whole night. I got ready but as luck could have it, due to an unforeseen obstacle I got late. The feeling of getting late flushed half my excitement but still somehow I kept my spirits high and reached college as soon as I could. Our teams were already decided, and, I had to work with a team including Monica, from my college and Alex, Mary and Christina from The Walton College of Business (WCoB).

We were given the task of studying the markets in India and help our guests- now our new friends to know about the Indian market and help them research about it. We introduced ourselves informally and spoke to each other freely. Alex, my team mate introduced himself as a market research analyst at ConAgra, the company that has been supplying us Food products for so many years that I don’t even remember since when! We discussed the trends in our country where the frozen foods or quick foods rule and I spoke about the 2minutes popcorn (Act II popcorns) packets that I had become a fan of. I talked about these amazing popcorns that just needed a stove, a pan and a lid to turn into delicious popcorns but ended up surprised when Alex told me that these are not available in USA anymore and the new trend is to have the heat and eat pack that ruled his country now. All he had to do was to place the packet in the microwave oven and heat it and then just pop it in his mouth and relish it! Well, his gesture to tell me about this was so friendly that we decided to take it up as our topic for the day. We decided to research about the consumers in India who found it more convenient to use a pan and lid method instead of the new heat and eat procedure; we wanted to know why wasn’t this new method still popular in my country whereas it was long back coined as the best way to consume food in foreign countries. We decided to compare the two markets (our very own Indian market and the market in USA) and research about the consumer behaviour in the two countries. We later shared this idea with the faculty and they loved it. The encouragement from their end did not only boost our confidence but also gave us a high spirit to get our work started without being affected by the scorching summer heat.

We first divided our market and retail stores into three classes which were

The high end

The medium end

Low end

The high end market and retail stores included Vasant Vihar market and Priya Shopping Complex,

The medium end market and retail stores included Vasant Kunj market and local mom and pop stores,

The low end market and retail stores included Vasant Gaon and Kishangarh market area.

We also included Taj Sats Bakery and retail store in Defence Colony market as a market class that was on the premium end with elite class consumers.

We also picked our products to research about keeping in mind, their availability in both the countries.

 

We started our research with Oreo biscuits. These were launched in Indian market in April, 2011 whereas they have existed in USA market for more than a hundred years now. Also Oreo biscuits have a leading market share in USA unlike India where the market is dominated by other biggies. In the markets, we discovered that Oreo biscuit is demanded by the upper and middle classes in Indian society, therefore, it held a comparatively very small share that also only in high end and medium end markets and retail stores. The most shocking part was that the low end markets and retail stores like Kishangarh did not keep a single unit of the pack as the demand was zero which showed that even after the reduction of quantity and price as low as Rs. 5, the demand didn’t go build up and the biscuit didn’t gain popularity at all amongst the rural areas and their markets. The reason we could make out after long discussions was that the consumer was not ready to accept the change. The biscuits were not as sweet as other biscuits that dominated the Indian market and so their less sweetened and bitter chocolate nature made them less acceptable to the taste that suits the Indian market.

 

Our research on Oreo showed us only the slight picture of the consumers in Indian market as we moved on to our next product which was our favourite Act II popcorns. The popcorns available widely were the regular pressure cooker pop corns irrespective of the market class. The packs available were the Rs. 5 packs and the shopkeepers informed us that the sale of these packs too was not more than 2-3 a month and the shelf life of the product is long so a dozen is what they order once in 7-8 months. This made it very clear to us that these popcorns might be my favourite or may be my friend’s favourite snack but our fellow consumers didn’t really like it. Quantity of demand due to taste did not really matter whether the market class was high or low end or any sort of a retail store, only the pressure cooker type packs were available. The microwave oven type packs were available only at Taj Sats Premium Retail Store which is located in Defence Colony main market, one of the posh areas. This gave us a reality check as our friends told us that these microwave oven packs were available to them in US and the pressure cooker packs existed about 10 years back! It was this moment when we realised it was not just the taste factor that dominated the Indian market, the convenience of usage was again a big factor. The Indian consumer found it easier to use the pan and lid method instead of the microwave method. Also the availability of microwave ovens was comparatively very low in the Indian household items. These are available only in upper and middle class houses of the society and that too used rarely for heating or cooking purposes. This enlightened us of the preference of the consumer in US market that the usage of microwave ovens is more convenient for cooking there, so the products with nature to demand microwave cooking for them would be more readily available in US markets as compared to the Indian markets.

 

By now we started to understand why our faculties appreciated our topic, it was because it was far more wider than we thought. However, we again took a short break and moved on to our next product which was the Danone yogurt. We tried studying its demand but failed to understand that even after being convenient to use and being made according to the Indian taste, why was it not as popular as the other brands yogurts in the Indian market. It was then the different classification of our markets helped us out. The demand for Danone yogurt, was more in the high end markets than in the medium end markets. The product was demanded more in markets like Vasant Vihar and Priya Shopping Complex than in markets like Vasant Kunj retail stores. After some more study we realised that the product was not even heard of in low end markets like Kishangarh because it was comparatively high Priced, that is, the product was available at Rs. 20 for 100gms. This was too high for a consumer of a low end market which reflected the demand for the product was comparatively low in medium end class too due to the availability of the same product with different brand at lesser price. The same product from Amul or Mother Dairy costs around Rs.18 and the Danone sells at Rs.20 which did not really affect the high end market consumer but showed great effect on the medium class market. Infact the demand for the Rs. 18 Amul yogurt was less in the high end market. However, the consumers of medium class market preferred cheaper products. The other factor we saw now was the Price factor.

 

With these findings we were now studying our last product which was indeed an outlet itself, a coffee house, none other than Starbucks, the new addition to our markets. There are about ten outlets of Starbucks in the entire country! This was very shocking for our foreign friends but I was indeed proud that New Delhi had most of its outlets. We studied the consumer behaviour at places like Café Coffee Day and Barista that existed long before Starbucks. The consumers that came to Starbucks were high end consumers, or the premium class visitors. This was due to the high price of the coffee and munchies over there, as compared to the same products available at cheaper prices in outlets like Café Coffee Day and Barista. The Starbucks was not only expensive for the middle class or lower class but also the taste did not really go well along the Indian taste buds. The taste was bitter and less creamy as compared to the coffee the Indian buds preferred. This answered the reason why wasn’t Starbucks as popular as Café Coffee Day or Barista- it was the Prices of the Indian market and the taste of the Indian consumer.

 

With this came the end of our research for the day where I could easily make out the difference between the US Market and Indian Market. My conclusion says that the Indians are not flexible with their taste buds and also do not adapt to products and brands easily due to lack of acceptance of changes. However, the youth is running on the footprints of the western culture that have changed themselves according to the Indian market! Saturday seemed like a long day but believe me it was an actual break from the everyday schedule as what I did was new. The high spirits and excitement helped me to learn a lot about our markets and consumers of our country. It became a knowledgeable holiday indeed and I guess I made really good friends with Alex who promised me some free stock of my favourite popcorns on his next visit!

 

Ill be soon back to my mundane routine of internships, but I am sure the knowledge and the experience I gathered over this weekend will always be handy to me.

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