Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dollar store redux

I had blogged once on the dollar store in India; back then I did not know that it was a "branch" of the real American avatar. I chanced upon this article while searching for something else today.

As Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other retail giants prepare to enter India, an unexpected American rival -- California's My Dollarstore Inc. -- is already here and attracting the affluent middle-class customers Wal-Mart and others covet.

Not sure I agree with "afflluent middle class" since I have visited these stores many times and it is usually people who are looking for something phoren and bargain hunters (like me) who land up here. The affluent avoid these stores. For those who have been abroad, the dollar store here is the same as the store there - definitely not for high quality goods. But if you want stuff like Toblerone (I was surprised to see this here since in socialist India Toblerone was at the same level as Yardley - guess both have fallen) or Chocolate syrup or some cheap toys it is a nice place to go to. Surely not for quality cutlery/china or photo frames or decoratives.

Like I said earlier, the store primarily brings to an end the cheap gifts that were the staple of US visitors to distribute to all and sundry back home. Now, if you want to gift something, ensure that is not available in these parts.

...but goods associated with the American way of life -- Doritos chips, Kellogg's Pop-Tarts, Alberto VO5 hair conditioner -- have long been carried home by Indians living in and visiting the U.S. That helps explain why a store chain associated with bargain basements in the U.S. is attracting the cream of India's shoppers in an economy whose gross domestic product is growing more than 8 percent a year recently.

The point is right, but the conclusion is not. Cream of Indias shoppers - hardly. Doritos, VO5, Pop-Tarts - hardly a definition of aspirational products.

International chains are scarce in India, where the government generally doesn't allow direct foreign ownership in the retail industry. It restricts foreign investment to single-brand retailers, such as Chanel or Nike, or those that come through franchise agreements -- international brands provide the products, retail technology and marketing, but the stores are owned by Indians. Guess Inc., Tommy Hilfiger Corp. and My Dollarstore are among those that have entered the market through franchises.

Guess and My Dollarstore in the same breath - ha. There are a few other nuggets which could find place in a How to write about India 2.0!


ggop said...

My eyes popped out when I read Doritos, Pop Tarts and VO5 conditioner have long been carried home by expats. Why inflict such pain on people! :-)


klasieprof said...

enjoyed your read. I was looking into "dollar store items" and ran across your blog. I had JUST finished reading the same article.

Customers Revenge said...

Is the Toblerone edible or is it 5 years old like the ones in Western dollar stores?