Welcome to PacozDiscipline

I have a flair for making people & communities successful. I yearn to excel in that arena!

This is a compilation of my thoughts and responses to others thoughts. Most of them are relevant to the world of learning & development, and may be of help to you. Please add your comments and views.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Factors Influencing Purchase Choices Among Urban Youth

An article in The Economic Times (http://bit.ly/bWICOw), once featured an interesting article on the purchase choices made by the youth around us. Through this blog I have made an attempt to look at the factors from the perspective of Financial Services Sector and especially from the perspective of 'financial literacy' as an idea that my organisation and other conscientous organizations in the BFSI sector want (request) the youth in the 18-22 years bracket to embrace.

Hereon, instead of calling 'financial literacy' an idea, I shall refer to it as a social product.

The seeding of financial literacy needs to happen at an even younger age, but its never late to start. This kind of an education drive has never taken centre-stage, and today Apex bodies such as SEBI (Securities & Exchange Board of India) alongwith other market participants are drafting concrete plans and implementing the same to ensure that we are able to build a rich and vibrant economy, of which today's youth is a non-negotiable part. This is especially important also because the Government has gone on a political-party-independent drive to add 500m skilled job in the country by 2022 (www.nsdcindia.org), and also on a drive to improve the governance system in the smallest administrative cell in India, 'the panchayat'. For both of these drives, the Government has chosen the PPP (Public Private Partnership) route to ensure scalability, economies of scale, process efficiency and measureable productivity.

With these two in place, it doesn not take a rocket-scientist to expect a lot of money getting generated and getting consumed. Keeping all of this in mind if the concept of 'financial literacy' is not seeded well, then we would have a situation where money is possibly being saved, and but not getting invested at the right avenues, hence building the foundation of a catastrophe in the long-term. Considering an imminent of urbanisation of population (doesn't mean that all of the population needs to move to metros, but what matters is the thought process).

Well, to conduct this study a unique network of 'student transmitters' across campuses was used; these act as insight seekers & conversation seeders. The network reached 6 metro cities and connects with over 10000 students. The sample size makes the study worth reckoning.

The study talks of 7 factors that influence purchase choices among urban youth...

1. Talk Value
2. Utility
3. Substance
4. Conversations
5. Social Relevance
6. Engagement
7. Present at Point of Need


The product does not need to be the centre of attention but should be able to place the young buyer in a position of exclusive attention during conversations. For instance, a growing number of iPhone users are beginning to purchase unique applications, despite the availabilty of many free ones.

My take basis my observations & interactions with the youth has been that if we are able to place our social product amongst the youth in form of a 'knowledge piece' that arouses contextual interest, and one that can be put into use, it will drive the youth to understand more of it. And once the benefits are seen, people would like to flaunt the knowledge building interest amongst others. The same thing happened in its own way for IT, and the Urban India saw a sudden increase in the use of computers amongst the youth in 1995-1997.


Budgetary constraints mean that the products and features must have longterm utility, particularly when it comes to high-end purchases.

My take on this is that 'high-end' has a flexible definition whic is directly proportional to my ability to take risks with my disposable income. So, a 'high-end' purchase for me will not / may not be so for someone earning more than me, like my boss. So, if its all about the risks that we can take with our disposable income, we need to ensure that we have a low-entry barrier for the products that the youth can chose from once they become literate. The next thing comes in is long-term utility which is all about products designed to meet specific future needs; need-based maturity and not purely value-based maturity kind of products.


Yes, enticing packaging is no longer enough. Youngsters today have evolved and place a higher currency on the content. It might not glitter, but it better be gold!

The way I look at it, products need to be simple. Infact, a senior colleague was mentioning yesterday that we need to innovate to keep things simple, and that the masses aren't quite ready for exotic financial products; what was meant that financial products have to match the maturity of the buyers en-masse; and its not about whose-products-are-more-exotic.


At the point of sale, the youth make a choice easily if prior conversations about the brand have taken place within their friends/peer group. These discussions serve as easy references. For instance, laptop purchase decisions are also influenced by conversations in peer groups.

My point is that organisations should now look at making communications to their target segment interesting (and one doesn't have to einstein to know that), but the needs of the youth in terms of communication are pretty different, and the conventional wisdom around it will not work. So, are we using new media types such as facebook & twitter to update information, or are we looking at ways of engaging the youth.


A small but significant trend which is emerging. Students prefer buying products that have a positive impact on society. For instance, young people have started influencing their parents to only purchase ecofriendly home electronics, even though they maybe more expensive.

This is great, because if this is a component of purchase decisions, then we need to focus on various activities that not only deliver social value, but also projects them properly. Basically, what I understand is that making money is not bad, but everyone wants to see as to how much as we seeding back into the masses. So, this is not about socialism in its archaic context, but about how 'social' and 'capitalist' work hand-in-hand in the society... neo-capitalism.


Given the high level of clutter, young people's choices tend to tilt towards brands that engage them in a sustained manner. The target group also responds more positively on activations. For instance, games/events in college festivals where the product is strategically embedded in their environment stand a better chance of achieving higher brand recall.

So, its not just about one-on-one conversations, but also about whether there is someone talking about us, when we aren't there; are we able to engage our customers, and its beyond the online media.


The target group feels more connected and evinces loyalty to brands that are available when they need it. So the propensity to choose the same brand the next time is higher. For example, a new sanitary pad brand was available in dispensaries inside colleges, which created a brand connect with the female target group.

The question is how accessible are we, and that's not an easy one to work around. But, why forget the way telecom companies simplified their product and made it available with every mom-n-pop store, junk store etc. Innovate to remain simple.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Learning from Indian Bosses

Time to rethink what we read and who me follow!

Wharton professor of management Peter Cappelli on leadership lessons from India: http://bit.ly/atsfWd http://bit.ly/d97kvg

Peter Capelli presents an interesting perspective... The interesting thing is that many of these practices we do witness happening around us all the time, but, are biases around 'what is best has to be from west' stops us from looking at these; and while I say that, it is not entirely true too, for I have known of a lot of people (read, quite a lot) including me who have been studying these behaviors of indian bosses closely. There are ills as well, which is OK, considering that they are a part of everything & anything; the 'matter which matters' is to look at the replicable behaviors and move forward! So, net net, it makes me feel proud, and it ain't so bad as it looks!

Follow both the links, and read the entire article presented in two forms... He says...

The idea that what is good for business is good for America -- a common phrase in an earlier generation -- seems a distant memory. Where do we look for business leadership?

Let's outsource it!

In an interesting sign of the times, the most impressive business leaders at the moment may be in India. What makes them impressive is a commitment to social goals that extend beyond the interests of their firms and -- here's the good part -- stunningly impressive performance.

They don't appear to be paying any price in terms of performance for being good citizens.

The Indian economy...

> largely sidestepped the financial crisis because of wise banking practices,

> her overall growth rate is second in the world,

> her major corporations are growing at rates of 20 percent to 40 percent per year,

> her companies have been on an acquisition binge, and the evidence suggests that when they acquire foreign companies, those companies perform better.

A study of Indian businesses based around interviews with the leaders of 100 of the biggest companies in India.

Indian Business Leader Priorities...

1. Chief input for business strategy;

2. Keeper of organizational culture;

3. Guide or teacher for employees;

4. Representative of owner and investor interests; and

5. Representative of other stakeholders (e.g., employees and the community).

Some of the identified key differences between Indian and Western bosses...

1. Social Purpose

2. Invest in Employees

3. Take the long view

4. Work from their strengths

5. Act as a role model