Thanks Orani. Your Q on my earlier post "PAINTING OUR LIVES RED" has made me think on different lines. First a digression !
We were driving back from a friend’s தோட்டம் after a 'water-party' (thanks Ilavanji) on the previous evening. During that party, I was the ‘senior-citizen’ (always it happens so. It is good for an oldie to be in company with youngsters; but how about those poor youngsters?! Though I always pity them, I could never help it !) and so naturally the ramblings were on the changed times and all that. During the drive back to city, the talk meandered back to the same old topic of the previous evening. I was telling them how we had to wait for a gas connection / phone connection for a minimum period of 5-6 years. As a rejoinder I said how we had to book a scooter with Rs. 500 and then wait for 5 years and also explained the term ‘premium’ for these scooters. Prabhakar, who was at the wheels suddenly swerved the car to the left and simply stopped. He was so flabbergasted ! He could not believe that for buying a scooter one has to wait so long. I could easily understand his astonishment since nowadays bikes are being sold even in street corners, virtually!
So Orani, so was the case on ‘our’ days ! The buyers were at the mercy of the sellers. Whatever they produced were in high demand and it was sold easily. No competition among producers but it was so high among consumers. That’s why scooters and such things went on premium.
This can be explained from two different fields: one, economics and the other is from your own field: evolution.
Economics: it was simply the supply-demand theory. Very less supply and very high demand. The simple philosophy of ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ worked with the manufacturers. They didn’t have any need for improvisation, improvement, variety etc. since anything that came to market got engulfed by the consumers. No competition. That made things easier for them. So goes the economics of it.
Evolution: You know the concept of evolutionary divergence. As long as the environmental conditions are ideal what is the necessity for a species to go for ‘variations’. Only when the living becomes problematic those little little changes resulted by mutations with some adaptive values become more prominent and they accrue more and more leading to perceptible and useful variations – leading the species to be on the forward march in evolutionary process. Right? The same thing happens in our marketing also. You have bicycles of just two colours. They are in good demand. So there is no necessity for the manufacturer to go for variations or divergence. That’s the end of things.
As to the question about the psyche of the consumers – I somehow don’t remember at all anybody thinking of or asking for ‘variations’. We probably did not have even the mindset to think there are even possibilities of having variations. We probably got stuck with some set patterns and simply accepted them. Looking back, why we didn’t think of a ‘red bicycle’ is beyond my understanding. As for the shirt colours, or the dress code of those days, a young man in white pants, white shirt tucked in and black shoes would be mostly identified right as a medico. We the guys from arts colleges rarely go in that combo since shoes and white pants are mostly out of reach. If white full-shirt is the zenith point in ones wardrobe, pale, pastel shaded colour shirts were the norms for all. I remember in early seventies there came a movie, Aradhana starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore. Colourful kurthas worn by the hero became a big hit and my first kurtha in a flshy colour ( not in today’s standards, anyway !) made many look at me twice!
Some trend-setter !!