Indeed, the very first lesson of marketing I learnt was not from any book. My father, who comes from a farmer family, wandered from one end of the vegetable market to the other, just to know the most reasonable price of what he aimed to purchase. ‘Price Discovery’ is what he named this process and the same taught me the lesson of my lifetime. When asked why he applied so much of hard work to save just a few pennies, he smiled. Yes, he too could have managed buying commodities at whatever price quoted by the vendor; however his endeavors were not just a help to our family, but were also a trivial aid towards social fairness. I will tell you how.
If every commodity was to be sold at the quoted MRP (Maximum Retail Price), cellphones or for that matter, edible oil would not be vended at way less than the MRP. You can find vendors in the same street selling products at dissimilar prices. One of the causes of price variation is the kind of business motive the trader has opted i.e. wholesaling or retailing. The other, of course, is the approach of the buyers. Leave metro cities, even in towns today, you can find consumers blowing horn from their cars and just asking the final price of the goods purchased. And if you call this prosperity or development, why is the much larger chunk, the underprivileged, forced to depart from the shop when they make an honest attempt to bargain and discover real price?
Would you call this our sluggishness, our fear, our ignorance, or our pride that does not allow us to even ask the seller if there exists any scope of price negotiation on the commodity? How many candies do you voluntarily buy while purchasing grocery items? Then why do you return home with pocket full of candies just because the vendor says that coins have become rare? Try making any future purchase with those candies and see if the vendor entertains your request. A drastic change that has occurred in our society is that a common man does not care. He does not care about the ‘best before dates’, ‘best available price’, and ‘best quality in same price range’.
And when I talk about the social loss, let me quote an easy instance. Residents of busy metro cities rarely bother for the packaging date of a commodity, say a packet of curd. A housewife, when finds, the next day, that the curd is bitter and not fit for consumption, throws the packet away without caring about the loss of hard-earned money, loss of resources used in producing and packaging, and the loss of a commodity that could have been of use for a poor household. On the contrary, an alert customer or an underprivileged, when attempts to approach the seller to get the packet replaced, is looked upon as a law-offender or a disrespected human being.
Let me tell you a few more facts. The gift packs you purchase during festive seasons are priced way higher as compared to the cumulative price of chocolates/ biscuits inside. Try buying a Delhi Metro ticket from the counter and you will come to know how the vendor befools every other buyer by keeping the one or two rupee change that should have been reverted. Just for once, visit the wholesale vegetable/ fruit market near your home and you would realize how much the vendor, delivering the same services at your doorstep, saving. Prior to buying a new cellphone try locating the seal of the manufacturer on the packaging box and it is almost sure that the same will be tampered with. When asked reason from the seller, he will say ‘Trust me’.
Why are we allowing the market and the vendors to part with any substandard/ overpriced commodity so easily? There could just be two causes. Either the Indians are prosperous enough not to care about minimal losses or our sellers are honest enough to deliver only apt goods. You must agree that both the equations are true only to a trivial extent. Isn’t our sloppiness a reason why money is flowing to only some hands and the poor are being neglected to the core by the vendors? Despite so many laws backing the rights of customers, sellers are unafraid of dumping even the frail goods. Now you know why. No government can bring in any revolution until the common man recognizes the vitality of price discovery and the paybacks of vigilant purchasing.