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Consumer behaviour: Men still major decision-makers

M D Riti in Bangalore | May 02, 2003 15:24 IST

In India, men continue to dominate.

Even today, only 16 per cent of Indian professionals are women. Therefore, consumer decision-making in all areas -- ranging from what cars to buy to what clothes manufacturers to patronize -- is dictated by men when it comes to the most upscale market segment in India.

'Horizon 2003', a study by BBC World, BBC's 24-hour international news and information channel, using the latest census as a base, gives some startling insights into the attitudes and activities of India's leading consumers and decision makers.

The research, conducted by market research agency NFO-MBL across six top metros and profiling 380,000 people, will greatly help media planners, agencies and advertisers to understand this particular horizon professional.

Life insurance was found to be the biggest financial investment for most Indians, followed by the stock markets.

Washing machines were the most desirable consumer durable products, followed by cars and desktop computers.

Forty-two per cent of the respondents owned a mobile phone, of which 52 per cent had a Nokia, and 42 per cent of these subscribed to AirTel cellular service.

For example, more than half of the people surveyed (56 per cent) felt that it was all right to give or take bribes to get their work done. A slightly smaller number (40 per cent) thought it perfectly acceptable 'to make money through underhand means/deals.'

Who decides

SelfSpouse Joint Family Elders Children
Buying a house25%5.8%20.8%30.1%14%0.4%
Child's marriage7.7%5.9%21.8%18.7%11.5%4%
Own marriage20.4%2.5%6.2%22.4%29.7%0.9%
Child's education15.1%6.6%34%12.5%5.6%4.6%
Taking a loan31.4%5%24.3%18.1%9.2%0.6%
Fixing monthly budget24.2%10.3%33.3%18.5%11.2%0.6%
Buying entertainment durables, like TVs21.4%8.2%33.4%26.7%7.4%1.6%
Buying durables like washing machines19.3%10.7%33.3%26.2%8.2%1%
Deciding on holiday destinations20.6%6.1%28.4%31.8%4.5%5.6%

"It is very difficult to survey this group by using traditional methods," says Jeremy Nye, BBC World's head of research, in the study. "However, it is important to know the tastes of these professionals who will be shaping India's destiny."

Adds Dezma De Melo, research manager, BBC World: "All the individuals in this class are rather alike. They have similar opinions, attitudes and beliefs."

The study showed the emergence of certain definite trends in the area of just who decides what. For example, the person in question seemed to play a major role in deciding the monthly budget or whether to take a loan, but when it came to deciding whom he should marry, it was still the older people in the family who played a key role.

Both, the husband and the wife jointly decided on issues like the marriage of progeny. In a majority of cases, the whole family got together to decide what kind of house to buy where to go for a holiday.

Alcohol consumption habits indicated that 25 per cent drank alcohol, of which 72 per cent were beer drinkers. Most executives drank at bars and pubs, while self-employed professionals drank at friends' homes. Businessmen preferred parties to have a drink or two at.

The research has an entire section focusing on travellers as a separate target audience. This is the first time that anyone has studied consumer behaviour in this area in such depth.

The study tries to understand the travelling habits -- such as the mode of transport, kind of holidays, choice of place and media consumption while travelling -- which will be different from normal household viewership.

The survey sets forth several interesting findings in this area. Sixty per cent people take a holiday in India, while 5 per cent take a holiday abroad. Eighteen per cent travel on business within India, while 8 per cent travel on business abroad at least once in a year.

As for international holidays taken in the last one year, people from Mumbai (30 per cent), Bangalore (35 per cent) and Hyderabad (26 per cent) preferred travelling to the United States, while 35 per cent from Kolkata and 41 per cent from Chennai travelled to Singapore.

A quarter of the respondents from Delhi went to Nepal for a holiday.

Among domestic business travellers, Jet Airways (60 per cent) is the preferred airline, followed by India Airlines (53 per cent) and Sahara Airlines (20 per cent). For domestic leisure travel, Jet Airways and Indian Airlines enjoy an equal share.

Among international leisure destinations, Singapore is the favourite with 23 per cent respondents, followed by 22 per cent opting to visit the US. International business travellers prefer the US (24 per cent) followed by Singapore (23 per cent) and the United Kingdom (13 per cent).

Interestingly, people in the six metros surveyed seemed to show entirely different tastes in watching television. The average number of channels watched was five and an average of 100 minutes of television is watched a day, with 30 minutes devoted to news.

News and Sports are the most preferred programme genres, followed by general entertainment. However, 29 per cent of the respondents in Delhi preferred News channels, while only 14 per cent of those surveyed in Bangalore preferred News. Bangaloreans prefer watching Sports with a high of 34 per cent.

"We look forward to Horizon 2003 being a tool for advertisers and planners to get a better understanding of this upscale, influential audience. We have been able to offer better solutions on the channel to advertisers based on the learning of this upmarket audience," Seema Mohapatra, head of advertising sales for BBC World, says.

The survey also found that 95 per cent of the professionals were proud to be Indians, while 75 per cent believed risks are worth taking.

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Sub: query about women\'s consumption

am anthropologist based in Paris looking at the influence of traditional cultural attitudes on the subcontinent on buying products that help housework, such as vacuum ...

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