The Enigma

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Products and Habits

Today in the hour of Project Management, an illustrious and knowledgeable professor whom I admire a lot, mentioned about the analogy between brands and us. A simple thing like wearing shirt has so many connotations. It is a symbol of what you want others to feel about you.

While talking of how consumer behavior is closely knitted with what you perceive and what you want others to perceive of yourselves, the discussion landed up on whether products make habits or habits make products. It is something worth pondering upon. The professor just made the statement and left it at that.

In hindsight, I realise it is a profound observation of the society. For example, we never had an urge to sit on sofas and converse over coffee for long hours in an expensive setting until Barista and Cafe Coffee Day beckoned. We had a habit of having coffee, and these products stormed the market and groomed our habits in a certain way. The same is the situation with Big Bazaar, which as Kishore Biyani mentions in his autobiographical 'It Happened In India' is a gap-filler between the rich and poor customers of the country. Earlier the B and C consumer class of the country always bought goods from mom-and-pop stores and never dared to enter the so-called fancy departmental stores. They feared high rates and sophisticated products. With the advent of Big Bazaar, lower strata of society today thinks departmental, and thats because of the cost-competitiveness that product called Big Bazaar brought into the market.

Talking in such a tone, one tends to conclude that every innovation is in fact a habit-maker. As it is, the common strata of the society will never have aspirations to change things. An average Indian is busy with his work, family and other things. He always tends to get his work done with things available rather than look for making or ordering things that can do work his way. Hence, his habits are infact a slave to his choice of products.

Are we so fickle and product-oriented that we cannot stand stern on our habits? I really cant imagine what all those stranded in traffic bikers of Bangalore did earlier when there were no i-pods. I cannot imagine having a cup of coffee, however heavenly it is, at Saravana Bhavan while chatting with friends for at least 4-5 hours without any interruption. The waiter there could get physical if you tried that. The point is that with offer of new products, we groomed new habits. This means the personality of individuals and a society is broadly defined by the products the society produces and uses. Harley Davidson produced mean machines and made the western youth freaky bikers, while Hero Honda made 100CC and made the Indian youth ready for marriage! :P

Whatever the fact, it seems to me that our habits are the shadows that emanate out of the light that the product emanates! So, when we define our character or personality, what do we look for?! The shadow or the light that causes it? Are we so inconsequential that an enigmatic thing whose existence is always a debate, which is caused by some external object defines us while we dwell in the paradox that we created both, yet they command us!

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At August 03, 2007 9:58 AM, Blogger desh said...

i really liked to 100CC phenomenon u mentioned :)
btw I hate coffee joints, i mena is more due to the habit rather than the coffee
and bangalore ppl in absence of I-Pods do njoi the company of Vasanthi ;)
But some products are too associated with habits and ppl in particular
sometimes when we guys walk off at night to a store to grab a cold-drink or so, everytime someone picks up mountain dew, we remember steve

At August 07, 2007 2:42 AM, Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Very interesting post... and now that you point it out, a lot of our lifestyle is indeed shaped by these advertisements and the market!

P.S. - "while Hero Honda made 100CC and made the Indian youth ready for marriage!" --- hahahahah!!

At August 08, 2007 12:36 PM, Blogger Sangeetha said...

i agree with ur thought that new entrants like CCD and Big Bazaar do affect people's behaviour. But it is true the other way round too, in the sense that, it is the economical development and the increasing incomes that drive the entry of such enterprises.It is the changing lifestyle that promotes such developments. Life turns full-circle u c :)

At August 12, 2007 2:25 PM, Blogger revatechnic said...

think i am reading this post a little too late, but i loved it... hahaha.. always been awed by those entrants which change society in such a short period of time...


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