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BW Businessworld

The Buying Spree

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Anyone who thinks that the fruits of India's growing economic prosperity can be seen only in the top metros has probably not talked with any sales and marketing person recently. In every category — from private jets and luxury cars to personal products such as hair care and whitening creams — non-metro India is witnessing a consumption boom of unprecedented proportions. From Ludhiana to Aurangabad, Mercedes cars are being picked up by newly minted millionaires. From Moradabad to Dhanbad, young people are flocking to KFC, McDonald's and Café Coffee Day outlets. Malls opened in Tier-II and Tier-III towns report brisk business, and everything from packaged food items to personal care products are moving off the shelves rapidly in small-town, semi-urban and rural India.

Till a few years ago, many economists worried only a small proportion of the population was benefiting from the economic reforms. And this was only accentuating the divide between the haves and have nots. Some of those worries still remain. There are parts of India where almost no benefits of the scorching GDP growth of the past few years can be seen. These are also the areas that are fertile grounds for Maoist insurgency to take root.

But as senior editor Prasad Sangameshwaran and special correspondent Meera Mohanty report in our cover story this issue, there are plenty of signs of prosperity and growth in non-metro, semi-urban as well as rural India. And marketers can ignore this trend only at their own peril.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Malaysia, Tony Fernandes has ridden the growing middle-class demand for affordable flights to create the AirAsia success story. Fernandes is a colourful businessman with decidedly strong views on a host of subjects — especially airlines and their operations. Correspondent Abhinav Sharma had an extended conversation with him in Kuala Lumpur last week. Don't miss the interview.

Finally, to get a taste of how electronics and information technology are making cars smarter — and also providing a great growth opportunity for Indian firms — go to page 52 to read the story by senior editor Hari Pulakkat and special correspondent Vishal Krishna.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 02-05-2011)