Behaviour and perception

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CHAPTER 1

Background Study

I have decided to do a research on the consumer behaviour and perception on their buying pattern. A shift has been observed amongst the youth today from shopping from exclusive branded stores and malls to street markets and flea markets. Flea markets are markets where inexpensive goods are available. It may be indoors, such as in a warehouse or a shop or it may be outdoors, such as in a compound or under a tent.

According to an article Flea Markets in India; people in India love to dress up for any occasion, even if it means going to the school to pick up their kid. One can find the hippest and the most traditional attires being worn in the same age group. The current generation is brand conscious yet values money. The solution to this lies in the flea markets. These popular flea markets in India sell the most stylish and comfortable clothes and casuals that are preferred by the people. Youngsters can easily be spotted in these flea markets, striking a good deal with the salespersons. The products found in these markets are as per the expectation of the youth in terms of price, innovation, variety, comfort, styling, brand image. The products also have the added benefit of belonging to international brands, where some of them have the exclusivity of not being available in India. The ones with the talent of bargaining skills can get a very good deal as low as 20-30% lower than the quoted cost. Delhi flea markets are as popular as Goa or Mumbai or Kolkata, etc. flea markets.

(Source: Text retrieved from http://www.bharatonline.com/travel-tips/flea-markets.html)

Flea Markets in Delhi

  1. Connaught Place, Janpath and Palika Bazaar
  2. Sarojini Nagar
  3. Greater Kailash
  4. Lajpat Nagar
  5. Vasant Vihar
  6. Nehru Place
  7. Karol Bagh
  8. Exclusive shops for export surplus in places like Gurgaon shopping mall, Patel Nagar, Greater Kailash

These places are full of branded garments and are offered at very low prices. Brands like H&M, ZARA, Mother Care, Polo and many more are available in bulk with the latest of styles and trends incorporated in them and are very popular amongst all age groups especially the youth.

Factors Influencing Band Shifting

There are many factors which influence the customers to switch brands like price differentiation, promotion strategies, in store displays, friend's recommendation or peer pressure, packaging, celebrity endorsements, new styles, advertisements, etc. There are many more but in the case of switching from a brand to a flea market the major factors which influence are:

  • Price
  • Peer pressure
  • New styles/ Latest trend/ Change in Fashion

The first two are easy to understand but the third is the most important factor. In a flea market especially Sarojini Nagar or exclusive export surplus shops all the exported merchandise is sold and therefore that place is the first place where youngsters can find stylish garments before or almost at the same time they reach the stores at various parts of the world.

CHAPTER 2

This chapter examines the literature relevant to the two defined objectives. There are three major sections:

The first includes an overview of the demographics of the Indian youth and its growth. It also includes why the youth is an important segment to target on when it comes to selling of goods.

The second talks about the current consumer behavior and preferences which includes their lifestyle, their likes and dislikes, etc. Also the factors which result in shifting from brands are explained in brief.

Lastly, the third section explains the consumer behavior towards flea markets after which the effect of the flea markets on different factors is explained.

Indian Demographic Overview

India's contribution to the earth's human population is 17.5% with 1.17 billion people in the country. According to the NCAER report on National Readership Survey (NYRS), India's youth population grew at over 2% to 459 million in 2009 from 390 million in 2001 census. Three out of every four youth is literate and every one in three literate youth in India is a student.

The table below justifies the growth of youth in India from 2001 to 2009 i.e. 2.05% and the growth of literate youth as well which is 2.49%.

According to the bar graph below which shows the youth interest in selected issue/topics all over India, 28.9% literate youth is interested in fashion.

The youth today involves itself into a lot of leisure activities. The graph below shows the leisure activities preferred by the literate youth in India. Television remains as the most popular source of information with 78%.

Why Target Youth as Important Consumers?

Many marketers consider young adults aged between 18 and 24 as a distinct consumer segment that boasts considerable purchasing power. In the UK, such consumers spend around £10 billion each year while it has been projected that young adults will inject more into the US economy than baby boomers by 2010.

The Young Adult Segment

The importance of these consumers is also widely acknowledged. Their impact on family purchase decisions is growing and they are recognized as trend setters that influence consumption change within other market segments. Marketers also remain aware that securing the patronage of young adults may be important given their capacity for future spending.

Like other consumers, the image, lifestyle and purchasing behaviour of young adults is shaped to some degree by various external factors. The challenge to researchers is to identify which factors hold sway. Previous investigations have indicated aspects that include family values, peer influence and self perception to influence consumer behaviours alongside such as age, gender and lifestyle. Some analysts believe, however, that marketers have insufficient knowledge about what motivates this market segment.

Some marketing managers continue to avoid the young adult segment on the premise that such consumers are not brand loyal. Evidence for this is, however, somewhat inconclusive. On the one hand, researchers suggest that the purchase behaviour of young adults is often determined by monetary constraints. An aim to save money means that switching to inexpensive brands becomes a natural response.

Consumer Buying Behaviour and Preferences

India has the youngest population in the world. There are a lot of young people in different locations and income groups who influence their parents spending and their own spending as well. Indian market is changing rapidly and an outsider who visits India once or twice a year can easily make out the difference.

Amongst various consumer behaviour groups there is a young emerging consumer behaviour group which is young and restless, who start earning at an early age and proudly spend money which does not belong to their parents. This group consists of teenagers who love eating out, watch movies and go occasionally for clubbing and all these activities have become an integral part of their lifestyle. Their dressing is invariably modern and they believe in changing their attire frequently. If the latest fashion and trendy clothes are not available in the stores at the right price they switch to either Sarojini Nagar in Delhi or Fashion Street in Mumbai. The consumer defines value with quality. If a product has good quality, sustainability, longevity, meaning, etc. it is considered as valuable.

Teenagers are more adventurous than their elders and they care less for tradition and religion. They adopt the latest fashion trends that emerge with time as they are the ones who are more receptive towards changes and want to obtain a new look every time. They believe in spending money at present and not save much for the future. They cannot be influenced with other people's perception but they can easily be motivated at the same time. They not only take decisions for the products they need and have to buy but also help their adults in taking decisions. According to a study; Rs.500 crore a year is the amount of money given to children as pocket money which justifies them being an important segment to be targeted on.

(Understanding the "middle class" Urban Teenagers as Consumer, n.d)

The increasing competition makes differentiating new products and services offered by a company difficult from the older ones. The companies try to compete with their rivals by reducing the price of the products as they feel that price is the main factor. Customer behaviour has become hybrid. On one hand they are price sensitive and they search for bargains and shop from discounted outlets and on the other hand they enjoy branded and luxury goods.

It's not that they don't like spending but they want to obtain value for their money spent. Customers today are very much aware about the latest fashion and products and also their importance to a company and therefore have high expectations from companies and choose a company which provides them with the best products and services. Price, quality and functionality are not the only factors to make a customer loyal towards a company, but now it is the customers experience and interactions as well. Any kind of bad experience can damage the attitude of a customer towards a company.

Consumer buying behaviour is a process of making decisions to buy and using a product. It is thus important to understand why and how they make a purchase decision with changing factors in our society.

Different companies have various marketing strategies to attract the customers. They take help of different customer relationship management software to sustain their customers to make them loyal. When the customers make their buying decision they evaluate the benefits which can be perceived from a particular product and compare them with the costs. They associate themselves with a product emotionally and take it as a status symbol. With changing circumstances, the customer's needs and perception also changes.

Positive effect of customer perception on brands is that their brand value increases with increasing customers and the value of the product offered by them also gains popularity. The negative effect of customer perception is that increasing popularity of luxury and premium products can lead to loss of exclusivity and thus can be perceived as less valuable products. Also the quality and services may differ in some product categories if consumed by a large number of people.

(Recklies, 2006)

Factors which influence Consumer Behaviour and Brand Switching

Factors which influence consumer behaviour are cultural, social, psychological and personal (age, need, etc.). Personal factors means individual wants and needs which makes the customer comfortable and satisfied. Social factors consist of family influence, opinions of friends or other groups, culture, etc. Culture affects the buying behaviour of a consumer as they belong to different families and cultures that have their own perceptions and every individual has its own buying pattern with respect to their existing culture. Psychological also refers to motives of buying for a particular event like birthday's, or for a friend, etc.

As per a research variety seeking behaviour is not always a factor for brand switching. Consumers need variety in their lives but brand switching is not directly caused because of the need for variety factor. This factor varies from product to product.

Consumer Behaviour and Perception towards Flea Markets

Flea markets are great retail market places. Customers who visit these markets have a predetermined buying decision. Unlike people in malls and people walking in the streets, flea market customers are more than just browsers. They are serious customers who have a trip to the flea market to buy products but at the same time it is important to keep on attracting them and make them buy and not make them lose their interest. (Lowy, n. d)

In the US Flea markets are a multibillion-dollar business. There are different booth sizes and rents vary depending on factors such as location, equipment (tables included, etc.), and hours of operation, but generally are in the range of $3 to $10 per square foot per day. When the bookings are done for the vendors the organizers try booking for a wide variety of products that will be offered like sale 'antiques, electronics, kitchenware, food items, clothing, tools, toys, art and sporting goods. Doing so will ensure broad appeal to a large target audience of flea market shoppers. (Flea Market Organizer, n. d)

A research was conducted on Informal Retailing: An Analysis of Products, Attitudes and Expectations. The authors concluded that flea markets are considered to be an enjoyable place to shop. Flea market is a part of the underground economy which means which is unmeasured, untaxed or both. Flea markets are quite popular amongst the consumers and thus increase sales and do better than formal retailers. Consumers shop more with friends and family rather than shopping alone. The flea market is considered a place to socialize as it is a place to facilitate the informal exchange of goods. Flea markets are favourable amongst consumers because it is fun to shop for products for bargains; they have friendlier and personal services and a wide variety of products to choose from. But flea markets have some disadvantages too like poor quality, lack of guarantees, policies like no return and exchange in some and its is not a fully authorized market. According to this research 93% of the consumers bought clothes, toys and jewellery and 20% bought home appliances. (Sherman, McCrohan, Smith, 1985)

Flea markets are everywhere these days and can be full time or only on weekdays. One can follow his/her hobby and earn a lot of money through flea markets even if special techniques are not used to make the product. Seasonal items are a hit in the flea markets like candles and candle stands at the time of Diwali or cakes, Christmas gifts at the time of Christmas. (Wright, n. d)

Effect of Flea Markets on bringing additional footfalls in the nearby market area

In an interview, Mr. Rajiv Duggal, CEO, Select CITYWALK said that flea market is not a new concept and is the most preferred by Indian customers and tourists. Every major city has its own popular flea markets which attract a lot of people. The concept of the flea market introduced every Wednesday is to promote tourism and to present new kind of products to the customers in an organized way. He believes that consumers attracted to the mall are fixed who buy branded products and to sustain them and attract new customers it is important to provide the customers with innovative products. For this he tries to give them non commercial or non branded products through this medium. Flea market is a marketing strategy as it helps in attracting customers i.e. customers who come to the flea market are generally observed in the mall as well which helps in increasing footfalls to the malls. It not only attracts the women and shoppers from South Delhi but also a large number of them come from North and West Delhi and NCR regions. (Shah, n.d)

After seeing footfalls increasing in the Select Citywalk mall in Saket because of the flea markets, The Great India Place, Noida and Pacific Mall, Ghaziabad also adopted the idea and started with the similar concepts which lead to marginal increase in footfalls. This flea market had a variety of products like books, food, metal products and clothes. The concept of flea market is inviting large number footfalls in Spice World, Noida too and in addition they have a lot of activities and distribute movie tickets as prizes. (Sinha, 2009)

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