Brand conscious or just being trendy?
A black Maruti Baleno pulls into the parking lot of Jai Nepal theatre. A cool dude wearing Adidas tee-shirt and Armani jeans steps out and looks at his watch, definitely a Rado. His girlfriend arrives looking picture perfect in designer wear — Silhoutte shades, Peltz shoes with Bentley handbag, a Nokia cell phone dangling from her fingers. They go in, get Nescafe Espresso, cans of Coke Lite and a packet of Lays.
The above is just one instance of how tastes and preferences of the upper-middle class Nepalis are changing. This class has definitely become brand conscious, however, it is not limited to the upper class. The middle class, especially Kathmanduites, are attracted to popular brands. Nike, Benetton, Silhoutte, Rayban, Adidas, Levis, Rado, Kellogs, Lays, Coke, Wai Wai, Colgate are some of the popular brands in urban Nepal.
The last 12 years has seen a dramatic increase in the number of brands available be it casual wear or formal, shoes or accessories, perfumes or cars or bikes... the list is endless. A
normal consumer will no doubt be confused.
The consumption pattern of Nepalis is changing — we are better informed due to value conscious advertisements. Marketers have discovered that urban Nepali consumers are not just rational decision makers, but want to be entertained and creatively challenged by experiencing the products and services. They not only want to buy the product, but also want to identify with it.
An increasingly large group of people believe in brands and say brands are a representation of one’s status and achievements. Brand conscious Nepalis fall in the category with the average monthly spending capacity of Rs 20,000 and above. Income level, status in society, self-satisfaction all matter in making one brand conscious. Fashion statements and the favourite brands of idols also affect a consumer’s loyalty to a particular brand.
This is however, not to say that everyone in Nepal is ‘truly’ brand conscious. Nepali market is flooded with fakes and many wear fakes thinking it to be the original. By the time originals make it here, the concept of ‘brand’ has already been diluted. Some problems include lack of proper legal infrastructure for brand protection and the confusion created by the (mis)use of the same brand name for different products and services.
A brand is no longer a mere statement of one’s financial status, but a reflection of one’s mindset. However, the owners of branded item stores said it was not advisable being brand-conscious in Nepal. The reason? Real, authentic goods rarely come to Nepal; and even if they do, they are too expensive.
So, the question remains — have we become brand conscious in the true and the real sense? Or are we just trying to be very, very trendy?
(Submitted by Bandana Manandhar, Dichhya Shrestha, Nischal Sharma, Sristi Bajracharya, Rashish L Shrestha, MBA Semester I, KUSOM)