The Indian consumer is changing, the economic behaviour of households is altering and hence there is an imperative for researchers to change how they classify consumers. On Wednesday, the Market Research Society of India (MRSI) announced that it would be adopting a new socio-economic classification system ‘ISEC’ which would be more relevant to today’s contexts.

ISEC will replace NCCS (New Consumer Classification System) that was introduced in 2015, which in turn had replaced the three- decade old SEC that had become dated given the country’s GDP growth and other factors. Socio-economic classification is important as it enables brands and agencies to understand their target audience’s behaviour and profiles and set price points.

Unlike NCCS that only factored the education of the chief earner and the presence of certain consumer durable items in the household, MRSI’s ISEC includes the occupation of the chief earner, education of the highest educated male adult as well as education of the highest educated female adult. It has been created by a team of experts and professionals from across the research and insights industry using National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), the Worldpanel division, Kantar, Indian Readership Survey (IRS), among others. 

To begin with, ISEC will be adopted by The Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA), research users of various organisations such as ITC, Hindustan Unilever Limited, Marico, Dabur India, etc., research agencies including Kantar, IPSOS, as well as key media agencies.

On rolling out the new socio-economic classification system, Director General at Market Research Society of India, Mitali Chowhan said, “Socio-economic classification is the base of any targeted consumer understanding. ISEC was developed by the industry, for the industry and unlike any previous classification system, it considers women’s education as a key definer of social capital, an attribute that is highly pertinent in current day.”

Speaking on the new SEC, Sunil Kataria, Chief Executive Officer – Raymond Lifestyle - India & International, and Chairman of The Indian Society of Advertisers said, “The development and progress of our economy is at a rapid pace. At such a pace it is even more important for us as advertisers and spenders to understand our consumers and their behaviour. ISEC gives us a holistic view of our audience segment and how they are equipped to make decisions.”

According to MRSI, ISEC will lead to sharper and refined targeting. ISEC’s discriminating quality is visible with each of the class/tier behaving differently, thus being more relevant as the economy develops with improvements in standards of living, increased asset ownership, infrastructure development and government interventions.