Tuesday, April 25, 2006

We love micro...

Walk into a store in the US and the order of sizes you can see in anything is big, bigger and biggest. The more you buy or the bigger you buy, the more you save, or so they say. The whole point is towards generating mass consumption in the most gargantuan sizes you can imagine.

Go to India. Instantly, the size of the store is smaller than it is in the US, but what hits you is the size and quantity of the containers. There is very little that is big. It is smallest, smaller and small. We love micro.

Single use sachets of shampoo, hair oil, snacks, ketchup, juices, biscuits, cosmetics, even cough syrup have swamped the market. What started off as a marketing masterstroke, the Chik shampoo, now part of marketing folklore in India, is now a wildfire. Many of these sachets cost 1 rupee, 2 rupees or 5 rupees on an average. (1 USD = about 45 rupees, so figure) and are convenient both from a cost as well from a usage perspective. Bottom of the pyramid anyone? But the interesting thing is that, it is not just the "bottom of the pyramid" who buys them. The others at various points of the pyramid buy them too. While travelling for instance. Why bother to buy a big bottle of something you dont know is good? Small encourages experimentation. The packaging of these sachets costs more than the content for most of the product.

The trend of micro is not restricted to sachets alone. I am not sure if this is an effect or it is a reflection of the way we are. We dont mind spending trivial amounts on consumption (even if it classifies as meaningless), but we balk spending huge amounts. For a community which prides itself in recycling the things till that last drop of "juice" is extracted out of anything, one use satchets are amazingly popular for almost everything.

For things that involve a micro charge, like SMS, ring backs, ring tones, wallpapers and other "electronic trinkets" you would never think had a market, the market is booming and how.

I was reminded of this obsession with micro as I read this report from The Hindu Businessline titled "FMCG Microbranding in top gear". Check out the price list at the top of the piece which makes for interesting reading.


Annam said...

Really true, We buy stuff in huge quantities in US(mostly because that is how it is sold). Then we need more space to store all these stuff which are not really needed in such quantities anyway.Being used to the sache packs in India and also used to squeezing out the last bit of tooth paste out from the tube I find it difficult to throw away stuff as easily as others and end up piling stuff which I never need.

Yesterday I went to buy a philips bulb and I just couldnt get one, the lowest count was 4 Pack, and I am not even speaking of whole sale shops....

It took me a year to stop gaping in wonder at the pile of food stuff loaded into shopping carts here .. it looked to me like it could feed a whole village back in India.... How I wish for the micro..

hopefuldisposition said...

I agree! When they say you "save" you really dont!! You are stuck with unwanted quantities of all that crap that has to be put to creative uses so you can be rid of it!! I once used some crap shampoo in place of my dishwashing liquid cos I ran out of dishwashing liquid!!!
So anyway, they need to have anti-dumping laws within the country!!
Although my concern with India is about how you get rid of the packaging...recycling isn't big in India...?How it is done in the US is laudable - Just a thought...