Born with platinum spoon!

Two incidents narrated by my wife recently made my write this.

Incident -1:

This lady who lives in the gated society next to us is a working mother with a toddler to take care. This is what she does every day before she starts for her office. She picks up her child from the bed and drops her at the day care half asleep. The responsibility to take care of the child falls entirely on the day care centre right from giving her a bath, managing her bowels, feeding her, being her playmate, teaching her the necessities of life and putting her back to sleep. To me that sounded a whole lot to do. I would be happy if somebody managed all that for my kid. Recently I got to know the lady got extremely upset with her day care centre as she found to her dismay that they did not give shampoo wash to her daughter’s hair. My wife and her friend concluded she was overreacting and it certainly didn’t warrant the kind of dressing down the day care centre received from her. I concur.

Incident -2:

I came across a kid, all of 8 years with strong views on life. Both his parents are professionals working, reasonably well settled and holiday abroad once in a year. I am stating this to drive home that they are reasonably affluent and are financially able to meet the demands of their kid. They have their parents living in their ancestral village in their grand farmhouse surrounded by a lush green farm which few only can dream of. They have recently decided to spend their annual holiday vacationing abroad as their only kid couldn’t adjust to the earthy environs in their village. The mother proudly declared, after all he was born with ‘platinum spoon’

The above two events made me reflect on the approach I had towards studying consumers. Often in consumer research studies, our client would ask us to come up with ways to position their product. I always considered this one of the most exciting part of my work as it gives me an opportunity to think through and strategize for the client. Further it made feel part of something big, a childhood aspiration.

I also loved simplifying complex subjects in the way it made sense to me. In my attempts to identify positioning I always looked at two key elements,

  1. Address an existing pain point or a need gap
  2. Address a relevant consumer aspiration

This simplification helped me in making sense of the research data (Qualitative) and present my thoughts with clarity. The above two incidents left me with a question mark on how to best reflect the mindset of the above consumers. To me they are the ‘entitled lot’ born with a ‘platinum’ spoon. I don’t know if today we as market researchers are addressing them as we ought to.

These are not isolated incidents as we do see these consumers in every walk of our lives. Many among us wouldn’t see anything wrong with sense of entitlement. One could see them at a restaurant, in the flights that we take, in the shopping aisles, etc. You could identify them in the way they speak or address others from a position of deep-rooted superiority sans humility .

This is fast becoming a national phenomenon too. The famed middle class anger about the ruling class is all about this entitlement. High taxes, poor roads, urban slums, issues with freebies to the poor, issues against reservation. The whole establishment and it’s ways comes in the way of their purported privilege.

This has only strengthened with the advent of e-commerce and the increase in the role of technology in our lives. Technology has brought in convenience and knowledge literally to one’s finger tips. Consumers have never had it better with every e-commerce player falling over each other to offer discounts.

In the past, any access to knowledge beyond your text books were only available in the libraries and one must invest the time and effort to gain knowledge. Purpose and obsession were essential.  If I compare it with today, with ease of access, one can claim expertise with twitch of their index finger.

One might argue that ease of access to information has given us a sense of empowerment. Unfortunately, this also breeds a sense of entitlement among those who are already privileged in terms of class, caste and cash even if their knowledge is just a delusion.

While empowerment and convenience in terms access have made our lives better (especially mine) an unpleasant fallout has been this growing sense of entitlement.

This puts the position of market researchers like me who are in the business of studying consumers a unique challenge as we advise our clients to improve the customer experience. I must confess it is going to be a hard task to buy loyalty and keep them satisfied with their current mindset.

Maybe it will be worthwhile to measure how brands today are performing in terms of meeting the entitlement quotient as they brace themselves to woo this consumer. And it will be interesting to see how it gets reflected while measuring brand equity and customer satisfaction. Consumer is really the king here and he knows it. We better heed to his voice or perish. i promise to study them and see how it get’s manifested in brand choices.


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