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Marketing Club Insights: Keeping up with the Changing Consumer Behavior

At SDA Bocconi Asia Center students have the opportunity to take part in domain specific professional clubs to ensure that their professional development begins, right from the initial months of the course. These clubs include; the Marketing club- Mercato Maniacs, the Consulting club- Consulenza, the Operations club-GenOps, the Finance club, the HR club, the Luxury club, and the Business and Technology club.


The Marketing Club of SDA Bocconi Asia Center brings together the brightest minds who aspire to become the marketers that the world needs today. It involves coming together in synergy to explore, exchange and most significantly, learn the ever changing dynamics of the marketing world.  The various skills are put to practice by actively taking part in club activities and learning sessions

Vision: To enrich and enlighten students with the dynamics of marketing and be resourceful in sharing and spreading knowledge.

This blog focuses on consumer behavior and has been outlined by the president of the marketing club to help students gain insights on the relevant marketing trends in the industry. A decade ago, consumers took pride in everything they owned. From houses to watches, the consumers of the 80’s and before were very selective in their purchases. They wanted to gain long term results from any purchase they invested in. These consumers were more prone to saving and preferred to buy and own commodities that assured a longer usage time.

Let’s head back and have a look at a common household in the 1980’s, where owning vehicles was a luxury savored only by the rich and the affluent of the society. A commoner’s major goals in life comprised of owning a house that had just enough room for the family with minimalistic costs involved. Working women were not very common and women generally adopted work that suited their household responsibility of cooking and care. Fast forward two decades, we now witness revolutionary changes in consumer behaviour. India being the youngest country in the world proudly boasts of its energetic and enthusiastic youth. The internet revolution has brought upon some significant changes in shopping behaviour and consumerism of young India. The luxury of decades gone is today’s necessity. Here are a few of my observations as a marketeer pertaining to these shift in trends:

Renting vs Owning
The millennials of today are drifting from ownership to partnership. Due to a rise in the global workforce, youngsters today lead nomadic lives which was considered rather uncomfortable by the working professionals of the past decade. From renting homes to vehicles and even furniture, youngsters today do not seem to splurge their hard earnings into long lasting goods that demand a hefty sum. Business ventures that leverage this mindset of the millennials are on a rise. “Carpe diem’ a popular phrase amongst the millennials that reiterates living in the moment. Most Youngsters today are commitment phobic and are less willing to make purchasing decisions that involve the long term future. It is vital therefore, that we market products that are ephemeral and cost effective. As marketeers of the future we must cleverly predict sectors that might tend towards the sharing economy and prepare consistent brand messages that should be communicated to consumers well in advance.

Information Overload
As marketeers it’s is inevitable that we have to tap the attention of each one of our distracted customers. Information has become so ubiquitous that customers have become immune to it. Thus it has become more challenging than ever to buy our consumer’s attention. From emails, to social media advertising to search engine ads, customers have become prey to a plethora of information they never really asked for. Thus today’s consumers are willing to pay a cent to avoid advertisements. It’s a parody that applications now motivate their customers to pay for a premium to avoid the very advertisements that keep their revenue running.

Information oriented decision making
Our customer from the previous decade would probably ask a friendly neighbor next door or a veteran in a particular field before he buys a commodity. Thanks to the internet, today’s customer doesn’t have the plight of keeping up with cranky old neighbors for advice, he simply Googles. Omni channel and multi-channel business models look forward to integrate the online and offline shopping experiences for the customer such that the effort from the customer’s side is minimised. Marketers should excel in customer relationship management to ensure that the customer is
always heard and his shopping experience is seamless.

From generalization to customization
The rise in income has led to a steady rise in consumerism such that consumers today can afford personalization. This trend is particularly rampant in the fashion and beauty sector. Millennials now prefer products that are especially made for them and can cater to their needs in person. The decade saw the bloom of small scale enterprises in clothing, health and cosmetic sector that provide personalised products to its customers. As marketers, catering to specific needs of individuals in an extremely populated country like ours is a herculean task, however it is still feasible in sectors that are concentrated on a specific customer target with an efficient CRM.

Time is more than Money
Today’s consumer is willing to pay a penny extra for every extra minute he can save. With globalization, Indian workforce is introduced and made available to the western conglomerates. This makes the average working time of an Indian longer than his foreign counterpart, Thus no wonder time is quite valuable to today’s consumer and customers prefer taking routes that decrease their commute time to workspaces. This trend eventually lead to a rise in co-working spaces and the trend of working from homes, such that commute time can be spent on things that are more vital. As marketers one big challenge we face is to ask the customer for his valuable time, and so we must ensure that we engage the customer intelligently and implicitly without him realising his time being spent.

Holistic wellness and sustainability
The customer of the previous decade never really bothered if he carried a plastic bag or a paper bag to carry his groceries, for he was never fully informed about the consequences his grocery bag has on the environment. With global warming and the impending dangers of climate change today’s customer is much more aware and responsible about Environmental health. Firms that are indifferent to the environment are rather shunned upon by their customers. Societal marketing and green marketing trends are on the rise that motivate customers to adopt sustainable shopping practices. Retail firms now provide non plastic carry bags or charge their customer for every extra plastic bag purchased. Customers who adopt green practices are looked upon in their social circles and appreciated by their peers. Retail firms encourage their customers to reduce, reuse and recycle. On a final note, brands must establish themselves as pro-customer firms. With Internet, reputation, both positive and negative can have a serious impact on the brand image. Brand equity is the most valuable intangible asset to a firm. Gone are the days where brands relied on self-doubt impoverishing customer’s confidence to sell beauty products. Brands today push their customers to come out and speak their stories. Customer co-creation has become the secret ingredient of a brand’s success. They want their ambassador to be someone who is more relatable to the brand’s customers.

The key is being more approachable than admirable.

We have seen a divergence from “dream girl” tag lines to “you are worth it” in over a decade. As we step into the next decade we as marketers should be more observant than ever to embrace the multitude of changes in consumer behavior. We must be vigilant and cognizant enough to observe, understand and predict a customer’s behavior and its direct impact on the financial health of the firm.

(​President- Marketing Club at SDA Bocconi Asia Center​)

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