Jan 12, 2008

What's in a name?

Are you one of those multitudes of people who go crazy about the "brand" when you pick a T- shirt or a travel bag? Do you go for branded Australian apples from XXXX's Fresh or do you settle in for the less privileged but equally nutritious ones on the platforms of Madiwala market? Do you judge a book by the book-keeper's looks and diction? Do you buy a "Marks and Spencer" plain T shirt for a couple of grands with no negotiation, just return the wistful smile of the well-dressed hosts of M&S and yet argue at the top of your lungs for a couple of tens for the same kind but less dear T shirt with an under privileged platform-wala at Commercial Street? If you answer in the affirmative for any of these, then tell me why..

One reason springing up at the top of my mind is "Quality Assurance" - the phrase synonymous with brand. I'd anyday pick a Titan watch, spend a little more bucks and get the warranty and assurance of quality than one of those flashy non-branded cheaper ones available in the platforms. Most of us choose the branded counter-parts for electronic/electrical goods. But brands are so pervasive in our lives...from groceries to gloves..and where do we draw the line?

Why is the passion for a Samsonite travel bag that costs a fortune more than its non-branded equally good (??) counterparts so huge? Not to mention the Nike shoes , Provogue T shirts and Garnier body lotions? Is it that all the non-branded items are inferior in quality or that all the branded items meet up to the fortune that they cost?

And if you thought brands applied just to the products, think again...How many of us go to PVR and Inox cinemas, willingly spend more when the same movie is screened in less flashy theatres? How many students go to branded engineering and medical colleges for better recognition and career growth? Its the same syllabus after all...Do all branded institutions have the consumerate infrastructure or faculty? And how many of us travel miles to go to branded beauty salons when we could get the same service from an obscure but good salon next door? Brands just seem ubiquitous from pre-school to technical companies, from sanitary napkins to hair cremes.

To me, it is also seems like a kind of marketing strategy...the more unaffordable an item is seemed to look like, the more value it seems to carry, and it is sold like crazy among the "currency - creamy" population. To me, it seems like brands are a trap...And, if I sound like I've evaded the trap, well, no..am one of those vulnerable victims of the brand-game. I get an Australian apple from XXXX's Fresh, pay more for the AC charges and fight for five bucks with the platform-wala outside the shop for guavas. Am just wondering "What's in the name" that makes me and a few others do that (Hopefully I'm not the only one contributing madly the brand way to the Indian economic explosion)...If you have answers, please tell me why....

PS : A case in point (Thanks to Harish for the link)