Westernisation and the introduction to various other technological progressions and advancements have transformed the world we live in. It has impacted our lifestyle, individual choices, behavioural pattern and consumerism psychology. Amongst all the other factors, three crucial key drivers influence people and the world we live in robustly– globalisation, automation and abundance.
This article will discuss all of them and delve deep into the layers to understand how Indians prefer the experiential and exploratory style.
This theme has been in existence ever since the existence of the Ancient Silk Road. However, linking the Americas through the Colombian Exchange in the 1500s hastened globalisation considerably and brought the world closer- leading it to shrink. This served as a blessing in disguise with many positive benefits linked with the migration of people, technology, exchange of goods and service while connecting new markets with new agricultural produce from the Americas to the rest of the world and vice versa.
The industrial revolution further accelerated the globalisation process, and the advent of the technological revolution has put the world in a palm.
Before the advent of the industrial revolution, there were limitations to agricultural productivity, which lowered human sustainability as human beings predominantly relied on agrarian and animal husbandry practices that have been in existence for centuries.
The industrial revolution brought technology innovations across a gamut of sectors ranging from agriculture to vaccinations/pasteurisations and advancements in medicine, thereby drastically increasing the life span of human beings while extracting more using the existing resources. Automation of the industrial sector was a tangible beneficiary of the industrial revolution that contributed to increased productivity.
By increasing productivity, input costs were lowered, which led to increased purchasing power leading to increased consumption of various goods and services. Technological revolution brought in higher levels of automation with increased productivity levels, again improving efficiencies across the board and making things more affordable for the average human across the globe.
These revolutions made rapid strides in increasing the abundance of goods and services, leading to an average human being living better than their counterparts a century ago. To cite an example, today, even the not so wealthy have options of vacationing outside their home countries that were only available to a privileged few during the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries.
Today, countries such as India and China have grown economically to be powerful engines of economic growth, and Asia is fast transforming to becoming the cynosure of the world. As abundance has spread, people across many nations have moved from meeting their basic physiological needs (food, water, warmth, rest) to safety and social needs, as indicated by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
The language of the brain
While these three themes have been primary drivers of how we live today, the other tussle that has been constant throughout human evolution over the last 4,000 years has been the dominance of either the left brain or the right brain.
The left hemisphere is better at language, logic, critical thinking, and numbers, while the right is better at expressing emotions, music, colour, intuition and creativity. The earlier part of human evolution was primarily survival which saw the domination of the left brain. Once humans moved from nomadic hunter-gatherers to settling into civilisations, the right brain started expressing more.
Again, when humans were confronted with struggles of everyday life where survival became predominant, the left brain started dominating till a point before the right brain took over. The same pattern can be observed with the renaissance followed by the industrial revolution, repeated with the emergence of the modern renaissance, followed by the technological revolution.
Currently, with rapid advances in technology and migration of humans to higher rungs of Maslow’s pyramid, human evolution is at crossroads where instead of one hemisphere dominating over the other, it can be noted that there is an interesting blend of both right and left brain skills coming together to give form to how we live today.
With this in play, if today’s human needs for goods and services are examined, the drift is to have both functionality and pleasure blended in the right proportions. In his book ‘A Whole New Mind’, Daniel Pink refers to these as R-Directed skills, further categorising them into ‘six senses’.
The first is the design, and in this, he refers to the products should not just provide function but also be beautiful, whimsical or emotionally engaging.
The second would be the story, where it is not just an argument but being able to fashion a compelling narrative.
The third would be symphony or synthesis, where it crosses boundaries without losing focus.
The fourth is empathy, relating to forging relationships, caring for others while retaining logic.
The fifth is play and not just seriousness.
The sixth is meaning, which is not just about accumulations but has a purpose, transcendence, and spiritual fulfilment.
To see how these six senses have transformed what we can see in the evolution of the telephone. It has transformed from being a rudimentary communication tool to its modern-day version encompassing at least four or five of these senses.
To combine these five or six senses, it has become vital for goods and service providers to use and mix in proper proportions the three approaches, namely, Hi-touch, Hi-concept and Hi-tech. Hi-touch offers personalisation or customisation.
Hi-concept provides the base for artistic and emotional beauty, while Hi-tech uses technology to bring in synergy. This synergy can best be stated in one term called ‘EXPERIENCE’. The marketplace has also adapted this concept as can be seen through the various stages of development of economies from a Commodity-based Economy to an Experience Economy.
As you will see, the earlier agricultural economy relied on producing marketable items based on wants or needs.
In the case of the Industrial economy, the focus shifted from producing raw materials to processing raw materials to meet enhanced quality and deliver to the marketplace. Also, standardisation was adopted across processing, packaging and delivering activities to bring about operational excellence.
For firms immersed in this economy, capital allocation would reap the most rewards if they are invested to bring about operational excellence. Standardisation of goods and services played an integral role in shaping the industrial economy.
Service economy can entail ‘intangible goods’ such as financial, banking, hospitality, leisure etc., and it can also include customised products. A café selling coffee can be another aspect of a service economy as it uses manufactured goods and commodities such as coffee, cups, and coffee machines to render a service of providing coffee to the customer.
To improve the customisation aspects, capital should be allocated to improving customisation and enhancing service metrics.
Having evolved from a basic commodity economy to a service economy, the stage has been set for the experience economy. A quick glimpse of the transition can shed a better light: mothers mixing and making a birthday cake from farm products using flour, eggs, butter and sugar transitioned to the industrial economic age where moms bought Betty Crocker for a dollar or two to make cakes for birthday parties.
The next transition was to order the cakes from a bakery with customisation for about $20 – $40. The next leap was to ‘outsource’ the entire event to Chuck E Cheese for about $200 to experience the birthday event. Now, the economy has moved from agrarian to experience economy and where the experiences are staged. No two people will feel the same experience as it will be based on their state of mind and interaction with the staged event. In an experience economy, any capital allocation should be focused only on acquiring and creating knowledge pertaining to the guests.
Experience is created by a set of emotions that create meaning and is related to the moment. Uses of senses such as sight, hear, taste, smell or touch to create an experience. These lead to emotions that in turn transform into an experience. Now, this experience if it becomes meaningful can lead to memories; a meaningful experience.
An experience can engage guests based on two dimensions: The degree of their participation and their relationship to the experience. The degree of participation can be broken into passive where there is observation and listening and active where the guests take part in the experience. Attending a music concert would be passive absorption but having an interactive educational activity can be an active absorption experience.
The same is true in any economy or any country. People of the past generations believed in saving and taking on fewer risks. Therefore, their vacations or travels were restricted to family meetings or family gatherings. However, over generations and with an increase in disposable income levels, Indians and Human beings, in general, have started moving towards a customised vacation or even customised purchasing habits. It is therefore not different from manufacturers. The experts have now understood that customers are inclined towards an experience economy that is unique to them as opposed to visiting places or experiencing very common places.
Similarly, another emerging trend is the ‘Four Square Travel’, where packages are tailor-made to include a series of experiences to cater to each family member’s appetite. These cross-generational tour packages can be clubbed with a beach destination along with visits to a neighbouring theme park, a heritage walk, tour to the local vineyard /wine pressing, pub crawls, and a shopping layover”.
This same trend can be seen in other industries as well. Indians are looking for ways to customise and personalise their experiences that they are willing to try and experiment with every facet. Experiential learning is the best way to learn, and when it comes to the experiential and exploratory styles, Indians prefer the approach.
he Indian live worldwide, and yet if you see someone who is Indian, you can identify them easily. You can identify them by their way of celebrating festivals or special occasions. Indian is incomplete without Indian wear, and a saree is the first thing anyone can think of when talking about India.
The perfect blend of desi and modernisation
Although the times have changed, we still associate our Indian culture with our new-day choices. For instance, we believe any other garments can’t replace sarees. Indians prefer the experiential and exploratory style– something new but with Indian essence, ‘tadka’, to it. Sarees are famous worldwide and have proven themselves as a traditional garment that is comfortable and trendy. Over time, women have changed their draping style and a touch of elegance. This can also be possible through customisation and personalisation- making it experiential but also exploratory.
Experiential and exploratory style-based thinking and economy is the current wave. The tools such as the internet and technology enhance individuals’ experiences by moulding them their way rather than following a rigid or conventional olden-time approach. To conclude, to move up the value chain from a commodity economy to a transformative economy, customisation is necessary, and commoditisation of services will move the business down the value chain.
Just as a contemporary Indian traveller is an intrepid explorer with a demonstrated preference for unique travel experiences, retail shoppers with online tools have started to embark on the experimental and exploratory way of creating their own products that match their own taste and preferences. This is boosting the spirit of the people inclining towards “the experiential and exploratory” way of living and creating a vast scope for the consumers to pick what they like amidst a sea of options.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Raghuram Kuchibhatla, Founder and CEO of Yes!poho, launched the brand in 2017 with the idea to improve the shopping experiences and provide satisfaction to the customers. Raghuram intends to improve the livelihood and social-economic conditions of the craftsman, the dying culture of handloom and handicraft artisans. At the same time, he aims to offer his customers the best experiences in terms of unlimited sources, product availability, and convenience to all customers across India and in the world.
Socially Desi is a blogging website which focuses on Personal Development, Mental Health, Minimalism, Business & Entrepreneurship, Life Hacks and Relationships