Do customers buy what they want, or what they don’t really need?


Nalini, that is a bumper sticker of a question!

I classify products and services sold in the market into two kinds. One is what I call the “needs and wants” category of products and the other is what I call the “desires and aspirations” category of products. While the former is all about things one really, really needs to live a decent quality of life and survive, the latter is all about products rather frivolous to living.

A classic example of the “needs and wants” category product would be tea and coffee, and possibly a basic detergent. An example of the “desires and wants” products would be a Jimmy Choo shoe or a Mont Blanc pen. We will not die without these.

I do believe customers end up buying what they always wanted in the “needs and wants” category for sure. In the “desires and aspirations” category, customers end up buying aspirational brands. Products that are at times of little practical value, even.

Does CSR activity help luxury brands at all?


Subbiah, yes, CSR adds value even to luxury brands.

It is important to remember that luxury brands are bought and franchised by consumers sitting right atop the pyramid of affordability.

These consumers are people who have seen it all. They have risen above basic needs, social needs and security needs. These consumers at the top emote with social needs that much more. They have been through many facets of life. They are now so economically enabled that they have shifted their focus to social betterment. They have the time to focus on social good as the pressures of economic well-being that bogs down the middle class does not bog them down.

CSR, therefore, is a great marketing tool when approaching the luxury brand consumer.

Social networking sites, micro-blogging sites and their ilk are becoming more and more popular. Why?

New Delhi

Romi, the reasons are simple.

The time and patience factors among young working Indians is shrinking rapidly. Nobody has the time to read a solid book. Nobody has the patience to sit through a five-day version of a cricket match. Even a one-day version has become boring. Consumers today want an instant fix. Twitter to that extent is an instant fix. It does require nothing intellectual. It requires all of 140 characters and anyone can do it.

The modern consumer leads two lives. The first is the “real” life that all of us lead, with real 1:1 relationships, real 1: 1 meetings, face-to-face conversation and more. The second is the “virtual” life one leads through the Internet. Every blog, every social networking site and every posting of the entertainment and commercial kind alike on the Internet is part of our virtual lives. Consumers today are deepening the duration of their “virtual” lives and shortening the length of their “real” lives.

As a whole generation of consumers starts living a virtual life through electronic means and through the means of social networking sites, marketers cannot ignore this medium.

A whole new discipline of digital marketing needs to emerge. A whole new science of un-intrusively using social networking to marketing benefit is falling into place even as we speak.

Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. Send your questions to