About INgene blog : First ever Indian Youth trend Insights blog

About INgene : First ever Indian Youth trend Insights blog:
This blog explores the detailed characteristics of Young-India and explains the finer & crucial differences they have with their global peers. The blog also establishes the theory of “adopted differentiation” (Copyright Kaustav SG,2007) and how the Indian & Inglodian youth are using this as a tool to differentiate themselves from the “aam aadmi” (mass population of India) to establish their new found identity.

The term youth refers to persons who are no longer children and not yet adults. Used colloquially, however the term generally refers to a broader, more ambiguous field of reference- from the physically adolescent to those in their late twenties.
Though superficially the youth all over the world exhibits similar [degree of] attitude, [traits of] interests & [deliverance of] opinion but a detailed observation reveals the finer differential characteristics which are crucial and often ignored while targeting this group as a valued consumer base. India is one of the youngest countries in the world with 60% of its population less then 24 years of age and is charted as the most prospective destination for the retail investment in the A. T. Kearney’s Global Retail Opportunity Report, 2007. With the first ever non-socialistic generation’s thriving aspiration & new found money power combined with steadily growing GDP, bubbling IT industry and increasing list of confident young entrepreneurs, the scenario appears very lucrative for the global and local retailers to target the “Youngisthan” (young-India). But, the secret remains in the understanding of the finer AIOs of this generation. The Indian youth segment roughly estimates close to 250million (between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five) and can be broadly divided (socio-psychologically) into three categories: the Bharatiyas, the Indians & the Inglodians (copyright Kaustav SG 2008). The Bharatiyas estimating 67% of the young population lives in the rural (R1, R2 to R4 SEC) areas with least influence of globalization, high traditional values. They are least economically privileged, most family oriented Bollywood influenced generation. The Indians constitute 31.5% (A, B,C, D & E SEC) and have moderate global influence. They are well aware of the global trends but rooted to the Indian family values, customs and ethos. The Inglodians are basically the creamy layers (A1,A SEC) and marginal (1.5% or roughly three million) in number though they are strongly growing (70% growth rate). Inglodians are affluent and consume most of the trendy & luxury items. They are internet savvy & the believers of global-village (a place where there is no difference between east & west, developing & developed countries etc.), highly influenced by the western music, food, fashion & culture yet Indian at heart.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

caste and youth in India: an article

In my last post, I was insisting that the surveying agencies must consider pyschographic/ mind-set segments of youth rather than age group before they analyze any data to avoid stereotyping the youth. The below article published in buzzfeed emphasizes that 'progressive' millennial (a mind-set again) avoids discussion on caste where as my last post shows that caste is an important issue to consider!


Progressive Millennial Indians, Let's Talk About Why We Never Talk About Caste

A meme recently appeared on my Facebook timeline: a child plays as her mother asks, “Are your dolls having a tea party?” The little girl answers, “No mom, they’re protesting against patriarchy.”
The clever cartoon is accompanied by a proclamation: “omg, Priya this is so you”.
There are several likes and cheeky comments. Priya responds with faux-embarrassment – “LOL stop it!” – though everyone knows there’s pride in being outed as a feminist.
Variations of this exchange light up my timeline. I watch, smirk, and judge till I get tagged myself. And then I respond like Priya, secretly thrilled to have been validated as progressive.
This is the grammar of the metropolitan, well-off, English-speaking, millennial internet. We curate online identities, knowing that social justice knowhow is their hippest ingredient.
We’re young folks of privilege, negotiating professional and urban struggles one weekend at a time. We live in India, but haven’t given up on “Bharat”.
We’re interested in the vagaries of our national discourses on gender, nationalism, social conservatism, and more. We perceive injustices around us and raise hell about them. We outrage quickly and happily.
(For evidence, see the popularity of millennial-darling comedians and YouTube stars All India Bakchod, whose popularity is owed significantly to their satirising of issues as varied as homophobia, victim-blaming in rape culture, and policy debate around net neutrality.)
In some ways, this is an ideal scenario – caring about a better world has become coveted cultural currency among people of privilege.
But, while we tweet ourselves hoarse about feminism and colourism and veganism and ally-ism, there’s an omnipresent injustice which doesn’t enjoy the halo of our Facebook moralising.
The big, confusing C-word.
Nagraj Manjule, fresh on the success of “Sairat”, was asked in an interview why he makes films only on caste. He responded that it required a special talent to avoid the topic, and that he wasn’t a particularly talented person. Witty, and also extraordinarily true.
At the Jaipur Literature Festival, that famed annual gathering of progressives, Kajol declared that people had become over-sensitive these days and that there was no intolerance in Bollywood, no dividing lines of caste or creed.
It takes “special talent” to stomach her mann ki baat considering that only a week earlier, a young man in Hyderabad hung from a fan because his value as a person was reduced to his caste.
Kajol’s statement is not in isolation. A study by The Hindu in 2015 showed that only 6 out of 300 Bollywood films made in the previous two years had featured lower caste protagonists.
Too often, “poor” is the blanket identity of characters who would most likely hail from lower caste backgrounds (think Arjun and Ranveer’s irascible Bikram and Bala from Gundey, or Nawazuddin’s delightful Shaikh from The Lunchbox). Too often, Bollywood cinema has invisibilized caste under the more simplified construct of class.
The word “jaat” has today almost disappeared from Bollywood vocabulary, surfacing only occasional references to criminal tropes.
And television is no different. A quick glance at the top TRP-rated shows on air currently reveals that none of them features a dalit protagonist.
Luckily, online entertainers have an opportunity to reject some regressive conventions ingrained in Bollywood and TV. But nonetheless, when it comes to caste, there’s a strange diffidence, a disquieting silence, even from model millennial progressives All India Bakchod.
On their Hot Star news-comedy show On Air with AIB, the group raised bold issues week after week, still managing to never touch the C-word. They even did an entire segment on police brutality without mentioning caste.
Dalit activists have been arguing for years that there’s a casteist bias in India’s judicial and law-enforcement apparatus, as evidenced by the NCRB report which found that almost 33% of inmates in Indian prisons are SC/STs.
It must have taken special talent to avoid that.
Things are no different on the cricket field. Until very recently, cricket was the preserve of upper-caste city elites. Today, even the most die-hard Indian cricket fans will only be able to name one dalit cricketer – Vinod Kambli.
Few know of Palwankar Baloo, the pre-independence left-arm spinner who was made to use separate dining and lodging facilities on tours, and denied captaincy owing to his caste.
The most commonly peddled dismissal of the cricket-and-caste conversation is that sport is about technical excellence and that the best team should be selected, irrespective of caste or religion. But sport is not beyond social justice.
South Africa has experimented with affirmative action to change the composition of its teams and dismantle deep-rooted and invisible racist structures of discrimination. Is their system working well? No. But at the very least, there is acknowledgement of the problem, and experimentation with the intent of solving it.
Here, even in the most educated circles, the moment I attempt to trace casteism into anything beyond the designated cauldrons of caste oppression – honor killings, khap panchayats, dalit rapes – I’m quickly dismissed as a fanatic.
Jootha is not a caste thing, yaar, it’s scientifically proven to be more hygienic.”
“But do you even know what the SC and ST cut-off for IIM is?”
“I don’t care how much soap he uses. The bathroom guy can’t cook the food. Basic hai.”
There is a suspicion towards reading casteism into the everyday structures that we’re used to, even if they normalize caste-based oppression. In this orbit, caste has almost become a “bad” word, considered the domain of the subaltern, small-town political class who use it for their nefarious mobilisation. Lower caste assertionism in form of political blocs, caste-alliances or even Ambedkarite social politics is often dismissed with a shake of the head.
In other words: for those Indians who truly, genuinely believe that “there’s no such thing as casteism in 2016,” trying to talk about dalit rights feels divisive, not progressive or productive or urgent, as it is.
What’s perplexing is how this coexists in a completely non-ironic way with #BlackLivesMatter, pro-Bernie Sanders memes, and the Tumblr-ised notion of “checking your privilege”.
Perhaps the answer lies in the idiom of oppression. The thinking, sensitive millennial is a product of privilege, a fact that is made amply clear to him or her over and over again.
This upper caste urban sliver is the first Indian middle class to have never known mass-scale unemployment. They’ve been told they’re spoilt, that they have it easy, and that they should be thankful.
But they don’t actually feel thankful. They've learned that great inequalities exist warranting outrage.
In the office, he witnesses gender disparities, so he becomes a spokesperson for workplace feminism. On the streets, she sees men beating a dog with sticks, so she’s now an advocate for animal rights. We see public spaces as our own, so we stand up for the Kiss of Love event. We witness Western victories for LGBTQ rights, and we outrage because things are just as bad (in fact, much worse) for queer Indians.
We know very well how to spot an obvious injustice, point at it, and say “no, in fact, this is not how things should be.”
To question caste however, is to question one’s own feudal privilege, inherited from our own parents, family, teachers, and social peers.
There isn’t any far-removed injustice to point at and detachedly deem problematic.
It’s your own world view, your own accidental advantage, the comfort of your own home.
Casteism is not something “out there”, and hence it falls outside the gaze.
You are the insider. Very often, you are the inadvertent oppressor. And it is these deeply ingrained privileges which preclude us from questioning the gravest injustices.
Why can’t the domestic help use the toilet in the house? Why can’t the cook eat at the same table with you at lunch? They made the food and they will clean the dishes, after all.
Why does he or she sit on the floor to watch TV, while two sofas stay unoccupied?
On a more broad level, whose cuisine is marketed in restaurants and chains in all manners of streets and lanes, and whose food is found illegal? Whose gods and goddesses are being invoked and televised into serials, and whose are ignored?
Whose customs are normalised as axiomatic, and whose social customs are seen as primitive, even uncultured?
Delving into these discussions, an astute mind can quickly observe entire races of enslaved Indians and suppressed cultures around us.
Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie once made a speech about the dangers of a single story, how it blinds us to the possibilities of other alternate narrative imaginations.
In India, we have been peddling the same single story across films, television, advertising, newspapers, cricket fields, restaurants, and living rooms.
In fact, this single story is so powerful and all-pervasive that a lot of urban millennial professionals feel caste is something that no longer exists. It does take a special talent to invisibilize the deaths of sewage workers who die inside drains everyday.
It does take a special talent to tediously raise the “I know this one rich SC guy who got a college seat basis quota” argument at every opportunity, even as campus suicides by dalit students has been widely written about and been the subject of documentary productions.
There are no dalits among the upper management of most corporations, the most powerful editors and journalists, higher judiciary, chiefs of armed services, and even the organisational elites of most political parties.
If every major social institution of nation-building is not representative of the oppressed castes, then is it representative at all? And if “belonging” in a democracy is determined by representation, then do dalits “belong” in India at all?
And then there’s us: the well-read, well-meaning, and “woke”.
If we refuse to engage with and question our most insidious privileges, and our complicity in perpetuating non-inclusive social structures, then are we really the liberals that our memes and hashtags paint us as?

Monday, October 23, 2017

national survey of their attitudes, anxieties and aspirations of Youth in India - A survey coducted by Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Lokniti

With my more than 2 decades of experience, I have understood that the “youth” can not be boxed as one category of age group; though in every survey across this nation the agencies generalize the youth and try to portray a single opinion/ statement!  As I have mentioned way back in 2009, the youth in India has 3 distinct psychographic segments ( mind-sets) with unique mind-sets and AIO (Attitude, Interest and Opinion) of every segment. In this survey the agencies covered 19 states (Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh,Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal) though they have not mentioned the cities/ villages they have surveyed or the proportion of youth from villages, SEC II cities and SEC I cities. It is interesting to note that the study divided youth on the basis of their caste (Upper Caste youth, Dalit and Adivasi youth) rather than their mind-set! These further exhibits that the agencies are keen to stereotype the youth over and over again on caste which further complicates the socio-political situation of this nation. 

Below is a brief of the report as published in The Hindu

Indian youth are certainly becoming more modern in their appearance and consumption habits, “but their thoughts and views reflect a troubling inclination towards intolerance and conservatism”, says a national survey of their attitudes, anxieties and aspirations, released in New Delhi on Monday.
The survey, jointly conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Lokniti, covered 6,122 respondents in the age group of 15-34.

It was carried out in April-May 2016 in 19 States. This is the second such survey. The first one was conducted in 2007. Among the respondents, 49% were in favour of death penalty, while only 33% felt that it should be abolished. An overwhelming 60%, cutting across religions, believed that films which hurt religious sentiments should be banned, with only 23% opposed to such bans.
Beef eating

On the lately contentious subject of beef consumption, 46% disagreed with the liberal sentiment that “consumption of beef is part of personal eating habits and nobody should have an objection”, while only 36% agreed with it.

However, 40% of non-vegetarian Hindu youth and 90% of Left supporters had no problem with beef consumption. At the same time, the survey also found the majority of Indian youth (58%) to be non-vegetarian, while 30% and 9% described themselves as pure vegetarians and “eggitarians” respectively.

The illiberal orientation was further underscored in the domain of interpersonal relations, with 67% of the youth opposed to live-in relationships. On the question of inter-religious marriages, 45% were opposed to them, while only 28% were in support. The majority of the respondents (51%) agreed with the proposition that “wives should always listen to their husbands”. Also, 41% agreed that it is not right for women to work after marriage. While 53% were opposed to dating before marriage, 40% disapproved of Valentine’s Day celebrations. A fairly high proportion of young women respondents also held such conservative views, the report said.

Marriage and caste

While acceptance for the idea of inter-caste marriage had risen, from 31% in 2007 to 55% in 2016, the reported incidence of inter-caste marriages among respondents was only 4%. Over 84% of the married youth had had an arranged marriage, compared to the 6% that reported a love marriage. While one-third of those with a love marriage had married outside their caste, 97% of arranged marriages were found to be within caste. Arranged marriage was also the preference among the unmarried, with 50% saying they would like their parents to take the decision regarding their life partner. Only 12% expressed a preference for love marriage.

The survey also found Indian youth to be quite religious, with 78% of the respondents stating that they prayed often, while 68% reported going to a place of religious worship frequently.

Modern values such as gender equality did not seem to have much purchase.
The survey also found strong support for existing quota for SC-ST and OBCs in government jobs, with 48% in favour and 26% against.

The full report can be read here:

Sunday, October 22, 2017

an open letter to Nike : perspective of an Indian

I was part of youth Research of Nike for sometime, as an external youth expert for a project.  “How can youth like white and black!” one of the top executives from the marketing team exclaimed during the consumer analysis meeting at Nike, Bangaluru office. We have conducted a deep dive study to understand the Indian youth psychographics towards sports and their perception on Nike, as a brand/ ideology/ product.  Also to test some of the products which Nike intended to launch in India. The result was not a stunner to me but for the Nike India team, I guess. The team wanted to launch a bright neon range of ‘fashionable’ sports shoes in India and most of the participants rejected them stating that the color appears “cheap” and not like “Nike”… they preferred Nike shoes and tees in white/ grey/ black, also suggested that Nike should bring in more serious sports shoes in Indian market from their global collection. In fact, the brand recall of Nike was very high in the category of sportswear. Though, many emphasized that they prefers to buy Nike from “abroad” rather than buying from India as the collection in Indian stores are not “updated” as per the global trend. The ‘counterfeits’ were also an issue and Nike design team did nothing much to ensure that their shoes are stunningly different (visually) than those fake Nike shoes sold in flea markets (ie. Sarojini Nagar, Palika Bazar, Varma Bazar, Chor market or Brigade Road). The price range of original Nike shoes / accessories/ tees available in India were much higher than the existing sports / sport-fashion brands and Nike was perceived as serious sportswear brand in India. Interestingly, when I tried to explain the team my theory of Adopted Differentiation and that Nike should try to remain as serious sports brand rather than competing with Puma or Adidas they thought it is just another ranting from an outsider! In other words, Nike research team tried to stereotype Indian Youth in the same frame of global youth!  Globally, Nike is sold to the middle class consumers and Nike presumed that is the right market for their product in India too (with much higher price point). Obviously, the middle class youth of Indian or Bharathiya psychographics were buying “similar looking Nike” shoes from flea market rather than Nike stores. I had a feeling that Nike was trying to presume that, may be, the sample selected (for the study) by me was wrong (though the list was verified by their research executive), or the analysis was not perfect. None of my suggestions were adopted and the paradox in Nike’s consumer segment appeared fatal for the business. I read that Nike's sales have fallen to Rs 764 crore in FY16 compared to Rs 803 crore in FY15 (data from Registrar of Companies). It’s loss widened to Rs 170 crore in 2015-16 compared to a loss of Rs 101 crore in 2-014-15. Further they have started closing their stores across India (35% stores closed already). In other hand, the German sportswear maker Puma, which follows a calendar year, showed accumulated profits of around Rs 47 crore for the year-ended December 2015.  Puma places their products as “fashionably sporty” products. In the article I have also read a quote as “I will prefer to buy Nike products abroad than in India simple reason being the do not bring their latest range to India! In my opinion they do not think Indian market is matured enough so no point being the latest products!”. This exactly resonates to what I have suggested them when Nike was trying to get a grip in Indian subcontinent. Nike’s youth-paradox is almost similar to Zara, India. Globally, Zara is one of the easy-to-reach fast-fashion brand targeting middle class fashion-forward youth market, but with higher price point in India, Zara gradually mutated into a higher segment pret line in this subcontinent through the décor of the store, their selective advertisement and conscious selection of product line. The store is predominantly in pastel shades, black and tones of grey (sans bright colors). The ambience appears posh and their stores are located in some of the best malls in India including Emporio Mall, Delhi. I wish, Nike, rather than spreading exponentially could have focused into becoming a serious sports brand for In’glo’dians who can afford the price for innovative highly R&D oriented product. Or, focus on more India specific grass-root innovation at an affordable price range (like Decathlon). 

In the article quoted above, Dave Thomas, Adidas Group India mentioned that “India is still not a fitness-oriented market, although it has great potential”. It’s funny on how someone tries to put the blame on client / “market” the moment they don’t succeed in a rate they presumes they should be! If India is not a “fitness-oriented” market then how come Decathlon is building huge shops across India and all of them are successfully running? Its turnover more than doubled in same period in the year 2013—from Rs.60 crore in December 2012 to Rs.128 crore for the year ended 31 December 2013. In a report published last year one must note that Decathlon has doubled the store count in India in the past 14 to 18 months. In May 2014, it had 13 stores. Stores in newer markets, such as Guwahati, were added this year, taking the store count to 24! What is the success mantra of Decathlon? They are focusing on “accessible sportwear/ sports goods” for the “youth minded” individuals. And the consumers in Decathlon’s store are indeed serious sportslovers. May be age-wise they are not teens or tweens. Most of the consumers in the store I have observed are 30+. As I have always stated, age doesn’t matter but the mindset, which unfortunately Nike failed to understand. Nike can never be a ‘fashionable brand’ neither can become an ‘affordable brand’. Indian youth who buys Nike are not the rappers, hiphoppers or follows any cult! They are serious, sweat loving 30+ ‘young at mind’ sports-lovers who wants to access an Original Nike shoe which will be uniquely made for India with global appeal.

Hence, these are few serious take away for Nike team:

1.       Consider India as a unique market and don’t stereotype the youth / sports. Research, analyse and then explore, don’t dump the products here and expect them to be bought
2.       Set target market right
3.       Don’t be judgemental and impose team’s idea on consumer, rather listen to them and spend time to design unique product for Indian market (as Decathlon did for Galli Cricket or Nokia did it in their initial years). Even if it’s a running shoe, the roads of every country are different!
4.       Expand Nike’s product range, make them at per global offering
5.       Fight against counterfeit by designing unique products which has visible difference from the fake