Understanding Indian Shoppers – Indians Love Disorder

Kishore Biyani has figured out that in order to sell more, he needs to

  1. make the aisles in his supermarkets narrower, and thus more difficult to walk through
  2. spill some wheat and seeds on the floor
  3. introduce some semi-rotten vegetables into a bin of good vegetables
  4. make his stores noisier

Counterintuitive for westerners perhaps, but this offers a peek into the Indian middle-class psyche.

The article about Biyani’s chain of supermarkets that generates $600 million+ in profits at WSJ is worth a read. In it, Biyani says that making things chaotic enough is not easy, and that the trick to give the customers the impression that “they have won”. Hence the half-rotten vegetables mixed in with the regular good ones, and the choas and disarray. He is quite the man when it comes to inventory control, and modern business practices, and proudly display Sam Walton’s picture on his wall, next to Mother Teresa.

He sells to “India Two”, the Indian population that includes the drivers, maids, cooks, nannies, farmers and others who serve India One. He estimates that 55% of Indians — roughly 550 million people — fall into this category, says WSJ.

“We advertise in the language that people dream in,” says Mr. Biyani, who is proud he isn’t one of the many business leaders in India who has lived or studied abroad. Though he speaks the language, “I don’t dream in English,” he says.

Remarkably enough, everything that leads to more apparent chaos serves him well, including making the check out lanes more confused and chaotic, which apparently increased sales by 30%. It takes a different kind of business smarts to make money in India. No amount of western education can teach one that!

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2 Responses to Understanding Indian Shoppers – Indians Love Disorder

  1. I read this article somewhere(Times of India !?) perhaps.Yes I quite agree because I’ve been part of that chaos.Let’s see what was it-I was picking up baby wipes that were atleast half the price in a regular store.The kind of chaos this guy creates,the best term I would use would be an air-conditioned fish market that dosen’t sell fish except in some corner(unverified as yet).
    But whatever,this guy is making news.So are a lot of come-from-nowhere (not all ,though) non-traditionalists that are reinventing the way business is done.Many are succeeding,and more than those are failing.but the point is,India is changing.Whether that is for the good ,or not,remains to be seen.I’m glad to be part of the change,for no change is boring to my basic nature.

  2. suruchi says:

    Everytime i visit big bazaar…I see the Biyani winning..The indian one and two both appear restless and hungry for shooping there….It seems indians get excited to pick up things as fast as possible….the long lasting hunger for products and stuff is enough to make biyani win ..and the feeling that there is no baniya intermediatory between you and the products gives a false feeling to an indian consumer of being in a real supermarket ………this feeling is enought o pull them here.

    OMG..still remember the day when we didnt had the place to put our feets on the big bazaar streets..and the atmosphere was so stuffed with human breath..that i cursed who is the bastard planner of this supermarket