As a student of marketing I feel that marketing is omnipotent and try to spot the presence of marketing in almost all human activities, from a child’s attention seeking fit to a mother’s promotion of green veggies being tastier than oh-so-yummy Big Mac. Now fortunately (or unfortunately) a friend of mine is getting married, in a recent chat with her, she explained all that that goes into a big fat Indian wedding. Here I am making an effort to break all of that into the 7Ps of marketing, four old-school Ps and three Gen-y Ps. I know the scenario has changed a lot in the metro cities and somewhat in tier-two cities, but broadly, sadly and comically, this is how an Indian bride is still marketed. The experiences may differ from person to person.
[Disclaimer: This doesn’t mean to cause offence to any gender in particular, or to some individual or section of individuals of the implied gender in particular.]
When the bride’s guardian/father decides that she is of a good enough age to marry, then he hands over the task of product management to her mother. The carefree girl is suddenly given a long list of behavioural guidelines that she needs to inculcate in herself, not to forget along with a cookbook, that she needs to master in order to be a suitable product for the marriage market.
Before you jump the gun and shoot me for putting a price on a bride, I am talking about the implicit price of a bride. Well here price means the average CTC of the groom to be. This depends on a number of factors, bride’s, bride’s father’s, neighbour’s son-in-laws’, cousins’ and god knows how many more people’s earnings and the forbidden d-word(dowry). Every mother takes into factor all of these and a number of other parameters before deciding the price floor of her daughter. And yes these do include the number of sibling and loans the poor bridegroom may have.
I was told that the prospective bride had to attend a lot of ceremonies of relatives whose names she had read only on facebook or in the family grapevine during the we-are-bored-let’s –discuss-relatives-sessions. To cite a few examples, place is everything ranging from temples and neighbour’s keertan to father’s colleague’s 25th marriage anniversary.
The product itself doesn’t have much role to play in the promotion. It has an advertising agency called mother who does it. What! Chinese at Mainland China and Indian at Barbeque nation, my daughter can cook everything from Indian, Italian, Mexican, and Chinese to all the other countries’ name that you know. And you know what the best part is, she leaves the kitchen as it is, spotless clean after cooking. And yes she wakes up by 7 every day, and always arranges her own bed. (The reader is free to judge the veracity of the statement.)
People include all the stake holders. The relatives are told to scour their circles for ‘suitable’ bride grooms. Even the house maid is put on alert in case she hears something through grapevine in her other employer’s house. To make sure the whole process is glitch free, the people handling the run up to the event and the event itself are carefully chosen.
‘Process is something that your customer experiences during the transaction.’
Though this logic is beyond my comprehension but still the tradition is such that bride’s family go out of their way to make the bridegroom comfortable, and mother’s of groom think that her son is a jewel (mine included) and makes sure that gives everyone a hard time letting him go. Going by our sex ratio and theory of demand and supply, this should be the other way around.
In this context performance matter’s when the groom’s owners (see parents) come for an inspection of the bride to be. Though these things are very subtly done now, like serving tea, shy smile, coy posture, and the pretence that the groom is the first guy she has ever seen and somehow she has magically fallen in love with him. This charade is essential to maintain the sanctity of the process of marriage.
I in any way do not endorse this, but sadly this is the reality in a large section of our society. The aim of the article was to integrate marketing with any random happening in our society, and taking a pot-shot at few things that I think is not right. I also tried making it humorous enough, so that it doesn’t lull us to sleep like some marketing textbooks.
The author of this article thinks that even Bridegrooms are equally marketed and would follow this article up with a part two, which applies the concept of 7P’s to the Indian bridegroom.