Retail Renaissance: Writer Shobha De

Retail Renaissance:

Writer Shobha De fondly remembers the time when she would, along with her mother, painstakingly plan and prepare Diwali sweets. “Today I buy mine from Satish Ladoos,” she says, adding: “I feel sad at the passing away of an era when I see the crass commercialisation of a beautiful festival.”

The above para was lifted from Nidhi‘s cover story in India Today. And what a statement it is with asheer understanding of the descending standards of modern mankind, especially in India. These much hyped retail merchants in all forms hijack festivals. In Chennai, right from the textile retaillers to the pizza merchants everyone hypes their products and tries to push it through to the public.

The buying power of the current generation has increased ten fold and the push is more than what could be grabbed by them. Chennai was once considered to be a conservative city. But with the silicon revolution, the city has grown into a multi-faceted, multi-cultutal market for retail industry.

Last week when I was at Spencer’s I had peeped inside Landmark (a vast bookstore and music shop) to see what they are upto. They have some of the best collection of books and music. Music was selling hot cakes while a few serious readers were around the literary section. But the variety of music is just too much. Their collection ranges BoneyM to Bombay Dreams and a wide range of unheard IndyPop. Really welcoming but what worries me is the hype thats created around the music and on the electronic gadgets that are sold.

Least used feature in a electronic gadget is hyped to be the latest technological invention by the manufacturer and prized one and half times more than the previous version. A Dvd player sold at Rs.25K plugged in with the latest technology and with some exotic ‘unwanted’ features becomes invalid if I stops playing in-between a movie. I would rather prefer a mid-range player that has minimum features, which is not-so-technologically advanced that can play a movie with ease. Mobile phones are better examples in this regard. Nokia 3330 was pushed with a hype that WAP can be used with ease. None of the cellular providers in chennai give WAP connectivity. So someone who has bought Nokia 3330 for some 12K is using it to the same extent as I use my Nokia 3310 bought for 6K.

This would become a balanced market, when the manufacturers listen to what customer wants. Till then this hype creates a hole in our pocket.

If you are a India Today subscriber read Nidhi’s Diwali Dhamaka.