First Published 2012. Updated Sept 2015
By Swatee Jog
Many brands today position themselves high on the aspirational quotient. A branded watch, handbag, shoes, soft drink, mobile, car…the list is expansive. Tier II India is today where America was in the 80s – eager to be seen with the most happening brands in the world. No wonder then that cities, including Belagavi, have seen an influx of branded showrooms with mostly the youth and the deep-pocketed guys frequenting these showrooms and outlets.
Between 2009-10 and 2011-12, additional spending in rural India was `3.75 trillion, significantly higher than the `2.99 trillion in urban parts of the country, according to the report Emerging Consumer Demand: Rise of the Small Town Indian, released on last week by Neilson. Belagavi of today, is a classic example of this phenomenon. As much as we try to fit into the Big city bracket, we cannot deny that our’s is a Tier II city, vibrant, developing, but not yet developed. But that has not dampened the spirits of the people of Belagavi who shop on par with the metro denizens. A cursory calculation of the branded outlets in Belagavi revels names such as Global Desi, Biba, SOCH, FabIndia, VIP Lounge, US Pizza, Frisson, Levi’s, Peter England, Baskin Robbins, Seven East, G, Mega Mart, Reliance Footprint, L’Oreal Professionals, McDonalds, KFC, Subway, Dominos etc. Although we still yearn for a Pizza Hut/Burger King, Barista the above list is impressive enough, considering we thronged to Pune/ Bangalore/ Mumbai to have a dekko of the branded stuff. If you have visited Big Bazaar during the Independence Week sale, you too probably have tales of shopping for an hour and then queuing up for another hour at the billing counters! The company saw a whopping footfall of 8.1 million across the country with 1500 tons of detergent sold. People were seen frenetically stocking up on Rice, Sugar, soaps, noodles, plastic containers, oil, washing powders, big boxes of chocolates and stuff. It is in line with the urban trend of getting satisfaction out of savings from buying big packs. For the next 3 months atleast, dining tables in many Belagavi kitchens are going to welcome strange brands! I rarely saw customers with the ubiquitous red baskets at Big Bazaar with most of them pushing their goods-laden trolleys, many times with a kid or two perched upon it like cherries!
One wonders about the sudden surge in disposable income of the tier-II cities. Products like wet-wipes, face wash, hand and body lotions, air fresheners, diapers, cheese spread were seen in the trolleys jostling for space with staples. The youth egged each other to try out various products including perfumes, watches, shaving creams, etc. An irritating aspect of shopping in big stores in Belagavi is that they don’t allow you to try out deos, neither do they stock testers! But Belagavi people make no bones about going ahead and splashing out, much to the dismay of the staff. It’s a known fact that families behave better than the youth at organized retail outlets and Belagavi is no exception. The sale at readymade outlets saw a huge crowd of youngsters stocking on the clothes that would last them a few months atleast. Many stores encouraged you to purchase upto a higher limit just so that you could avail of certain discounts. Many fall prey to these tactics.
Even if Belagavi remains devoid of any major industries and political apathy tries to push it down, the people of Belagavi will not lie down. They have risen, Neilson….and arrived. The world’s corporates have taken note. That’s reason enough to smile!