Snapshot of Indian culture

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Steve Portigal’s post today sparked a lot of thought. I’ll come back to address the questions he raises on his post, but before that I’d like to highlight something he links to. Dina Mehta has recently posted an enlightening and informative series of posts on the cultural differences in India, particularly as they relate to businesses interested in entering the market.

First, she covers the culture of business, service & consumption, a very insightful look at some of the unconscious ways we Indians look at business. I find that I cannot disagree with her points and have only one thing to add would be to her section on the culture of consumption. Her point is,

Critical mass is important – Indians as customers tend
to be followers by nature – there is comfort in buying products that
are tried and tested, and friends and family know.

My experience through the advertising and marketing field, particularly in the heydays of ‘liberalization’ when the global brands were entering the Indian market, is that Indians are particularly brand conscious. This has been brought up by Pavan Kr Varma in his book, Being Indian, as well. The roots of this consciousness are, he says, the hierarchical nature of Indian society, and the status consciousness that is a part of that hierarchy. So brands in effect are an indicator of your social standing, and don’t just refer to consumer brands, but even, where you live, where you went to school, whom you work for etc etc.

Dina then goes on to address Attitude towards rules and regulations, which I would sum up in one word, jugaad. And finally, her last post is on Value for money equations. Well worth a read, all of them.

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