Google+ Consumer Psyche: Austerity ! Desi style!

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Austerity ! Desi style!

Via BBC: This is an austerity drive, Indian style.

Sales of gold jewellery are traditionally at their peak this time a year. In recent years, people would crowd around the stalls, hoping to get the best deals, but this time the sale has been less popular. Traditionally, more than 95% of gold bought in India is in the form of jewellery. But at this year's sale, it seems many were instead looking to buy gold in the form of coins and bars or biscuits.

According to one estimate, Indian family vaults have almost 15,000 tonnes of gold locked away, a volume comparable to the stockpile held by the US Federal Reserve.

The fact that there are still plenty of people with plenty of money out there is clear for anyone operating in India's often lucrative wedding industry.

So wedding budgets remain large, yet fashion has changed to reflect the nation's new mood. Bridal wear designer Ritu Kumar says people have cut back on bright colours and bling.

"Most of my clients want simpler-looking outfits over something which is bright and has a lot of shiny stones in it," she says.

"The cost may actually be the same, but the look is definitely more subtle and not in-your-face expensive.

"The community in general is fairly conservative when it comes to weddings. Over the last couple of years, the conspicuousness in society had pushed bridal fashion to something flashy and over the top , but we are now going back to classics."

Despite the rising commodity costs, the sweets are one thing that have not been scaled down. This time many seem to have switched from conspicuous consumption to conspicuous cutbacks.

Beyond the facade, it is increasingly clear that among the wealthy, the restraint is skin deep.

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