I remember the blissful times, though decades back, when money was just as scarce and rare as Toblerone, Ferrero Rocher, Sony Trinitron and Google, Amazon, Flipkart, Alibaba were decades away from conception and KFC, McDonalds, Subway were still years away from entry into the country. Brands like Nirulas, Bata, Kwality, Gaylord, Fiat and Ambassador, NV 300, G 30, Donkey Kong, Televista, Texla, Uptron along with Parle toffee, kulfi, pakora, kites and paper boat ruled the landscape. I had first set my eyes on the Sony Trinitron TV as a child and I was zapped to the core. Never did I see the beauty in any Indian home before that day. The projected picture was so perfect as if the scene was being enacted before my very eyes. I also vividly remember the day when my cousin made a round trip to Taiwan and came back loaded with stuff that surprised me immensely. The items included the ROOS brand of shoes and the National brand TV game, what more could a boy of twelve would ever need? Every time my cousin went to Taiwan my hopes soared high in the expectation of a bigger surprise that he would bring back for me. More things followed in his later visits that included a pocket TV, Yashika Camera and Sony Walkman. Some of you might vouch that these products were a big craze back then in the 1980s. It never clicked my mind as a child to ponder why did my cousin ever need to bring back a variety of goods I just mentioned. It never crossed my mind to ask him what made him do it? Obviously, one simple answer would have been that these items were just not available in India otherwise why would he need to make an expensive foreign trip. There were absolutely no choices available to us in India back then be it apparel, electronics or even automobiles. In spite of having all the money one had there was no array of products to splurge in the country. There were a lot many restrictions on import and export of products and services which was the primary reason why we did not have vibrant markets in India. Gone are those days for good.
When you compare the past times with those of today you will be surprised to hear all the stories that might sound too weird. In the name of a car, what we got was a fiat or an ambassador, no ford, no GM, no Volkswagen, no Audi, no BMW, no Mercedes etc. for a long time. Do you think our choices of either a fiat or an ambassador could competitively stand tall in front of the rest of the brands named above? It was only in the early 2000s did we get a bouquet of brands to choose from albeit at higher costs. Similarly, when we talk of branded electronics products like laptops, mobile phones, modems or printers etc. it is only about a few years back that we have access to all the latest items that are launched almost simultaneously worldwide including India. At no time in the past did we have so many choices of everything that embellish our landscape today. Does having more choices give us more ways to express ourselves and satisfy our senses? I would say, it is absolutely true. The more the choices the market renders to us, more is the number of ways that lead to individual expression. Take for example a pizza or a coffee. When we visit a pizza or a coffee outlet, we are absolutely zapped at the kind of choices that greet us in which we can satiate our taste buds. What we get is not just a simple pizza or the coffee but something that is absolutely magical. There are different kinds of crusts, toppings and the seasonings to choose from and the final product has the power to take us into a different world altogether. A pepperoni, spinach, cheese, corn pizzas are all different from each other just as expresso, cappuccino, Frappe, Latte Mocha coffees. Don’t we love these coffees and crave for them? The showrooms of Nike, Adidas or Reebok or the fashion labels like Louis Viton, Tag Heuer, Tommy Hilfiger etc. offer us a plethora of items to choose from to satisfy our senses and cravings.
The same story continues when you visit supermarkets and the hypermarkets like Reliance, More, Big Bazaar, Lifestyle, Marks and Spencer etc. We try to make it a point to visit these and search out the stuff that best fulfills our needs and wants. You name a single small product, you are sure to get a number of variants. It is basically our ever changing and highly dynamic desires that are captured by the marketeers that give rise to new products and services assisted by the pervasive technological environment.
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I sometimes wonder where would we stop in our demands. It seems that the more choices we have, the further we crave. We sometimes shuffle through a number of pieces of an attire and still hunt for the one that perfectly meets our dreams. We are not satisfied with all that is available before us and crave for more! Why is it so? Has our basic nature or preferences changed? Therefore, we ask an important question today, are we spoilt for choices? Observe the buying behavior of a person and soon you will realise that indeed it is so.