Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's day

Sample these (TOI) –
The V-Day market in India is a whopping Rs.1200 crore. And by all estimates it’s growing at 20-25% rate YOY. It’s a serious cash cow for marketers who’re looking at fresh positioning planks to milk the occasion.
From Nokia to Airtel, from LG to HP to Microsoft, from Taj Jiva spa to financial services all are lining up to sell keeping in mind the unique choice of customers.
Luxury brands are growing at 8% rate, fashion apparels are using this occasion to bring out new outlooks and there is probably not a single line of business which could afford to miss the bus.
Also, there is a serious psychological threat to those who remain out of this lucrative pie. People with no or broken relationships face tremendous peer pressure, and psychologists or sociologists argue that it won’t be long before love becomes a necessary evil commodity in the economic market.

For a person like me who has a keen interest in how economics and society shape up individual’s life (and even to the extent of antagonizing a few, I believe those are more powerful than religion) – I just became a shade more curious to follow such articles. And hola!! I was not far from the truth.

There have been questions galore about the cultural misfit, about the consumerism, about the hollowness of the celebration on this particular day – and about how it demeans our very own Indian cultural heritage. But somewhere all these arguments miss the central theme of such celebrations – the ecstasy of the mind.
Its not that I celebrate V-Day (by choice or lack of it) as most of the younger India do but, as one of the articles in a vernacular says – at times often cliché things need to be expressed and celebrated.
But, my idea was not to debate about the vilification of V-day, instead the intriguing battle between human emotions and economics. In an increasingly globalized world where barriers are breaking down, yet distance between human minds are rapidly increasing, the business proposition of expression of love is too good to resist. Think of a conservative Muslim girl, or for that matter – a teenager from a low middle class family standing in front of such huge public display of love and thinking about the dream prospects. Now, to compound, if (s)he is in love then think of the appeal this makes. All around people are busy to express something as pure as love, yet this person feels out of that colorful world! And that is precisely how the appeal of this business is growing – breaking barriers of all economical and religious taboos.
To state the obvious, the more such intangibles the better for the marketers. As MBA teaches us, you couldn't value intangibles.

Now, there was a thought that whether as a marketer one would want your beloved to be changed every year. Considering love is non perishable and post marriage the expressive nature diminishes, by all means to survive, the market size should increase. For that to happen there are only 2 possibilities – either influx of newer lovebirds or break up and reorganization of existing loving pairs. Since, the first is by no means capable of being influenced (even though recent studies suggest that people are trying to fall in love due to increased peer pressure), the second is the only solution. So, is being immoral in trying to push for break up helps in economical terms? Nobody could answer. Hence, the advertisers need to have this subtle approach – without gift love is not as great as it sounds and forget your past by concentrating on present or future.
This serves both up selling as well as market penetration.

For once, a so called intellectual (antel, in Bengali) like me thought dead against of commoditization something as pure and emotional as love. But, probably there is something which we are ignoring which we are yet to realize. Everyday we are becoming a more rootless society, that every incremental power of independence is taking us away from being dependent, that being illogical is not equivalent to be in love and that by definition “sacrifice” never asks for return. Our mental bankruptcy is driving our materialistic hunger and at times even prostitution seems more moral than “being happy”.
However, there is hope till we die – as without hope we are left only with depths of loneliness. As economics triumph over all human emotions, as each and every moment of our lives become a commodity, as east and west fight over moral supremacy – my sincere wish is that we all come back and realize the starting point – that love should enrich us even in selfless sacrifice and materialistic expressions just remain a carrier of the internal message ------

Amar o poran o jaha chaai, tumi taai tumi taai go;
Toma chaara e jogote mor keho naai, keho naai go..”

(You are what my heart wants, and there is nobody else without you in this world for me)



At 4:02 PM , Blogger Raj said...

Nicely thought up article. However, I think the cause lies somewhere else. What you have put up is outcome of that cause.

This has more to do with our so called tenacity to acclimatize to westernization and this is not new. Since eons, we have been doing this on several occasions.

Well the business is exploiting it no doubt. Call it consumerism or commoditization or selling emotions/feelings, it is specific to Indian market and not so pre-dominant in other non-westernized (or Eastern value-based) societies!
The closest akin (value-wise) to Indian version of Valentine Day, as I can surmise, is the 'mahashivaratri' which I believe hardly any of the urban youths even are aware of. I can assure you, if similar marketing gimmicks follow the occasion, even it's going to be a big hit!

Otherwise, I am a firm believer of the opinion that had economics & feelings were to walk together, we would not have seen a Buddha aur more earthly the Ashokas, Shahjahans and many such greats!

At 5:10 PM , Blogger Stambhit said...

I bet that most parts of the world follow the same hype and hoopla over V-Day. Just sample a few -
Saudi Arabia has banned selling red roses lest it spoil their tradition. And people are finding ingenuine ways to show love.

Kenya - 2nd largest exporter of flowers to UK is facing a threat of labor unrest - and combined with the prospect of less exports during this peak season, authorities are willing to negotiate.

Holland is very unsure about its horticulture business as it is showing stagnation in export. FYI, Holland is the largest exporter of flowers in world (more than 50% market share).

And guess who is laughing all the way due to this - INDIA. Yet huge domestic demand is outstripping the chance of earning pounds.

All I am trying is that, in a globalized world, u r increasingly becoming alone and hence any materialistic expression wud catch ur imagination.
Tajmahal probably earns more $ than software exports and thanks to Ashoka and Buddha, we have stream of tourists flocking INDIA inspite of horrendous infrastructure.
Remember - Incredible India is a huge success.

And as far as Mahashivratri is concerned, you have a small problem - it couldn't transcend the religious boundary dude.

At 5:56 PM , Blogger Anindya said... it also a day for the victorious? does it marginalise the singlets? Market capitalism will never bother about equitable and social issues. Indian growth is all about consumerism and V-day is just another event in India Shining .
Globalisation results in culture shifts and we can not ignore it. It affects everybody and is the only deciding factor for succes of the same. V-day will decide new loosers and winners and we have to face it.
However our culture has good strength and in the end it will come out victorious and Indian Diaspora will understand the true meaning of love and togetherness.

At 11:19 AM , Blogger Stambhit said...

My opinion never ventured into the areas of us-vs-them (read capitalism vs socialism) as that's a totally different topic. All I wanted to highlight was the all pervading power of marketing which could make or break simple emotional things in life. Just for example, take the case of marriage. Recent study showed that increasingly Indian marriages are becoming a fashion statement, an expansive ceremony rather than an emotional one - thanks to packaging of the whole concept of intangible feeling.
The whole culture of celebrity fashion and capitalism is based on marketing which expands consumerism.
We might argue about the perils of both of the "isms" but, we can't deny the ill effects of such unwanted intrusons into our very personal moments. Sometimes, I feel, even losing is a better proposition as it takes the limelight beyond you thereby allowing you to enjoy certain small but unimportant things, which otherwise you would have not been able to figure out.

Think about it and you won't feel disappointed.

At 5:27 PM , Blogger spiderman! said...

I would like to do a survey of the market of Vday in North India vs South India...I have a feeling that the results would be quite interesting...and its ok...if people are making money by creating utterly useless takes talent to do that !

At 10:59 AM , Blogger SRK said...

it is a nice post, but i don seem to get the point :(

1. If it is commercialization u r talkin about, it is happenning in all spheres of our life... you are constantly being judged by what you have rather than what you are! People dont want to know what work you do, they want to know what was your year end bonus...

2. "Is commercialization corrupting a pure emotion like love" - If it is really pure, commerce cant corrupt it... if it ain't, then it deserved to be corrupted anyways...

3. And as a guy hoping for more money at the end of the day (consumerism, u see), I'd rather that there are enough fools who buy useless stuff... after all, famous economists have suggested breaking bridges and rebuilding them to kickstart economic growth...

4. Do the single guys feel left out? of course... is it only b'coz of V-day? probably... but then, u and i deserve to feel left out :))


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