22 September, 2009

Hypermarkets, Austerity and the Cattle Class!

Aditya Birla Group, one of the biggest names in India Inc. which runs the “more.” chain of Retail Stores across the country is opening its first “more.” hypermarket today in Bangalore. This structure, on the Outer Ring Road between KR Puram and Marathalli has been in the making for quite some time and is now ready to open its doors to its esteemed customers. The frontage which is almost 15 meters or more in length and over 10 meters in height is enough to inform people that they are “opening shortly” with the trade name going up many weeks ago, indicating their arrival – a smart move of creating curiosity and at the same time, being straight-forward about the business foray; something that many Brands are reluctant to do. Wishing them good luck on this endeavor; after all, they are entering one of the most mature and fiercely competitive markets in India that already has The Future Group’s Big Bazaar, the Tata’s Star Bazaar, the Landmark Group’s Spar, etc. Will write a review on how the store looks like after visiting it over the weekend.

Coming to Cattle Class – well, enough has been talked about its origin, cause, effect, vision, reason, result, etc. over the past few days. As a marketing guy, I always believed that any publicity is good publicity and that’s what Twitter has got over the week. I can imagine how many people who didn’t know what it was would have “googled”… errr, I mean searched on the internet. So, we know who has benefitted the most. Twitter and Google. Having said that, why should our politicians stop their austerity drive with flying economy class on air? Wouldn’t it be a good idea for some of them to start shopping themselves (and get rid of their innumerous maids and helpers at home whom the Govt. pays with the taxpayers’ hard earned money). And they must shop at Hypermarkets. The new wave of Organized Retailing in India.

It’s over 9 years since the Future Group ventured into the Big Box wholesale-like retail model. Not many would know that it was Saravana Stores in T.Nagar, Chennai, which was the inspiration for Mr. Kishore Biyani, Founder & CEO of the USD 2.5 Billion Future Group to take Organized Retail in India to the next level. Saravana proved that everything from groceries to household utensils to jewelry to sarees and dress materials (and some food and beverage to manage hunger and thirst while shopping) could be sold under one-roof. Yes. All under one roof! That’s because we Indians love to shop that way, makes life easier. With congested roads and busier lifestyles, families prefer to shop together and for an occasion. Of course, I am referring to Gen X and behind. My favorite Gen Y and Gen Z, the Mall Rats, prefer to sit at Coffee Shops to spend some “quality” time with their friends. The teens and tweens are the future of India, so might as well let them to do so. After all, consumption always leads to growth.

So, Hypermarkets are the “in-thing” now. With global downturn having some impact in almost all our lives, however small or big, it seems to be quite fashionable today to talk about “savings” made on shopping. Even the party-poopers are talking about the discounts that are up for grabs at their favorite Fashion outlets that sell chic and trendy clothes and accessories. From CEOs to their housekeeping boys, it is but natural that consumers are now moving towards the Hypers and accepting them as a way of living. Someone said, “Money saved is money Earned…!!!???!!!...

So, the next step for our netas and abinetas (who are also netas) would be to shop at Hypers. No Cattle class here, atleast, no one would say that anymore. And give a comforting smile to the Aam aadmi. Hopefully, they will pull crowds to these stores, many of which are starving. If not to shop, crowds would gather atleast to have a glimpse of these famous personalities. Just that the security guards and the Operations Manager of the store would go mad. Managing the crowds, not inside but outside. Whichever way, we need more footfalls now. And I mean, Now.

The rise of Tier 2 towns

Have been on a pan-India tour for the past few weeks, visiting our stores, interacting with my colleagues, our valued franchise partners, ma...