Introduction From the neighborhood kirana store to hypermarkets and from brick and mortar stores to online shopping, there has been a mammoth change in the way shopping experience has evolved in recent years. Shopping which at one time was based on necessity is now based on comforts and luxuries and has transformed into a hobby and a pass time activity. Due to rising income levels, people no more buy strictly for their needs but also end up in buying the things for which there may not be a requirement as such.
The drawback of this is that people end up in wasting their hard earned money which they could have saved and invested in more meaningful ways. "Work more, earn more and spend more" is the tagline being followed mostly by people earning good incomes, especially in big/metro cities. Let me be very clear here that there are people who in spite of earning good money still they are very prudent as far as spending money on shopping is concerned. They think, analyze their needs and then buy. But still, I see comparatively people exhibiting random and unthinkable shopping behavior are more common to find and hence my intent is to highlight this problem.
Let us now try to look at factors responsible for this newly evolved shopping behavior among certain sections of the population.
Factors responsible for the unplanned and unintended shopping
Sometimes, if we carefully note, many of these offers given by shopping outlets are misleading and a mere eyewash. These offers mainly aim at making customers shop more and more and thus earn profit due to the high volume of sale. Sometimes you may see that even after the huge discount price of the goods is not something which is very cheap, it is just what it should be or even more than that whereas people think that since they are getting discount on MRP it is cheap. Consider an example of 50% discount on a branded shirt whose MRP is Rs 2500. So even if its price is Rs 1250 after discount it does not seem to be cheap. Again it is a practice sometimes to raise the MRP and then provide discount so that customer feels that it is under discounted price and buys it.
Of course, this is not a rule and many of the offers and discounts are really worth buying and they do save your money. So there is no harm in going for those offers and discounts when they seem worth going for and are pocket-friendly. But we need to be careful while shopping with some misleading offers and discounts which are merely meant to make people shop more and spend more while not giving goods of good quality.
Demerits of this casual shopping approach This casual shopping approach has several demerits on various fronts which we need to understand. In short term, we may tend to enjoy it but it can have some long-term implications as narrated below.
Concluding message Having seen all this let us be more prudent and mindful while shopping and have our eyes and mind open. Where there is a real difference in quality, spending more for durability makes a sense but just buying expensive goods without any justification to go for it seems to be a waste of money. Also, we should also carefully analyze our needs for present and future to see what is required and what is not and then decide shopping accordingly. We should not get carried away by misleading offers and discounts and do over shopping and spend our hard earned money. We never know what the future has in store for us and if we save money by avoiding needless shopping and invest it in more meaningful areas like studies, education, property, policies etc then it makes a better sense. If this habit of sensible shopping is cultivated in mind then it will save us lot of money for future and can be boon during tough financial times. We should know that our income is not going to come for a lifetime and we have to retire, so better to save early and have a good retired life. If we exhibit control over our shopping behavior then we would be able to cultivate the same in our children too when they grow up.
I am not at all opposing shopping here. Let us shop for what is required and do it sensibly with proper analysis. Idea is to be content and avoid needless shopping.
The mammoth change that the author refers to is basically the way marketing is done. Targetted marketing, direct and indirect, is so well established that the malls, products and websites, everything is designed in a way that you have to part with your money.
The rising levels of pay packages mean that people have more to dispose of and for some, it becomes an obsession or a status symbol to have a TagHeuer watch, a flashy Benz or a Merc, a string of branded designer clothes etc. There's no harm in it as long as one can afford it.
Entering a supermarket is more than just buying goods we need, it's also letting ourselves to be tricked to part with our money in the form of buying things we never needed. Even while you are the checkout, you find an attractive display of chocolates for kids, sophisticated shavers for men, perfumes for women etc.
Trying entering a supermarket to look for the essential items like Dhal, Rice, Pulses, Salt etc. It is often at the back end and you have to walk across the supermarket and get tempted with the products that are displayed strategically along the way.
Online shopping is easy but also addictive because of premier status, free delivery and discounts that force us to click that button to add it to the basket. The moment you add one, many sites have pop-ups.
Many look at the MRP and the price after discount and get impressed. If we think logically, how can a vendor give a discount of 50-90%? The trick apart from stock clearance, sales drive is the MRP itself; there is no law to say what MRP should be because it is the Maximum retail price which has a good margin built in it.
Glad that the author has highlighted the adverse spin-off due to this unregulated shopping. I've seen people become spendthrifts and at the end of the month, they have to take an advance or borrow money or dip into their savings to pay for other needs as they have spent more than they can afford in that month. Children and teenagers learn quickly from us that, yes, it is OK to shop and spend like this.
Shopping is a good relaxing experience that we have to indulge in, but we should not become obsessed and give into it. Also try supporting the local market while buying groceries, simple products for home and daily use so that the small local business also thrives rather than only the giant MNCs.
There is a hell lot of change in the purchasing trend of people. The main reason for this is the availability of more funds and decrease in the value of the money. In the earlier days, need-based marketing was the order of the day whereas these days it is casual marketing. Another reason for this change is the availability of credit card. Earlier days we used to plan the purchase and accordingly used to carry the money with us. But these days you can walk into the shop and select whatever you want and just swipe the card. So unplanned purchasing is increasing. I still feel this is not the correct way of spending.
These days nobody wants to go for unbranded products and are always trying to go for branded products even though the cost is very adsorbent. This trend is creating an unhealthy situation for Indian based small and medium scale industries and they are dying down which is not a welcome feature. So the Indians should understand the complexity of the problem and should encourage local industries.
The very meaning of the word shopping has changed of late. Earlier, shopping was done when a family actually needed certain items. Perhaps, a planning housewife would prepare a list of items to be purchased before going out. After entering the shop the purchase would be done based on the list. Moreover it would be the shopkeeper or his assistant who would be taking articles based on the list. Now the arrangements in the shops are different. Different items will be systematically arranged depending on the products. Nobody needs the assistance of shopkeeper or his assistant. The customer entering a shop can take an empty basket from those kept near the entrance and proceed to the different sections.
Now what happens is that the customer comes across several items which are not in the list prepared. But seeing this he/she feels that it is also useful. Like that the customer takes several additional items which were not originally planned. Naturally, the bill becomes heavy. And that was what the shopkeeper wanted. Thus our shopping expenses increase. Additionally, we add to our waste in our home because each item we purchased would be packed in small plastic bags.
In short, we are not in a position to control ourselves in spending money for purchases and also for deciding what we should eat and wear.
To add to this we are very often guided by advertisements coming in different media, especially TV which sits with us in the drawing room and consumes our valuable time.
To conclude, we do shopping these days as scheduled by somebody else.