Is it true that in a recession, for everything that goes down, something else goes up? Here are some contrasting news items from recent Indian newspapers: Private-sector jobs are down, while the public sector is recruiting talent. Holidays are down, but spas—which have gone from luxury to healing method—are up. Luxury cars are down, used luxury cars are up. Jobs are down, education is up (IT companies are sending benched staff on extended training programs, etc.). Auto is down, the bicycle market is up. Payments on loan installments are down, paying insurance premiums is up. Gold jewelry is down, fake jewelry is up. Big houses are down, small is up. Urban demand is down, rural is up.
Finally, one happy fallout: Roses are selling more. And one sad fallout: Some out-of-work women are turning to egg donation to pay back loans.
Physical and mental health, security, frugality, coping and relationships emerge as key themes. Brands need to rethink their formats, their SKUs and their geographies, redefine their value propositions, and present their products and services in new contexts that resonate with the emotional needs of the day.
Photo credit: nzgabriel
Amid all the news items on the downturn, India’s The Economic Times has created a platform that encourages the spirit of entrepreneurship by giving people an opportunity to submit their ideas, as well as mentoring and the chance for funding.
The “Power of Ideas” contest provides both inspiration and advice for business development in a recession. Over the last decade, the spirit of Indian entrepreneurship has been riding high, and there is now a collective feeling in Indian corporate voice—one which keeps peeping through in press reports, interviews and articles—that India will determinedly turn the recession into opportunity. Many headlines demonstrate this tone, like this one, from The Economic Times: “Just one big idea can lay off the slowdown.” While marketers and brands are busy rethinking their strategies, here is a media brand that used its position to its advantage; instead of just being a messenger of bad news, it created an interactive program.
Indians’ attitude toward religion has seen a fundamental shift in the past few years. Today religion is not so much about karma, about suffering for past sins or doing good deeds for rewards in the next life, about destiny or scriptures. It’s become much more about serving as a coping mechanism—a way to manage life’s ups and downs. It’s also become much more about mental and physical well-being in addition to spiritual health.
The recession looks likely to accelerate this trend. The media reports that astrologers are doing robust business, and temples are seeing an uptick too, both in attendance and donations. Meanwhile, the tourism ministry is pitching India as a destination for spiritual seekers who are “bogged down by money woes and global economic uncertainty,” as the BBC reports.