Driver Number 4: Changing Global Perceptions

18 May 2020
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  • Last week we spoke influencing factor 3: Inclusivity. Today we speak about influencing factor 4: changing global perceptions.


    We will start by going back to our roots, reflected in the roots of our founder, Raam Shanker. Growing up in India in the 80s and 90s where socialism was the accepted norm and people’s perception of success was to score good marks throughout your academic life and apply for the very limited ‘government’ jobs and stay there until you retired. Things changed in the early 90s due to the 1991 Indian Economic Crisis, which forced a sort of liberalisation of the markets. Suddenly, this opened up opportunities hitherto unavailable to this population. Along with this, slowly the perception of success changed.


    India isn’t the only country to be affected by globalisation. The clue is in the name! We can no longer classify the world into first, second and third world, or developed and under-developed, or label expats and immigrants based on skin colour and country of origin. Let’s look at a three changes in global perceptions that will drive how you design and develop products.


    Perceptions of Success
    Perceptions of success are no longer associated just with a good academic record or a job for life. It is about a sense of achievement and contentment with career choices. In some markets such as India, perception of success also comes with a materialistic side to it. A stark example is the failure of the Tata Nano, touted as the world’s cheapest car. As a technological and cost-cutting exercise, the Nano was brilliant, but it failed as an innovation. People don’t want to be associated with the word ‘cheap’ anymore. People will pay a fair price for a quality product and the image of pride and prestige it projects (see my piece on customisation and personalisation).


    Perceptions of Market
    Another mistake companies tend to make is determine affordability of people based on historical data and any cognitive biases they may have about a particular region, country or demographic. In our last piece we spoke about inclusivity. This is an extension of that piece, where the underlying principle is to not exclude anyone. The more people you can cater to, the better you will perform. The key is to not make special features or highlights too obvious to the point of embarrassment.


    Perceptions of Capitalism
    The old school idea of irresponsible capitalism won’t work anymore. As more and more people get access to current affairs and the state of the world, their purchasing choices tend to focus also on the ethics. Things like sustainability, care for the environment, community, society and giving back are starting to matter more to people. This is truer with the younger generation. However, don’t do it as a box ticking exercise. If you’re going to pursue responsible and ethical practises, do it in the right spirit and with wholesome commitment. Be genuine. we’ll reflect more on this next week.

    Today we leave you with three pointers:

    1. The perceptions around things that matter to people are changing
    2. People are prioritising ethical issues like planet, sustainability, society and community
    3. Responsible capitalism is the way forward, but it has to be genuine and with wholesome commitment

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