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Liberalization in India has allowed for increased competition and manufacturing as a result of pressure to improve quality, which was necessary for growth and survival; as against the early days of Independence which monopolized markets where consumers had little choice. Organizations have undergone a paradigm shift from an inward-production-led philosophy to an outward-customer-focused approach (Sureshchander et al., 2002) with an increased focus on understanding consumer needs and innovating to cater to them. With less of a focus on the initial entry and with a longer-term view of what a thriving Indian business would look like, the more successful companies has invested time and resources to understand local consumers and business conditions (Paurav Shukla, 2005). This was because the Indian consumer was largely different from their global counterparts due to dependence on culture and values. This is evident in the various product and communication modifications of various international players while entering India. Some of them that can be quoted are: Mc Donald’s, Nokia, Ariel etc.
In this light several researches have been carried out on understanding various concepts in India such as family values, buying process, decision making, children as influencers etc. With the advent of malls in India a change in the decision making process has occurred where the retailer acted as an innovator in providing more choices to customers, thus changing the buying process from need-aspire-buy to aspire-need-buy process. This process has also been widely researched with focus on marketing communications, cross-selling opportunities etc.
However due to the high cultural association of family with Indian mindset, there has been not enough research done on understanding the needs and aspirations of the Indian couples without children, as against Western countries where specific offerings have been created and served for couples in particular. Seeing this as a potential market segment this research is aimed at understanding the needs and aspirations of couples in India in terms of their service needs, and aspirations about entertainment and bonding. Once established the outcome of the result would be taken and used to develop a strategy for providing offerings to this segment in India that would be demonstrated by experiment in a simulated scenario as part of Venture Incubation Project.
“Hum Tum – Celebrating Togetherness”? is the platform for facilitating couples to follow the The 7th vow of marriage – Togetherness. Lost in the mundane routines of day to day work both in and outside home, “Hum Tum”? helps couples to bring back the moments of togetherness and fun which strengthen relations and makes life happier.
India with a geographical spread of 3,287,240 square kilometers accommodating 1177 million (estimated for 2010) people has a rich cultural diversity where 325 languages are spoken by people of different caste and creed. Referred to as the ‘log book of the world’ by National Geographic, with the intermingling of races that occurred due to multiple invasions in the past, one of the hot buttons in India is “Family”? – a basic foundation of Indian culture. To market products and services targeting a family seemed the most feasible option with family pack as the easiest way to reach and attract customers. With increasing competition and segmentation children, young adults, and older people have been grown to be separate segments with customized products, services and segmentation. However with strong importance attached to the roles and responsibilities both at home and towards the society, couple as a unit was never segmented and targeted as a unit of consumption. This could also be because of the strong guilt associated with thoughts of indulging themselves sans the family in the Indian couples. The emphasis shift in marketing and communication was largely from loners to families, in crafting and designing marketing activities except for a few specific products and services like tourism, family planning and sensuous products etc.
This social trend of guilt, social responsibility and complying to societal regulations however is seeing a change in today’s situation with most couples making an effort to understand and explore each other. Marriage today is no more an obligation by the society; rather it is seen as a journey of togetherness, sharing and love. Couples are ready to invest more time for them, to travel and enjoy their life together while giving sufficient time to family and work. With increasing financial and social freedom of women, the expectations and demands from the spouse also have changed considerably. Though this has increased the disposable income lack of time is still a problem today. While household duties and societal norms gave no time for couples earlier, today it is the dual jobs scenario that has made time available more scarce and quality of time spent more important. Options like shopping and movies that exhaust time with no active involvement are no longer on the top of the list for favorite pastime today. Hobby classes, long drives and adventure sports are moving up the ladder suggesting that they would want to invest time more efficiently since they understand its limited and valuable. Also more than spending time with relatives as part of committing to societal norms today the emphasis is more on finding people with similar interests and improving their skills and spending time in a meaningful way.
Based on these trends the following analysis has been done to understand how couples can be targeted as a unit of consumption and to identify entrepreneurial opportunities in providing leisure and entertainment options to couples that would build and strengthen the feeling of togetherness in couples demanding their active involvement.
Market opportunity analysis :
Industry Analysis: Leisure and Entertainment Industry –
Fun today is serious business with Indians moving away from the era of savings to the era of indulgence. International companies expanding into Asian countries consider India as becoming one of the fast growing markets for spends in leisure and entertainment industry. This can be attributed to the increasing family income with the spouses earning, reducing family sizes with nuclear families, and the new mantra of “live life to the fullest”?.
Compared to about three times a month in 2003, many urban Indians now eat out five to six times per week in 2010. A sample survey of 1,500 couples by the Associated Chambers of Commerce in 2008 found that 65% of dual working couples spend an average of Rs10, 000 a month on eating out four to five days in a week and watching minimum four to five movies a month.
Some of the key characteristics of the needs of Indians pertaining to leisure and entertainment industry are:
- “I want to invest my time on weekends”? :
- The emerging “Gamester”?:
- Earn more, spend more:
- Conduct a market research as explained below to understand the needs and aspirations of couples with respect to service needs and entertainment. (Stage 1 in Research)
- By selecting some of the service/entertainment options based on research carried out in Step 1, simulate a test environment to create an experience for a select set of couples. The customer response can be measured here which can be used to suggest a framework for entrepreneurs and marketers looking to target couples in India.
- Develop and test an innovative marketing model on how to address the needs and aspirations of couples in India. (Stage 2 in Research)
- C1:Gujarati couple married for 1 year, dual income, nuclear family– No children
- C2:Couple married for 1 year, dual income, nuclear family, shifted to Ahmedabad from Delhi, existent family help – No children
- C3:Gujarati couple married for 1 year, joint family, single income – No Children
- C4:Gujarati couple married for 5 years, nuclear family, single income – 2 Children (Aged 1 and 3)
- C5:Gujarati couple married for 10 years, joint family, single income – 2 Children (Aged 8 and 5)
- C6:Gujarati couple married for 25 years, joint family, retired, financially independent, living with son
- C7:Gujarati couple married for 40 years, nuclear family, financially independent, not living with children, recently shifted from USA, lived in USA since marriage
- C8:Couple married for 2 years, love marriage, against elders, double income, 1 child
- C9:Couple married for 4 years, love marriage, accepted by elders, single income, 1 child aged 4
- C10:Gujarati couple, graduates, to be married in May 2010
- Perception of Marriage – Aspirations and expectations from spouse
- Value of togetherness – Need, level of existence in relation today, how it changes with children
- Weekday, weekend routine
- Leisure time – Amount of time and how it is spent: Personal, with spouse, family, holidays
- Aspirations in the context of spouse – Activities, leisure, impact of societal norms, existence of options
Though most couples spend leisure time during weekdays on TV and weekends in shopping and films there is a little thought that lingers across their minds on the usefulness of the time spent on watching television and a plan to invest in hobbies and healthy activities. More so since the bulk of TV viewing is spent on soaps and film-based programmes.
Gaming as a pastime has spread across SEC’s and urban rural divisions indicating the potential growth prospects. Though most active gamers are mostly male, female gamers have grown to a sizeable 24% suggesting the scope for the growth of gaming as one of the most favored pastime activities in families.
From a country known for savings for tomorrow, couples today are eager to earn more for a capability to spend more. Self indulgence and splurging using credit cards, and schemes to buy luxury goods is not uncommon today. In the case of double-income-no-kids families, a greater proportion of disposable income is spent on leisure and recreation, eating out and health and fitness.
The service providers in the Leisure & Entertainment industry foresee many changes in years to come; options that will force the Indian consumer to look beyond TV as a source of entertainment. Some of the trends they foresee are: The industry will be characterised by convergence of media, with content that is more interactive, participative. They believe that ‘themes’ will be a major part of entertainment – theme parks, for events (theme shows), and other one-off activities like runs and marathons. This will be accompanied by emergence of recreational resorts like Disney World and Universal Studio and niche activities/facilities like wax museums, innovative film city and bungee jumping.
Marriage & Expectations:
Marriage had been the anchoring point on which the whole of India’s social structure of family has been maintained. There is no greater event in a family than a wedding, dramatically evoking every possible social obligation, kinship bond, traditional value, impassioned sentiment, and economic resource.
Marriage has been defined in ancient Indian literature as the entrance into Grahastha Ashram from Brahmacharya which signifies moving from bachelorhood to being a householder. The Grahastha Ashram in initiated with marriage where in the householder is supposed to take up the responsibility of procreation and then bring up children similar to his ancestral norms and customs. In doing so the householder has to do the 4 Dharmas of life – Dharma, Ardha, Kama and Moksha i.e. be truthful to the society, earn enough to substantiate the family, enjoy sexual pleasures with one’s spouse and finally perform religious duties to attain Moksha.
As seen above, marriage has been always associated with responsibilities and duties, with relatively less importance attached to the bonding or the feeling of togetherness among the couples.
A marriage was believed to be sacrosanct and divorce an anomaly. Societal norms, interdependence and children were the key factor that bound spouses together more than affection and togetherness among the couples. Social customs and beliefs held paramount value with the belief that marriage is sacred and had to be maintained despite internal disparity between the couples. Joint families were the norm with little scope and space for the couples to understand and relate to each other. Pro-creation and other responsibilities were associated with the definition of marriage. Even though a few couples were dissatisfied with their relation it usually ended with interference from parents or the local heads to avoid a social disgrace.
Through this sustained for many centuries, the generation today is demanding more from the relation. The boundaries between men and women are fast diminishing and demands are fast rising from both the spouses from the marriage as a relation. Material comforts are no more sufficient today to sustain and build a marriage. While love marriages are definitely on a rise with couples interacting well before marriage the fact remains that there are increasing number of marriage counseling centers, divorce cases led and family problems. While these problems are usually attributed to the increasing demands of today’s youth, lack of emotional support from elders in the family the prime factor perhaps is the lack of a strong relation between the man and woman in a marriage. Lack of understanding, co-ordination and primarily a feeling of togetherness in couples are leading to increasing distances.
Analyzing industry cross TG: Leisure spending habits of couples in India:
The options for leisure and entertainment in India are aplenty in the form of movie theatres, sports, clubs, restaurants, malls, holiday packages etc to name a few. However one important point to note is that traditionally, Indians tend to spend more time inside the home with their families, especially married couples with children. According to a McKinsey Report on ‘How Half of the World Shops’, nearly 70% of India’s shoppers always go to stores with their families, and 74% – more than twice the average of Brazil, China and Russia –view shopping as the best way to spend time with family. The preference for family-oriented shopping is consistent across all age groups, income segments, regions and city sizes. Watching movies is another common pastime across all age and income groups and regions, which is again largely a family affair across India.
Culture, leisure in Ahmedabad:
Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of Gujarat is a culturally rich city with a population of about 52 Lakhs. There is a strong Gujarati culture where the chief wage earner is into business and the joint family is typical among Gujaratis, with a household consisting of two or three generations of men and their dependents. Celebrating in groups with lot of sound, music is the norm here, and most outings include the whole family and even other families along. This is attributed to the cost saving plans inherent in businessmen and the ingrained definition of fun as including large groups of people.
Ahmedabad was the first city in India to have a multiplex which shows that leisure is serious business here. Drive-in, multiplex, single screen put together there are about 40 cinema theatres in Ahmedabad. Family Clubs, events in performing arts and growth of sports like golf suggest that there is indeed a great demand for better and innovative ways of spending leisure time.
Shopping experience is a utilitarian effort aimed at obtaining needed goods and services as well as hedonic rewards (Pavleen Kaur, 2007). The number of working women is increasing in India and it accounts for the considerable increase in disposable income plus rising personal consumption for the dual-income family. The consequent time poverty necessitated changes in shopping basket composition and patterns. Apart from shopping patterns undergoing a change owing to time-pressures and higher disposable incomes, the motives for people to shop also changed. Therefore, the concept of economic/utilitarian shopping, that is, seeking the best buy, was coupled with other hedonic motives. Interestingly, the shopping activities ostensibly undertaken to maximise value obtained were highly enjoyable. (Ray and Walker, 2004; Spears, 2005). Tauber (1972) identified that social interaction which consists of a variety of social motives, such as, social interaction, reference group affiliation and communicating with others having similar interests also was an important reason for shopping. The information-seeking motive, as proposed by Tauber, included information seeking, comparison, and accessing in a retail context. According to Pavleen Kaur (2007) shopping is also seen as a means of diversion to alleviate depression or break the monotony of daily routine.
Change in retail environment:
According to Pavleen (2007) the ever mounting customers’ needs and expectations were largely catered for by the new and emerging organised retailers who offer a wide array of goods at affordable prices more conveniently to the customer. In other words, growth in incomes made it essential for the retailing firms to modify their existing ways of doing business according to the changing requirements of the customer. The present environment exposes consumers to a plethora of purchase options and in return they may even be compelled, in certain situations, to redefine their shopping styles according to the available options.
Consumption decisions made in the market cannot be viewed as an independent event – these are closely related with values and social relationship and cultural allegiance (Saikat Banerjee et al. 1999). Children have also come to constitute a very important consumer group that influences family purchases of various products in many ways. Finally with the advent of malls the definition of shopping has changed to a way of socialization, where both husbands and wives tend to have high involvement in shopping. Martinez and Polo (1999) studied family purchase behaviour by surveying 600 Spanish married couples. They found that couples would make joint decisions only when the couple was young and the wife worked; in couples where the wife did not work or the spouses had been married for many years, the husband would usually make decisions alone.
In specific Indian context Hofstede (1980) identified Indian society as ‘‘collectivist’’. India had been patriarchal with the Chief Wage earner being the decision maker. However changes in education, the advent of career women, and the growing number of dual-income families have challenged earlier beliefs on role structure and purchase influence (Webster, 1995) thus making spouse and children an important part of the decision making process in most categories.
Service Quality Parameters:
Analyzing services industry in particular, service firm marketers are aware that quality superiority provides significant strategic advantages such as customer loyalty, responsiveness to demand, market share growth, and greater productivity (Malhotra, 2004). However evaluation of service quality becomes difficult due to three characteristics that are inherent in services – intangibility, heterogeneity, and inseparability (Berry and Parasuraman, 1991). In this context the ten determinants or dimensions of service quality as proposed by Parasuraman (1994) are: reliability, access, and understanding of the customer, responsiveness, competence, courtesy, communication, credibility, security, and tangible considerations. According to Malhotra (1994) environmental factors like culture, communication infrastructure, education, technology, and economic development impact the service quality dimensions of a society.
The New Age Couple:
Most Indian couples today are far removed from the widely researched traditional family system of India. As the political independence of 1947 and the economic reforms of 1991 transformed India into one of the world’s largest democracies and business entrepreneurship respectively, the rise of the New Middle Class (NMC) referred to as The Call Centre Couple, has transformed India’s family structure, markets and workplace as we know them today (Jagdish Sheth, 2009). The CCC is a young family where both husband and wife have college degrees and both have to work to economically survive and achieve their aspirations. Neither wants to have their parents live with them. They believe parents will deprive their freedom and independence, and possibly interfere in their new lifestyle. What matters to this NMC is personal independence and freedom. Time has become a scarce resource and since both work, there is permanent time shift and time poverty for daily activities of shopping, workings, sleep and recreation. Sundays become very precious and the couple resents any intrusion from the boss or from other family members. To cope with life, both are desperately latching on to spirituality (but independent of religious rituals) and to a “holistic”? life style with yoga and meditation. CCCs are everywhere and transcend the traditional metro vs. non-metro market definitions as they also transcend religion and subcultures of India. This NMC or the CCC is widespread, one-way and a permanent discontinuity from the past.
Three dimensions – attraction, centrality, and self expression – have consistently been shown to be applicable and reliably measured within leisure settings (Dimanche et al., 1991; McIntyre and Pigram, 1992; Havitz and Dimanche, 1997; Wiley et al., 2000). The origins of leisure participation and continued involvement are more often influenced by ‘the social circles of workmates, family and friends’ than by individual causes (Burch, 1969, p. 138). Burch termed this influence the ‘personal community hypothesis’ of leisure which shows that affiliation is a must. Affiliation referred to interacting and sharing oneself with others and consisted of six components: (a) affirmation of family and friends, which referred to leisure contexts that supported ties to family and friends; (b) satisfaction with family and friends, which referred to the satisfaction derived from shared leisure experiences; (c) development of children, which referred to leisure contexts that permitted opportunities for parents to model their children’s values and impart their own sense of morality; (d) development and maintenance of relationships, which referred to contexts that enabled informants to spend time with friends or make new friends; (e) interaction with others, which referred to leisure contexts that positively influenced informants’ affect which, in turn, effected their interactions with those around them; and (f) location, which refers to the ‘container’ or settings in which informants’ experiences occurred.Alternately, leisure as agency referred to contexts where experiences facilitated the development and realization of aspects of the self.
As seen above extensive research has been done to understand the buying behaviour, service quality expectations of Indian consumers; both at an individual and family level. However the global trend today is an increased focus on carrying out research on couples to understand their needs and preferences. Primarily in the hospitality and tourism industries offers specifically designed for couples which include specially designed hotel rooms, resorts, holiday tours etc are more common place now. The services have extended to homes by providing personalized services at home including housekeeping, garden designing etc thus highlighting the scope of this segment as a potential source for creating new markets. In this context the following problem definition has been identified.
Venture Incubation Problem:
So far the marketers have used their strategies and processes of targeting people as an individual/family or Corporates as a unit of consumption. Therefore most products/service offerings today are concentrating on segmenting consumers in terms of gender (man/woman), age (children, youngsters, and old people), social and economic classification etc. The couple as a single unit and their joint consumption needs and patterns have largely been ignored in terms of couple/pair, husband/wife who aspires to live together and explore all possible ways of living in togetherness – through pursuing joint hobbies, developing new set of skills, occupations and social interaction patterns.
In view of the above it seems that seeing a couple as a unit of consumer is an unexplored area and therefore offers tremendously new set of opportunities through uncovering new set of needs and aspirations for joint consumption of a couple which would lead to new value offerings in terms of new a set of services, repackaging services to offer a new method of the delivery of services as they may desire to consume it together rather than as individuals. This has been seen growing in India recently where many clubs are encouraging couples to participate in dance classes, fashion shows etc.
Since marketers have to a larger extent ignored this particular aspect there are no management/marketing developed in this context for providing value to couples. Also there has been no adequate market research done to understand and derive insight about needs and aspiration of consumption as a couple. An in depth understanding of these values and needs might be used to develop a new marketing model for delivery value to couples in India.
The research design for achieving this objective was carried out in 2 phases, secondary and primary research.
The objective of secondary research was to understand the history of marriage and its value to Indians, how Indians moved across different stages of life cycle and what are the common aspirations, expectations and values derived from marriage. This was carried out through reading articles and opinions of historians, psychologists, articles on Hindu culture, marriage and the changes that have been happening to the system of marriage and family in India.
Marriage is an important institution in almost all societies in the world. The results of numerous studies suggest that people tend to be both healthier and happier when they are married (e.g., Gottman, 1994; Orbuch & Custer, 1995;White, 1994).
According to Mansfield and Collard married women talk about ‘togetherness’ in marriage and sharing a ‘common life’ with their husbands (by this they mean sharing interests and time with their partner). Men, on the other hand, maintain a concept of togetherness that contains elements of traditional marriage. They are more likely to emphasise the importance of knowing that a wife can be a source of support if necessary, and are less likely to stress the need to have time for talking together. For young husbands’ views of togetherness have more to do with geographical than emotional closeness. It is possible that the women’s movement has been an important catalyst in the progress towards an increasingly strong emphasis on equality and sharing in marriage. Women seem to have moved towards the relationship model of marriage earlier and at greater speed than men.
Togetherness in marriage:
The 7th of the Pheras which form an important part of every Indian marriage signifies togetherness. As part of this Phera the couple asks for companionship, togetherness and loyalty and understanding forever in their relation. They promise to remain friends and be mature enough to carry that friendship through all travails of life. At the end of it the husband and wife commit to the friendship for life and thus the marriage is complete.
Beyond these vows, togetherness in a marriage was confined to behind closed doors in Indian sub-continent. Earlier, conversations between couples were hugely restricted to bed rooms and that too only in the night. Even these came down with the birth of a child since children usually slept with parents till they passed their teens. Couple speaking in front of elders were considered to be disrespecting elders and hence strictly avoided. Even eating together was rare since the wife was supposed to eat only after the husband completed his eating. Couples rarely went out together except for attending social functions where their presence together was more of a social norm. For the society the man represented the couple outside the house and the woman represented the couple inside the house. Hence togetherness was more of a social norm then an expectation or an aspiration earlier. While men’s expectations from marriage were confined to domestic assistance and extending his family, women’s expectations from marriage were motherhood, financial and emotional security. Women were not a part of any decision making except in meager matters like kitchen, and food. Key decisions of the house, including the future of children were controlled by the heads of the family and the man who was the chief wage earner of the family. Together child was the only common aspiration that both men and women had from marriage and sex was perhaps the only common activity because of the societal norms and cultural inhibitions. It was more of an outside in approach where marriage was an activity performed for social acceptance than personal preferences. There was a term “marriageable age”? where the social custom of marriage was bound to happen irrespective of the thoughts of the couple. While it was child marriage primitively with marriages happening soon of the child birth, it gradually moved to post puberty. With the influence of Western culture and women empowerment the expectations from marriage today have changed considerably. The importance of marriage has changed from just procreation and a societal norm to be accepted. Today a marriage is more about togetherness, about doing things together, understand each other and the world better and in the process also contribute positively to the society. Women becoming financially independent and well educated gave them a scope to offer their own point of view and actively take part in decision making. Though even today the decisions are hugely controlled by men, women’s role in decision making is more than what it was earlier. Couples are planning and delaying their children for having a good married life, with just their spouse. Developing their relation, going around visiting places and accumulating finances are more important than children for most couples in the first few years of marriage today. Also the concept of marriageable age is no longer strong today with youngsters deciding to marry late, based on their commitments at studies, work and their aspirations in life. They want to achieve some independent success before getting into marriage which they want to make successful. They believe marriage needs time and ready to invest in it but only after satisfying their personal goals and aspirations.
How Indian couples spent leisure time:
Leisure was entirely a gender based concept earlier with men resorting to discussions with friends and elders while women largely got together with neighbors and elders in the afternoons for chit-chat while parallelly doing some household activities. Tours were confined to pilgrimages usually to fulfill the wishes of the elders than for pleasure. Later movies and TV were the major sources to spend leisure time. This has bought the family together with most programmes watched by the whole family and movies a monthly or a periodic affair where the whole family went as an outing. The culture of picnics, family get-togethers, clubs, theme parks, brought in more avenues of leisure and entertainment. Children were usually part of the activity unless it was late in the night or involved alcohol since there was guilt in spending time without children. From this family oriented leisure lifestyle today India today is moving towards an individual leisure lifestyle where both the spouses have their own ways of spending leisure time and there is no more any guilt of not spending time with children or spouse and family since they believe its their life and they have a right to spend it in their own way.
Togetherness outside home:
Touch is perhaps the most primitive demonstration of our emotional selves that remains unchanged throughout humankind’s evolutionary history. All living beings carry with them a sense of personal space which is shared through touch irrespective of social and cultural differences. Touch may be defined as the highest level of acceptance since people usually move to touch only when the degree of comfort is high.
Discussing the societal norms in terms of couples, public display of affection is still a taboo in Indian society and most couples prefer not to be physically together in any public place. This could be one of the main reasons why Indians do not enjoy leisure time as much as foreigner do since they take physical intimacy as accepted even in a public place.
Another important factor is that couples love the romantic moments in their first few days of marriage, and wish some of it gets rubbed back sometime again. The element of fun and togetherness in the first few days of marriage is cherished by most couples.
According to some sociologists, almost all the couples like to show off that they are having a good happy married life. One of the main reasons for couples to go out beyond enjoying their time to movies, restaurants etc is to flaunt their happiness though it is not entirely conscious. However once they make a family i.e. become parents, they are supposed to be more responsible in societal norms and hence are not any more interested in outings as a couple. Most couples would still prefer going out only with their spouse to new places, provided their children are taken care of by parents and believe they can spend good time together.
The objective of primary research was to understand the aspirations of couples in Ahmedabad from marriage, the value of togetherness in the relation of marriage at different stages after marriage. Also attempt was made to understand how they spend their leisure time and the latent and unmet needs with respect to leisure and entertainment in Ahmedabad for couples.
Universe and Sample Size:
The universe of this research is the married couples of Ahmedabad belonging to the SEC A+, and not planning to get divorced. While choosing the sample there were several factors that were considered like: Time for which the couple was married, existence of children, age of children, financial independence, joint/nuclear family, compatibility between couples with respect to education and culture, dual income/single income, existence of family help etc.
The above factors were found to be some of the prime factors that impact the relation between couples with respect to understanding, compatibility, availability of time, leisure, physical and financial capability etc.
Hence the sample was as follows:
Couples from SEC A+ were chosen by following random sampling in the members of Karnavati Club and snow balling through contacts in Ahmedabad. Screening questions were asked to ensure they met the criteria of the sample. Here one unmarried couple which got engaged also was taken into consideration since this would give better understanding of the aspirations of couples before marriage as against the responses of married people about their aspirations earlier.
The research tool used here was In-depth Interview of each spouse in 5 couples, dyads of 5 couples.
As part of the interview projective techniques, word associations, interpretation of ads were used to understand the respondent.
Interpretation of ads:
- Ads shown: Bru coffee, SBI Life Insurance, Onida TV ad
- Liking towards the ad and what was the one thing they like about the ad
- The definition of marriage was centered on understanding, love and a feeling of togetherness with different sets of people highlighting different aspects as the most important.
- Children represent togetherness after some time as couples get engrossed in their own worlds with reducing time spent together.
- Another important fact that came across was that any activity that demanded complete involvement from them would make them happy and increase the bonding. Children for one could be the highest in this aspect since there was complete involvement and attachment in rearing the child. Again when couples had common interests they were completely involved and hence enjoyed the time doing that activity.
- Movies were mostly preferred with partners only by young couples, while all the others saw it as a waste of time since they are passive most of the time looking at the screen and cannot really connect with the partner. Middle aged couples preferred to with friends who share common interests over the spouse with different interests as it is boring for the partner to sit through for 3 hours.
- Dinners were usually a family affair and trips in holidays usually included family and friends which were planned well ahead because it was economical and had a lot of fun to travel in groups.
- Fun was mostly associated with activities in groups, and families by most couples except the couple which came from Delhi. Only they defined fun as trekking, cooking together; while for the other married couples any activity with just the couple did not give any element of fun. Being with spouse alone was a good feeling as most people put it than fun.
- Most couples across age groups and family life cycle stages opined that the lack of fun was the fundamental deterrent to the marriage which makes it boring and agreed that marriage is a relation which needs constant effort from both sides to ensure it goes strong. Women said that it all depended more on the women as men tend to find others options of leisure and entertainment beyond their homes, while women are bound by responsibility towards home and children. Men on the other hand felt women had no time left after taking care of the children. According to one of the respondents “If there is an element of fun in the relation then it becomes easier to say something we don’t like in the other person in a teasing manner without hurting them”?.
- The definition of togetherness was marriage and spouse for the young and the old couples, while for others it was handling tough situations like someone in the family falling sick, who can be reached for help anywhere anytime. This definition included friends, family and relatives along with spouse.
- Almost all the couples across the sample preferred to go on long walks on the sea shore, and long drive together. The vastness of the road ahead and the sea was the reason behind with the color of sky and water – blue bringing in serenity. According to one of the respondents “Sitting in the beach or a long walk makes us feel that we are ahead and the whole world is behind, and there is so much vastness ahead, be it the sea or the sky”?.
- Most couples were skeptic about touching each other in public outside the room and public display of affections was a strict no since it’s against the societal norms. They were ok with holding hands among other couples but not in front of parents or children since it meant disrespect for elders and spoiling the children.
- Most couples said marriage is a relation which needed constant effort from each of the spouse to ensure that the togetherness is enriched and not lost in daily mundane activities. “It is not possible to just live on memories for ever. There should be new memories and new experiences which will make the bond stronger and the relation long lasting”?
- Men say marriage is not between 2 families its rather between 2 people, whereas women thought it was between 2 families
- In DI’s both women and men were more vocal about their aspirations before their marriage than in the case of dyads where they spoke more about responsibilities than aspirations.
- Specifically couples in the middle age segment where the woman was a house wife with growing children the definition of marriage “Marriage is a compromise, an adjustment, and some love”?
- Asking for products that can be provided for them to consume together, most couples talked about exercising together. Playing games was the 2nd most preferred activity since it helps them connect back to their courtship days.
- Most people wanted their dinner and outings to be secluded, away from the world gaze if it were to be only with the couple, since they wanted to be physically close. However most of them usually went along with family and friends.
- Newly married couples with no children and old couples living alone rated the feeling of togetherness in their lives as very high. According to them doing every activity together gives them utmost pleasure and happiness than being in a group of either friends or family.
- One of the couples, moved to USA immediately after marriage. According to them facing every problem independently from setting up the house, to dealing with pregnancy, child birth and rearing them up had ensured that their bonding became stronger and remains so till today. Even today they preferred to go out together and prefer spending time with each other singing and listening to devotional songs.
- In the old couple living with the son, the man defined marriage as togetherness, co-operation for showing love and affection. According to the lady marriage was more about finding a purpose in life. After education there is a vacuum created in life, where people become emotionally capable to give and take love and marriage gives them the right opportunity to do so within societal norms and conditions. Marriage gives a belief that there is someone for you which gives the motivation to work and do daily activities which are superficially mundane.
- In the new age couples women talked about marriage as more about partnership and companionship and about growing old together. However men were of the opinion that one gender doesn’t have the capacity and maturity to have an overview of life, hence its two people coming together to have a holistic understanding of everything around, which brings completeness to life.
- For most couples in the mid marriage scenario, spending time alone with the spouse was not very high on the list as they opined that they had their own set of friends and other activities. They would want to spend time alone but not regularly and did not think it was possible for either of them to enjoy it more. However before marriage both of them said that they aspired to love travelling with their future spouse.
- One couple said “A chit chat at the seashore or a good restaurant activates the five senses and hence makes the whole experience more lively and interesting than a closed room or home which is very predictable”?. In the case of the sea, it’s the blue sky, the smell of the sea, water touching the feet, the sand and the junk food that can be eaten.
- According to one of the couples the feeling of togetherness is more of an output and trust is what is more important for a long lasting relationship. However for being satisfied and happy they said togetherness is needed and trust alone would not be sufficient and most couples survive on just the social obligation to be together than even such other factors.
- For most dual income couples, weekends were usually spent in completing household chores, which left them with really less time for leisure except during festivals which are again filled with family and friends leaving them with little time for themselves.
- Give some arguments on what are the actvitites they like together in link with what you wrote here
In both these cases, men said they would want their wives along with them in whatever they do, always, women preferred to do some activities alone, like going for shopping, mother’s place etc since they knew that men would get bored, and hence should not be asked to come along even while the men refused that they would get bored.
In the case of a restaurant the ambience and the food make the most important factors since that effect the mood of the discussion and how long they can spend at the restaurant.
Interpretation of advertisements:
All the couples liked the ads above 5 on a scale of 1 to 7. The best element according to all of them was the mischievous act which they all have done at least once and it reminded them of that.
All except the C6, C7 liked the ad showing the couple going into the rain, as it was like going against social norms and seemed to bring back their youth. Segmentation:
Avenue seekers: Couples, who value togetherness, spend time together and are now looking for new avenues to spend time together
Facilitator seekers: Couples, who value togetherness, but are restrained by responsibilities, social norms and are looking for support in handling their responsibilities for them to spend time together.
Satisfactors: Couples who are satisfied with the current way of life, and do not want to change anything for bringing in togetherness into their relation.
Implication of research findings:
- Togetherness is perceived to be important in a marriage for a happy relationship.
- Children tend to become the only representation of togetherness in couples due to the lack of time and commitment towards family.
- Societal norms about public display of affection prevent most couples from exploring togetherness outside home.
- Complete involvement gives more fun and happiness in doing activities than passive participation
- As long as the fun in a relation is retained there will be lesser conflicts among couples.
- There is a desire for bringing back the memories of youth and courtship days
- A place which delights the 5 senses tends to attract larger crowds.
- It feels good to go as a couple and get appreciated. Showing off that they are having a happy married relation makes them feel good.
- There is a clear lack of options in Ahmedabad for exploring togetherness due to the crowded restaurants usually with families, and there are few entertainment venues other than cinema
This has come out clearly where almost all the couples wanted to be either on the beach or an empty road facing vastness (either sea or road) which made them feel the whole world is at the back and they are away from everybody, alone in the world.
Venture Incubation Framework:
Based on the research conducted above, it was observed that there were different sets of couples, with different levels of togetherness seeking behavior based on the years of marriage, children, available free time, compatibility in terms of interests etc. However one common factor across couples was the lack of enough avenues for couples to explore togetherness. Family responsibilities and societal norms were other factors that impeded couples from spending time together.
Considering this as the need gap this venture tries to build a facilitator for couples to build the feeling of togetherness by providing them a platform to explore leisure time together while also providing them with the necessary support systems to handle their other responsibilities.
To provide a platform to build and nurture the feeling of togetherness in couples and let them explore each other more, to have fun together, to spend time together while other priorities are taken care of.
Entertainment options to be provided:
- Exclusive coffee shop: – Each coffee table would have a veil that ensure privacy. A single semi circular sofa would ensure the couples sit together and enjoy their own personal space.
- Cooking club: Couples can come and cook together here using the latest kitchenware and can also sell the recipes. This would generate trial for the latest brands and also provide fun for the couples as most couples like cooking together.
- Organize camping, adventure sports, trekking in the weekends
- Dance clubs:
- Candle light dinner – An option to arrange a candle light dinner at home is provided where the food from their choicest restaurants would be bought and the dinner arranged at a place of their choice.
- Competitions among couples – Puzzles, Chinese building blocks, pottery, carpentry, Sing for the partner, Know your partner, Best proposal , write a letter to your partner
- Personalized movie screening for couples on special occasions – Most couples have a few specific movies which they would want to watch along with their spouse even before marriage. A screening room would be set up which can be booked for a screening of their favorite movie.
- Provision to design jewelry, apparels and order for production
- Theme based weekends – Karaoke day, rural day, Treasure Hunt day, trekking day, digital de-toxication day, Dream Day
Events would be conducted where events involving solving puzzles, building blocks etc would be conducted to test co-ordination among couples.
Rural day: Plan and organize an event where a couple can go and spend one whole day in a village with all amenities provided.
Digital detoxication day: Plan and organize an event where they need not use any digital product, and provide options for leisure and entertainment
Dream day: One of the spouses can gift a dream day for special occasions where the whole day is planned earlier based on what they want to do together
Some other services intended to be provided include:
- Exhibition place to display individual/group talents like painting, embroidery, wood work etc
- Training classes for etiquette, English
- Bill payments, ticket booking services
The target group for “Hum Tum”? would be the couples across age groups who value togetherness and are looking for newer avenues to explore togetherness. In future couples who value togetherness yet do not find enough time to explore together would be targeted through plans targeted for lesser time thus introducing them to the idea of celebrating togetherness. Through co-development the services provided would be further refined and modified to satisfy the customer needs and aspirations.
- The promotional campaign would be initiated through a news paper advertisement inviting the first 50 interested couples to come and avail the services once in the first week for free.
- The first event of the weekend would be preceded by a PR event with a renowned psychologist as the chief guest followed by a competition to find the “Fevicol Couple”? among these 50 couples based on activities testing co-ordination and mutual understanding
- The chief guest would discuss about the importance of togetherness and fun in marriage and how such elements would ensure more happiness and well being in life.
- The entire event to be covered in print.
- Invitations to be sent to specific couples based on snow balling technique
- Offer discounts to couples who can get other like minded couples to join along.
- A website to be developed to plan the events before hand for couples to make plans accordingly and co-ordinate new for new events.
The transition from a couple to parenthood leads to the changing perception of family as sacrifice and responsibility rather than a joy or a satisfaction of sharing which in turn impacts the happiness index of the whole family. The problem here is to ensure that the fun, joy and the feeling of togetherness in the relationship of marriage is sustained despite new responsibilities and roles.
Product that addresses the problem:
The platform “Hum Tum”? provides the opportunity to connect more with the spouse while ensuring the needs of other members of the family are met through activities that include fun while ensuring the bonding of togetherness is built stronger. Hum Tum provides a platform where togetherness is celebrated in a couple among themselves and along with other couples where they get to avail services, play and do activities that nurture togetherness and improves co-operation in the process.
The core capabilities required for implementing this venture are:
- Capability to understanding the needs and aspirations of the customer and design services to cater to those, and market them effectively by using effective communication methods.
- Efficient management of the demands of the customers with the various service providers like – tour operators, event management companies etc
- Ensuring that the values offered meet and exceed the customer expectations
- Capability to make customers as co-developers through motivation and implementation of efficient customer feedback mechanism
Who: The key partners in this venture would be
- Retail space owner:
- Tour operators and vehicle vendors
- Event managers
What: The key resources acquired from partners:
The dependency on all the 3 partners is high here since they provide the basic infrastructure for the venture to be successful. In the long term these resources should be developed in house to reduce dependency. Here the key resources acquired are:
- Retail space owner: Space for setting up the various facilities offered to the target segment, ambience etc
- Tour operators/vehicle vendors: Infrastructural capability to provide vehicles for different routes and number of people
- Event managers: Capability to organize events based on themes
- Psychologist/Sociologist: Inputs for understanding the latent value and benefit needs from couples
Key activity of Hum Tum:
- Hum Tum: Co-ordinates, packages and markets the combined services of all the partners in an effective way, manage customer acquisition, retention and feedback.
Key activities that partners perform:
- Retail space owner: Lease space, responsible for hygiene factors like elevator, cleanliness etc
- Tour operators and vehicle vendors: For infrastructural capability to provide vehicles, logistics and support systems at other locations based on the demands aspirations of couples
- Event managers: For planning events effectively ensuring that couples are actively involved and enjoy the time spend with “Hum Tum”?
- Psychologist/Sociologist: To suggest new and innovative methods of bringing the feeling of togetherness in couples based on the analysis lifestyle and behavior of couples coming to Hum Tum.
The revenue source would be multiple streams in the case of Hum Tum as follows:
- Volume or unit based: Customers pay a fixed price for every visit to Hum Tum.
- Transaction fee: Hum Tum gets a percentage of the trip cost arranged for couples
- Advertising based: For events like Treasure Hunt etc, Hum Tum gets a percentage of the products & services used for product placement, sampling etc.
- Hum Tum would not collect any percentage from the sales of couple’s work.
The costs involved in setting up and running Hum Tum are as follows:
- Lease space in a mall, set up the space, ambience – High fixed cost
- Expert advice – Low Fixed cost
- Services from partners – Event managers, tour planners – Medium variable cost
- Maintenance – Ambience, hygiene factors etc – Medium fixed cost
- Infrastructure – Games, puzzles, chairs, tables, cooking equipment etc – Medium fixed cost
- Employees – Medium fixed cost
Expected customer relation:
- Avenue seekers: To provide new and exciting opportunities for the couples to enjoy time together
- Facilitator seekers: To provide assistance in managing responsibilities in addition to providing opportunities for spending time together
Cost of satisfying the expectations:
- Avenue seekers: Low, since the cost incurred is usually passed on to the service providers
- Facilitator seekers: High, since the requirements might vary and hence have to provide customized services which will increase the overall cost.
Experimenting the business model:
To test the relevance of the entertainment options offered in Hum Tum with respect to satisfying the leisure needs of avenue seekers and the level of acceptance from facilitator seekers.
Projective techniques used to understand the response of couples to the suggested list of entertainment options.
Universe and Sample Size:
5 Couples from SEC A+ in the age group of 25-30 with no kids were chosen by following random sampling in the members of Karnavati Club and snow balling through contacts in Ahmedabad. Screening questions were asked to ensure they met the criteria of the sample. 5 couples were randomly picked from various age groups and the same technique was implemented.
- Most couples liked the idea and were ready to spend till Rs. 1000 a month in availing these services. Veiled coffee tables and rural day were liked by most couples in the age group 25-30.
- The idea of bringing back the romanticism of courtship excited most couples.
- 6 out of the 10 couples liked the name “Hum Tum”? while others suggested names like “Saath Pal”?, 8th Vow.
- Couples with young children expected complete care for their children with cradles, trained nurse etc. For couples with elder kids and parents at home they wanted to have a helper sent to home who was reliable and accountable to help till they went back home.
- Most couples loved the idea of a special screening of the movie but wanted the screen to be larger compared to a TV screen and expected to be served food too. The maximum they were ready to pay for this was around Rs.2500 to Rs 4000.
- Playing games with friends families seemed interesting for most of the couples provided the winner was rewarded and would like it to be a regular event with new competitions for every other period.
Innovative marketing techniques:
As discussed earlier most marketers in India target family as a unit of consumption and market several products through family packs, offers for family etc. However of late there is a growing trend in a few categories where couple as a unit of consumption is being targeted with considerable success. Segments like beverages (Coffee), television, mobile and other such white goods (Onida), IPL are good examples where couples are being targeted as a unit of consumption and effectively marketed to achieve considerable results.
Another good example which has effectively used the concept of togetherness in marketing is Moov which showed involvement and togetherness to reach the right TG and communicate the message effectively.
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