India Needs its Smartphone Fix

Mobiles changing habits in rural India.

Economic Times reports that the ten-rupee recharge pack is a blockbuster. Rural India can do without biscuits, candy and colas but it needs to feed the smartphone habit to ensure that 'selfie' fix. Phone companies are happy. Those who make the low-ticket items that are impulse buys such as colas, chocolate and confectionery, not so much. Consumers in rural markets, their buying power stretched after back-to-back bad monsoons, clearly prefer mobile recharges to watch videos or take and broadcast selfies, say executives at leading consumer goods manufacturers.

Tellingly, the Rs 10 talk-time mobile recharge is the largest-selling pack in the country, a telecom company executive said. "The 'selfie culture' is making consumers spend more on their phones rather than on fast-moving consumer products, which are discretionary," said Suresh Narayanan, managing director of Nestle India, which makes Maggi noodles and KitKat chocolates among other snacks.

The mobile Internet user base in rural India almost doubled in calendar 2015, according to a report by the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB. In urban India, the user base rose 71%. On the other hand, growth of consumer goods such as colas and confectionery slowed to 5-6%. "In a lot more homes, the mobile is a necessary expense now."

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