28 December 2005

Living it up

Living it up’ seems to be the motto here in Bangalore. And I’m not just referring to the Christmas/New Year holidays. Bangalore is a happening place – all year round. At least, that’s what I can gather while talking to people and going around the city. There’s money in people’s hands, which explains the overall cheerfulness I see everywhere.

The first thing to notice is the boom in the construction and real estate industries. Buildings are coming up everywhere and people are buying up properties like nobody’s business. A friend handling the advertising for a builder was concerned. According to him, just a couple of ads deliver all that’s necessary in booking flats or commercial properties these days; thereby, reducing media spends by builders and client billings for the agency.

Shops and restaurants are crowding the city, with people happily spending their easily-earned money from their IT and BPO jobs. For a marketer, it’s a paradise for brands – particularly for apparel, accessories, cosmetics, sportswear, mobilephones, consumer electronics, automobiles, retail and restaurants. Everybody is sporting a Nike, a Reebok, a Levi’s or a Titan. I-pods and the Nokia N-series mobilephones are being eyed with envy. Sales of diamonds and hair colour are shooting up. Most homes now have a car or a two-wheeler – some, a combination of these, in multiples. I spent an hour or so at a Toyota dealer in the city and was amazed at the number of vehicles sold right before my eyes.

Restaurants are sprouting up all over Bangalore, many with innovative names. And, people are crowding these places all through the week, no matter how much they have to pay for their food. For me, pizzas with my nephews and nieces chalked up a bill of Rs.2,000/-; a weekend lunch with a friend at a well-known Chinese restaurant put me out by Rs.1,000/- (without alcohol); and a cup of mocha at a new coffee bar cost me almost Rs.100/-. These rates were definitely much higher than what’s on offer in Mumbai. But, what’s interesting is that all these restaurants have most of their tables full.

Other businesses are doing well too. Hotel occupancy is at an all-time high in Bangalore. A friend confirmed that this was mostly from business travellers and there was a slight dip in occupancy in the weekends. A snap survey also indicated that tobacco and alcohol consumption was also on an all-time high, their biggest growth coming from the young-adult consumer segment. Most of these young adults are now pouring out on the streets after their typical BPO shifts, even on weekends. Unless, of course, they are living it up at a pub or a restaurant, a shopping mall or someplace else.

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