Guest Column: God is in the retails

“The increase in retail FDI cap to 51 per cent is a blessing in disguise,” says Vishakha Singh of Aurora Comms

e4m by Vishakha Singh
Updated: Sep 24, 2012 6:45 PM
Guest Column: God is in the retails

Yes, God is in the retails. All of us across various marketing and advertising industries get into frenzy of activities in the festive season, don’t we? That is because God is coming…Onam, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Pujo, Diwali, Id, Christmas…don’t we know the God is in retails?

Then why are some of us frowning and doubting 51 per cent? The figure, which is frowned upon in academia but is highly significant to the business sector, has hit mainstream news again. The UPA government, though in a moment of being cornered by all-round turmoil, announced the cabinet decision of allowing a 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail and 100 per cent in a single brand last week. And though it has (ironically!) created even more turmoil for it, anyone with basic entrepreneurial acumen would know that this was a highly due step ahead.

In a land of multiple Gods if some Lakshmi gets added, we will be happy. But is FDI just Goddess Laksmi? No. FDI will bring in Goddess Saraswati too. And we will have many more ways of keeping our Gods happy. Our kids will have better clays to make the idol; our mothers will have fresh flowers from thousands of kilometers away because someone would start transporting fresh lotus from far away ponds to urban cities in technologically advanced vehicles. All of this because Goddess Saraswati will enhance our services, will bring in best practices. This is what FDI in retail is going to be.

On a retail trek in 2007, I noticed a shift in consumerism wherein people were buying mobile phones instead of gold on account of Dhanteras.

The consumption behavior is shifting gears, how we spend, where we spend, on what we spend is all evolving. Examples:

Birth of new brands: Packaged rice is sold mostly in modern trade (more than 50 per cent contribution comes from there). Only one large entity has entered the market with packaged dals. Wait for the space to explode!

Birth of new products: Have you heard of fridge deodizer? By an Indian company, it is already in some markets in India, and waiting to be launched in other markets.

Birth of new services: Did you buy medicine online on healthkart or a grocery store? Have you started marketing your ma’s knitting through Facebook? Not yet? Think about it…all of this is happening at a pace that it is shifting gears from being a luxury yesterday to being a habit today.

The list can go on and on. This change in consumerism changes the expectation from the market. FDI will fuel in the change at a faster pace, benefitting those who are the best.

If multiplicity is the order of our world now, we also have a huge need for being personal. ‘Talk to me in the way I would get pleased’ is the new mantra.

A healthy trend where retailers are vying for the customers’ attention and subsequent loyalty is the predecessor for another trend – customised experiences. For instance, and I hope these thoughts turn into correct predictions, Tesco or any firangi brand would have to tailor its grocery and merchandise not only to Indian tastes but of the region or city their outlet will be in.

International home furnishing giant Ikea will need to understand the mechanics of urban and rural Indian homes and come up with customised solutions!

McDonalds’ aloo tikki is not world famous, it has been made bhartiya to make McDonald’s India famous. So is Paneer Pizza of Pizza Hut. That’s the adaptability which will help one grow.

All of this is going to change standards not just in urban spaces but also in rural spaces. We have a growing consuming population. People will move up the ladder from wherever they are. If today, food players dominate the top 15 companies based on rural growth, tomorrow they will be stronger leaders.

We pray to stay healthy, wealthy and wise
We pray to stay closer to Gods
God lies in retails. Let’s pray FDI in retail succeeds

The author is Executive Director, Aurora Comms

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