tell the youth of a country from the chips that are available in the market" was the starting note used by Darshan Mehta, managing director, Reliance Brands India, while discussing the youth as a chunk of conscious consumers. Mehta tried unravelling the youth through parallels with chips.
At Indian Consumer Mindscapes 2007, organised by Technopak, Mehta drew a comparison to the youth by the variety of chips found in today's market. "Fifteen years ago, there existed just two types of unbranded chips - salted and spicy. This was the same with the youth of the country. They were doctors, engineers or accountants. Circa 2000, the market has a large variety of chips. All shapes (round, oval, triangle and ridged), flavours and packaging. The youth are as different as the chips available," he began. Their personality, their choices, their likes, dislikes and, most important, their individuality. The jobs that these young people are looking for are also varied.
Mehta spoke about the youthful philosophy of today: 'I'd crunch that'. When the youth refer to this phrase, they mean that whatever they are talking about is 'cool', 'fast' or 'fashionable'. It is the youth that are today's consumption catalysts. According to generation next, life needs to be crunchy. Mehta referred to them as 'ChipMonks'.
He described a typical 'ChipMonk' as someone who has a real life and a virtual life. The virtual life is more real than real life. Life means a lot of things to the youth - money, technology, personality, choice, youthfulness, and much more. Mehta explained each of these ideas individually.
To explain what he was saying, Mehta gave the example of the 'Kaun Banega Crorepati 2' TV commercial, which promised 'Umeed se duguna (Twice your expectations)'. "The youth don't believe anything to be inaccessible. All is achievable to them," he said.
Next he touched upon the youth's craze for gadgets. The young feel distressed if any of their gizmos are off their person. Mobile, iPod, Playstation and Xbox are all necessary for their survival. Staying connected at all times through the Internet on various messenger services and social networking sites are just as necessary.
Chips signify the youth looking forever for their individuality. The Nike ad in which a cricket match breaks forth on a traffic jammed road was apt to define the spontaneity of the youth. Mehta said, "The youth are street smart." And with the median age being 24 years, the ideas within our country will be their ideas and, hence, street smartness is at the core of the ideas.
Moving on, Mehta said, "It's not about being young, but feeling young. It isn't about age, but youthfulness is necessary." To drive the point home, he played the SBI TV commercial in which the elderly husband buys his equally old wife a diamond for Valentine's Day.
Mehta touched upon the constant need among the youth to discover themselves. The Tata Safari 'Reclaim your Life' commercial said it all. After having said all this, Mehta also said that the youth are grounded and would like all things kept simple. Though there is this craving to ape the West in dressing, eating and even language, at the end of the day, the average youth wants to come back home to eat 'ghar ka khaana' (home-cooked food). If McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken have a vegetarian section, that's because their target group of youth prefer these to the rest. He summed up this point saying, "There exists a duality in all that is done by them."
Finally Mehta said, "Chips are papad cut smaller and made to look and taste different." He then cited the Bajaj commercial that showed that though we have advanced technologically with high-end bikes, we haven't forgotten our culture and traditions of respect and love. Mehta concluded, saying, "We cannot box the youth into demographic or psychological clusters. They live multiple lives at the same time. The contradiction is in contradiction."