Thursday, June 11, 2009


The electric kettle in our office brewed it's last cup of tea 2 days ago. It could not be repaired . Went to the local supermarket to select it's successor. There were a range of brands. Some with a discount offer at Rs 599 , some at Rs 899 , few brands at Rs 1385 etc. Asked the salesperson on the floor for feedback on quality differences (if any) between the brands. No answer . Is the 599 kettle comparable in quality to the 899 one ? Yes , said the salesperson.  Why is xyz brand priced at Rs 1385 ? The salesperson's response ' It is good quality . It is imported '.

On wonders whether sales staff receive product training or do they create their own explanations ? It's also clear that the Indian brands across categories need to work on dispelling the perception that a product or brand is better simply because it is imported. When a product value exceeds a certain level consumers are more likely to research the product and the brand. And likely to arrive at the store with a shortlisted set of brand and product options. In (relatively) low value items the feedback of the salesperson has an influence on the choice. With responses like the one I encountered the choice moves to the lowest price product.

(Ironically the response of my chauffeur + office help re the earlier kettle was " It can't be repaired. It's poor quality because it is 'made in China' " )

In my career I have worked on marketing Indian products in international markets (and within India as well ). The endeavor was always to create a positive product quality and service experience , to offer innovation. I don't have rabid notions that everything made in India is superlative . I do believe that there are many products produced in India which are comparable in quality with a similar product produced 'overseas'.

Indian brands in various categories have to deal with the reality of the product quality AND the perception that 'imported' is somehow better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

your observations are right .The front sales ( barring a few professional retailers) are allowed to invent their owen lexicon in purusit of a sale. They also pick the up the right words which work on an avg Indian ears , so you must admire their semiotic skills : Imported = dont know the origin ; Premium = unreasonaly high price ; top quality = beyond repair ( like in the case of Kettle)

Indian ishtyle retail