Retail stores like Big Bazaar and Reliance Fresh are expected to change the face of retail sector and shopping experience as such in supermarkets/convenience stores. Both these retail stores promise a lot in terms of quality (Fresh) and quantity (Big). But is the Chennai middle class prepared for such a boom? Recently I visited Big Bazaar and Reliance Fresh; the scene was comparable to the beach on Thiruvalluvar’s Day or Kanum Pongal! But there were some things I could not help but notice with much awe.
Big Bazaar as the name indicates is huge; and people are prone to getting lost in there. It is also possible due to this that the customers are not aware of some of the offers, so Big Bazaar has a rather novel marketing plan. The service boys ferry around the shop a trolley with products in it announcing the offers! It is quite entertaining and helps as one can pick up the products from the trolley instead of walking up to the rack and picking up the same product. Also Big Bazaar stocks a wide range of products, starting from Dairy products, vegetables, provisions, electronic goods, clothes and furniture. What I like most about Big Bazaar is that, you can push your trolley right up to the car park, makes shopping a less strenuous experience. In addition, the parking fee is deducted from the bill amount. But, Big Bazaar does not stock all brands. So the customer either ends up compromising or just foregoing certain products.
Reliance Fresh which is the embryo form of Reliance’s much larger agriculture initiative is quite the opposite. It is compact, so much so that one could choke inside the store when there are ten people inside. Nonetheless, the store stocks a large variety of vegetables, it is much better than the vegetable and dairy sections of Nilgiri’s, Spencer’s Daily or even Big Bazaar. Reliance Fresh mostly stocks vegetables and dairy products, so the amount of space dedicated to provisions is minimal. Other than that, the store stocks mainly the high end products, which does not cater to the middle class.
While maligai kadais need not fear, existing super markets also need not feel threatened.