Forget Social justice, Nano's about Marketing

'In the peculiar and self-serving vocabulary of our times, to the new middle class, the Nano represents ‘freedom’ and a ‘me-too’ model of consumer justice. At the same time, the Nano model of industrialisation is being presented as the only way to resuscitate our ailing agrarian economy that has been driven to desperation out of sheer neglect. However, we must see the Nano for what it truly represents. On the one hand it represents the Indian maturation of the seductive allure of the assembly line. On the other hand, it represents a particularly insidious coming together of state and market forces that greatly imperils the best of our values.

More than making the case against the Nano in economic and ecological terms, we must not accept the dangerous claim being put forth that automobile ownership must not remain an entitlement of the rich alone. We must not accept this specious notion of equity. Confronting the power of the global assembly line will require us to draw upon our deepest resources. Here, Gandhi offers us salutary lessons and some answers that will require us to look within and make some hard, serious choices.'

Of course, my first response is to call into question this peculiar phenomenon of academics in the best of institutions (in this case the IISc. & IIM) possessing a streak that borders on believing that socialism's got the answer to the mass' misery. That the industrial complex is out to fleece the poor man. But then I resist. Because I have heard this line of thought too many times. And though there isn't a whit of data to show that anything works better than market forces themselves, the oft repeated government driven social justice canard just goes on and on.

I think its high time we recognise that no one can plot our prosperity than we ourselves. And our definition of prosperity is ours alone. What Venu and Deepak don't realise is, the argument that the Nano can herald 'equity' is being presented only to counter another that says that its the harbinger to greater pollution in our cities. A social justice reason to counter an environmental one. The former in favour of the Nano, the latter against.

The truth, if I may call it that, is far beyond all these. The Nano's a product that's been created for a target set of consumers. That's pure marketing for you. Nothing more, nothing less. And we must leave it that. Why the Nano's garnered all the talk is because its the first one off the blocks to provide a transportation solution to a segment that's been neglected by all marketers. And that is indeed laudable. If the Nano works, you can surely expect other entrants into this space.

Bringing in catch terms like 'seductive allure of the assembly line' is all fine. But the harsh reality is, consumers evaluate brand on merits that they deem relevant. And if the brand doesn't match up, the consumer shows it no mercy. The consumer doesn't buy. And then the Assembly line comes to a grinding halt. No seductive allure, no nothing.

The Nano joins millions of brands around the globe in pitching its wares to target consumers. For the marketer's sake, I hope brands make it with consumers. I wish the Nano too the best of success with consumers. About ecological implications of the Nano I couldn't care less as long as its passed what's been legislated as an environmental standard. And from what I've heard, it has. As for the academics who are concerned, I guess they can walk or do whatever it is they think is good for whoever. For the rest, if you think the Nano works for you, I recommend a buy.


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