What if you discovered that there were a large number of people who were able and willing to buy your product, but you just weren't reaching them because they were lost in the crowd? If I were you, I'd find the nearest wall and bang my head against it several times. Then, after the pain subsided, I'd pick up a flashlight and go out and hunt them down.
Who are they? They are the hidden consumers, lumped together by conventional analysis within a much broader group. But that has just diluted their potential spending power and value. BBC World, in its forthcoming Global Indian Survey, calls them 'globizens' - global citizens.
What's fascinating, from a marketer's point of view, at least, is that the survey identifies a complete subgroup of consumers who think and act differently from those within the same socio-economic categories. The survey results are to be announced by BBC World soon, but here's an exclusive sneak preview.
Right under your noses
According to the Global Indian Survey, a global Indian is someone whose attitude and behaviour are international. Such a person - this category comprises 16 per cent of the survey universe of 8 million people - is a 'Globizen', in contrast to people whose attitude or behaviour are less strongly international, the 'Globehave' and 'Globatude'.
'Locazens' - consumers with weak international attitude and behaviour - are a significant proportion: they make up 35 per cent of the universe. But they are still overshadowed by the Globatudes, who are 37 per cent of the total. Implicit in this classification is the belief that people will migrate across the matrix so that the tribe of Globizens increases substantially.
So, what's a Globizen like? He's most likely to be an affluent, upperclass male. While 56 per cent of all those surveyed were male, 66 per cent fit the Globizen tag, and half were from the top socio-economic category (SEC A1), although only 38 per cent of the total belonged there.
Obviously, a Globizen has international attitudes and behaviour, but he's also likely to be a person whose opinion counts: 21 per cent of Globizens are likely to have acted as spokesmen for their organisations; addressed a professional conference as an official speaker; worked in a team to evaluate new investments; or even published articles, papers or books.
Globizens share the rest of the world's optimism about India, its economic prosperity and its role in international affairs - in stark contrast to Locazens who despair of almost everything Indian.
Globizens are also - marketers, take note - high net worth consumers (of domestic as well as international products) and heavy Internet users. And they have a green streak, willing to shell out a little extra if they think a product will not harm the environment.
Shine your flashlight on Mumbai and surprise - Hyderabad, and you'll come across more Globizens than in other metros. Over 35 per cent of Globizens are concentrated in Mumbai, while another 20 per cent can be found in Hyderbad; 16 per cent in Delhi.
Bangalore and Chennai - from where millions of software engineers have migrated to Silicon Valley, and where almost as many have returned - aren't home to too many Globizens: just 8 and 9 per cent, on par with Kolkata.
Ahmedabad and Pune trail, with just 3 and 2 per cent of the population qualifying for a Globizen tag. But that's not discouraging: on the contrary, it's evidence that people even in the smaller metros are being affected by international events and trends. Some day soon, 'global' village may stop being a catchphrase and instead become reality.
Have money, will spend
Globizens may be small in size, but they pack a mean punch. Not only do they themselves buy greater quantities of expensive products than Locazens, they also influence the purchasing decisions of others.
Remember what we said about Globizens being influencers and decisions makers? Well, it turns out that more than half of them are consulted by people before buying new things. For a marketer, this could be tricky.
Get your strategy and communication right, and Globizens will pay you back several-fold: not only will they buy and spend more, they'll urge others to do the same. But one error in judgement could mean entire communities of consumers turning their backs on you - word-of-mouth is a powerful tool, and Globizens won't hesitate in using it.
But there are ways to get on their good side. Globizens are sticklers for quality and they believe easy availability of international products has gone a long way in improving quality in India.
More than 70 per cent are convinced that both choice and quality are a lot better now than a few years earlier - and yes, brands do matter. Given the choice, 62 per cent would opt for an international branded computer rather than a local, assembled machine. You know what to do now: emphasise how your product is miles ahead of its rivals, and if you have a multinational pedigree, so much the better.
It would also help to be adventurous in reaching out to Globizens: they're early adapters of new technology and new media: 63 per cent of Globizens access the Internet, compared to 75 per cent of Locazens who don't. And Globizens are almost thrice as likely to own PDAs and palmtop computers, and twice as likely to own digital cameras, compared to the others.
That's not nearly enough. When it comes to big-ticket purchases, Globizens are ripe for the plucking. An overwhelming 95 per cent of the group believes that a personal computer at home is a necessity - but just 47 per cent do own a PC. Granted, that's 1.4 times better than the score for the survey universe but... computer manufacturers, what are you waiting for?
It's a similar story when it comes to cars. More Globizens have cars (31 per cent, compared to 25 per cent for the rest), but even more plan to buy a car soon (22 per cent, compared to 13 for the universe).
And homes. More than 28 per cent of all those surveyed plan to buy a house in the next 12 months. But while barely a quarter of Locazens will invest in real estate, property will be a significant investment for more than a third of the Globizens.
Globizens are also more likely to dig deeper into their pockets than Locazens, Globehaves and Globatudes. On average, Globizens are willing to spend about Rs 622,000 on their car, Rs 100,000 more than Locazens who allow for around Rs 509,000 for a new set of wheels.
|What are you willing to spend?
Average Budget (Rs)
Average Budget (Rs)
|Source: Global Indian 2005, among those intending to buy
Locazens lag behind on other spend budgets, too, whether it's for a computer, air-conditioner, television, refrigerator, or washing machine, microwave and mobile.
Of course, it's not only about spending. Globizens are as thrifty as they are extravagant: more than a quarter save over 20 per cent of their family income every year (among those who make the investment decisions). Compare that with 12 per cent for Locazens and close to 18 per cent for the universe surveyed.
Mutual funds are the preferred investment option, with over 22 per cent of Globizens having put money there in the past one year. Land and property is also popular (remember the number of Globizens planning to buy homes?), followed by shares. Surprisingly, Locazens, too, prefer investing in the same three options, although their investor base is much smaller.
There's no place like home
Finally, here's something you ought to know about Globizens. They appreciate international quality, believe international branded goods are superior and are eager to know what's happening around the globe - but they're quite happy in their little corner of the world.
You won't find too many Globizens wishing they lived elsewhere: they believe the standard of living in Indian metros is comparable to other big cities across the world and an astounding 71 per cent even believe this is the best place to work.
Of course, there's a regional skew in these numbers. Bangalore's Globizens are the most positive about the standard of living in big Indian cities, while Hyderabad and Kolkata show the most thumbs down.
Still, Hyderabad is very upbeat when it comes to working in India, while Delhi and Mumbai lead the nay-sayers. Could traffic, pollution and stress levels in these cities have something to do with those replies?
Quickbite: Why here, why now
The BBC World Global Indian Survey is the channel's largest audience research project to date, offering insights into the demographics and psychographics of "global Indians". Phase one was launched in August 2005 and focused on qualitative interviews to build detailed profiles of global Indians.
This is phase two, which attempts to quantify the population and understand its media and consumption patterns. The genesis of the survey lies in the fact that conventional analyses of consumption and income patterns tell only half the story.
At present, there is no survey available of up-market consumers and their habits; while MRUC's Platinum and NRS's Nupscale are product-related studies, on the other hand, TGI is too focused on SECs.
Instead, the BBC World survey uses SEC as its take-off point and reclassifies people as four levels of global Indians, based on their attitudes and behaviour, with respect to international media, products and trends.
The survey universe of 8 million people was researched through in-depth interviews with more than 6,000 individuals in the top eight metros. All these people belonged to SECs A and B, and were between 18 and 54 years old. More than 200 pilot studies were conducted in Delhi and Mumbai before the actual interviews began.
Seven attitude and nine behaviour styles across four themes each were identified. The attitudes included "you believe if you do not follow what is happening internationally in your field, you will lag behind" and "to benchmark yourself, professionally or personally, you would look at the best in the world".Behavioural attributes included "emailed or phoned a colleague (family member) overseas in the last 30 days", "watched a sport in which no Indian sportsperson participated, in the last 30 days" and "travelled abroad in the last two years". Interviewees' responses were mapped on a matrix, which helped classify them as Locazen, Globatude, Globehave and Globizen.