How can established Western brands appeal to the new kings and queens of consumerism, even as this consumerism involves basic needs? And how can they compete with sharp-elbowed rivals from the emerging world? This will be the greatest increase in consumer purchasing-power in history. First movers can’t simply rely on hogging the best distribution channels. The need is for firms to adapt to local circumstances— both in what they sell and also how they sell it. Indian consumers can be an odd mixture of ignorance and sophistication. The are quick to leapfrog from ‘learning’ how to use a basic product, to desiring the latest technology.
The smartest consumer-goods companies are rethinking or turning towards frugal innovation in the light of this culture of aspiration. And Frugal Innovation is what we have practiced for over a decade for several brands entering India. We tailor our practices with a view towards not just cost reduction to create a frugal object or service, but also uncovering aspirations and motivations for conspicuous consumption.