Friday, August 29, 2014

Being Baniya

If you are in 20s and staying on rent and that too beyond Andheri towards Borvali, your life is supposedly sad. Mine is, I stay at Malad which is predominantly inhabited by Gujratris and Marwaris.  However for someone who is constantly observing the relationship between a marketer and consumer, this place is a delight.  

I know Marathi Manus is upset with the fact that they are being sidelined in their own state but basis the difference between the way a Gujarati and a Marathi handle a customer, you would prefer the former any day.  Infact if Philip Kotler had to train a Marathi businessman he would be forced to change his name to Philip Kotlerkar first and then awkwardly defend his marketing fundas that the world gladly accepted.

So what happens when you visit a General Store run by a Marathi?

Me: Ek bread dena ..
Shopkeeper: ignores
Me: Ek bread dena
Shopkeeper:  looks at you as if you asked for his daughter’s hand.  (ignores again)
Me: hai ya nahi? Deni hai nahi deni
Shopkeeper: Nahi hai.. wait karna hai toh karo nahi toh jao (followed by aaila maila taila and such phrases that are dear to them)

Cut to a Gujarati/Marwari  general store where the shopkeeper will be so concerned that you will look for a tattoo on his arm which same as yours wondering if this guy is your lost brother.

Shopkeeper: kai du?
Me: ek bread chahiye
Shopkeeper:  Ae chotu ek bread de fatafat. Aur kya loge .. Maggie, aata, doodh, thepla, kuch?
Me: Nahi, thank you abhi nahi.
Shopkeeper: number le jao shop ka, order kar dena, bhijwa denge saaman

(Chotu gets bread loaf in 9 seconds. I leave the shop in approx. 30 seconds)

Wonder what gives rise to such a different  attitude towards customers for two different communities that have the same operating environment and business objective.  While external factors remain the same it must be intrinsic to the cultural values that have been transferred to the individual.

Now extend this example to a macro environment, the organized retail and the malls. These are typically the markets where lot of research has gone into from designing the brand to placement of the products, from price point purchases to creating a favorable in-store environment.  Walmart , Target, Big Bazaar, Hypercity have all been continuously working towards delivering customer satisfaction.  

So who owns these chains/malls  in Mumbai predominantly?

·         Big Bazaar -  Kishore Biyani (Marwari)
·         D- Mart- R K Damani (Gujarati)
·         Infinity Mall, Inorbit Mall, Shoppers Stop-  Raheja (Sindhi)
·         Kalpatru Group – Korum- Mofatraj Munot (Baniya)
·         R-City Mall- Subhash Runwal (Marwari Jain)
·         Phoenix Mills -  Ashokkumar Radhakrishna Ruia (Baniya)

The financially intelligent have always invested in real estate. The returns in real estate in a booming economy are huge. Why is it that in Mumbai the best commercial properties are owned by a specific community? Is it a nexus? Is it that others do not possess strong business acumen?  Or is it just the risk involved in pushing the comfort levels?  An interesting article on the peculiar pedigree of business class here will give you an insight on which community is amongst World’s Richest Individuals.

It is from observation that those who are born in a business community develop business acumen as part of their upbringing. A Gujarati and a Mawari spend money differently from the other communities.  They are trained to become businessmen rather than excellent workers. On the other hand if you see Marathi community makes an excellent workforce.  However if you leave them with an investment amount, they wouldn’t know where to head start.

With an education system like ours where we are trained to become rats would it make a difference if our system starts focusing on Financial IQ as well? Why is it that we are not taught in schools the value of money and investments? We aim for higher salaries and designations, why don’t we aim towards entrepreneurship? The idea of entrepreneurship is completely looked down upon even today. A child who would hope to be an entrepreneur would be termed as “useless”.  Most of us go for an MBA to get a match forget starting a new business.

So how does one break this attitudinal cycle and rigid perceptions if strong cultural notions that have lingered from generations are hampering their growth? Worst case, they are not even willing to acknowledge that there is a problem which is affecting their business.  Also does this also mean that till the time the attitudes don’t change, the power of money will belong to a specific community because they understand how it flows?

I would not want to generalize communities due to the vastness of it; however based on experience and observations of many people such inferences have been made. It would be great if you have any experience or a different point of view on this, you can write in the comments below.  

In the meantime someone please tell my Marathi shopkeeper, risk toh Spiderman ko bhi lena padta hai, tum toh phir bhi salesman ho.

1 comment:

  1. They will take eternity to serve bread but jump in a second to join MNS.