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India, the most optimistic nation

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February 21, 2006 09:48 IST

The stock market has jumped over 10,000, and India looks like the most optimistic country in the world. Indians have made a bigger leap of faith and remain at the top of the global list with a confidence index at 132 points - nine points ahead of the world's second' most optimistic nation, New Zealand.

A majority of Indians are willing to purchase what they desire and invest in mutual funds and shares, way ahead of their Asian counterparts, as our global online consumer confidence shows. India is witnessing a retail boom with consumers (66 per cent) being excited in trying out new products and services.

Apart from that, disposable income is making its way beyond the traditional savings behaviour to investments in the stock markets.

For the marketer there is a new set of consumers whose eagerness to splurge is not restricted only to festive seasons. To attract this new set of consumers, companies should focus on innovative promotional activities with advertising and promotional budgets spread across the year instead of clubbing them together during festive times.

Focus on sustaining prosperity

An overwhelming 92 per cent of Indians are expecting job prospects to increase substantially, and about 87 per cent Indians think that their personal finances will be in good shape. The impact of outsourcing and the flourishing of the IT sector have opened up a number of avenues for the Indian youth.

However, the key challenge in this period of time is providing adequate training and grooming to sustain this prosperity for a longer period of time. Further, employee satisfaction is likely to be the metric for this young breed of corporate associates.

Consumers in Asia Pacific continue to ride a wave of economic development, with their confidence increasing in nine out of 13 markets. Positive developments were also seen in European countries, in spite of prevailing economical and political conditions facing the region. North America and Latin America are positive on employment and financial prospects.

Splurge to fulfil desires

The climbing sensex seems to have increased the risk appetite of Indian consumers. The trends also clearly point out how home improvement (38 per cent) and leisure holidays (37 per cent) are the other two pursuits Indian consumers are willing to indulge in. With hefty wallets and competitive airline tickets, more and more Indians are opting for leisure vacations.

On a global basis, 59 per cent of the world's consumers share positive financial expectations, while 61 per cent say that they would rather not spend. Out-of-home entertainment, new clothes and holidays came out on the top of the global list.

Europeans remain true to form in neglecting savings, which came fifth (36 per cent), before home improvements and decoration (35 percent). It is also interesting to note that in the fashion arena, France has lost its title of the second biggest spender on new apparel, handing it to Spaniards (48 per cent) and Italians(47 per cent).

Concerns are few and far

The major concerns for Indians over the next 12 months are economy and health. Lack of adequate facilities in semi-urban and rural areas is making healthcare a bigger and more serious concern for consumers and this will surely affect the progress of the nation in future.

But things are getting better with time and a new-found vigour in health as well as pursuits such as visiting a personal trainer or hairdresser or taking health rejuvenating holidays are in vogue. This opens up a whole host of opportunities for marketers present in the wellness sector.

Sarang Panchal, Executive Director, Customised Research Services, ACNielsen South Asia.

As told to The Strategist team

Sarang Panchal