Perfume Consumption in India: An Exploratory Study

Perfume Consumption in India: An Exploratory Study

David James Bamber (University of Bolton, UK), Clay Alex Gransden (Liverpool Hope University, UK) and Swati Aisha Beg (Liverpool Hope University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0282-1.ch004
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Perfumes have been important in India for millennia and so have the stories connected with them. The perfume business in India is worth billions. The chapter provides a background from which the Indian perfume industry can be understood in terms of the Berger's STEPP model, and the chapter shows how the consumers' cognitive schema and consumers' behaviors are necessarily entwined with the story of the product, brand and their own stories. Three sets of themes: product perceptions, concerns, and consumers' lifestyle are identified, each with their own sub-themes that are antecedents to perfume purchasing behavior. Segments in the Indian perfume market are also identified. Each consumer segment has their own behavioral nuances and they consider different aspects of the perfume product taking into account their own income and aspects of the three themes and nineteen sub-themes. It is important for perfume marketing managers to consider each aspect of the STEPPs model in relation to their target markets in order to maintain competitive advantage.
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The key objective of the chapter is to show that in the developing market of India there is a product type: “perfume” that contributes in numerous ways to the economy of the country and the market is driven by various consumer behaviors and demands from differing consumer segments. The Indian market is complex and has developed over millennia. It must not be assumed that just because the market is still developing that the consumers’ behaviors there are simple, the behaviors are indeed complex and manifold. The consumers of perfumes in India are presented with a vast array of perfume offerings from multinationals, from prestigious brands to fragrances offered by independent manufacturers, with some perfumes produced according to traditional formulae laid out in the ancient Hindu Ayurvedic texts. However, a broad range of consumer behavior literature concerning health issues, halal branding, packaging, gift giving, glocalisation, word-of-mouth endorsements and eco-friendly attitudes, social entrepreneurship coupled with ethical consumption, pricing and celebrity endorsements, that have been well reported in the marketing literature, concern consumers’ behaviors in developing nations, like India. There are other product types that contribute directly and indirectly to the India economy, such as Indian cuisine, that was arguably further popularised in Europe by Madhur Jaffrey (1992). Other developing nations have important product types; such as China with silk (Silk Road, 2015), that have been and continue to be important to their economies. Due to the historic abundance of natural aromatic resources in the Indian geographic region, there is a plethora of natural raw materials from which India extracts perfumes and scents. Furthermore, that “natural” industry is augmented by the synthetic fragrance industry. All those products are exported from India to the international perfume houses of the world, as well as being used by a broad segment of local manufacturers.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cognitive Schema: An active organization of stories, past reactions and past experiences that operate to affect consumer responses and consumer behaviors.

India: The Republic of India is a developing nation in South Asia and is the most largest democracy in the world with over 1.27 billion people. India has a multi-faith market with six main religions. India’s sixteen thousand species of flowering plants account for six percent of the total plant species in the world.

Ittar: Originates from the Persian word “Atr” (fragrance) and refers to alcohol-free perfumes that are used by many Muslim men and women.

Perfume (Latin: Perfumare “to Smoke Through”): Perfumes were used by the Indus civilization (3300 BC – 1300 BC) and one of the earliest “Ittar” perfume preparations was mentioned in the ancient Hindu texts.

STEPPS: An acronym for Social Currency, Triggers, Emotions, Public, Practical Value and Stories and these are the six things that promote products in the minds behaviors of consumers, to make them become “contagious” ( Berger, 2013 ). STEPPS should be considered when marketing perfumes.

Social Currency: Sharable information that makes the perfume publicly good and worthy of consumers’ making remarks. One of the STEPPS.

Emotions: One of the STEPPS. Emotions are the states of feelings that result in physical and psychological changes that influence consumers’ behaviors and the tendencies for consumers to operate those behaviors. Emotions drive positive and negative motivations.

Practical Value: The usefulness of the perfume as perceived by the consumer. One of the STEPPS.

Stories: The perfume brand makes embedded promises to consumers through stories. The notable perfume brand aligns its own story with the stories embedded in the consumers’ cognitive schemas. Every communication should reinforce the perfume brand’s story. One of the STEPPS.

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