Kishore Biyani has figured out that in order to sell more, he needs to
- make the aisles in his supermarkets narrower, and thus more difficult to walk through
- spill some wheat and seeds on the floor
- introduce some semi-rotten vegetables into a bin of good vegetables
- 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!