July 06, 2007

Parting Shot

The Telegraph, 06.07.2007

S.L. Rao has completely missed the ground reality in “Triumph of Choice” (July 2) in which he brazenly crowns the consumer to be the supreme factor in Indian economy. A visit to a multiplex in the city would prove him wrong. Here, an average movie ticket costs Rs 150 while a small box of popcorn can set you back by Rs 70. A similar experience in the UK is cheaper. Given that the ratio of average income of a Brit to an Indian is about 45:1, it can easily be noted where the value for money lies. Moreover, the widespread hankering for everything Western has led to undeserved elevation of non-exclusive brands to an elite status in India. This has more to do with consumer mentalities and their blind emulation of the West than with squeezed profit margins of the manufacturers and retailers. A typical anomaly is that in the West, local stores cannot offer economies of scale whereas supermarkets can. However, in India the corner shop offers a better deal on a wide array of products vis-à-vis the supermarket. Thus, to suggest that the Indian consumer has real choices in a marketplace that offers him value for money is nothing but fallacious.

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