April 20, 2011

Book Review: Consumer India

Posted by Bizaholic | 7:47 PM | with 0 comments »

India is a booming market that seems to be the new land of promise. But promises apart, Indian market is a complex labyrinth. Succeeding in Indian market requires careful unravelling of the minds of consumers. Naturally, any book written on Indian consumer generates interest. It started with Rama Bijapurkar's "We are like that only" followed by Santosh Desai's "Mother Pious Lady". The latest in this series is Dheeraj Sinha's "Consumer India".

Being a marketer, I picked up the book in excitement to enhance my own understanding of the Indian consumer. The book promises insights into Indian consumer's mind and wallet. However, the start seems to be more like a book on social history of India. The first half of the book is largely uninteresting with only occasional real insights. For most of the first half, the book seems to be a generalized version of cultural changes that happened in Indian society post liberalization. The flow of thoughts keeps swinging from one topic to another without a central theme and you wonder what story the author is trying to tell you. Very much like some of the Bollywood movies which fail to outline a plot till intermission happens!

The interest level gradually picks up in second half of the book. Chapter on "Meaningful technology" is an interesting read on how Indians view technology. The author successfully delivers a strong insight for marketers - in India, technology needs to be adapted to consumer's life rather than consumers adapting to new technology. In the middle of the chapter, "Branding the Bazaar", there are some interesting stories about some real brands and how they captured the imagination of Indian consumer. Following chapters on "Youth vs Youthful", "Seamless Savitris" and "Small is Big" are also interesting except for a few dull paragraphs.

To sum up, the book didn't live to its potential. It could have been much more interesting, insightful, and reader friendly had it been structured rigorously. Also, the author keeps changing his writing style. It wavers between academic and conversational which affects readability.

So if you are a marketer or business professional, you may read this book for a quick review of cultural changes that took shape in the post liberalized India. But don't expect mind boggling or path breaking consumer insights. To sum up, Dheeraj Sinha's "Consumer India" ends up as a poor cousin to Santosh Desai's "Mother Pious Lady".