Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Foodmart fundas

"By 2010, 90 percent of consumer products (in the US) will be home-delivered. Mothers will give children lists so they can shop for the family's groceries and other necessities over the Internet." - prediction by trends expert Faith Popcorn

Magar yeh hai India. And here, folks are willing to stand in line for an hour on a Sunday evening to check out a cartful of groceries. I landed up at the local Food Bazaar by mistake this weekend in search of cherries. And made a hasty exit from what appeared to be Virar station at rush hour!

It's all so new and exciting, being able to touch-feel-choose products of vast range and variety in air conditioned comfort. The visit to the local foodmart has become the middle class family's new weekend 'outing'. A substitute for the local temple/ Chowpatty.

Especially since - for reasons beyond my understanding - many malls hold 'events' on weekends. The most popular being putting up a stage where tiny tots can jump around to the tunes of the latest Bollywood numbers.

Like website hits were in the dotcom era, so footfalls are sacred in the megamall era. Never mind if most of these feet just come, lurk and linger, eat an 8 buck icecream at Mac and go home satisfied.

The theory being that ek baar chaska lag gaya to baar baar ayenge. Aur kuch na kuch to kharidenge hi.

This is where the grocery shops come in. Buying kirana is the one aspect of shopping that is the housewife's birthright. Which husband can say no to a wife demanding to be taken to shop for her monthly quota of Surf-sabudana and Sanifresh.

Grocery shopping is thus the perfect, guilt-free excuse for visiting the mall. Further, the foodmarts give you the impression of 'big savings'. Which may be true -but only to an extent.

The local Dmart sells 2 kgs of Tide at Rs 87 and claims you save Rs 15. My kiranawala delivered it home and charged Rs 88. The 15 rupee off deal is being offered by P & G - not the retailer. But the way it's advertised, you go home feeling happy about being a wise, thrifty shopper.

Two Kinds of Buyers
Local kiranawalas are under 'threat' from hypermarts but they won't just roll over and die so easily. Because there is a growing segment of customers which will - as Popcorn suggests - require home delivery.

Yuppie singles, couples for whom time is money - they are going to simply pick up the phone and order whatever is needed, whenever it's needed. The large chains also home deliver but not in 10 minutes flat. And not 2 packets of milk.

However, for 10% of their needs these folks will also visit hypermarts because they are becoming places to shop at for interesting new products.

This evening I bought 200-300 bucks worth of stuff more on impulse than need. Stuff which caught my attention and seemed worth trying out including...

Palmolive aromatherapy shower cream (very attractive packaging, smelt nice too)

MTR macaroni and veg chatpata sauce (ready to eat thingie which looked intriguing)

Nestle lassi (didn't know they had lassi! Very nice - will definitely buy again!)

'High Range' strawberry preserve (never heard of brand but label explained this was a product of 'Project Dare' which educates underprivileged kids. So thought... why not try)

I also noticed that Cadbury's has come out with a chocolate sauce (like Hershey's) and there's a new snack called Bollywood bites (packed in Pringles type cans). Neither of these products has been advertised. But a good display in a hypermart is enough to at least induce trials.

Bottomline: If you like to keep in touch with what's new, hypermarts are fun. But visit on weekdays wonly. For everything else, cultivate your friendly neighbourhood kirana shop. He may not accept Visa or Mastercard, but his service and efficiency is priceless.


  1. Hi Rashmi,
    In towns like Aurangabad,where even Big Baazar has not yet entered,the 'kiranawala' still rules.As long as brands like Big Baazar are not in,kiranawalas are here to stay.The plans of opening up of Walmart may even put these brands in peril.

  2. Haven't heard of most of the products which you have listed down here.

    Kirana store's USP include better customer understanding and credit facility (in some cases). Some of the established retailers (like Foodworld in the South) do offer home delivery if your order is above a particular amount.

  3. Anonymous8:15 AM

    Hey Rashmi,
    i've heard most malls in Delhi are at shut down point , they can't even cover their variable costs. Infact the multiplexes in these malls have suffered huge losses and will be closing down soon.there is a Big Bazaar in Delhi and i think that's the only place which is doing well.

  4. Heres an oldish post from me on the david vs goliath in retail.
    The kirana waala wont die so easily and its not going to be easy for the big grocers!

  5. The thing is that these SuperBazaars take advantage of corporate tie-ups to come up with totally mad deals kiranawalas couldn't even think of.

    The Tropicana shelf at Bangalore Central had 1Ltr combo packs[500ml + 500ml] selling for Rs. 45. From what it looked like, this was a very outlet-centric promo, confirmed by hours of hunting for the same packs at CMH road. If only I could handle the infinitely long lines of the enthusiastic shoppers and their child-bearing carts.

    Still, I'm sure this is only a very singular example, I've always believed that being a faithful customer of your local grocery store ensures that you get a better deal.

    I'm just waiting for the day all the local stores in India get Walmartized.

  6. Hi Rashmi,

    It seems that this is one of the rare occasions where you have been late to spot a pervasive trend. Shivaji and I have covered these trends,social impact of impulse purchases and economics some time back in our blogs.
    FYI , they are on

  7. Did you read about Kirana wala's banning the P&G stuff...

    Right from Tide to Vicks Vaporub and further ahead to Whisper... reason is the discrimination that P&G holds for these kirana wala's and the Mall's...

  8. Read in mirror today that Mulund kiranawala's are protesting today against double attitude adopted by consumer companies.

  9. These retail guys are too big to fight. Companies like reliance Pantaloons (Big Bazaar) are not going to give up just because these kirana walas have a problem with it.I think rather than goin on strike and opposig these big retailers the kirana walas should come together and sum how build a mall may nt be that fancy but atlest an option frm them

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