The Selfie and the Aspiring Indian Lower-middle Class

Do you remember the time when there were no mobile phones? Moreover, hard-to-access internet with the slow dial-up connection?

Undoubtedly, the gen X (those born in the 70s and early 80s) would recall that time. A time when the landline phone was viewed as something of a status symbol! A time when ‘leaving messages’, and being sure of catching the person right away on phone added suspense, and often hardships.

We seem to have leap-frogged a long way from that era. Now, the mobile internet penetration has crossed the half-billion mark, with over 250 million internet users in rural India alone. And these numbers are increasing at a breakneck speed.

One such mobile-related trend which has become second nature to all Indians is the ease of clicking ‘selfies’. People are becoming more expressive; even pre-teen kids! This rapid uptake of mobile technology has had its impact on lifestyles and aspirations, especially our lower-middle class across the tier 2/3/4 cities and townships.

Anyone clicking selfies inherently wishes to look his / her best. And how they dress plays a big part herein. Everyone wants to show off that they are up to date as far as the latest fashion trends are concerned for apparels as well as footwear and accessories.

Their aspirations bear a huge significance on how we do business today.

The desire of such class to be no less than their urban counterparts – irrespective of cultural and religious differences – is something that has fueled market competition. Gone is the time when only the metropolitan strongholds and the bigger cities commanded retailers’ attention. The vast rural hinterland has emerged as the new playing field.

As the nation continues to develop on the back of a strong telecom background, economic growth as well as consumption patterns has gone up considerably. More and more job opportunities are being created in the tier 2/3/4 cities / townships. All these factors would continue to prompt retailers and other businesses to expand operations in such areas.

With the easy availability of cheaper smartphones and increasing internet penetration in rural India, mobile retailing is bound to play a big role in the future. The alacrity of this situation became clear to me when I saw a bullock cart driver scanning his mobile phone for latest updates on availability of cheaper seeds in a tier 4 town as well as clicking selfies with his bull!

Indeed, it is heartening to see the long way our nation has come up over the last 20 years. The new India is transforming to a country with equanimity of purpose and aspirations – and this is only the beginning. Proud to be an Indian!

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