The paradox of Kerala's Retail potential

Having been in Kerala for almost two weeks and having travelled the christian central Kerala belt, I got to see the paradox that is Kerala. Consumer spending is everywhere to see. That's ironical considering the fact that Kerala at the moment has a Communist government in place.

Imagine that. Do these consumers share the same business attitude that the Communist government loudly proclaims? After all they did vote them in. In fact the powerful church had exhorted its voters to usher in this government. Or does the church and its followers think now, they shot themselves in the foot having partly engineered a communist win?

Whatever the real story, one thing is for sure. Consumers in Kerala are similar to consumers everywhere. Self before everything else. Now that's true for consumers worldwide. We may all have been exhorted to put other entities before our own selves. But we haven't heeded as yet. Else Maslow's hierarchy would have been inverted with Self Actualisation at the bottom.

Coming back to consuming Kerala, retail is where the moolah is. Especially since Kerala's local infrastructure is all ready to support chained stores. The difference in chaining in Kerala is that retailers may not have the numbers within a single city to put up multiple stores, save for a place like Cochin. But instead they have vast number of towns that they can take their retail formats to, with consumers with bulging purses, thanks to remittances form the Middle East and even the US. The retail model has to be tweaked to the extent that it ensures roll outs of stores across the state and not just within a city. The Pathnamthitas, Kottayams and other such districts in Kerala hold huge consumption potential. Plus the distribution infrastructure is pretty well laid out.

Another factor that favours organised retailers is the condescending attitude of the mom n' pop stores in Kerala. Go to such stores and you feel as if the small time shop owner is doing you a favour serving you. Its hard for such mom n pop store owners to shake of their lackadaisical attitude as they have been protected by the socialist policies that successive governments in Kerala have implemented, I guess more so by the Communists. This attitude of theirs is fertile ground for big time retailers to come in and offer services virtually unheard of, and never experienced by consumers in Kerala.

All in all the paradox that Kerala is, is the fact the voters who voted in a Communist government with anti-business policies are the very ones now flocking to big time retail majors to buy products and services at competitive prices with a service level they never felt before.


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