The Ever-Changing Indian Consumer

Jacob C. Jacob
PGP 2004-2006
Xavier Institute of Management

The silver Aston Martin Vanquisher comes to a sliding stop right in front of the stairway. A stylish looking man in his chic designer clothes gets out. With his characteristic panache he walks smoothly to the doorway with all the eyes of the people present following his each and every move. He hands over the invitation to the usher and says    "Naam hai Bond… James Bond".

Four years back, these lines would have made a classic joke. But not today!!!

Hollywood is taking the Indian film Industry seriously. It's not long before such lines may hit the Indian movie screens. So how is this phenomenon going about?

Current Scenario-

  • India is a predominantly young nation compared to nations like UK and USA. More than 50% of the Indian population is in the five to twenty five age category. It is these Generation Xers, who contribute to the heavy change in the Indian Economy.
  • Proliferation of foreign channels: Generation Xers unlike their parents have been witness to a huge influx of foreign channels. They have grown up with MTV and other movie channels, which have exposed them to the western style of life. Thus Hollywood movies will never cease to excite them.
  • Emergence of English as a common language. The importance given to English has paid rich dividends. This has been a pivotal factor in India developing into a 'super power' in the software sector and leaving China long behind in the shadows. This has also been a factor in the increased the viewership of English movies.
  • Market segmentation: People in this age group unlike their predecessors are in the earning category. The software industry has been a factor as it has been offering very high paying jobs to professionals who are barely in their 20's.Even teens have turned wage earners thanks to the emergence of lots of call centres and fast food joints. This has brought about such a change in the economic scenario that companies have started to focus more on this category. Now the average ownership period of a motorbike has gone down from seven years to less than three years. For a mobile phone it has been a drastic fall from two years to less than six months.  The Indian youth is now an independent bunch. So when youth products especially Hollywood movies come about, this half a billion strong category of the population is quick to engulf it.

The Future Ahead-

A scene from Spiderman 5:

Spidey dangles through the city and comes to rest on top of a building. It has been a long day. Spidey takes off his mask and emerges from the dark. But wait a minute. It is not Tobey Maguire. Now Peter Parker is being played by Shahrukh Khan!!!

This is how Shekhar Kapur expressed it at the India Today conclave 2003. According to him when the next spiderman takes off his mask, it will be an Indian or a Chinese. From now on Indian production houses will be fighting it out with their Hollywood counter parts for the same share of the consumer's money.

Efforts in this direction have already started. Marvel Comics, in association with Gotham Entertainment Group, have decided to give a new face and spin to the adventures of Spiderman. Peter Parker will turn into Pavitr Prabhakar, a young boy from Mumbai to represent the masked hero who will take on Rakshasa aka Green Goblin.

Earlier North America used to contribute about 80% of the Hollywood revenues. Now it contributes only 40% while the remaining 60% is coming from outside America; mostly from Asia. With the two most populous countries namely China and India, Asia is grabbing too large an attraction for Hollywood to dismiss.  In fact movies like Anaconda, which did very poorly throughout the world did well in India and because of this; it was able to escape from being a total failure.

Hollywood is now carefully monitoring their movies so as not to include any anti-Asian messages in their movies and thus disturb their major cash generating markets.

What more jokes like these does the future hold? In this age of popularity scores and Q factor ratings every star is on the run to increase his fan base. Maybe in the not so distant future we may see Tom Cruise and Shahrukh Khan vying for the lead role and Amitabh Bachan and Al Pacino competing for the role of the father in a Karan Johar movie.

All this only time will tell…

Reference: -
India Today - Conclave 2003 Edition

Jacob C. Jacob
PGP 2004-2006
Xavier Institute of Management

Source : E-mail September 22, 2004

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