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Selling To The Indian Male

A Blackstone Market Facts Research study unearths

four distinct psychographic profiles of the Indian male. THE TRADITIONAL
For what this means to advertisers, or if you'd just like 35% The conservative,
to know more about yourself (or your partner), read OF THE he's driven by
on... MEN values. He cherishes
the family and eschews
He is young, clean-shaven, and good-looking in a plain ostentation. Traditionals span all
sort of way. He wears trousers that are either black or age groups, are mostly married,
grey, blue or white shirts, and bright red braces. He is and belong in the second rung of
Indian advertising's preferred male stereotype, and he the socio-economic hierarchy.
sells soap, condoms, formal wear, banking services, SELF
watches, and cars to an entire universe of customers- THE MAN: is a conformist
traders in two-horse towns, students, young executives, without ambitions
middle-aged middle-managers, even women. Only, this BELIEVES IN: hard work
man, whom some advertisers and marketers consider BUYS ON THE BASIS OF:
the embodiment of all desirable masculine virtues value for money
(from the communication p.o.v) belongs to a dying APPEARANCE: doesn't really
species. matter to him
If you are reading this article in the office-we suggest FINANCIAL-ATTITUDE: debt
you do this; there surely must be some scientific averse; plans a lot
research that establishes a link between intermittent CAREER
mental stimulation and increased productivity (there! VOCATION: conservative,
That's this issue's quota of self-promotion done)-look traditional jobs
around you. See anyone in red braces? Likely not. See DEFINITION OF SUCCESS:
anyone who'd like to sport red braces? Probably not. norm-driven progress
See anyone who'd listen to anyone sporting red braces? REACTION TO FAILURE:
Certainly not. QED resignation
Anyway, this story isn't about red braces or Barchettas; RELATIONSHIP
it is about Indian men. And it is about the men and MARRIAGE: a necessity
IDEAL SPOUSE: traditional
women who make a living out of selling products and services to them. It's not as if the
species itself has undergone a sudden mutation. The Indian male, and the social milieu
that constitutes his habitat haven't changed much. He is still a hunter-gatherer, the
dominant financial provider to his family. And Indian society is still largely patriarchal.
Women are chipping away at these male bastions, but there's substantial 'chipping-away'
to be done. That could explain the bimbo-on-the-bonnet and the red-braces schools of
advertising: sex and power, logic dictates, should still be relevant motivators for the
Indian male.
They are, but not across socio-economic classifications (SECs). ''In certain SEC strata,''
says Santosh Desai, Executive Vice-President, McCann Erickson, ''the Indian man is
negotiating a new relationship with women.'' Desai speaketh the truth: the process of
redefinition of the Indian male's relationship with sex (women) and authority (that's your
boss) seems well underway. The process will impact his sense of himself, his career, his
relationships, and the society around him. Not everyone has reacted to this change the
same way. Thus, four clearly distinct psychographic segments of the Indian male have
emerged. Each is distinct from the others; and none is remotely similar to the male-
stereotypes that abound in Indian advertising.
Steeped In Respectability

Meet Pankaj Mishra. He's 33, the manager of a suburban branch of a public sector bank,
and an out and out stickler for convention. He is married to Rashmi, and they have one
child, a three-year-old son. Mishra lives with his parents and younger (unmarried) sister,
Meera, in an apartment his father bought twenty years ago. Mishra and his father, who
retired as a general manager with another public sector bank, make all decisions for the
family: where they should go for their summer break (Mussoorie); where they should
invest their savings (deposits and debt funds); and what kind of man Meera should marry
(a banker, what else?).

Traditionals-that's what men like Mishra (or his father) are called-aren't losers. They may
not have great careers; they may not have an exaggerated opinion of themselves; but
they're still the masters of their household. Somehow, that seems enough. Men belonging
to this category are the favourites of mass-market
brands that reach out to them with images celebrating
their manhood, either through overt acts of dominance,
THE PLEASURE SEEKER or covert acts of one-upmanship (over women).
41% A self-oriented Thus, whisky brand Imperial Blue (''Men will be men'')
OF THE person, he is driven shows an exec-type almost neglecting his wife at a
MEN by status (and status restaurant to catch up with a cricket telecast. And
symbols). He is a risk-taker. cigarette brand Red & White's pure-machismo
Most pleasure-seekers are commercials feature a rugged protagonist who is
young, unmarried, and residents forever rescuing a damsel in distress. The man is in
of the metropolitan cities. control, and all is well with the world.
SELF In some ways, the Traditionals are the Indian equivalent
THE MAN: is all about I, me, of the wasps (Western Anglo-Saxon Protestants) who
myself built corporate America. Hard-work and sheer-effort are
BELIEVES IN: being street qualities they'd like to think they possess. That makes
smart and a moral the task of marketers easier. ''The key communication
BUYS ON THE BASIS OF: trigger for this audience is the depiction of effort in his
what is the best life,'' says Saumya Sen, Creative Director, O&M.
APPEARANCE: is an obsession 'Effort' was the central theme of Bajaj Auto's ads for its
with him motor-cycle, Caliber ('The Unshakeable'). But the first
FINANCIAL-ATTITUDE: commercial where a returning (from wherever) hero
credit-friendly; doesn't plan at all searches for his old girlfriend, only to find her happily
CAREER married didn't cut much ice with the audience. The hope
VOCATION: jobs promising held out at the end of the advertisement-a girl whose car
independence and rewards has broken down looking for some help- went largely
DEFINITION OF SUCCESS: unnoticed. And the subtle communication cues of
money ignoring minor problems and going ahead with life
REACTION TO FAILURE: missed the mark in its ability to get a message across to
indifference the primary motor-cycle buying audience, the family-
RELATIONSHIP oriented Traditional. That could explain the company's
MARRIAGE: end of fun
IDEAL SPOUSE: beautiful and
decision to move on to a more overt-communication, The Unshakeable man holding his
own in the face of a provocation to bend the rules a bit.
The other communication cue that works with Traditionals is the value-for-money
proposition. This approach is exemplified by Peter England, Madura Garments' 'Honest
Shirt'. The brand's positioning and the communication strategy feed off the typical
Traditional's desire to maximise-value, and preference for plain-speak. Just for the record,
with over 2 million units sold last year, Peter England, is the largest selling shirt brand in
the country.


Japan, has all of
The Macho, an
seven clusters: Brazilian men could
authoritarian is seen
Intellect Creator; be one of four types:
in the East; the
Pleasure Seeker; The Chauvinist; The
Completely Balanced
Sensible Moralist; Perpetuator (needs
(masculine, with
Ambitious; Kiddish masculinity to be
emotions) in the
Attention-seeker; confirmed); The
West; the In-between
Dispirited; and Conciliator (sees
(traded masculinity
Completely need to evolve to a
for gentleness) in the
Dependent. Now you new role); and The
North; and the Fuzzy-
know why Japanese Relieved (he is truly
type (worried by
advertising is the way evolved).
change) in the South
it is.

Imagery won't work with the Traditional: thus Gillette sells its shaving gel-perceived to
be an expensive option to shaving cream-to middle-class Indian consumers, in tubes (not
cans), and touts the economy of using gels (you use less of it). Marketers can convince
the Traditional to move up the consuming hierarchy, but only when they offer a tangible
benefit, not some impalpable feel-good thingamajig. That's why Gillette India continues
to bundle, for the third year running, a Gillette Presto twin-blade razor with every pack of
7 O' Clock blades, at a promotional cost of Rs 12 a pack. ''He (the Traditional) will not
upgrade,'' says Subodh Marwah, Regional Business Manager, Gillette India, " because he
doesn't exactly want the best, but something that will do the job.'' Gillette's efforts have
won it forced trials and a retention rate of 15 per cent.
I, Me, and Myself

Karthik Narayan is 29, a marketing manager with the Indian arm of a US tech company.
He lives alone in the city and is every marketers-dream come true. His wardrobe
overflows with clothes; he has eight pairs of shoes; and he parties the night away on
week-ends. Karthik has no moral hang-ups, and he loves taking risks: he drives his scarlet
Ford Ikon like a maniac and is currently on his fifth girlfriend and sixth job in four years.

Narayan is not a monster. He is a creation of his surroundings, an incurable optimist who

believes material wealth is the route to everlasting happiness. He belongs to a category
called Pleasure Seeker. Marketers get through to men in this segment by simply indulging
their sense of self, luxury, or gratification. Says Atul Sobti, Senior Vice President
(Marketing & Sales), Hero Honda, "He is very style-conscious and lives for himself".
Denim Cologne pampers them with its 'For the man who doesn't have to try too hard'
punch-line. The tone of sexual triumph in commercials for this brand couldn't be more
overt. "The context of the communication needs to be male-driven,"says Sonia Pal,
Branch Head(Delhi), ACNielsen.

The Pleasure Seeker buys the best. Allen Solly's concept of Friday-dressing succeeded
primarily because the Pleasure Seeker loved the sheer contrast of the brand to the
stuffiness normally associated with work-wear. ''It's the 'I am a success, but by my own
rule-book' attitude,'' explains McCann's Desai. Positioning statements that tout a brand's
premiumness and flaunt hi-tech imagery work well with this customer-group. It's about
freedom. It's about a fast-track career. It's about life in the fast lane. And it is about
having a way with women. Family? That's for
sissies and wimps.

Sunil Deshpande, 35, is actually two people rolled THE SOCIAL CHAMELEON
into one. He doesn't really know it, but at a visceral 17% He is a hypocrite of
level, there is nothing very different between him OF THE sorts who craves to
and Karthik Narayan. Yes, Narayan is single, and MEN project a politically and
Sunil is married (to Megha), but the man is socially correct image. Social
essentially a Pleasure Seeker. But he is driven by Chameleons are tech-savvy and
what others think of him, of his purchasing individualistic. The majority are
behaviour, of his appearance, of his career, and of between 30 and 40 years of age,
the way he treats his wife. To the world, Sunil is a executives, and post-graduates.
loving husband and a caring father, who does his SELF
share of chores around the house; but deep down, he THE MAN: changes fast
believes a woman's place is at home. BELIEVES IN: what others think of
Deshpande and his ilk are hesitant hedonists. They him
are highly individualistic, yet, everything they do BUYS ON THE BASIS OF: what
has to find the acceptance of society. Meet the will impress others
Social Chameleon. The Pleasure Seeker is his fuzzy APPEARANCE: is an indication of
foetus, but he is something else altogether, a man status
who draws his identity from the way the people FINANCIAL-ATTITUDE: credit-
around him see him, and react to him. The Social friendly, but plans a lot
Chameleon feels the need to differentiate himself, CAREER
but will only go as far as he can without breaching VOCATION: visible jobs (and
societal norms. shifts)
That's the principle on which General Motors India DEFINITION OF SUCCESS:
based the launch and the communication strategy of money+recognition
its station-wagon Opel Swing. Research told GMI REACTION TO FAILURE: agony
that some Indian men wished for a car that wasn't & depression
really a car -a set of wheels that would set them RELATIONSHIP
apart and get them noticed. ''It needed to be MARRIAGE: terms it
partnership,really a power struggle
IDEAL SPOUSE: a social match,
though not equal
different, but not radical enough to cause
embarrassment,'' says Johnny Oommen, Manager
(Advertising), GMI. The Social Chameleon likes to
THE INTRINSIC consider himself as a caring individual who nurtures his
PROGRESSIVE immediate family. Family-orientation and gender-
7% Meet the Indian equality are overtly desirable qualities. They are, after
OF THE male of the future. all, great social assets. His ego can't bear even the
MEN He believes in thought of failure: ads built around loss-of-face or
family-values, equality of the position get right through to him.
sexes, and is not confined by Tomorrow's Man
tradition. The Intrinsic Rahul Kailash, 27, is a finance professional employed
Progressives are mostly young with one of the Big-Five audit firms. He lives alone in
and unmarried, and executives. Mumbai (his parents are based in Delhi, and he talks to
SELF his Mom every other day). Kailash has just been put on
THE MAN: a confident adaptor a tough account, but he loves the challenge. Kailash
BELIEVES IN: professionalism, earns a small fortune every month, but he doesn't throw
positivity money around. His investments are in order, his car is
BUYS ON THE BASIS OF: neither too flashy nor too dowdy, and he is very sure of
quality; driven by rational what he is and what he wants from life.
reasons Kailash is a rare (and refreshing) bird. Meet the Intrinsic
APPEARANCE: likes being fit Progressive, the Complete Man popularised by several
and looking good dozen Raymond's ads. ''Raymond,'' says Naubankar
FINANCIAL-ATTITUDE: plans Gupta, Group President, Raymond, ''is an aspirational
and analyses a lot brand.'' Little wonder then, although the brand targets
CAREER the Intrinsic Progressive, it appeals to all segments
VOCATION: seeks jobs that barring the Traditionals.
challenge him to learn The Intrinsic Progressive doesn't crave recognition; nor
DEFINITION OF SUCCESS: does he seek acceptance. Restrained communication
achievement & family cues, that stress value, work best with this type of man.
REACTION TO FAILURE: If married, he has a great relationship with his wife.
learns from them
MARRIAGE: a partnership
IDEAL SPOUSE: an equal
Men belonging to this cluster are also acutely conscious of their larger social
One For All
As must be evident to anyone who has read this much of the composition carefully, there
is sufficient overlap between the four clusters. For instance, a communication strategy
built around family-orientation would appeal both to the Traditional as well as the
Intrinsic Progressive. Of course, to work, it would need to be neither too traditional (the
Intrinsic Progressive will shun it) nor too individualistic (the Traditional will reject it).
Still, not too many marketers are likely to bother with the Intrinsic Progressive. The
segment is small and its constituents extremely rational when it comes to making a
purchase decision.
Communication synergies are best between Pleasure Seekers and Social Chameleons.
The two clusters share a common purchase-motivation: self-gratification. Merely by
focussing on these too segments, a marketer can cover over two-thirds of Indian men.
That proportion is only to be expected. The psychographic profiles of most Indian men
are under transition, forced to transform by a clutch of internal and external stimuli
ranging from the emergence of the new woman, to the cultural values the Indian
population is picking up from the West, either through satellite television, or direct
contact. And both the Pleasure Seeker and the Social Chameleon are transitory phases.
Indeed, had this research been conducted a few years back the Traditionals may have
constituted the largest cluster. And fifteen, maybe twenty, years into the future, Intrinsic
Progressives could. The next time someone tells you men are all the same, throw this in
their faces