Product Design and its Impact on Consumer Durables Industry.
Two days ago I visited a consumer durable store in Montreal, to check out the product offerings that were available to the customer.and compare it to what is available in India. What I saw there got me thinking on the aspect of product design from an Indian context.
First thing that struck me as that every single product that was available here, was completely relevant to the requirements of the user. Lifestyle differ significantly based on food habits , shopping habits, weather conditions etc., and each product was designed to meet the requirements of the life style locally.
For example the people locally tend to be weekly shoppers , and buy larger lots of provisions and store them for longer periods unlike Indian consumers who prefer to buy provisions fresher and more frequently. Refrigerators available here are mainly bottom mount with large freezers to take care of the need for storage of meat products which are a part of the daily diet.
Washing machines are larger with separate dryers to cater to larger wash requirements of clothes necessitated by the colder weather. ( people in extremely cold weather conditions wear multiple layers of clothing ) also the dryers are larger and separate to facilitate drying in cold weather conditions.
Coffee makers are designed to meet local tastes and cater to expresso and similar requirements. All cooking ranges are normally electric to suit shallow dish cooking and not deep and large vessels required by Indian cuisines. Similarly ovens are integral part of all kitchens to suit the local food style of baking and roasting.
Looking at this I really began to wonder how much of customer feed back is considered at the time of introducing new product offerings to India ? Our lifestyles are completely different from the west or for that matter the Far East, and yet most companies in India tend to blindly bring in products that are designed for western world and offer them as latest technologies to our customers , who have no choice but pay princely sums in the name of latest technology to be saddled with a product that little suits their requirement.
A case in point is the side by side refrigerator with such a large freezer section and narrow and small shelves in the refrigerator portion. Marketing campaigns will tout these as revolutionary technologies to lure the customer little realizing that he is trying to sell a T shirt to an ESKIMO.
The point is that given the size of the Indian consumer durable market and the rate of its growth how many companies are making a serious effort to study customer requirements and design products that are truly suited to the needs of the local markets ? If we truly put our efforts in strengthening our local R& D and make for India In India we would be doing the customer a great service.