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Guest Column: Demonetisation and Consumerism - Naresh Gupta, Bang in the Middle

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Guest Column: Demonetisation and Consumerism - Naresh Gupta, Bang in the Middle

India has pulled out about 86% of its circulated currency one fine evening. India’s economy is 90% plus tells you that this move is bold, audacious, and as people, we have no option but to wait and watch what it will lead up to.

In a country where credit card is a status symbol, going plastic in transaction is not something that can happen overnight. While a large part of country has phone connection, only 17% have smartphones. Low penetration of smartphones is an indicator of how small the opportunity for mobile wallets as a category is in India.

This is not an easy time for consumers in India. Spending money requires them to stand in queues first. The comfort of feeling printed papers in the wallet is transient. Money is a perishable commodity and consumers have to be prepared to stand in queue again.

Is this an opportunity for the brands to connect with consumers in new way? Can demonetisation become the new anchor for driving brand conversations?

 8th November: Black Friday for India

India till now does not have a day that can be the ultimate consumerism day. Yes, there is a Diwali, and Dhanteras for gold, but they are not nationwide event as the Black Friday sale is in America. 8th November has the potential to be celebrated as one from here on. Blessed by the highest office of the land, we can even have the PM endorse it and give it national approval. The day that changed the wallets of India, needs to be celebrated every year. The opportunity is massive; the potential is enormous for sale that celebrates this event. Like the way people have taken stand, pro and against, they can do the same for sale every year. The pro people can shop and those who are against can stand in queue outside ATM machines to relive the moments of not having any money in wallet. The only rule that should be mandated for this sale is that this should be a zero cash sale. Anyone tendering cash or accepting cash should be termed anti-national and shamed on social media.

The sale can have some rules

The sale has to celebrate the momentous event and it has to recreate the conventions that have become a part of this movement. The sale has to start with a set of rules on day one, day two should have a new set of rules, day three another, and by day four, the rules of day one should be completely demolished. This is a terrific way to keep the potential consumers on their toes. The shoppers’ by now have got used to a fluid set of rules. This is apt for us, as we are used to living in a scenario where rules are fluid and new announcements are made every day.

Can you make the cash last long?

Many among us have taken the challenge to truly live the life devoid of cash. Post cash turning into plain paper, people have discovered that if paper currency is actually excess baggage and life that is lighter is better lived. This can become the challenge that the brands can launch. Imagine a bunch of brands launching special rewards for those who manage to keep the same cash in wallet as they had before the shopping festival. This will let people post on social media their expertise in cash management. With cash becoming increasingly scarce and not favoured, this would be a neat challenge for the consumers to face. With the lessons learnt from living without cash, this may prove to be a breeze, so may be brands can add to the challenge. Can you grow the cash? Can the virtual money in wallet outstrip cash? As I said, there are possibilities that didn't exist till now.

Fall out of line

There is increasing concern among the ruling class about the lawlessness in the citizens. Despite taxing them and making sure that the money is passed to individuals after the taxes are deducted, the ruling class is not sure if they have been able to recover every penny. In a society driven by rule of law, those who find ways to step out of line will be caught and punished. Now with the distinction between those who fall in line and those who don’t, we have new opportunities for the brands to leverage. Imagine brands launching interesting promotions about how to ensure that you get more than what you pay for.

In a society where passing judgment is preferred to indulging in debate, demonetizing is the best thing that could have happened. Those who run the economy passed a judgment and those who run social media also passed a judgment.

Now that is something that deserves cash awards.

(The author is CSO, Managing Partner at Bang in the Middle)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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