Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Future group: Head start?

While we are still some distance from the all out, no holds barred war in the retail landscape, it is evident that the Future group has a head start. And this is from just connecting some of my previous posts, visits and observations. I dont know too much about their flagship Pantaloons, but the rest, perhaps through my experiences, yes.

Big Bazaar is sitting on what is perceived as value by the Indian consumer. Okay, so the hifalutin crowd may not go there, but there is a significant chunk that is loyal to them and it is a crowd that seems to be getting them the moolah.

The Central type of mall is for the mall types, as I put it. It is sufficiently hip and is located in a strategic point in the city (Atleast Bangalores is).

E-zone is the place to go for electronic items. I was scouting for an mp3 player and one company dealer (I forget which one) suggested I go to e-zone - instead of recommending another of their own, saying, you will get a better deal there.

Brand Factory completed the offering for discounted stuff . It would be interesting to see how the emerging players take on the Future group. And if offline was not enough, futurebazaar.com is their online presence.

The latest which opened a couple of days back here is Hometown. Modelled on Home Depot presumably, the shop is amazing in the range it covers for furnishing your home. Starting from tools, modular kitchens, it goes the whole hog with tiles, furniture, bathrooms and even offers plumbers and painters on service. What is nice about the place is the kind of space they have put together to display concept bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms. (The home-office segment has been missed out, which they want to include.) The place was jampacked the time I went there, but it was nice to see a shop like this. DIY as a concept is yet to pick up in India, but this is a concept that has potential.

Coming back to the Future group, the formats that they have today are quite different. To copy them would be to become a me-too brand. There are glitches in each of these models, but ironing out is more experiential than anything else, so nobody will have the "perfect" model. My guess is the Futures group have a lot of fuel stored in their tanks. The newer guys may get their footfalls, but many of them will return to Big Bazaars and the like. The one thing that goes against Future group is its association with quality. Many Big Bazaar customers (including yours truly), would like a better watch on quality and this in turn makes the customer sceptical. If there is a Walmart-like model in India, is is this.

So far nobody has really taken on the Future group over their entire length and breadth. Most others, are, of course, new. Will the real Walmarts and the others take on this group or settle in different niches? Watch this space.

1 comment:

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